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FAQs about Toxic Water Conditions 4

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

Related FAQs: Toxic Situations 1, Toxic Situations 2, Toxic Situations 3Toxic 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,

Livestock behavioral observation. The single best indicator of toxic water conditions

Hydrogen Sulfide - 01/01/2006 Happy new year to you all, <And to you Will.> This weekend I had the pleasure of stripping down my 60(UK) gal marine tank for the 2nd time, what a way to end the year but with a nice slow leak...? Anyway all the rocks corals fish etc. are in a nice spare tank set up with heater, filter, skimmer, and sand is in a vat with water and a powerhead. However my sandbed seems to have been producing hydrogen sulfide instead of nitrogen, kind of lucky the tank leaked in retrospect. The sandbed is about 4 inches deep I should imagine, maybe a little under, I have a bout 240lph of flow through the tank <excluding skimmer>. What's causing the hydrogen sulphide? Bed too shallow? Not enough flow? Wrong bacteria proliferating? <Anaerobiosis, organic build up. Flow must be leaving dead areas.> And other than the smell what effects does this substance have? Suppressed pH or is it actually toxic? <Hmm....Being from lack of oxygen, the pH would be depressed, could have a random "die off" of all livestock.> FWIW soon I shall be upgrading from a Prizm skimmer to a v2skim 400, will this help problems, the Prizm never really does much <other than irritate the family with it's gurgling and bubbling> <Will likely help as will better flow. Good surface turbulence will help gas exchange.> Thank you in advance, Will <You're welcome. - Josh.> Nitrite Test Solution  12/9/05 Hello,  <Hello Byungho> I accidentally added Nitrite Test Solution liquid to my saltwater tank.  Currently I have hermit crab and live rock inside the tank. Are they safe from the hydrochloric acid? Please let me know and thank you for your help.  <Not completely safe. Depending on how much solution got in the tank and how large the tank is, you may experience a pH and alkalinity drop. I'd do at least a 20% water change. James (Salty Dog)>  <<And drop a PolyFilter in there, ASAP!  Marina>>

Metal part in reef system  10/6/05 Hi crew at WetWebMedia, <Hello there!> I have an unusual question. I have recently installed halides on my canopy <this is probably your problem>, however, while I was doing that, the Phillips tip of my screwdriver fell in the tank.  Instead of recovering the metal piece, I decided not to bother and left it in there. Now, the past 4 days I've been getting a tin/bronze or kind of brown coloration on my sand/substrate <sounds like the start of an algal or diatom bloom>.  Do you think it's possible the screwdriver tip is leaching? Will it create any problems with the fish or corals if left inside the tank?  It'd require to partially tear up the tank to find and recover it.  Any ideas would greatly be appreciated. <Well, it seems to me that the increase in light has fueled this.  Is your temp. elevated as well?  Not uncommon when upgrading lighting, indicative of excess nutrients/organics.  I don't believe the metal would cause this so quickly, but it should be removed if possible.  Try attaching a magnet to something long and go fishin'.> Thanks, <Quite welcome. - Josh> Dimitris. Re: Metal part in reef system  10/6/05 Thanks for replying. <Gladly.> The tank's temp is at 82 F. Very hot in FL recently and my A/C plus a 8 inch fan is the only means of cooling the system. I was thinking about attaching the magnet and try to recover it, but I didn't see exactly where it fell. I have 150 lbs of live rock in a 157 gallons acrylic tank. I am just concerned in case any chemicals are leached into the water/tank, that's all. I will do some water changes to address the diatom problem. The screwdriver tip has been in the tank for 2 weeks now. I tried looking for it in the over flow/tank, but I couldn't find it. I'll try the magnet thing ASAP. <Sounds good.  I wouldn't be too worried unless the tip was already badly rusted or covered in chemicals/cleaners.  Try to work the tank in grids so you can take some breaks, the tip should be heavy enough to stay put. - Josh> Dimitris

Metal object contamination 7/4/05 Hi! I was cutting something on the top of my 90 gal reef tank yesterday and a small bit of the cutter's (exacto) blade broke and fell into the tank. The piece is about 1 or 2 square millimeter. There is 135lbs of LR in the tank and a 5" fine DSB so there is no way I can recover it. <Actually... ferrous... should be able to be fished out with a magnet> Should I be worried about the piece of metal rusting there? Thanks! Dominique <Not likely a problem in this size system, LR... Bob Fenner> Inline Air Filter Hi Bob, James and Crew, I have been reading Bob's book, The Conscientious Marine Aquarist. Great resource for a newbie like myself. A couple months ago I wrote about my concern of smoking in house and wood stove. I appreciate James and Bob's response. Smoking and Wood Stove                                                      Hello WWM Crew,     I'm a newbie and have been researching for two months. I am ready to take the plunge. I'm planning a 90 or 120 gallon tank, wet/dry filter and protein skimmer, etc. I plan to start with a FOWLR and hope to add corals at a later time. I've heard some horror stories about using scented candles, aerosols and non-aquarium sponges. I have a wood stove (same room) and my wife smokes. A friend told me that people smoking in the house will kill the fish over time. Is this true? Is the wood stove an issue?        <Well, I smoke fine cigars in the same room as my tank. I haven't lost anything yet. If you want to be on the safe side use Polyfilters, Chemi-Pure or a good grade of carbon. As far as the wood stove, I really    don't see where that is a problem. James (Salty Dog)><<Relative to other    sources of pollution... tough call... I would wash your hands, arms before placing them in your tanks. RMF> In the book Bob notes that tobacco smoke is a concern and strongly recommends having an inline air filter. I am planning a 180 RR tank with 100g sump/skimmer and 40g refuge in the basement. I will start with a FOWLR tank and plan to proceed to a reef tank. I will have canopy on tank. Bob, can you expand on what you mean by an 'inline air filter' and on any other precautions  for smokers I should consider. <Steve, basically an inline air filter is a small cartridge with nipples on each end for connection between the air pump and air stone.  Not too many people use air pumps these days.  Skimmers are venturi driven and the UGF is almost a thing of the past.  I guess you could attach a inline filter to the venturi inlet of the skimmer.  Getting one of the new air purifiers such as "Sharper Image" brand would work well.  No filters are required.  They are a little pricey but work well.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks, Steve - Spray Paint in Reef Tank Water - I'm looking for a little emergency follow-up guidance. I don't know what we were thinking, but my wife and I were using spray paint in our house. Normally we tight seal our 90 gallon reef tank whenever we do anything that might even potentially cause fumes. But we weren't thinking. Anyway, after a while the tank popped into my mind and I rushed over to start to seal it: too late. There was a film of red paint at the top of the water. We immediately turned the filter, skimmer, and power heads off and began to skim with measuring cups. We skimmed 15 gallons a ? cup at a time. I called my LFS and they direct me to call Poly-bio-marine. I did that and they recommended using coconut carbon (there was none in the entire Phoenix area as far as I could tell, so I bought Kent carbon as a second-best (I hope) and their PolyFilter. Now 3 hours, with a partial water change and these media added to my Eheim canister filter, I'm hoping that the damage was caught in time. <Me too.> Now to my questions: (1) Is there anything else or something different that you recommend doing to try to mitigate damages? <No, it sounds like you're on the proper course.> (2) What levels should I now be monitoring/supplementing now that I've added the PolyFilter and the carbon? <I'd be paying attention to the color the PolyFilter turns - this is really the best item to combat random chemicals in your tank - the color will tell you what it's picking up. Have a replacement pad ready should it change rapidly. Carbon I'd be switching out every other day until things seem to have returned to normal.> (3) Is there anything else that I should consider beyond never spray painting in the house again? <Wet towels over the tank will let you spray paint in the house - I don't want to spend any time berating you over this - it sounds like you've been through enough stress and learned your lesson. You just need to always take that tank into account before you go crazy with the glass cleaner for instance.> Thanks for your help. I'm sorry to bother you with a question that would never have been an issue had I just thought before I started. <No worries. Sometimes it takes experiences like this to get us to really think about the consequences of our actions before we act. Is really a win-win in the long run.> -Jacob <Cheers, J -- >

- Kalkwasser Overdose, Get Controls Out of Reach of that Two Year Old! - Hi Bob, hope this finds you and your team well. <JasonC here today.> I had a small disaster this weekend and would like you experienced opinion on the after effects of the accident. Basically I overdosed my system (200Litre) with about 20 liters of Kalkwasser last night!! <Whoops.> Usually I dose maybe 1- 2 litres over night, every night give or take. I don't have an automated top up switch, just keep the top up rate in line with the evap rate. The Peri pump mysteriously (as in having a little 2 year old running around!!) got adjusted to maximum output, and over the course of 4 hours dosed just under 20 litres overnight! <Time to move that pump out of reach. Am reminded of an old friend who's high-end stereo equipment was destroyed by his two year old son who found the volume knob very interesting.> My first reaction was, as you can imagine shock!!... the ph was 9.92 - Most of the corals had closed up, although some were fine, leather, Candycane, Favia, poly colonies. My metallic green tip xenia was open, but looking pretty jaded! I changed over 5 gals of water, but pH was still very high, added some diluted citric acid to try and temper the alkalinity. <Careful with the acid additions there... you can very easily go the other direction just as quickly.> This morning the pH is back to normal, 8.4, most of the corals look ok, just not as fully expanded, however the candy can looks pretty unhealthy as does the metallic green xenia, and most of my pulsing xenia is looking green/ grey and shriveled! So all in all not a good situation. <Yet a situation to learn from.> I was hoping you could give me some idea of the recovery rate of the corals, after being stressed out like this, if this pH spike would of effected the long term health of the corals and if you had any further advise with regards to managing the systems recovery. <Hard to say exactly... could be the damage is irreversible. It's a general rule of thumb that invertebrates are better suited to handle water quality problems as they can't run away like fish can. But a pH of 9.2 is outside of the normal bounds of a water problem. I'd give them a week or so, and keep an eye on your pH.> Thanks in advance for any advice offered. <Cheers, J -- >

Check Valve <Hello> I purchased a check valve from an online aquatic retailer for my saltwater setup.  The one I received is a spring type.  I inquired into it's  safety due to it's application and I was told it would be fine since the insides  were stainless steel.  I'm looking for a second opinion, any words of  wisdom to pass along would be greatly appreciated. Nick <Nick, stainless steel is a great metal for freshwater but it does corrode faster in saltwater, and in a captive system I would look for either a titanium spring model or find a sealed check valve that immerses the stainless steel springs in oil.  There are several different ways to make them, and most industrial supply stores will have such things if the LFS in your area do not have them.  If you must use the check valve you have now please watch it closely as over a few months or weeks depending on the metal, it may rust and will start killing fish and corals.> <Justin (Jager)>

