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FAQs about Toxic Water Conditions 3

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

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

Large, even sedentary fish/es can create their own toxic water conditions.

- Is This Bad? - I was propagating some Ricordea last weekend and the piece of live rock I wanted to use had a patch of schmutz on it (algae, really) so I went to the toolbox and found two brand new wire brushes (the kind that look like toothbrushes).  One was steel and one was brass.  Thinking it might not be good to use the steel one because of rust, I grabbed the brass one. After all, screws and such on ships are brass!  I brushed a patch of rock clean with the brass and mounted my specimen on it.  On my way to work this morning, I realized that brass is a copper alloy and I may have rendered that tank useless.  I did my surgery and propagating in a 10 gallon tank I use to isolate newcomers.  I remember reading that that one of the rules of reef keeping is "thou shalt not use a tank that has EVER had copper in it".  Tell me that the brass brush didn't ruin my tank. <Well... you could probably say better than me. Has there been any noticeable effect? Are any of your invertebrates suffering? If not, then you are probably in the clear. You could run some activated carbon for a little while and this will hopefully remove any free copper that might be roaming about.> Also, is it safe to put the things from that tank into my show tank? <I think so... really, brass isn't going to separate into its various elements while scrubbing a rock. The chances of you having contaminated the tank are very small. Wouldn't be too concerned... again, you can run carbon as a safeguard.> Thanks for your help.  Troy <Cheers, J -- > It's In The Bag...Or Is It? Greetings Gentlemen and Happy New Year, <Same to you! Scott F. here today!> I am back to the hobby after about 25 yrs and have been back in for about 6 months, lurking in your fabulous site for about 5 months. <Glad to hear that! Sounds like you're well into the fray again!> My dilemma; 3 days ago I placed 2 felt-type bags over my returns in the sump to control bubbles, worked like a charm. Last evening I noticed a general closing up of my inverts, fish were fine. I noticed a post in a faq about these types of bags "harboring nitrifying bacteria" and no further info on this effect. I did a 20% water change and I noticed a slightly different odor to the water. This morning the inverts were at about 85% and again fish were fine (just hungry!) parameters throughout the issue were: PH 8.2 Sal 1.023 Temp 77 NH3 0 NO2 0 NO3 0 Ca 350 PO3 .25 SET UP: 175 bow front, corner overflows 40 sump, 3 powerheads and wavemaker ~250lbs of LR,2 inches of live Arag ASM Euro-clone skimmer, (about 1-2 cups a week) PC lites 4 daylight, 4 Actinic FISH: pair Perculas, flame angel, yellow tang, purple tang, Sailfin tang, Banggai INVERTS: Torch, Octo-Bubble, Zoanthus, Sun Polyps, Star Polyps, Goniopora know, I know), BTA (again, I know), purple mushrooms, Green Mushrooms, colt, fox and open brain. Everyone was doing great until the bags. Could a negative effect manifest itself so quickly? and if so, cause the above reaction from my charges? Regards, Walter <Well, Walter, it could be a number of things. There is the outside possibility that the filter bags were not rinsed before use, and that some type of toxin was discharged into the water. Perhaps it was "used" previously for some other application, and some kind of toxic compound was retained in the bags.  It is also possible, however remote- that the flow rate has been compromised somehow, creating a drop in oxygen...Way out there, but in the realm of possibility...With your animals on the way to recovery, I'd continue to monitor water parameters and keep a close eye on things...Hang in there!> PS: I make it a point to patronize your sponsors, your commitment and breath of knowledge are second to none in this game. <Thank you so much for the kind words and support! We enjoy bringing this site to you, and are happy to be able to share with our fellow hobbyists! Good Luck! Regards, Scott F>

- Hawkfish Out of Sorts - I have a 58 gallon reef tank that has been up and running for about 10 months.  My BakPak 2R protein skimmer really started to smell bad and cleaning it only seemed to work for a couple of days, at most. <Perhaps something you are feeding??> My water was perfect in every way with no ammonia, no nitrites and a nitrate reading of about 1 or 2.  I decided to switch to an AquaC remora hang on skimmer and, at the same time, decided to replace 3 of the 4 powerheads I had in the tank.  Everything seemed to go well.  The next evening, however, I noticed that my long-nose Hawkfish was breathing very fast, just sitting on a rock he never sits on and not eating.  I also noticed that there was an area in the corner near him that had the sand blown away.  I must have had some reflection current, however, since the powerhead that was opposite that area was actually raised from its previous level.  I do not notice any spots on the Hawkfish or any other external signs of any trouble.  Could changing the current have caused this problem? <Not directly, but perhaps the change in routine, your hands in the tank and whatnot... this would be a source of stress.> I am perplexed and any assistance would be appreciated. <Give things a couple more days... chances are good that things will return to normal.> The fish has been extremely active and hardy up until this occurred. Thank you. Scott <Cheers, J -- >

Petroleum Distillate Contamination - Dear Crew Members, I am a computer activist and have many cooling fans the same room as my 30 gallon marine setup. I regularly oil these fans with a valve oil that states on the label, ingestion may be harmful, contains petroleum distillates. I don't think there could be more than 5 drops on a fan at any given time. I awoke yesterday morning to find one of the fans fell off a shelf into a ten gallon tank I am using to keep brine shrimp, this was after I had fed my fish from the tank, possibly ten/ml of the water containing shrimp from the 10 G tank. When I awoke this morning, there is a dull coat on the top of my water in my 30 G tank, looks very much like oil. <This may not be related... tanks often have an oily sheen on the surface.> I have a damsel that has grown to be rather large, the kind with five black stripes, this tank has been in great constant operation for over a year. The damsel appears very white and yellow in color except of course for his black stripes. He was VERY eager to eat as much as he could. Also some white mucous was protruding from his vent. The other fish have net yet woken up after about an hour, but I can see that they all are breathing properly. <If it's that early in the day, then what you are seeing on your damsel is likely just it's night pattern. Many fish's colors fade while they are sleeping.> Do you think they are poisoned with distillates? <Probably not... would expect a more adverse reaction if so.> There could only be a fraction of a drop, my anemones, (bubble tip) are doing very very well, but my urchin is moving very slowly. <I've never seen an urchin move fast.> What should I do? <Run some activated carbon in your filtration loop, keep up the observation.> thanks so much, --Jim <Cheers, J -- >

- Petroleum Distillate Contamination, Follow-up - Activated carbon has been running for 5 hours now, In both my penguin 330 and my Fluval 204, oily sheen has disappeared and fish appear normal. My damsels night pattern is almost completely black though and this morning it was very bright white, and usually my other fish wake up quickly. Hopefully everything is ok. <I think it will be.> Thanks so much for your quick response and accurate information, WWM is definitely the best most sincere place on the net to find information about marine aquariums. <My pleasure.> thanks again --Jim <Cheers, J -- >

Heavy metals... including ferrous, in a marine system Hi, I have asked you guys questions before, but this one takes the cake. I have a 55 gal, 4 months, 11 LR, skimmer, Penguin 330, all levels very good, no copper.  Ok, in the past I have asked questions in reference to water filters since my DS reading is over 500 coming out of the tap. I had some misconceptions about resin filters and I didn't understand at the time that if a filter is spent that it actually rendered worse water then to begin with. I didn't have a DS meter at the time and I was actually replacing my tank water with water that had a DS of 560 or more. Oooh!!! Well the interesting thing is that my fish didn't seem to notice. I have Chromis, Goby's, Blennies, Damsels, and a horseshoe crab.           I bought a chocolate chip starfish and even though he was in the water from hell he lived for almost a month. The one that I bought to replace him only lived a few days, I tried hermit crabs, they only lasted a few days. The fish are fine, and I think the horseshoe is also. I am a little confused.           A breakdown of my questions: A. The gunk that I mistakenly dumped in my tank, is it filtered out by the filter as I have been told or is it just present? <little or none is taken out by the filter feeders here. Do consider water changes to dilute all with better quality source water> B. Is there a way to find out if there is heavy metals in your tank? <using a PolyFilter will help here by changing color to indicate what if any metals were absorbed> I haven't seen any tests for that and since all my other tests are fine, I figure that has to be what is killing the inverts.           C. This is a really strange question. I use a magnetic glass cleaner and I noticed chunks of substrate that were stuck to it. <yikes - ahhh... seems to me some metal contamination in your sand> It appears that I have pieces of iron in the crushed aragonite that I used. I am not sure how much, I am going to try to see how much I can pick up. Is this normal? <not normal... and it is a serious threat if not the cause for your invertebrates deaths> If I had a high iron content in the initial water I started out with, could it form iron chunks as I am finding?   <not likely. Your metals in the sand are more likely (and not entirely uncommon) a contaminant in the sand. Sifting out with the magnet will likely be good enough though. You may not have to remove the substrate. Anthony>

- Anemone Stings and Toxic Tank Question - Do you mean that if they are stung by the Tube Anemone that they will die immediately? <Really depends on the extent of the sting.> Or can it take a few hours? <Both.> From the contamination in the tank, could that cause the fish to look as though they are peeling or flaking? <Yes. Cheers, J -- >

Paint in My Tank well I was remodeling the master bedroom this weekend. I used a paint sprayer on the walls. I knew there would be quite a bit of fall out so I was sure to keep the bedroom door closed and the windows open, so that none of it would drift into the living room where the  Reef tank is. Well, apparently that didn't work. Later that night I noticed some fall out on the center brace of my tank and my euro-reef skimmer <great skimmers that is all I use> was going nuts. (I had to lower the outlet tube all the way down to keep it from over flowing the collection cup). < that is normal when something has been introduced to the aquarium. I would throw some new carbon and a PolyFilter just in case> My tank is primarily SPS and amazingly they have showed no ill effects from the situation they are in. full polyp extension and feeding at night) All water param.s are fine. am 0 trite 0 trates < 5 Ph 8.1 dKH 11 A 420. I assumed that all of this fall out increased the surface area of the water in my tank and that is why the skimmer is going crazy, so I did a10% water change last night (I painted on Sunday.) Well, I woke up this morning and my skimmer is still going nuts. I need to know what I should do? should I be worried?  thanks in advance you have been very helpful in the past. <In my experience euro-reef they will settle down on there own. you can try pulling skimmer out and rinse the whole thing out with fresh water. As long as the corals look good I would not worry. Hope this helps Mike H> Jason Auringer

