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FAQs about Toxic Water Conditions: Venomous, Poisonous Livestock 1

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

Related FAQs: (See the various Organism Groups below "Compatibility" FAQs files on WWM), Venomous/Poisonous Tankmates 2, Venomous/Poisonous Tankmates 3, Venomous/Poisonous Tankmates 4, & Toxic Situations 1, Toxic Situations 2, Toxic Situations 3Toxic Situations 4Toxic Situations 5, Toxic Situations 6, Toxic Situations 7, Toxic Situations 8, Toxic Situations 9, & FAQs on Toxic Water Conditions by: Unknown Causes, & Endogenous (from inside, e.g. Internal, Organic Causes): Foods, Nutrients, 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,

Insidious, toxic BGA

The list of potentials is very long: Most all groups of stinging-celled life: See Cnidarian Compatibility: On Reducing Negative Cnidarian Interaction Parts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, Nudibranchs, some Worms, most Blue Green Algae, some Greens (e.g. Caulerpaceans), Most Nudibranchs, some Cephalopods (Blue ring et al. octopi, Flamboyant Cuttlefish), some Seastars (e.g. the Crown of Thorns), some types/species of Sea Cucumbers and Urchins... Some notable fish groups: Plotosid Catfishes, Lionfishes and their relatives, Rabbitfishes, Soapfishes, Boxfishes (actually all puffers if they die/dissolve)...

Septicemia on my yellow tangs     7/24/12
Sorry for bothering you, since I know you are so busy maintaining such an excellent database of marine aquarium knowledge, but I seem to be having quite a problem with my saltwater tank. A while back I asked a question regarding my ocellaris clownfish and my Koran angelfish. Unfortunately, while I had them in quarantine, we lost power for a few days. The only survivors were the ocellaris clownfish pair. Since then, my tank has been doing quite well, and I've added some fish (after a lengthy 6 week quarantine, in which everything received 2 doses of Prazi-pro at full strength as well as Cupramine at half strength). The problem is that just recently (after being in the display over 2 months) both
<Two; my emphasis here>
of my yellow tangs began to show red blotches on their bodies (one much worse than the other). At first it was only in the dorsal fins, but now it has spread to the caudal peduncle of the slightly smaller specimen (who is boss over all the tangs in the tank). My
tank is a 187 gallon (60"x24"x30") which I hope to be converting into a reef. Here are my levels:
pH: 8.3
Salinity: 1.025
Ammonia: undetectable
Nitrite: Undetectable
Nitrate: between 0 and 5 (working on lowering this)
Phosphate: 0.005 (working on lowering this as well)
<Not to worry; this is low enough>
I run a G200 protein skimmer (which I skim more on the wet side), as well as having a 55 gallon refugium, and performing weekly 20% water changes.
Current fish include:
2 Yellow Tangs (which have gotten along great since I got them, even sleeping in the same cave at night)
<As far as you've seen>

1 Sailfin Tang (who schools with the yellows during the day)
1 Bariene Tang (who is the smallest tang currently, but growing fast)
1 High Hat Drum (love this fish; he's hardy, is growing fast, eats everything, and cleans the sandbed)
1 Papuan Toby (who hasn't nipped any fins yet, got him for free from a friend)
1 Melanurus Wrasse (A fully grown male, quite spectacular)
1 Bluehead Wrasse (awesome fish, but destroyed the hermit crabs)
1 Arc Eye Hawkfish (same as above)
1 Sleeper Banded Goby (Amblygobius phalaena) (he keeps my sand perfect and made a burrow right up front in the tank)
2 Ocellaris clowns (a breeding pair)
1 Blue devil damsel (who is the smallest fish in the tank)
2 Yellow tailed blue damsels (who paired off pretty early on)
The fish are fed 2 times a day (Mysid shrimp, and marine cuisine in the morning; Nori and Prime reef at night). All fish (including the two yellow tangs) act normal and eat greedily (all of them have the fish equivalent of a beer gut). I just can't figure out why the red won't go away on the yellow tangs.
<"Something/s stressful"... not likely water quality given the readings you present, the gear you have, the other livestock kept... more likely "something" in the cave they share (e.g. Bristleworm) or themselves interacting... I'd separate the two, only keep one in this system>
Occasionally it seems to be getting better, only to look worse the next time I look at them. I am currently performing a 20% water change, and I will be grabbing some Maracyn 2 in the morning (in case the tangs get worse and I need to move them to quarantine to treat them). Do you have any other suggestions for me? Are there any medicines that would work better than Maracyn 2?
<No medicine/s called for, advised>

Thanks in advance and keep up the good work,
<For review, please peruse the Z. flavescens hlth/dis. FAQs:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Septicemia on my yellow tangs     7/24/12

Dear Bob,
Thank you for answering my question, but I'm still stumped. The 2 yellow tangs show no aggression at all between them, and had lived together in a 75 gallon for about 3 years before I bought them. I actually teach piano and the tank is next to the piano, so I am able to watch them for most of the day and never see aggression.
<Might not be aggression per se, but just stressful to be in company... in the wild this species lives individually or in dozens to a hundred or so individuals in a moving shoal>
 If I do notice aggression I can move all the cichlids out of their 180 gallon tank and turn it into a tang/trigger/puffer/grouper FOWLR. As for the 2 yellow tangs being bothered by a Bristleworm, I do not think that is the case. Right before I added the two yellow tangs to the display I came downstairs at 1:00 in the morning to discover my seagrass filefish (Acreichthys tomentosus) being devoured by a 2 foot worm.
I ended up dismantling the entire display and found the worm hiding in my sandbed. Upon searching Google I found out exactly what it was: a bobbit worm. I was paranoid about having any others like it in my system and I treated the display with Cupramine. Could the septicemia be the result of copper leaching from my live rock?
<Yes; could be a factor>
 I know tangs do not like long term exposure to copper. If there is residual copper should I just continue to run the skimmer, bump water changes to twice weekly, and add a Polyfilter pad (the ones designed to absorb copper and other chemicals)?
I could also run some activated carbon. I ended up buying some Triple Sulfa at the LFS this morning, because they recommended it over the Maracyn 2.
<Please don't apply this... Of no use, and may foul up the bio-make up microbially and hence to all>
 If the tangs get worse (they look somewhat better after last night's water change), should I put them in quarantine (divided from each other since the quarantine is a 30 gallon) and treat them?
<No to treatment>
By the way, I spent about 4 hours going through every FAQ page on WWM about yellow tangs. It was quite the interesting read.
<Ah yes... one of the top dozen or so marine species in terms of popularity>
On a somewhat unrelated note, hopefully in about a month I will be moving this tank to a different part of the house and building it into the wall.
In the process I will be upgrading to a 125 gallon refugium behind the wall with much better access than the 55 gallon refugium under the tank.
<I'd bet you're looking forward to this change and that it will improve all's experience.>
Thanks again,
<Welcome, and thank you for this follow-up. Bob Fenner>

