FAQs about Toxic Water Conditions:
Endogenous; Internal/Organic Causes
Related Articles: Marine Toxic Tank Conditions , General Marine
FAQs: Toxic Situations 1, Toxic Situations 2, Toxic Situations 3, Toxic Situations 4, Toxic 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,
... something toxic in this system... I would
move the livestock, or if this isn't possible, execute large
water changes, add carbon to your filter path/flow. BobF
What Did I Do? Reef gone; env. 1/4/17
First, as always, you all are awesome and I cant help but be eternally grateful
for your time and dedication to this;
thank you, thank you, thank you! I hope
you all had a wonderful Holiday season and though I am certainly not the first,
I would still like to say "Happy New Year"!
<And to you and yours>
The email gets a little long, but I tried to give you as much information I
could in order to help give you the most accurate picture of my situation.
<Take your time>
Much to my dismay and shame I come to you today with a problem. I had a
wonderful 125g reef tank for about 4 years. Over the last year or so it slowly
started to decline. For many reasons, I was unable to really take care of it and
it has suffered as a result and two mini carpets and 4 fish had remained (Scopas
Tang, Six-line Wrasse, Marine Betta, and a Kupang damsel). I am not proud and I
wish I would have done things differently, but I cant, so Id like to do things
right going forward, which is why I am writing you.
My hope was to turn the tank around and do a planted tank with a variety of
macro algae. Not only did I think it would look neat with all the different
varieties (with careful selection of course), maybe it could help keep my
nutrients lower growing out the various algae (almost like an internal turf
scrubber but prettier), could potentially be a food source
for fish that are inclined, or a refuge for pod growing. Obviously you all know
how many benefits (and possible pitfalls) macros can provide.
The filter system I have been using is a Marineland C-530 (Carbon - ROX .8,
ceramic beads, bio balls, and a Nitrate reducing pad), 150ish lbs of
live rock, a 3" - 4" sand bed, and crazy amounts of hair algae ( I have
since removed much of the algae, but I think it was dying off since it was
easily siphoned out). I took my 30g sump offline about the time I was unable to
care for the tank because it was undersized, the protein skimmer pump needed
replacing, and it was prone to overflowing all over the floor.
I could not adjust the height of the overflow box high enough to not siphon less
than 10g of tank water. With the design of the sump, the water from the tank,
and the skimmer water volume, it was just too much for the sump.
Anyway, I set out to try and clean the tank up and give the few inhabitants left
a cleaner more deserving environment. The first thing I thought I would try is
the Fluval Waste Control Biological Cleaner. I did one iteration and under dosed
it because of how long the tank had gone without a good cleaning and the
warnings of increased ammonia and nitrite.
I saw no ill effects after 48hrs, but as a precaution I did dose the tank with
AmQuel+ to detoxify anything that could be going on at that time. 72 hours later
everything was still doing fine and everyone was eating and appeared healthy.
Yesterday afternoon I decided that I wanted to remove the "rock wall"
I had as my display of live rock and actually do some aquascaping in preparation
for the new environment. I started tearing into the first half of the
tank and removing the rock to a prepared tote with a 60/40 mix of tank
water and fresh saltwater. I realized after I had removed the first half of the
rocks, that the base rocks were actually put in place before the sand bed was
laid down. If I had to guess, I disturbed an area of the sand bed that was 10-12
wide, and 2 - 3ft long.
<This could be trouble>
I then started thinking I may of smelled rotten egg. I don't know if I was just
being paranoid because I had just realized my mistake, or that perhaps
there was some Hydrogen Sulfide gas trapped under there. I did smell over the
tank, but did not notice anything. I figured there wasn't much I could
do now and it was too late, so I placed those rocks in the shape I wanted back
on top of the sand. When I moved on to the next half of the tank, I was very
careful not to disturb any of the base rock, as I didn't want to make the same
mistake. I proceeded to finish placing all my rocks and decided it was time to
do a water change. By this time the water was pretty cloudy. Not in a
nice-white-sand kind of cloudy, but a brown-nasty-detritus kind of cloudy.
<I so wish you have moved your livestock... to the sump, and then just
dumped the tank, cleaned the rock, substrate...>
I proceeded to siphon out 40 gallons of tank water trying to get what I could
off the sand without disturbing/stirring it anymore as well as stirring the
"gunk" up into the water column to have the canister filter get what it could. I
then replaced the 40 gallons with new fresh saltwater (same temp/salinity). I
turned on the pumps and let the dust settle so
An hour or so afterward, the water was still cloudy but I was able to see
everything in the tank. The fish were out swimming and the two mini carpets that
were in there were open and looked fine. I proceeded to feed everyone some mysis
shrimp, which they ate, and gave it no extra thought. On my way out the door
tonight (I work nights) I noticed that the Betta was out near the front glass.
Normally he is a bit of a recluse, so I thought it was odd. I just figured maybe
he was upset with the changes to the tank. Well, I kept thinking about it and it
bothered me, so I called my wife to have her check the tank. She said that
everything was dead. The tang was face down in the sand, the Kupang was laying
on its side under a rock, and the Betta along with the Six-line were nowhere to
be found (most likely died behind some rocks).
I wanted to check my water, but I didn't because I was on my way out the door to
work, and I didn't think there was anything direly wrong at the time, and my
kits are all expired over a year, and I am not sure how accurate they are.
This really devastated me because of how hard I was trying to right the wrong I
caused. I was trying to do a good thing and it back fired. So now I am at a loss
as to if I have now made my tank toxic and I need to scrap everything and start
over, or wait to see if things settle out
long that may take. Can you offer me any help? Thanks again so very much Crew!
<Yes; I fully suspect the same as you hint at, that the removal of the rock
triggered an anaerobic event; poisoning your livestock. As I've mentioned,
moving the livestock itself would have been the route I'd gone. Alternatively, a
few every week vacuuming the substrate, esp. around the rock, might have
precluded these losses.>
<And you, Bob Fenner>
Re Anaerobic poisoning event possibility 1/5/17
Dear Bob (and other Crew),
Thank you for taking the time to go through my email and respond. I wanted to
give you an update as well get your (or other Crew Members) insight into what I
feel is abnormal.
I figured that if in the event I had in fact released anaerobic poisoning upon
my tank, that there would most likely be an influx of ammonia as well cause by
the death of the bacteria.
<Mmm; not necessarily... could be just H2S or...>
As the closest actual fish store is 60 miles away, and my test kit being
expired, my only option at 6am in the morning when I got off work was to get dip
strips from my local Wal-Mart.
I promptly returned home after getting the strips and did a quick test.
Not the most accurate, I know, but it did show there to be ammonia in
<Some? And this could be transient... The ammonia could have largely left>
Taking into consideration what I learned in the past, I did a 25% water change,
added more AmQuel+, and threw an air stone in hooked up to my large air pump
because I figured maybe there may have been some oxygen deprivation going on as
The odd thing about all this is: I have read, seen, and heard that, for the most
part, invertebrates are incredibly sensitive to dramatic swings within the tank.
Obviously almost everything is, just that normally you can see issues in inverts
sooner than in the fish.
<Mmm; "invertebrates" is a large/broad category. MANY groups are quite resistant
to such pollution... Tis where they live>
I forgot to mention in my last email that besides the mini carpet anemones,
there are 4 1.5 diameter Top Crown Snails, a serpent star that from tip of one
leg to tip of another is about 10, and 3 Cerith Snails I never even knew were in
the tank until now. All of these seem to be completely unaffected. In fact, when
I got home this morning the snails were on the glass eating, and the serpent was
out playing cleanup crew.
It just seems so odd to me that the fish took such a catastrophic turn for the
worse, and the inverts did not.
<Again; not unusual>
Im having a hard time wrapping my head around this. Have you any ideas?
For all intents and purposes, in my mind, the tank should be pretty much devoid
of life, except maybe the microscopic type. There still seems to be plenty of
worms in the sand bed, and they all seem to be alive (when I shined a light on
them they retracted with haste), though I am not seeing much for gas bubbles
like I have in the past, but I am guessing
inadequate. Many of my Koralia's died and I am down to the return from the C-530
and a couple 600gph Koralia's. I'm looking at getting a Jebao wavemaker, but
have not made a decision yet. Anyway, it would seem that all is not lost, though
I am considerably bothered at the losses I incurred. I will not be making those
mistakes again. Thanks again Bob (and other Crew). I can't tell you enough how
much you guys mean to us aquarists.
<Glad we're here to help... Bob Fenner>
Help with Anemone and Algae. Moved sm. sys., cascade event
<Eight megs... is there a full moon? Why are folks sending such huge
Hi there. I need help...About 1.5 months ago I moved to from San
Francisco to Monterey for a job, and moved my 24 gallon reef tank for
the second time in 2 years. My tank has been established since Oct.
2013, and has been thriving up until this move.
During move I followed the same protocols I used when moving two years
ago (which was successful), which were the following: Placed biggest
piece of live rock in bucket with airstone and heater along with all
non-coral animals. Placed all other live rock and corals in a Styrofoam
cooler in water. Emptied tank nearly all of the way, leaving 1/4" of
water above the live-sand. I was able to plug heater and airstone into
electricity with adapter in my truck. Drive 2 hrs, set up tank, all
seemed fine until 2 weeks later...
Fast forward two weeks and I started to get brown slimy/hairy
algae on sand, rocks, back walls etc.
<I see this... likely a release of nutrient/s... loss of RedOx/ORP...
alkaline reserve in your substrate>
I would siphon out as much as I could during water changes, revealing
nice white sand under the brown scum, but it
comes back after a few days. At the time of my move I also switched to
Reef Crystals from Instant Ocean for salt mix, and also purchased an
under-sink RO system. Where it got weird is when my normally super-happy
bubble tip anemone spawned, probably 1 month into the move. A big blob
of eggs were released from her (I guess it is a she) mouth. I netted as
many of them as I could. Ever since that spawn-night, the anemone has
been small, deflated and wandering. It slides from one spot to another
night after night, and never inflates to its previous 8-10" size. I
realize that I might have
stirred up gunk in my 2-3 year old live sand during move,
but wouldn't I see a noticeable uptick in nitrates? The tap water here
smells very chlorine-y also, but shouldn't my RO system be filtering bad
<It should... and you likely have a carbon contactor pre-filter. You
could test for free chlorine...>
My underlying question is; what could be simultaneously causing this
algae outbreak and also stressing the anemone?
<The gunk stirred up in your old substrate; subsequent allelopathy with
your other Cnidarians...>
Are there additional tests I can run to find out?
<Sure; HPO4, NO3, K....>
Here are some details about my tank: As mentioned 24 gallons, all-in-one
setup with Tunze 9002 protein skimmer, heater, power head, and bag of
MarineLand activated carbon dropped in back chamber every couple months.
Livestock: percula clown, royal gramma, Longnose Hawkfish, Banggai
cardinal. A couple hermits, a couple turban snails, 1 fighting conch, 1
tuxedo urchin, 1 skunk cleaner shrimp. Soft corals (Christmas tree,
various mushrooms, Zoas, leather), a few LPS (plate coral, hammer,
torch, war coral).
Levels: Nitrates, ammonia, nitrites all "0"
<Really? NO NO3? I'd check with another kit>
, pH 8.1, temp 78. I can measure for calcium and dKH but generally
don't. I used to dose iron but don't anymore.
<I would, and iodide-ate... I might skip ahead and dump the entire
existing substrate and replace first>
I have attached pictures of the algae (I think it is either
dinoflagellates or cyanobacteria),
<Likely... need a 'scope look and see>
and am desperate for a concrete way to put a stop to it.
I have also attached a picture of the anemone spawn, and anem pics
before and after move. Let me know if you need additional info to assess
Thanks in advance for your attention on this.
<Try searching, reading on WWM re these algae groups control.
Re: Help with Anemone and Algae
Apologies. I thought the pics were small enough, thanks for responding
anyway. I will replace my sandbed...are you able to make a
recommendation on live sand?
the linked files at top>
And yes, I have tested "0" Nitrate for the past year and a half...I just
figured my bioload was low enough or that I had a super effective bio
filter. I will get a new kit.
White Patches on Majestic Angel
Hi again gang. Need your help please. Just got a majestic angel
<... not usually aq. hardy... the ones from Bali a little bit better>
from a local fish store several weeks ago and just today noticed it has
developed white patches on its head and body.
This is not ich, or at least I don't believe it is, as it is not a peppery
covering. Please see the attached picture and advise your thoughts?
<Reading and quick... What sorts of preventative measures have you
taken? Dips, baths, isolation...?>
Fish is currently swimming and eating normally
and other fish in tank or behaving and look normal as well. Possibly
<Can only distinguish Protozoans, other single celled life via sampling
and microscopic examination... SEE/READ on WWM re Euxiphipops species en toto...
this is an environmental issue>
I am personally stumped and unsure how to treat. Thanks!
Some BGA influence now!
Re: White Patches on Majestic Angel
Thanks, appreciate the info. Sending this as a follow up on the current
conditions of the fish.
Did more reading and research after receiving your response. Found some
information on "blanching" of marine Angels as it relates to their overall level
of stress and comfort in their environment.
<Yes... and yours... the BGA... toxified....>
In due process saw a posting mentioning an example with the water being too warm
from a faulty heater. Having already checked the water parameters in my tank and
verified that they were within ideal parameters, I opened my cabinet to find the
thermometer showing 83 degrees. My tank always runs in the 75-76 degree range so
I knew my heater was malfunctioning. That said, I unplugged and removed and have
monitored the fish closely ever since. It has continued to swim and behave
normally, including eating anything and everything I offer....dried Nori, frozen
angelfish food and also mysis shrimp (both soaked in vita chem for several
minutes prior to feeding).
Good news is now, 3 days later, the fish continues to behave and eat normally
AND all of his color is seemingly returning to normal. Good signs and I will
continue to feed and monitor closely.
<So far, so good... DO read at least on WWM re reversing the Cyanobacteria
situation. THIS is likely a major contributor to the environmental stress,
blanching here. Bob Fenner>
Re: Fish Dying in Reef Tank
Thanks Bob for the quick reply. A few questions if you don't mind.
performing 50 Gallon water changes weekly to rid the Nitrates would this
have help reduce the toxicity?
<Yes; but an expensive, short term solution only. I would read, consider
When you talk about biological poisoning do all the other species of
in the tank die or just the corals next to the one releasing the toxins?
<Not necessarily any dying; but the fishes first>
When you mention aggression, do you mean the corals will grow and over
the neighboring coral or will it poison the whole tank?
<Please read where you've been referred. These sorts of physical,
biochemical means of competition go on continuously... sometimes more
vigorously, with dire consequences>
This was quoted from one of the FAQ pages I've read on WWM "Regarding
chemical filtration, I use Purigen in an attempt to keep trace elements
the system. Do you know how this product compares to activated carbon in
regards to filtering allelopathic compounds?
<I do... neither are really
useful>" All I read about on WWM is to remove the toxicity in the
have to run activated carbon. Can you please clarify.
<The compounds involved are mainly terpenoids... a large class of cyclic
hydrocarbons... NOT removed by most of the common chemical filter media
used by hobbyists>
I'm going to perform a 100% water change and continue to run activated
carbon and poly filter (unless you advise a different approach), is this
what you recommend?
<At this point/juncture, yes>
How would I know when the toxins are removed and if
it's safe to add fish?
<Unfortunately mainly through "bioassay"; exposing fish, invertebrates
Could high Nitrate say 30-40ppm in a reef tank cause a toxic warfare?
<It might indicate something that could trigger such an event; though
by itself is generally not a big issue>
Would SPS and LPS in the same aquarium give off minimal toxins since
both hard corals?
<No... some "real winners" like Galaxiids, Euphylliids win out over most
all other Scleractinians... >
Thank you for your help and good sense of humor.
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Fish Dying in Reef Tank
O forgot to add this. These worms were all over the sand bed after
incident. Do you know what they are and what causes it.
<Ah yes; coming out because they are either being poisoned as well; or
seeking dead fish as food. BobF>
Tank Nearly Crashed, SW env. 12/20/12
Need your help in what to do with my current situation. I recently
added a purple bubble and a green frogspawn coral. I've been
waiting for these two and when the LFS phoned that they have it in
stock, I immediately went, bought, and brought them home. As with
my other corals, I dipped them using an iodine solution for 25 minutes.
<Am a fan of such iodide-ate dips/baths... but not at this duration... a
few minutes is about prime. Search, read on WWM re...>
They started to open up after about 30 minutes of being put in the tank.
Don't have a QT tank, limited place and all. Anyway, after several
hours, I noticed that the water appeared hazy. I messaged the LFS
and they asked me if the water smell, I said no, smells they way it
smelled. They said it's normal for a tank to get a bit hazy
when you put in such corals.
