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FAQs about Toxic Water Conditions 7

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 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,

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>

Toxic Tank(s); Myth or Just Mystery?   8/8/07 Good evening Bob & Crew, I'm glad you're still here because my water quality is not. Where, oh where, has my water quality gone? If this helps, this is the story of a Butterfly in a 10gal. treatment tank (for ich), and a Purple Tang in a 20gal. QT tank at the same time. Sorry about the length of this. I don't know how to keep the nightmare short. I was minding my own business, QT'ing my Longnose Butterfly (Sponge Bob) in a 10gal. tank with an Eheim hang on filter, heater, LR and Sand (tank was four months old, already housed 4 fish for QT for my 72gal. display) when this fish came down with signs of ich after about two weeks. Water quality was stable in this tank from the beginning and throughout this entire period (Temp 76-78, SG 1.021, <Too low> PH 8.0-8.2, Ammonia 0, Nitrites 0, Nitrates 0), including an additional week after I noticed the symptoms while I educated myself on my options. Fish was still behaving fine and eating Frozen Mysis. The fish never had spots on his body, only a few on its tail and one fin. With the help of your FAQ's and advice from the Crew, I moved him to a new 10gal. with no LR or Sand, raised the temp to 80-81deg., lowered the SG to about 1.019, and set up the tank as a treatment tank with a 4" PVC T-Pipe only for a hideout. Removed a Carbon filter that I didn't know had carbon in it after a week of testing Copper content at zero (duh! - thanks Bob) and then, finally, treated effectively with Cupramine following all directions for about the first of the two weeks while the copper tests were reading what they should be with a new test kit and no carbon filter (.4-.5). Spots were disappearing. Everything "seemed" as if it was finally going well. While all this is going on, I had to purchase a 20 gal. tank and equipment to QT my Purple Tang that had just arrived at my LFS after a four week wait. Ran 20gal. for a couple of days first and everything was testing ok (as above). I special ordered this Tang and had to take it. (Side Note: can you believe $200.00 was the cheapest I could get one? <Yikes! Where are you?> Another branch of same LFS chain wanted $500.00 for one they had in the store!?) Butterfly was originally scheduled to be in the display tank by the time the Tang arrived - ya right! During the second week of Butterfly treatment in the newly stripped treatment tank, I was checking water conditions in the Tang's 20gal. QT tank (no treatment) and was horrified to find that the readings were off the map for ammonia! (Yes... Maxed out) I didn't test anything else. I set a new land speed record on a panic 75% water change (which completely freaked out the fish) and it was still testing positive for ammonia, although less so (about 1.0). I did another 50% water change with some water I had just mixed. Still testing positive but less than .25 on the "not very accurate" color chart. While I was scratching my head and pulling my hair out over this, it came to me that I should test the Butterfly's tank just in case. I had only tested for copper for about the last week and he didn't eat the day before. Readings were elevated across the board! I had read that you might get artificially elevated readings for ammonia, but not nitrites (off the chart) and nitrates (approx. 40). I decided that newly mixed water can't possibly be as bad as this and was mixing and changing as fast as I could to do one 90% water change followed by a 50% water change and I was out of salt, and energy. I did check my source water and it tested negative for Ammonia, Nitrites and Nitrates. I picked up more salt and some Ammo Lock on the way home from work the next day and did more water changes with Ammo Lock over the next few days until the readings were "barely" registering by color. I added ZOE to the Butterfly's treated water because he wasn't eating. Things in both tanks finally seemed to be getting back to "almost" normal. The Butterfly started "nibbling", but not for long. Believe me when I tell you that in the middle of all this, I was on the verge of just packing it all in. I was looking for a huge sewer! Looking after my four month old 72 display with fish and corals (which is fine through this whole ordeal, somehow?), trying to treat this Butterfly (readjusting Copper treatment after each water change), trying to watch my new Tang, trying to figure out why my two tanks went toxic (by the way, I did remove uneaten food in the Butterfly's tank when he wasn't eating, but maybe not fast enough - sometimes I waited until the next day, but we're talking about very little food, and this doesn't explain the Tang's tank - he ate Mysis and Spectrum Pellets like a machine) Oh, and did I mention that I had another 10gal. housing the invertebrates that I had to separate from the Butterfly to treat it? What did I get myself into? Whatever it was, it was way too much for a rookie. <Take your time...> Now if this wasn't bad enough, at the end of that week when it was time to remove the copper treatment (two weeks and spots not visible), the Butterfly wasn't eating again. Before I was going to do another partial water change and replace the carbon filter, I noticed that now that my Tang looked grey and was not well at all. I immediately tested the water and found Ammonia at approx. 0.25 but the Nitrates were off the chart and that's where I stopped testing. He had been in QT for just over two weeks and this was the second time this had happened. He never had any signs of ich, or anything else visible, so, not having any better ideas, I (GULP!) basically threw him in my display tank. A move I hope I don't regret. Within an hour his colour was 80% better and he was swimming around starting to establish himself in the tank to my Coral Beauty's dismay, and now the Hawk has two bosses. Of course, the Butterfly's tank is now testing badly again, too. Ammonia approx. 0.25, Nitrites off the chart and Nitrates about 20. (Please forgive the approximates. These were mostly panic measurements. The tests were performed properly, but the recording and exact timeline were not) I placed him in the now vacant 20gal. after I did more emergency water changes on that one, and by last night, things were, again, back to barely reading any signs of trouble. Now I'm figuring that I will do a 25% water change every day for the duration of his stay in there not to take any chances. When I siphoned out 5gals. of water tonight, he just fell on his side on the bottom of the tank and started laboured breathing. Now what? I immediately tested again and after one day, the Nitrites were back up to 0.5 from barely noticeable last night. I retested my mixed water that I was going to use for the change (conditioned tap water, Instant Ocean Salt, SG still low for the Butterfly at about 1.020, temp at about 80deg., mixing for about 20hrs with a Maxijet 400 Powerhead) and it tested ZERO for Ammonia, Nitrites, and Nitrates. This time, again for lack of a better idea, I basically threw the Butterfly into the 5gal. pail with the Powerhead. He immediately started to swim against the mild circulation from the powerhead and is still doing so. That was about two hours ago. (Is this 400 Powerhead too much with this fish in the 5gal. pail? I don't want to work the fish to death swimming since he hasn't been eating. I originally had a 600 in there but it definitely looked like too much) Forgive me if the information is not expertly laid out, but I'm so rattled at this point, I can barely keep my story, or my eyes, straight. <Am... a bit lost here re your intent... Quarantine does not entail having no bio-filtration...?> I can not, for the life of me (and my fish), figure out what is going on here. It's as if these two tanks were cycling, but both tanks are completely bare save for the pre-washed & well rinsed PVC Pipe in each tank. Can waste from one fish and some sponge in a filter kick off this type of cycling activity in a completely bare tank? <Mmm, yes... the cycling microbes can/will live in the water, on the glass... can just as easily be supplanted...> When I started my first 10gal. QT tank with 10lbs. pre-cured LR and sand, I never saw any readings like this and I ran that tank for months and QT'd four fish without any readings, or problem at all. I've been through more salt water on these two tanks in the last few weeks than I think I've ever used on my 72 changing 10gals about every two weeks. Right now, the 72 and everyone in it (knock-knock) seems to be doing well as far as I can tell, (although obviously I am no expert), the Tang seems to be doing quite well in the display. His colour looks much better. He is not overly active. He hides from people still, but otherwise swims around quietly picking at the rock and exploring the tank. I'll keep my eyes open and my fingers crossed with this guy. The Butterfly, as mentioned, has taken up residence IN his "water change" bucket with water testing fine, for now. Do you have any idea what can make a bare tank (or two) go downhill so quickly? <All sorts> I use the same water, procedures, etc. on my 72 gal. and have NEVER had anything like this show up. If these fish somehow, by some miracle, survive two rounds of this punishment, I will rename them Guinness and Ripley's. If they don't, then I will of course feel very badly that this happened while they were in my care. Any light you can shed on this one will be greatly appreciated. And again, sorry about the length. Mike <Without much stability... from system size, diversity, buffering mechanisms, differing micro-organism groups can rapidly populate, their by-products seemingly poison a "bare" system. BobF>

Re: Toxic Tank(s); Myth or Just Mystery?  8/9/07 Dear Bob& Crew Thank you for your prompt reply. Unfortunately, even with enough water changes to fill a swimming pool over the last couple of weeks, this Butterfly did not make it. Very sad. I managed to save the Tang by putting him in the 72gal. display, but I could not risk putting the Butterfly in there after only two weeks of treatment for ich, even though he "appeared" to be symptom free. He had not been two weeks untreated without symptoms and I did not think it was wise or fair to expose the display tank livestock to this risk. If I understand correctly, either this fish failed to survive a bare tank that was going through an unexpected (by me) cycling process, or this tank was being poisoned by the by-products of rapidly populating micro-organisms, and in either case, three or four water changes a week of at least 50% were not sufficient to ward off the ill effects. <I am in agreement> The original QT tank that I set up with cured LR and sand never showed any signs of cycling, like my 72gal. did with the uncured LR, and I did not expect this with a bare tank. Unlike my Butterfly, I live and learn. Even though it was recommended that I discontinue QT'ing with LR and sand because fish can pick things up on their fins from either and it can be tough to distinguish these from ich spots, I will put LR and sand back in the 20gal., wait a couple/few weeks to see if it will cycle/stabilize before trying this again. This is what worked for all the other fish. <Good> Well, at least the panic is over and I have the advantage of time again on my side. Thank you Mike <Thank you for sharing... Your comments will save many other animals, and hobbyists grief. BobF>