Re: Septicemia on my yellow tangs    7/28/12
Dear Bob,
I'm sorry to bug you, but things are getting worse for my tank.
<I see this in your tank... and more... in your pix. A very likely source of the trouble; the "something toxic" in your system>
 I just added 2 more powerheads to the tank for increased circulation (which made all the fish much more active), as well as taking the lights off all of my freshwater tanks and putting them over this tank (which also made the fish more active and much brighter colored). All my water readings are exactly the same as they were in the first email, but the two yellow tangs still have septicemia (although they are slightly better than before). I added Cuprisorb to the tank, and it has had absolutely no color change, so I guess I have no copper left in the system. I also added 25 Astraea snails and they seem to be thriving (as long as they stay tight to the wall during the day, the puffer and the wrasses like harassing them).
However last night my high hat drum died for no apparent reason, although he seemed rather listless last night (just kind of floating around instead of his normal behavior of swimming back and forth begging for food when I'm by the tank). That was a real disappointment to me as he was one of my favorite fish, and he was thriving and eating like a champ mere hours beforehand. My Bariene tang also seems to be having a problem.
When I first purchased him, I had him in quarantine and he came down with Ich within 48 hours. I proceeded to treat him with Cupramine for the remainder of his time in quarantine (6 weeks), and he quickly recovered (no symptoms after the first week of treatment). However, he did glance at the decorations in quarantine and he gave himself a small circular wound (which I thought was just a bruise). Today, it seems that it wasn't just a bruise.
It is a perfect circle on his body, about a half inch across. It is lighter in color than the rest of his body, and has something white hanging out of it. All of the other fish seem fine, but I really am sick of having my fish die on me, and I've gone through over 90 dollars of salt in the past 2 weeks...
I've taken the liberty of attaching some pictures.
Thanks again,
Ashton Nietzke
<The mauve red on your rock... looks to be BGA, Cyanobacteria... is poisoning your fishes. Please read here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm
and the linked files above... You need to react, soon... and I might even go ahead and use the antibiotic route of chemical control here (it's that much of an emergency)... in the long/er haul, doing what you can/will to promote other algal types...
Bob Fenner>


Re: Septicemia on my yellow tangs    7/28/12
Dear Bob,
I guess I will go ahead and treat the tank with Chemiclean then
<Or any source of Erythromycin... WITH your close observations... ready to change water and more... should the system disimprove quickly from the BGA crashing>
 (I just happen to have an almost brand new bottle a friend gave me when he gave up on saltwater). Is there anything else I can do?
<... move out the LR, or move the fishes elsewhere>
When I treated the display with Cupramine, all of my Chaetomorpha in the refugium died. I tried to go buy some mixed macro (Chaeto, Gracilaria and Caulerpa) yesterday, but both of the nearby stores were out of all types of macroalgae. I used to grow C. prolifera in the display but it was at the point where my tank looked like a seagrass bed (which the filefish loved).
<MUCH better than the BGA>
I took it out because I read about all the instances of Caulerpa going "sexual" and poisoning tanks online. The Astraea snails seem to like eating it though, should I try adding some more snails?
<I wouldn't, no... you have too many already as far as I'm concerned. See WWM re scavengers as such>
As for the Bariene tang, do you think it is just an injury healing itself (he seems to be scraping it on the bottom and the rocks), or is it a parasite or disease of some sort.
Thanks again,
Ashton Nietzke
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

wasting midas blenny... Cuke Incident  11/4/11
Greetings WWM crew,
Over the last few days, I've noticed that a midas blenny that I've had for about a year is looking thin and lethargic.
<Mmm, bad behavior>
This morning I found him laying at the bottom of the tank looking rather sad, and while he swam away when I tried to net him it was a rather pitiful attempt. He scurried into the rockwork and did not come out for a morning, garlic-soaked feeding.
The tank he inhabits is a recent upgrade from a 55 to a 90 occurring about 6 weeks ago. The switchover went better than expected with no fish or coral loss. However, 3 weeks in we noticed several missing fish, and the ones that could be found were breathing heavy. <heavily>
After frantic water testing- all of which showed good results
<For what we have tests for...>
- we realized that a black sea cucumber in our refugium somehow got into our pump well and was sucked into the protein skimmer.
The dreaded 'Cuke nuke' took out 6 of our 14 fish, but after a 25% water change and the introduction of fresh carbon (and heavy skimming), all the survivors recovered. Well, all except possibly the midas blenny.
<Appears so>
As mentioned, he had been a bit lethargic but was still eating and otherwise acting normally - until today when I found him in his pitiful state. Water conditions are within normal parameters: ph 8.0 (lights still aren't fully on); 0 ammonia and nitrite; very slight nitrate and phosphate (under 10 and .036); 1.026 salinity; temp 79 degrees. A 10% water change is scheduled for tomorrow, and while we used to do so weekly we've been advised to hold off since it's a new-ish tank.
I'm not sure if the blenny's condition is residual from the cucumber disaster or if we should be concerned about something else.
<Likely is the Cuke... fishes, aquatic animals, poikilothermic life often has such "residual" issues; delayed reactions following a challenge>
Other tank inhabitants include: maroon clown, niger trigger, pink spot goby, mandarin goby, scooter blenny, fairy wrasse, red hawk fish, 2 pj cardinals and 2 flame fish, and a small Sailfin tang. We have an active clean-up crew with several starfish along with pink, yellow, and tiger tail Cukes (all thriving), and a copious copepod colony thriving in our refugium.
Any advice would be much appreciated.
Thanks in advance,
<I'd keep offering food (do look into Spectrum pellets, really, as a staple)... and being positive. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Erratic Fish behavior, Scorpaeniform cascade event, losses   3/15/11
Hi there,
I'm relatively new to using WetWebMedia, so forgive me if I do not follow all of your guidelines. Anyways, here's my question--
I have a used 100 gallon tank, with a 180 gallon on the way. My current inhabitants include a dogface puffer(5-6 inches), niger trigger(5-6inches), Vlamingii tang(5inches)(I know it gets huge, it's still pretty small.), and 2 Chromis. My tank was overstocked when this happened, and I have lost many fish because of my ignorance to the most important rule of having a SW tank. My former sea goblin was the first one to exhibit these problems. The sea goblin suddenly swam very erratically, and since it was venomous, I was concerned for both my fish and myself. When it died, the symptoms moved to my prized Rhinopias. He died as well.
<Aye yi yi>
I might want to mention that my nitrates were super high 80ppm+, so I think that this caused the first die offs. The fish that start to act weird also stop eating. Then, it moved to my Mombasa lionfish, again, another venomous fish.
He was the only survivor, and is now @ my LFS. When the fish swim erratically, they bash into the glass, rocks, etc. After the lion, my blue throat started doing it, and he knocked himself out from bashing himself against the glass. We removed him, but he did not survive. The tank's nitrates became very good once most of the fish were gone 20ppm.
After a week or so, my fish began showing the same symptoms again. This time it was my niger, doing the same bashing, and stuff. Today, he jumped into my overflow and knocked down one of my heaviest rocks. This has me concerned, as this only happens to one fish at a time. I'm worrying that it'll move onto my puffer and tang, who are like my children (I'm only 14).
I was wondering if it had anything to do with a stray current, but I feel nothing when I stick my hand into the tank.
<Easy to test/measure w/ a simple multi-tester...>
Here are my parameters--
Ammonia- 0ppm
Nitrite- 0ppm
Nitrate- 20-40 ppm (fluctuating, I don't know why-- I think it's my test bottles)
Phosphate- 10ppm
<Yikes! Really? This is way too high>
Ph- 8.0
The dimensions of the tank are 45 x 25 x 20
<And this volume way too small for what you had>
So, can you tell me what's wrong or at least give me an idea? I'm ready to get out of the hobby-- there's a lot of money involved in this, and it's driving me and my folks crazy. Please help!
-Nick, Utica, NY.
<I suspect what you hint at... that metabolite accumulation (as indicated by high NO3) brought about a poisoning by one or more of your fishes... taking the rest w/ them. Less fish life, more room, increased filtration are what you need/ed. Bob Fenner>

