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FAQs about Toxic Water Conditions: Endogenous; Internal/Organic Causes

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

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

Possible Hydrogen Sulphide issue?     1/31/18
Hi Good evening from Thailand.
<Hi Dirk. Greetings from sunny southern California>
In our newest tank (about 5 months old) we had a huge Red Slime issue.
<No fun>
We let the slime do its thing for about 1-2 weeks in the hope it would go by reducing nutrient additions etc... the slime only became thicker and thicker till it almost took over the entire tank.
<Can be toxic; at times, very>

Now was the time to go chemical we thought so we first siphoned out most of the slime and added "Red slime remover" this worked quit well with some smaller patches left on the sand after about 48 hours or so.
<I do hope you are using chemical filtrants>
Now when we wanted to stir them up from the sand
<Best to do without livestock present, AND via gravel vacuuming, removing the interstitial materials there>
(fine sand about 2-3cm thick) we noticed some places of the sand was clumped together and had a much darker color (black-purple like) while steering it up in fell apart creating some smaller dark clouds in the water column....
<Trouble; H2S...>
since then some of the fish ( Clownfish only tank....Ocellaris, Skunks, tomatoes and Maroon) (Maroon looks like a white film is coming of its skin?) in the tank have died...could this be a Hydrogen Sulphide issue?
<Oh yes; plus the BGA, plus the results of using the Algicide>
Can this be an issue in such a thin layer of sand (though under a layer of red slime) in such short time...1-2 weeks?
<Of a certainty, yes>
Oxygen levels were upped during the chemical period so I doubt it was oxygen issues that killed the fish....could it have been under feeding that caught up with them after about 1-2 weeks very low feeding regimes...(mostly just once a day) ?
<Perhaps a small co-factor>
Thank you for the advice...
<Thoroughly gravel vacuum this system, move the rock, decor to get to the substrate under and around it, remove about half the water this way. Use ChemiPure, PolyFilter in your filter flow path/s. Bob Fenner>

Too Much Tinkering In My Reef - Please Help!     1/16/18
Hi WWM Team,
<Really like your subject/header here>
I hope all is well in the New Year! I am going through one of those “tinkering too much moments” with my Red Sea Reefer 450. I have a mixed reef tank and decided to add a 3 ½” Achilles Tang and 4”Watanabei Angel within the last month. The fishes and corals are doing fine and my water parameters were fine as well. I decided to be proactive and thought it would be wise to add more biological filtration because of the new additions.
<Can never have too much Biofiltration>
I bought a box of Marine Pure bioballs and a bottle of ATM nitrifying bacteria (label states it treats up to 100 gallons – which is less than my total tank volume). I’ve added the bioballs and the entire bottle of ATM nitrifying bacteria into my tank last week. I turned off my skimmer for 4 days as per instructions. My tank was instantly cloudy once I added the ATM solution; I figured it is the bacteria in the bottle.
<Mmm; maybe secondarily>
As I wait for the bacterial colonization process, I noticed my Choati Red Leopard wrasse was missing for a couple of days. She was always active and eats very well. Again, I thought of being proactive is best and have to go into the tank to search for her.
<Not by disturbing the sand bed I hope/trust>
I don’t want her to die and decompose in my tank, especially during this tenuous stage of my tank. As I comb through the sand (about 1” sand bed),
<I'd increase this by at least twice>

I could potentially disturbed some anaerobic pockets – loosened some clumpy sand that had black residue rising up.
<Oooh, not good>
Long story short, I caught the Choati wrasse and relocated her to the quarantine tank (unfortunately, the Choati wrasse died in the QT last night). I tested my water in my main display and they are as follows:
Ammonia (Red Sea) = .2 ppm