Toxic marine tank  7/31/07 good <The beginnings of sentences...> morning, I am asking this query on behalf of my daughter she has been keeping one marine tank for about 18 months with much success however yesterday she bought her usual 2 buckets of fresh water and did all the tests. when <Are capitalized...> she got up this morning all her fish were dead she is devastated. she has been to the shop with samples of her water and they said everything was ok <Let's say that everything they tested for they considered okay> she just had a toxic tank <...?> which was unfortunate and said these things happen can you please give us any information or your views on what can have happened and can she avoid this in future. ( by the way her shrimps crabs etc. are ok) kind regards Elizabeth Gabe <Mmm... a bunch to discuss here... Need info. re the set-up, history of this system; the livestock, foods/feeding... Please have your daughter contact us, after reading here: http://wetwebmedia.com/toxictk.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: toxic marine tank -- 07/30/07 Hi Thank you for your reply I am afraid I can't give you all the details you asked for, she is too upset to talk about it right now. <I see... Well, best to wait then... no rush... Leave all up and running as it is for now> I will tell you what I can. The tank is 50 inches long 24 H 13 W She only feeds once a day and that is frozen shrimp <Mmm... again, really need to know more for sure...> I think ,I know it is frozen cubes sold in a block and some liquid she calls snow <The Little Fishies product? This is worthless> that is all that I am aware of. The tests are always OK she is very meticulous about tests and the moment any one is not 100% she takes a sample to the shop, I also know that this is very rare. The tank is about 18 months old, and the water change is done every 3 weeks or so. 2 buckets 25 litres each. The fish were Clowns 1.damsel 2 domino 1 puffer <Yikes... an untenable mix...> I do not know the kind of fish the others are as she only calls them by name. altogether she had a total of 10 fish, bearing in mind they were all small. She still has about 3 shrimp and 2 crab and turbo snails. It is this( toxic tank syndrome )that we do not understand is it a rarity. we still tend to blame the water change. Kindest regards Elizabeth <Have her read and write when things settle a bit. Cheers, BobF>

Salt Creep and Repainting issues - 7/28/07 Good afternoon, crew. <Hi there, Tatyana!> I have a question about my marine tank. <Okay> My fish look happy and healthy, <Always good to hear!> but I am suffering from salt build-ups on the wall behind the tank. <Salt creep - Arghhhh!!> First, I tried to clean it with a mild vinegar solution, but very soon paint started to chip away from the wall. <Yikes> I am about to re-paint the wall, but what can be done to prevent this from happening again? (Also very worried about mold growing on that wall, since it's always wet behind the tank from evaporation). <It sounds like an issue of the tank being too close to the wall. You'll have to move it out of the way to paint, so when you're through, just be sure to leave a couple extra inches of breathing space. I like about 4', but it all depends on how much/what type equipment you have behind the tank. If you have any hang-on refugiums, skimmers, filters, etc, you'll need to allow at least an inch of space behind those. One thing I can tell you from experience, is that before you paint, you'll need to be sure to clean away all salt residue. Salt acts as a resist for paint, so if you don't remove it, you'll end up with spots and streaks where the paint didn't take. Also, be sure to give that wall some time to dry out before painting, especially since it sounds like it stays pretty damp (fans might help here). When it's time to paint (and if you can't move the tank to another room), be sure to use a water based (not oil) paint, turn off all tank equipment that brings in air, such as venturi skimmers, wet dry filters, etc, and cover the tank with damp towels. Your best bet is to wait for a nice warm day, open all the windows for good ventilation, and start painting the tank wall first. That'll give you a chance to so some touching up if you see any paint voids where salt residue was left. After that, wait for the paint to dry, move the tank back in place, get everything going again, and proceed to relax in the beauty of your newly painted room!> Thank you, <You're very welcome and good luck to you! -Lynn> Tatyana Kucherenko

My entire 52g tank wiped out - Anemone Toxins - 7/26/07 <Hi Kimmy> I have 3 saltwater aquariums: one 52g, a 40g hexagon, and a small hospital tank.<Okay> Recently, something went through and wiped out my entire tank. <I'm so sorry to hear that!> Not sure what it was, and hoping I might find some answers from you all. <Hope so!> My 52g was set up as a non-aggressive fish only tank. I had a Valentini puffer, 2 mated Clowns, a Longnose butterfly, a blue tang <needs a larger tank>, a Hawkfish, and a high hat fish in there. I also had a pink tip Haitian anemone, a sea slug, cleaner shrimp, and a red legged hermit crab. My problems seem to have started with getting a chocolate chip starfish. I know that sounds crazy, <Not at all> but that's when they started. It was a very large star with quite an appetite. Needless to say, it ate my sea slug, and part of my anemone. <Yep, chocolate chip stars/Protoreastor nodosus are attractive, but have big appetites -- for just about anything.> Thinking that the anemone could regenerate itself, we left it in there. <Risky> It seemed for the first day to do just that, but it soon after, just died. <Recovery depends on how much damage was done, overall health prior to, and would need pristine water conditions.> It shriveled up and turned to mush. <Not good at all> We removed the starfish and put him into my hospital tank, by itself, hoping to save anything else from being eaten. Apparently, the shrimp we were feeding it wasn't enough. <Agreed> It was then that my fish began dying. First to go was the Longnose butterfly. Next was the blue tang. These were followed by the Hawkfish, the mated <clown> pair (one and then the other), and lastly the high hat. The only one that didn't die was the Valentini puffer. <Tough little dude> He was taken out and placed in with the starfish in the hospital tank because I thought there must be something wrong with the water in the 52g. <Definitely> Needless to say, the Valentini ate and killed my starfish. <The sea star wasn't the only creature with a big appetite> I swear if it's not one thing it's another! <It sure seems that way sometimes, doesn't it, but hang in there!> We then placed the cleaner shrimp and the red legged hermit crab over into the hospital tank...woke up this morning, and the darn Valentini ate my cleaner shrimp too! I found that really strange because they were both the best of friends in the 52g. Weird huh? <You don't mention what size hospital tank they were all in, but considering a puffer's appetite, if it's pretty small tank/not a lot of hiding spaces, then that's not too surprising.> Anyhow, the water in the 52g has been tested repeatedly and tests fine. <even ammonia?> The tank looks great. Not sure what could have killed all of my fish. I do have a theory on this, let me share it with you. <Sure> All of this seems to have started after the star killed my anemone. <Yes indeed> I read someplace that the anemone has some sort of ink <?> in them which is poisonous. <Hmmm, nothing ink-like in an anemone> Do you think that maybe when the star ate the anemone, it released some of that poison into the water which could have killed all those fish? <I do believe that the death of the anemone was the factor here. Unfortunately, when one dies, it can pollute a tank very quickly.> Should we have removed it right away? < In hindsight (always 20/20!), we'd both say 'Yes!', but it's understandable that you'd have wanted to give it a chance to survive (especially if you were unaware of the possible consequences of it dying). The way I see a situation like this is that although it's very hard on an already stressed anemone to remove it, if you think it's failing, it's best to take it out. It's just not worth the risk.> It seemed as if all the fish who died had a really hard time breathing prior to their passing. <Have read of the same thing happening following anemone deaths.> The one who had it the worst was the blue tang...it even turned colors. <Yep, majorly stressed> I felt so bad about that! <Understandable!> I couldn't think of what to do to help it. We put it into the hospital tank <That's what you do!> and it seemed to help, but not much, and it died anyhow. <I'm so sorry. It must have been past the point of no return, and/or couldn't deal with the additional stress of capture/relocation.> The fish who died all seemed a bit disoriented and all acted strange prior to their passing. Have you ever heard of anything like that? <Not about being disoriented, but acting strangely, labored breathing - yes.> Any suggestions? <As for anemones in general, as stated earlier, they can cause real problems in a tank when they die. That's the sort of thing that's good to know ahead of time, and where researching the animals you plan to keep comes in handy. A complication with anemones is that with all that soft tissue, once they do die, decomposition can progress pretty rapidly. Please see WWM FAQ's for more on incidents like this (starting here): http://www.wetwebmedia.com/anemhlthfaq6.htm > Should we empty the tank, clean it, and start completely over with it? <You can if you want, but I don't think it's necessary. I'd do several (at least three) large (at least 50%) water changes, run carbon, monitor water chemistry, and let the tank go fallow for about a month.> Is there something I can put in the water to make it ok for fish? <Unfortunately, no> Tests o.k.'s I dunno...unless it's that poison from the anemone. <My guess as well> Can't think of what else it would be. I hate thinking about having to empty it completely and start over when there is so much money into that tank already, <Agreed> it's been cycled and looks great. One thing I noticed too, after the star ate the anemone, the tank became so clean. <Hmmm> Prior to, we had a brown algae problem which was being handled by the turbo snails and the sea slug, the cleaner shrimp, and the red legged crab...but then BAM white clean. Almost like everything was bleached clean, but no bleach was near that tank. I can assure you that. Weird huh? <Mmmm, yes. Not sure what the deal was there> Another thing that caught my attention, and I thought maybe could have started this: During one of our last visits to the fish store, we picked up some more turbo snails for the tank. One of the snails had some green stuff on its back which we assumed was algae and thought not a lot about. That green stuff turned into bubbles of sorts. It looked really gross. Any idea what that stuff might have been? <Was it slimy? It sounds like Cyano/BGA - tons of info at WWM about this stuff.> Could it have been responsible for killing off my tank? <No> Be aware, during all of this, my water levels showed great. so I just haven't a clue what happened. <I'm surprised that the ammonia levels weren't elevated, but ??> Please help, Kimmy <Hope the above info helps. Again, sorry for your loss! Take care - Lynn)