New reef aquarium, fish scraping against rocks and substrate  1/7/11
Hello, 3 months ago I replaced my 29 gallon reef tank with a slightly larger 38 gallon aquarium. I noticed that after adding my fish and coral, my fish (2 Ocellaris Clowns, Firefish, Cherub Angel, Royal Gramma)
starting scraping against objects in the aquarium (rocks, sand, equipment, etc.). This did not occur in my previous tank. All water parameters, PH, Salinity, Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, KH, Phosphate, Silicates, Iodine, Calcium and Magnesium, are in proper ranges. My coral are doing great, however the fish keep scraping more and more.
<Mmm, actually, there is a good possibility that your corals doing great is the source of your fishes irritation>
There are no visible signs of parasites like Ick or flukes or anything, the fish physically look perfect . There is no color loss or excess body slime, but something seems to stressing them. Everything is new , the tank ,live rock, substrate, and equipment. I purchase my RO water from my LFS, so the water is the same water I used before. I don't know if it's possible that the new live rock might have introduced some kind of parasite that I cannot see, but you'd figure that after 3 months something would have shown up.
Any ideas and/or treatments you would have would be greatly appreciated.
Thank You, Art S.
<I suspect the move brought on a "cascade event" of the Cnidarians/Corals interacting w/ each other... competing... and that this chemical warfare is mal-affecting your fishes. I would utilize a good grade/quantity of activated carbon... And if you had such means, increase the RedOx potential of the water (using Ozone, UV...). Do read here:
Bob Fenner>
Re: New reef aquarium, fish scraping against rocks and substrate  1/10/11

Mr. Fenner, thank you for answering my question so quickly. I have decided to move all the coral back to my other tank for the time being. I will add a high quality carbon and do some water changes to remove any toxins.
<A good, work-able plan>
Hopefully this improve the condition of my fish. I do not have access to ozone equipment, but I do have a UV sterilizer.
<Good/decent makes, models of these produce considerable O3>
It's a JBJ Submariner and an odd situation arose when I installed it into my aquarium. Moments after I turned it on, my Tunze 9002 Nano skimmer stopped producing foam.
<Actually, this isn't odd at all>
24 hours later it is still not producing foam into the collection cup. I started thinking that maybe I knocked the air mixture screw out of adjustment when I was installing the sterilizer, so I increased the air but when I did it started pumping out noticeably more micro bubbles into the tank. So right now I'm not sure if it's just out of adjustment or, if perhaps, this signifies some sort of issue or condition with the chemistry of the water in the tank. Any ideas?
<Ah, yes... you need to either figure out about how much RedOx is being affected here with measure or test/metering gear. Read:
and the linked files, particularly the survey article linked above>
Thanks again, Art S.
<Welcome. BobF> 
Re: New reef aquarium, fish scraping against rocks and substrate  1/10/11
Mr. Fenner, thanks for the info. I will have to purchase a meter so I can get you the RedOx level. In the meantime I do have an issue with some sort of nuisance algae or Cyanobacteria. It's orangey/rusty colored and really more resembles Cyanobacteria.
<Could well be>
It is barely visible when the lights come on, but as the day progresses it intensifies only to start to lessen intensity an hour or 2 before the lights go out. This happens everyday and I have had this issue in my previous saltwater aquariums. Do you have an idea of what this may be and could it be related to improper RedOx levels? Thanks, Art S.
<Likely BGA and these and other algal issues are often easily solved w/ proper RedOx levels. Read here:
and the linked files above. B>
Re: New reef aquarium, fish scraping against rocks and substrate   1/10/11

Mr. Fenner, I believe you are correct, in does look like my nuisance algae is BGA.
<Oh yes>
While I wait to get my ORP meter, there is something I have noticed that is different about my new tank as compared to my previous saltwater aquariums. When would open the top or just smell the water, my previous tanks had water that smelled kind of fresh, almost sweet.
My new tank's water smells, for a lack of better term, like mold or mildew or some sort of wet vegetation. Any ideas? Thanks, Art S.
<Yes... get rid of the BGA. Please see our prev. corr. (below) re. Cheers, BobF out for biers>
Re: New reef aquarium, fish scraping against rocks and substrate   1/19/11

Hello Mr. Fenner, It looks like your initial diagnosis for why my fish were scraping against objects in my tank was correct, it was the coral.
After removing all the coral, adding a UV sterilizer, adding better carbon, and doing water changes, the fish are doing great. Thank you for your advice on this matter. I do however have a couple of questions about my Blue-green algae problem. #1 If I give a piece of equipment from my tank to someone else, will that person's aquarium develop a BGA outbreak if the equipment has been cleaned and dried prior to installation?
<Mmm, not likely; no... In fact, if conditions are not "allowing"/propitious, BGA rarely gains a "foot hold" against other (likely more desirable) photosynthetic life>
#2 I seem to also have a bit of algae in my tank that resembles green hair algae but none of my hermits or turbo snails will eat it. Is this also some form of BGA?
<Could be... but perchance it is some Chlorophyte... or even other Division of Thallophyte... colour is not definitive and many species/groups of all Divisions are unpalatable to much aquarium life>
again for all your help, you folks have a great website. Art S.
<Glad to share Art. BobF>
Re: New reef aquarium, fish scraping against rocks and substrate   1/22/11