- Ammonia Spike, Help! - Good Morning - thanks in advance for your help. History of tank: been up for 5 months 45 gals 75lbs live rock 20 lbs live sand 2 powerheads 201 & 301 Amiracle SL-5 Hippo Tang Six Line Wrasse 15 - 20 % water changes every 2 weeks using a water tap purifier. Test water- no ammonia) While I was away last week , some of the snails in the tank starting dying - When I got home all snails dead - 2 hammer corals dead - star polyp, spaghetti coral looking real bad. Ammonia levels super high as high as 70. <Egads!> Did a 15 gallon water change immediately. Later in the day cleaner shrimp died, still ammonia level high. Did another 5 gallon water change that night. Next morning all corals dead - ammonia level still high. Removed all dead coral, moved live rock around found some more dead snails and removed them. Did another 15 gallon water change, and last night a 5 gallon change All that is left in the tank is the Hippo Tang, six line Wrasse, Sally light foot crab, and about 5 red & blue crabs. Ammonia - 60 Nitrates- 40 Nitrites - 0 Salinity - 1.025 Temp - 77 ph - 8.0 What can I do to save what is left in the tank? <Larger water changes - if your ammonia level is 70 and you change half of the water, that's only going to reduce the ammonia by half... need to do several of these in a row.> And also what should I do to prevent this in the future - my daughter and I want to make sure we do not endanger the livestock again. <Don't load up on the snails... only two or three in a tank of this size - no doubt that problem triggered the next into a domino-type reaction. Likely the ammonia is the result of the die-off. Large [more than 50%] water changes are your friend.> RT <Cheers, J -- >

Massive Fish Kill I performed a water change tonight and had a major fish kill.  I followed all the same precautionary steps I have done a hundred times before.  PH, Nitrate, Ammonia, Alkalinity, Salinity are in in acceptable levels.  Any ideas on what I should look for? <first of all what size aquarium, what were the water parameters before and after you did the water change...how many gallons did you take out/replace? (maybe there were some toxic chemicals in your water like household bleach residue in the bucket.. etc.) otherwise you haven't given me enough info to solve your problem, IanB> Thank You very much Dominic

Massive fish kill 46 gallon bow front, all parameters of the tank were in acceptable prior and after 10 gallon water change.  Used aquarium only bucket.  Not sure what to do now.  It appears that everything except for a few snails and hermit crabs.  All the worms from the live rock are dead. Do I need to start from ground zero and replace everything or can I cycle it out?  Thanks for all the help. <I would start over what ever killed everything may not cycle out (chemicals) Did you test the water after everything was dead? was anything out of whack? MikeH>   Dominic

- Fish Issues - Hi, I have had real trouble keeping fish alive, my reef tank is close to a year old, 55g, 3" sand, AquaC Remora, 4x65w PC lighting.  All water parameters are fine, my corals are fine, and my snails and cleaner shrimp have been in there forever. <Interesting.> The fish keep dying after a few weeks, they really don't look sick either.  Mostly dwarf angels, tangs etc. so not really small fish, I don't believe I have an attacker somewhere. <Most likely there is an issue with your supply - have you bought these all in the same place? I'd be wanting to blame them, or at the very least their supplier.> I have done small frequent water changes, even a close to 100% water change (no fish anyway).  I use RO/DI for water and buffer with Seachem.  Could any of my corals be producing something toxic to the fish?? I am out of ideas.  My corals are a multi-mushroom polyp, Galaxea, umbrella mushroom, Goniopora, frogspawn, type of brain, large star polyp and an Acropora. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated, this is getting way to expensive! :-( <No doubt - I'd work with a local store to procure, and then put a deposit on any fish you might want - let them keep it for two weeks before you take it home. Check up on it several times and make sure it's eating. That should make a difference.> Thanks! -Brian <Cheers, J -- >

Toxic Trouble? Hi Scott, how are you doing, hope you're doing great. <Can't complain!> If you remember I wrote you about a month ago, telling you about the near tragedy with my clown trigger. Well, every thing was fine, every body was happy, till I purchased the protein skimmer. <Uh-oh..> If you can remember, I told you that the skimmer barely fit, in fact the skimmer pump was not totally horizontal in the ground, it was about 45degrees inclined, so as you can imagine, I had to put more water in the wet/dry filter, because I was afraid that the skimmer pump did not get water and burn up. <A good move on your part> And it was fine working for about a week, but I wanted to arrange all of the parts to be place as their supposed to go, so I put the pump totally horizontal (sitting on the floor perfectly), but now the PVC elbow which connected the body of the skimmer with the skimmer pump didn't reach, So that day my plumber was in the office and I told him to help me build a connection made of PVC to join the skimmer body and the pump. it was a little bit difficult building that connection, so He recommended a black car radiator house (made of material like rubber tire), MISTAKE, MISTAKE, MISTAKE!!!!, It fit so well and the skimmer was skimming so perfectly, that I thought that nothing could go wrong. I was very WRONG, the next morning, My clown trigger and my puffer were DEAD. and my Miniatus grouper, and my eel were very sick, I call Immediately the owner of the octopus's garden store in San Diego (Ron), to give me some advice, I didn't know if it was better to take my 2 live fishes home or not. He recommended to do a 30% water change, so I did, for 3 consecutive days. <Another good move on your part...> The fish look much better now, in fact the eel ate yesterday and today, but the Miniatus is not eating, since Saturday, well at least I haven't seen him eat. <It's hard to say what went wrong...Did you monitor water parameters? I cannot imagine that the skimmer could cause some kind of "crash" in the system...> Now I am afraid to turn the skimmer on, I all ready went to purchase at aquatic warehouse some the proper house for the skimmer it is a connection with 2 PVC elbows, and flexible PVC, that fit perfectly and the skimming work perfectly and is all properly install. I all ready wash the skimmer, and I notice that every time I turn the skimmer on the eel goes above the pump return, as if it was not receiving enough oxygen, or maybe he likes it there, but the eel never spend time in that spot of the tank before the incident. <Curious...> Question, If the skimmer is to big, could it affect the oxygen return of the fishes???? <I doubt it...Skimmers generally assist in oxygenating an aquarium...I wonder if the hose contained some kind of toxic compound? Try some activated carbon and Poly Filter to help remove any potential toxic substances> What is your advice on how to feed the Miniatus grouper??? <My best advice here would be to continue attempting to feed the fish with a variety of meaty seafoods, in the hope of enticing him to eat...Don't give up- if he is healthy, he'll start to feed again! Do monitor water parameters to assure that everything is up to par in there...> Inside the wet dry filter, does it affect the way the venturi pump of the skimmer is pointing (point to the carbon filter or to the return). What other observations and recommendations can you give me??? Thank you for the advice, I am sure the thing that cause all of the problems is the radiator house, If you have other opinions please let me know. <As we both mentioned, I would look at the radiator hose as a potential source of toxin- either from the composition of the hose itself, or from some chemical that may have been in it previously...> As always thanks for your advice, time and attention. att. Juan Santos <Sorry to hear of this trouble, Juan...I hope that things start looking better- keep up the good work. Regards, Scott F.>

Taking Out Toxins, And Adding An Angel Hi Scott, how are you doing, hope you're doing great.!! <All is well! Thanks for the kind words> Well, I wrote you last week to tell you about my tragedy, the good news is that the Miniatus grouper, and the eel, are eating, and see very healthy. <That IS good news!> Now I connected the protein skimmer with the proper house PVC, and it's working wonderfully. <Excellent!> I couldn't believe it when I clean the collector cup. <Those EuroReef's do a great job!> I need some advice. 1st, I all ready changed 2 carbon filters, changed about 25% of the water for 3 consecutive days, and the fish seem very healthy, now I'm sure that the (carburetor hose), is what caused all the trouble, but now how can I now if the toxic (poison) is completely out of the system? Do you recommend putting a few damsels to see how they react, before I purchase another fish, or just wait about a month or more to put new fish again in the tank????? <I would not use live fish for this. Rather, I'd keep up an aggressive water change schedule and use activated carbon and Poly Filter, which excels at removing a wide variety of contaminants from tank water> 2nd. I also got a 90 gal tank at home, and my uncle is in love with the acrylic tank, I was also, but now I feel that the 140gal at the office is too small, so I accepted and am going to sell it to purchase a 300gal acrylic tank. <Cool!> The thing is, at all the aquarium stores the biggest that they have is about 150gal, so I was wondering if you now a place where they sell big acrylic tanks for good prices, maybe a place, or an Internet page so I can contact them???? <Well, your local dealer should be able to order one for you. If not, you could visit Tenecor's web site, or perhaps Advanced Aqua Tanks (Clear For Life)...And there are others. Do a little internet search under "acrylic aquariums" and see what you can find. Believe it or not, these large tanks are still a "standard" size for most manufacturers, but dealers do not usually carry them in stock at any given time.> 3rd. my water parameters at the office are perfect, and the water parameters at home are too, except the Nitrate, was a little bit high, I do 20% weekly water changes, can you recommend something to get the nitrate down, and is it too dangerous for the fish??? Or, maybe do 30% water changes weekly???? <Well, nitrate is not dangerous to fishes, per se, but it can be detrimental to corals. Mostly, nitrate is an indicator of the overall water quality in a system. There are many ways to reduce nitrate, ranging from aggressive water change schedules with quality source water, to utilizing deep sand beds, chemical filtration media, macroalgae cultivation and harvesting in an attached refugia, etc. Check the WWM site for lots of cool ideas!> 4th and last, My wife brought home yesterday a 1" Cortez Angelfish, he looks healthy, but it's very small, about a finger nail. <That IS small, but these fishes can and do grow quite large if they make it to adulthood! Keep this in mind!> She works at a brokers' office and the guy that exports fish gave it to her. <A nice perk at the office!> The only thing I could imagine to do is put it in a 20 gal tank that is well establish and was purpose for hospital tank (just in case), <Quarantine is a great idea for ALL new fishes!> But honestly-if angels are delicate, do you think that this little fellow has a chance, and if he does, what recommendations can you give me. <Well, they are delicate when so small, but if you provide stable environmental conditions, a large aquarium, and quality food, he can grow into a great specimen for a large tank that can live for many years!> Again Scott, thank you for your help, time and advice. Att. Juan Santos. <Always a pleasure, Juan! If you can house this little guy for the long term, you'll have a great fish that will become a part of your family! Enjoy! Regards, Scott F>