Worst case scenario. Vacation Wipe Out, Restarting 7/24/07 Hi Bob and crew, <Hello> My tank of 1 year old got wiped out and I don't know what to do. Please help!!! <Will try> Here is the situation'¦ I went on vacation and left the fish to a nice lady to care for them. The saddle back puffer died (after being harassed by a pair of tomato clowns) shortly after I left and no one was there to remove him until at least 24 hours later. Apparently, the dead puffer released its toxin that killed most everything else in the tank. <Does happen fairly often.> When the lady showed up the next day, she was horrified by the scene and didn't know what to do. All the dead fish was left in the tank for another day until she finally tracked me down and got instructions to remove them. By that point, the few survivors gone belly up also. There are over 30 casualties all together. <Wow> She removed all the dead fish she could finds and I asked her to leave the system running in the hope that at least the live rocks could be saved. I came home late last night after two weeks of vacation. The tank is full of algae, but otherwise completely lifeless. Everything is dead, including anemones, starfish, snails and corals. <Welcome back.> I couldn't even find any copepods in the gravel anymore. <Probably a few did make it.> Additionally, a few dead fish been stuck behind some rock works while decomposing for two weeks. There appears to be a white fungus that cocoons the rotted fish under water. Needless to say, I am totally grossed out. Interestingly, the little Seachem ammonia indicator tag is showing a safe level of ammonia in the water. <Shows you the value of those indicators.> I feel really bad for the lady and worst for the fish. Incidentally, one of the filters sprung a leak last year while she was taking care of my tank. Water continuously leaked all over the hardwood floor and she had to mop it all up and did repairs while she had me on the phone. Poor thing! I am sure she'll run away the next time I mention the word 'vacation'. <Hope you got her something nice.> Anyway, here are my questions: 1. Could a little Toby puffer be so full of toxin as to have wiped out the tank? <Yes> 2. After the cleanup of dead fish, do I need to do anything more then just changing the water and filters material? <Probably need lots of water changes to get the nutrient levels back in line, but nothing beyond that.> 3. Are the live rocks and sand dead/poisoned? <Can still be used.> 4. Do I need to cycle the tank again? <Is cycling now I bet.> Thanks! -Hoshing <You are starting from scratch here, need to recycle the tank, add a few pounds of new live rock to reseed everything and give it some time to get back up and running. Now I need to go call the women watching my tank while I'm here in Hawaii.> <Chris>

Marine Question/s... mis-stocked SW, no Q, mis-treated, Crypt infested, poisoned...  -- 07/24/07 Hello. I'm new to the sport of Marine Fish keeping. I have a 55G, with a protein skimmer rate for up to 70G, a large powerhead, and dual bio wheel filter. 140 pounds of live rock, and 80 pounds of live sand. I have 3 clowns, <All of the same species I hope/trust> 2 chromis, 1 yellow tang, 1 Naso tang <Not enough room for this genus/species here> and 1 yellow boxfish. <Do read re this last... on WWM> Also had about 12 hermit crabs, and 10 snails. The boxfish was the last addition. Everything was going perfect, all levels at 0, then suddenly that changed......the boxfish had a spot on it's back where it was still yellow, but more pale, the LFS toll me that was because he was getting older and he was changing colour. Turns out it was the start of ick, or something? <Maybe> Anyway, within a few days he was covered in ick, which transferred to all my other fish. I tried Kick-Ick <Worthless... and you added this nonsense to your main system... Mistake> for 7 days which did nothing, I had to turn my protein skimmer off to use the stuff, and my ammonia went crazy, up to 4.0 or higher! <... toxic> I stopped with that treatment after some fish died (the box and Naso) Put the protein skimmer on, got my levels back to normal, then started copper a/p LFS. Well the instructions on the bottle were terrible, and I ended up overdosing. I quickly did water changes till I got the dose back down. All my bristle worms came out and a lot of them died on the sand. I treated with copper for 2 days <?> at 0.25, but everything else died except the yellow tang and 1 chromis. The yellow tang has a small red spot under it's side but no sign of ick, same with the chromis. So I stopped the copper, <...> put my carbon back in to remove the copper because it was killing everything. So now I'm left with my tank with a bunch of dead stuff (took out whatever I could, some worms can't get at them unless I totally tear down everything). Known alive are 1 5" bristleworm, 2 large hermit crabs, 3 small, 2 snails, 1 yellow tang and 1 chromis. My water levels are back in check. Where do I proceed from here? I'm scared of getting more fish and them dying on me again. I don't know what my next step is? Help!? <With what?> ps. I don't buy from the LFS that sold me the boxfish anymore! Aging spot my A@@! I don't get a chance to look at your website all the time, any chance you could e-mail me back what you think my next move is? Thanks so much, your site is amazing!!!!!!!!!! <Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/parasittksfaqs.htm and the linked files above... Bob Fenner>

Blenny Death Question -- 07/18/07 Hello, We have an office tank 90 gallon. Although I know a lot about the tank we have a professional come in and do water changes etc. ... Last week we could not find the Blenny fish and never did and then 3 days later the flame angel died. We take the fish out as soon as we see them dead but were unable to find the Blenny. All the water chemistry and temperature were in normal range but all the fish began having problems, ick and dying off. My question is could the Blenny have spiked the tank upon dying? Also we had an explosion of tiny white sand stars (I don't know what they are exactly) come out and they were everywhere after we noticed the flame dead. We had 4 or 5 small fish die and there are 3 left to go. (Probably tonight) They are not doing good. We cant figure it out and wondered if it could be the Blenny who polluted the tank. Thanks for your help! Nancy <Greetings Nancy, Jim here. A 90 gallon tank is more than large enough to withstand the death of your blenny without spiking even a little bit. Something else is at work here, and has caused not only the death of your blenny, but the deaths that followed. Ick (C. irritans) has been introduced into your system somehow, and at this point, without more information, I'm leaning towards this pathogen as the cause of your problems - not the result of some other problem. Have you added any fish recently? Are you in the habit of quarantining new arrivals? Give me a bit of information as to how you have stocked this tank. Cheers Jim >

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

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

Re: Dead fish, toxic tank, moving livestock (Tridacna) [Graham T.] -- 7/3/07 So, thanks again for your quick advice some months ago! I promised to let you know how this tank move turned out... and quick acting and good advice did save the remaining inhabitants. <Great to hear from you, Carla! Sorry I took so long in getting back to you, but I've been away from the PC for long periods lately since I had some recent changes in my life & lifestyle. I am glad that you didn't require any fast-acting advice, this time!> I decided not to risk saving the sand (which was a coarser grade than I would have used, inherited from the original owner of this system who had little to no reef/marine knowledge), and had already drained the tank, so just started fresh with the substrate that was already in the new tank. <Keen.> As it was somewhere in between the minimum and maximum recommended levels of sand (close to 1.5" of sand), and my compact fluorescents are overdue for replacement, I've been having some problems with nuisance algae... I'd put off replacing them as I planned to sell the tank before moving apartments... however, I'm able to take it with me after all (!!!) and have ordered new tubes for the lights, a 3-pack of poly-filters, and an additional 30# bag of oolitic sand that arrived today. <Yay!> I'll stop by the hardware store tomorrow for some 1/4" foam core to place between the tank and stand in the new locale, some shims (the floor in our new coach house digs is a bit topsy-turvy- the slab has quite a slope, and though I've found a levelish spot in the corner for the tank, I'm naturally worried about any torque on the seals of this glass tank...), and some L-brackets to reinforce the stand- It's got more wobble to it than I'm comfortable with- which is to say, some, rather than none- I plan to brace all 90 deg. joints in the stand with metal L-brackets )one in each corner at least), and/or perhaps some square pieces of wood secured along all inside seams... maybe even some wires crossing in the back- because better safe than sorry, right? <As much as you can do to a wiggly stand is better than nothing, but you may consider the cost of a new stand for a 29-gallon isn't exactly prohibitive...> It's a commercial stand, but not the sturdiest-looking, and has been moved several times which has I'm sure loosened the joints. It's currently in an alcove/closet in the living room, and thus not "bumpable" but will be more exposed in the new location, and I want to make sure everything is structurally sound. You may consider adding some of the criss-crossing you mentioned, as that goes a long way to increasing structural integrity, though it can decrease space below if you try for the sort that crosses from lower right rear to upper left front, etc.> The big move happens tomorrow, and I'm rather nervous, which has been compounded by the fact that I just learned that the friend who is helping me move the tank (ie: driving) has only two hours in between work and leaving for the airport. Yikes! <Indeed, hope all went well?> Luckily, the new apt. is only 20 blocks or so away, or about a 20-25 min. drive. My plan is to have the tank broken down or at least well on its way to being packed up when he arrives, load up and leave in the first half hour or so, and hopefully have a good safety cushion of time in case we have to make a second trip for odds and ends or things take longer than planned. It's a small tank (29gal), and I have a number of buckets and coolers and bags ready to move half or hopefully more of the water- that's one way to get a water change in, for sure!)... but keep your fingers crossed for me... any tips from you or other crew members welcomed (I've looked over Bob's and others' articles and faq's on moving tanks, and hope all will be well... but still... butterflies!). <Fingers crossed, and sending back in time. Thanks again for the feedback. I love hearing back from posters! -GrahamT>