Hello again Mr. Fenner,
<Hi Arthur>
I guess we have reached my final question regarding the coral allelopathy problem in my reef tank. Now that my fish are doing well after removing all the coral, I would like to work on a plan to eventually put the coral back in.
<Can be done>
Base on articles and FAQ's I've read on this site, I believe I should put the least toxic coral in first?
I basically have 3 different types of coral right now, LPS (Torch, Frogspawn, Bubble and Acan. Lord coral), green toadstool leather, and assorted Mushrooms(Actinodiscus). Would this in fact be the correct order that I should go with, LPS, leather then mushrooms?
<Mmm, are all these Cnidarians currently living in the same system (apart from the fish)? IF so, there may be just a need to wait a few months to have them become acquainted w/ each other... and moved at the same time/day later>
I would like to buy some Button polyps and maybe some Zoanthids or Yellow colony polyps in the near future, so I'm assuming I should put those in last or towards the end, right?
<Yes... and acclimated as suggested... in a separate system, with some water passed/exchanged every day for a few weeks... then placed apart from other colonies... at an appropriate distance>
Anyway, I'm sorry to keep bothering you with all these questions,
<Not a bother>
but with my local fish stores seemingly employing only dunderheads and the internet filled with people who think they know what their talking about, it is nice to have a place to go to get advice from people who have the experience that you and the crew at WetWebMedia.com have. All the best to you and the crew, thanks for everything, Sincerely, Art S.
<You are welcome. BobF> 

My new fish keep dying, SW   1/5/11
Dear Crew,
<Hiya - Darrel here>
My experience with saltwater aquariums has been successful when maintaining Corals.
<A significant accomplishment>
I have maintained my Aquarium for five years, but as I have added new fish for the past four and a half years they die within a week.
<Sorry to hear that. Usually people graduate from successful fish keeping to a struggle with corals, not the other way around>
All of my parameters in my aquarium are stable and good.
<Stable and Good, as I'm sure you are aware, can be too different things>
This on going problem has been forever, right now I have a 200 gallon reef tank with only four clown fish. They are the only ones that have survived through what ever is causing the new fish I add to die.
<Clowns are fairly hardy, in my experience, and tolerant of many oversights>
Over the past four and a half years I have lost over 2000.00 dollars worth of fish.
<Yanno ... somewhere after fish #1 and LOOOOONG before $2,000 was the time to stop and reassess. Wouldn't you agree? Repeating the same behavior and being shocked by getting the same result is a bit nuts, isn't it?>
Right now I would like some assistance with helping me figure out this problem.
<Well, I should hope so. I'm going to cover some basics and then I'm going to flip your letter to someone with even more experience than I have. You haven't given us ANYWHERE NEAR enough information to begin to figure out the problem, so we'll have to start at the basics:>
<Thing One: When you say your water quality parameters are "stable and good, that's the time to tell us specifically, what parameters you are testing and the results of those tests. "Good" is simply too nebulous to begin to address>
<Thing Two: When most people report water quality parameters they talk about Salinity, Ammonia, Nitrites and Nitrates. Keep in mind that those are merely the most common, the most universal and the most basic of water quality parameters. All of those can be perfect and the water still toxic to fish. When asking for generic help, please run a complete set of tests such as you'd find in an Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Master Test kit and report all parameters.>
<What kind of water changes? How often and what source?>
<What kind of corals? Soft? Hard? Species? Nephthea are toxic to many fish.>
<<RMF thinks Darrel has hit the proverbial head on the nail here. Allelopathy. Would spare the Clowns, other fishes, invertebrates that live in close association w/ Cnidarians till last>>
<The next thing I'd want to know is how well the fish survived the quarantine period. You didn't mention anything about that. Did you quarantine them? And if so, what was your procedure and duration? Were they feeding and acting normally during quarantine? On the other hand, if you brought the fish home, matched temp and pH and just dumped them in the 200 gallon Coral tank, you exposed your entire system and the four Clowns to whatever disease or parasites they new fish may have -- AND -- you missed a crucial step in information gathering: WERE THE FISH HEALTHY TO BEGIN WITH??>
<What additives and supplements are you using to feed and nourish the corals? What specific items, how much & how often?>
<Now - four and a half years '¦ is a long time for something to be badly wrong and yet not reveal itself. What I mean is that I can see a pump or power head leaking stray electricity into the water that can have a toxic effect on the fish '¦ but not leaking for 4.5 years. Said pump would likely have completely broken in that time.>
<So this brings me to the fish themselves -- you say that they died within a week. What symptoms? Fine & feeding for 6 days, dead on the 7th? Or a slow slide of behavior, loss of color and movement over the entire 7 days? Upon seeing a stressed, dying fish, did you remove it into the quarantine tank for closer observation?>
<Finally (for now) what KIND of fish? Chromis? Butterfly fish? Angels? Rays? It makes a huge difference>
<In conclusion, I can speak for the entire staff in telling you that "yes, something is wrong" but beyond that we have NO information to go on. My suggestion is to hit the web site and make the search engine (at the bottom) your friend. Cover all the basics (even though they seem '¦ well '¦ basic) until you know that the corals you have in the tank you have with the water quality and filtration you have are in fact hospitable to the kind of fish you're trying to introduce. Then plan your quarantine system and routine to insure you're putting HEALTHY hardy and compatible fish into the tank>
<And then when you write back with more specific information and questions, someone smarter than me will be able to give you better answers>
<Mahalo! Darrel>
<<A hu'i hou! BobF>>