Broken Hydrometer <Hello! Ryan with you today> My hydrometer broke while I was doing a water change. <Ouch!> I think not of the weight balls got in to the aquarium but it is hard to tell. <That's good, weight balls are usually composed of lead.>  The hydrometer had this red liquid (alcohol?) for the thermometer. The place where it broke was in the changing water tank.  That had a really oil like odor after wards.  All my fish appear to be ok. Any recommendations I am not quite sure what to do? <Watch your livestock very carefully for signs of stress, and prepare quarantine containers now.  Run some extra carbon, perform a 10 gallon water change every day for a week.  "Dilution is the key to pollution!"  At the first sign of stress (most likely heavy breathing) quarantine your affected animals.  Best of luck!> My tank is a 175 gal Marine set up with 80 to 90 pounds of life rock and a wet and dry filter Thanks

Saltwater crash I work at a pet store and we sell salt fish. Some of the fish we had have been there for months. Well last Friday everything started dying. The water was testing normal the day before but for some reason the pH jump off the charts in less than 24 hours. We lost almost everything, except what I through in our reef tank. The fish were acting really weird. They would just either die instantly or they would get really pale and just start to die. As soon as I threw them in the reef tank they bounced back to normal. Even our hermit crabs and damsels started dying. Do you have any idea what could of happened? Thanks, Tiffany <This reminds me of a very sad occasion many years ago in a retail shop I worked at where we had a "mad poisoner" (he would leave notes signed as such)... A young man was coming in and adding a vial of concentrated ammonia (cleaner) in one or more tanks in our recirculated systems... killing many animals... The ammonia would raise the pH as well. I would (quickly) check for this if you have another such episode. The effect, presence is transient so you will not likely be able to measure it more than an hour or two after. This is only one possible scenario, but something "toxically overt" is to blame here. Bob Fenner>

Canopy Paint - 9/24/03 Can you suggest a paint for the inside of a light hood over an open reef tank?   <tub&tile or swimming pool 2-part epoxies work very well and dry hard/non-toxic. Else, any baby safe latex paint that you coat with polyurethane will be fine if above water> I have some bathroom paint lying around and was hoping to use it. The problem is it contains a mildewcide. <alas no... it is very toxic to aquatic life because of the anti-fouling agents as you have suspected> I was hoping to use it if  I sealed it with a few clear coats of polyurethane. <not worth the risk> Is this even all that critical, since most of the surface area of the hood will be covered with reflectors for the new T-5 lights? <agreed... but still not worth the risk.> Get that next book going, I am out of good reading material. <writing it as we speak <G>.> Thanks as always, Ken <thank you, my friend... Anthony>

- Losing Fish - Hi, This weekend my husband and I set up a new tank (180 liter). We bought 4 new fish and our two juvenile common clownfish joined this tank. We used 50% of the water of our old tank. Besides fish we had put 1 live rock from Indonesia in it and some other rocks. After two days all the new fish past away. We cleaned the tank and put our little two clownfish in the hospital tank. In this tank we already had another fish and a shrimp. My husband also changed the filter system in the hospital tank with the one of our new tank. The filter system is 1400 l/H. Our hospital tank is only 30 liters. The next day the other fish in the hospital tank died but the two clownfish and the shrimp are still happily swimming in the tank. The level of ammonia was zero, Ph was 8 and the NO3 was high. The next day I changed the filter with the old one again.   Can you tell me what happened. Because I can't believe that the fish got toxified, because the smallest fish survived. I do think that there was something with the live rock, because they told me that it was cleaned but some kind of black worm came out of it. I threw it away when I cleaned the tank. <Most likely the fish were already on the downward slope when you got them. To say any more specifically than that would take either clairvoyance or dissection under a microscope, so I'm sorry I don't have a better answer for you. What type of fish were they?> Thanks Julie. <Cheers, J -- >

- Losing Fish, Follow-up - Hi But I thought with Chemipure I would not need to replace the saltwater for up to five year? <I should hope not... I've never trusted anything that promises 'no water changes' and there's no filter media I am aware of that would last five years. To keep your fish healthy, you simply must do regular small water changes, otherwise your fish end up living in their own filth. Five percent a week or 10% every two weeks is a good interval for water changes, but it's not wise to wait much more than that.> By the way, I have check my PH level, it is at 8, so it is at a healthy level. <Uhh... pH should be in the range of 8.2-8.4 so 8.0 is actually lower than it should be.> I mentioned my tank as 2ft tank not 2ft long apologize if I mislead you. <I still not sure I follow - what are the dimensions of your tank?> Cheers Terence <Cheers, J -- >

- Drywall / Joint Compound -- Cloudy Water - Thanks again for this service that you guys provide to us! <Is a pleasure to serve.> I have a question regarding my initial setup, I have a tank that is in wall and viewable on both sides.  During the renovation drywall dust and joint compound fell into the tank.  I have cleaned out a good portion of it before putting the initial water into the system but was told by my aquarium guy that the rest of it would be ok and filtered out.   Well the white clouds in the water have since coated the insides of the clear vinyl hoses running between the tank and sump.  Because it wouldn't settle out, I have drained out and wiped down the entire system (except for the hoses) and refilled. The water was obviously very clear when the tank was filled, but it then clouded up (residue in hoses) and is slowly being filtered out.  But it has been a week now that the residual cloudiness is not clearing.  I am at my wits end now, could you suggest how to clear this water up? <You might see if your 'aquarium guy' has access to a diatom filter - these are capable of removing very small particle sizes and would likely polish your water pretty well. You might also try some activated carbon to see if that filtration method will catch some of this dust.> I plan on having a reef tank so water quality is a must! New setup 150g Perfecto 48"x24"x30" WxDxH tank Amiracle XL Mudd Sump in basement (approx 35g?) (14.5' head) Amiracle (CPR style hang-on overflow) with a Rio 2600 rejuvenation venturi powerhead to check valve on top of overflow. (trying to make 2 Durso standpipes) Gorman Rupp 510 1" SeaSwirl return 2 x 175 wt MH 2 x 65 wt Ultra actinic PC Thank you. - Cloudy and Frustrated <Be patient... you will need this trait over and over again while developing this system. Cheers, J -- >

Potential Metal Contaminants Hey Guys and Gals, First of all, your website is amazing.  The wealth of knowledge that you provide for everyone is truly invaluable and I'd like to thank you for providing it.  I have two quick and related questions that I can't seem to find the answer for.  First of all, I have a Mag drive 12.  On the packaging it says that it can be used submerged.  However, holding part of the casing together are a number or metal screws.  If I submerge this in the sump of my marine tank, do you think they could corrode and leach contaminants? <If you are concerned, cover the screw heads with 100% silicon.> Also, I'm in the design phase of my tank and I'm working on the plumbing aspect currently.  I'm trying to work out a way that if the power goes out water won't siphon back into my sump.  I'd like to have some of the pump return outlets below the water level in the display tank and I'm not totally confident in check valves.  With that, I was thinking about installing a solenoid sprinkler gate.  However, I noticed that there is a metal part inside the plastic casing.  I'm not sure of what type of metal it is, but I'm concerned that it might corrode as well.  What are your thoughts on this?   <I have never seen the sprinkler gate so the best I could say is contact the manufacturer. Instead, I would drill a small hole (1/8") in the return pipe just below the water line of the tank. Then when the power goes out, the hole will break the siphon when the water goes below it. Hope this helps, Don> Thanks,  Derek

Food dye Ok,  I'm going to take a chance and ask what may be considered a dumb question (if there is such a thing).  Is it ok to use food dye in a tank with no livestock (except LS/LR) to see how the water flow is in my 90 gallon tank?  I'm thinking this might help me better position powerheads and inflows. <Yes, safe... and a good idea. Have seen such use in limnology classes, demonstrations in relation to thermoclines, other phenomena in aquariums> Thanks so much for the great website and books. Mark <Thank you for your kind, encouraging words. Bob Fenner>

Fumes Hello,      My apartment complex does yearly carpet cleaning. When they do this the fumes from the detergents--or whatever it is--are very strong and overpowering. I could barely breathe last time. I did not have my salt tank set up then, so I am wondering about this being a problem for the fish. Do you think it might? Anything I might do to cut down on possible bad things....? <It could certainly have an effect. I would, when the carpet is being cleaned, make sure that the protein skimmer is off and the tank and sump are covered snugly.>    Thanks, Lance <best, Chris>

- Wrong Hose - <Hello, JasonC here...> Well I've just experienced my first, and hopefully last, sudden die off of fishes. <I'm sorry to hear this.> Actually 2 of 8 fish and the rest seeming a little stressed. Inverts and corals (all soft or mushroom) seem to be mostly unaffected. Anyway the circumstances leading up to this go as follows. Late last week the pump running my skimmer decided to stop working. Seeing this I checked into my LFS's to see about a replacement. Well they all wanted A LOT of money for the Rio 2100 so I ordered from an internet seller hoping it would arrive in a timely fashion, which it did. Since I was ordering I decided to help my circulation by adding a SCWD mechanical wave maker. To the point, when I received the gear yesterday I immediately got the skimmer running again and decided to hook up the SCWD. I used auto heater hose (new) as I had some around. I know this was brand new and I rinsed as well in plain tap water. Is this hose leeching something into my water or is this an effect of the skimmer not running for almost a week? <I'd put my money on the hose.> I did a small water change while the skimmer wasn't running and nitrates are only reading .2 with a Salifert kit. I also took a sample to the LFS today and they could not find any ammonia, nitrites, nitrates or phos. I'm confused. This is the same type of hose used to hook up a dishwasher or washing machine just without the metal ends. <Neither typically have seawater running through them...> I would think this is safe. <Nope.> Is it, or do I have to use some special, ultra mark-up "aquarium hose"? <Any hose suitable for food or beverage service - vinyl, etc. I would not use black rubber hose. Cheers, J -- > - Follow-up: Wrong Hose - Thanks. I think it was the hose as when I took it out you could almost see an immediate difference in respiration. Much better. Although I did lose my tang as well :( <Sorry to hear about the Tang. At least it's a mistake you won't make twice. Cheers, J -- >

It's The Water...(Unfortunately)! Hello Wet Guys, <Scott F. dripping here today> I have 2 brittle stars and both have a cut on their body. I battled a condition in my tank a week ago with not washing out a sump before I bought it and I think a chemical got introduced into my system. The starfish don't move much anymore and it looks like some of their guts are hanging out. I have made 2 large 50% water changes with 2 smaller 50% water changes. The fish breathing heavy but have recovered. I have worked my butt off on this tank for the last week but I suppose my work isn't over. What do you think this is a result of have you heard of starfish doing this before? <Well, usually when a starfish appears to be eviscerated, it is an extremely serious problem from which the animal may not recover. The best suggestion I could make is to keep outstanding water quality, keep an eye out for possible infection (use antibiotics if necessary), and observe the animal carefully> Also I have run about 64 ozs of carbon over the last week. I hope I don't have to replace all of my live rock and live sand. any help would be appreciated. Jason <Well, Jason, it's hard to say. It really depends what the chemical introduced was. Compounds like copper can be removed with chemical filtration media such as PolyFilter, aggressive water changes, and the passage of time, although it may be bound up in the rocks and substrate for many, many months. Testing would reveal the possible extent of the problem . Other chemical compounds, such as household cleaners, etc., can be removed through the aforementioned methods as well. Just be patient, and keep working at it. Don't give up. Regards, Scott F>