Nudibranch/Anemone Slime Upsetting Fish? Yep! 6/6/07 Hello, <Greetings, Mich with you today.> I had a quick question about the effects of Nudibranch or anemone slime on fish. I added a rock flower anemone, a couple Cerith snails, and a lettuce Nudibranch (I got a bit of hair algae for him to get rid of) into my tank today and while acclimating them and adding them into the tank a great deal of the slime they had produced while in their bags went into the water. <Yikes!> I tried to remove some of it but couldn't get it all. Anyway, about 2 hours after adding in these items my four fish (2 true Percs, a bicolor blenny, and a purple Pseudochromis) began to scratch their faces/ gills on rocks. They then stopped for a while but began to scratch again a few hours later. <Likely a reaction to the toxins introduced into the system.> I have had a problem in the past with ich but I made sure to quarantine all the fish for 6 weeks using hypo salinity and left the main tank free of fish as well. The hypo salinity seemed to work as all the fish returned to a relaxed state and their symptoms of ich went away so after their long quarantine period they were reintroduced into the main tank. It has been 2-3 months since this outbreak and they have shown no signs of ich since. I have also added no new fish into the tank since then. <Ok.> Basically, my question is whether or not their sudden scratching could be from the introduction of these new inverts and the slime they produced during their long journey from the fish store or if the fish have ich or some other parasite infestation again and just be chance they didn't begin to feel it until 2 hours after I introduced the new items? <Probably a result of the chemical hazards added to your tank.> After testing my water my results were normal. <Ok.> In your opinion, should I prepare for a possible parasite infestation or wait and observe the fish before acting? <I would wait and observe, though this stress response can weaken the immune system allowing parasitic organisms a more favorable foothold.> Also, do fish ever scratch on rocks to mark territory? <Mmm, not that I'm aware of.> I am guessing the answer is no but it was worth asking because my fish seemed to all scratch on the rocks around the same time and then suddenly stop almost in unison. <Again, no doubt a response to environmental stress. You should add an extra bag of carbon ASAP and consider a larger water change.> Thanks for any advice you can give me and sorry if this has been answered before. <Hope this helps. Mich>  

Re: Nitrate and Phosphate spike ... SW troubleshooting... "other poisoned" event   5/25/07 First, thanks for the advice and the time spent to assist me with my water issue. I've taken your advice and stripped down my refugium and cleaned out all the Caulerpa.  I have been, over the past ~12 weeks focusing on getting my water quality back to ideal levels without the assistance of additional products (Rowaphos, Denitrate). The current water parameters (after 1 week with no Rowa/Denitrate) are: Temp - 82deg (night and day) Salinity - 1.025 Ammonia - 0 Nitrate - < 5 (the color isn't 0, but not quite 5 either..) Nitrite - 0 Phosphate - 0 on my kit, tested at the LFS and was almost 0 (didn't get the exact number) PH - 8.3 (Day) - 8.25 (Night) Calcium - 400 Magnesium - 1300 Alkalinity - 4meq/l (Borate Alk. 1.5meq/l) - Seachem Test               - 10-11dKH - Aquarium Pharm. Test - aside from a few small lingering spots all of the BGA is gone. From the time of my last email to date, this is what I have done: - Weekly water change - 15g/week (~10%)    - The water is all RO/DI (replaced all my filters, membrane and DI beads to be sure), outbound TDS is 0    - stabilized at 82deg, 1.025 salinity, ~10dKH, 8.3PH    - buffered with Seachem Reef Builder/Buffer - Carbon - replaced every 14d - PolyFilter - replaced when they go 'brown'     - the PolyFilter has never changed any color other then brow, appears to just be debris - Removed the Phosphate reactor media (using it for carbon now) - Remove the de-Nitrate bags At this point, something is still not right with my water. - With the water at what appeared (from the tests) to be good levels I attempted to add 2 Cleaner Shrimp and a piece of Xenia.  I dripped all of them for over 45mins to try and make it an easy transition.  Within 24hrs of being added to the tank the Xenia was well on the way to being dissolved, and the cleaners were snacks for the brittle stars. <Likely the "too clean" water, chemical filtrant use along with the stress of being moved, new... is at play here> - For livestock I have 2 clowns, Yellow tang, Mandarin, Blenny, and a Copperband.  The fish all appear to be healthy and happy.  The sand sifter and brittle stars (3) are fine, and the snails seem to be good.  Any shrimp added seem to die almost immediately, and I have lost 2 Blood, 2 Cleaner and a Coral Banded since my spike.  I thought it could be copper, however the PolyFilter didn't change to a color that would indicate copper. <And your other invertebrates would show...>   I have a BTA, that isn't extending out fully, and appears to have bleached (spotty and semi-transparent).  It does still extend out daily about 1-1.5in, and I have been feeding it silversides which it happily takes and devours. <Good... the absence of phosphate is likely problematic...> - For corals, I have a Colt which is doing well, however my toadstool, buttons, yellow polyps are all declining almost to extinction.  All of the green star polyps and mushrooms are totally gone.  I have a Clam (Tridacna gigs) that's about 8in in size, and appears to be doing well (this is based on looking the same (color wise) as when I got it, and the mantle is fully extended). - Until the last 2 weeks any Chaeto I added would dissolve into mush within a few days.  In the last 2 weeks the pieces I have added are not really growing, however they haven't dissolved either. <Lack of essential nutrient...> At this point I'm stumped as to where to look next.  Something appears to be off, however I'm not sure what to test or check for.  Any suggestions on what my next step should be? <Cutting back on the use of the chemical filtrants...> PS: My clowns have taken to the clam, and spend all day 'loving' it as my wife says.  They protect it from anything (including me cleaning the glass), and I've seen them get aggressive with snails that happen to wander by.  I'm not sure if it bothers the clam, but it's interesting to watch, especially at night when they sleep inside the clam.  I attached some images (shrunk down) that show day and night behaviors.  Any idea if this is going to have a negative effect on the clam? <If it has not yet, not likely> Thanks again for the help, and sorry for the length of the email. Derek
<Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

day night

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>

Hebrew Cone (Conus ebraeus), Poisonous? Yes!  Degree of toxicity... ?   5/13/07 Hello crew, <Hi Jana, Mich here.> I am trying to find on the Internet how poisonous the Conus ebraeus is? <Well it does kill it's prey, primarily Eunicid and Nereid Polychaete worms, by injecting them with conotoxin, a potent neurotoxin that disturbs the ion channels involved in neuromuscular transmission, typically resulting in paralysis.>   I found information on other cone shells but not on this particular one. <Yes, I too am having difficulty finding anything specific to this particular species.  There are more than 600 members of the Conidae family and only 30 documented cases of envenomations by Conus in humans, some resulting in death.  The most toxic is reported to be Conus geographus, though C textile, and C marmoreus are also associated with an increased of mortality.  I have been unable to find any reports describing the degree of toxicity of the conotoxin associated with C. ebraeus, but it is certainly something to take seriously and the effect of the conotoxin would likely vary between individuals.  Also worth noting is current research on members of this family for the treatment of pain and conditions such as Parkinson's.> Is it found in Australia and how poisonous is it. <The distribution of Conus ebraeus occurs in the Indo-west Pacific and Eastern Australia as far south as Sydney. Many thanks, kind regards, Jana. <You're welcome.  Mich>