Saying it'll pass. Took their word for it. The water got
hazier and hazier by the hour that before going to bed, it was really
hard to see anything in there. Come morning, the water was milky
white. I opened up the hood, and I was greeted by
a really foul stench. Emergency WC, 50%.
Took out the bubble when the water cleared up as it was clearly melting
away. Man, the stench of the bubble! Mid-day and saw that
water started to become cloudy again and this time, the frogspawn
started to melt. Took it out to test smell it, and man!
Nearly puked right there and then. Took it out, did another 25%
WC. That was 3 days ago. Yesterday, the water started to become
hazy again. I tested and my ammonia is at 1.0. I inspected
the tank and saw a Yuma and an Acan looking suspiciously ill.
<I'd have moved all other life elsewhere, if you had another established
I sniff test and nearly puked again. Took those out, did another 25%
This morning ammonia is still around 1.0. Don't see any coral that
looks dying/dead, well, a lobe brain appears to be losing its tissue,
but it smelled fine. What should I do? Shall I continue with
<Yes; pre-make and store new water... as many gallons as you can
Wouldn't that stress the others out?
All through this ordeal, my fishes appeared fine, the inverts as well,
only some of the corals aren't fully opened. Really need your expertise
<Perhaps a bit of activated carbon (Chemi-Pure) and a PolyFilter in your
current/flow path will help as well. Bob Fenner>
Septicemia on my yellow tangs
Sorry for bothering you, since I know you are so busy maintaining such
an excellent database of marine aquarium knowledge, but I seem to be
having quite a problem with my saltwater tank. A while back I asked a
question regarding my ocellaris clownfish and my Koran angelfish.
Unfortunately, while I had them in quarantine, we lost power for a few
days. The only survivors were the ocellaris clownfish pair. Since then,
my tank has been doing quite well, and I've added some fish (after a
lengthy 6 week quarantine, in which everything received 2 doses of
Prazi-pro at full strength as well as Cupramine at half strength). The
problem is that just recently (after being in the display over 2 months)
<Two; my emphasis here>
of my yellow tangs began to show red blotches on their bodies (one much
worse than the other). At first it was only in the dorsal fins, but now
it has spread to the caudal peduncle of the slightly smaller specimen
(who is boss over all the tangs in the tank). My
tank is a 187 gallon (60"x24"x30") which I hope to be converting into a
reef. Here are my levels:
Nitrate: between 0 and 5 (working on lowering this)
Phosphate: 0.005 (working on lowering this as well)
<Not to worry; this is low enough>
I run a G200 protein skimmer (which I skim more on the wet side), as
well as having a 55 gallon refugium, and performing weekly 20% water
Current fish include:
2 Yellow Tangs (which have gotten along great since I got them,
even sleeping in the same cave at night)
<As far as you've seen>
1 Sailfin Tang (who schools with the yellows during the day)
1 Bariene Tang (who is the smallest tang currently, but growing fast)
1 High Hat Drum (love this fish; he's hardy, is growing fast, eats
everything, and cleans the sandbed)
1 Papuan Toby (who hasn't nipped any fins yet, got him for free from a
1 Melanurus Wrasse (A fully grown male, quite spectacular)
1 Bluehead Wrasse (awesome fish, but destroyed the hermit crabs)
1 Arc Eye Hawkfish (same as above)
1 Sleeper Banded Goby (Amblygobius phalaena) (he keeps my sand perfect
and made a burrow right up front in the tank)
2 Ocellaris clowns (a breeding pair)
1 Blue devil damsel (who is the smallest fish in the tank)
2 Yellow tailed blue damsels (who paired off pretty early on)
The fish are fed 2 times a day (Mysid shrimp, and marine cuisine in the
morning; Nori and Prime reef at night). All fish (including the two
yellow tangs) act normal and eat greedily (all of them have the fish
equivalent of a beer gut). I just can't figure out why the red won't go
away on the yellow tangs.
<"Something/s stressful"... not likely water quality given the readings
you present, the gear you have, the other livestock kept... more likely
"something" in the cave they share (e.g. Bristleworm) or themselves
interacting... I'd separate the two, only keep one in this system>
Occasionally it seems to be getting better, only to look worse the next
time I look at them. I am currently performing a 20% water change, and I
will be grabbing some Maracyn 2 in the morning (in case the tangs get
worse and I need to move them to quarantine to treat them). Do you have
any other suggestions for me? Are there any medicines that would work
better than Maracyn 2?
<No medicine/s called for, advised>
Thanks in advance and keep up the good work,
<For review, please peruse the Z. flavescens hlth/dis. FAQs:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Septicemia on my yellow tangs 7/24/12
Thank you for answering my question, but I'm still stumped. The 2 yellow
tangs show no aggression at all between them, and had lived together in
a 75 gallon for about 3 years before I bought them. I actually teach
piano and the tank is next to the piano, so I am able to watch them for
most of the day and never see aggression.
<Might not be aggression per se, but just stressful to be in company...
in the wild this species lives individually or in dozens to a hundred or
so individuals in a moving shoal>
If I do notice aggression I can move all the cichlids out of their 180
gallon tank and turn it into a tang/trigger/puffer/grouper FOWLR. As for
the 2 yellow tangs being bothered by a Bristleworm, I do not think that
is the case. Right before I added the two yellow tangs to the display I
came downstairs at 1:00 in the morning to discover my seagrass filefish
(Acreichthys tomentosus) being devoured by a 2 foot worm.
I ended up dismantling the entire display and found the worm hiding in
my sandbed. Upon searching Google I found out exactly what it was: a
bobbit worm. I was paranoid about having any others like it in my system
and I treated the display with Cupramine. Could the septicemia be the
result of copper leaching from my live rock?
<Yes; could be a factor>
I know tangs do not like long term exposure to copper. If there is
residual copper should I just continue to run the skimmer, bump water
changes to twice weekly, and add a Polyfilter pad (the ones designed to
absorb copper and other chemicals)?
I could also run some activated carbon. I ended up buying some Triple
Sulfa at the LFS this morning, because they recommended it over the
<Please don't apply this... Of no use, and may foul up the bio-make up
microbially and hence to all>
If the tangs get worse (they look somewhat better after last night's water
change), should I put them in quarantine (divided from each other since
the quarantine is a 30 gallon) and treat them?
<No to treatment>
By the way, I spent about 4 hours going through every FAQ page on WWM
about yellow tangs. It was quite the interesting read.
<Ah yes... one of the top dozen or so marine species in terms of
On a somewhat unrelated note, hopefully in about a month I will be
moving this tank to a different part of the house and building it into
In the process I will be upgrading to a 125 gallon refugium behind the
wall with much better access than the 55 gallon refugium under the tank.
<I'd bet you're looking forward to this change and that it will improve
<Welcome, and thank you for this follow-up. Bob Fenner>
Re: Septicemia on my yellow tangs 7/28/12
I'm sorry to bug you, but things are getting worse for my tank.
<I see this in your tank... and more... in your pix. A very likely
source of the trouble; the "something toxic" in your system>
I just added 2 more powerheads to the tank for increased circulation
(which made all the fish much more active), as well as taking the lights
off all of my freshwater tanks and putting them over this tank (which
also made the fish more active and much brighter colored). All my water
readings are exactly the same as they were in the first email, but the
two yellow tangs still have septicemia (although they are slightly
better than before). I added Cuprisorb to the tank, and it has had
absolutely no color change, so I guess I have no copper left in the
system. I also added 25 Astraea snails and they seem to be thriving (as
long as they stay tight to the wall during the day, the puffer and the
wrasses like harassing them).
However last night my high hat drum died for no apparent reason,
although he seemed rather listless last night (just kind of floating
around instead of his normal behavior of swimming back and forth begging
for food when I'm by the tank). That was a real disappointment to me as
he was one of my favorite fish, and he was thriving and eating like a
champ mere hours beforehand. My Bariene tang also seems to be having a
When I first purchased him, I had him in quarantine and he came down
with Ich within 48 hours. I proceeded to treat him with Cupramine for
the remainder of his time in quarantine (6 weeks), and he quickly
recovered (no symptoms after the first week of treatment). However, he
did glance at the decorations in quarantine and he gave himself a small
circular wound (which I thought was just a bruise). Today, it seems that
it wasn't just a bruise.
It is a perfect circle on his body, about a half inch across. It is
lighter in color than the rest of his body, and has something white
hanging out of it. All of the other fish seem fine, but I really am sick
of having my fish die on me, and I've gone through over 90 dollars of
salt in the past 2 weeks...
I've taken the liberty of attaching some pictures.
<The mauve red on your rock... looks to be BGA, Cyanobacteria... is
poisoning your fishes. Please read here re:
and the linked files above... You need to react, soon... and I might
even go ahead and use the antibiotic route of chemical control here
(it's that much of an emergency)... in the long/er haul, doing what you
can/will to promote other algal types...
Re: Septicemia on my yellow tangs 7/28/12
I guess I will go ahead and treat the tank with Chemiclean then
<Or any source of Erythromycin... WITH your close observations... ready to
change water and more... should the system disimprove quickly from the BGA
(I just happen to have an almost brand new bottle a friend gave me when he
gave up on saltwater). Is there anything else I can do?
<... move out the LR, or move the fishes elsewhere>
When I treated the display with Cupramine, all of my Chaetomorpha in the
refugium died. I tried to go buy some mixed macro (Chaeto, Gracilaria and
Caulerpa) yesterday, but both of the nearby stores were out of all types of
macroalgae. I used to grow C. prolifera in the display but it was at the
point where my tank looked like a seagrass bed (which the filefish loved).
<MUCH better than the BGA>
I took it out because I read about all the instances of Caulerpa going
"sexual" and poisoning tanks online. The Astraea snails seem to like eating
it though, should I try adding some more snails?
<I wouldn't, no... you have too many already as far as I'm concerned. See
WWM re scavengers as such>
As for the Bariene tang, do you think it is just an injury healing itself
(he seems to be scraping it on the bottom and the rocks), or is it a
parasite or disease of some sort.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Septicemia on my yellow tangs 7/30/12
I thought I'd give you an update, no matter how unpleasant it may be. The
erythromycin ended up making the algae grow much faster than before rather
than killing it.
It now covers the bottom of the tank and all the sides. I think it is
actually a Dinoflagellate and not Cyanobacteria.
<Do you have a microscope? Take a look at a sample... easily distinguished>
I ended up getting a ball of Caulerpa racemosa and Caulerpa taxifola, and
that is currently in my refugium.
When I went to the LFS to get the Caulerpa, I told them what was wrong
with the tank and they ended up selling me 2 sea urchins, a Halloween urchin
and a red spined blue tuxedo urchin (both of whom love Nori). They, along
with the 25 snails I already had, seem to be eating the Dinoflagellates, but
after reading about Dinoflagellates poisoning the animals that eat them, I
feel as if I should remove all the animals and put them in a different
system, and turning off all of the lights on the display for a few weeks. I
am pretty sure that I will divide the animals between my 30 gallon
quarantine (I feel as if the Zebrasoma will pick on the smaller bariene in
the 75 gallon) and my 75 gallon tank that currently has fancy goldfish in it
(I will move the goldfish to a kiddy-pool, change out all the freshwater for
saltwater, and add some bio-Spira for saltwater).
All of the invertebrates will go into the 75 gallon, since the larger water
volume should hopefully be more stable, and that tank hasn't been treated
By the way, the bariene tang (which grazes this algae stuff more than the
others) looks the worst, and continues to get worse. The yellow tangs, both
of which eat it occasionally have septicemia still (and one is worse than
the other). The sailfin tang (which doesn't touch it at all), seems to be
having no problem, much like all of the other fish (which do not eat it
either). I plan on running over to the store in the morning and buying a 200
gallon box of instant ocean salt.
Is there anything else I can do?
<I'd add a great deal more small substrate to the refugium and/or
main/display tank, AND look into what your RedOx is... raise it w/ ozone
addition. This is, as the saying goes, WAR>
Thanks again for putting up with all my emails,
Re: Septicemia on my yellow tangs
I thought I'd give you a follow up on the algae problem. Two
nights ago I removed all of the animals in the tank and moved them into
Unfortunately, the bariene tang died that night. As for the
other fish, all of them seem 100% better, including the two yellow tangs
which have no more red on them at all.
The tank is currently sitting in the dark with the lights off and is
covered with a black tarp. I also raised the pH to 8.5 and began running
a pound of activated carbon in the sump based on recommendations from
the LFS and others online who have dealt with Dinoflagellate problems. I
will say that after moving the fish, snails, and urchins (and having my
arms in the water for quite some time afterwards scrubbing the
walls and rocks) that I got quite the headache and felt quite sick to my
<Mmm, me no like>
Luckily, the queasy feeling and the headache have just about gone away
Needless to say, I will be investing in a pair of arm length rubber
gloves after this incident.
Thanks for putting up with my emails,
<Thanks for this update. B>
Toxic Tank Catastrophe AND Recovery! 6/5/12
Much love to those at WWM -
I've been "in the SW hobby" for 10 years. I have been pondering an
upgrade from my 100 gal aquarium for quite a while. An opportunity
arose, and I took it, albeit uncomfortably - as I knew that I wasn't
fully prepared for this big move. I really just needed a couple of
extra days to make sure I had plenty of fresh SW on hand, time to move
and clean my tank properly, etc. But I wasn't allowed
this time, and I had to go on Friday afternoon to collect the fish,
rocks and sand from the seller (A previous Aquarium Store Owner!).
Then awaited the movers to deliver the 210 gallon tank, stand, and hood
on Sunday morning. The fish that came with the tank included:
7 inch Imperator Angel, 9 inch Blue Tang, 5+ inch Naso Tang, 4+ inch
Bristletooth Tomini Tang, 4-5 inch Butterfly, Pair of True Percula
Clowns, and a Watermelon Wrasse.
I removed the sand/rocks from my 100 gal tank and moved it to the floor
temporarily, acclimated the new fish to my water, and then joined my
pair of B/W Clowns and my Randall's Goby with the new fish in the
with some live rock. Everybody looked really stressed, except for
all of the clowns. This was not unexpected. The tank was certainly
too small for them, and I'm sure the move was stressful.
<Not so much the move but the conditions they were moved into.>
I felt, though, that the Angel and the Naso Tang, in particular, looked
stressed and were not breathing normally. I started reading on WWM
during the day to get some suggestions, and it suggested that
Environment is the first thing to look at for Large Angels.
Indeed, from this major switch, even though I added a lot of new
saltwater, the pH was really low (under
7.8), although ammonia was only 0.25.
<Only!! That is quite high for sensitive fish. Ammonia
readings have a pH factor that needs to be figured in to the reading.
An ammonia reading of .030 at a pH of 7.8 will rise to .060 at a pH of
8.2. Adding the new saltwater would raise the ammonia level to
I added some buffer to try and slowly raise the pH.
I was already mixing/warming more salt water, but I didn't have enough
ready to do a big water change yet. Next thing I knew, fish
started going belly up.... one by one.
<Likely ammonia poisoning.>
The pH shift was not that dramatic, so later I assumed that some
cleaning detergent or something had gotten into the container I used for
I grabbed the upside-down Tomini Tang and threw him in the 10 gal
hospital tank with my pair of GB Maroon Clowns (I hadn't anticipated a
third pair of clowns) and Yellow Watchman Goby. They had been
removed from a 30 gal tank
that had developed some sort of parasite and were being
I didn't want to put anything else in there, but my other water wasn't
ready. Next, the Naso Tang had to go in there. Then, the
Butterfly. In moments, the upside-down Tang and Butterfly had
righted themselves and looked great. The Naso Tang continued to be
distressed, laying on the floor and breathing over 100/minute.
<It needs to be in water. :-)>
The Emperor Angel we tossed into a tank that was at least warm - but
certainly not a good environment - it was holding more of the rocks and
mostly old saltwater - but I was desperate and no other tank was big
enough. So the Emperor and Blue Tang went into there. The
clowns all got tossed into the 30 gal tank that was supposed to be
"fallow" due to its
outbreak. It was crazy - we were frantically moving fish
Finally, my fresh SW (3 heaters in it to try to get it warm enough) was
acceptable. So we took the Blue Tang and Emperor Angel
(practically not even breathing - my mom and husband had already
declared him dead) and Naso Tang and moved them AGAIN to the fresh SW.
Within minutes, all three were swimming and looking normal.