Broken Hydrometer...What Now? 4.26.05 I Was using my Hydrometer to test the salinity today and it broke inside my tank. The Alcohol was not released but some of the little silver balls or weights sunk into the gravel. I do not have any fish yet because I am still in the two week waiting period. What should I do ? I know this is probably lead so I siphoned all I cold find. Please Help !!!! <Hi Harrison, I would remove all the substrate, and wash it down with freshwater, making sure that all the heavy metals are gone.  Heavy metals are capable of poisoning your fish, so do your best to get every little bit.  Good luck, Ryan> Poison in the water?? Hello Mr. Fenner <Hi there> Thank you for the time that you are giving to solve all our mistakes and problems. <Welcome> I have all your books and I enjoy reading them over and over again and we still do mistakes. <Yes, I as well> I have a 240 Gl FO system. With all the necessary equipment that you recommend I have the system for 3 years know and it was going perfectly. I had fish which were transported from my smaller aquarium to this one and they were doing fine since 3 years. Lately I bought an Aquamedic Denitrator I fixed it according to their specifications and it was OK then after a certain while I realized some deterioration in my system Actually I didn't know why and suddenly fish started dying it was some kind of poisoning very fast fin rot and lashes in the stomach area and fast death. I lost all my fish within couple of days. I thought that it was a disease so I left the tank empty for a month and changed 30 percent of the water thinking that I solved the problem yesterday I bought two damsels to try the system they died the next day quick death. After a month without fish I am still having ( Cyano) the red slimy algae on my rocks I use RO water, the skimmer is not producing much anymore I think that's normal. Other than this I don't know what's going on. <Does sound/read like there is a toxic situation in your system> Yesterday I was reading your book just enjoying it. I realized you mentioned that Denitrator if working wrong they can give Sulfur H poison into the water and this was going on from the day I bought the machine so is it possible that I am poisoning my water all this time and not knowing about it or its another reason. <Does happen.> If this is that case if I stop the Denitrator will my water go back to normal? <Possibly... I would try draining the unit, removing it, trying another couple of damsels> I couldn't find any other reason what do you advice. <You might try adding a "PolyFilter" pad as well... in your water circulation path... and see if this extracts a colored material (a metal)> Thank you Regards Viken <Good luck, life to you Viken. Bob Fenner>

Re: poison in the water?? Possible denitrator issues Hello again I hope you remember my case, All fish died within 24 hours. I changed 30% of the water I tried 2 damsels, again sudden death.  I think I give up. I stopped the denitrator as you told me again changed 30% water, and put one damsel the same case , death in 24 hours. one damsel dying so fast in a 250 gallon aquarium ???? <Mmm, something very toxic> I'm totally confused an aquarium which was running perfectly for 3 years what could have happened. What do you recommend me to do. shall I start all over again. Thank you Viken <If it were me, mine, I would try first just draining all the water out, while gravel-vacuuming the bottom, refill with all-new water, let sit for two weeks... test for nitrogen cycle components... and see if this is enough to remove whatever (biochemical, chemical) there is toxifying the system. Bob Fenner> 

Toxic fumes - How to Handle Reef System While Refinishing Hardwood Floors Hi crew, Please can you give me some urgent advice.  I am having a hardwood floor finished in the room adjoining the one where I keep my beautiful marine fish tank. We have managed to find a finishing product which is less toxic than the ones that are normally used, but the solvent is still fairly toxic. It is impossible to move the tank out of the room and my corals have firmly attached themselves to the live rock, so removing them is not really an option. My LFS has suggested turning off the protein skimmer for the half day it will take to paint the floor, totally covering the tank with heavy plastic, and leading a pipe from an air pump outside the window into the tank to aerate the water. I could switch off the lights in that time to stop the temperature of the water rising too high - its winter here so outside temperature is not an issue. Do you have some further advice for me?  Any help will be much appreciated because my tank has been stable for months and I would hate to upset the whole balance. Many thanks.  <What your dealer suggests sounds like a workable plan, Sharon. James (Salty Dog)>  

Metals/Saltwater I read a book on fish and it mentioned that you should use non metallic in marine aquariums. What is non metallic and why shouldn't I use it?  <"Should I use it". The answer is in the word. Non metallic, anything not made of metal. Anything metallic will rust in saltwater with the exception of stainless steel and then only the better grades.> I've got a 50 gallon marine aquarium with 2 clownfish, a yellow tang, regal tang, Naso tang, powder blue tang, a cleaner wrasse and a cleaner shrimp and boxer shrimp. I haven't yet got any live rock or corals just Tufa rock at the moment. How many snails and crabs do you suggest I buy and what kind, to eat the left over food and waste? I would get about 20 turbo snails, 20 blue leg hermits, and a couple emerald crabs.  <James (Salty Dog)>

Stainless steel Thanks for your help in the past. One more quick question: Is a stainless steel hose clamp a bad idea in a salt tank? <Very bad idea. Look for all-plastic or nylon. Bob Fenner> 

Live rock metals contamination? 2/22/05 Thanks in advance for your help with this problem. My question in brief: I suspect my 75 gal. live rock/invertebrate/fish tank may have been exposed to contaminants in the incoming water over its first 18 months of existence. I've recently started using RODI water and filtering with metal removing resins and PolyFilter, but worry that my live rock and sand has contaminants that will continue to leach into the water. Question is, how do I know if this is a problem, and can I do anything about it? <seems unlikely... and what little may be, I think a PolyFilter or the like would mop up the residuals nicely> More background:   For the first year and a half, I used water from one or the other of two wells that supply my house, and some of this water also came through a water softener. Though my two clownfish have always looked fine, a BT anemone and a few soft corals (toadstool, xenia) slowly began to look unhappy. I had not noticed initially, but the bristleworms had disappeared from the tank, and the number of snails had fallen drastically. Once, a couple months ago, I had noticed that the anemone and corals looked distinctly worse after a bigger than normal water change, but thought it was because this change (about 10%) was too big. More recently, I had noticed that two snails were looking distinctly stressed immediately after a 5% water change. My son told me that snail death was likely an indication of metals contamination. <can be, yes... they are sensitive> At this point (about a month ago now), I put metal removing resin and a PolyFilter in a Fluval 404 and began using only RODI water. The snails initially looked better with the filtering, but more recently I have not seen any snails. The anemone and corals started to look better too, but in the last few days, the anemone does not eat the food I offer (chiefly Silversides). Yesterday I found a dead crab in the tank. <yikes... that's a bad sign :p> So how can I tell if my live rock and sand is now a problem?  <we can't test for what we don't know exists. Hmmm... more clearly, I hope: do get an assay done of your source water (for your safety as well as this issue) to know what kind of metals to test for in this water> Is there anything I can do about it, if it is a problem? What does it mean that the resin and PolyFilter initially seemed to improve things, but the improvement appears to be slipping away after a month (neither the resin nor PolyFilter has been changed in this time)? Thanks, Tom <you are on the right path my friend... do test that source water and continue to use Polyfilters. Very fine and appropriate here. Anthony>

Live rock metals contamination? III 2/27/05 Thanks, again, Anthony. <always welcome, mate> We're clearly in agreement that my tap water is a problem for inverts and that I should use RO/DI water, which I starting using about a month ago. <very good to read/hear> Now I'd like to cycle back to the earlier question: What about the live rock and substrate? <may be safe for all life... but even if "bad", will typically only be so for the invertebrates that have soft tissue in contact with the rocks like anemones, snails, some starfish, etc> If I'd treated with copper intentionally, I'd know the answer -- the live rock and substrate is not OK for any inverts. <little or none of this copper makes it back into the water column. The carbonate substrates bind the copper> But there's more uncertainty here about how much copper got into my tank, for these reasons: 1. My test indicating 0.30 ppm copper in the tap water is a test of total copper. I learned elsewhere on your site that a therapeutic dose, expressed as total copper, is 1.5-2.0 ppm. So my tap water is presumably not as lethal as one might think based on the .20-.30 ppm therapeutic dose (chelated copper) that is commonly cited. <actually... many sensitive fishes start suffering/dying at 0.20... drumfish, dragonets, some dwarf angels, etc> 2. I also read on your site that "cupric ion, Cu++, basically as copper sulfate, CuSO4 which due to its acidic nature, tends to "fall out", precipitate in alkaline seawater, quickly." So, could much or all of the copper in my source water have precipitated out during aging of the salt water (making top-off water the primary source of copper going into the tank)? <perhaps yes> 3. My PolyFilters have never turned blue. 4. I've lost a lot of inverts, but not all, in the 18 months the tank has had inverts. Yesterday I found the Atlantic Hairy Triton (Cymatium pileare) still alive. The Xenia is still alive. The Toadstool Leather looks reasonably good. The are a few Amphipods and a few small worms (baby Bristleworms?). The algae (Caulerpa, Halimeda, and nuisance) seem quite happy. 5. There is reason to suspect other problems contributed to the loss of inverts --- you expressed alarm about the water softener (it does use salt), <yes... the salt exchanges impart chlorides that accumulate over time... a concern with the improper use of calcium chloride as a staple, for example, rather than a fix for calcium problems> ...suspicion about the limestone acid neutralizer, and a reaction I could not decipher about source water from a pH 5.8 well that had sat idle for 6 months (even though this water was made into salt water and aged at least 24 hours). <the acidity of the source water is concerning> Your original e-mail suggested the live rock might be OK with the switch to RO/DI source water, and use of PolyFilter, and Toxic Metal Sponge. Do you still think that's true? <yes my friend> Is there anything else I could do better, beyond doing bigger water changes (which I'll start today)? <you are clearly well-read and prepared here... stay the course :)> How should I go about re-stocking the tank with inverts? <you cold try to introduce live rock from this tank into the QT tank you use to test the issue/matter. Easily removed and water changes done in QT is there is any doubt of the safety of the display rock> Again, many thanks. Tom <best of luck! Anthony>

Home Depot killed my inverts ;-) Dangers of metal poisoning All, No question here, just a story and a thank you.  I have a 70gal tank that's about 6 months old.  I got back into the hobby after a 10 year break.  I had a 30gal then and I definitely agree with your advice that bigger is better; this tank just seems much more stable and easier to care for.  In any case, your site has been a lot of help in getting me (back) up to speed. I had snails, shrimp, and some other inverts in the tank along with a modest load of fish.  About 2 months ago, the inverts started dying (mostly disappearing; empty shells, etc.).  At first I thought somebody in the tank was eating them, but I reasonably quickly moved on to think water quality, but everything was testing fine. After some additional reading on your site, I picked up a PolyFilter to see if something chemical was the problem.  After the first night, it was bright blue, so I did a copper test to confirm and sure enough it was pretty high.   The only source I could think of was a brief time when I had treated a fish in another tank with copper; I wondered if I could have done it by reusing a net or something, but it seemed far-fetched given the number of water changes since then. Back to WWM to look for more ideas only to find out in one of the FAQs that brass is 90% copper and that it leaches.  When I plumbed my sump, protein skimmer and outboard carbon filter, my LFS didn't have the right fittings so I picked some up at Home Depot, 3 of which were brass (and 2 of those were sitting underwater in the sump).  It never occurred to me that this was a problem and I wouldn't have ever figured it out w/o WWM to look at.  So, the brass is gone, the PolyFilter is doing its thing, and I'm looking forward to having inverts again sometime soon.  BTW, I highly recommend that people keep a PolyFilter around if only for its diagnostic value.  I had no reason to be testing for copper and never would have thought of it. Thanks again for all the work that all of you put into this site.  I think there are two reasons that people give up on this hobby: either something goes wrong that they can't figure out or something right doesn't happen quickly enough (lack of patience).  By posting all of the info and FAQs, and answering questions, you're doing more to advance the hobby than anyone. -John <Thanks for the story - sorry about the loss of inverts.  It's never a good idea to use metal for any fittings, especially underwater.  I will post this as a warning to others!  M. Maddox> PS: Congrats on Reef Invertebrates; got it last week and it's great. <An excellent book>