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

Toxic tank? Brass fittings, yep. 5/4/07 <Greetings, GrahamT with you...> I have had a salt water for over 3 years. I recently moved and took the opportunity to change my 90 gallon FO tank to a FOWLR. I basically started over from scratch. Filled the tank with RO/DI water. I took all the bio balls out of my wet dry and now I have about 90 lbs of live rock and 40 lbs of live sand. My water parameters are as follows: SG: 1.023 pH: 8.2 Temp: 80F <A touch high, but only by one or two degrees, IMO.> NH3: 0 NO2: 0 NO3: 20 dKH: 10 Ca: 400ppm The tank has been up for about 4 weeks. The rock was mostly cured so I saw no ammonia spike, a slight increase in nitrites and then it went back to 0. <If you weren't monitoring the ammonia and nitrite, then you may have started the cycle over again with semi-cured live rock.> I figured I was cycled so I added a cleaner shrimp and an orchid dotty back. About a week later, I added a Copperband and 2 clowns. When the snails I bought all died, I decided to buy a refractometer and discovered my SG was about 1.019. I raised it to 1.023. I think I did this too quickly because I have experienced a series of deaths. <Possible, yep.> First it was the shrimp, then the Copperband, then a clown and then the other clown. These all happened about one a day. I attributed the deaths to the salinity change. <Maybe, but that is a little much for just the salinity to cause, IMO.> So yesterday I added another clown that I found at the LFS for $10. He seemed fine yesterday and even ate. When I came home today from work, I found him swimming in the corner above one of the powerheads and he hasn't moved positions in the tank all night. He just keeps swimming in the same spot and did not eat like he did the night before. <I think you would benefit from taking it easy on the new additions until you straighten this out.> So now I am thinking there must be something toxic in my water? <Methinks, maybe.> But what is weird is that the orchid Dottyback is still alive and he has been in the water the longest. He seems fine and ate tonight. I can also see the coralline starting to spread. <These are indications of something right, true, but the Dottyback is resilient...> Any ideas? Should I do a water change or just drain the tank and start over? I am totally stumped... <No, I think you need to look over the system and evaluate if there could be a contaminant, and if your basic water quality parameters are correct.> I did think of two things while I was typing this...I installed a check valve on the return line when I set the system up this time. I couldn't find a plastic one so I used a metal one...brass probably. <Ah-HA!> Could this be leaching something into the water that would normally be flushed out but since this is a closed system causing me problems? <Yup. Don't use any metal in your system. Titanium and stainless are considered the safest, but I would definitely lean away from using any metal in plumbing applications like this.> Also I notice that in my sump (former wet dry) there is a little bit of a glossy film on top of the water...could that be something in the water that is killing everything in the tank? <Mmm, if you mean it looks like a little bit of soap-scum, then no. That means you should be skimming your system. If you add some poly filter to the sump and let some stuck above the waterline, it should take care of that. I reiterate: get the tests done and stop adding livestock until you have answers. Remove the brass ASAP! -GrahamT> Please help, Shawn

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> Sick Damsel... actually partial understanding, involvement in the marine aquarium interest, life...  4/17/04 Hi, <Hello there> I have a blue damsel that has had a white spot on his side for a few months. We have isolated him in a hospital tank (2.5 gallons) for the last 1-2 months.  Although the spot occasionally looks smaller, it really has not disappeared.  He did have a few small spots on his fins, but they have gone away.  How do we know how long to hospitalize this fish, and will he get better? <Mmm... a good question (causing me to consider...)... Likely this spot is "nothing to worry about"... a bit of mucus being produced by the fish due to a trauma in recent times (capture, holding, shipping...) and will "go" with time... For accurate diagnosis, anesthetizing the fish possibly, excising the spot or some part of it, microscopic examination, likely with some cursory staining... perhaps culturing... might reveal the nature better here> On another note, we have lost about 6 fish in our 50 gallon tank. <?!>   We have tried to kill the parasites or ich by removing the hosts, we left the two hermit crabs in there but had no fish in the tank for over 2 weeks. <... need more "fallow" time than this...> We raised the temperature to about 85, and we have tried numerous treatments such as copper, table salt, Quick Cure, and API General Cure. <Oh my!> We recently bought two more damsel fish.  One is still alive but the other we lost yesterday, he was breathing quickly so and he was developing a whit line down the center of his back (on the nervous system?). <Mmm... no... likely general stress period... You "have" something very wrong going on in/with this system...> We tried to give him a fresh water dip with a dose of the Quick Cure, <... toxic... the formalin component is a biocide... see WWM re> but lost him during the treatment. <... dangerous to use... for you as well... Needs to be "extremely" aerated during fish exposure...>   Do you think we need to breach our tank and begin recycling it or is there some way to kill what is in there?   Linda & Ben <Uhh... you obviously need a better, fuller understanding of what you have here, what you're doing... How to begin to help you educate yourself? I don't know you, your previous experiences... but the dumping of the chemicals you list, the killing of livestock... leads me to consider that such a hodge-podge approach to the hobby is resultant from a lack of reading... or whatever mechanism/s "work" for you... You could (continue) to "get" advice (from stores, the Net?) and "gad-about" what you're doing... but... If you want to save time, understand... a good book or two... or a bunch of reading (start here: http://wetwebmedia.com/tanktroubleshting.htm and on to the linked files above) on the Net/WWM may get you back to "start"... I do wish I could encourage you to "get into" the hobby sufficiently such that you would learn first thoroughly what you're up to, the consequences/alternatives to your choices, non-actions... Bob Fenner>

Dead puffer with cut open side; Tetrodotoxin release ? -- 04/16/07 Hey, How are you all today? <Hi. Don't know about the others, but I'm ok.> Well last week my puffer died due to ich. I tried everything to get rid of the darn parasite, but nothing has helped. <Sorry for your loss. Much too common with porcupine puffers.> I worked up to see my porcupine puffer dead. I couldn't recognize the fish. The skin was off and his under side was cut open (yes I saw his stomach!!). I don't believe my eel attacked it, because my eel would maybe be dead due to toxins. I'm guessing my starfish tried to eat it, but left it alone after it tasted the puffer. <Not necessarily. Moray eels are resistant to several similar toxins, so, although I do not have specific information about them and Tetrodotoxin (marine puffer toxin), it seems well possible for moray eels to eat puffers. However, in your case I suggest he tried to puff (as they often do before they die) and his connective tissue (weak due to whatever reason) and skin cracked. I have seen such cases or/and the results in tanks with no other fish.> My question is: did toxins release from the puffer into the water? <Improbable. Tetrodotoxin does not dissolve well in saltwater. In contrast, boxfish (not puffers) can secrete ostracitoxin (informal name for the still unnamed boxfish poison), which does dissolve in saltwater. To be on the safe side you may want to filter with fresh carbon.> It seems like my lionfish wants to eat, but he can barely open up his mouth to grab the food. Any thought? <Watch him. Could be lock jaw, which in general is supposed to be caused by an unvaried diet or vitamin deficiency. Could also be a sign of an infection with the parasite your puffer had. See if he is breathing heavy to confirm.> Oh, I'm also selling the aquarium setup if your interested! Thanks! Ben. <Take care. Marco.>

Oxidation of Bromide in SW... via high ORP?   4/11/07 Mr. Fenner,    <Emmanuel>   I work with coral reef fishes. May I ask your opinion about one specific issue?    <Certainly>   I have had trouble with our ozonizer. Despite keeping the ORP within a moderate range (280-320 mV), some of the mortality I have observed could be related to oxidation of bromide to bromine species (HOBr, OBr-). Do you have any experience and/or would you know any reliable source of information on that subject?    <Interesting speculation... I thought about this last night for a bit... How might one test for this conversion to toxic halogen? Or, "look up" such information from extant studies? Perhaps an inquiry to a college chemistry dept., professor. I don't think this is a practical possibility at this range of RedOx however.>   Thank you for your collaboration.      Regards,      Emmanuel <Bob Fenner> I need help, all my fish died -- 3/28/07 I'll apologize in advance for the length of this.  I just want to give as much info as possible. <No problem.> I recently had a disaster with my tank.  It's 45 gal, 20 lbs of live rock, (I know it's not enough) and 1/2" crushed coral substrate. <Also not enough.  A deeper bed could help you with denitrification.>   I have a CPR BakPak 2 and Via Aqua canister filter for filtration.  The tank has been set up for 2 years now.  I haven't added anything new to the tank in over 6 months.  I had 1 tomato clown, 2 pajama cardinals, and 1 royal Gramma.  There are 3-5 hermit crabs and the live rock is covered with small feather dusters, green algae, and little bits of coralline.  It also had a couple of spaghetti worms which died also. The crabs appear healthy and the feather dusters, while some larger ones seemed a little stressed, appear otherwise fine. <This sounds like a very nice tank.  I am sorry you had a disaster.> I was in the process of cleaning my tank.  The tank has always had a nitrate problem (usually 20) that I've not been able to fix <This is not extremely high given that you are not trying to keep sensitive invertebrates.  A deep sand bed could help bring this down though.  And changing more water is the other option.> and occasionally I've used a little Amquel+ before a partial water change. I've never had problems with Amquel+ before.  I did use some about 24 hours before I found all of the fish dead.   <Hmmm'¦> I tried the forum first, the Amquel+ had a strong rotten egg like odor to it which apparently isn't normal according to some posts.   <This does not sound normal to me.  Rotten egg odor is hydrogen sulfide.  Can't be good.> I can tell you the ph in the tank plummeted to 7.4. <Yikes!!> I don't have readings for ammonia etc., from the time I found the fish as my first reaction was to change the water quickly to save the rest of the tank. On Monday, the fish seemed healthy and were eating ok when I fed them before I left for work, about 12 hours after adding the Amquel+.  It was about 11 hours later I found them all dead.  There were no visible signs of any illness prior to this.   <Illness does not sound likely.  This is environmental.> So far, I've done 2 partial water changes and I plan on doing a 3rd this weekend.  I've also added some Seachem reef buffer.  I removed and completely cleaned the CPR BakPak. It is currently the only filtration.  I need to completely replace all the media in the VIA Aqua so for the moment it's disconnected. What could have killed the fish and not the crabs and feather duster? <It does sound like your Amquel+ was the culprit.  Crabs and annelids can be pretty hardy sometimes.  Fish have such high metabolisms they are very sensitive to toxins or oxygen depletion.  The manufacturer is not sharing the recipe for this newer product, but lists the composition of original Amquel as sodium hydroxymethanesulfonate.  Assuming this is a primary component of the new formula as well, It does sound like it broke down into some very unpleasant compounds, including hydrogen sulfide.  Here is the link to the safety information about the product: http://www.novalek.com/kordon/Amquel+/index.htm Although they say it is very safe, of course, they also say that deoxygenation of the water occurs after addition, and this is certainly one way the fish could be injured.  The hydrogen sulfide and pH drop could also be culprits.  I would not add any products like this to the tank to reduce nitrates.  Nitrates are much less dangerous than these chemicals!> Is there something I should test for other than the normal water parameters? <pH, alkalinity, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate should be sufficient.  The Sulphur should not be a problem as long as your pH and hardness are appropriate, especially since you have diluted with significant water changes.  The water changes should have taken care of any obscure compounds. > Do I need new substrate and live rock? <I would not replace the substrate and rock.  You might go ahead and add some more. > I plan on waiting at least a few weeks, I'm afraid to even consider adding any fish until I figure out what went wrong. <Yes, once your pH and other parameters are stable, and if your invertebrates continue to do well, I would add fish back one at a time.  The quarantine period for the fish should give you plenty of time to assess the stability of the tank.  I would not use Amquel+ in the tank anymore.  After a similar fish kill from another 'safe' product that also deoxygenates the water, I have sworn off adding any proprietary formulations to my no matter how safe anyone says it is.> Dawn <Alex>  