Lava rock Hello - I've just bought and read Fenner's TCMA. I'm concerned about the possible slow leaching of various 'bad' things from some kinds of lava that he mentions could cause slow, chronic poisoning of my reef critters.<yes, have heard of this before> Great. I read this just after I used about 15 lbs of a very porous, rough pumice-like 'bowl rock' as a foundation for my Fiji Live Rock. The LFS staff insisted that it was safe for salt water usage...but you know how that can go sometimes. Can you tell me (please) a.) what exactly leaches into the water with this problem, and b.) how to test for it?<Personally I do not know exactly what elements, etc "leach" out from the live rock. But I have heard that this does occur.> I almost yanked this entire lava foundation out of the tank as soon as I read this ... but if you knew just how long I spent getting all the Fiji LR to balance on this lava, and having the whole thing look very sharp indeed (not to mention very stable for a non-epoxied or otherwise secured arrangement), you would understand that I don't want to impulsively do this. <I agree, I know how long it takes to aquascape an aquarium. Try aquascaping a 180 gal aquarium with 200-300lbs of LR. takes hours to do :(> Any further advice would be most appreciated.<If it were me I would remove this lava rock post-haste to be on the safe side. Wouldn't want all of your livestock to mysteriously die one day because of a few pieces of rock. IanB> Cheers, SLC

- Re: New Sump, New Problems - This in reply to Jason C who asked me a few questions. <Well... I'm back.> Before I had a emperor 400. No I did not clean it before I installed it. <The sump... well...> I am kicking myself today for that. It was new so I didn't even think about it. <Call me paranoid, but I clean everything before I put it in my tank.> Since last night I lost my Kole Yellow Eye, and he was the only one who wasn't showing any signs of rapid breathing. <I'm sorry to hear about your loss.> I have a new cap 2200 pump with all new plumbing from prefilter to drain line to return pump. I have messed up big time with something. Good news is my False Perc clown and blue tang who was laying on their sides last night seem to be doing better. <Ahh good.> I did a 50% WC last night and ran 18 oz of carbon last night and replaced it with fresh 18oz of carbon this morning. <Good plan, I'd even do another large [50%] water change again soon - let the new water a day or so to mix before you add it.> Even my button polyp was affected by this. It swelled up and has yet to come back to normal. Bristle stars and hermits seem to be unaffected as well. <Interesting.> Do you think it was me not washing the new equipment out? <A distinct possibility. Again... going on the fact that your nitrogen-cycle tests indicate there is nothing toxic in the tests, you need to look for other 'instant' contaminants. The fact this all happened right after you installed the new sump is the best clue you have.> That seems to be the only thing I can think of. <Or related - perhaps something you had on your hands when doing the work.> What a stupid mistake if so. <It's an honest mistake, and potentially one with regrettable consequences, but not the type of mistake that is often repeated afterwards.> Thanks again, Jason <Cheers, J -- >

Can't keep fish alive - 55g. Hi Bob <Kevin here today!> This is the first time writing to u but have used your website for many answers. I have a new saltwater tank 55g it has been cycled for at least 2 months and everything tests at 0 the salinity is 1.022 and the temp around 78. I cant get anything to stay alive in this tank except a few turbo snails and a few hermits, when I put fish in they stay swimming at the top and after a few days they die I have done an almost complete water change after the last deaths put in a Green Chromis and it did fine so I move in a Maroon Clownfish he is now swimming at the top of the tank. Anything u can tell me would be great because I'm ready to tear it down ! <Whoa. First thing to do is verify your test results by comparing them with a different kit (Fastest/Seatest, Salifert, etc) and make sure that you have no pH, ammonia, or nitrite problems. Second, establish a quarantine tank, the fish you are getting could be sick from the get-go. I'd like to know how this tank is set up, what equipment is used, and what kind of maintenance you do on it. Also, how do you acclimate these fish? Do you see any slime, dust, bumps, or spots on the fish? Do they breath very hard? Do they die with their gills wide open? Let me know, we'll get to the bottom of this! -Kevin>

Dying fish I have tried damsels, hippo, and clown they have all died 3 to 4 days after getting them. my water is great no signs of disease on these fish. two other tanks in house there great no problems fish for those tanks came from same store. hope you can help  <I am guessing there is some sort of contaminant that leached into the system.  You can remove most things with poly filters, if it changes color there was something in the system but if it stays white it is not picking any thing up.  Also make sure you have plenty of water movement and aeration.  If you have any sea cucumbers or something that could release toxins make sure they are ok. Cody> Michael Kelly

Paint fumes My wife wants to paint the room that my tank is in and I'm worried that the fumes might kill the inhabitants. Is it unsafe, and if so, is their anything I can do short of moving the tank? Thanks, Eric <Most modern water based paints are alright, oil would be a problem. As a normal precaution I would turn off all air intakes (powerhead injectors, air pumps, skimmers, wet/dry filters, etc.) and cover the tank with a damp towel(s) while the actual painting is happening. Best to wait for a good warm day with plenty of ventilation, perhaps an exhaust fan to remove the paint fumes.  Craig>  

Poison Polyps? On Friday a friend gave me two small mushroom anemone polyps. I put them in my tank and did not pour in the water. They opened up. By Tuesday, four of my six fish died, with no ich markings or obvious infections. I checked the chemistry of the tank, which was great. Is it possible that the polyps could have infected the tank? Thanks much, Joel Sappell <Well, Joel, I doubt that it was some form of parasitic infection, as you would most likely have seen some external signs. This all points to some type of poisoning (metabolic or otherwise). This wipeout came on too fast to be an illness, IMO, unless you exposed your fish to an extremely virulent infection of some sort. Look beyond the obvious here for a cause...Perhaps there was some sort of metal, or other potentially toxic substance introduced to the water? When you checked the water parameters, did you look at the "basic stuff", such as ammonia? Sometimes ammonia spikes can occur for various reasons, and kill with frightening rapidity. It may be just coincidental that the mushrooms were introduced before this die-off occurred...Sorry I couldn't through a little more light on things here...In the absence of obvious disease signs, it may very well have been a poisoning of some sort...Keep looking for answers...Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

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

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

Tenting for termites Hi.   <Hi Dave, Don here today> I have read  The Conscientious Marine Aquarist, and I thought it was excellent.  I have not set up my 125 gallon tank yet, but I have a couple of questions.  If I set up my tank and then need to tent my house for termites, what is the recommended procedure?  If I enclose the whole structure (oak stand, acrylic tank, oak hood, under cabinet sump, etc.) in heavy gauge plastic sheeting and make sure it is sealed, is anything protected at all? If I remove the fish, will the water be contaminated, and will the inhabitants of the live rock die, and possibly the fish if I add them back? If I have the house tented with the new tank and cabinet inside before I start to set it up - no water or anything else - will the stand or the acrylic tank absorb anything that will later be toxic to the future inhabitants? <Sorry Dave, but the easy answer is NO. Basically, the tank cannot be subjected to this. Read here for more http://www.wetwebmedia.com/toxictkfaqsii.htm> I thought it would be good for the oak stand and hood to get a coat of paste wax before I set up the tank.  Is this inadvisable, or can it be done if enough time elapses before water is added to allow the solvents to evaporate? <Hmmm, the stand maybe but I would not chance the hood> Thanks for listening to a newbie.  I'm sure that you are busy, but it would be nice to get your expert advice before I make a dumb mistake. Thank you for your contributions towards influencing conscientious aquarists (by the way, exactly how is that word pronounced?). <See here for help with than www.m-w.com. Don> Dave

Re: Tenting for termites Thanks for the reply Don, much appreciated.  One clarification:  Do I understand you to say that even the bare, empty acrylic tank and empty oak stand should not be exposed to the termite house tenting treatment?  Do the materials retain the toxins that can be released into the water after the tank is filled later? <I don't know about retaining toxins, but do you want to chance it? I wouldn't. If you decide to leave it in place, then seal it up as tight as you can> Thanks again. <Good luck, Don> Dave