Compatibility follow-up Hi, MacL...thanks so much for your thoughtful reply and your suggestions.  Let me try to both answer your question and give you an update. <Thank you kindly!!!> You asked whether I ever found out why those fish died.  No, I never did, and there has never been a clue. <Has to be so frustrating!> No temperature fluctuation, and no unusual readings of any kind; I did pH, salt, nitrate, nitrite, ammonia, phosphate, iodine, calcium, alkalinity, and magnesium tests, but nothing was unusual. <There's always old age and natural causes but the timing is suspicious.> I don't think it was a parasite, either, at least none that I could see on any of the fish.  Possibly a poisoning of some type, but that's only a possibility; nothing got into the tank, as far as I know,  My guess is either a parasite that I couldn't pin down, or some form of poison (the latter seems unlikely, but perhaps something got into my top-off water, which comes from an RO unit that I have outside the house in a protected area). <There is so much that can cause problems, things like lotions, or even Windex or the sprays to make rooms smell well.> The RO water goes into a covered plastic bin, but maybe something got into it. Now, here's an update.  My service guy misunderstood me; I had told him of my interest in replacing the percula who died with another one or two, along with an anemone, but told his assistant that I wanted to check it out with an expert first.  Well, he never got that message, and brought me a Sebae anemone and two Perculas on Monday afternoon.   I do not yet have a quarantine set-up, and so he acclimated the Perculas well, handled the anemone like he was supposed to (got rid of the water in him, etc) and they both went into the tank.  Well, the big purple tang (who can be quite a bully) left the Perculas alone...as though he couldn't care less about his new neighbors.  Weird, huh?  But, it's about what you expected, I think.  So, I never had to move any of the live rock. <There is usually such a difference in size and body shape that clowns don't threaten the tangs territory but you just never know.> The Perculas don't seem to care much for the Sebae anemone, but you probably knew this would happen, too, as you told me that some clowns don't like some anemones. <Yeah that's what I was worried about.> But, they are both happy on their own (and the Perculas enjoy each others' company), so perhaps all's well that ends well.  The anemone is walking about a bit, but not too much -- and seems pretty happy.  Now, I just need to figure out how and what to feed him. <The good news is that sebaes I find quite easy to feed. Mine ate Mysis and brine shrimp and flake. The big thing was to put it in a turkey baster and aim it directly at the anemone so the tentacles could catch it. The big thing to remember with an anemone is that they need some specialized lighting. The lighting in actinic bulbs usually works well but if your tank has the same spectrum in other types of lighting that works as well.> Best regards -- and thanks much for the suggestions, even though they are now a moot point with respect to the Perculas, anemone and purple tang. <Maybe they will help someone else in the future Ralph, its all good.> Ralph

Fumigating and Aquaria 11/29/04 My house is about to be fumigated for termites. Everything will need to be covered or moved out for three days. I am thinking of taking all of my corals and fish out of my tank and putting them into a smaller tank while staying at a hotel for the duration. I am wondering if there is any chance that the remaining water, sand, and live rock will be affected during the fumigation? I am planning on covering the tank with heavy plastic and will not have any equipment running on it. Thank you. <the pesticides are very toxic my friend... I have serious concern for the livestock, LR, Sand etc left behind. Any chance of moving this tank to another house? It would be best - else seal it tightly with tape. Anthony> A tank of death HI WWM, I have a 55 gal salt water tank.  We have had it for about 5 years.  It has always been a problem but from time to time it seems to settle down and not kill its inhabitants.  Here is the current problem. About six months ago, it seemed we solved everything by changing the filter (Fluval) and the flow and using distilled water.  The fish were happy and the tank looked great.  The service guy came for his normal service after not doing much for about a month (on purpose), and within 12 hours all the fish died.  Everything was tested but nothing was wrong.  After about two weeks we can put fish in the tank but after the service the fish die - we think this has been happening for quite a while.  The tests show nothing. The service guy is now using no outside equipment that might contaminate the tank.  We are now (as of about 1 week ago) using all real coral.  The sand is crushed coral (always has been).  Last week we used copper but it didn't help. << Copper???  Using real coral, I'm guessing you don't mean live coral, just the skeletons of dead coral, right?  If you are using live coral and you add copper they are sure to be killed within a day. >> The service we use is very good and experienced.  They only service, it is not a pet store.  They service all shapes and sizes with good result.  So, I don't think it is the service.  They seem to sincerely want to find out what is going on - but, have no answers. << Maybe the stress of messing with the tank is the problem.  I'm all in favor of just letting it be. >> At this point there is one fish in the tank that has survived through it all.  When we put any new fish in, they die with in 48 hours, usually right away. << I think some pictures are needed, and I suggest we get someone to your house from an experienced aquarium club.  Seeing it in person is the only way to go. >> We only put one to three fish in at a time. The one thing that may be a clue is that there is a layer of bubbles on the water that do not go away.  They have been there for a few months and no matter what we do we cannot eliminate them.  (No tests for ammonia have shown a problem) << Bubbles on the surface of the water?  If so I'd suspect a oil contamination, and a prevention of oxygen exchange. >> My question is, are the bubbles an indication that something is wrong?  Do you have any ideas as to what we can do? << Lets find some local help for you.  I understand not wanting to post where you live, so feel free to just email me XXXX@hotmail.com and we'll figure something out.  I really think this tank is doomed, and we may need to start over or rethink the approach to setting it up. >> We are at our wits end. Cheers,  Judie Hulett <<  Blundell  >>

Puffer coughing blood / Rust contamination? If you have some insight into the following challenge, we would greatly appreciate your feedback. <Okay> We have had a 90 gallon saltwater tank for 2.5 years.  For 2 years, all was fine.  In the past 6 months, we first lost a Niger Trigger (the small fish), a Fire Clown (med) two months later, and now our Dog-faced Puffer (largest) is ill. The Puffer has been sitting on the bottom of the tank for 2 weeks and not eating.  She appears to be "coughing" red blood strands. <Yikes!>   We tested for nitrate, nitrite, ammonia and ph, and all were within range.  The only thing we can figure is that the hardware on the canopy has rusted and the rust have flaked into the tank.   <Real trouble> Could rust cause the demise of our fish, and particularly, the symptoms displayed by our Puffer?  We are replacing the hinges with stainless steel tonight. Thank you, <DO avail yourself of the singular product called "PolyFilter"... NOW... this will pull out the ferrous ion (iron) in your water... and you should see improvement in your livestock's health (and color on the filter pad) almost immediately. Bob Fenner>

Tank Crash Cripes! I had a Jalli 13w power compact suspended over my 50g Rubbermaid sheep trough sump on a 1/4" pane of  glass. This a.m. I awoke to that hideous smell that can only mean trouble and found that the glass had shattered in two, dumping the light into the sump- my 40g reef was in shambles-  <ouch ouch ouch sooo sorry to hear> after the shock, and after all day spent hoisting 5g buckets of r/o water for a 50% water change, and changing carbon, I'm afraid I'm still losing all but the hardiest inhabitants- sniff!! <Probably stress and then the temp and ph shifts : {> Yet I'm puzzled-in addition to traumatized- by what appears to be polyp extension on several Acropora spp. frags- they're completely bleached, but the little guys extended their polyps this p.m. after the lights went out- is this some sad vestige of life that simply has yet to drain away? <Bleaching does not mean they are dead, don't give up on them they can come back from bleaching> Are there particular chemicals to be tested that are associated with p.c. lighting that may have leached into the tank? I'm trying to stay on top of cycling with water changes, as the tiny brittle stars and my lovely population of Stomatella are going fast- although why would tiny mysids and copepods survive? <Stomatella's might not survive large temp changes or possibly ph changes as well> the system= 40g long tank, 50g sump/refugium (which holds roughly 60g) GSM pair, damsel, mandarin (which was fat/happy due to the two-year-old sump), RBTA, now-melted xenia, various LPS- torch corals- they appear to be making it, 8" T. Derasa -now gaping, 5" T. Crocea -very responsive, but receded, 60 or so lbs. live rock in display, 40 lbs. in sump, Chaetomorpha spp. in sump, EuroReef es 5-2 skimmer,  AB 10k's, lots of circulation- 3 MaxiJet 12's and a Mag 12 return- and the ever so stupid decision not to think harder about where/how to suspend a $30 fuge light- act!!!! Is there anything I can/should do aside from continue water changes, and change carbon every day for awhile? <I would definitely suggest a PolyFilter, its excellent about showing possible poisons in a tank as well.> Should I save the fish by evacuating them? They seem relatively unfazed right now- thanks so much! Floor refinishing near reef tank Gentlepersons: We are having the wood floors in our home refinished and sealed with a water-based polyurethane-like product. It dries in less than 2 hours, although I noticed in a separate area of the house where it has already been done that there is a very acrid smell for a while.  Is this dangerous to my 105 gallon reef tank.  Do I need to take any special precautions?  Thank you. Ed Pappert   <I am a big fan of polyurethanes for table tops, floors... bowling alleys... and do recall the usual precautionary statements re not breathing too much of the fumes from their applications. Have not experienced troubles myself from their use, but do encourage as much ventilation as practical during application to a day later. Bob Fenner> Bob: Thank you very much for the prompt reply. I do intend to have the area well ventilated for a couple of days. Ed <Ahh, good. Then I would not worry (I rarely do!). Bob F>