A follow-up to "I need help, all my fish died 3/28/07" More on Amquel (and A.C.E. . ) poss. toxicity   3/31/07 Good afternoon Crew, <Nicole> I just wanted to add to this question, which Alex answered, in which someone named Dawn relayed the disaster that her 45 gallon reef tank experienced. <Please do> I myself have noticed this odor with the Amquel+ product, but when I first bought a bottle of it about a year ago, it had a similar smell. The smell seems to have become concentrated as the product was expended. It leaves a very lasting odor - an uncapped bottle can quickly smell up a room! This makes me uneasy, but I do believe it is normal to some extent. Even Prime (in my opinion the best dechlorinator, the 50 ml dropper bottle makes dosing very simple - 3 drops per gallon)  has a section on the back where it says: "Sulfur odor is normal." <Yes> Prime, however, has a very slight odor, in my opinion. The Amquel+ product definitely does not! I answer fish questions on another site, and have seen many cases where an addition of Amquel+ or A.C.E. . caused major disruption of the bio-filter, usually nitrites shooting up sky high. <Yes> I cannot say that it is due to the product alone, but it certainly was a catalyst. Although both Novalek and Jungle do offer other fine aquarium products - these particular ones, I would never recommend to anyone. <Me neither> Thanks for reading this, and for all that you do each day for hobbyists worldwide! Nicole <Thanks much for coming forward... with this lucid, useful input. Bob Fenner> Broken Thermometer 3/29/07 Hey WetWeb Media, <Hi again.> Real quick question I was mixing water today and had one of those floating thermometers made of glass in the trashcan and when I poured the water in it broke the thermometer. Should I throw out the water and the trash can. <Yes to the water, no to the can, just rinse it out very well.> Because I think the thermometer had mercury in it.  <Unlikely, most now are alcohol based.> I still have the heater and power head. Should I even throw those out? <Nope, just rinse well.> Or am I being crazy. <Maybe a little crazy.>  Please write back as soon as you can. Thanks Jeff <Chris>

Contaminated equipment... SW...    3/19/07 Hi there, <Hello, Brandon here.>    I'm been running a 6G nano for about a year now, recently (2 months ago) I started using an old heater/pump in a plastic bucket to heat and aerate RO water for a 2L bi-weekly water change.   <This is a good idea.> I lost a snail last month and today it seems another has bitten the dust.   <I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but they most likely starved to death.  Most people recommend 1 snail per 10 gallons.  Keeping two in this tank likely extinguished their food supply, or took it down to negligible levels.  Think about it like this, if I gave you one chicken nugget a day, you are still eating right?  But eventually you will starve to death.  Same thing with the snails.  While it is true that they need algae to live, they need a specific amount per day, if they cannot get this they will slowly starve.> The parameters are: Nitrate 15ppm, Amm 0, Nitrite 0, Ph 8.1, Sal 1.025, Temp 26c, Alk 2.7 and have been stable. <The Nitrate is a little high.  Would be better if it was under 10 ppm.  I will assume that your Alk is 2.7 mg/L since you did not say.  This translates out to 7.8 dKH.  This is low.  Ideally you want to shoot for 10-12 dKH, or about 4mg/L.  This will give you a more stable pH.> If the old heater/pump was used in a freshwater tank with a copper based treatment would the copper possibly be getting in the water it is aerating/heating?   <Anything is possible, but if there were copper in the water, the crustaceans that you mention below would likely be doing extremely poorly, or dead.  All crustaceans are extremely sensitive to copper.> The Zoanthids in the tank are also retracted, hermits and shrimps seem fine. <This is most likely due to the NO3 levels.  Try cleaning out your filters once a week, and see if this solves the NO3 problem.> All the best <Good luck to you.  Brandon.> Luke

Nitrate and Phosphate spike... SW troubleshooting... "other poisoned" event  2/28/07 Thanks in advance for the time you take to read and answer these questions, and for the fantastic wealth of information that you make available.  I've had countless questions answered thanks to your web site. <Welcome> I have a 90 gallon display tank, with a 60 gallon refugium/sump (about 45g water volume).  I have a 4.5" sand bed and about 210lbs of live rock.  The system has been setup for about 9mths, and was an upgrade from a previous 55g system (3years old).  For nutrient control I have a Corallife 220 skimmer and a 20g section of the refugium loaded with Caulerpa. <Mmmm, this Chlorophyte has largely fallen out of favor...> Up until about 2 months ago everything was doing great, the soft corals I have were growing out of control and all the inhabitants looked great.  Around 2 months ago I noticed a rapid decline in coral health, and I was starting to get a lot of Aiptasia growth. <Mmm, indications of some rapid change in conditions...> I started doing daily water tests looking for any issues, and all tests came up with near 0 levels, the same as before. <Actual tests, values please... Can't tell what specifically you're referring to in any substantive way w/o> As time went on I continued with more frequent (10% weekly, up from 5%) water changes however the coral health continued to decline, Aiptasia spread was on the rise, and I started getting red algae growth on the sand surface and the rocks. <Further evidence... BGA...> At this point, with my test kits still reporting no issues, I decided to take some of my water to a local fish store.  Tests at the store show that my phosphate and nitrate are off the scale of their test kit. (not sure on the phosphate, but the nitrate is >100) <Yikes... but from what is the real question> After replacing my test kits and some discussion with the staff at the store I decided on a phosphate reactor loaded with Rowaphos and some Seachem nitrate removal media, along with more water changes (20% ever couple days, as fast as I can get water made and stabilized). <Mmm... but these are remedial measures... treating symptoms... Do you understand? What is/are the root cause/s here?> This brings me to my questions.    1. My most pressing issue is of course to get the levels back down to acceptable levels. Are the methods above sufficient, or could I be doing more? <Mmm... please see below>    2. Equally concerning is why the spike in levels.  I haven't changed    any of my routines, feeding habits, or bio-load (remains unchanged since the    55g days), but something triggered this rapid spike. <Yes. Agreed... and this is what you really need to address... Identify and fix>   I can recall 3 events that might have contributed to this issue, and was wondering if you believe any of them could have contributed:       1. The suction cups on one of my Seio 1500's let go and it pointed down at the sand, moving a large mound of sand down to bare glass       before I got home. <Mmm, maybe a contributor... might have triggered some sort of "cascade event" with some life form... causing it to negatively react, interact with other life...>       2. I pruned a large amount of macro algae in the refugium (about 50%) because it was growing out of control <I DO believe this is likely a large influence here>       3. The lights (2x90w Phillips daylights) on my refugium burned out, and I replaced then with some 90w fluorescents (also supposed to be       daylights, but the color is not the same). <This also>   I want to go back to the Phillips bulbs as soon as I can find them again.    3. What would you recommend housing in the refugium aside from the macro algae and crabs and snails I currently have. Thanks in advance, Derek. <I would actually "clean out" the refugium (up to actually taking it "down", rinsing all the substrate, possibly even bleaching/washing all to rid it of the Caulerpa...) in order to switch out to a more suitable algae... Likely either a Chaetomorpha or Gracilaria species... AND avail yourself (at least for a month or two) of both activated carbon (like a unit of Chemi-pure or equivalent, and a pad of PolyFilter.... in your filter flow path... I do think your system, livestock suffered some sort of allelopathogenic event... and these steps are the safest, surest way to get the system re-centered. Bob Fenner> Heater Hazard! 2/27/07 I have (actually had) a 75 gallon reef tank with a variety of soft corals (zoos, mushrooms, polyps, etc), a Jawfish, blue/red wrasse, Clarkii clown, Blue goby, and the cleaner crew.  It was beautiful! This past weekend when I came home, my heater was shattered in the tank, the top of my aquarium was cracked, the plastic was broken away, and there was a black substance splattered on the wall all the way up to the ceiling. <Oh boy, sorry to hear.>  All the snails and crabs were dead, all the corals were withdrawn and the wrasse was dead.  <Painful loss I'm sure.>  I did an immediate water change, not knowing if there were any chemicals in the water from the shattered heater, but I lost all the corals anyway. <Not unexpected unfortunately.> The temperature did fluctuate and dipped to around 72 degrees. <Left and right hook.>  The heater was not touching anything, and I can't figure out what happened. <Have seen this before, does happen from time to time, weakness in the glass gets worse over time with repeated heating and cooling until it gives way catastrophically.> I always unplug my heater for water changes and have never had a problem before.  <Not really avoidable, sort of a ticking time bomb.> I immediately removed all the dead creatures.  Since then, I have a consistent ammonia reading in my tank and have done daily water changes to try to save the fish. <Good.> Do you have any other suggestions regarding the ammonia? <Doing all you can currently, the die off from the LR is probably causing the ammonia spike.> Obviously I am completely devastated and am contemplating reverting back to a fish-only system because I can't afford to restock the tank. <Discouraging for sure, but I encourage you to continue, would have had the same problem in any tank.>  Any suggestions on how to avoid this in the future? <Avoid the glass heaters, got with one of the titanium ones.>  Do you think there are chemicals in my tank still? <Yes, run lots of carbon and Poly-Filters.>  Was it the temperature change, electric shock, or chemicals that killed everything? <Yes to all, a triple whammy.>  Are there heaters that don't contain damaging chemicals or will automatically shut off if there is a problem? <Putting it on a GFI outlet will help, although the bigger culprit is the metal inside the heater.>  Or are some heaters just doomed to shatter. <All glass heater have this possibility, go with a titanium one.>  Also do you think my live rock is damaged? <Only time will tell, see how it recovers.  I would bet on it being ok long term.>  Or the substrate filtration? Thanks! Amy <Sorry to hear of your troubles.  Have faith you will be able to work through this and get back on the right track.> <Chris> Heater Hazard! 2/28/07 Thank you for your reply! I appreciate all your help. Although frustrating, at least I know I am doing all I can do.    Amy <Stay on the path.> <Chris>