Nitrite (Red Sea) = 0 ppm
Nitrate (Red Sea) = 16 ppm
PO4 (Hanna) = 0.06 ppm
PH (Red Sea) = 8.2
Alkalinity (Hanna) = 9 dKH
<All fine w/ the exception of the ammonia>
I decided to do three 20% water change in the last 3 days and added a dose of Seachem Prime to lock up the toxicity of ammonia until my mini-cycle completes itself.
<.... I would have just stopped feeding... >
I tested my water again, and it remains relatively the same:
· Ammonia (Red Sea) = .2 ppm

· Nitrite (Red Sea) = 0 ppm
· Nitrate (Red Sea) = 10 ppm
The water is still cloudy, which is surprising to me because I thought the water changes would have rid the bacteria bloom in the water column…
<And the loss of ammonia, likely bumped off a good deal of nitrifying population>
The livestock (both fish & corals) still looks fine - the fish are eating & active and the corals are fully expanded. Anyway, what would you recommend with regard to the mini-cycle and cloudy water?
<Just stop feeding till the NH3/NH4OH drops to 0.0 ppm>
As always, your insights and recommendations are extremely appreciated. Many thanks in advance.
<Thank you for sharing. Increase, mix in more sand when the system restabilizes. Bob Fenner>

What Did I Do?   Reef gone; env.         1/4/17
Dear Crew,
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
to speak.
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… however
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.>
Warmest Regards,
<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.
<Please do>
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 the water.
<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 well.
<Might be>
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      7/1/16
<Eight megs... is there a full moon? Why are folks sending such huge files?>
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 stuff out?
<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 the problem.
Thanks in advance for your attention on this.
<Try searching, reading on WWM re these algae groups control. Bob Fenner>


Re: Help with Anemone and Algae      7/1/16
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.
Thanks again.

White Patches on Majestic Angel       5/3/15
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.
<... bad>
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
<Oh; good>
and other fish in tank or behaving and look normal as well. Possibly Brooklynella?
<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!
<Bob Fenner>

Some BGA influence now!

Re: White Patches on Majestic Angel          5/7/15
Thanks, appreciate the info. Sending this as a follow up on the current conditions of the fish.
<Ah, good>
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   10/19/13
Thanks Bob for the quick reply.  A few questions if you don't mind.  I was 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 long-term means>
When you talk about biological poisoning do all the other species of coral 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 take the neighboring coral or will it poison the whole tank?
<Please read where you've been referred. These sorts of physical, chemical, 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 in 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 water you 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 as test subjects>
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 NO3 by itself is generally not a big issue>
Would SPS and LPS in the same aquarium give off minimal toxins since their 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   10/19/13

O forgot to add this.  These worms were all over the sand bed after the 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
Hello Crew,
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 esp. 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 system handy>
 I sniff test and nearly puked again.  Took those out, did another 25% WC. 
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 WC?
<Yes; pre-make and store new water... as many gallons as you can practically>
  Wouldn't that stress the others out?
<Oh yes>
 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 guys! 
Much obliged.
<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     7/24/12
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) both
<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:
pH: 8.3
Salinity: 1.025
Ammonia: undetectable
Nitrite: Undetectable
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 changes.
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 friend)
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

Dear Bob,
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 Maracyn 2.
<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 popularity>
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 the wall.
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 all's experience.>
Thanks again,
<Welcome, and thank you for this follow-up. Bob Fenner>

Re: Septicemia on my yellow tangs    7/28/12
Dear Bob,
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 problem.
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.
Thanks again,
Ashton Nietzke
<The mauve red on your rock... looks to be BGA, Cyanobacteria... is poisoning your fishes. Please read here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm
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...
Bob Fenner>


Re: Septicemia on my yellow tangs    7/28/12
Dear Bob,
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 crashing>
 (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.
Thanks again,
Ashton Nietzke
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Septicemia on my yellow tangs   7/30/12

Dear Bob,
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 with copper.
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,
Ashton Nietzke
<Welcome. BobF>

Re: Septicemia on my yellow tangs     8/2/12
Dear Bob,
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 quarantine.
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.
<Ahh, good>

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 stomach.
<Mmm, me no like>

Luckily, the queasy feeling and the headache have just about gone away now.
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,
Ashton Nietzke
<Thanks for this update. B>