<Ahah, no ammonia present.>
Honestly, we were shocked that anyone survived! The Tomini Tang
and Butterfly and Larger Percula then went out of the Hospital Tank into
a separate fresh SW bucket - all well. The small Perc stayed in
the Hospital Tank because he is really skinny. (All of the other
fish I got are VERY plump and healthy). I lost my Randall's Goby
and the Watermelon Wrasse
because we couldn't find them in time. Rescued my 3 Peppermint
Shrimp and my Pistol Shrimp (lost his claws - although I definitely
heard him "snapping" that night so I assume they must also snap with
It seems, though, that all of the snails and crabs survived. I
didn't remove them until today, and they seem fine. I wondered
what would take out the fish but not the snails.
Yesterday I thoroughly cleaned and emptied my 100 gal tank, and moved
most of the new fish into it this morning. So far, everyone has
recovered successfully. With no rocks in the tank, it has more
swimming space for them. My B/W clowns remain in my 30 gal "Infected"
Tank. The skinny Percula is in the Hospital still. Of
course, during this process, most of
the fish were exposed to whatever parasite had hit my fish before
(Yellow Clown Gobies came in with them and didn't survive treatment -
massive amounts of parasite, but it didn't really look like ick - the
Maroon Clowns developed some minor white spots/dusting later and have
continued to have occasional spots in the Hospital, although I haven't
been able to treat effectively with everything else going on).
I'm not sure how long it will take for the new 210 tank to be ready.
The rocks were well-established with lots of healthy bacteria, but I'm
sure I'll have a cycle from the sand transfer and stirring up
everything. This is good, because it will give me a chance to
observe these fish in Quarantine. I assume it would be better to just
observe them for now, feed them, give vitamins maybe.
<Yes, and do monitor ammonia.>
I don't see any obvious wounds from all of the transfers, etc. If
my tank does cycle quickly due to so many good rocks, would you move the
fish into the big tank, or keep them in quarantine for a full 4 weeks
due to their potential exposure?
<I would add them slowly over the course of a few days.>
(For most of them the exposures were 2 hours or less, or just from bowls
used for fish transfer etc).
<Depending on the size of containers the fish shipped in, ammonia levels
likely rose in the containers. It's wise not to feed fish at least
24 hours before moving. Wonder if the seller realized this.>
Also just wanted to share because watching these fish recover was so
<Thank you for sharing Lynn and hope the remaining fish do well.
James (Salty Dog)>
Contaminated water... SW losses det.
Hi, My fish have died but I am unsure if the cause is a disease or
contaminated water. The water comes from the sea and there are many
Butterflyfish etc nearby but I am wondering if as I collected the water
there was some contaminate which would disperse and not harm the fish
as it was only there a short time.
<Mmm, could be... the containers you're using to retrieve and
store the water are safe, not suspect?>
The signs of the disease/contaminate are blotchy skin which then
get a lot worse until the whole body is washed out. The reason I do not
think it is a disease is that there is no increase in breathing rate
even before death.
Could any contaminate cause these signs or do you think it is a
The fish die within about a week. Regards, Adam.
<I'd try to eliminate the contamination possibility first
here... By collecting water a bit further away from human-use areas,
storing it for a few weeks. Have you read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seawater.htm
and the linked files above? Do so. Bob Fenner>
death of blenny and 6 line wrasse, Likely
anemone-"coral" allelopathy, cascade event in sm. vol.
I spent a good deal of time on your site trying to find the answers
that I needed, yet I seem to still be at a loss, and decided to write
to ask for some help.
I have a nano cube 30 gallon. It has been set
up for about 6 months now, with inhabitants of: 3 hermit
crabs, bristle worms, reticulate brittle stars (tiny), starfish (tiny),
a spot tailed blenny, Nassarius snails, a
peppermint shrimp, a giant snail and a green bubble tip
<Mmm, can be problematical, esp. in small volumes...>
We've got several different types of coral
<... particularly when/where mixed w/ other Cnidarian groups>
in there and a good amount of live rock. Everything was going
<... not really; no>
We decided to add a 6 line wrasse yesterday, as we have recently had an
explosion of green flatworms, and thought the wrasse would help us
control them. We acclimatized the wrasse by sitting him in the
tank in his bag for 20 minutes, then pouring off half of the store
water and adding about a cup of our tank water.
<Better by far to mix water back and forth daily from an established
isolation/quarantine/new introductions system and your main display...
mixing water here... too likely to spur allelopathy, cascade
Then waiting 15-20 minutes, adding more tank water and waiting 15-20
more minutes and then adding the
wrasse to the tank. We made sure to aerate the water a bit each time
with the water addition. We added the fish at about 4 pm and our lights
go out at about 8 pm.
Everything seemed fine for a few hours. The spot tailed blenny came
out, met the wrasse and all seemed fine. The wrasse made himself at
home and began eating a ton of copepods.
A few hours later, we noticed that the blenny was pushing water out of
his gills quickly-faster than usual. This morning we woke up to both
fish dead. The blenny was found stuck up against the intake of the
filter pump at the top of the tank and the wrasse was half eaten at the
bottom of the tank in a little cave. We also had added a Hydor Koralia
circulation and wave pump (750 gallons / hr) to the mix and aimed it at
a rock to help stir up detritus and help keep the tank clean and
circulating. We had also put in the recommended dose (liquid) of
stability by Seachem to help with ammonia / etc from the new
We checked the salinity, it was fine at 1.026, all other levels were
fine (no nitrates, ph acceptable, no nitrites, alkalinity
All invertebrates seem fine. We tested the tank with a hydrometer and
the tank all in one test strips.
I'm not sure why both of the fish died.
<I am pretty sure>
The wrasse did not seem aggressive to the blenny, and both fish
did not seem stressed. I'm not sure if the Hydor pump was too much
for them, or if the wrasse got stressed and possibly emitted a toxin
that killed the blenny. I'm at a total loss and obviously sad at
their deaths. Everything else in the tank seems ok and stable.
Any advice on what happened, any cleaning / water changes we need to do
are greatly appreciated. Also, any info on how to remove the stupid
flatworms without damaging the tank and its inhabitants would be
greatly appreciated. I think the flatworms are killing one of my
<Not at all likely; no>
Many thanks in advance!
<Let's see... how far "back" to start you... Please
read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/CorlCompArt.htm
and/or the ppt version linked above. And here:
Mmm, the longer than shorter thrust of your situation: I'd either
not add any further livestock, or removed the Anemone/Actinarian, OR
strictly adopt the above-mentioned acclimation SOP, and/or... get a
much larger system.
Dogface Puffer, hlth. 1/8/12
My Puffer has been a bit weird this week and not sure why.
Hope you can help.
Information as best i can.
Nothing has changed in my FOWLR tank in last 6 months. In or
!00 gallon. Oversized Tunze skimmer plus trickle filter.
5 small tankmates.
<Need to know what species>
Puffer about 5 inches. Will be getting larger tank.
Weekly 10% water changes.
Instant Ocean , D&D or Royal nature salts used. (I change
every 25kg to vary elements in my other (reef) tank).
Only 2 parameters not perfect are SPG 1.026. I am dropping to
1.024 over next few days.
Everything has been stable and fine till last weekend.
Coincidence maybe ?
<Reads like it>
But I went away for 2 days and decided not to feed fish.
First time i have done this but read it`s not a
Normally leave neighbour in charge.
Anyway Puffer instead of being very light grey has darker
speckled grey spots. Skin looks a bit like when he has blown up
and come down again...A bit wrinkled.
He is also staying in front of powerhead flow.
<... Mmm, a guess here... this fish might have gotten sucked
up against the intake...>
Then he might hide away in a cave.
Just doesn't look or act the same.
He has flashed against rocks a few times. Not a lot though and no
sign of itch.
He is eating as much as ever and looking for food every time i
approach the tank.
No problems with other fish or any in my other tank.
Both tanks running 18 months ish.
I don`t run carbon in tank but i am going to start soon from what
i have read this week.
Do you think there is a problem here ?
<Don't know for any certainty... But would ask that you
and just try to be patient... Highly likely this issue will
resolve of its own. Bob Fenner>
Re: Dogface Puffer 1/8/12
Pathogen or parasite has been suggested.
<... I see in your pix that you have a Paracanthurus tang...
It would be parasitized way ahead and worse than the
I am attaching a before and now photo to see if that could shed
<I can... there is a disturbing amount of Blue Green Algae
(reddish in this case) coating the back wall of this system. I
would make moves to reduce this. Please read here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm
and the linked files above... where you lead yourself>
If so would quarantine and Cuprazin work ?
<I would neither move this fish, nor expose the family to
Copper compounds... please read where you were last
Sorry for rushed reply but starting to worry.
Have read lots and will continue to do so where you have
<Ah, good. BobF>
Re: Dogface Puffer
Should have added , no actual intakes in tank .
All behind backboard.
Also puffers breathing seems to be getting faster.
<The steps to reduce BGA, improve water quality... B>
Re: Dogface Puffer, hlth.
Thought same about Regal myself.
Will read up on algae.
The red has been on tank wall since start up but hasn't
increased in last 9 months say but have needed a real scrape to
remove any so just decided to leave it. Thought no harm as not
<... not so. Toxic, at times very... ONLY scrape this off when
you have a plan to make a very large water change, vacuuming as
much out as you can, changing or cleaning all mechanical filter
As regards the green algae i have just increased water flow as i
had one of my powerheads greatly reduced running a nitrate
<Oh! Of what sort of make up is this? Might be the or another
source of poisoning. What in particular is the feed
The difference since yesterday is great.
Don`t know if this was the problem but will definitely take your
advice and do some more reading.
Thanks a lot again Bob
<And you, B>
Don`t know alot <no such word> about the reactor.
Just that the level of nitrates in tank is higher than what comes
out of reactor.
<Mmm... what do you feed it with... the source of carbon? Is
this a liquid prep.? Is it some sort of bead that's in the
Company in England sells many different types.
This is a link to the one i have. http://www.cleartides.com/page20.htm.
Doesn`t actually say what the media is.
<Mmm, I see that they sell a few types... Sulfur, pellet...
You should be able to tell which variety you have... Don't
know that the reactor is a culprit... as other, just as sensitive
fishes are reported as doing fine>
Read about the algae Bob and have increased water flow.
Think i need to up my lighting too. Only have 2x38w on a 100
Been told on 3 forums this is fine on FOWLR but obviously
<Depends on what you're trying to do... For just barely
lighting photosynthetic life on your rock this should be
Hope my puffer recovers (still eating today). Do i just leave him
and hope time (and water) heals ?
<Is what I would do yes>
And lastly how soon do i need to scrape algae from tank ?
<... better again for you to read, come to understand the
several approaches to BGA control... develop and incorporate a
Bit apprehensive about this job. Will it die off in time if left
<Mmm, more likely your livestock will die off first>
Thanks a lot for help Bob. Think you`ve hit nail on the head with
water quality. Was being sent down a few wrong roads
<Review our prev. emails... READ... understand, then act.
Re: Dogface Puffer 1/10/12
Just a quick update.
Puffer still eating as normal<ly> but flashing and blinking
Probably a bit more lively too.
News on the nitrate reactor which i had stopped running before to
increase flow and when started again there was a slight ammonia
I had the outlet running outside of tank for a few pints then
Have just contacted the maker and he told me it should never be
stopped and started again and to flush out the reactors and begin
This i have done.
Could this have contributed to problems too ?
Cant see it being good
<Me neither. B>
Re: Dogface Puffer, now poss. BGA poisoning in
<Geez... the time code above reads as the same time zone (PST)
as here... am just ten minutes behind you Gar... 9:35 AM >
I decided to remove all blue green algae on Friday as i think i
have improved water conditions re your information page and also
think it mainly arrived a long time ago.
Basically i scraped the whole back wall of the tank and changed
about 20% of the water. Cleaned all filter media and left tank to
Another 10% change today and cleaned all filters again.
The amount of mess in the water was really bad and i am thinking
the tank water has been poisoned.
I am continuing the water changing and filter cleaning regime as
fast as i can.
Should i do anything Else ?
<Run a good deal of new activated carbon, and/or
Add anything to water to treat fish ?
I had a dead Damsel this morning and a small clown not
eating along with puffer.
Regal Tang is perfect.
Would you add erythromycin at all now as algae has 95% gone (few
very small patches left).
<I would not. Am not a fan in general of chemical algicides...
for all the reasons posted on WWM>
Grateful for any advice.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Perhaps BGA poisoning 1/15/12
Thanks for quick reply Bob
Think we`re in agreement over chemicals.
Ran a new bag of Rowa carbon from Thursday but threw it away with
today's changes as i thought this too could now be holding
poisons in the sock.
Now the tank is clear of loose algae i will replace it tonight
and carry on with water changes etc... till fish tell me
Thanks again Bob.
Just hope the fish make it.
<And you, B>
tank issue while on work trip, and
invert deaths... "If it weren't for bad
While I was on a work trip and my wife and daughter were
maintaining my reef tank, I had a failure with the overflow unit.
The overflow stopped functioning and water ended up all
over the wife's hardwood floors.
They shut the overflow pump off and also killed the
canister filter that I had on the tank as
The issue with the overflow was the vacuum pump that was working
with the CPR-90 overflow unit died.
<Do write them re>
Hooked the air line to a MaxiJet and it started suctioning
again. The canister filter issue was the wife
knocked off the inlet line.
It was vibrating loudly with barely any water going through
<Until it failed>
When I came back, there was a massive hair algae and bristle worm
Also, some of my inverts, corals and anemones started dying.
I lost so far:
1 small anemone (not sure what type it was, but it was small, and
blue with long tentacles)
1 frogspawn coral
1 cleaner shrimp
5 or more hermits
1/4 of my snail population
1 large rose long tentacle anemone
All the bristleworms (they are piled up just sitting in the
open) I am going to take pictures.
<Best just to vacuum the worms out and toss>
Here are my specifications:
75 Gallon tank with 20 Gallon sump Water tests using a strip
showed 0 nitrate, 0 nitrite, 7.9 PH I did about a 40% water
change as I ran out of RO water, and have to fill everything back
up. All fish appear healthy.
To make a super long email short, is there something that would
affect inverts, corals and the anemones, but not the fish?
<Mmm, yes... likely some of the Cnidarians produced a
"cascade event" of chemical allelopathy here; of
something/s more toxic to invertebrates than fishes>
What should I test for additionally?
<Mmm, the compounds involved are not w/in the test repertoire
of hardly anyone... Are you an organic chemist or engineer? If
not, I'd search on WWM re the term string above, keep doing
water changes, and possibly use chemical filtrants>
I am trying to save the tank.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: tank issue while on work trip, and invert deaths
<Andy... please re-size images you send us per the stated
where you found where to write us. We've limited webmail
Here is an update on my ongoing tank rescue...
Attaching a picture of the worms that are flooding my tank.
I've been vacuuming them like crazy.
<Have you been diving at any permanent manta ray tourism
sites? It is AMAZING how much life comes out of the substrate
night after night>
Doing about a 25% water change daily now as well.
I found two of my large snails dead. They were not moving
and stunk badly.
The worms were eating the arms on the anemone. I thought it
was just moving back under a rock before, but there were worms
all over the arms.
I moved the anemone to a higher rock off the substrate, and it
attached, but it is pretty messed up. It may live, not sure if i
should just pull it to save the tank.
<I'd leave it where it is... the clown can/will fight off
most any remaining worms>
There is a pencil urchin as well that doesn't appear to be
moving. It has all its legs though, I moved it to another
location to view it for movement. Could this be the cause
of the tank invert deaths?
Still changing water, vacuuming worms. I'm also working
on my protein skimmer. It is a Urchin skimmer, but it
wasn't operating correctly.
Working with the vendor to fix (they've been very
<Jason Kim and the lads at AquaC are fab>
Thanks for your help. Your team is great and the site is a
wealth of information.
<Glad to assist your efforts. BobF>
Re: Additional carbon use.
BGA toxicity 7/31/11
Dear Mr. Fenner,
5 weeks ago I had a problem with my fish becoming very stressed
after I nipped a mushroom coral while siphoning Cyano out of
We were not sure if it was a result of a cascade effect from the coral
or me returning the filtered siphon water back to the tank or both.
<Me neither. I would NOT return the siphoned water back>
Well, I can safely say it was not from the coral because I decided to
move them to another tank the day after the last incident, five weeks
ago, and today I decided to siphon out the Cyano and it has happened
It has again mostly effected both my clownfish,( scratching, rapid
breathing, and darting around) and some of my other fish are also
acting a bit stressed, however, not as badly as last time. Once again I
replaced my Chemi-pure, and like last time, the fish are slowly getting
back to normal. This episode has been going on for about 5 hours now
and appears to be about 95% over. This time I did not return the
"used Cyano water" back to the tank, all I did was brush some
off a few of the rocks and siphon out the majority of the rest, just
like 5 weeks ago.