Major Crisis! -- Ammonia-Tainted Salt? -- Need advice ASAP to save fish. Crew: <Hi Steve, Craig here.> I have been struggling with a mysterious ammonia spike for nearly two weeks now. I have attached at the end of this e-mail my previous communication with ScottF about this for background. I initially found the brittle star alive. The ammonia spikes continued despite frequent use of Amquel & AmmoLock and water changes of 20% per day. In fact, the ammonia just seemed to get higher. I have begun to fear that my biofilter has died. On Monday, I pulled the LR and found all of my brittle stars dead or dying, so I pulled them all. (Unfortunately, I had not read the Amquel fine print to learn that it lowers the pH--got down to 7.5--probably what killed the stars.) I cut way back on feedings. Today, the fish were obviously not acting normally--rather lethargic. All my snails are dead or dying. My Red Sea ammonia test kit read at least 8! Nitrite 0.2. <Sounds like dead or dying animals breaking down to ammonia, now to nitrite. Quite toxic.> While preparing to move my fish out of the tank into an 18G Rubbermaid container, I decided to check my newly-prepared water (made from R/O from my LFS and Red Sea salt to a SG of 1.035 & pH 8.4). <One, this is a good move to find the cause of ammonia. Second, is this a typo? Do you mean 1.025 SG?  If 1.035 this is a big problem. Red Sea Salt mixes to 1.023, 8.3 pH and 2.5 mEq/L Alk. Mixing to 1.025 is fine. Did you add buffer or calcium to this ordinarily lower level salt mix?> It tested positive for ammonia at 0.5! I tested the R/O water with a FW kit and ammonia was zero. I then opened a new container of Red Sea salt and mixed it with R/O water and it tests zero. <0.5 wouldn't be the cause of the 8 in your main. It isn't acceptable, but it would be utilized by your biofilter capacity if all else was normal. This could have caused your problem by killing or stressing your inhabitants or simply been one cause, amongst other larger ones. What type of hydrometer are you using? Check plastic hydrometers with a decent glass model and hopefully the above SG is an error, or we've found a good part of the problem, elevated SG.> My conclusion is thus that somehow the other container of salt that just ran out was tainted with something that caused it to have ammonia. Is this possible? <Certainly, either at home, in transit or in manufacture. More likely the first rather than the later, although not impossible with salts in any event.>   As I try to understand this disastrous chain of events, the only thing I can figure out is that I have constantly been adding ammonia to my tank with each water change since I started using the now-empty container (55 lbs) several weeks ago. Interestingly, I was having a lot of problems with ammonia in my QT using the same salt. If this Red Sea salt is the cause of this crisis, I will never buy that brand again. From now on, I'll be testing any water I add to my tank. BTW, the RedOx has been running 200-260 despite running my Aquazone 100 full-bore 24/7. It was easily kept at 350 running at 75 before this started. Now what do I do? I have added a lot of AmmoLock & Amquel to the tank. Currently tests at RedOx=260, pH=7.7, ammonia=8.0. Since the fish look OK right now & I need to get some sleep, I changed out 15 gallons (total system capacity is 100) with water testing no ammonia. I put in some HBH ammonia pads into my power filter. Do these actually work? Will re-check in AM. If still elevated, should I take the fish out (lots of work removing LR to get at them)? I would keep them in a Rubbermaid tub while doing massive changes on the main tank. I'm still concerned about my biofilter. Would Fritz-Zyme help get things back in shape faster? I am very worried about my fish. Any other ideas/suggestions? <I would stop all these additives, they complicate the issue with their chemical reactions. I would first check the SG issue and mix to 1.025, checked with a reliable (not plastic) hydrometer. I would test that water for ammonia, and finding none at all, would QT my fish and any other critters I could save in a proper size Rubbermaid.  Then find and remove all know dead materials from the main tank, refill with enough new water to have a decent ammonia level and recycle the main, which has obviously had a biocapacity event leading to high ammonia/nitrite, and low RedOx. This may have been exasperated by all the ammo additives and ozone. I would stop the ozone and additives and run a clean system to cycle, perhaps with a known quality salt, like Instant Ocean or Tropic Marin, and use it for the water changes in both the cycling tank and the Rubbermaid QT as it will have ammo/nitrite soon enough as well from the fish, but is manageable. I would run fresh carbon in the filters and make sure there is nothing there to produce ammonia in any way. Lots of work, but the main should cycle fairly quickly if you have resolved the sources, water, possible salt, dead animals, overfeeding, lost biocapacity, filters. The presence of nitrites suggests a couple of weeks. Don't rush and test with good test kits to verify.  Best wishes, Craig>

Re: Major Crisis! -- Ammonia-Tainted Salt? -- Need advice ASAP to save fish. It was a typo. The SG is 1.025. I use a refractometer that cost me $120. The ammonia is still very high in the main tank & the fish do not look happy. I am warming the water in the Rubbermaid right now. I have another 18G tank that I will fill to split the fish between while I fix the problem in the main tank. I will be changing brands on salt shortly. <Sounds good Steve, sorry to hear of your troubles.  Let us know if we can be of further assistance.  Craig>

- Toxic Tank Questions - Bob <Acutally, JasonC here today...> Bob Just read the toxic water situations on WWM and thought you could help me with my 55 gal saltwater. <I will do my best.> As background, I did have a small saltwater tank (10g) years ago with only an undergravel (dolomite) filter.  Seemed to work fine but I did watch nitrites and found that during the initial cycle, I had to stop feeding (one neon goby) to get the nitrites to go down.  Tank was good enough that a trio of three strip damsels spawned. I also have used the natural (or balanced) aquarium idea in my freshwater tank.  (plants and water only-no filtration) Set up a 55 gal last November (is now end of Feb).  First with a reverse flow undergravel then with 3" of sand, plus an inch of crushed coral and some gravel and shells on top.  Lots of marine and other rocks for decoration and have one softball sized live rock.  Filtration is an external box type filter and a canister type. We went too fast to make the tank look good over thanksgiving for the visiting grand kids.  Everything died out (with high nitrites the probable cause-test kit maxed out solid purple/red). (have been testing for ammonia, nitrites, nitrates and ph). Slowed down and added 5 mollies.  They are still there and doing fine (and having babies).  Added a cleaner crew of which 10-20 hermit crabs, 2 anemone crabs, 5-10 turbo snails, a Bahamas star and green brittle star are still there.  Most of the algae has been cleaned up but the rocks are starting to turn light green again.  Recently added an anemone which the crabs like and it is still doing well after about two weeks.  Have also 3 yellow damsels and a blue damsel for about 2 months. <You have too much 'stuff' in this tank.> Nitrites are now remaining at 0, but ph is low (7.8-7.4 light transparent brown on the test kit). Nitrates are 20-40 (red on test kit). <You are correct about the pH being low - that is very low, too low. Nitrates are also too high for that anemone.> I placed 15 gallons in a 20 gal long (bout three weeks ago) to culture macro algae and as a possible hospital tank (open top, no filtration or circulation, 3" plays and). <That won't work for quarantine - substrate is not suitable for quarantine. Likewise, without circulation you can expect that tank to go stale...> Of course the 55 gal got a 15 gallon water change at the same time. We have attempted to add various fish from time to time with the most recent being a yellow tang and a dwarf angel fish. <With your water quality the way it is, this won't work out. Likewise, a 55 is really too small for a tang of any type.>  The tang developed white spots and attempted to teach the angel how to clean it.  Later it started breathing heavy and finally died (bout three weeks but seemed to lose color almost immediately).  It was eating the flake food, algae tabs, brine shrimp, and the blood worms.  The dwarf angel was breathing heavy and lying on his side so I decided to set up the 20 gal long and place him in there. He died within hours and was in that tank for about 3 days (was outta town). <No filtration, no aeration, no circulation - no surprise.> I then received the macro algae and placed in it the 20 gal long and removed the angel. <Plan on getting another tank for a quarantine tank if you plan to continue using this one for algae culture.> The 55g tank is now staying clear so the canister filter is turned off. After two weeks the 20g long with macro algae has nitrites maxed out on the test kit and ph up to 8.4-8.6 (test kit dark blue/purple).  It also has a baby Mollie in it which seems to be doing fine.  No food has been added to the tank. The macro algae is growing. The nitrites are not a surprise after all the angel fish died in there. <I don't follow.> The PH was a big surprise.  It is the same water taken from the 55g which never has that high of ph reading. <Could be there is a decoration in the main tank that is dragging the pH down.> So basically awesome fish like the tangs and angels do not survive in the 55 gal,  Nitrates are high (20-40), ph is low (7.2-7.4), but the crabs, sales and ugly ole mollies do fine.  What do I need to do to get to the place were the awesome fish can survive? <Fix the pH first - then, consider taking out some of the mollies - lowering the bioload before you attempt anything else.> I did try some 8.2 ph buffer.  Seem that when the ph goes up so does the nitrites. <Nitrites should be gone at this point... it would seem perhaps your biological filter is not properly established. Is there any filtration in the tank which is a permanent biological filter. With the canister turned off, and relying only on a trickle filter, you may not have an active nitrogen-reducing bacteria culture.> When the nitrites return to 0 then ph goes back down. <Look more closely at your husbandry... there is likely a chain of issues, enacted by you which are leading to this problem. If I were you, I would consider starting this tank over again, and at that time, obtain and cure some live rock to help with the nitrates and biological filtration.> Thanks in advance. Robert J. Beasley <Cheers, J -- >

Stainless steel I'm wondering if it is ok to run stainless in reef tank. well ill tell you what I'm doing. I just came across a new Culligan drinking fountains the ones that chill&heat .some one dropped it broke the holder for the water .so it leaks water at top, other wise perfect so I took it, customized it. it had a 2gal.stanliss bull that water went in and chilled. so had a brilliant idea so broke out tig wilder turned bull into perisherpot like device. no other metals in system. George tested, put small in pump I can chill and heat no problem I'm using a CAtm 3ooo sump pump in 5 gal. bucket. with a Honeywell digital temperature control wired in cooler. less then 2 min. 37 degree water heat just as fast. now on 55 gallon barrel 10 1/2 mm 37dere water . been holding 80 degree water 48hours now .played with some more designed to fit under  tank hook up in series with pluming. what to know if stainless steal ok before I attach to system. I also have another project need some knowledge .ill ask latter.. <Mmm, you could use this chiller with an exchange coil of some sort but not exposed directly to seawater... it will rust and pollute the seawater if it comes in direct contact. Bob Fenner>

- It's just like... starting over - Hi J! <Hello.> Thank you once again for your advice. <My pleasure.> Of course you know good advice means more questions.... I'm not sure which brand of charcoal filters I used, I think maybe Marineland, but I threw out the packaging already. <No worries.> I will look for Poly Filters in the future. <Activated carbon is fine for general use - the Poly Filter product is just really good at all around "bad-stuff" removal.> Now since I am trying to rid my tank of Greenex, and re-establish the biological filter, how should I go about either cleaning the filters or changing them to best benefit the tank? <Probably best to just swap them out for new media.> I thought that discarding them, even one at a time may have been responsible for messing up the biological filter the last time my whole tank got out of whack and everything died. (Then again, what do I know? ) <I think that's a pretty good guess... especially considering the lack of other potential biological filter media - like live rock.> My remaining clownfish, cardinal and wrasse are swimming sadly on their sides, and I'm not sure how long they will survive.  Is there anything else I could do to save them? <Perhaps a couple of large water changes.> When I buy more live rock, how much should I get at once? <I think this depends mostly on how your fish do, and I don't want to cast a dark cloud over things, but it does sound like your fish might not make it. If this is the case, I would get as much as you an afford and pack the tank with it... allowing it to re-cure and cycle the tank at the same time. If the fish do pull through, then you might consider re-curing the rock in a separate tank or Rubbermaid bin for a week or two and then adding to the tank.> Should it come from a particular place? <That matters little.> I have seen it labeled as coming from a variety of places. <Sometimes this affects the price more than it does the affects on the tank.> The more I think of it, the better I like the idea of the kick-in-the-shins tactic. <Me too.> Looking forward to your response once again, Thanks J! Angela <Cheers, J -- >