Styrofoam, Next Time PVC, perhaps Starboard.   2/20/07 Hello! <Hi there MJ!  Mich here.>      I have searched high and low using specific search strings for this question.  "Is Styrofoam safe for inside the aquarium?"  I have a 200-gallon half cylinder that I placed some blocks of Styrofoam in to prop up the rockwork for aquascaping purposes.  I used 2" rigid wall insulation for this purpose.  The sticker on the insulation says that it is chemically inert.  My fish are healthy and my hermits love life.  Refugium is growing well.  Should I worry about this Styrofoam breaking down over time and releasing nasties into my tank? <Sounds like a nice system.  To be perfectly honest I don't really know the answer to this question.  I would be a little leery as I have kept this type of insulation in the basement and over time it gets a little crumbly and nasty.  That being said, if it's not causing you any obvious problem right now I think I would just leave it alone.  RMF comments?  <<Mmm, Styro is chemically inert... but does tend to fall apart too much to suit me. RMF>>  I do have a suggestion for the future.  PVC piping is commonly used to support rockwork and I think is a better option as it won't react or breakdown. There are multiple ways of doing this from actually constructing frames to simply cutting large PVC piece with a saw.  There is also a product called starboard that is used in the hobby and is know to be inert which is good if you are lining the bottom of the tank.  Good luck!  -Mich> MJ

Carnage. Reef livestock losses... env., toxicity?  2/19/07 Hi, I have a 120 gallon reef tank which I thought was doing pretty well until yesterday morning when a number of my fish died or were dying.  They looked as if they were starving for oxygen.  I lost three angels, a tang, spotted  hawk. and a marine beta.  A very large wrasse and tomato clown were subdued but are just fine today after an emergency water exchange. <Useful data... these would persist longer than the others lost... due to low O2, other poisoning types>   Indeed the tank looks as beautiful as ever. <... frightening...> I went to the local retailer for help with a pre-water exchange water sample. The pH was fine, next to no nitrates. dKH was fine, Mg 1200, Ca 340 to 385 depending on the test kit used.  I was unable to get any good explanation for this occurrence other than there must have been a sudden change in pH due to excessive CO2.   <Mmm... no, not likely> But my morning pH is no different than any other time.  I have no excessive algae to speak of. Another puzzling thing; I use the two step calcium replacement, Kent part A and part B.  Lately, when I add the part B I get a snow effect that lasts just a few minutes.   <... not in your main display... Please... do such adjustments through water changes... the products added there... dissolved... ahead of time> Is this anything to be concerned about? <All sorts>   And while I'm thinking about it is there a general rule for the amount of calcium and magnesium to add to a reef tank? <... None... directly...>   Also,  I'm looking for a reliable calcium test kit.  Any recommendations? <Posted on WWM... LaMotte, Hach... on the lower end, Salifert> In any case, I'm at a loss as to finding out why these fish died.  I haven't changed anything other than getting some better lighting. <In recent times? Anything else?> I do water exchanges monthly <I would do these at least bi-monthly> including vacuuming the bottom of the tank.  Trace minerals are added consistently. <Only through water changes...> I did recently add a rather large medusa worm which I don't see anymore.  I don't know if it was lost in the carnage or could it possibly have caused this carnage by dying?   <Yes... this or other possibly seemingly innocuous animal demise, upset... For instance, sea cucumbers of many sorts...> Any input you may have would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Ray                            <I do think you suffered an internal biological toxicity... but can't detect what organism/s might be involved from the information presented... Would proceed slowly, use chemical filtrant/s, make water chemistry and physics changes outside the system going forward. Bob Fenner> Painting a room with a fish tank  2/18/07 Hi WWM Crew, <Helen>   I have two questions.   The first is about painting a room with a fish tank. The only other email to you have that I found with a similar question involved a tank that was large and had to be moved anyway, but I'm thinking that my 5 gallon could stay in the room while painting. <Yes, likely so> The problem is I have no idea what I should be concerned about, what precautions to take or things to lookout for when painting. <Most "modern" paints don't have "that much" in the way of dangerous VOC content... and if the tank is not too crowded... simply turning off all air-entraining devices (air pumps, venturi type powerheads...) and covering the tank with a damp towel... and of course some decent air circulation (painting on a "nice" day with the windows, doors partly open)... should do it>   The tank is well covered, being one of those water home acrylic kits sold by Hagen. It is light enough to move without taking apart, unless I had to move it out of the room.   Also, I will be upgrading to a 55 gallon tank in about three months (mom is painting now, <And I hope you're helping...> I will be moving out then). One of the worries I have about a tank this size is heating the water that I use to replace the water that is removed during water changing. <Mmm, for freshwater, you can just "toss in" some hot water from the tap (is what I do)... unless your source water is "terrible"... Elsewise, it is strongly advised nowadays, that folks store water to be changed out... in a designated "trash can" or such... and using a heater that is readily unplugged... is a good idea here> Strangely, although I've been looking all over the net I can't find any suggestions for this part of the water change. I would like as many suggestions as you can provide.   Thanks for any suggestions you may have. Helen <Thank you for writing. Bob Fenner>