During the last episode, my coral were also effected by my siphoning
and brushing of the Cyano but, since I removed them I don't know if
it's exactly the same issue. Does this sound like something that
could be caused by siphoning Cyano or, do I possibly have some other
problem in my tank or even some other form of Algae/Cyano?
<Highly likely is BGA toxicity at play here>
Everything had been going very well since I removed all the coral, the
fish seemed very calm and happy. The coral were removed from the 38
gallon tank and have now been sitting in a 5.5 gallon, for five weeks,
and they have never looked better! Needless to say, there is no
Cyano/Algae/whatever in their tank. So while you were correct that the
previous problems that were effecting my fish prior to these episodes
were chemical warfare between the coral, I'm wondering if it was
also the Cyano/Algae/whatever creating some sort of chemical
"stew" in my tank?
Any thoughts? Sincerely, Art S.
<Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm
marine tank, Eel ill from Bristleworm
spawning event? 6-10-11
Dear WWM crew, I have 2 questions for you. I have had an Snowflake eel
for 6 1/2 years. He was the size of number pencil when I got him. He is
now 3 feet long and 1 1/2 inches thick.
He has been very lethargic lately and I was wondering how long do they
<Mmm, at least ten-twelve years>
My 6 line wrasse has been missing for a week and I believe he ate
Would that make him sick?
Second question. Two years ago I added Bristle Stars to the tank and
last week a very strange thing happened. Literally hundreds of Bristle
Stars all exited their hiding places at the same time. They climbed to
highest points in the tank. They each postured with the center of their
bodies elevated away from the rocks and released white mucus in large
They then went back into hiding. What was that? Thanks for your
<Spawning... whatever triggered this, or these sex cells themselves
might also be the root cause of your Echidna's malaise. I'd be
changing out a good deal of the water, spiffing up (cleaning) your
skimmer contact chamber and collection cup, utilizing a bit of
activated carbon in your filter flow path. Bob Fenner>
Re starfish spawn 6/13/2011
Thanks AGAIN WWM crew. Your advice was crucial to saving my reef tank.
The starfish spawned simultaneously by the hundreds making my corals
and fish very sick. Thanks to your quick advice I was able to save them
all. You guys are the greatest.
<Well, perhaps close runners up. Cheers, BobF>
Tank crashed 4/24/11
After successfully keeping multiple reef tanks for
several years, I've just learned I don't know as much as I
thought I did.
<We could definitely start a club>
A tank that I have had for 7 years started to get hair algae.
<Mmm, had you changed out some of the live rock, substrate every
year or so?>
So today, I scrubbed off the hair algae
<Mmm, won't "do it">
in the tank and was sucking out the algae while doing the water change.
I usually do a 5 to 10% change per week, but I was going for a 50%
change. The tank was getting pretty dirty, lots of debris and loose
algae floating around.
Didn't think much about it, but then, my fish started dying,
instantly. A couple of deep breaths, then dead. One by one.
<Does sound like a "Vibrio" bacterial wipe out
I quickly started adding the new pre-mixed water <Won't work
either... the only thing that can/will save livestock in these
situations is to move all livestock to other established
to try to stop whatever was happening, but too late. The other fish
started going to the bottom, breathing hard, then within 10 minutes,
they all died. 6 year old Imperator angel, 7 year old powder brown
tang, 6 year old fox face, 5 yr lion fish, hawk fish, etc The only
thing that survived is the snowflake eel and all the invertebrates.
What happened? Is the hair algae toxic?
<Mmm, it may well have triggered/started the "cascade
My wife is devastated since it was her tank. I hadn't even bought a
fish in over 4 years because I rarely lose a fish. I'm just
completely baffled by this. I've done large water changes many
times in the past and never had anything like this happen. Especially,
since the only thing I did was drain about 50% of the water. I
hadn't even made it to the water change part yet.
<Marty/Martin Moe has a nice job of this sort of thing in his
recently redone marine book. Our archive of such: http://wetwebmedia.com/toxicwipeoutf.htm
The tank should be dumped, sterilized (likely bleached...). Bob
Reclaiming tank 1/10/11
First of all, thanks for your invaluable resources. I have been a fan
of your website for several years now.
I have a 50gal setup with about 30 pounds of live rock in more of a
less fish only tank. I have 2 clowns, a yellow tang, 2 yellow tail
damsels, and an engineer goby. Right now, the only inverts I have a few
<A bit on the small side for the tang.>
A couple of years ago, I had a coral banded shrimp, chocolate chip star
<Oh no!>, and even kept a seahorse with great success.
My problem now is (with 2 small kids) I have diverted my attention away
from my aquarium and have let it go south. I have not put the time and
attention into it like I should and now I have a Cyano red
slime algae outbreak and some of my levels are
high. I have started doing weekly 5 gal water changes,
installed a protein skimmer and have bought a RO/DI water system.
<All great steps.>
One of my resolutions for 2011 is to reclaim my aquarium and to have it
looking pristine once again... adding some inverts and anemones.
<One anemone in here and do realize it will make keeping other
corals in the future somewhat tougher.>
Maybe someday I can dabble in some easily maintained corals.
I would appreciate your advise based on my levels below. I was thinking
of using 2 Brightwell aquatic products to help me... Microbacter7 and
biofuel since it is primarily my nitrate and phosphate levels that are
<I have personally tried neither. I personally do not believe at all
in products such as the first you list. Your tank is established, with
live rock. A "cycling" boost would do nothing here. The
second product is
based on vodka dosing, a proven method. But quite honestly with this
water volume and the steps you have taken I would skip it entirely.
This method is not without risk!>
<Yep, out of balance.>
I think a lot of my problem is the detritus buildup along with the red
slime and some possible decaying fish/inverts.
<Pull them out!>
Something has killed off most of my inverts (PO3 and NO3 I assume).
<Possibly, and indication of overall poor conditions.>
Overall fish health appears to be fine at this point, but I know they
will feel better once all parameters are stabilized.
<Oh yes. I am surviving myself in 40 deg temps, but would be much
happier in Fiji right now!>
Many thanks in advance for your help. I do value your suggestions and
<Really, just keep doing what you are here. You stated yourself this
situation started with neglect. You have taken major steps here. Just
give it time. Realize as the BGA dies off it can re-pollute the tank.
It is important to keep the protein skimmer working properly and keep
up on the water changes. Once the problem is under control you can cut
back on the water changes. Scott V.>
Dying Marine Tank (a poisoning event, maybe) --
Dear WWM crew,
After a deal of homework on the subject, I have been entirely
unsuccessful in finding a solution to my problem and always value your
<Let's see if I can be of some help>>
I have a 29 gallon BioCube (two 36 watt PC bulbs <stock lighting>
and a protein skimmer <special make for the 29 gallon BioCube). The
temperature of the tank stays between 78 - 80 deg. and I run the white
lights 6 hours per day and the actinic for 8 hours per day. The water
tests at 0 nitrates, 0 nitrites, 0 phosphates, 0 ammonia, 1.025 s.g.,
<<The pH is a bit high -- not much 'wiggle room' for such
a small volume of water should something cause a spike. Not dangerous
as it is, but if this reading is being maintained artificially, I would
let it come down some>>
and no copper has ever been introduced to the tank. My problem is this:
the tank has been set up for well over a year now with no problems. It
holds 1 Strawberry Dottyback, 2 Yellow Tail Damsels, approximately 45
pounds of live rock, an orange sponge, 1 turbo snail, 3 or 4 hermit
crabs, Zoanthids, a Derasa Clam (was to be moved to a 90 gallon), and
some Nerite snails. Within the past 2 or 3 weeks, I have lost the clam,
the sponge, the Zoanthids (I saved a few by moving them), the hermit
crabs, and the live rock is losing all of the coralline algae growth
and developing green hair algae.
<<It would seem there has been some kind of
contamination/poisoning event. Note that the losses you mention are
your invertebrate livestock -- generally the more 'sensitive'
I use R.O water and as I mentioned above, all of my water chemistry
<<Those ions you have measured/are able to measure>>
I even had my LFS test it again for me; same results. I am SO confused
as to what is wrong?! I have a 75 gallon and a 90 gallon reef tank that
are doing just fine, so this is an isolated incident. I highly value
any advice you may have to offer...
<<It's impossible for me to say definitively what has
happened here. But it seems very likely 'something' deleterious
has been introduced in to the tank; either about three weeks ago when
you first noticed the problem, or earlier -- slowly over time. That pH
of 8.5 keeps nagging at me'¦ It may be nothing, but you need
to also check Calcium, Alkalinity, and Magnesium levels and make sure
these are in (still in) balance. An imbalance in bio-mineral content
could cause issues as you describe, to include the loss of Coralline
and development of nuisance alga. And regardless of the findings, some
large water changes and the addition of chemical filtration (I
recommend Poly-Filter in this instance) are in order'¦along
with a good search of the memory banks for anything that was added to
the tank, or any maintenance/husbandry that was changed recently -- or
even just 'something' that was used within close proximity of
the tank that may have poisoned it like spray air freshener, solvents,
<<Happy to share'¦ EricR>>
Lost fish, trying to determine reason.
Good Morning Crew!
<Good morning Hans!>
I seem to have had a bit of a problem with my 90g tank the past couple
of days. I think I have it figured out, but wanted to run it by you
guys to see if there was anything I have missed.
I recently won a two year war with hair algae and
Cyano, and this latest event has been a serious blow to my
morale just when I was finally starting to get happy with
<Mmm, two years? Debilitating on the mind for sure>
I came home from work yesterday and made my normal daily inspection of
the tank, and found my Kole Tang was gasping very heavily. He totally
ignored his normal food pellets as well, though my other fish all ate
fine at the time (2 clowns and 1 firefish). I started running some
tests to figure out what was going on, and found a few parameters out
pH had dropped from the normal 8.4 to 8.02
<This should be ok, although over what time period? If dropped
immediately this might cause some heavy breathing/ loss of equilibrium,
but if done over a period of a couple hours then it should be
My skimmer was going bonkers and overflowing.
<A big clue>
Salinity had risen to 1.027, though I was about 2-3 gallons low in the
<Mmm, this is due to your own inattention I'm afraid>
Other parameters seemed normal for the tank.
dKH was 8, which is about average for the tank.
Temp was stable at 78f, again normal for the tank.
I didn't test ammonia, it's been so long since I've had any
detectable levels that I didn't even think of it at the time.
<This is the sort of instance where I would test for Ammonia. How
I had made a couple recent changes to the tank that may or may not have
contributed. I replaced my pair of Koralia 3s with Koralia 1050s just
the day before, and was running them on a 1 minute alternating
<I would just run these all the time myself, pointed at each other
from opposite sides of the tank>
A few days earlier I had added a Derasa clam, 6" toadstool and an
<This, these the most likely contributors mentioned>
About two weeks ago I swapped from a 4x55 PC light setup to a pair of
Maxspect 160w LED units.
My thinking both then and now is oxygen deprivation and/or CO2.
<Not likely if you are running w/ a sump>
We had a house full of people the day before, and the gas stove was
running all day for cooking/baking. That's a lot of CO2 in the air,
and looking back now I probably should have shut the skimmer off.
<Mmm, this should reduce CO2 in the system not the other way around,
and your photosynthetic life forms should by their own actions also
utilise CO2 during the day>
Combine this with the new Koralias being aimed lower than the old ones,
giving less surface turbulence.
<I assume you are running a sump? This will agitate/ oxygenate the
water far more than the in-tank pumps. Did you test for RedOx and/ or
O2? These will/ would have given you the answer here>
To try and restore my normal parameters I used some sodium bicarbonate
to bring the KH up to 11, added some fresh RO/DI water to bring the
salinity to just under 1.026, and put one of the Koralia 3s back in
specifically for surface agitation.
Oh, and I also added some carbon to a second media reactor.
<This might have been the best move of all>
pH slowly came up overnight back to the normal 8.4.
Unfortunately, I lost the Kole Tang and the Firefish. Both clowns
seemed normal the whole time, and still are eating and acting normally.
I had the Tang for about 8 months, and the firefish for about a month.
Neither had shown any other symptoms prior to this, and neither showed
any signs of external trauma. Everything seems stable again now, but
that doesn't mean my side of it is over until I fully understand
<Search re: Allelopathy.. can directly and
indirectly affect all animals in the system.. by inducing chemicals in
the water, killing off organisms that release more chemicals.. in a
'cascade' effect. Ctenochaetus are
I had been dosing algaefix marine
<More troubles.. a potentially toxic soup and a special blend
<what is this?>
due to the algae.
<Better to fix causes, perhaps why it has taken you so long to
overcome the algae problems>
However I had stopped the algaefix about two weeks ago. The most recent
special blend dose of 45ml was 6 days ago. I don't currently use
any other additives on a regular basis, testing hasn't shown any
need yet as I don't have a lot of corals. I'm being slow and
cautious about adding livestock.
I do use Warner Marine EcoBak bio pellets in a reactor, for about 2-3
<Mmm, Vodka methods et. al are best left to experienced aquarists
who are running v. low nutrient set ups, most usually the 'SPS'
type. In your system you should easily be able to maintain low enough
nitrates w/ out doing this. Your Ctenochaetus most definitely would not
have been benefiting from this method, they like/ need detrital matter/
algae growth in the system to be strong/ able to withstand changes in a
I don't think any of these contributed, but I wanted to give you
the whole picture of the tank.
<Thank you for this>
Is there anything else you think I may be missing? I'm going to do
a few extra water changes this week as an extra precaution,
I normally do 12 gallons once a week. I'm going to miss those two
fish and will replace them eventually, but not until I'm confident
that the problem won't just re-occur, and that I have a solid plan
or procedure to prevent it.
<The overflowing skimmer points to toxins in the water probably
caused directly or indirectly by the recent introduction of
Cnidarians, the toadstool - Sarcophyton? in particular. You
also have been adding/ using various other additives/ media. Perhaps it
might be time to simplify things a little in your system/ set up? I
would keep running that carbon for a while now, with the water changes.
Re: Lost fish, trying to determine reason.
In all honesty, the chemical method to control my algae was my last
resort before doing a full teardown of the tank and starting over. I
had exhausted the other more conventional methods with no luck, the
hair algae was literally inches thick over all the rock and substrate
in the tank at its peak. I almost gave up completely.
<Can be trying indeed>
This was despite regularly using carbon and GFO, snails of all shapes
and sizes, all water changes with ro/di water, phosphates and nitrates
have consistently registered as zero. I was manually removing what felt
like pounds of wet hair algae at times, trying to get it under control.
Nothing was helping. Even the algaefix was having no effect, which is
why I discontinued it about two weeks ago. The "Special
Blend" is a product from microbe-lift that came highly recommended
by a number of local reef keepers, and is advertised as a bacterial
<For use w/ the 'bio pellets' as part of the low nutrient
I don't currently have anything to test for RedOx or O2, but will
acquire something. I think my Reefkeeper controller can accept a probe
for it, I'll look into them.
<If you already have a controller that can read such then I would,
of the two, RedOx is a more useful measure>
Nitrates and phosphates just checked again at zero. I know these should
be raised up slightly for the toadstool, which I believe to be a
<Yes, this fast growing animal could also help to out-compete the
one of the best means of defence, along with elbow grease>
My ammonia kit is expired now, and is only giving me cloudy water, not
any legitimate color for the chart. I'll pick up a new one.
<Don't go for Salifert for this particular kit here.. often
always just looks 'cloudy' anyway.. I find the green/ yellow
salicylate tests to be easier to read & use>
I had already planned on stopping the additional additives, but being
that Special Blend is bacterial in nature , I didn't want to just
eliminate it too rapidly. I'd rather finish the recommended dosing
sequence which gradually reduces it.
Once this is done, it will leave my routine as just the water changes,
bio-pellets, carbon and regular testing.
I honestly hadn't realized that adding the toadstool could have
such a dramatic effect on the tank.
<Can easily, yes, especially when first added, and to small volumes.
Don't forget that you added others at the same time.. there would
have been warfare, unseen by you, betwixt animals jostling for
superiority, also potential damage to the same w/ fragging, moving,
placing, exuding toxins>
Sometimes it seems that no matter how much I read up on new livestock,
there's always a big piece of the puzzle missing that causes me all
sorts of chaos.
<You have just described life itself Hans!>
Saltwater Tank/Ridiculous Stocking Levels
We had a 5 yr old 55 gallon established saltwater tank in good
shape with a small grouper and 2 larger(@ 8inches) and a larger
Volitans Lion fish. We needed to go bigger because our fish had
grown. We bought a used 90 gallon tank which had been used to
raise plants for a company who sets up and maintain tanks for
offices, hospitals etc.