Toxic Tank Catastrophe AND Recovery! 6/5/12
Much love to those at WWM -
<Hello Lynn>
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 temporary tank
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 toxic conditions.>
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 the buffer.
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 observed/treated. 
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 everywhere! 
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 their tails!).
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.
<Tougher critter.>
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 amazing!
<Thank you for sharing Lynn and hope the remaining fish do well.  James (Salty Dog)>
Blessings -
Lynn M

Contaminated water... SW losses det.     3/15/12
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 disease.
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.     1/30/12
Good Morning!
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 anemone. 
<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 along perfectly.
<... 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 event...>
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 wrasse.
We checked the salinity, it was fine at 1.026, all other levels were fine (no nitrates, ph acceptable, no nitrites, alkalinity acceptable).
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 corals.
<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.
Bob Fenner>

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 out.
!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.
Nitrates 15
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.
<No problem>
 First time i have done this but read it`s not a problem.
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 read here:
and just try to be patient... Highly likely this issue will resolve of its own. Bob Fenner>
Re: Dogface Puffer   1/8/12

Thanks Bob
<Welcome Gar>
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 Tetraodontid>
I am attaching a before and now photo to see if that could shed any light.
<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 referred>
Sorry for rushed reply but starting to worry.
Have read lots and will continue to do so where you have suggested.
<Ah, good. BobF>
Re: Dogface Puffer

Sorry Bob
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. concern    1/8/12
Thanks Bob
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 increasing.
<... 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 media>
As regards the green algae i have just increased water flow as i had one of my powerheads greatly reduced running a nitrate reactor.
<Oh! Of what sort of make up is this? Might be the or another source of poisoning. What in particular is the feed (chemically)>
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
Kind regards
<And you, B>
Re: Dogface Puffer   1/8/12
Hi Bob
<Big G>
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 reactor itself?>
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 gallon tank.
Been told on 3 forums this is fine on FOWLR but obviously not.
<Depends on what you're trying to do... For just barely lighting photosynthetic life on your rock this should be fine>
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 several-approach plan>
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 methinks.
<Review our prev. emails... READ... understand, then act. BobF>
Re: Dogface Puffer  1/10/12

Hi Bob
Just a quick update.
Puffer still eating as normal<ly> but flashing and blinking continues.
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 smell.
I had the outlet running outside of tank for a few pints then returned it.
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 maturing again.
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 earnest!    1/15/12
Evening Bob
<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.
<I see>
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 run.
Another 10% change today and cleaned all filters again.
<Sounds good>
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 PolyFilter>
Add anything to water to treat fish ?
<Not I>
 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>
Re: 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 otherwise.
Thanks again Bob.
Just hope the fish make it.
<Me too>
<And you, B>

tank issue while on work trip, and invert deaths... "If it weren't for bad luck..."    12/8/11
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 well. 
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 the unit.
<Until it failed>
When I came back, there was a massive hair algae and bristle worm explosion.
<No thanks>
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 12/9/11
<Andy... please re-size images you send us per the stated requirements...
where you found where to write us. We've limited webmail storage space>
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.
<Really stinky>
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 helpful).
<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 my tank.
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 again.
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
Bob Fenner>

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 live?
<Mmm, at least ten-twelve years>
My 6 line wrasse has been missing for a week and I believe he ate it.
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 amounts.
They then went back into hiding. What was that? Thanks for your help.
<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 syndrome>
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 systems>
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 effect" here>
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 Fenner>

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.
<Thank you!>
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 turbo snails.
<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 high.
<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!>
Sg: 1.024
pH: 8.4
NH3: 0
NO2: 0
PO3: 5.0
Ca: 260
<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 advice.
<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) -- 12/28/10
Dear WWM crew,
<<Hello Nick>>
After a deal of homework on the subject, I have been entirely unsuccessful in finding a solution to my problem and always value your advice.
<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., 8.5 pH,
<<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' organisms re>>
I use R.O water and as I mentioned above, all of my water chemistry appears perfect;
<<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, etc. >>
Thank you,
<<Happy to share'¦ EricR>>