Re: More re: My new fish keep dying 1/9/11
<Gentle Reader: At the bottom of this rather length entry is Kevin's original question regarding the problems he is having with keeping fish in his coral tank. While I believe we (that is to say - Bob Fenner) have already identified the likely source of Kevin's problem, I think this entry might make what another of our fearless leaders calls "a teaching moment: So many things that we've all done, mistakes we've all made, but so very few made in a row.>
<Besides, the pictures are cool>
Hey Darrel thanks for getting back at me so fast.
I didn't really get into detail earlier, but now I will start from the beginning.
The tank was initially an aggressive tank when I first set it up back in 2004 that lasted till 2 weeks into 2007. That's when I converted my aquarium to a reef right before the Super Bowl. I started fresh all over again with new live rock, water and sand plus I added two 250 watt metal halide to my already existing four 96 watt power compacts. The only things I didn't change were the bio balls, after two and half weeks of cycling that new water I started to add corals (mostly soft corals) and fish. For the fist 90 days I poured tons of money in the tank just buying fish after fish and corals to go with that.
<First Universal Mistake: We all do it. With the enthusiasm of newbies, we pour money and effort into our new hobby, anxious to achieve our final goal. The problem is that TIME is what it takes. You add ONE thing. You WAIT for the eco system to adapt to the change then you ASSESS the changes and the success or failure and ONLY THEN decide what (if any) step to take next.>
I reached the stage where the tank acquired Ick (Cryptocaryon irritans) that was visible on the fish.
<Again, almost all of us have lived through this period. Too much, too soon, without proper quarantine>
Any reef safe fish you name - I have purchased it. From Super Male and Female wrasses, Purple Light blue and brown tangs to pink square Anthias over the period of me having this tank and only fish I have, have been there since 2007. I cooled down on purchasing fish when they contracted the Ick for about two months and then started back again, but then the fish were still contracting the Ick. I also didn't mention anything about quarantine. No I do not have a quarantine tank. I drip all of my new fish for about 30 to 45 minutes before I add them to my tank.
<Another Mistake, Kevin'¦ a BIG one. You should ALWAYS quarantine your fish. There should be NO exception to that rule. Beyond making sure your fish is healthy and will eventually survive in your main tank, the danger to the existing stock is equally great. New fish come from all sorts of places around the world, collected in many strange and stressful ways. Tagged, bagged and air freighted around the globe, received by a wholesaler, transferred to a retailer who - although he may truly be a fish lover - is a businessman who has little time for all the world's safeguards. Then the fish is placed in stock display tanks with other fish ... all rotating in and out every week and being cared for by people who have 200 other things to do every day. This is neither a healthy nor a stress-free environment. In fact it's so unhealthy and so stressful that the first task of opening a Marine Tropical Fish Store each day is "Scoop the dead fish from the display tanks" and this must be done every day.>
<The first reason your quarantine your fish is to prevent him from transferring diseases to the fish in your main tank, but JUST as important is that you can observe him -- all alone, by himself, in the morning and again at night - every day for 6 weeks (my time period - others have different time frames) until you know FOR A FACT that he BEHAVES as the books say he should, LOOKS as the books say he should and EATS as the books say he should. And hopefully, after the first 6 weeks of CONSISTENCY he's had since capture '¦ any serious parasites or diseases have made themselves known.>
So about late 2008 I had no interest in the tank Amy more and just kept the maintenance on the tank once a month I change out about 75 to 100 gallons of saltwater till this very day. My water parameters are excellent considering. I have no phosphates, zero nitrites and nitrates or ammonia, my PH is 7.8 calcium is 450. Alkalinity is at 10 so my water is excellent.
<I'm leaving the water chem. Assessment here to RMF><<Fine>>
The last time I brought fish was late November when I bought a Light Blue Tang and a Blue Jaw Trigger fish. They both died within 7 days. All fish that I have brought within the last year and half do the same thing: They have normal behavior for the fist four days with eating and swimming fine, and then I notice lack of eating one day then swimming erratically and scratching the surface to gasping for breath.
<One of the definitions of insanity Kevin: Repeating the same behaviors expecting different results. The first time or two, you could blame the fish being sick or whatever, but LONG before this, you should have caught on that something deeper was wrong>
I just can't put my fingers on it.
<Putting the finger on it is easy, Kevin: Your tank contains one or more things that are toxic to Wrasses, Light Blue & Brown Tangs, Pink Square Anthias, Blue Jaw Triggers and yet not too toxic to Clowns.>
<Solving the problem might be harder and here's why: Many species of fish and coral that have yet to be properly documented are collected around the world, placed in fish stores and sold. Because they come from an area known for "X" and the look "sort of like X" then the collector and the wholesaler and the retailer call it "X." But once in a while the Super Brains like Bob Fenner or Neale Monks (just to name two) come along and with a casual glance say "Sorry, that's not X that's actually a "Z" -- and it turns out that "Z" is rare, toxic or both. So now you need to document exactly what IS in your tank, Kevin. To quote Bob from the original response:>
<Allelopathy. Would spare the Clowns, other fishes, invertebrates that live in close association w/ Cnidarians till last.>
<Allelopathy is a $5 word that means that some species will produce a toxin designed to repel certain other animals. In the wild, a Tang just swims away into several billion trillion gallons of the ocean. In a 200 gallon tank, he hangs out as long as he can - say .. 6 days?? Until the toxins build up to a level in his body that he dies.>
I have asked a lot of Aquarist in the stores I shop at but no one seems to figure it out. I was told that if my corals are growing then there can't be anything wrong with my tank.
<This is a puzzle, to be sure -- and the only thing we can go on is the premise that if the theory accounts for all the symptoms, the theory may be correct>
All of my soft corals have been in my tank for over 3 years with those four clown fish but I can't seem to add any other fish.
<Kevin - Where I would start is to document every living thing currently in the tank. Start with a map of the corals, get their scientific names, native waters, etc. and then hit the Internet. Research every one and it's compatibility with fish, etc. and with luck we may find the culprit>
I hope I have told you enough this time Darrel and that you can figure out what the problem is.
<Again, Kevin: something in your eco system is toxic to most fish (but not, apparently Clowns) yet is not toxic to corals. My guess would be that you have a toxic coral>
The money isn't an issue to me because the day I started hobby it became another bill for me it runs 24/7 and requires a water change every month and additives that wont last for ever so that's the least of my worries. I just want to add beautiful fish to my aquarium once again.
Thank you.
<We wish you the best, Kev>

 Mr. K., re-do this wall!