<Increasing the length and width of a tank when upgrading are
much more important than just increasing the depth. You have
provided very little improvement for these fish.>
We switched everything over (original water, live rock, gravel
and fish). Then added enough saltwater to fill up the tank. That
was about 2 months ago. We have tried about everything and cannot
get it to
straightened out. The pH, nitrates, nitrites and ammonia went
through the roof.
<The fish load in this tank is ridiculous and am not surprised
that readings have gone "through the roof".>
We were told replace your bulbs because the spectrum has gone bad
You need a protein skimmer (done that). You have an old out dated
filtration system (got a new canister filtration system for up to
110 gallons plus was using the 2 out dated filters (for up to 130
gallons).We are using reverse osmosis water now (was told it
would straighten out our problem) instead of well water which
always worked in the 55 gal tank. It will be clear as day at
night time and early morning but after the lights come on (about
3,4 or 5 hours later) it looks very brown and cloudy. We were
told water changes and a lot of them.
Done that lots and lots. We were told it keeps cycling since
after we do a water change it is clear for a day or so then it
goes right back to the same brownish cloudy state after the
lights have been on for a few hours. The fish quit eating for
awhile but now are back to having a large appetite. Haven't
lost any fish but it looks terrible. We have Googled this and
looked at everything and talked to people who do this for a
living and tried everything. We have gotten the water tested
professionally. The last time they said we have no nitrites but
the nitrates are back through the roof. Can you offer any
<I am surprised that no one ever told you your tank is
overstocked and is the major cause of your problem. Three
groupers and a Lionfish produce a huge amount of waste that your
system cannot deal with, it's crashing, big time.
The Lionfish alone is a bit too large for your system. Sounds to
me like these "experts" were more concerned with
selling you equipment rather than seriously addressing the real
problem. My advice is
to find homes for these fish and fast. Secondly, I would tear
this tank down and wash the substrate thoroughly and start anew
with fish that are suitable for your tank size. Research fish
before you buy, ensure you can provide the requirements needed
for keeping a particular species. James (Salty Dog)>
Single species kill mystery 3/10/10
Yesterday at 'lights on" I found that my 3 Royal Grammas had
all died some time in the early morning hours.
None had color fade, all were locked in sleeping positions, and only 1
had damage or any kind on him (and that was because he bedded down next
to some hermits). The previous day and night they were their normal
selves, eating, swimming, and just a little bickering. All were
different ages and showed absolutely no signs of distress or illness, I
have no idea what could have done them in. They had eaten the exact
same things as all the other fish (fed 1 cube frozen Mysis, 1 cube
frozen Spirulina brine, and 1cube butterfly/angel prepare) and none of
the other fish have died.
150 gal, been running 2 years+, 6"avg DSB
<A bit low>
Atlantic Blue Tang (subadult)
4 Atlantic pygmy angels
2 flame angels
3 chalk bass
prior to the sudden RG deaths, I had sudden noticed a decline in
Zoanthids, which started 3 months ago.
<May be an important fact>
Water tested out the same as current (using 3 different kits), though
one test put it with a nitrate level of over 200ppm, it turned out to
be a false reading upon a second go.
I also had a pair of Yellow Head Jawfish both go blind at the same
time, no idea why (diet perhaps?).
They continued to live for over 5 months, being target fed. The last
one died this morning, seemingly healthy and unmarked (though it had
been acting depressed). Over the last 2 weeks, this Jawfish had
ventured from his hole, and kept digging craters in the corners of the
tanks to sleep in, but would still return to his other burrows on
occasion to keep them clean.
Is it possible that the Jawfish digging might have released some
trapped gasses into the water that might have killed off the Royal
<Mmm, not likely, no... else, the other fishes would have been
Any help would be appreciated.
<Is a "bad" mystery; that is, one I can't for sure
point out real possible explanations for. I suspect that some sort of
"cascade event" occurred here with your mention of Zoanthid
behavior... with the Grammas most affected. I would take care to
"spiff up" your water quality, add some new live rock,
perhaps some new coral sand... to re-center your system chemically and
biologically. In addition, I'd give your skimmer a thorough
cleaning, and change out/add new GACarbon, and possibly PolyFilter in
your water flow path. Please read here:
and the linked files in this .ppt pres. above, and here:
re: Single species kill mystery 3/10/10
Thank you for the reply Bob.
Some additional happenings and info:
Found the largest Atlantic Pygmy Angel dead this morning. No marks,
<Again... I suspect some sort of biological poisoning... likely
associated w/ the Zoas... Read and act... soon>
The Atlantic Blue Tang seems to not be sleeping. She's covered in
what looks like Ich, but it clears up by mid day. I noticed last night
that she was avoiding her hidey-hole and hanging out near the rocks,
but in the stream of the Vortech...
<... related/due to stress>
The tank was originally a Caribbean biotope for almost a year and a
half (all fish, gorgonians, Zoas, palys, and Ricordeas bought from
Florida collectors), but I broke it when I took down my Nano and added
the Yellow tang, Flame Angels, Galaxea, and some mushrooms (boy was
that last one a bad idea...).
I forgot to mention that when this all seemed to start I had a
Caribbean collected Dendro that was nice and bright, and it seemed to
get injured and die off.
<All part of the whole... "cascade...">
Now, however, there are tons of babies beginning to take over the old
skeleton. Pretty cool!
Anyway, the week before the RG deaths I had cleaned out my skimmer
(Coralife250, I'll be getting an MSX soon though) and changed out
all media (poly, carbon, and Phos-x) and can't help but wonder if
all of that at once may have contributed somehow.
<May well be>
As these deaths are all rather sudden, could it be that a chemical may
have been introduced into the water somehow?
<Is... but not exo... endogenous>
Is there a place I can send a water sample to be tested for extraneous
<Not as far as I'm aware... one can do their own bioassays...
but unless you act prudently, there won't be much to test.
Re: Single species kill mystery 3/10/10
Ahhhhh.... did a thorough scan of the aquarium, and found that there
are 2 spots where the rock had shifted somewhat recently, causing 2
different Zoanthid colonies to be damaged. Perhaps that is our
My girlfriend also just told me that she did a water change the day
before the Royal Grammas died, and that she "harassed" some
of the mushrooms that were encroaching on Purple Sea Rods,
as she could see damage at their base. basically, she said she tried to
vacuum them up, sometimes getting their flesh all the way into the
siphon, but they stayed rooted to the rock. She did observe "some
powdery and snotty looking stuff coming off of them and into the
tube". Perhaps this is tipped the scales?
<Very, to too likely>
(I'll be having a talk with on proper conduct with sea life...
<Does little actual good to "wag fingers", but does make
me feel better.
Dying... but from what? Toxic water Cond.s --
Thanks for reading my question. You guys are by far the best out there
and I read your site regularly.
Not long ago I wrote a question asking about a "cleaning
crew" compatible with a target mandarin and puffer. We recently
moved them into a larger tank (from a 25g to a 60g). They have been
tank mates for about 18 months now and when separated they get visibly
depressed (the puffer fish was moved first and was void of his normal
personality until we also made the switch with the mandarin, then he
was back to normal and they slept together as they used to).
The transfer for the mandarin was difficult. Originally we tried to do
both at once. However it was a newly set up tank and from the way it
"freaked out" between erratic swimming and distressed
breathing, we hurried to return it to its original tank until we were
About a week later, we attempted the switch again. This time he
accepted the change much more easily, but he has continued with
breathing that seemed somewhat labored.
<Something different chemically/physically there>
We also noticed that he appeared to have lost significant weight. Since
then we kept special watch on him, making sure he was eating... and he
was. He feeds on Mysis and has for a year now. We lucked out in that he
was not a picky eater.
However, another week has gone by and he seems to now have increased
respiratory difficulty. He had had some minor fin damage that we
thought might have been from the first attempt to switch tanks, but he
had been swimming freely once acclimated to his new home. Although he
has been eating, he still looks underweight and a red line of sorts has
appeared in his face area. We noticed a few miniscule spots on his back
fin early on and having had a lot of experience with ich, we were
careful to monitor that as well. He appears as though he's going to
die any minute, but we can't identify anything specific that would
be causal. Water levels imperfect, as the tank is still establishing,
but ammonia is never above 0 and nitrite has been around 0.5.
<...?! Deadly toxic>
Nitrate around 40 at last check.
<And this is way too high as well>
He's nearly motionless in the corner. Is there a parasite that
maybe we can't see causing him illness, and if so any way to
<?... "It's, the water...">
Any help would be truly appreciated.
<See here: http://wetwebmedia.com/Googlesearch.htm
insert the terms
and read. Bob Fenner>
Re: Dying... but from what? -- 1/22/10
I understand that any reading on nitrite isn't good, but the tank
is just 3 or so weeks old now and we're doing what we can to ease
the cycling. The fact that ammonia never rose above zero was comforting
and we've dosed with
Amquel plus to put nitrite down, but because it's not fully
established yet, it seems to hover in the 0.25 to 0.5 range despite
We're also infusing with additional bacteria to help speed up
It seemed as though things were going as well as could be expected
under the circumstances. I don't know what else we could do to
improve the tank permanently until it's had more time. I hope he
lasts that long.
Thank you again,
<Keep reading. B>
Re: SW toxicity trbshting f' --
<Hello there again Rob>
Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. I noticed that you had asked
why I added the Trisulfa to my tank. Because my fish were showing signs
of a bacterial infection.
<Mmm, it is exceedingly rare that Sulfa compounds are efficacious in
treating such... in main displays particularly.>
The Naso with very cloudy eyes and the other fish exhibiting cloudy
eyes and grey slime before they died. I thought I was doing the right
I am going to set up a hospital tank in the next day or two, although I
am not sure how well that one is going to go over. What should I use to
combat this cloudy eye, grey slime problem?
<Just improved circumstances, the absence of the other, likely
poisonous activity going on in the present display>
Will the problem correct itself if I remove all fish from the tank for
a few weeks?
<Likely so, yes>
Should I run my UV sterilizer while the tank is empty of fish?
<I would leave it on, yes>
Is there any antibiotic that can be added to my main tank?
<Mmm, not really of use, no>
One last question - How long should I maintain treatment?
<? What treatment?>
I hate to see my fish suffer and die. I take this hobby very seriously
and I only buy fish I believe I can maintain for their full
Again any advice would be greatly
<Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/mardisindex.htm
scroll down, under the orangish bar, the tray on "Toxic Water
Devastating Tank Loss: Overstocked tank crash. Nothing
really to refer. 6/28/2009
Good Morning WetWebMedia Gurus,
I hope you are doing well and having a nice beginning of summer!
<So far, so good, thank you.>
I have had a tragedy with my tank and would like your review.
I know I made some mistakes and when attempting to correct them I
believe I wiped out our tank. We have previously had successful large
tanks, starting with 55 gal and eventually upgrading to 180 (it was
nicely established and balanced). That was 4 years ago, we had to sell
everything when we had twins. Recently we received a 24 gal JBJ and
were excited to enjoy the fish world again. We cycled, added live rock
etc for 4-6 weeks (until we had good test results, and added slowly
added a TR clown, cleaner shrimp, and some corals (torch, frogspawn,
& mushroom). We have had this tank up and going for 8+ months.
<Sounds good so far.>
Friends of ours had a breakage and we took on a very small hippo tang
and 2 Bartlett's Anthias and 3 chromis with the intention of it
being a short term solution all the fish were very small, fat, and
<A very short term, days or less I hope.>
Adding the resident TR clown & our cleaner shrimp we knew the tank
was overloaded. Well, said friends never rebuilt and our tank was
struggling with the overload,
<Would have been better to take the fish back to the store, A 24
gallon cannot sustain this load for long.>
I knew I had to get some out; so yesterday I removed the 3 chromis
which were also harassing the other fish and I knew the tank was not
appropriate for these guys, they were also the largest. I got them to a
store for donation after a nightmare of getting them out. Taaadaa the
other fish were out and checking things out.
<Typical, Chromis are fine in a larger tank, but tend to be
aggressive in confined quarters.>
I didn't realize how much these little chromis were dominating the
tank until they were removed. I did a little water change of almost 2
gallons, let things settle, everyone ate beautifully, we went to bed.
We really didn't want to get rid of the Bartlett's and hippo
yet as we are in search of a larger used tank and they are small.
<How long was the tank overstocked to this level?>
We awoke this morning to find all fish dead except TR clown and he is
not going to make it either, even the cleaner shrimp. Our cleaner
shrimp's name was molt because he molted all the time and grew
(always thought this was good, perhaps I need to look into it).
<Generally it is a good sign. You can read about shrimp behavior
We are devastated and confused. I tested the water and although some
levels are elevated, I didn't think it would have taken out the
whole tank especially since they were living in it just fine until last
night, also I knew the bio-load was too high and that was why were
removed the 3 fish and so on.
<A tank that overstocked, one parameter goes slightly out and a
crash can come very quickly.>
I put the test results below. The only other thing is the water change;
first I used water that I had left over from the last water change
maybe 2 weeks old (never a problem before; is this a bad idea?)
<Provided the container is sealed and the water is aerated, it
should not be a problem.>
I did over fill the tank slightly but was using up the water (again a
bad idea?) well it finally turns out that the return from the pump in
the back of the tank was not completely on the outlet. I had noticed
the stillness of the tank but thought it, the flow, was less visible
due to the fullness of the tank (assuming = yes I know), I honestly
didn't think too much of that which is too bad
<That could be telling right there - not enough flow moving through
the filters, toxins allowed to build up until disaster.>
Perhaps investigation would have saved my fish. So I reconnected the
return and water levels readjusted and I saw how I thought it was
overfilled but really it was this return; the end was near the outlet
tube but not connected. All fish had wide open mouths; oxygen
So I don't have a specific question just your opinion on what wiped
out our tank, hopefully I gave enough information.
<You did, other than how long the tank was overstocked.>
The only other thing I did to the tank was add some epoxy (for
to stabilize some of the rocks; but it says that it is not toxic and I
have used this product before, though I used quite a bit yesterday as
opposed to just a bit in the past.
<Not likely to cause a problem other than raise the temperature as
Now that all our fish are gone we at least have the opportunity to let
the levels balance out and not feel so pressured to find a bigger tank,
<Your stocking prior to taking in the "rescue" fish was
Ok that is our story here are our details:
approx 20 lbs live rock, margarita snails, other snails (we lost 2
margarita snails as well)
1.021 <1.023 - 1.025 is much better, particularly for
Phos .5 (Too high, but likely caused by the overstocking.>
PH 7.8 (odd it has always tested over 8 previously, as recent as last
<High organic load dropped the pH.>
Nitrite 1.0 <Deadly toxic.>
Ammonia .25 <Toxic.>
Nitrate 5.0 (maybe up to 10, colors are so close)
<Do large water changes NOW to try and save what is left.>
KH 179 & Calcium 420-440 ( we do not add any calcium supplements,
is this level too high?)
<That is fine, particularly for corals.>
I run the JBJ 24 as it came, but added two bags of carbon by the
overflow to help with the fish overload.
<That is fine, provided regular water changes are made.>
I imagine that this is the whole forgiveness thing of having a large
tank v. having a small tank, one small accident equals complete
<Sadly and unfortunately this is very true.>
Thank you in advance and take care
<Sorry to hear of your loss..>
Losing fish after tank cleaning/water
change 2/16/08 Hi. I have a 55gal saltwater fish
only tank. Nitrates, nitrites, ammonia, chlorine are all 0 or
undetectable. Salinity is 1.021 <Mmm, why so low?> and pH 7.3.
<Yeeikes! Way too low!> I do 10% water change every 2 weeks. I
have had the tank up and running for about 5 years but over the past
year I have been having frequent problems with fish dying after I clean
the tank. I only use RO water and I adjust the pH and salinity before
the water change. <Adjust it to what?> For the first 4 years I
have had no problems and am doing the same things but am losing fish.
At first I thought I had something in the aquarium that was harmful to
my fish but I was not detecting so I did a 100% water change after I
lost my last fish and waited for the nitrate/ammonia cycle to complete.
I added a couple of damsels which did well and then added a pigmy angel
about a month later who did well also. A month later I added a
Copperbanded butterfly. He did not eat well at first but now is eating
fine. Anyhow I cleaned the tank yesterday. I typically siphon the
gravel (this does created some sediment floating in the water), scrub
the walls, and remove the shells and rinse them off with tap water.
<All sounds good> A couple of hours after finishing I notice my
angel and butterfly were breathing heavily. I immediately checked the
water quality and found no problems. The angel died overnight and the
butterfly is still breathing heavy but did eat a little. He still seems
stressed and does minimal swimming. I really can't figure out what
I am doing wrong. Am I kicking up too much sediment? <Maybe... It
might be that there is something toxic there...> I use the same
water to clean my freshwater tanks. Please give me any advice you might
have. I am sick of losing fish. Thanks, Chris <Well... I would do a
couple of things. One, replace or at least add to your substrate...