Re: Exterminated Afternoon Fellas, Got home to my apartment yesterday to find the exterminator's business card sitting on my kitchen counter... like a death certificate.  So, okay, its my fault.  I knew he was coming... didn't know when, but I knew it... and forgot.  Therefore I didn't protect the tank in any way.    <Ohh> I've got a 5 month old 55G FOWLR (hopefully will upgrade to a reef one day) which currently only holds 2 Damsels (taking it slow).  Earlier that day, I had what I'll simply call a "skimmer issue" (Not worth getting into... but just picture water-soaked smoke-fuming power outlets... its been a tough week)  I was working on cleaning all of this up... but then had to go to work... leaving the hood of the tank off.  So clearly the surface of the water had no protection what-so-ever from the insecticides.  Its been about 24 hours however, and nothing is dead.  And if it applies... I have a crappy Sea-clone and emperor 400 filter... crappy... but hey... its only 2 damsels. I've consulted the FAQs... but the questions that deal with this issue are more about prevention rather than recovery.  So here's my questions: I haven't been able to get in touch with the exterminator... but if I do.. are there any specific question I should ask that might help in the recovery process? <What did they do? What did they use? Are they familiar with the materials' effects on aquarium life?> If all the fish are currently alive, does that mean I'm in the clear? <Likely so> If they do die, is there much more I can do outside of water changes and carbon? <Not really> Any suggestions?  Will I still be able to one day upgrade to a reef or have I done some kind of permanent damage here?  Do my fish hate me? <Can't tell> Thanks so much.  I'm very appreciative for the answer to this specific question... and the answers to my other 7 thousand questions which had already been asked and posted on your site.  Its a fantastic resource. Sincerely, Rob <Thank you, Bob Fenner>

Starting Over! Dear WWM crew. <Scott F. here tonight> I have just had one of the worst days of my life. My reef tank (of 12+ years) is totally destroyed. <Ughh... Sorry to hear that...> A power outage that lasted over 2 days has destroyed everything. The corals are skeletons. My question would be: Is the live rock still good, is the live sand still good. <I would think that the live rock could be salvaged, and used again. There might be some additional die off from the rock, so you'd want to run your protein skimmer very efficiently> And if it is, what should I do to keep it healthy. Any steps to take. I am at a loss of what to do. Any advice would be helpful. <Well, I'd remove all of the dead corals and resulting necrotic materials, execute a massive water change, and let the tank cycle again. Monitor the nitrite and ammonia, and when these return to undetectable levels, you can begin your adventure again! Please don't be too discouraged by this tragedy, as hard as it is to stomach...With the same dedication and care that gave you 12 years of success, you can do it again! Good Luck to you! regards, Scott F>

Reef Tank Troubles PLEASE HELP ME Hello Guys, <Hi, JasonC here...> My name is Eric, I'm 15 and have a 26 bow front mini reef.  It contains 36 pounds of live rock, a colt coral, some blue mushrooms, and a bubble coral. Filters are a little hang on Eheim, a whisper 1 (DIY refugium) and PowerSweep powerhead. Lighting is 150 watts of PowerCompacts. I've been reading your forums for a long time now, and they have helped me out a lot.  Now I have a problem that I just can't get rid of and I need your help!  Recently I went on vacation for a week.  I returned to brownish cloudy water, nitrates of 50 and a dead anemone.  I was devastated. The rocks were covered in red slime (Cyanobacteria I'm sure) and a lot of bubbles (some kind of algae) <Also Cyanobacteria I would think.> I stepped up big time on the additives, (liquid calcium, molybdenum, phytoplankton, and iodine), after a red slime treatment (I wasn't sure what else to do!?!) <Lay off the additives... in a tank of this size you should only be adding drops of the stuff and nothing that listed will help get rid of BGA except for that red slime treatment which I wouldn't recommend. Likewise, you should always test for things you are adding to make sure they need to be added at all.> I've done tons and tons of water changes, using gravel vacs, and trying to get rid of the algae.  Every day the brown water returns and so does the algae, sometimes it taunts me and goes away for 2-3 days, then it returns, my Caulerpa in the whisper 1 is under a 12 inch fluorescent,  worked the nitrates down to 20, but the corals seem to do good/bad depending. PLEASE HELP ME. <I think you may want to consider breaking down the system to make sure you've gotten all the dead material from the anemone, and perhaps anything else it took with it. Likewise, you could rinse the live rock in some clean saltwater and return it to the system. You might also consider a 100% water change at the same time. Small tanks are the most difficult to keep stable, and sometimes once they've gone the wrong direction, you're just better off starting over.>  Your thoughts are needed badly. Greatly Appreciated Eric Denemark
<Cheers, J -- >

A Change For The Worse? I have just discovered this site while searching the Internet for answers to a problem I am currently dealing with.  I've spent several hours reading many of your reader's questions and have found them most interesting and some very beneficial. <We're glad that you find the site useful!> I have recently upgraded my marine setup from a 58gal glass tank to a 100 gal acrylic tank. <A nice upgrade!> The original setup was 11 years old and has mainly been fish only.  I completed my migration a couple months back without incident.  My current setup includes a sand substrate (about 3" thick)  (50lbs from original tank and 50lbs of new), 20lbs of live rock, and 50lbs or so of base rock.  Lighting includes 4 - 48" fluorescent (2 actinic 03 and 2 full spectrum).  Inhabitants include blue throat trigger, Huma trigger, panther grouper, yellowtail blue damsel, tomato clown, purple tang, 2 curlicue anemones, some green mushrooms, some polyps, a rock/flower anemone and a few snails.  The majority of the fish were in my original tank for about 2 years.  The damsel has been there for 7 years and the purple tang and most of the inverts are fairly new and have been in the tank for 6 to 9mos. <Nice mix of fishes- but I gotta tell ya- it's really gonna get crowded in there in the near future...You have some fishes that can get quite large, and unload considerable metabolic waste in the process...Keep up with those water changes and other maintenance!> I have a home-made sump with bio-balls, blue filter pad, and polyester pad. <Clean and/or change those pads regularly, okay?> Venturi protein skimmer in the sump powered by a Mag 500gph.   I also have a couple gallons of bio balls in the overflow.  Since the migration, everything has looked great.  Fish doing well, inverts open and very full.  I regularly add iodine, trace elements and stress zyme.  I Usually do a 5 gallon water change every 4 to 5 days. <Excellent!> Over the last couple of weeks I have been fighting green algae growing on the sand and tank surfaces.  I have also noticed many bubbles originating from the sand and rocks (I saw a problem similar to this from a reader in your toxic FAQ).  I just assumed it was CO2 from the algae growing on the sand.  Every other day, I wipe down the tank surfaces with an acrylic pad and stir up the sand.  When I stir the sand I did smell an egg odor which I assumed was H2S. <Not good, if that's what it was...> Within the last week this odor is no longer present and the water has the usual salty smell.  The bubbles from the sand have also decreased.  A couple days ago I noticed my blue throat trigger wobbling some and breathing faster than normal.  The next day all of the fish were hiding and the purple tang was laying on the bottom also breathing fast.  I ran all the tests and found nothing.  I also took a sample to my local marine dealer and his tests matched mine (PH 8.4, NO2, NO3 and NH4 at or near 0, S.G. 1.022 and water temp 74F).  My plan of action was to add an air stone directly to the tank and I did a 15gal water change.  Within 8 hours, the inverts looked markedly better and the purple tang looked and acted normal again (I never figured he would recover based on the way he looked earlier). <Good thought/action> However, the blue throat was still suffering.  I did another 10 gal water change today.  The inverts are almost back to normal and all fish except the blue throat look good and ate well today.  The blue throat is still laying on the bottom with triggers extended.  His eyes look clear but are sunken.  His abdomen is also starting to thin.  His overall color looks good but fins are starting to look tattered. His breathing also seems to be normal.   I did a fresh water dip for 4 minutes but have not seen much improvement.  He is still in the main tank but isolated in a clear polycarb container with holes drilled for water flow.  I think my tank water flow is inadequate. <That is a distinct possibility...another excellent hunch on your part!> The water movement is not nearly as quick as what I had in my 58.  I am using a Mag 700gph to return the water from the sump and the output of the sump is divided between 2 returns which are each split again between 2 centipede returns in the tank.  I also removed a small power head I had in the 58. <Brisk circulation is important to the types of fishes that you have in this tank, for a variety of reasons...I'd do what I could to kick things up a bit> My questions are: 1) any hope for the blue throat (I hate to lose this specimen because they are not very common and he was such a healthy fish)?; <Well, in the absence of any other signs of disease, we may have to assume that some type of metabolite poisoning may be a factor. Hard to be sure from here...I'd keep up the water quality and circulation/aeration enhancements and hope for the best> 2) Any clues as to the sudden change in the tank (there has been no pesticide treatment in the house, no smokers and no chemical vapors that I am aware of)? <Just a theory here. Did the bubbles that you noticed "coming from the sand" seem to originate under the surface? I'm thinking that maybe you were observing the normal denitrification that occurs in sand beds, and you may have disrupted the process by stirring the sand, possibly releasing some toxic metabolites in the process...?> 3) Is my substrate too thick causing the buildup of gas?; <Frankly, if it's fine sand that you're using, you may want to go a bit deeper. And I would not disturb more than say, the top 1/2" of the sand. Let the sand bed do its work> 4) Do I need to increase my pump size or add powerheads inside the aquarium (I really wanted to prevent the power heads for aesthetic reasons)? <Well, perhaps you need more water movement, including some disturbance at the surface of the water to create better gas exchange. You don't have to use powerheads; you could use external pumps in a closed loop linked to static returns or rotating devices, such as Sea Swirls, for better distribution of currents> Thanks in advance and great website! Scott <Well, Scott- you made some great observations and some nice adjustments. Just keep exploring your options to enhance the circulation and gas exchange here. Keep up the excellent water change schedule, put your protein skimmer into overdrive. Be prepared to find larger quarters for your fish as they grow (and they will!). Hang in there! Regards, Scott F>

Re: Sudden change in fish and invert behavior Last night I did make another change.  While putting together my homemade filter (a couple months ago), I glued two containers together with a household adhesive called "Goop" which after some reading contains "toluene".  Upon researching the mfgs website,  they recommend not using this product if it comes in contact with food or drinking water.  I know ... STUPID move on my part!  However, to my defense, I did see that the product was waterproof so I figured it would be safe (should have checked it out first!).  Anyway,  I have removed the parts with the glue and am now waiting to see if things improve.  The reason I am suspecting this as a problem is that the containers I glued together are starting to come apart which might indicate that the glue is dissolving.  The anemones were starting to withdraw again yesterday before I removed the contaminated parts and the fish were not as active as they were this weekend after the water changes.  So after removing the parts, I changed out my carbon with fresh and replaced the polyester pads.  I also did another 5 gallon water change.  Hopefully things will look better tonight when I get home.  I did call the glue mfg support number and am waiting for a return call.  I'll keep you posted and thanks for the advice.  I am also sending a URL in a separate e-mail to a site where I have pictures of my old and new tank and homemade filter. <Sounds good and you get an "A" for quality detective work! David Dowless> Thanks, Scott

Asfur angel doing great but wife wants to paint the room. Bob, Happy New Year.           Bob, I am the guy who ordered the 225 for the Asfur.  My wife has decided the room has to be painted before the new tank comes in.   She is priming the trim now but will need to prime the fireplace mantle and paint the walls. My question is concerning the paint fumes.   How should I have her do this?   Is there "safe" low fume paint.  We saw an additive that is supposed to "reduce" the fumes.  The room is pretty open to the rest of the house and I had her open the windows.    Is there anything I can do to make sure the fish are safe? <Most all modern paints are low fume, relatively non-toxic... but I would cover the tank with damp towels, turn off all air-entraining devices (Venturis, like on powerheads, skimmers) for a few hours while the paint is drying. Bob Fenner> Thanks as always for your wonderful advise.