Cloudy water tank crash 7/26/10
Hello very helpful WWM people,
I love your site and have learned tons here! My question is, how can I tell the difference between a bacterial bloom and chemical warfare between corals causing cloudy water and Anthias death?
<Mmm, quick like a bunny here... Either a concentration mechanism and microscope, or immuno- tests of sorts, or simple/r bio-assays (testing for either possibility on purpose) come to mind... But/and the "cure" for either is similar/related... First, large water changes or moving the mal-affected livestock... Stat!>
I have a 150 gallon mixed reef with EuroReef protein skimmer, refugium, and phosphate reactor. I run carbon constantly in socks. I have a closed loop for circulation. I have, or now had, 12 fish, until my 3 Anthias croaked
this morning with this most recent crash. All the other fish are fine, including two tangs and a Copperband bff, clown fish, cardinals, wrasse.
All the corals are visibly pissed off, partially or totally closed, and the urchins are "smoking."
<Reproducing, likely as a reflex survival mechanism>
This is the second time my reef has suffered such an event and I am baffled. I did not add anything other than r/o top off water the past 5 days.
<Mmm, what do you have growing in your refugium? Elsewhere? Likely something endogenous is toxifying this system>
This "bloom" occurred very rapidly this morning over about an hour's time, was clear when I got up, then suddenly looked cloudy and got worse before my eyes. I change 5-10 gallons per week, and the last change was 5 days ago.
how do I figure out what the cause of this is?
<Mmm, removing one possible offender at a time...>
clearly the Anthias are sensitive to whatever is happening as both times they have died. :(
sad day for me. Would love to hear your thoughts on this.
Stefanie Thielemann
Tracy, CA
<Get me/us your stocking list... let's start t/here. Bob Fenner>
Re: Cloudy water tank crash... Caulerpa, Zoanthids... poss.  7/26/10
Thank you for your reply. Is as I thought/worried. In the refugium is only Chaetomorpha.
<This should be fine... on a reverse daylight photoperiod I take it>
In the display grows an interesting variety of macros, but of note, which I forgot to mention, is that the feathery-looking Caulerpa that is interspersed throughout turned a silvery-grey color
<Ohh.... very bad news. I'd remove all this material pronto...>
and got frayed edges the day before this event, which also occurred last time. At least now I know when I better start a massive water change next time. After the last event the feather Caulerpa disappeared for a while, just sort of disintegrated off the rock. There is a small amount of Valonia, Sargassum, turf algae, and red Gracilaria. There are some other growths I cannot identify. Yes, the tangs are fat-alberts! Interestingly, my skimmer went nuts during this event, and mostly skimmed out a fine green substance, algae pigments I presume.
<And more... and a good clue>
Most corals have recovered at this time. After a water change and a new carbon sock, things are looking clear again. The softies, mushrooms and lps suffer the most during these events, looking wilted for over a day or two.
Stocking list: I can only hope to get their common names correct, please forgive me:
Palythoas, over 500 on one big rock, 200 on another.
My guess these are the culprit.
<Likely so... triggered in turn by the Caulerpa et al.. I'd thin this herd>
They are the most prolific corals in my tank (not really by choice here).
Kenya tree, small offshoots around the tank
Zoanthids, several small to medium colonies
2 small to medium Acanthastrea colonies
1 medium-sized pink Birdsnest, 1 smaller one
1 stuber Staghorn frag
3 unknown Acropora species, growing but not huge
1 green Bali slimer, small but growing
1 pink Stylophora, small (gee whiz these grow slowly!)
1 small millepora frag
1 orange Montipora frag
1 medium sized Pocillopora, green
small frags of Lokani sps, efflo sps, Montipora setosa
2 capricornis sp., growing nicely
1 Idaho grape sps
multiple mushroom and Ricordea colonies
1 small hammer coral (2 inch)
1 large frogspawn (extra p-o'd after this event)
2 bubble tip anemones (looking stringy now, but recovering)
This sounds like a lot, but most are small frags that are just starting to grow. My tank is 1 year old.
I do actually have access to a centrifuge and microscope, just not sure I could get the sample there quickly enough. Will give this a try if it happens again. I foresee some Paly gardening coming up, aka weed-pulling.
Yikes! this will take hours to days....
thank you so much for your help!
<Glad to assist your efforts Stef. BobF>

Non emergency Query; SW wipe out event  3/19/10
Hi WWM Crew,
The new site looks great! I haven't been here for a while. My reason for writing today is to see if I can find some answers as to what went horribly wrong this past week resulting in almost a complete loss of my tank. Ok so
the facts. 75g FOWLR. Had - 1 Dogface Puffer 3" - 1 Radiata Lionfish 3" - 1 Clarkii Clown 1.5" - 1 Coris Wrasse 4".
Tank had been running over a year since set up. No problems no sick fish.
I had been watching a Powder Blue Tang at the LFS for about a month.
<Acanthurus leucosternon... need more room than this by far... And your 75 is already overstocked... and are VERY susceptible/carriers of Protozoan complaints>
He was healthy and happy. I had tangs in the past and really missed the excitement they brought to the tank. After checking my water parameters.
(0 Ammonia, 0 Nitrite, PH 8.3, SG 1.024 and Nitrates >20ppm.) I want to add that I had not planned on keeping this tang or the others in this tank permanently, a 200g is still in the plans as part of our home reno.
So I brought him home one day and put him in a small 20g QT. It was the only QT I had. I had also purchased a Sebae Anemone because the Clownfish was pretty territorial so I wanted to give him something to defend. They
were both
<The tang and anemone? I would not do this>
in the QT for 2 weeks and doing fine when I went ahead and transferred them to the main display. The anemone was not looking good the next morning so I took it out immediately. The new tang and all the residents looked fine, swimming, eating etc... The next day my dog face puffer presented with black spots. The tang still looked ok. By that night the tang was also covered in spots but his were white and the puffer seemed to have both black and white spots. I gave the puffer a freshwater dip as he was the only one I could easily catch without stressing. I started to
raise the temp and lower salinity (slowly) and sent my husband after some Kordon's Ich Attack.
<What do you think of this product? I've yet to find anyone that considers it a consistent performer>
The next morning the tang was dead. The day after that the Lionfish was dead. The clownfish the next day and my beloved "Puppy" the dogface puffer this morning. The Wrasse? Oh he's fine. Not a spot on him and seems
fine. During the course of those last 3 days I had given the DF Puffer 3 more freshwater dips but they never seemed to help. I hadn't been very successful getting the salinity down because we had to go get freshwater to
use. It all happened so fast but the temp was up to 85. In all my years of keeping fish I have never seen Ich wipe out a tank like this. If the tang brought it with him why did it not present until after he went in the display?
<Happens... subclinical>
Was it the anemone?
<Mmm, could definitely be a contributing cause... but there is likely some sort of "cascading event" that took place here... with the Lion, Puffer releasing toxins in the water from being overly stressed period...>
Did it release toxin in the tank lowering their defenses?
<Could be>
All these questions run through my mind. I just want to try and learn what I did wrong so I don't repeat my mistake. And maybe as a bonus someone else can avoid a devastating loss like this.
Thank You
Beth Greathouse
<I'd get that new tank up and running... use your QT and 75 for staging areas for stocking the 200. Bob Fenner>