It's "shot" in terms of solubility of useful materials,
and likely has very little relative surface area. You don't mention
having live rock, but I would add at least a few pounds here... for
various reasons gone over on WWM... Lastly, for now, I'll state
that "it" may not be you, your system, but the initial health
of the fishes.... your source that is at larger fault. I strongly
encourage you to spend some time reading over our site re livestock
selection, quarantine and maintenance of marine systems. Bob
Coral Beauty Assumed Dead (Decomposition Rate) --
01/15/09 Hi Bob and Crew, <<Greetings
Greg'¦Eric here>> This past Sunday I noticed my
2.5" to 3" Coral Beauty wasn't swimming around the tank
as usual with the other fish. After carefully looking around every nook
and cranny in the rock work, it was nowhere to be seen. I looked around
the tank also to see if it might have jumped out but didn't find
it. My conclusion is that it wedged itself in the rocks and died
somewhere I cannot see it. <<Mmm, yes'¦ I don't know
how long you've had this fish, and though the reasons for its
demise may be many, this species of Centropyge often suffers badly from
poor collection/handling'¦but if eating and well acclimated
can prove quite hardy>> Not wanting to tear my reef tank down to
find it, I decided to leave it, estimating that I have enough
filtration to handle the excess nutrient load from the decomposing
fish. <<Likely so>> I have a 75 gallon tank, with 60-70
lbs. of live rock, a Deltec skimmer which is very efficient and
produces a very good amount of skimmate. I also run 2 canister filters,
employing Chemi-Pure, Seachem Purigen, and Poly Bio Marine Poly-Filters
which I empty of trapped debris weekly; so I felt somewhat confident I
had enough waste removal, chemical and bio-filtration available to
handle this situation. <<Indeed>> In addition to the above
I have a 5 gallon hang on the back refugium filled with Chaetomorpha. I
have been testing the water daily (sometimes twice daily) and ammonia,
nitrite, and nitrate have all remained at 0. <<Okay>> It
has been about 4 days now since the fish "disappeared".
Assuming it is in the tank decomposing, how long it your estimation
should I remain diligent in looking for ammonia to begin to show up?
<<You can relax'¦ Any 'spike' in Ammonia would
have shown by now. The fish would have begun decomposing very
quickly>> I have no idea how long it would take a fish of this
size to completely decompose. <<It happens quickly, as stated.
And aside from the very efficient microbial decomposers in your system,
detritivores like your bristle worms will also have been at work. I
doubt by now there is much left of this fish at all>> Thanks in
advance for your advice, Greg <<Happy to share.
Help with Fish Loss... Cnidarian, supplement, cascade
event? 1/8/09 Hi, <Hello there
Richard> I need help!!! James (salty dog) helped me about a month
ago with my calcium and magnesium levels which were really low. I have
been battling to try and get some growth and colour from my SPS corals
but have a bigger problem now. Tank is 55 gallon live rock with mostly
SPS corals, also a sun coral and 1 Acan. Very few softies, only a
couple of mushrooms, as I prefer SPS and know these guys can be
chemically aggressive. I also keep 1 BTA in the tank, <Mmmm> some
shrimps and feather dusters. Anyway, the inverts for once are not the
main problem. Fish inhabitants (up until yesterday) were 2 Firefish, 2
Perculas, 1 coral beauty and a mandarin. I have been away over Xmas,
returning on 2nd Jan, so don't know may have initially happened.
However, I left simple instructions for Dad to feed flake and some
Cyclopeeze every 3 days or so and not to overfeed. He did mention that
all my fish 'seemed to be hiding' when he fed them and thought
it was because of the cold (not a fish expert!). However, the hiding
was ominously correct. I have unfortunately had the flu that has
affected just about everyone here in the UK, so haven't been able
to do much since returning, but I know there is a problem.
Symptoms/problems I have noticed: Larger (female?) percula left BTA
which for her is extremely rare, then died tonight. Very rapid decline.
2nd percula who doesn't inhabit BTA also hiding, which is again
unusual. Both Firefish died tonight. No visible sign of problems other
than some erratic swimming, followed by periods of inactivity, loss of
appetite. General sign of distress, but no visible signs of lesions
etc. <Yikes... something "overt" at play here> Coral
beauty also hiding, not exploring tank as much as usual. Feather duster
has lost crown, feather duster colony I also have also appears to have
lost some of the colony. Christmas tree worms retracted for long
periods. Only fish that appears unaffected is the mandarin, who looks
quite happy. <This may be a valuable clue> Causes. Have tested
for salinity (1024) temp (24.5C) ammonia (0), nitrites (0) nitrates (0)
and phosphates (0) <You do need, want "some" measurable
NO3 and HPO4... these are essential nutrients for your Cnidarians
('corals')> and ph (8.4) all of which don't appear to
have changed since I was away. Large amount of micro bubbles in the
tank since I made an adjustment to skimmer. Percula did have micro
bubbles on her all day <Also notable... summat to do with body
slime> today before she died. Is talk of micro bubbles just
nonsense? <Not at all> They are literally everywhere and large
bubbles are constantly rising up. <From the substrate?> Did add 2
peppermint shrimp just before Xmas. Could these have carried disease?
<Possibly, but unlikely> Disease would not explain loss of crown
on feather dusters. Unrelated problem? <I am more and more
suspecting something amiss in the environment period here> Only
other 'change' recently has been the raising of the calcium
levels (375ppm/mg to 450 ppm/mg) and magnesium (800 ppm/ml to
1350ppm/mg). This was achieved by slowly adding tropic Marin bio
calcium and bio magnesium and also some calcium chloride. <Through
dissolved... water changes I do hope... NOT added directly to the
water> Could high levels of chloride ions cause a problem? <It
could> I read that seawater naturally contains a lot of chloride
ions, so this is unlikely. <CaCl2 can be problematic... in effects
of shifting bicarbonate ions.> I suspect that dilution and some
water changes are the best way forward <Agreed> but I am lost at
the moment as to what could have gone wrong. To be honest, until I
know, I don't want to add any more fish. <Also agreed> Any
help appreciated before my tank becomes an inverts only tank!! Richard
<A few scenarios can be suggested that fit your observations...
About the simplest, perhaps the more useful, is to imagine that the
stress of changes (supplementing mostly) going on here resulted in
"upset" to your stinging-celled life... that in turn poisoned
your fish stock... making them slimier (the bubbles sticking to their
sides), but not harming the Mandarin/Dragonet... as it is very slimy to
begin with, and much less subject to the "poisoned effects"
of the Cnidarians... I would do as you suggest, seek redress through
successive serial dilutions here... NOT add more livestock for a few
weeks to months... And consider moving out the BTA here... it is really
misplaced in such a volume with the other Classes mentioned. Oh, please
read here re: http://wetwebmedia.com/cnidcompppt.htm and the linked
files above. Bob Fenner>
Flame Angel breathing fast... 8/12/08 Hello
to all the crew! First of all, I'm a French speaking guy from
Canada, so PLEASE try not to judge me from my English mistakes! <As
long as you'll be lenient re my Francais! Merci!> I have a huge
problem with my Flame Angel, Dr. Rockso. I'll try to establish the
whole story first, so you may be able to better understand what's
really going on. I was on a vacation trip in Europe for three weeks
during which my mother took care of my aquarium. I came back July 20th
(3 weeks ago) and everything looked fine. Before going on vacation, I
did a 30% water change, prepared food for the 3 weeks, and left my
mother with only the feeding responsibility. When I came back, I did
another water change (about 15% this time) and since then, I'm
taking care normally of the whole thing. Now, there's the first
problem. During my 3 weeks' vacation, the water temp. went crazy (I
only learned about it when I got home... no way to reach me where I
was...) and a little time after that, I lost my two Yellowhead
Jawfishes, but everything else was fine! Also, due to evaporation,
salinity was at 1.026-27, but I reduced it to 1.024. (Don't worry,
I'll write down every detail you need to know about my tank a
little later) Since that time, the water temp. was still pretty high,
so last Friday, I went to my LFS to ask what I can do about that
problem. I'm pretty lucky that I have this store here in Ottawa,
they're honest professionals and they always gave me great advice.
So, one of the owners told me to go get a little fan just to help water
evaporate and reduce the temperature. So I did! And it worked amazingly
well! Temp. dropped from around 85 to 75 in a day (Saturday). And now,
the main problem... Yesterday (Sunday), my Flame Dr. Rockso was hiding
and breathing really really fast. He was still swimming, but hiding
much more than usual. I gave him a little bit of dried food and he ate
it all. I also clipped dried green seaweed, but I had to go to work, so
I couldn't see if he was eating it. There are absolutely no signs
of parasites, Ich, or anything else. His color is still as bright as
usual. The only problem actually is it's breathing. Today (Monday),
the breathing got a little slower. Water temp. is now at 78. Now, the
technical details. I've had Dr. Rockso for almost a year now (11
months). He (well, she...) was eating like a little piggy since the
first day, always swimming around, very alert and curious. Overall, a
very healthy little guy, until yesterday. The aquarium itself is a 65
gal FOWLR, about 20 lbs of live rock, Eheim Pro 2 canister filter,
<A clue...> 5 water pumps, 1 for the surface, and the other 4 are
on a timer: 2 working for 10 min, then the other 2 for 10 min. I also
have an AquaC Remora skimmer <Good> from my former tank. I was
planning to install it this Wednesday. Now the live stock (the age is
not their actual age but for how long I've had them) 1 Flame Angel
(11 months) 1 Orangespotted Goby (1 1/2 years) 1 Red Pistol shrimp (2
years) 1 Tuxedo urchin (1 1/2 years) 1 Red seastar (3 months) 1 Tiger
sea cucumber (1 year) <Mmm, might be a factor...> 1 Peppermint
shrimp A few Cerith snails and a few Astrea snails +/-100 hermit crabs
(Bluelegged) <Yikes! This IS a bunch> Planning to get a Yellow
Tang too. (They are ALL doing great, except for the Flame angel) Water
parameters: Salinity: 1.024 pH: 8.4 Nitrites: 0 Nitrates: +/-15
Ammonia: 0 I read ALL the Faqs on Flame angels and dwarf angels, and I
didn't manage to find anything looking like my problem. Why is my
angel breathing that fast? <I suspect some sort of anomalous
metabolite issue... with the canister filter, the elevated/spiked
temperature...> Is there anything I can do? <Yes... see below>
Could the water temp. change and/or salinity be responsible for this?
<Yes... they are factors> (so many question, and not enough
answers...) Your help will be more than appreciated! Thank you very
much!! Ivan <I would "clean out" the canister filters
mechanical media (rinse in seawater outside the tank), add some
activated carbon in your flow/circulation path, and execute/do a 25% or
so water change here. Bob Fenner>
Re: Ammonia? 8/20/07 >Hi WWM, >I
think i have a slight ammonia problem. I feed my fish and 30 - 60
minutes later my fish start breathing for air at the surface.
><Yikes> > I test the water and it shows 0ppm on my test
kit. ><Might be low dissolved oxygen> > The next day the
fish are fine and no more breathing. It has been happening for about 2
weeks and it happens everyday after i feed my fish. But yesterday my
Chromis' started to breathe at the surface and about 3 days ago one
of my yellow tangs disappeared <!> > and i have a >feeling
he is causing the ammonia spike in my tank the last 2 days. Before he
died the Ammonia was kind of like an on and off thing. But now most of
my fish are gasping for air. Is it unusual to constantly have ammonia
going up and down? ><Yes... insufficient biofiltration...>
>I have these pouches in my tank called 'Maifan Stones' by
'SUN SUN'. Have you heard of them? ><Have now:
>They are meant to lower ammonia and nitrite ><I would remove
this material> >and i think this might be what is lowering the
ammonia every time. If you have any idea what is happening i would
really like to know urgently. >Thanks, Maison ><... what re
the set-up, size, history of this system? BobF> Hi Bob, My tank is 6
x 2 x 2 foot, Multi SL protein Skimmer, UV Sterilizer, Reef Octopus
Nitrate Reductor, 12,000l/h return pump, Tunze Pump in a Rock(9000 l/h
of movement), <5 Nitrate, 0 Nitrite, 0 Ammonia on my test kit
(Aquarium Pharmaceuticals), pH 8.2. My fish are: Convict Tang Blue Tang
2 Yellow Tangs(1 now) Desjardin Sailfin Tang Lawnmower Blenny Mandarin
Dragonet 10 Chromis Flame Angelfish Longnose Hawkfish 1 Black Ocellaris
Clownfish 1 Ocellaris Clown Haven't had any filtration problems
before, it only started 2-3 weeks ago. Yesterday i noticed these grey
blotchy patches on my black clownfish. His middle white stripe has a
transparent looking blotch on it. Would you have any idea what it is?
<I suspect something amiss with your Nitrate Reductor... I would
take this off-line. Likely either the feeder stock is poisoning your
system or some co-factor here.> I've been searching for it on
the Internet and can't seem to find it. All my other fish look
perfectly fine. I just bought a new rotating powerhead yesterday and i
am going to put it in the tank today to see if it helps the oxygen
level. What would be the best and most accurate Ammonia test on the
market? Because i don't like the Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Ammonia
test kit. Thanks, Maison <Look to Hach, LaMotte
Rapid breathing 08-16-07 SW nitrogenous --
08/17/07 Hello, to whomever is responding at this time. Thank you
for what you do for all of us beginners! If you could direct me to the
portion of your page dealing with gill burn or something similar, I
would be grateful. I guess I am not typing in the correct search
queries to bring me to the right page. I have a green wolf eel and
yellow striped maroon clownfish. My tank is stable with Ammonia and
nitrite at 0ppm, Nitrate at 5-10ppm, ph of 8.3, temp of 78 degrees and
SG of 1.023. All of these readings are very consistent. The two fish
have been back in my display for 7 days. I have had both since May
2007. They were in my QT tank for 6 weeks before introducing them to
the display due to an Ich outbreak on a regal tang, which has been
moved to a large system. These two never showed any signs of ich, but
moved them to QT to be safe and let the tank fallow. <Good move>
My concern is that the QT tank started to cycle while they were in it
and they were exposed to ammonia levels of close to 2ppm and then
Nitrite of 2ppm. <Yikes!> Their breathing (more so the eel) still
appears rapid and deep. That seems to be their only problem. One time
(yesterday) I saw the eel open his mouth very wide (like my yawning)
and push his gills outward. Do you know what he was doing? <A
mechanism for cleaning? A reaction to low DO? A "threat"
display due to your presence?> They both are very active and eating
great and otherwise appear normal. Is this gill burn from the bad water
quality (I did 50-100% daily water changes with pre-mixed and aerated
water while they were in QT to fight the high levels), or possibly
something else? Is there anything I can do to help them? <Patience,
good care otherwise> Is it even possible for them to recover from
gill burn (if that is what it is)? <Oh yes> Thank you for any
advice or link you can direct me to. I try so hard to keep them happy
and healthy but seems I always, unknowingly, do something wrong, so now
I turn to you. I will continue to read and learn. Thanks!*~*April*~*
<Don't think we have a link per se... I would try a search here:
gill burn marine fishes... and read the colored cached versions to save
time... But gill burn from nitrogenous metabolites is very common as
are dire hemolysis from environmental challenges... But/and can be
Toxics Water?...More Likely Overcrowding, Lack Of Knowledge
10/15/07 I have a 40 gal tank that has been running for 3 months
with a Three Striped Damsel, False Clownfish, Yellow Tang, Scopas Tang,
Mandarin Goby, 2 Diamond Gobies, 2 Cleaner Shrimp, 2 Crocea Clams, Sun
Coral, Frogspawn Coral, two Bubble Tip Anemones. One assumption
<Assumption of what?> was the Mandarin Goby, after buying and
doing my reading. I realize I shouldn't have it due to the lack of
live rock (100lbs or more). <And the fact that your tank is
overstocked by a good margin.> I have had her for about a week and
she is doing fine, last night when the water was cloudy she turned very
white in color and would swim near the surface on the water which I
found to be very unusual for a Mandarin Goby. This morning I checked
the mandarin and she is fine, good color and size. <and size??>
Just to sum up a few things here it is. Recently I noticed that my
cleaner shrimp was indeed pregnant, ok cool midnight snack. Second was
the red slime algae, I treated that with the proper dose of Blue Life
Red Slime Remover. It worked great. that treatment was 3 days ago, no
more red slime after one treatment. <Not a cure, just a temporary
band-aid. It will be back. Better to control the source of the problem.