Used Tank Just curious about a 115 Gal DAS tank that I used to own.  Every thing I put into it other than fish would die almost immediately.  I bought the tank used <Could have been that a toxin/poison had gotten into the tank. Even soap is difficult almost impossible to get out of a tank...and it will kill, depending on how sensitive your animals are to that particular toxin> and when I bought it the LFS in Alabama had some dead rock in it.  Should have started me looking right there, I know but was new in the marine business.   <Also...Did you test the water and wait until cycling was finished before adding any critters to the tank?> I used RO/DI water exclusively and tested the tank weekly and did all my water changes.   <Sounds good> If I put an anemone in it died within an hour. <Anemones are bad for just about everyone's tank. They just don't survive> I tested for copper using the Seachem kit and it read 0.   <Doesn't mean there weren't trace amounts> Snails and shrimp also died VERY quickly. <Sounds like copper poisoning or soap> All water qualities were in parameters.  PH, Salinity, ammonia, nitrates, nitrites, and phosphate were zero. Couldn't keep any inverts at all alive.  It's been really bothering me over the years.  Any ideas???????? <You got 'em! Sounds like a classic case of copper poisoning! David Dowless>

Sudden death of Tang and Mandarin I 'had' a yellow tang.  He had been in my aquarium for about 2 months.  All of a sudden, he started jerking back and forth.  Then, he jetted from one side of the aquarium to the other, flipped on his side and was dead instantly.  No gradual thing, no prolonged distress.  He just suddenly died. What could have happened?  It was like a sudden heart attack or something. <not likely a heart attack... and not likely a disease either. Definitely sounds like a response to a toxin in the water or a skewed physical parameter. Common household toxins include underarm anti-perspirant (dipped your freshly caked pit lately?) and anything fragrantly fumous sprayed recently (aerosol air freshener, burnt Teflon coated pan, paint stripper, etc). Fumous agents easily get absorbed into the water... often effect fishes but not inverts> Then, an hour later, my anemone ate my mandarin goby.  Unreal! <although the scaleless mandarin is never recommended with anemones (an unnatural mix that usually ends up with the mandarin getting eaten within the year)... the death of the mandarin tonight with the tang makes you wonder if the mandarin wasn't stressed and dying/dead by the same factors as the tang. My suggestion is a full water test, then a large proper water change (temperature and salinity adjusted, and a good dose of activated carbon (change after days/one week)> Thanks M. Linkous Bluefield, WV <best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Re: sudden death of tang Thanks for the quick response. That is probably the reason!  Air Freshener.... My wife is crazy about that.  We had just put a plug-in unit in the day before. <to be specific... the plug-in gels that warm up and dissolve slowly seem to be harmless. The dangerous variety can be spray aerosols (of any kind)> All of my parameters are OK.... PH, salinity, ammonia, nitrate, nitrite.  I gave it a fresh batch of carbon.  How often should I change the carbon? (Monthly).  I have a Pro Magnum canister filter. <for routine use of carbon, I prefer one small portion weekly instead of 4 portions monthly> Thanks again for your immediate response. Michael <our great pleasure... kindly, Anthony>

Turning The Tide on Disease (Follow-up) Back to the drawing board!!!  Could I have more help? <Sure- that's why we're here> I thought everything was under control after six days of Neosulfex treatment.  Clowns were eating again and looked good...no evidence of any more bacteria.  I even added a few more days of treatment just to be safe and went to day 10 with treatment. Then I stopped.  Within 24 hours, both clowns are not eating, more fin parts are disappearing and the clear parts of their fins are now cloudy.  How can bacteria survive that kind of treatment? <That may be part of the problem, actually? Have you checked ammonia and nitrite in this tank? Perhaps the beneficial bacteria in the filter system have been substantially or completely destroyed, resulting in serious ammonia and nitrite levels...Metabolite poisoning? Just a thought. Do luck beyond the obvious here.> What now?  Should I use something stronger? <If it were me, at this point, I'd hold off on additional medication for a while...I'd execute regular water changes, employ activated carbon or PolyFilter in your system, and check all water chemistry parameters. Perhaps you may want to try some medium duration (3-5 minute) freshwater dips, say, 3 times a week.> Even after all of this treatment, I'm not sure the female will live...she looks pretty weak since she has not eaten well for over a week.  Help, Help, Help!  Thanks again. Lisa <Again, Lisa- I think that observation, good water quality, and judicious use of freshwater dips might be a better course of action than more medication at this juncture. At least give the fishes a break from the medication for a week or so before resuming treatment, if necessary. Hopefully, these steps will help. There is no 100% chance of success here, the fish may have suffered too much damage to survive-but don't give up. Keep observing them, and reviewing the disease FAQs on the wetwebmedia.com site for more information on possible causes of this condition. Good luck! I hope that the fishes make a full recovery soon! Regards, Scott F>

A Penny for thought Hi, Just a quick question. a few weeks ago I found a penny in the bottom of my 55g. right now there is about 90lbs live rock, a damsel  , 71 Astrea snails and 4 peppermint shrimp. Tank has been set up four about 4 months with no deaths. should I be worried about copper leaching out of penny? and if it did would have it already killed anything in the tank if it already did leach ? thanks so much, Chris    <Well, it's just one penny... and the modern ones aren't just copper... and you haven't lost anything as you state. I think you're fine here. What little Cu+2 may have been released is gone. Bob Fenner> Re: A Penny for thought Thanks so much. Didn't think it would be a problem, but I just wanted to ask you guys. Finally a source to get accurate info. <Glad to be here, of service. Bob Fenner>

Reef Tank Wipeout Guys- I have extremely bad news to report. Yesterday, after a water change and bimonthly routine maintenance performed by an LFS, my entire 72-gal. reef tank was wiped out -- all fishes; all corals.  I could give you an inventory of the devastation, but it is still too painful.  At two o'clock I have a meeting with the LFS to discuss what happened.  We will be performing a forensic exercise of sorts and, going in, I need to have some ideas of things to look regarding possible causes.  The accidental use of freshwater is not the culprit as specific gravity was the first thing I checked.  I am suspecting that they used water that was too cold (They do a number of tanks and the water may have been in the back of a pickup truck and become chilled.  Yesterday, the afternoon high was only about 40 degrees F.). Would this have caused a wipe-out to this extent?  Another possible cause might have been the use of untreated tapwater.  Would there be a visible sign or indicator that might help me distinguish one cause from the other?  The fish died a slow agonizing death, as did my corals.  I know this because several were still alive when I got home from work. Obviously, the lesson here is never to trust anyone else to do your water changes or maintenance, but getting past that, any information as to what I should look for would be helpful. -Scott Ball <Very sorry to hear of the losses, your situation. I suspect some sort of overt poisoning here... not temperature shock... which is neither unlikely to have gone unnoticed by the service technician, nor caused such a total collapse in such short time frame. Such wipe-outs do occur with such small error as spreading bleach (to clean filter cartridges, corals, shells...) at accounts (I headed up a large service co. that this occasionally occurred at... over twenty years, several hundred accounts)... by gear being not-thoroughly rinsed from one acct. to another... Other chemicals might be involved as well... like ammonia from a source (old media, cleaning gear) being haplessly used between accounts... Could be untreated tap/source water as you state... None of these is "testable" for at this point... And there are other chemical pollution possibilities... Did you have any Sea Cucumbers in this system? Some marine invertebrates, if disturbed sufficiently can trigger a melt-down, total loss in a few hours time. If the store would like to chat with me, please give them our email address. Bob Fenner>

Reef Tank Wipeout Oh. Hi, Bob.  It is a pleasure.  I feel like I'm talking to royalty. Thanks for taking the time to reply to my query personally. I did have a sea cucumber - of sorts.  A certain variety sold by my LFS as a "Medusa Worm" and billed as safe for tanks (supposedly didn't have and/or release toxins). I am guessing it is of the order Synaptula.  It was vibrant orange and translucent.  I had had it for, perhaps, six months without a problem.  Could this have been the culprit? -Scott Ball <Mmm, a provisional yes, possibly... if it was relatively "big enough" (relative to the size, filtration... of your system), got "sucked up" against an intake... or a rock dropped on... Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seacukes.htm and the FAQs linked. Bob Fenner>

Possible metal poisoning? Hello All! I was wondering about something...we had a brass t-bar pipe on the top of the tank, and it fell into the main display, along the back wall. It was there for about three days, before we realized it was missing. Could this be the reason my polyps, Xenia, and torch are all shrunk in? Did the brass poison the water? I've done a 40 gal water change (tank is 140 with 40 gal refugium) but this hasn't seem to have helped. I tested for the usual - ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, all are zero (well, nitrate only slightly pink - heehee) and ph is 8.2 - 8.4. Calcium may be a little high at 450. Otherwise, everything is fine, but plants are still shrinking: daisies, mushrooms, Xenia, torch coral, and Devil's Hand. Thank you for any help you can give! -Cathy in Texas <Alright Kathy, this could have caused your problem. Brass contains copper compounds which can be problematic. Also, you make no mention of carbonate alkalinity, but you should test and maintain Alk. For possible problems involving metal contamination  I would suggest Poly Bio-Marine Poly filter and water changes. Hope this helps!  Craig>