Help requested. Reef toxic event... Holothuroids? Algae?    02/17/07 G'day Bob, Loved the Conscientious Keeper & sell it regularly in store.... <Ah, good> But flattery is not what has led me to correspond. I was wondering if it would be possible to pick your brains. <Only have a mite left... but go ahead> I realize you must get no end of requests, but I am stumped at the moment, and could really use some help. I am a retailer in Australia, been keeping marines for 20+ & reef for 15 or more, but I have a problem tank at the moment that I can't get a grip on... The tank in question is a 5 * 2 * 2 1/2 foot reef  with deep sand bed (crushed marble chip) 3" deep  closed loop circ system, (6000 LPH)  main return pump  (6000 LPH) (rainbow lifeguard quiet ones in both cases) One 2,300 LPH powerhead mounted close to surface of water. Nutrient export via a Turboflotor 1000 skimmer  ( on for ~14 hrs a day, off for a couple of hours while dosing supplements) <Good technique> Bare sump no trickle Tank has a 25 litre refugium <Am sure we both wish this were larger> fed from main outflow line from tank, & fuge has been lit 24 / 7 in past, but lights are off now. (more on this later) Tank is equipped with a chiller, and runs at a constant 25 deg C. Tank contains approx  125 kg liverock  (270 lb) Various corals ranging from Sarcos to fungi's, Duncanopsammia, Scolymia, Turbinarias, Morphs, and until recently a 14 year old Tridacna (sadly departed but not related to this story directly) All Supplements used are Seachem, apart from one liquid coral food that we use from a different manufacturer. Main aquarium lit by 2 * 250w 13,000 k halides  Fuge is lit using a 24 watt 50 /50 actinic 10k PL power compact . Tank usually runs at...... P.H.  8.0  - 8.2 SG  1.024 KH  9 - 11 dKH nh3  0.3  - 0.5  ( not 100% happy with the zero on the test kit though,   Hagen ammonia kit in use) No2  0 no3  Currently ~ 5ppm  but  sometimes as high as 10 Ca++  420 today, targeting 450 as a rule. PO4  under .5 ppm today. Additives used: Reef builder for KH buffering   Reef buffer when necessary for P.H.   (Not frequent) Reef magnesium Reef strontium Reef Iodide  and Reef Plus ( which is a multi vitamin / amino acid supp. Magnesium strontium & Iodide are not tested for currently, Seachem's basic dose rates are used. W/changes of  175 litres  (from 750)  performed when NO3 is on the rise So much for the overview, here's the problem. Corals look good, My fish keep dying. <Mmmm> Around 3 months ago, a sudden procession of deaths took out Zebrasoma flavescens Lo vulpinus //Synchiropus splendidus// Amphiprion ocellaris  ( over 8 years in captivity )  :'( Rock hopper blenny  (Salarias sp.)  *  3 in rapid succession <Something toxic, amiss... that doesn't affect Cnidarians> and also during the past few months all cucumbers (H. edulis predominantly but not exclusively) seem to have vanished, though a number of strombid shell are still active in turning over the sand bed. <... a clue here> I have saved one half of the clown pair which is currently in a hospital tank, but there is a comet grouper C. altivelis which due to  difficulty in removal has sat in the tank apparently unaffected for the entire time. I placed a Sailfin tang Z. veliferum into the tank 4 days ago,      Dead overnight I placed a Salarias blenny suspended in a restricted net so the animal could not eat anything from within the tank and would be protected from any predation  (none suspected),      Dead overnight I  have had a (I'm pretty sure) Dinoflagellate bloom in the refugium on & off over the last few months but the lighting on the fuge has been off for a number of weeks, & there is no trace of anything macro or micro algae wise...  (coralline growth in main tank is excellent by the way) I am running out of thoughts, and any steers in any direction would be greatly appreciated if you can spare the time. Thanks in advance, Bruce. <My primary suspect here is the Sea Cucumbers... they can be extremely toxic to fish life, leaving other phyla unscathed... But the mention of the Diatom bloom... brings to mind the possibility that an algae toxicity might be at root... In either case, a very large water change and the use of chemical filtrants is the route I would take here (a kilo of activated carbon, perhaps a couple of pads of PolyFilter)... and the careful testing (in a week or so) of the water/system with a tough fish... perhaps a couple of damsels. Unfortunately, as of yet, there are no good, inexpensive means to test for such random toxicities... but I can see this in the coming years. Cheers, Bob Fenner> Toxic tank, Contaminated Calcium Reactor Media    2/12/07   I have had toxic tank syndrome for 8 months now.  My pulsing Xenia starts to turn black in less than 24 hours.  All SPS corals had to be removed from my 180 gallon 5 year old tank.  Lost some fish, scooter blenny, mandarin, Rainford's goby. <Yikes... so, what have you done re the toxicity?>     To make a long story short, I changed water like crazy, searched everything for a metal contamination.  Could find nothing, so I emptied the system completely.  Cleaned it all out, replaced the sand bed, all rock, everything out, and refilled with natural sea water.  After a week, I put a piece of pulsing Xenia in last night, and this morning the polyps were starting to turn black.     I got mad, again, and the only thing I had not done was to empty my calcium reactor.  I put the media in a bowl and searched it.  Using a magnet, I found small flakes of metal of some sort, laced through the media!!!!!!!!! <Yikes...>   I have not idea how it got there!  Not from me!  I won't mention a brand name here. <I wish you would... My wife, Diana, used to distribute Knop Products in N. America... their Korallith was/is very pure...>     I will do a 100% water change as soon as possible.  I can not afford to change the rock and sand bed again!  What further steps should I take?  Carbon?  Poly filters? <Yes to both of these... this should do it> Will my new rock and sand be ok? <Very likely yes> There are no fish or corals in the tank st this time.  All have been moved to other systems.   Help   Richard <Thank you for relating your experiences... Will save many others huge headaches and grief. 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>

Broken heater & resulting contamination 2/1/07 <Hi, David. GrahamT with you tonight.> Hello, I just did my weekly water change and realized after I poured the new water in that my heater had broken inside the bucket. <Uh-oh!> I quickly stopped before the brown cloud at the bottom of the bucket poured in. <I would be willing to bet that any of the water was fouled.> Within an hour EVERY coral closed up. <Not at all surprised. Who knows what exactly is in there...> (not the way I see my corals normally close after a water change) I'm not sure what could have been in my heater to contaminate the tank. All the fish seem fine but the Zoanthids and leathers and Heliofungia looked terrible. I quickly made another 10% water change and replaced the carbon after reading WWM. <Would think something along the lines of 75% or more would be on the menu here.> Funny I found the same thing happened to another aquarist only they were smart enough not to use the water in the bucket. DOH! <Relax, it only means they looked in the bucket a little closer than yourself. Can't beat yourself up...> I learned during that research trip that we shouldn't worry about the innards of a thermometer these days but what about the insides of a heater? <That is what you need to act on, IMO. Not sure how much/how fast carbon will remove the chemicals here, but would help to do a LARGE water change.> I'm really going to sound stupid when I say this explains why the breaker in my son's weight room was popping. < "It popped AGAIN?!?" I can see you now. ;) > I'm wondering if the electricity that was probably charging the water before I caught it could have done something more to the water than just the heater parts leaching. <I can't answer that question, though I suspect not. I think your main problem would be the electronic components/circuitry that went supernova with your water as it's "atmosphere" to absorb the toxins. You must be able to picture (through experience or my imagery) an electronic device smoking as it burns up? That foul-smelling smoke is burnt resin, epoxy, rubber, plastics etc. Each heater has their own makeup, but many are made with more than just a coil and tension-style temperature control. These models have semi-complex regulating circuits built-in that would provide the fuel for some nasty toxins in your water if burnt... but I digress. Whether you have toxins or not, or some odd chemical transformation from the prolonged exposure to current is mott at this point. You are well-served to perform as massive a water change as you are equipped to do.> I guess a lil time will tell now what is to happen. -GrahamT>
David Conway
Re: Broken heater & resulting contamination (Good news!) 2/5/07 Hi Graham, <Mmmyello!> You asked me to let you know how things turned out so here's an update. <Thank you, I relish the opportunity to hear back from posters. More so when they have good news!> I've provided pics so you can see why I freaked out. <Got'em (Yes, they are a little uncompressed, thusly, large for our server, but within reason...) but I don't see a major reason for concern, except for the appearance of the Sarco. with what seems to be algae(?) growing on it.> I had already done the second 10% water change after the mishap (5 gallons), never told you its a 50 G tank with 75-90 lbs LR. So after receiving your reply that evening, (Thursday) my wife insisted we listen and use the rest of our instant ocean up. We did a 14 gallon change. <Anything to diffuse!> Today I have done another 10%. Over the last few days my zoos have opened just little my small Sarco frag has opened to its former self so no new pic of that. My larger Sarco has remained the same and algae has begun to take over. I have had it for two months and never saw it to its shed thing so today when I saw a small amount of the algae peeling off :) :)  I pray it just decided to do it coincidentally with my heater #%$* up. Time still will tell I guess. <Sometimes we just cross fingers after "events" such as these...> My plate coral became a bumpy ball after the poison but as you can see in the pic it seems ok. <With the clown?> I'm so pissed <Soapy mouth!> at myself for my own brain-fart. I've read lots about how Sarcos can close up for a month with no worry. I hope I'm in the same boat as the other posts I have read. I'll let you know if I see something disintegrate.   Thanks  Dave   P.S. let me know if the pics I've sent need resizing in the future. <I think you are in a good place, here. In the future, if you can use a photo-editor to compress each of the pix to 300k or less (I often compress to 100k) our server will be better-off. Thanks for the reply! -GrahamT>
Broken heater & resulting contamination (Good news! pt.2) 2/11/07 Yet another update Graham, <Keep up the good work!> Well it was 8 days and two letters to and from WWM, I could stand the algae growing on my Sarco no more !! Every other coral is back to normal.  I took a toothbrush to the awful looking guy. I softly scrubbed away what I thought looked like it was peeling off. <Good idea! (Hope you got behind the molars, too...)> My Leather coral will be dead soon anyway I told myself. Next day I woke up to this!! (new pic attached) Now two days have past since, and it looks the same. <Incredible! That looks much better! You made the right decision, it seems. I suppose that will go in my repertoire of possible solutions to algae-dominated Sarcophyton..> I'm hoping for polyps to appear, waiting,. watching....oh yeah I did mean the plate coral with the clown. He looked like a little bumpy pin cushion before, but here's a new pic since it recovered from the poison. Thanks for the help is a given <Thanks for the feedback, Dave! I'm happy your problem was repaired with such success. -GrahamT>

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