Lost fish, trying to determine reason.  12/28/10
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.
<Okey Dokey>
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 everything.
<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 of whack.
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 fine>
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 sump.
<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 about nitrate?>
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 cycle.
<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 Acro frag.
<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 what happened.
<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 sensitive.>
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 months now.
<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 closed system>
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.
<Well done>
<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. Simon>
Re: Lost fish, trying to determine reason.   12/29/10

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 supplement.
<For use w/ the 'bio pellets' as part of the low nutrient methodology>
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 Sarcophyton.
<Yes, this fast growing animal could also help to out-compete the algae..
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 12/4/10
<Hello Amber>
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 (done that).
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 advice?
<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
Hey Crew!
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.
Tank info:
150 gal, been running 2 years+, 6"avg DSB
Ph= 7.8
<A bit low>
Nitrate= 5ppm
phos= .1ppm
SG= 1.20
<Too low...>
Other inhabitants=
Atlantic Blue Tang (subadult)
Yellow Tang
4 Atlantic pygmy angels
2 flame angels
saddle blenny
3 chalk bass
Other info:
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?).
<Possibly related>
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 Grammas?
<Mmm, not likely, no... else, the other fishes would have been mal-affected>
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:
Bob Fenner>
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, bright colors.
<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 chemicals/poisons?
<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. BobF>
Thanks again,

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 "root cause".
<I see...>
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... lol)
<Does little actual good to "wag fingers", but does make me feel better.
Cheers! BobF>

Dying... but from what? Toxic water Cond.s  -- 1/22/10
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 more confident.
<Good move>
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 check/treat it?
<?... "It's, the water...">
Any help would be truly appreciated.
Thanks again,
<See here: http://wetwebmedia.com/Googlesearch.htm
insert the terms
ammonia toxicity
nitrate toxicity
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 water changes.
We're also infusing with additional bacteria to help speed up cycling.
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'  -- 11/03/09
<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 thing.
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 lifespan.
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 Conditions".
Bob Fenner>

Devastating Tank Loss: Overstocked tank crash. Nothing really to refer. 6/28/2009
Good Morning WetWebMedia Gurus,
<Hi Melissa.>
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 happy.
<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 really fast
(always thought this was good, perhaps I need to look into it).
<Generally it is a good sign. You can read about shrimp behavior here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/shrimpbehfaqs.htm >
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 deprivation?
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 aquariums)
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 it cures.>
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, I guess.
<Your stocking prior to taking in the "rescue" fish was fine.>
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 corals.>
Temp 80
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 week)
<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 devastation!
<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 Fenner>

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. EricR>>

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: >http://www.google.com/search?q='Maifan+Stones'+by+'SUN+SUN'&rls=com.microsoft:en-us:IE-Address&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=ie7&rlz=1I7PCTA> >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 brands/manufacturers... BobF>

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: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/question_page.htm with 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 resolved/cured. BobF>

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 E.

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. Bob Fenner>

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 http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lrcurefaqs.htm   Please 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 Fenner>

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 Chris.

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 Fenner>

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Appended: Unexplained Fish Deaths? Bob, I sent you another message this morning (attached) asking about some unexplained fish deaths. At lunch today as I looked into the tank and saw a greyish/white translucent slug looking thing with antennae perched on a rock spewing something into the water. I left the room for just a minute and when I came back it was gone. Do you know what this could be and could it be my fish killer.  Thanks again, John <Not a/the fish killer you might believe... But likely some sort of snail, worm reproducing (or maybe just eliminating), in response to (one last gasp) to poor environmental conditions... ADD NOTHING MORE TO THIS TANK for a few weeks... it will settle down... Then we'll talk about spiffing up your water quality... Maybe take a look at this issue, skimmers.... at my site: www.wetwebmedia.com Bob Fenner>

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

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