Read here and linked files above.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm> For the past few weeks
the water quality has been good all except for nitrates. <Not
surprising with the load you have in that 40.> It have been around
10-15 ppm. I added Algone <Another band-aid and not a fix. Go here.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm> and have been doing 10%
water changes every couple days to gradually bring them down. Last
night I came home to my tank being completely cloudy and I had assumed
it was maybe my cleaner shrimp giving birth so I left it as is. This
morning the tank was clear but my Xenia was dead, so I did a water
test. The first thing I checked was ammonia, it was way to high like 6
ppm. The Xenia is the only thing that died. This morning I did a 25%
water change and the ammonia did not change. Any Suggestions? <You
definitely need to reduce your fish load. I'd would find homes for
the tangs, as your tank is much too small for them to begin with. Next
would be the Diamond Gobies, they are not going to survive for long in
that environment, and not a real easy goby to acclimate to begin with.
And, the Bubble Tip Anemones, not good mixing these with corals.
BTA's will move from time to time, and in the process, sting other
animals along the way. Without a source of copepods for the
Mandarin's diet, it too will more than likely perish. Never
mentioned lighting, do not know what your lighting consists of, but the
Crocea clams do require high intensity lighting to survive. It sure
sounds like you have had very little direction or knowledge before
setting up this tank. You mention nothing about using a filter and/or
protein skimmer. This info does help us give a better answer to your
query. In your case though, it is quite obvious that overstocking is
the major problem here. Reading here and related linked files above,
will give you a much better understanding of what is required to
establish and maintain a healthy marine system.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marineSetUp.htm> Thank you for your time.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog(> Riley, Christian
HELP NEEDED... LR introduction wipe-out... I
have a 55 gallon salt tank it has been up and running now for a few
months. everything has been fine until last night. I recently bought 16
pounds of new live rock to add to my existing LR. <Best by far to
sequester, re "cure" this outside main systems...> I also
did a 10 gallon or so water change. everything was still fine for about
24 hours then it all happened. At the stroke of the new year, I seen
the tank was cloudy, checked my ph it was 7.0, <Yikes!> checked
nitrates they were over 5.0, <... likely Nitrites... deadly> then
I seen lots of bristle worms( I had never seen these in my tank before)
all the fish were dead including the sea urchin, however my red
starfish, and anemone are still alive, the anemone is not looking so
good but is still alive. I also seen some cocoon looking white sacks on
a live rock. (what could these be) now today I am doing water changes
readily to try to get the nitrates down. Am I doing this right and what
happened to cause this. I don't want to cause this again, ever.
<?> I appreciate any information and help you can give me. I am a
nurse who feels like a murderer to these poor fish. last night it was
almost like a code blue call for me. I even had my husband assisting me
in doing emergency cares for the star and anemone until 5 am this
morning. Sam <... much for you to read. Please start here:
http://wetwebmedia.com/lrh2oqualfaq2.htm and the linked files above.
Plate coral poisoned tank? Toxic tk.
situation, endogenous, biol. 3/2/08 Hi, First, thanks
for this fabulous resource that I've used once or twice :)
<Welcome> I've scanned your FAQ's extensively (and have
been since March of '06) but am not finding what I'm looking
for exactly, so my apologies if this is a duplicate question. I
couldn't find it in any of the books that I have either
(Calfo's and *The Conscientious Marine Aquarist* the most
frequently referenced ones). I had a 72 gallon lovely (I thought) tank
setup that was flourishing for quite some time (well, about two years)
containing some basic livestock- a six-lined wrasse (a meanie who will
not be replaced), a clownfish, 12 chromis, 1 Firefish, 2 perpetually
pregnant cleaner and 1 peppermint shrimp, a lawnmower blenny, many
polyps and Palythoa, a mysteriously appearing (and multiplying)
tree-type coral, <Please send a pic of this... could be a
Hydrozoan... trouble> mushroom corals, in addition to the usual
feather duster worms (3 small), turbo snails (24) and blue legged
hermit crabs (30) with various 'pods in the rocks and sump. Quite a
few hitchhiker opihi's (don't remember the real name for them),
small stars, worms, an emerald crab, etc. came in on the 90+ lbs of
live rock that we had accumulated over time, and our deep sand bed in
the sump and display were full of little wormie guys who build the
little calcified tubes. <Sounds very lively> A bout of hair algae
prompted my husband to stop at a local aquarium store and purchase a
sea hare on the dealer's recommendation, much to my dismay- but
there was enough algae to keep the guy going and he seemed to be doing
quite well in there (based on his expanding girth). He seemed to be a
good fit for our system. <Mmm, too many of these are inappropriately
placed... cold water... too likely to be unhappy, toxify a system>
Emboldened by his previous success, my well-intentioned but
poorly-informed husband stopped at the same store that was now having a
going-out-of-business sale. <Not a good sign...> He purchased a
couple of very small polyp-covered rocks at $5 apiece and a large coral
for a mere $10 :( The oh-so kind dealer assured him that his purchases
would be very easy to keep alive as long as the large coral was given a
piece of fresh fish once in awhile. <...?> By the time I had
researched the coral and knew that I was dealing with a nearly
impossible to keep alive plate coral (it resembled an anemone),
<Heliofungia... actiniformis> it was late into the evening and
the store had closed for good; no other store in town would take the
plate coral. I drove myself bonkers trying to keep the doomed fellow
alive, but die he did, and everything else in the tank died shortly
after he croaked and exuded some kind of slime stuff. <...> The
tank has run fallow since then, (July of '07) the only survivor a
lone hermit crab. I'd like to get this tank going again. Attempt #1
was done after several small water changes- testing the water looked
ok, so I went out and purchased 6 small blue-green chromis. They were
all dead the next morning. All of my basic parameters appeared ok- with
the exception of slightly elevated nitrates and high calcium (which is
a constant problem no matter what we do). I tested and retested and
retested. I bought more test kits and tested again. Still what I
thought was ok (at any rate was what the previous population had
appeared to thrive in before the addition of the plate coral). I
assumed there was something in the water that I was unable to test for-
a toxin or something from the plate coral (grasping at straws,
perhaps?). <Maybe> Attempt #2- I did a 100% water change, but did
not change the sand in the tank. I drained it a much as I could; in
that process I noticed not one single living thing other than the
previously mentioned hermit crab. As I said, the tank was previously
teeming with 'pods and other critters who came in off the live
rock. Even after running fallow for six months or so, still nothing was
showing up, nor has it since the complete water change that we did four
weeks ago. Three weeks after the water change I purchased 3 more small
blue-green chromis. One was dead a few days later; a few days after
that one was caught in the overflow. That one died the next evening.
I've tested the water weekly but again, nothing looks weird to me
except for the slightly high nitrates and very high calcium that is
typical for our tank. Expected diatom bloom going on right now. I'm
starting to see small bubbles coming off the rocks which leads me to
suspect a possible Cyano outbreak is in my near future. During this
water change, the rocks were exposed to air for about an hour. I did
not rinse them off but misted them with fresh saltwater (not from the
tank). Should I purchase some 'pods in a bottle and put then in my
sump? <Mmm, I wouldn't just yet> I do not want any more live
rock in the tank, but I'd like to re-seed the tank (only once I
know it's safe). Is there something specific that you think I
should test for in my tank before anyone else goes to their doom in
there? <Mmm, you might try running some filter media... PolyFilter,
GAC... for a few weeks, ahead of the next trial... Or skip ahead to
removing the Hermits... and nuking/bleaching all... draining, rinsing
(repeat) a few times with freshwater... re-filling with marine, adding
some new live rock over the old...> My smart-alecky daughter has
named the last three fish "dead fish 1, 2, and 3", and
I'm starting to feel like all the fish in the fish store are hiding
behind rocks when I walk through the store's door :( I'd rather
give up the hobby than keep killing fish... can you help? I'm
feeling very nervous for my hermit crab and lonely chromis. Below are
my test results and equipment on the tank: Temp-78
SPG/salinity-1.023-33 ph-7.9 (taken in the afternoon) alkalinity- 300
(KH 4.8 per Salifert) ammonia-0 nitrite-0 nitrate-20 calcium- I've
used three different types of kits; they all show the calcium higher
than 600. <Something amiss here... you don't want the biomineral
content this high... at the expense of alkaline reserve> I don't
dose or add anything to the water other than Dechlor for water changes
so I don't understand this. No calcium precipitation but wondering
if the Alk and ph are somehow suppressing that. <...?> This
reading has always been the case with my tank (since June of '06).
Is the sand a problem? <Maybe> Evap top-offs are done with R/O
water. I haven't been testing for magnesium, iodine, or strontium,
since the big wipe-out. Equipment/setup: 72 gallon bowfront (Upgraded
from 30 gallon in June 06) 15 gallon sump / refugium (below tank) with
6+ inches Oolitic sand and spaghetti algae, rubble Chemi-pure and
Poly-filter in sump Aqua C Remora Pro Skimmer with overflow box
Circulating 700-800 gallons per hour Two powerheads (one rotating) for
circulation TEK T-5 Light 6 -54 watt bulbs (two actinic) 90+ pounds of
live rock Oolitic sand as substrate- 4 inches in display Water changes
are made with tap water, Dechlor, and Kent sea salt (mixed a week
before) <I'd read on WWM re, try another brand> Many thanks
for taking the time to read this long email, Stephanie in Santa Cruz
<The choice is up to you... to try the chemical filtrant, more time
going by route... or the biocide do-over. Bob Fenner>
Abandoned Toadfish 2/5/07 Hey guys, I'm sorry, I
don't really have time to search through all the forums but here is
my dilemma: <All?> My friend owns some species of toadfish
(don't know what) <Batrachoidids?> and he has not cleaned the
tank, aerated it, or balanced it in any way in almost a year. <May
he be reincarnated as a toad> He has forgotten it was still alive
and has barely fed it at all, although it appears to be ok. I think it
is about 2 yrs old. I decided to adopt it and I've never set up a
saltwater tank, so am doing a lot of research. <A lot?> I bought
a Marine Chemical test kit, to test the current water so as not to kill
the poor thing as soon as I move him, but everything is off the charts.
PH, Alk, Nitrates... everything. I don't know how he's still
alive! How can I slowly integrate him into a healthy tank without
killing him? <Mmm, slow removal of old water (a few percent a day
let's say), replacement with "new" water> Should I use
3/4 his water, with 1/4 new? It has a lot of algae in it. What can I
add that will slowly bring the levels back down? <Just the water
changes for a month or two> What kind of things can I put in his
tank that he won't eat that will keep a balanced enviro and maybe
some company? Sincerely, Josh <Mmm, I'd try some live ghost
shrimp... can be had/purchased from a LFS. Bob Fenner>
Tank Crash, NO2 4/30/07 Hey guys,
<Craig> Thanks so much for creating such a comprehensive
site. Without it I'd be nowhere. Here is an
embarrassing who-done-it tale, that I thought you might be able to
solve. <Will try> I came home after having the tanks lights out
for about a day and a half in the attempt to cool the tank until I
installed 2 fans in the canopy to keep the temp down. I was
running hot at about 84. Today I came home and one of my
larger fish did not look well and I noticed a dead Damsel on the bottom
(I'm cycling right now). <Mmm, a bit of a/the cart afore the
equine...> The large fish was caught rod and reel from
the ocean for cycling purposes, though now I realize that fish are not
necessary for this purpose (I was following the LFS guy's advice,
at the time). <Mmmm> I also noticed that my live rock did not
look good. The macro-algae had lost color. I
immediately took measurements of Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate, and
everything was fine (high Nitrites (1.5 ppm), <Not fine. Toxic>
no ammonia, 10 ppm Nitrate), but the nitrites have been there for about
a week). During the panic I managed to knock the carbon
filter output out of the sump, so as I tested, gallon after gallon of
precious water was spilling onto the floor (big mess before I noticed).
So... I ended up doing a water change, to replenish the lost water
(about 10 gallons out of 120 + 55 sump). I put in some
stability <Proper noun; capitalized> and now a few hours later
things look a lot better. The fish are not breathing heavy
and the algae is regaining color. What do you think may have caused
this situation? <Mmm, the dead fish, high nitrite... but who
came/caused first?> Here are the facts: 1) I was lowering
the temperature - 84 - 78 over 48 hours. 2) I've been
raising the pH - 7.8 - 8.0 over 48 hours 3) I added a 55
gallon tank pack of Bio Spira to help things along <Good> (though
I had been using Stability for the prior 2 weeks before stopping about
a week ago. 4) I had the lights off for 48 hours
5) that was the first water change in 3 weeks (since the
inception of the tank) Any ideas? Thanks so much guys! I
want to see if I can avoid this happening again! Again - great site!
Craig <Thank you. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/no2trbfix.htm and the
linked files above. Bob Fenner> Impatient Cycling Causes Fish
Deaths 5/10/07 Greetings from Manila, Jason
here. Hope you guys are doing good as usual! :) <Hi
Jason, This is Jeni/Pufferpunk here today & I'm doing great,
thanks for asking!> 4 months ago, I had some fresh live rock from
the ocean, transported it back and placed it into my 30 gallon
tank. <Lucky you! We pay up to $9/lb for nice
rock here.> I only have the small powerhead, no filtration, no
skimmer. Tank temps ranged from 79F to 83F.
<83 is a bit high. I'd aim for no higher than
80-81. We're having a heat wave here & I have 4 fans
on my tank, trying to keep the water below 82.> I thought the fresh
live rock might not go thru a cycle process because I transported it
myself and was submerged in ocean water for several hours.
<Any exposure to air will kill off some of the life & start a
cycle.> My mistake was I did not use any aeration during transport.
2 days later, lots of die off. Everything died, worms,
crabs, sponges, except for the coralline algae. <To be expected.>
After week 3, my water was now pretty clear because of the algae growth
and ammonia and nitrates were heading low. My readings were:
Ammonnia-5mg/L, Nitrates-5mg/L, pH 7.6. <Actually, still quite
toxic.> Is there anything else I should really check
for? I don't know why my pH was acidic. <You are
testing for the correct things. Ammonia, caused by die-off
will cause the water to become acidic.> Anyway, at week 3, I decided
to do a 80 percent water change to take care of the nutrient export and
then get a baby Scopas tang and a couple Turbos. <Did
you test the water beforehand?> After a week, the tang
died. It started off swimming/nipping/eating for the 1st two
days. Then it got spooked out all the time and towards the
end, would always be hiding in the rocks and never came
out. I checked my Ammonia went back up to 5mg and
nitrates back to 5mg. <Quite deadly--tank was not
cycled.> I did another 80 percent water change and introduced
another tang. <Without testing the water?> He did the
same behavior but died after 2 days. I checked the water
properties, nitrates were at 40mg/L! It increased to 40mg
after I introduced the new tang. <Why do you keep
putting these animals lives at risk? You cannot introduce
animals to a tank that shows even the smallest amount of
ammonia/nitrites & nitrates should be below 20 for fish.> The
first tang 2 days before it died started to develop an ulceration
around it's eye and also its color started to get dark, with small
white spots (but it didn't look like ich). <Ulceration probably
caused by ammonia burn.> I thought it might have been HLLE, so I
checked the water: ammonia, nitrates, pH. <What were the
results?> I also unplugged the lights, fan and used a different
pump. But then the next tang died too. :( What
could have happened here? Are my rocks not cured enough to
support even one fish? <There is no such thing as
"cured enough". Either the rock is fully cured or
it isn't.> Should I remove my 3 Turbos, which are happily
munching away? <There is nothing nastier than a dead
snail in your tank.> What do I do moving forward, do I still
continue to do water changes? <Suggested reading: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i3/Live_Rock/live_rock.htm
do not add any more livestock until your rock is fully
cured. ~PP> Jason
Oops. Protein skimmer waste back into the
system! 5/22/07 Hi crew, <Elizabeth> While in the
process of cleaning out my protein skimmer, all of the waste in the
collection bin spilled over into the tank. Of course my
ammonia level shot up through the roof. <Yikes!> I treated the
water as soon as I noticed the problem (unfortunately 4 hours later
since someone else cleaned it for me). One of my damsel fish
acts like nothing happened, while the other (the shy blue) was lying on
his side on the bottom of the tank gasping for air. The
ammonia is fine now, and the fish is trying to swim, but not really
succeeding. Is there any hope of saving this poor
fish. Thanks! Elizabeth <Well, there is always hope... I
would try another dose of an anti-ammonia product here (my choice?
Amquel)... and try to stay light on feeding for a week or two. Bob
Re: Chrysurus angel sick... poisoned...