Re: RESPONSE to question re: Floor refinishing near reef tank Greetings Bob & Crew! <Ray> This is a reply to the question posted 10/26 entitled "Floor refinishing near reef tank".   This past summer I did a floor refinishing project in my place and my reef tank came out with zero casualties. Here is what I did.   -First, I put fresh carbon in my filter and doubled it up with a poly-filter.   -I also had enough water mixed (and FAR away from work site) for a 25% AND 10% water change.   -On the project day, I turned off the lights (for heat factor) and LOOSELY covered the tank in plastic sheeting (bought a 12'x20' sheet at Lowe's) letting the sheeting simply fall to the floor with plenty of air inside with the tank.  I kept the plastic on for the duration of the project and for about 6 hours after finished.  Careful removing the plastic as it will have accumulated debris (static electricity factor) and you don't want that falling into the tank.   -Finally, I did a 10% water change the next morning and replaced the filters (carbon and poly) and closely watched the tank for the slightest change in inhabitant behavior/health (with a 25% water change in order if that was seen.....it wasn't). I had ZERO deaths among my corals, fish, and inverts. Good luck! Hope this helps! -Ray <Outstanding! Thank you for sharing your input. Will post, archive for all. Bob Fenner>

Bleached coral rocks I had Bryopsis taking over my tank. I took out the infested rock and bleached it.  what do I need to do before I can place it back in my tank? << I wouldn't. >> I do not want to introduce bleach to my system. << Exactly.  With all the money we invest in our systems, I wouldn't risk the health of the animals to something like bleach.  Instead I'd look for different ways of fixing the problem next time, and this time just use the rocks as home decorations. >> the tank has been very well established and holds a lot of difficult to keep corals. << Again, another reason to not risk the introduction of the bleached rocks.  I'd just count them as a loss and move on. >> PED, concord <<  Blundell  >> <... can be easily rinsed in freshwater and just allowed to air dry for a day or two... or liberal amounts of DeChlor or similar product (sodium thiosulfate, hyposulfite... applied. Bob Fenner, who wonders where AdamB got his labcoat>

Toxic blue boxfish Hello, I have a 65 gallon tank with approx. 65lbs of liverock and a 3" Picasso trigger and a 3" Niger trigger that get along peacefully. <You're lucky.  Don't expect it to continue, especially in a tank that size> I am considering adding a blue boxfish to the tank and am expecting some initial aggression to occur until territories are re-established. How real is the threat of the boxfish poisoning the whole tank during this stressful acclimation period? <Don't get the boxfish.  The aquarium is already going to be overcrowded whenever your triggers grow.  Also, boxfish should not be housed with aggressive tankmates - they are best left a species tank.  Please read our archives regarding boxfish for more information> Thank you. <No problem.  M. Maddox> All my Marine fish are dead!!! Hi my name is Kevin I have a 30 gallon salt water tank. Some how all my fish died overnight! The fish I use to have were a valentini puffer, maroon clown, and 2 Firefish. I don't know how they died!!! Around 9 o'clock I fed my fish there dinner (brine shrimp) they were eating fine as usual. But before I went to sleep I put quick cure in my tank because my puffer had a little ich. I followed the direction of the quick cure perfectly. But when I woke up the next mourning my fish were dead!!! I don't think it was the quick cure because I used it a few times before. So my question is, do you know what killed my fish? So please tell me so I can avoid this happing in the future. >>>Hey Kevin, Sorry to hear about your fish. I can't give you a definitive answer unfortunately Kevin. However, I can tell you it WASN'T the parasite. If you put a substance in your tank at night, and the next morning everything is dead, it stands to reason that it was probably the substance added to the tank that killed them. Are you SURE you didn't overdose it? When I was younger I wiped out a tank of catfish at the store I worked at by accidentally overdosing Quick-Cure. It could also be a bad batch of the stuff. Who knows. Sorry again for your losses. Regards Jim<<< Fluval Emergency Hi.  I think I may have made a catastrophic mistake this morning.  I walked by my 55 Gallon FOWLR tank this morning and saw my Fluval 304 canister filter was unplugged.  Without thinking, you guessed it, I plugged it in. Well it only took about 30 seconds for the rotten egg smell of hydrogen sulfide to hit me in the face.  I was crushed as I didn't think of that possibility before as well as I realized there was no turning back once I made that crazy decision to plug it in.  I turned the filter back off and cracked it open and it was very black inside.  I just got back from vacation a few days ago and everything was fine so I don't know how the filter got unplugged. I have a few questions.   First, I threw everything away that was in the Fluval (foam pads, activated C bags, ceramic Biomax, and PolyFilter) and added a fresh 100 g bag of activated C, a whole pad of PolyFilter, and fresh foam pads.  I also started preparing 14 gallons of water to do a 25% water change when I go home.  Is there anything else I can do.  How much C would be reasonable to run; should I add like 6 100 gram packs to the Fluval or just run one?  And the two questions I hate to ask.  Is it almost certain death to my fish since I actually smelled the gas coming out of the water, and will the sandbed and 50 lbs of LR in my tank be garbage now or will the H2S not absorb and contaminate for life? Thanks for the advice as I want to save anyone I can. Ray <Hello Ray, The first and best thing you can do is a large water change obviously, in the range of 50 percent. You didn't mention if this canister filter is the only source of water circulation in your tank, nor did you mention how long it had been off. Those are two rather important pieces of information. Your rock is probably fine, and in all likelihood so is your sand bed, but again I lack some vital information. If your fish are still swimming when you get home, then they'll be fine! For all the talk of hydrogen sulfide gas, I've never seen it whack a fish myself. That doesn't mean it hasn't happened, but in my experience I've never witnessed it. Run as much carbon in your canister as you wish, there is no right answer there. If your sand bed is dead, then all the carbon in the world will not help you, and you'll have to pull it. If you've had power heads or a return pump circulating the water all the while, your sand bed is most certainly just fine. Cheers Jim>

Fleas not the water kind) and aquariums Good morning to all I hope every one is doing well.  I have a problem and was hoping you could help me?  Recently me cat got out and didn't come home for a week and when she returned she had fleas.  I currently have 4 fresh water (2 African cichlid, 2 brackish puffer) all 30 gal. or bigger,  1 90 gal. reef with a 30 gal refugium .  all the tanks are in the basement. Is there any way to get rid of the fleas with out having to take apart all the aquariums?  I'm sure you understand what's involved in taking all the tanks outside.  Thank you for any help you can give me. < They sell these flea bombs in pet shops that create a fog in the house and lay down a film over the house to kill flea. It takes a couple of hours before you can go back in the house. What we used to do is cover the tank with plastic wrap and try a make sure it was tightly sealed. Then take than air pump to the tank out side and reconnect it to the filter through a long piece of airline. This way you had a positive airflow coming from the tank through the plastic openings to the room and then there was no way for the poison to get it. You could always check with a pest control specialist and make him aware that you have fish. Pesticides change all the time and almost all of them are deadly to fish so it might be wise to at least talk to a professional exterminator to be on the safe side.-Chuck>       Brass fittings - lethal for SW creatures 8/2/04 Thanks for your quick response...but, how do I allow Nitrates?   <usually by feeding the fishes and corals enough, else by making a sodium nitrate solution (see Knops "Giant Clams" book, or my "Book of Coral Propagation" for dose and application guidelines> My understanding is that the bacteria that removes Nitrates lives in live rock, not bio balls, <possibly> or in a deep sand bed which I don't have <very true... great denitrification in deep sand beds over 4"> (2 inches of crushed coral with 10% sand mixed in).  Other than the bio balls I have a Skimmer (400 gal/hr) and the prefilters on the dual overflows -- I don't use carbon. <please (!) use carbon faithfully, or use ozone full time instead... else you will have a see-saw effect with water clarity from water changes (or not) and aging lamps/changing lamps. This can be extremely stressful to coral and other photosynthetic organisms. Crystal clear water is critical and I recommend full time use of small amounts of carbon, changed weekly> I will be getting rid of the bio balls soon. BTW, you are right. The rock is touching the glass. It sounds like restacking is in order. <no worries... this is a common mistake. We have an extensive chapter on live rock and live sand (including stacking, water flow, etc) in our latest book, "Reef Invertebrates" [see reviews on Amazon if you like]> Should I also be testing regularly for Iodine and Strontium, in addition to the usual things? <not so critical... good enough to dose regularly if not rely on small weekly water changes> I am at a loss with the coral. We realized we had plumbed using brass fittings and thought that could be a problem with the corals, <yikes! This is lethal indeed. I just answered/explained this to a chap on Reef Central. Brass is not saltwater safe at all> that maybe copper was leeching from the brass into the water. We changed to plastic fittings and did a water change and now detect no copper, <it is actually bound now into your calcareous substrates... your rock, sand, shells, etc. Including the corals skeletons themselves. Ughhh> but the corals in there are either totally dead, or unwilling to open again. <yes... a bad situation. The problem is/was the brass> I'm afraid to try any more coral until I am sure the water will support it. Thanks again for the help! R/Janet <Hmmm... this is quite a problem. Please do read into our archives about purging copper from systems and from calcareous substrates. You will need to be using quite a bit of poly filters (carbon too would be nice) for the next couple of months to try to sop up residuals and some of these liberated from the substrates from the action of grazing/burrowing species. Anthony> Lead in the Water? 7/28/04 Good afternoon "O wise ones". I have searched the archives for some help with a problem I have but there is just no practical way. I live in the mountains of Northern VA.   It would seem that I have LEAD in my water.  NOT a good thing.  But of course when you type LEAD in the Google search feature it brings up lead (the metal) and lead (as in "...a horse to water."). Anyway, we had our well water tested when we moved in the house approx 4.5 years ago and it was under 4 ppb (acceptable at the time).  A couple of months ago it was tested again and it came in at 27 ppb!  NOT safe for anything.  The samples were taken at the pump output before the house plumbing to rule it out, and the pipe from the pump to the holding tank is plastic.  So it's something in the groundwater itself.  Can't get the State to do anything about it (but that's a story for another time). We are using 2 activated carbon filters for filtering cooking water and bottled only for drinking.  Now to the question: Do you know of anywhere that we can pick up a Lead Testing Kit?  < There are lead testing kits but none are available through normal aquarium channels. I would recommend contacting your local county health department for a kit recommendation. Good carbon will remove 85 % of the lead depending on the grade of carbon.> I have been keeping 6 freshwater tanks for the past 3 years and all seems fine, but am planning to set up a 150 GAL  Marine tank soon.  Not crazy about an RO unit as it wastes mucho water.  Looking for a DI system but having no luck. Mostly want to test the water before the filters and after to see if it will be safe for my family to drink (#1 priority) and also to see if it is safe for marine fish/inverts/corals. Any idea what the "acceptable" levels would be in an aquarium environment? < Depends on the pH. The lower the pH the more soluble the lead will be and the bigger problem for the fish.-Chuck> Thank you for your time.  Your commitment and dedication to this addiction (oops: Hobby) have helped me more than you know.  You ALL are much appreciated! Tom