Lazy Snails I have a 20gal FOWLR which had a green algae problem. I took out the rock and scrubbed it and did a 25% water change. Now my snails or hermits do not move and they fall off the rock. I know they are alive because they do react when I touch them. What do you think the problem is? Should I pull them? All the water parameters are normal. I also have a problem with keeping a sally light foot crab for more than a couple of months. Shaun Nelson <Hi Shawn, Thanks for writing. Your algae comes from excess nutrient, either as a by product of fish and feeding, or in the source or replacement water. Scrubbing the rock does nothing to resolve this excess nutrient and in fact retards the ability of the rock to help process these wastes. Go to WetWebMedia.com and look up "live rock" and also "algae". You don't mention any water parameters other than to say they are "normal". The nutrient for algae is coming from somewhere. Test for ammonia, nitrite (should be zero for these) Nitrate, phosphates, silicates. Don't forget to test the source water. My guess is the snails, sally lightfoot, etc. are reacting to wastes, likely nitrates. They are also sensitive to salinity changes so make sure you aerate, match SG, heat, buffer, test any new water. The idea is to maintain a stable system low in nutrient for algae. Craig>

Toxic fumes Greetings Crew - I hope this message finds you well this evening. I wonder if you could direct me to the appropriate section of your website that could help me. I will soon be having most of the windows in my house stained and would like to make sure my fish are protected as much as possible from the fumes. I have a 58 gal w/ a Tidepool sump. My thought was to load up on the carbon and drape a sheet over the tank and hope for the best. Other ideas? I typed in "my windows are going to be stained and I don't want the fumes to kill my fish so what do I do?" into Google but nothing came up....go figure. Thanking you in advance, Andy McClure <Hi Andy, Go here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/toxictkfaqsii.htm and read the many other ideas and suggestions. Much help here, proceed with due caution. Craig>

Reef tank frustration (alkalinity, toxicity, invert.s...) Dear Bob, <cheers, love... Anthony Calfo in your service> I hope you can help me with this one. Actually I'm embarrassed to even be asking for help as I am by trade a professional aquarist, working for an aquarium service company for over 15 years, with 4 years prior experience in general fishkeeping before that.  <no worries at all... impossible to be an expert on all things. And a pleasure to learn a lifetime long> I was there at the inception of the reef keeping hobby!!!! So here it goes, and please don't tell anyone. <nobody but the thousands of daily FAQ readers> I have a 35 gallon reef tank with live sand and live rock. It has 2 internal powerheads with connecting sponge filters, and the back filter is an Aquaclear 500 that has a sponge and carbon. I do 15% water changes weekly, sometimes more recently because of my problems. My water chemistry is as follows: pH 8.3 Temp 76F Salinity 1.021 KH 20 and Nitrate 10 ppm. I have 0 Nitrites and 0 Phosphates. I know the KH is a little high, which has just happened recently to add to my problems.  <your dKH is actually sky high and endangers your system for a precipitous fallout. Please do water changes until you get closer to 11-12 dKH> And the problem is, any invertebrate I put into the tank seems to go into a coma. They don't die they just act like they are drugged or something, and a leg of my serpent star fell off. It's insane!!! I deal with reef tanks all the time and have never run across this.  <just curious... have you tested your magnesium or manganese levels or used Crystal Sea salt mix?> I have 2 fish, 1 Royal Gramma and 1 Yellow tail blue devil both of which are very happy and healthy.  <indeed.. all different tolerances than inverts. Still... do consider using a PolyFilter to check for color change and indication of a contaminant> I checked for copper also which only had very slight traces, probably coming from the pipes in the house.  <strange... should be zero. Definitely consider regular use of Polyfilters in the system> I have even gone so far a to have a $160.00 water test done on my water which comes from a deep well. That tested out good except for higher than normal levels of Manganese, which they said was not harmful. But could this be poisoning my inverts?  <Bingo!... they were wrong and you win the hairy Kewpie doll that bares an unsettling resemblance to Danny DeVito> After I put the crabs, starfish or snails in the tank they seem to be ok for several hours until they just slow down and stop moving. Their not dead just not moving, however some do die. I am totally frustrated and emotionally upset, I love these animals and take pride in my good husbandry.  <understood and agreed, my dear> Something is eluding me, even my boss can't figure it out. I hope you have some ideas. Any help will be greatly appreciated !!! Sincerely, Deborah  <indeed...such invertebrates have great sensitivity to metals of all kinds where fish are more tolerant. The Polyfilters are great for absorbing metals. Do consider pretreating water to screen it. Best regards, Anthony> Cheney Wells, Maine

Water filter and brass fitting Hi everyone- <<Hi... JasonC here..>> I was hoping you could give me some advice on a water filter system I have. <<Is this filtration for the tank or water purification for mix water?>> Is it ok to have a few brass fittings in a water filter system for my 125gal FOWLER aquarium water? Two of them are on the output side of the filter. <<As long as the brass doesn't come in contact with salt water, you will probably be fine. The salt water will have a corrosive effect and will leach some metals into the water passing through it. If these fittings are for your tank - don't do it.>>  I could not find the fitting needed in pvc. <<Check the following URLs and see if you can't find the parts in PVC if this is for your tank: http://www.usplastic.com and http://www.plumbingsupply.com >> Thank you again Den

Tank problems since place tented for termites hi bob (or one of bob's minions). <<Minion JasonC here...>> You are truly the hobby's best friend. My place was tented for termites 2 weeks ago. I removed all fish and L. rock (leaving sand and water) and shut system down. Oh, and for the record a minion recommended taking tank out. Then I let tank run for 3 days before restocking. Added rock and small guys first, then big fish 3 days later. I've got UV, P. skimmer and carbon all in sump. Bioballs in the overflow. Some problems since, but I think they're more the result of the place that kept my fish than anything termite related. <<Or both...>> Oh, and like an idiot I didn't fresh dip any fish upon return, something I ALWAYS did after every purchase (after reading TCMA). The problems were as follows. RS Sailfin scuffed around snout (net related?) Sohal scuffed even worse (same area) and had what looked like a small pinkish pimple on right fin (could it have been lymphsomething or other) Happy to report that those guys now seem healed. <<Oh good.>> My tank has 2 cleaner shrimp and a cleaner wrasse (all over a year old) and they've just put in for overtime. May even form union! Now for the first time ever in my tank a fish, my blue tang, is showing ich, and my Queen angel seems lethargic, less colorful, with some faint blotches. Both spend a lot of time over by shrimp. Tank temp is around 80, which I'll raise a few degrees. Salinity around 1.023, which I'll start to lower today. How much fresh water in and salt water out to get a 125 gal from .023 to .018 and over how many days should I take to reach it. Also how do I get it back up, and when. <<By adding extra-salty [1.025-1.030] water slowly, over many days. When is hard to say.>> I might also throw in a neon goby (I've had 2 in past but they only lasted ~ six months) before taking more drastic measures. I'd sure appreciate your thoughts on all this. Thanks. KEITH <<Keith, my thinking is thus - many times problems that present themselves as parasitic are actually induced by stress. Treating the problem as parasitic would only increase the stress, and eventually there is no battle to win - the fish give out. I would really consider the possibility that there are chemical contagions [can we call them that? - nasty organophosphates and the like] which are terribly bad for people let alone fish, remaining in your tank. This is one of the reasons they tent the house. I would pick up a Poly-Filter [name brand] or two and run these in the circulation path of your system. Make sure there's nothing in the water that will foil all other efforts to bring about a cure. Then you can work at whatever parasitic problems remain with the typical therapies. Cheers, J -- >>

Minion Jason C, termite tank update Hey Jason, <<Hi...>> Wow, has sh## been going south in tank since I last wrote about fish being returned after tenting. Still think it was brought back from where fish were kept (one fish didn't even go back in my tank, I gave it to my dad, and it died in two days). <<Interesting.>> My Tank deaths include cardinal, bi color blenny, Gramma, coral beauty, diamond goby. <<Sorry to hear of your losses.>> I lowered salinity to 1.018 and the remaining fish seem to have recovered. No more sign of ich, though my queen still looks like it has what could be a skin fluke. Questions How long should I keep my salinity at 1.018?? <<Not too long... I thought when we left off last, you were going to quarantine and treat these fish. I've personally never had any long term luck with 'just' lowering the salinity. You'll get much better results from running the tank fallow during this hyposalinity period. A typical fallow period should last about six weeks - treatment with hyposalinity shouldn't go on for more than one or two weeks. You'll begin to cause more problems with stress if you continue too long.>> How long should I wait before adding fish? <<Well, if you brought one home today and quarantined it for a month, you'd likely be in good shape by then.>> Will ich come back? Never had it before in 19 months. <<Ich can always come back... in fact, it's almost worth saying that you can never be rid of it without harsh chemical treatments. What you can do is always quarantine, and do everything you can to keep the fish healthy and stress free. Usually in these cases, even if there is ich, the fish can deal with it on their own terms and usually do just fine. If there are continued sources of stress, then the fish's immune system becomes compromised, and it makes things hard for them to deal with - they get ich, the ich reproduces and they get more ich and things get ugly from there.>> Thanks, KEITH <<Cheers, J -- >>

minion Jason C...PolyFilter only? Hi minion Jason C. <<Hi...>> Thanks for rapid response. When you suggested poly filter for termite related fish and ich question earlier...does that mean "Only", or would you still raise temp and lower salinity? <<I would work on one thing at a time in the main display. If you have separate quarantine tanks at your disposal, you could potentially try and treat the ich there, but... the name of the game at this point should be stress elimination - increased temperature and lowered salinity will not really help reduce stress so much. As for ich treatment, these actually work better with the fish out of the tank - speeds up the life cycle of the parasite, which could make them more virulent depending on the state of the system. Try the Poly Filter for a couple of days - if you find the thing turning colors quickly, then you know you've got contamination problems - if it stays white or turns brown from organic matter, work on the ich.>> Cause I just bumped up thermometer 2 degrees and took out 5 gal of salt water and replaced w fresh water. Wondering how green Bubbletip will react to changes. <<Oh... I didn't notice that inhabitant before - I would think "not well" - invertebrates don't do well in low salinity. The shrimp "might" make it through 1.018 but all bets are off for the anemone. Perhaps try instead a regimen of pH-adjusted, freshwater dips for the fish.>> Of interest--a hermit crab and small snail were accidentally left in tank during tenting AND BOTH SURVIVED! Cool, huh? <<Well - maybe... I mean, if everything else were hating it and these were the only things that survived... not so cool then. In my mind there's just too many reasons to be concerned about the pesticides.>> Also, the blue tang and Queen angel are both looking better than they did yesterday. So am I probably, I might add. <<I know the feeling.>> They're both constantly over at the shrimp station. <<That would be a good thing, as Martha Stewart would say... or perhaps she isn't saying that so much anymore.>> Oh yeah, and how do we know you're not just some neighbor kid of Bob's? <<Uhh... you don't ;-) Because I live in Massachusetts? Or what if I was a Mira Mesa neighborhood punk - what then? Cheers, J -- >> 

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