8/14/07 Well Bob I have read everything on your site on this and
now I have lost my lionfish (who started whirling around towards the
end like he had no balance), my male yellow stripe maroon clown, and
now my Female is whirling like her swim bladder is affected? <Some
sort of poisoning> Conspic still not eating and has a cloudy eye,
(if this was HLLE why are eyes cloudy on this fish?. <See above>
My passer and imperator are doing ok still eating but their heads look
terrible. This am I was able to catch all fish and move them into
holding talk with sharks. Should I start over? I was contemplating
bleaching tank. let me know your thoughts on this please, and then
returning sharks to clean tank, and treating fish with erythromycin or
neomycin with Metronidazole in holding tank. Thanks again bob. Kelly
<... something toxic in this system... I would execute large water
changes, add carbon to your filter path/flow. BobF>
Restarting a Tank 10/16/06 Love you guys' work... I
have told dozens of friends about your site.. Thank You in
advance for everything you guys have done for the hobby.
<Thanks for the compliments.> Now onto
the unpleasant question.... A few months ago my unstable ex
girlfriend broke into my house and dumped bleach in my small
nursery nano cube (6 gallon) and killed everything... <Hope
you called the police and changed the locks for your
safety.> I dumped it out and let it sit empty up
until 2 nights ago... I cleaned it out thoroughly (just rinse no
chemicals) and then filled it (with the sand still in) with fresh
water.. dumped in a healthy (kinda big) dose of NovAqua (to
hopefully remove or neutralize any remaining chlorine left in
there) let it sit for a few hours. flushed it out and
repeated this process 3 times... Filled it up with Seawater
(store bought ocean water) let it spin with the filter running
overnight and some more NovAqua (smaller dose)... <Sounds
good.> This afternoon I went out and bought 5 lbs of live
rock, 2 blue leg hermits, and a damsel fish.. Everything seemed
ok (aside from cloudy water) but the Damsel wouldn't come out
from beneath the rocks and after a couple hours he was on his
side and breathing very rapidly and lost most of his color... I
caught him and placed him in my other nano (JBJ 24g) and he
seemed to improve rather rapidly.. breathing slowed down some and
color came back quite a bit... The small anemones and crabs
seemed fine but I moved them over as well just in case... My
question is (finally right? sorry heh) Is it possible there is
still dangerous bleach/chlorine amounts still in there (obviously
possible :) ) and what can I do to salvage this situation? Should
I throw everything out and start fresh or will letting it run for
a week or two clear it up? Thanks in advance for your help.. Oh
and BTW.. I just purchased a Tenecor 1340G tank with a 300G sump.
It's in storage now until I can get a place to put it but I
CANT WAIT! :) I'd love to send you guys some pictures when
it's up! <Please do.> Here is what it looks
like on a forklift :) http://gconsier.smugmug.com/gallery/1846208
<Nice!> Thanks again! Greg <Your tank
needs to cycle, please read http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsetupii.htm for more
on cycling a tank.> <Chris>
Restarting a Tank Part II 10/17/06 Thanks Chris!
<Sure> I tried to cheat.. About 20% of the filter media in
the 6 gallon came out of my JBJ 24G as did some of the water...
(They sit right next to each other) <Will help speed up the
process, but the cycle still needs to be allowed to
occur.> I figured one Damsel and some
transplanted rock would basically help cycling along? <The
Damsel does not help as long as there is live rock, this will add
all the ammonia you need.> Did I do too much to
fast (nano cubes are such a pita... but.... so is moving 200+
gallon tanks from apartment to apartment...) <You got it,
right plan, but to ambitious of a time frame. Give it
some time and you will be fine.> Thanks for
your help! Greg <Anytime.> <Chris>
Cursed Tank... Anomalous SW... 1/24/07 Hello!
<Hi there> I've really enjoyed reading your site, there
is so much great info. I have a 265 gallon tank that I can't
get fish to live in. It has 4 inches of aragonite
substrate, <Mmm... may be too much or too little... possibly
"not the right stuff"... Have you read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marsubstr.htm and here: http://wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm and the linked
files above? You should> 200 pounds of live rock, a euro reef
CS 12-1 skimmer. The water is fed to the euro reef
system 400 sump by an overflow box and returned with a Sedra
5000. In the tank I have 4 Hagen powerheads to
circulate the water. It has been set up for nearly
three years now. <Mmm, again, a comment re your substrate...
I'd reduce the depth to an inch or so... or ditch and
replace> I also have a 29 gallon tank and a 75
gallon tank that I have been using as holding tanks. <Good>
In the 75 I have had a beautiful Emperor Angel for just over two
years. This fish is like a dog, he follows people
around the tank and eats out of my hand. I don't
want to add him to the big tank until I'm sure he will live
there. In the 29 I have had a clown for about 8 months
ago. Water changes all come from a 100 gallon tub
with RO/DI water. <Also good> For the first year and a half
that the 265 was in operation it had a clown in it for a majority
of that time. I would have fish to be added in the 29.
The fish would live happily in the 29 for a month and
then die within a week of being introduced to the big tank.
<Mmm, "something's rotten in Denmark"> Most
of the fish died without any symptoms of disease, just rapid
breathing and lethargy. The last straw was an ich
outbreak and the fish I had added and the clown
died. At that point I was completely fed up and I just
left the tank alone for almost a year. When I say I
left it alone I mean I wouldn't even look at it I was so
frustrated. I continued to care for the emperor and
put a clown in the 29 about 8 months ago. Both are
doing great. About six months ago I decided to give the 265
another try. I turned the lights off 24 hours a day
for about 4 months until all the algae died. Then I
started doing 70 gallon water changes weekly until I got the
Nitrates to between 5 and 10 and the Phosphate to
0.1. I turned the lights back on for six hours a day
at that point. I adjusted the Alk to 3.2 and have been
using products called Purple Up and Reef Builder to get coralline
to grow. <Okay> I have been putting carbon in for a few
days at a time. About a month ago I had the tank
looking great. It now has crystal clear water and nice
purple growth on the live rock. I was certain that
this time was different. I added the clown from the 29
about a month ago. The clown lives happily in the
265. I put a falcula butterfly in the 29 about the
same time. The butterfly lived happily in the 29 until
a week ago when I introduced him to the 265. He looked
great for six days. On the seventh day I came home
from work and he was laying on the bottom breathing
heavily. He died literally right before my
eyes. Before that he had eaten formula one daily and
was very active. There were no signs of
disease. The clown is still alive with about 30
hermits. The tank still looks great. I have
been testing the tank like crazy for the last couple
months. The readings have been: Ammonia-0, nitrite-0,
nitrate-10, alk-3.2, Ph-8.2, Calcium-350. phos-0.1, ORP-350. I am
really at a loss here. I can't figure out what the
problem is. Sorry to be so long winded, I just wanted
to give as much info as possible. Thanks, Brian <Well... that
"something" alluded to above is some sort of chemical
anomaly... I'm guessing that it's biochemical, arising
from an organism/population in situ (like an algae)... though it
could be inorganic (some missed bit of toxic metal let's
say)... the latter you might try discerning with the use of
PolyFilter (again, see WWM re)... the former might be removed
with "succession", the use of activated carbon...
but... For me... skipping ahead here... I would do as also
referred to previously, and either reduce or switch out the
substrate... AFTER nuking this tank... removing the LR to a much
darkened setting for a month... or bleach washing it in place
along with all else (yes... see WWM re) and placing some new
material over this to re-seed/colonize the old. In the future,
I'm very sure aquarists will have diagnostic tools that will
aid us in determining such "anomalous" situations...
For now... reacting to symptoms blindly is about "it".
Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Cursed Tank 1/25/07 Thank you for your
response. <Welcome> When you say Nuke the tank it sounds to
me like I'm at the start over point, which is ok. <This is
one, the most extreme, option...> I'd like to
re-do the plumbing anyway. I'm a little confused
about taking the rock out and placing it in the
dark. Should I store it in saltwater, or let it dry
out and rinse it really well. <Mmm, if you were to hope for
recovery of some of the biota the former... I am simply
encouraging you to consider the possibility of ending the life of
what may be biologically poisoning your system>
There is no algae growth that I can see other than
coralline. For what its worth the substrate is Carib
Sea Aragonite. I think you hit the nail on the head
when you said its too deep. I have the same stuff in
the 29, but its only an inch deep. <Mmm, much to consider (am
feeling, and maybe looking, quite Yoda-ish today)... I would do a
bit of reading on WWM... re Marine Toxic and Environmental
Disease... Bob Fenner>
Re: Cursed Tank, and plumbing now...
1/28/07 Hi Bob, <Brian> I have been doing a mind
numbing amount of reading on your site (thanks for all the great
info) <Mmm, welcome... and a (standard) comment here... re the
amount of perusal/reading... not necessary or required to scan
all... but maybe the more recent (higher numbered) FAQs file/s in
any given subject area... WWM is "copy/cut-paste" made
(not database driven, but BobF devised)... in this way... Just
read till you understand your options, the rationale behind
them...> and am concocting a plan for my 265 gallon
tank. At this point my clownfish and Inverts are in my
29 gallon tank (see previous e-mails below). I removed
the live rock to tubs in the dark with a powerhead in
each. When I removed the rock there was a lot of
"gunk" which I rinsed off with tank water.
<Good> I'm sure that was a big source of my toxic tank
conditions. <It might well be> ....
Unexplained fish deaths - 01/03/2006 Hi Wet
Web Media, <Hello Chris> I have a Aqua One 850 fish tank
that has been running for 5 months. It has 25 kilos of live rock
and I have a small snowflake eel, Coris wrasse and a damsel was
going to be food for the lion fish that died]. The fish are all
doing great But every time I put in a new fish it die's
within the night. I have taken my water to 2 aquarium shops for
testing and was told that the water was 100%. I have tried 3 fish
at different times: Bi color angel, Small lion fish, and a
Sailfin tang. All fish were eating and swimming fine during the
day but sometime at night things take a turn for the worst and
they turn up dead in the morning. I change 25 ltr a week and a
big 30% Water change a month and do testing once a
week. From what I can see the eel has no
interest in the new fish that I put in. Please help. <You
didn't mention the size of your tank, quite possibly you are
getting a ammonia spike with the new addition. Most
likely though may be your acclimation process. I am assuming you
have a functional biological filter in your system. Read here on
acclimation. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acclimat.htm James
(Salty Dog) Thanks. <You're welcome> Regards
Re: Unexplained fish deaths 1/4/06 Hi wet
web Media <Hello Chris> The tank is 3ft by 2ft by 1.5ft.
The acclimation process that I do is: Put the bag in the water
for 15min then open the bag and pour in a glass of tank water in,
wait 2min and then let the fish go in the tank, I don't put
the water in from the shop. I thought of the 12 hour ammonia
spike you can get after the first fish died so with the second
fish I tested about 4 hours after and all ok. I'm running the
water at about 25c its summer in Australia so the water dose jump
from 25c to 29c in no time. (I turn the aircon on after that) New
fish is stressed then temp goes up or down 4c and dies.
That's the only thing I can think of. Test are, Ammonia 0,
Nitrate 0, Ph 8.4, Nitrite 0, salt 1.020. <Chris, your
acclimation process is horrible to say the least. The
fish are going into shock as they cannot tolerate sudden changes
in ph and other parameters, salinity etc. Please read
here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acclimat.htm I
would get the salinity up to 1.023.> Thanks Wet Web Media
<You're welcome. In future queries please do a
spelling/grammar check before sending. Correcting text
for posting on the dailies takes up too much time that is needed
to answer other queries. Thank you. James
(Salty Dog)> Regards Chris
Reef Tank Troubles PLEASE HELP ME Hello Guys, <Hi, JasonC
here...> My name is Eric, I'm 15 and have a 26 bow front mini
reef. It contains 36 pounds of live rock, a colt coral, some
blue mushrooms, and a bubble coral. Filters are a little hang on Eheim,
a whisper 1 (DIY refugium) and PowerSweep powerhead. Lighting is 150
watts of PowerCompacts. I've been reading your forums for a long
time now, and they have helped me out a lot. Now I have a
problem that I just can't get rid of and I need your
help! Recently I went on vacation for a week. I
returned to brownish cloudy water, nitrates of 50 and a dead
anemone. I was devastated. The rocks were covered in red
slime (Cyanobacteria I'm sure) and a lot of bubbles (some kind of
algae) <Also Cyanobacteria I would think.> I stepped up big time
on the additives, (liquid calcium, molybdenum, phytoplankton, and
iodine), after a red slime treatment (I wasn't sure what else to
do!?!) <Lay off the additives... in a tank of this size you should
only be adding drops of the stuff and nothing that listed will help get
rid of BGA except for that red slime treatment which I wouldn't
recommend. Likewise, you should always test for things you are adding
to make sure they need to be added at all.> I've done tons and
tons of water changes, using gravel vacs, and trying to get rid of the
algae. Every day the brown water returns and so does the
algae, sometimes it taunts me and goes away for 2-3 days, then it
returns, my Caulerpa in the whisper 1 is under a 12 inch
fluorescent, worked the nitrates down to 20, but the corals
seem to do good/bad depending. PLEASE HELP ME. <I think you may want
to consider breaking down the system to make sure you've gotten all
the dead material from the anemone, and perhaps anything else it took
with it. Likewise, you could rinse the live rock in some clean
saltwater and return it to the system. You might also consider a 100%
water change at the same time. Small tanks are the most difficult to
keep stable, and sometimes once they've gone the wrong direction,
you're just better off starting over.> Your thoughts
are needed badly. Greatly Appreciated <Cheers, J -- >
Emergency Hey Bob I went to town to get some sea salt and
distilled water and the smell went away.? The smell may have
lasted a couple of hours. But that is it all gone. Strange huh.
Maybe it has something to do with the undergravel filter. Maybe
kind of a burp or something. All inhabitants are doing fine. Even
stuck my nose to the water, nose smell. Wetted a paper towel with
the water. No more smell. Not even the slight algae smell. The
smell was there my wife even smelled it. It started kinda
suddenly and stopped by the time we got home. What thoughts do
you have here on this? Maybe a stinky burp from the
undergravel??? >> The root cause of the anaerobic
glycolysis is still in your system... and will be back... I would
still do the water change, gravel vacuuming... next time your
livestock may all go... Bob Fenner
Re: figured it out emergency I figured out what was
causing the problem. The pump I have running the UV sterilizer
has quit. Goes off and on when it is ready to. replacing the pump
this afternoon. apparently the bad stuff came up out of the U.V
into the tank earlier this morning. disconnected it and euw what
a smell came out of it. I only run the sterilizer light about
twice a week. because of raising the water temp. But usually
leave the pump running. The reason I haven't notice the pump
not working is because of all the other powerheads pretty much
cover up that water flow. Thanks again for the help. Kevin
Johnson <Ah, what a relief... good to know. Bob Fenner
Mysterious deaths Hi! I have had a 55 gal. reef tank set up
for over a year and the end of last month had all my fish die within a
week. They were all just short of a year old. The first was my very
large blue tang, he got kind of a "patchy" look to him and
within a week was almost falling apart. Next came my neon Goby which
went the same way, then my maroon clown. None of my corals or snails or
crabs or shrimp have suffered. I also had a Firefish that has lasted
thru the whole ordeal. I waited two weeks and did my normal 5% change
twice, then added two percula clowns I had in another tank and within
the week they did the same thing. My Firefish is still fine. I have not
changed a single thing, not my feeding, not my lights, not my water
change cycle, nothing. What could of gone wrong. My levels are all
great, no ammonia, nitrates, nitrites, temp. is good, salt level is
good, nothing has changed. How do I know what happened and how do I
know when it will be safe to add more fish? Thank you so much for your
help. Rene'e <Thank you for writing... two prominent
possibilities loom here... considering what died, what didn't and
the order of loss... Either some sort of dissolved oxygen limiting
situation exists here, or an internal toxic one... Let me explain the
reasoning behind my thesis. Larger, more active fishes perished first,
and the new ones lost are in possession of a large gill surface area...
Also, a microdesmid (Firefish) which lives in lower D.O. situations and
in closer proximity to organisms which produce (naturally) toxic
materials persists... At any length, if you'd like to pursue the
"real, root cause" of your losses we can discuss the means of
testing for this... But, I'm sure you'd rather focus on what
can possibly be done to "solve" the cause of the problem... A
few things might well help: a large water change, or series of same...
Use of chemical filtrants (PolyFilter, activated carbon)... Placement
of new live rock, Macroalgae... addition of mechanical aeration (an
airstone, powerheads...)... addition of a UV sterilizer, ozonizer....
All these and a few other technologies might be employed to improve
your water quality, increase gaseous exchange... Please read over the
marine "Toxic Tank Conditions" section and associated FAQs
posted on the site: www.WetWebMedia.com for more, and return to me for
clarification, expansion on any of these ideas. Bob
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
- 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.
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
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.
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...
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
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>
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