Ant spray and fish 7/28/04 Hello-quick question<OK< sure it's quick though? Mike D here!>, I have a huge ant problem in my kitchen<Like in the movie "Them?" I've heard about Texas ants>. My tank is a small 15 gal saltwater tank and it is set up right next to the kitchen. The apt. association sets off ant bombs to take care of the problem<OK, first off ant bombs or bombs of any sort rarely work. To get rid of ants you need to put out ant bait that they carry back to the nest and feed to the queen. You might want to pass that information on to them. Lee chance of a law suit from an allergic reaction of dead fish as well **grin>, How can I get these ants killed and keep my fish alive from the ant bomb?<This can be a serious problem as most pesticides are deadly to fish, with far less than one drop capable of decimating everything. My best suggestion is to cover the tank with a plastic bag while it's being treated, well weighted at the bottom. Don't forget to wrap the pump in a plastic bag as well, with he air lines secured with rubber bands. Seriously, I'd tell them about the ant bait as it's the only thing that actually works>

Which Is Worse, the Sickness or the Cure? (7/25/04) Hi <Hello. Steve Allen tonight.>   I've just had my first traumatic fish Loss. <So sorry to hear. I know exactly how you feel.> I bought a pair of exquisite wrasses and put them in my 20 gal QT tank with a couple small PC's of live rock and some Halimeda and other macros attached to it. I had the QT set up for around 4 weeks before the fish arrived. It has a small penguin BioWheel/media filter and a SeaClone hang on skimmer. <A rather fancy set-up. A bare tank with PVC fittings to hide in, a heater, and a sponge or power filter is usually quite sufficient.> Everything was good for 2 weeks until Thursday, when I noticed a bunch of small white spots all over him. he was behaving perfectly normal , no scratching or twitching. <Still, it certainly sounds like Ich.> Knowing what it probably was I bought a Copper test (fast test ) and a bottle of SeaCure. Both by Aquarium systems. I removed both fish and performed an 8 minute freshwater dip (with Meth blue) . I tested the tank to make sure copper was at 0, it was and added the dosage. Both fish were totally traumatized but were out and about Friday PM and both ate.   To get back to the Fastest, it is a very very difficult to use kit. <All kits are if you ask me. I have a hard time distinguishing one subtle shade's color difference.> First off, there are 2 line on the test vial. And no where on the instructions does it say which one to use. I later called A-systems and was told it was the top one. I was also told to remove the carbon from the tank, it doesn't say that in the directions either. The test colors are all a shade of brown, and according to my test I finally got the dosage to where it was supposed to be. the odd thing was I had to add nearly twice the dosage on the bottle (over 2 days) to get it to the min 15ppm. I woke this morning and saw no fish visible but that wasn't uncommon with these fish because they like to hide in the pvc pipe I gave them for security. I left for work and at 9 my wife calls me and says we have 2 dead wrasses. <:(> I came home and tested the water, the copper was OK, according to the test. I tested the ammonia and it was too high, .5 ppm. <Might have already started to rise from the dead fish between the time of their deaths and the removal of the corpses from the tank.>   Could the ammonia have done them both in so quickly??. <I've seen plenty of fish survive this level, but the combination of that with other stressors could perhaps have done it. OTOH, we cannot know if there was any ammonia in the tank before they died, as noted above. Hard to say for sure why they died.> What copper medication and test kit do you recommend?? <CopperSafe is a reputable product and Salifert tests are usually reliable. You need to be sure to match the test kit to the type of copper you are using. Info on this is available in the Copper articles/FAQs. Also, be sure to remove all rock or sand when treating and bear in mind that the copper will usually kill your good bacteria too.> Is there anything I could have done differently?? I was thinking I could have done the dip and a nice water change and observed, but the male had a lot of spots. <Copper can be a touchy medication to uses. Some folks prefer formalin, but another option is the FW dip followed by hyposalinity treatment at elevated temps. Check Steven Pro's excellent ich series at www.reefkeeping.com that started in October (I believe) of 2003.> I'm bummed, I had been looking forward to those gorgeous fish being in my reef tank for a long time. <Understood. Take solace in the fact that you didn't ruin your beautiful reef by skipping QT and introducing ich and then, even worse, putting medicine in the reef. Read the ich article and try again. Next time you have to treat, I am confident you will have a better outcome.> AIRBORNE AMMONIA ENTERING TANK SYSTEM Hello all, firstly, I would like to extend a thanks for all of the work done by the crew.  Secondly, this is not a question so much as a warning.  I had a disturbing situation arise in my 'fish room'.  I am in the process of placing a few corals in a DIY acrylic grow out system.  I had been testing perimeters regularly.  The other day, while testing the ammonia level hit 1.0ppm.  I couldn't understand how this could have happened.  There are no fish, just 6 small photosynthetic coral pieces in roughly 120 gallons, none were in any state of decay.  I then tested a tank that has had several pieces of live rock for several months, this had 0.5ppm.  I then tested my make up and top off water, that hit 1.0.  I proceeded to test the water out of the DI unit, 0.0ppm, then the tap, 0.0.  I also cross checked using 3 different test kits.  At that point I concluded it had to be coming in from the air.  After some thought, I recalled that two days earlier I had noticed, through a nasty aroma, that my grand daughter had neglected the cat litter pan.  The pan is down the hall from my fish room.  I put two and two together, I was injecting the air borne ammonia into all of my water.  Since water changes were out, I immediately put an ionizer/air cleaner in the room, loaded the tanks with carbon, and placed the filter pads I had been culturing in a well established  aquarium into the tanks.  I have not lost anything as of yet, some things are not looking great, but time will tell.   The moral is if it is in the air, it will find its way into the tank. << Wow, what a story.  Here is another example.  You can set up a salt water tank in your backyard.  Wait a couple weeks, and you'll have algae growing in it.  The question many people have is where did that algae come from?  And, how can a marine strain find its way to wherever you are.  Well the answer is that tiny little spores from the ocean are actually carried all the way across the continents in rain clouds and the like.  So I guess just about anything is possible. >> Enjoy the 4th, God bless America. Ed   <<  Adam B.  >>

Protecting aquarium while having house tented for termites I saw that someone else had asked your advice on protecting their aquarium while having their house tented for termites. Your recommendation is to remove the tank and it's contents altogether. I have a 55 gal. and need to have my house tented. Problem is, I don't have anywhere to move everything to. I'm in Florida and can't leave it outside. The heat will certainly cook everything. Is it possible to cover the entire tank with several industrial strength plastic bags and super seal them to the tile floor with duct tape? In addition, could I add an air stone and run the tubing outside of the tenting area and pump fresh air into the tank? By pumping the fresh air into the sealed tank, would that pressurize the inside of the tank enough to keep the toxins out? If none of this works, any help that you may have on relocation would be greatly appreciated. Sincerely, <Mmm, short answer: No. Best to make plans for removing the livestock (perhaps a friendly LFS or another aquarist nearby?) and have them hold onto for the duration, drain the tank, and re-fill IN ADDITION to covering and taping while it is being tented/fumigated. Bob Fenner>

Insect foreign material in tank Hi dumb question to follow! Have had a cockroach problem of late that has been resolved with gel rather than spray but anyway found one of my little starfish self collected 5cm diameter muck eater sucking the guts (nicely put) out of a small cockroach 5mm length that must have ventured in too close to the water removed cockroach. Is this likely to be a problem for the tank or starfish? << Wow, I don't know.  I've never heard of starfish eating cockroaches.  I'll bet it won't hurt them, as most animals know what is food and what isn't. >> I do have covers on the tank but with openings for tubing etc. these pests can still get in. This is the first time this has happened. It is possible the cockroach had eaten the gel that kills them. Could my tank be contaminated/polluted? Suggestions? What hope for the starfish? << Well it is possible that he was poisoned first, but I wouldn't worry about it.  I think a simple water change is always a good idea.  Otherwise no worries. >> Don't want it to crawl away and hide and die where I cant find it. <<  Adam Blundell  >>

Thermometer question My question is... are the tiny black pellets found in the thermometer poisonous to the fishes or not? thanks for your time. Mike <Actually, yes, they can be. Most modern thermometers employ small steel balls as ballast for this application, and these can rust, even in freshwater systems, causing trouble. Best to siphon out the gravel in the area, sort through and remove the metal, either by hand or magnet. Bob Fenner>

- Aluminum Oxide in My Tank? - Hi all!   Great website.  Sooooo much information that it is sometimes hard to find an answer in the FAQ's (but it is fun trying!) OK, I am remodeling my kitchen, hall and bath and will be installing laminate flooring (sort of an artificial hardwood).  I have to do all the cutting of the flooring in my apartment (too many stairs to climb up and down to do it outside and don't have a deck).  I read that laminate contains aluminum oxide crystals among other stuff I don't' want in my tank.  Now, my 55 gal minireef (which is doing WONDERFUL thanks to tips/advice from your great site) is in the room adjacent to my kitchen and will be the room where the saws will be set up.   Here is what I have planned (doing this in 4 days BTW).  I got some 1mm plastic sheeting and will cover the tank with it and let it drape down to the floor.  I will have to turn off the lights because of heat (there are cloudy days in the tropics, right?). <Yes, there are.> I also intend to get a second sheet of plastic and tape off the wall corner area that the tank is in sort of creating a large bubble.  I am going to keep the skimmer running and put in new filters in my whisper 3 with a little extra carbon.  The tank should only have to remain this way for about 36 hours.  This includes a good buffer time after done cleaning to let dust settle out of the air. I also intend to keep a close eye on my tank through the plastic but really don't know what I can do if I see anyone in distress (besides panic). <Panic won't help.> I will also have water on hand to do a quick 15% change if needed (most water I can age/store at once). <I'd also have a PolyFilter around for good measure - very good at removing unwanted stuff from the tank.> Do you agree with my plans or do you have advice/directions on things to do differently or change? <I think this will work, although the "dust" should settle a couple of hours after a days work. Would try to get some fresh air into the system at least once a day, try to avoid CO2 build up under that plastic canopy.> If I do see some fish/inverts in distress, any ideas on quick actions to take? <Probably put the PolyFilter in place, perhaps some activated carbon on hand as well.> Do you know of anything that can pull aluminum out of water? <Do believe the PolyFilter would nab it.> Thanks a lot for your help.  Hopefully I won't be sending you a panicked email saying that I have deaths in my tank in a few days. <Will cross my fingers, but suspect all will go well.> -Ray <Cheers, J -- >

Hazardous Fumes (5/26/04) Hi Crew; <Steve Allen tonight.> We have a 210 gal. salt. Some painting needs done in the same room where the aquarium sets. To help keep the fumes from getting in the tank, I was planning on putting mesh bags of carbon in the tank, as well as putting a couple of fans in the room to exhaust the fumes. Is this okay or is there a better way to protect the tank? Please help! Thanks once again! Ceil Wagaman <Running carbon and PolyFilter would be good idea. Cover the top of the tank. Use paint that dries quickly. Latex is probably safer than oil, but I can't state that for certain. Ventilate the room like mad. I think there is more advice on WWM about this. Search on "paint" and "fumes." Hope this helps.> 