Edible or Burnt Hot Dog Sea Cucumber Poisoning Event -- 03/04/10
An Edible or Burnt Hot Dog Sea Cucumber was chewed up by a powerhead; I have read these can kill fish.
<<Indeed, the viscera are extremely toxic to most fishes. Time for dilution/water changes and increased chemical filtration (e.g. -- carbon and/or Poly-Filter)>>
Overnight 4 fish are showing signs of labored breathing, Long nose Hawk has passed on, can't find a Flame Angel. I did a 15 gal. water change on a 75 gal. DAS tank,
<<I would do another 25g water change and then watch/be ready to do another if the fishes still show signs of distress>><RMF would move all fishes to another established system. Stat!>
changed out the carbon,
<<Increase usage here, if possible (e.g. -- temporarily add a small canister filter filled with carbon)>>
replaced wooden air stone for protein skimmer. The tank is 13 years old and very stable, with live rock, softies, a couple of LPS, and a Sebae and Bubble Tip Anemone. Any other suggestions?
<<As stated 'you're doing about all you can here>>
Thank you
<<Quite welcome'¦ EricR>>

Losing Fish  6/18/09
Okay have a 75 gal that had established inhabitants of:
Archer Fish
Blue Barred Pseudochromis
Orange Spotted Prawn Goby
Midas Blenny
Scooter Blenny
Pearly Jawfish
Lyretail Molly
Radiant Wrasse
Sump has a pistol shrimp
Have not added any new rock in years however I have been having a very annoying Aiptasia problem and they are spreading and growing very fast, I'll think they're gone using Aiptasia X but they'll be back and stronger before you know it.
<Perhaps adding a biological control>
My fish are disappearing one by one over the past month though, today I found my hermits chewing on the corpse of my Orange Spotted Prawn Goby which I've had for over two years and who I saw showing no signs of stress and eating right before the lights went out the night before. Two nights before that the pearly Jawfish was found dead and 2 nights before that it was the molly. About a week before that the archerfish disappeared and I never found the corpse. A month before that an Exquisite Wrasse I had disappeared as well, after the archerfish died I was SURE it was the Pseudochromis harassing and killing as he would constantly dart out at fish from the rocks Damsel style.
<Mmm, doubtful>
So I caught him and took him in to the store where he is right now. So tank has Scooter Blenny and Midas Blenny left, neither show signs of illness or stress. Radiant Wrasse is there also but he's had some craziness going on for several months that have caused him to be blind in one eye and lay on the sand like he's dead when no one is around, and then swim around begging for food when I walk over.
So yeah, any ideas? Phosphates, Nitrite, Ammonia, Nitrate are all zero, other inverts in the tank consist of a Harlequin shrimp squatting on chocolate chip star, hermits, snails, two fighting conchs, spiny oyster, and two porcelain crabs.
<I fully suspect the overly-abundant Aiptasia here... poisoning, stinging your fishes... and the hermits just doing clean-up. I would work on ridding, at least reducing the Glass Anemone population. Please read here:
and the linked files at the bottom. Bob Fenner>

Something Amiss... SW poisoning event... from...  4/23/2009
Hi WWM crew(Wet Wise Men (and Women)),
Hope all is well with everyone. I am still a five year beginner in the hobby and have a 72g bowfront reef tank.
Problem 1 = The 2" Clown has not been eating very well and today not at all. For the last three days, he has been resting on the bottom of the tank and barely moving.
He also appears to be breathing rapidly and twitching. He opens and closes his mouth around 3 to five times a second. I think that there is some very minute white specks right below his first and second dorsal fin but it is not very apparent. The second dorsal fin also has a few small tears. The 1 " Clown is not staying close to her as he always did and is doing great. I put her in a 10g QT tonight.
<Good... something amiss here...>
Problem 2 = My Imperator Angel
<Needs more room than this>
has been acting strange the last few days as well. He is darting quite often and twitching his nose, tail and body. He is breathing rapidly (around 5 times per second). As of today, has a loss of appetite (He ate some freeze dried brine today but passed on the Selcon soaked mysis and flake food.) He is hiding a bit more than usual. He also appears to have some very minute white discoloration but doesn't really look like spots. He has been visiting the CB shrimp quite often.
Problem 3 = The Square-spotted Anthias has a fleshy tumor-like growth on his left lower jaw. I figured Lymph and no big deal with proper nutrition. He has had this since bringing him home from the LFS but it was barely there at that time. It has gotten bigger but does not seem to affect him. He has also been visiting the CB shrimp when the Angel lets him. He otherwise looks and eats great. So does the rest of his roommates except for the Clown and Angel.
I have searched for a few days but can't seem to decide what is happening. I doubt that it is Amyloodinium or all of my tank mates would be dead by now.
I thought maybe Brooks but didn't think it would affect the Angel. Except for the Anthias, it couldn't be Lymph with all the other symptoms. I am leaning toward Crypt but I have read about so many different diseases/symptoms that my head is swimming faster than my Anthias at meal time. I didn't want to overreact so after monitoring, I am planning to give the Clown and Angel a 10 minute FW dip tomorrow.
<Mmm, don't know if I would>
This seems to help (maybe not cure) with quite a few inflictions. Add the Angel to the QT tank. Monitor and take out the other fish to be QT'd if necessary. I have two 10g tanks I can use and a 42g BF tank if all fish need to be removed. The 42g has been up and running for 1.5 years and does not have anything in it right now except some bristle worms, CC, and live sand.
History = I restarted my 72g BF 17 weeks ago after it had been empty for 1.5 years. Ran tank for empty for 8 weeks even though it was cycled and the LR was cured. Purchased the Anthias 9 weeks ago from LFS and did not add anything else for 4 weeks. All other fish were in my 42g BF. Added both Clowns five weeks ago. Added Angel and Goby 3 weeks ago. Added blue Damsel four days ago which left the 42g empty. Kept constant watch on water quality and did frequent water changes (several times per week) during the moving period.
Water stats are:
NH3/NH4=0, NO2=0, NO3=40ppm,
<Way too high>
<Mmm, too low>
and alkalinity between 180 and 300. Tested using Saltwater Master test kit and Quick Dip test strips.
Tank mates are:
1 3" Imperator Angel (bigger tank soon) - With me for four months.
2 Percula Clownfish (1" and 2") - With me for three years.
1 4" Square-spotted Anthias - With me for nine weeks.
1 3" Orange-spotted Goby - With me for four months.
1 2" Blue Damsel - With me for five years. He was one of the original fish. I don't like him much but he has been through a lot with me (loyalty (-: ).
5 turbo snails
2 blue hermit
4 Nassarius snails
2 sand dwelling snails (I forgot the name but they are 2" long.)
1 Banded Coral shrimp
1 Tiger Pistol shrimp
1 purple tube Anemone
<A Cerianthus? Here's your trouble>
1 3.5" chocolate chip starfish
Diet = Omega One frozen mysis and brine shrimp and Marine Flakes with garlic, SF Bay frozen Angel and Butterfly and Cyclops, and Kent ZooPlex. I feed some flakes midday and 1.5 to two cubes frozen in the evening. Cubes are soaked in Selcon or Vita-Chem (mostly Selcon). I vary the cubes and only feed the brine on occasion. I also have Omega One freeze dried brine that I use as a last resort to get a fish to eat since all seem to love it.
72g BF with 3.5" to 4" DSB with CaribSea Arag-Alive sand
Circulation = Hydor 3 and Hydor 1 Koralia power heads
48" bubble wand
Mechanical/chemical filtration = Magnum 350 Pro with Fluval activated carbon, Kent nitrogen sponge and bio-wheels.
Bio-filtration = 20g converted wet/dry to sump/refugium with a 7" DSB in a
9.5" x 10.5" area. It contains LR rubble, Chaetomorpha, and seeded copepods
with an Aquaclear 10 power head. The skimmer, located on the intake side,
is a Turboflotor 1000 Multi. In the main tank, there are 65lbs of Fiji LR and 25lbs of Marshall LR.
Lighting = 2 21" 10,000k 65w compact fluorescents and 2 21" dual blue
actinic 65w compact fluorescents
Recent activity= Replaced all lights two weeks ago. Used All-Glass Aquarium silicone, HoldFast, Krazy glue, Quicktite glue and Superglue
<These could have started a "cascading" event here... biochemically triggering release of microbes, poisoning your system>
working on rock work and sump. I am hoping I did not poison the water.
Forgive me the overly detailed email. What do you think is going on and should I do as I was planning?
Thanks and kind regards, Ethan
<Please assure me re the Anemone (read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/tubeanem.htm
and the linked files above, particularly "Compatibility"... Otherwise your water chemistry is dangerously "off"... See WWM re...
I would be moving all desired livestock to a "better place" if you could, otherwise massive water changes, the use of chemical filtrants.... per what is archived on WWM...
Bob Fenner>
Re: Something Amiss 4/24/2009