Broken Thermometer >Dear WetWebMedia, Today as I was doing a water change in my 12 gallon minireef, I accidentally shattered one of those floating thermometers against the glass. >>I think we've ALL ended up doing that sooner or later. >I'm pretty sure the actual thermometer part didn't break, but it spilled little metal beads, glass, and what looked like pieces of hard red glue all over the sand and live rock. >>That stuff, whatever it is, is what was at the bottom, yes? In any event, mercury is no longer used in thermometers. >I was able to recover most of the pieces of glass and glue but the little beads kind of scattered everywhere. Should I be worried? This reef is somewhat established so I would prefer not to replace rock and substrate unless the beads and glue are dangerous. >>I would do a large water change, along with increasing frequency of regular water changes over the next few weeks. Also, if you don't run carbon, drop on a little box HOT power filter with a carbon cartridge, rinse it every day or two and change weekly. If you do run carbon, change it out. >Thanks in advance for your help. You guys provide a wealth of information on your website and always respond quickly with good advice. >>Not so quickly during the Interzoo show, but we do try. This is not an emergency, unless you notice other bad signs. If you do, my advice would be the same, with the addition to attempt to remove as much of the foreign material as possible.  >Sincerely, Drew Holm >>Take care. Marina 

Rust in my Marine Aquarium 5/4/04 Hi .... A quick question.  Is rust dangerous in my marine aquarium?   <yes... metals are dangerous for many marine organisms in closed aquarium systems> I have a small clamp the attaches the hose to a powerhead in my sump.  I have noticed that while the strap is stainless steel, the screw isn't and rust is rapidly forming.  Should I remove the clamp? <do get a plastic hose clamp to be safe> My tank is 6x2x2 with a 4x1.5x1.5 sump (2 thirds full) Thanks Steve <rock on my brother. Anthony>

Too much Caulerpa? 5/3/04 hi again crew. <howdy> first off, some good news.  thanks for the advice re: nicotine on the fingers from a couple of months back.  i think that was what was causing my sudden fish death syndrome.   <its amazing how easily contaminants are carried into the tank... aluminum from underarm anti-perspirant, acetone from ladies (or men's - Doh!) painted fingernails, petrol products from under finger nails, etc> since then, I've bought a grabber and latex gloves, and haven't suffered any losses in quarantine (knocking on wood aquarium stand :) <excellent to hear... and it protects you from pathogens too!> I'm up to a Rabbitfish, 6 green Chromis, and a brittle star.  all seem to be healthy and happy.  well, i used to have 7 Chromis, but i think it got sucked through a pump (i was away on vacation). anyway, to my question.  I have tons of green grape algae.   <Arghhhh... this is believed to be the most toxic/noxious of all the common Caulerpas. Do be careful> to the point where it's literally like a forest around my live rock.  i had figured that the Rabbitfish would have cut it back, but it seems to love prime reef (no veggies there).   <many fish will not eat this/other Caulerpas because of their noxious composition> it loves the formula 2 (basically, enriched Nori) i give it, but just doesn't seem to graze.  i think it's a baby and scared (it's about 3 inches, and has it's spines up and hides most of the time). i don't want to stop the formula 2, because i know it's a staple in their diet, and i don't want it to just eat the prime reef if it's so young. <correct> so, should i get another herbivore to "teach" it/trim back the algae?   <not likely or recommended> I know having too much Caulerpa is not the worst problem to have... <on the contrary... there are serious risks with it... toxicity, vegetative events, etc. We describe this at length in our Reef Invertebrates book and there is quite a lot on this topic in the WWM archives. Do a keyword search with the Google.com search tool from the home page for Caulerpa and see much> also, both the Chromis' and the Rabbitfish are listed in Scott Michaels book (500 marine fishes) as feed 2-3 times a day.  isn't that a bit excessive?   <good heavens no! These are fish that feed on plankton and algae, respectively, almost constantly in the wild. Small frequent feedings are best> i feed once per day, and think that's too much. <perhaps the quantity at one sitting so too much... but not the frequency.> thanks in advance-- rob <best regards, Anthony> Killing Fleas Without Killing Fish (4/27/04) Greetings Crew! <Steve Allen today.> I am currently battling fleas in my home and need some advice on treatment. <Being no fan of furry mammal pets, I don't have much familiarity with the available products.> This week I applied a powder to the carpet, and took the following precautions with my tanks: covered all open areas and sump with damp towels, turned off skimmers and return pump from the sump, turned off air pump for QT, ran circulation pumps only in QT and 125 FOWLR main tank. The cats have also been treated with Advantage and have been flea free for a couple days. <Don't fleas die if you keep the cats out of the room in question for some period of time? Which room is it?> After getting the tanks ready I applied the powder to the carpet, worked it in with a brush and left in for 1.5 hours before vacuuming up per instructions. I waited another 30 minutes before turning everything but the skimmers back on and also ran a Nikken air filter in the room with the tanks. I waited 24 hours before turning the skimmers back on. <I'm not sure you need to turn them off. Most flea products are organic molecules and the skimmer should actually help remove any stray ones that get into the system. High-quality fresh carbon and PolyFilter help too.> It has been 48 hours since treatment and I have observed no ill effects from fish or inverts. <Good>   So far so good, right? <Here comes the bad news, right?> Well there are still tons of fleas on the rampage...only need to stand on carpet for about 30 seconds and there will be fleas chewing on your legs :( <Makes me glad I have no cats or dogs.> I need to treat again, and more aggressively. So my questions are: 1) Spray or powder? I first chose powder as I believed there would be less chance of it getting in the tanks, but after applying it I noticed a lot of fine dust and very strong smell. <Pesticides do smell strongly and if you can smell it, it's getting into your body too.> 2) How long can I safely leave the tanks covered with only circulating pumps running? <Not very long if there is little fresh air exchange going on at the surface of the water. I know from experience that it is easy to drop the oxygen level in a tank to dangerously low levels.> The 125 FOWLR contains a 6" Barred Spinefoot and a 2" Passer Angel. The 20g QT contains a 2" yellow tang and a 3" Flagfin Angel.   You guys have been a great help in the past, and I am grateful! I will be greatly anticipating your response while being the main course for a bunch of bloodsuckers. E.B. <Unfortunately, there are no guarantees here. You could easily harm the tank, but everything can easily turn out fine. Here are a few principles to consider. 1. You need a excellent ventilation of the room. 2. You should spray whatever you use very close to the surface in question to minimize aerosolization. Is it just carpet or are we talking furniture too? If you're treating the rest of the house, can you isolate the fish room from the general air circulation? 3. Heavy chemical filtration with charcoal and PolyFilter should help. Fresh carbon in the air filter would be good too. 4. Perhaps you should call in a professional exterminator with experience in houses that also have fish. Hope this helps.>

Pump Screw Dangers? (4/13/04) I was just looking at my sump, and noticed my new magnum 7 return pump has four stainless still screws holding a part on?  Is this ok? <Most likely> will they rust...I would think so? <By definition, stainless steel does not rust. That's why they call it stainless.> Should I replaced them or cover them with pvc cement or something? <I do not believe this is necessary.> Wouldn't that be odd they use metal screws? <Plastic screws are generally weak and easy to strip.> Surely this has come up? <I have never heard of a problem.> I would think screws would rust and kill the tank over time? <Again, it's "stainless" steel. Also, rust is an oxidized iron. Iron is beneficial to marine macroalgae--I add it to my tank. I am not aware of any documented harm from the metals that make up stainless steel. Here's a couple of web sites of interest: http://home.cogeco.ca/~mquill/stainless.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stainless_steel http://www.stainless-steel-world.net/basicfacts/index.asp http://www.bssa.org.uk/index.htm   (click on "Technical Information" and then on "About Stainless Steel" Hope this helps. Steve Allen>

Stuff the Tang Hi, <Hi - Michael here today> Thank for helping people like myself who care so much about our creatures. <We do our best, thanks for the compliments> I have a 55 gal tank with a Sailfin tang, <Will eventually outgrow a 55 IMO> two fire fish , one emerald crab, one turbo snail, two live rock and one 10lb premium rock with a clam, lots of cup coral and some other creatures. I have a copper question. I spilled about a 1&1/2 cups of copper water from my quarantine tank into my 55 gal tank. <OUCH> I had been treating a regal tang that I felt I wasn't ready for and traded it for the Sailfin. At the time of the I was running an undergravel filter, 802 powerhead and a 400 emperor filter with carbon and PhosGuard media added. <If it's good quality carbon that will go a long way toward absorbing the copper> I did a water change. <Good - how large? 50% or more I hope> I had two skunk cleaner shrimp in the tank at the time of the spill. <The copper will most likely kill any invertebrates in your system> I am wondering would this copper have killed them a month later? <If they died a month after the spill, it could have been stress related, likely because of the spill> They both died in the same manner one died Thursday morning, and the other Sunday night. They both began to stay in the same place a lot not eating much and began to be really still. Then a few minutes before they died they swim upside down, let the current blow them and around, they were really jerky. Could the copper take this long to kill them if this was the cause? <Not likely, but possibly. Probably secondary effects of the copper killed them, though> Will it kill my emerald crab and snail. <If it hasn't done so in the past month, probably not, but definitely run large quantities of high quality activated carbon in your filters, or a Poly Filter to absorb any excess copper. I would also get a copper test kit and see if you have a measurable level still left in your tank> If so what can I do to prevent their deaths? <above :)> I have only had the snail a few days and he seems to be doing fine. I do use regular tap water, instant ocean, and proper ph 8.2 when I change my water every two weeks. My nitrates have been getting up to 20 in the last two weeks so I have had to do a weekly water change. My ammonia is 0, nitrites 0, and my ph is 8.2. Please help if you can. <Hope I have...just make sure there isn't any residual copper still dissolved in your aquarium, as it will stress all inhabitants> Thanks so much, Michelle <Anytime - M. Maddox>

Toxic Tank? Dear Crew, <Scott F. here today> I have had a 29gal saltwater tank (Remora skimmer, Aquaclear filter, VHO lighting, 35# LR, 1" sand bed) for about three years now, with a great success, until early last month.  I was stripping and cleaning my pumps/powerheads (a quarterly ritual) and had to fix a leaking seal on my filter.  Well, I sealed it up, but failed to wait the 7 days for the silicon to fully cure before adding back into the system, was more like 12 hrs.  Two days later my tank was cloudy.  Ammonia was nil, but my Nitrites were reading about .50mg/L.  I changed out 50% of the water with freshly made RO/DI salt mix (The RO/DI unit was only a few weeks old).  The water was mixed, aerated and heated for a couple of hours and added.  Within the next week I had lost every snail, hermit crab and the shrimp that was in the tank.  I added carbon, and replaced all filters again.  A week later, the anemone that had been in the tank for over two years crashed, taking the two other fish with it the next day.  Through this all I was testing my water furiously (Ammonia 0, Nitrites 0, PH 8.3, Alk 11-12, Nitrates 10-15).  Now I have a bunch of rocks and sand.  For the past three weeks I have been taking every piece of gear on the tank apart, checking for shorts, rust, anything amiss.  I have continued 5 gal weekly water changes, weekly testing and have noticed only one parameter that seem awry.  My Alkalinity has been climbing from 11 to over 16.  I have used multiple test kits, and am at a loss to find the cause.  The tank PH is steady at 8.3, never wavering, but the Alk is high.  I attempted to add a damsel test subject into the tank this morning, he lasted about a full minute in the tank before expiring. <Yikes!> I am a bit frustrated here as to the possible cause of the total system shutdown, and would like to know your thoughts.  How does unbuffered RO/DI and salt mix yield such high ALK numbers unless something else is affecting it?  What else could affect it? What might I have overlooked as the primary cause of continued problems with this tank? Thanks, Lou <I'm baffled with this one, myself. My only thought is that there is some strange chemical reaction going on that's throwing the alkalinity out of whack. Do check your source water before mixing, too. As far as the rapid fish death- it seems almost certain to be the result of some kind of toxic even in the tank. Maybe the silicone is leaching something into the water, or their is some other substance (a household cleaner, etc.) getting into the system. For a fish to die so quickly, something is very wrong with the water. I would run some Poly Filter on a continuous basis, as this product is excellent at removing many toxic substances and dissolved metals from the water. It may not be "the cure", but it can help. The answer is out there- you're just going to have to keep digging for it, unfortunately. Regards, Scott F>

Mystery deaths 3/26/04 Hi guys,  Have a small favor to ask in regards to my problem.  I sent pics of the setup and wondered if u had received them???? In regards to the favor, no offense is meant to anyone but could u possibly have Bob or Anthony review this problem????  I have talked with Bob personally in the past and really trust him completely.  I have NEVER had this problem before and the only thing that seems to be alive is brown hair Algae.  As I said, no offense is meant to anyone there by this request and hope nobody takes it that way.  I know your all volunteers and u do a fantastic job.  Thanks much.  Bob <cheers, Bob - alas, I regret that I cannot offer any new insight on your problem. Little information provided. But do stay the course with water changes... truly so: dilution is the solution to pollution! Anthony>

Mystery Toxin? Hi guys. <Hey there! Scott F. here today!> Bob here again.  Still having same problem with fish dying within 4 hrs.. Quick re-cap.  Had a diatom outbreak so used Chemi-Clean to clear it up.  Didn't follow instructions and made water change too late. <Uh-Oh> All parameters are within limits but silicates are slightly high  tank is 34 gal with BakPak skimmer and refugium. 7 " DSB and 35-40 lbs of rock.  Water is RO/DI. Since the problem started I have changed out 100% of the rock and sand.  I acclimate the fish by floating the bag to adjust the temp first and then switching out a little water every 15 min. Since putting the new rock in all bristle worms have died.   <An interesting "side effect", huh?> Is there any place here in No Cali to get the water tested and if so what should I look for??? <I'm not sure of the chemical composition of Chemi-Clean, so I can't even hazard a guess! My suggestion is to execute regular water changes, and use Poly Filter on a continuous basis. This stuff can really help remove possible toxins from your water! Activated carbon is good, too.> Prior to the crash things were great, Xenias, mushrooms, Colts and Sarcophyton were thriving. I'm also using a white filter pad in the water flow that u guys highly recommend for removing toxins etc.  (Forget the name right now).  and it took weeks to change color to a light tan. Poly Filter  is the name. <Yep! That's the stuff! Love it...!> Any ideas or help would be greatly appreciated as this has been going on for about 4 months now.  Again, as usual, thanks for your help.  You guys are great. <Thanks for the kind words! I think that the suggested water changes and continuous use of chemical filtration media is the way to go. Hang in there! Regards, Scott F>

11th Hour Hello all, <Hi, Ryan with you> I have a tr. percula and a Firefish in my 20gal.  Last night everyone was fine and this morning the Firefish is on the bottom barely moving and the clown is swimming nose down, bumping into live rock and then darting through the water like he has lost control. I fed them and they acted like nothing happened.  The Firefish usually goes nuts at feeding time but now he is leaning to one side and not looking good. <Not good, you need to do a water change ASAP> I have a cleaner shrimp that I introduced yesterday and he is fine.  All of the water test were normal - hardly any ammonia, no nitrates, pH 8.2, temp 80f, spec grav 1.023 <Nitrite?  Ammonia shouldn't be detectable at all...is this a new setup?> What is going on?  I was getting ready to do a partial water change today (@1 gal) but now I'm not really sure what to do?  <I would change 5 gallons of water, and make sure there is adequate water movement.  I wish you luck, and hope these guys make it.  Ryan> Thanks for your great site and your email help..... KB

Tank not able to support coral life 3/4/04 Good morning,  I will try to keep this short and thank you in advance for your assistance. <Good morning Paul.  Adam here, glad to be of assistance.> Background   My 120 gallon reef tank ran for a few years with success, supporting softies, LPSs, SPS, bugs, fish etc. until a dreaded flatworm crash that killed just about my entire tank.  Unfortunately, I did not have a skimmer that was able to deal with the toxins from the millions of dying flatworms and consequential events. <Was this crash incidental or induced (Oomed, Flatworm exit, quinine drugs)?  If it was induced, you have the combined issue of the flatworm toxins, the rotting flesh and the medication.  This can be quite a stressful combination!  Powerful skimming, water changes and carbon can help ameliorate these problems.> So, I tore down the tank treated everything with Melafix and set it up again - that was about 8 months ago. New sand and water but same live rock (if I can still call it "live"). I did not get a new skimmer at that time - BIG mistake. My tank has run for the 8 months being able to support only fish with little evidence of life otherwise. I would buy snails, a frag or two, bugs, and everything would die. Algae everywhere (hair and Cyano), despite my attempts at growing macros, poly filters, etc. <Why Melafix?  This is an "herbal" (read: questionable) treatment for fish disease, and my impression is that it is really only meant for FW.  Your ongoing problems probably have many causes.  Lack of good skimming may be contributing, but you probably also did significant damage to the life on your rock.> Today   I have a new Lifereef skimmer that has been up and running for about 6 weeks.  Since then, I have seen dramatic improvement - worms, virtually eliminated the Cyano, great reduction in algae, and even some zoos I didn't know I had are coming back. My parameters are (Salifert): 1025 salinity, 8.2-8.4 ph, 10 DKH, 78 temp, phosphates undetectable, nitrates undetectable, calcium 300. I am working on getting my calcium up. Lighting consists of two 175 watt 14K halides with two 96 watt actinics. My  circulation is via sea swirl and closed loop. <The skimmer is a nice addition, and it sounds like a nice set-up.  It is a good sign that things are recovering.> Problem/Question I purchased a few frags on Saturday (Acros, hydno, cap, torch, xenia, zoos). As of this morning I have lost the Acros, cap. The hydno and torch do not look good. The zoos look fine.  With the exception of my calcium, my parameters seem good. Can you tell me, is it possible that I have left over effects from the whole flatworm thing? The Melafix?, Can their be some pathogens or bacterial problems? Toxins? <Could be some combination of all of the above.  You have moved right into some of the most finicky corals.  Acros, torch, Hydnophora and xenia are all very sensitive to a wide variety of water quality issues.  Zoanthids (zoo's is an improper contraction... If anything "Zo's" would be less confusing with Zooxanthellae which begins "zoo".  Sorry for the pet peeve rant.).  You can rule out pathogens.  Coral pathogens are extremely rare, selective in what they infect and generally opportunistic on already stressed animals.  Toxins are a possibility and could be from your previous treatments or the flatworms.> At this point I am very frustrated and confused. Would a UV sterilizer help?  Thanks again and sorry for the length but I figured you needed to understand the whole story. <No worries about the length, the more details, the more likely we will find a solution.  UV will not help since this is not a pathogen.  The lack of life shows that at very least your tank has to be built back to "maturity".  It could take a long time to accomplish this since most of the life was killed off.  You  may be best served by replacing all or at least a large portion of your rock to  get back on track.>  Paul  <Best Regards.  Adam>

Heavy Metal In Deep Sand! Hi Crew, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today> I need some help!  (what's new - huh?)  While removing a retainer on my light canopy, the retainer shot into my aquarium.  While trying to dig it out, it got lost under the sand bed.  The retainer is spring steel and contains an amount of metal probably close to that of a penny.  Since the retainer is highly magnetic, I tried to fish it out of the sand (about 3 ?" deep sand bed) with a strong magnet - with no success.  I have picked up every piece of live rock I thought it could be under but I am unable to locate the retainer. Do you have any additional suggestions for finding a piece of buried steel in a 180g aquarium with a 3 1/2 " DSB and live rock? <I guess a conventional metal detector wouldn't work under water, huh?> Worst case - at least this is not copper; how dangerous would it be if this small piece of steel is left in the aquarium?   <Well, It's obviously not a perfect situation, but I suppose that the impact of this piece of metal may be minimal, given the water volume, especially seeing that it is so small. On the other hand, if it makes you feel better, you should run aggressive chemical filtration with activated carbon/PolyFilter, or other "metal removing" media, in the hopes that any potentially toxic leaching could be minimized> Currently this is a FOWLR aquarium but I am getting ready to add corals and begin keeping a reef. Your advice is greatly appreciated!--Greg <Well, short of mounting another dredging expedition, I suppose that you are just as well served to use the aforementioned chemical filtration media full-time. Good luck Regards, Scott F.> - Fish is Freaking Out - Hi guys - I have a question - what can cause a fish to start swimming erratically? - I have a juvenile yellow tang that is swimming in a weird pattern and is all twitchy. <It's really hard to know the motivations of fish - difficult to say why the fish might be swimming like this - perhaps reacting to its reflection in the glass.> Otherwise it appears to be fine - water parameters are good across the board - everyone else in the tank is fine. here are the specs <Uhh... that ammonia isn't good. Do get a second opinion on your test results - could be part of a larger water quality issue.> READINGS Ammonia is 1.0 ppm - this sucks I know - and it is part of the reason I am emailing you Nitrite - 0ppm Nitrate 0.2ppm Salinity - 36 ppt pH 8.4 calcium is 460 Phosphate = 15 Temp = 76-78 Alk 3.2 temp is 80-82 - have problem with lighting heat - yet have insufficient lighting lighting - 1-20 watt -actinic "marine glow" + 40 watt - full spectrum fluorescent tank age - 2 months water is changed 10-20% weekly copper - 0 Water is premixed and stored weekly TANK 75 G Oceanic Systems Bowfront Fluval 404 X2 802 "QuickFilter" power heads 2 Ebo Jager - 100 watt heaters Berlin "Turbo" Hang On Tank Skimmer 60 lbs Fiji live rock crushed coral substrate INHABITANTS Raccoon Butterfly - juvenile - 2 inches Yellow Tang - juvenile - 2 inches Crimson Horned Sea Star - 4" 2 Rose Bubble Tip Anemones - 1 big one became 2-so cool! Clarks Clownfish - 3.5" - symbiotic with Anemones 1 Colon Goby Turbo Snails & Astrea Snails - i don't know how many Various Scarlet Reef Hermits & Blue Legged hermits 6 Emerald Crabs <Cheers, J -- >

Tank of Doom...... Hi Bob, <Dede> I have just discovered your website and have already gleaned a lot of useful information from it. I hope you can help me as I appear to have created a monster! It is an aquarium which seems to kill everything I introduce to it. Here are some details:   a.. 200 litre / 44 Gallons   b.. Rena XP3 Canister filter (Various Media including 3 packs of PolyFilter, 1 pack of Activated Charcoal) {I have checked the flow rate ~ 200GpH}   c.. Red Sea Prism Protein Skimmer   d.. Oscillating Powerhead   e.. Large 25 watt UV Sterilizer   f.. 3 Fluoro Tubes:   g.. 40W Marine Glo   h.. 40W Life Glo   i.. 40W Power Glo   j.. Nitrite          0ppm   k.. Nitrate         20ppm   l.. Ammonia     0ppm   m.. pH               8.2   n.. Phosphate   0.2ppm   o.. Calcium       400ppm   p.. Salinity        1.023 SG   q.. Temp           26 Celsius   r.. 20Kg Tufa, 10 Kilo Live Rock   s.. Coralline Substrate <Okay> And here's the Livestock (Past & Present, Over the past 20 months)   a.. 2 Yellow Tangs (1 deceased)   b.. 3 Regal Tangs   (All deceased)   c.. 3 Anemone Fish (2 deceased)   d.. 1 Mandarin Fish (deceased)   e.. 8 Blue Reef Chromis (All deceased)   f.. 4 Green Chromis (2 deceased)   g.. 1 Flame Angel (deceased)   h.. 1 Large Cardinal (Still with us!)   i.. 4 Indo Pacific Cleaner Shrimp (2 deceased)   j.. 1 Orange Starfish (deceased)   k.. 1 Maldivian Starfish (deceased)   l.. 1 Blue Starfish   m.. 1 Dot-Dash Blenny   n.. 3 Chalk Gobies (deceased)   o.. 1 Arrowhead Crab   p.. 1 Decorator Crab (deceased)   q.. 2 Bubble Corals (1 deceased, 1 1/2deceased)   r.. 5 Various Button Polyps (deceased)   s.. 7 Mushroom Corals (5 deceased)   t.. 3 Pulse Xenia (deceased)   u.. 2 Leather Corals (1 deceased, 1 1/2deceased)   v.. 1 "Christmas Tree" Coral (Sorry, Don't know it's real name, deceased)   w.. 1 Neptune's Shaving Brush (deceased)   x.. 2 Atlantic Anemones (deceased)   y.. 2 Brittle Stars (deceased, in bits, in days)   z.. Coralline Algae (Masses & masses)   aa.. 20 Turbo snails (15 deceased)   ab.. 2 Sand sifting snails   ac.. 8 Feather Dusters (deceased)   ad.. 1 Unknown Starfish (hitch-hiked into tank, photo attached) Oh, and before I forget at least: 28 Bristleworms various (deceased) {2 of which were Monstrous ~ 18"+ ! ) <Very interesting... and good detail, relating of pertinent info.> All items were bought over time and carefully introduced, no more than 8 fish in the tank at any one time. I suspect that the two huge (about 18") bristleworms were responsible for most of the fish deaths ~ the more time a fish spent in the rockwork the sooner it 'vanished' without a trace. I also had a Decorator Crab that just disappeared like most of the fish never to be seen again, not even a head or tail to be found anywhere, it was like they were never in there to begin with. <I concur with the mystery loss sources> The other 26 bristleworms I have hauled out in the last couple of days after I noticed I had an infestation ~ they were rapidly devouring a button polyp. (its now dead and the rock is sitting out of the water drying) do I put the rock back in or just bin it? <I would return it> The worms were orange. I have also seen a few worms black and white in colour and between 1/2" to 1" in size. Thank god for the Arrowhead crab as he seems to think they make a lovely snack..... <Yes> Also, and I think it is related but my 2nd Bubble coral is dying, I lost the 1st one a long time ago, don't know why. The whole tank looks to me to be dying. Do you think it is because of the worms? Are they killing everything? <I don't think that the worms are the primary source of loss here... I am suspicious of your "Tufa rock"... and would remove this... and for sake of curiosity test it with some inexpensive livestock in another place. Does your Prizm skimmer remove skimmate regularly? These units can be a bit tricky> I feed my tank with frozen "Dutch Select Food" with one cube every other day (Marine Mix, Artemia, Mysis, Krill Pacifica & fine cockles). The food is dispersed and eaten within a couple of minutes. <Sounds good> I have read your articles and see you talk about "Cycling the Skimmer". Do you mean turning it on and off? My supplier told me that it should be running 24/7. <It should run continuously, yes. There are situations, mainly specialized types of reef set-ups... that benefit from periodically turning the skimmer off> It would be easy enough for me to do, I have spare timers. Do you think I may need more aeration? I currently rely solely on the micro bubbles from the skimmer and the drop in from the filter return. <Adding aeration is definitely a good idea... redundancy in these aspects of care is well-warranted> I carry out a 25% water change every 2 weeks with mineralized RO, I use Red Sea Salt mixed directly into the 2 x 5 gallon drums. The PolyFilter (http://www.aquariumsuperstore.co.uk/mall/biomarinepolyfilter.asp) is changed whenever it's colour change dictates it (Dark Brown all the way through). <Ahh, this is also a useful clue... remove the Tufa> The protein skimmer works fine, skimming approx 100ml waste per week. It foams nicely, but I occasionally have to increase the flow rate on it to as the water level drops through evaporation. I have had problems with "Red Slime" (Cyanobacteria) in the past but have got rid of this using "Antired" imported from Germany (http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=de&u=http://www.online-shopping-portal.de/Aquaristik /Aquaristik2515.html&prev=/search%3Fq%3DAntired%26hl%3Den%26lr%3D%26ie%3DUTF-8%26oe%3DUTF-8) ...... please excuse/laugh at the translation! The AntiRed was used 8 weeks ago (Polyfilters removed and UV sterilizer off). I have a small problem with hair algae at the moment but it not serious and quite containable. Help! Deborah <Sorry to hear/read of your trials... Again and finally I do suspect the non live-rock and would take it out. Please do follow up in a month or two with more results. Bob Fenner>

Bad JuJu! It Crashed, and Crashed Hard >Bob, >>Not Bob, Marina. I'm a bit prettier than him, though I haven't got his lovely blue eyes. >I have a 150 gal cylindrical tank established for 13 years and until now 4 weeks ago there have been no problems. Suddenly temp. hike, loss of oxygen, 8 dead fish, I have drained the tank 3 times (partials), >>Holy sheet! That's terrible! >Tank is empty of fish; changed chemical filtration, cleaned mechanical filtration; and still the ammonia level is way off the charts (above 35) I have had city people check the tap water and tank for different metals, chemicals and ammonia. Ammonia is the only high reading.  >>OK, so, as I understand you, the water coming out of the tap is high in ammonia as well?  >Today drained the tank completely, flushed the system and cleaned equipment., refilled and still the ammonia is high. History 150 gal cylindrical tank on a Jacuzzi filter with chemical canisters and a UV light What now???? is the biological filter dead?? Jeff >>I would surmise that something killed the biological filter, how terrible! Not knowing what caused the temperature hike, and not knowing how significant it was, I would guess that this event, which likely precipitated a drop in ) 2 levels was just too much for your fish. You may want to consider adding a foam fractionator or wet/dry, some means of ensuring that you will never experience such a drop in oxygen again, as this will always be fatal. These methods of filtration, especially the wet/dry, will always ensure the best possible oxygen saturation possible for the given temperature of the system. At this point, I suggest you completely clean out the system, remove ALL detritus, assume that your nitrifying bacterial cultures are gone, and get some good quality live rock to cure and help start the system up again (it would only take a relatively small amount to give it the boost it needs, in my opinion), maybe around 1/2lb./gallon, maybe even less. I'm very sorry to read this, it's got to be absolutely frustrating for you. Marina 

Mystery Sudden Death (2/1/04) Dear WWM crew: I recently helped a friend set-up a 30 gallon saltwater aquarium, and after 6 months, he lost all fish (2 clowns and a Coral Beauty) in a 24-36 hour period (all invertebrates--2 candy shrimp and 2 hermit crabs--survived). <Sorry to hear of this mysterious piscine tragedy.> Water parameters revealed stable temperature of 77 degrees, pH=8.1-8.3, ammonia=0, nitrite=0, and nitrate=0 (all results confirmed with dealer's test kits).  Because this problem started after some top-off water added and then 20% water change with the same water source used throughout the lifespan of the aquarium ("distilled" water from a research laboratory used for purposes such as making cell culture medium), I thought about tainting of the water supply or release of a toxic substance (?hydrogen sulfide from stirring the substrate) <given the info below, I doubt it was the sand.> that would only affect fish via gill entry (since all invertebrates have survived). After about 2 weeks, we tried adding 2 damsels. Within 24 hours, both were dead. As a last ditch effort before starting from scratch (and to test the hypothesis that something toxic got in the water and actually impregnated the live rock and sand), I moved some of the live rock and sand to one of my quarantine tanks containing totally different water. Again, when 2 damsels were added (10 days later), they died within 24 hours. <Odd> All of the aforementioned parameters were again within normal limits. My conclusion is that something toxic (rather than infectious) has contaminated the system given the rapidity with which new fish have died, but I have no idea what substance could be involved. <Nor do I. It sounds like it's something that got into the rock, which suggests toxic metals, but I would expect this to affect the inverts even worse than the fish.> As an aside, my friend assures me that nobody has access to his office, including the janitorial service (i.e., nobody should have sprayed cleaning agents in the area). The tank does sit below an AC vent, but he's never witnessed anything dripping above the aquarium. Obviously he has to start from scratch, but I'm curious if you have any ideas. Personally, I've never experienced anything like this in 30 years of fishkeeping. <This is a perplexing problem. I agree that it seems unlikely that an infectious agent would cause such rapid death or persist so long after the fish are gone. Some sort of chemical agent seems more likely. Tough to say what it might be. Starting over from scratch may well be the only alternative here. I'd suggest you post this scenario on the general marine fish forum at WetWebFotos to get a diversity of opinions to choose from. I hope this helps. Steve Allen.> Thanks, Dana   

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