Hi Bob.
Thank you for your quick response and words of wisdom!! Since I found your site around 20 weeks ago, I have spent numerous hours perusing the different postings. It is a world of knowledge. When I restarted my 72g tank 17 weeks ago, I used your site as a basis for setup (DSB, refugium, Chaetomorpha, LR, etc) so I could do it right this time. I have not lost very many fish for the last five years but I would rather lose none.
I am following your advice and doing large water changes. I had already did a 15g change last night and will do a 35g change tomorrow with PH adjusted with baking soda.
<Might need more... a source of carbonate...>
I had switched to Reef Crystals in hopes that it would help PH. Should I remove the LR that has glue on it?
<Mmm, no... too late... it's already "cured", the volatile (trouble-causing) parts gone>
I changed the carbon in the Magnum and wrapped the media container with Poly Filter.
<Good moves>
Also, I removed the tube Anemone and put him in my 42g tank for right now.
<Thank goodness... These are very toxic, problematical animals for captive use... their "shedding" alone causes losses every day>
As I may have researched my other tank mates, I am ashamed to say I did not research the Anemone or I would not have purchased it. My wife loves them and I bought it on impulse three months ago.
<I see>
My Angel seems better. He is at least eating very well today. My 2" Clown is about the same and still in the QT tank. I treated the 10g QT with Melafix to try to help with the fin tear. I have high hopes that they will pull through.
<I'd skip the "fix" and move the Clown back to the main display>
If I may, I have just a few other questions.
You mentioned (As I knew you would but when you're right, you're right:-)) that my tank size was too small for the Angel. I have my eye on a used 180g long tank for $700.00 and a used 340g tank for $1500.00. Cost is an issue right now so could I get away with two years in a 180g without shortening his lifespan?
<You could>
When it comes to tank sizes, is a smaller, longer tank better than a larger, taller tank?
<Longer in most all cases>
I hope to see you and other crew members at the Orlando Reef Caretakers Association Southeastern Reef conference on July 10. I would love to hear you, Anthony, Scott F, and Eric speak.
<Ahh, a view you shall have>
Thanks for all that you and the rest of the crew do for us aquarists. Ethan
<Thank you for your kind, encouraging words, and sharing in general. BobF> 

Mystery deaths... "coral fish allelopathy"  3-5-09 Well, it comes time for me to write back in to you guys, for your well appreciated advise and support. The pic I have attached is of my Stomatella varia, you identified it for me the first time I saw it. I just happened to catch it out exploring for the first time since! I thought you might like to see it (its gotten a little bigger!). You can use the pic on your site if you want. <Thank you for this> To catch you up on what I have; 5 1/2 month old 29g (40lbs live sand, 50lbs live rock) LPS tank (Diaseris, Euphyllia, Trachyphyllia, Caulastrea, Micromussa, Dendrophyllia, and Echinopora), a few small SPS (xenia, zoos, and mushrooms), and one Leather (Nephthea). I am well aware of being over stocked with corals, and am in the process now of researching new equipment for a 90g I will be purchasing this spring. I believe I have the chemical warfare under control <I would NOT add any more Cnidarian life here> with weekly 5g water changes, and am now using Chemipure in my hob filter (I just started using this 4 weeks ago, and am not sure how often I should change this out considering my tank load. <I would "leap frog" the one unit of Chemi-Pure with a new one, leaving two units in at a time... removing the one that is two months old...> I was changing my regular carbon biweekly until trying this). I am also using an AquaC remora skimmer. My corals are not my concern in this email. They are growing fast, and I actually have a few new polyps forming on my Dendrophyllia! I should add, that along my hitch hiker Stomatella, I have a few small hermits, an Emerald crab, a Turbo, and Trochus snail, a Fire shrimp, and lots of hitch hiker stars which are all doing well. My parameters are; SG 1024, PH 8.4, NH3/No2: 0, No3: 5. I have had some trouble keeping Ca and KH stable, trying to keep KH at 10, and Ca at 440. The tank doesn't seem to like to stay that high, and tends to stay at KH 7-8, and Ca 400-420. My fish are my concern today, and after reading and reading, I am writing. Since Dec, I have tried and tried to keep fish, and they keep dying! <... Is almost certainly resultant, closely related at least, to interactions between your disparate groups of "corals"> In Dec. I bought a Royal Gramma, and a Banggai Cardinal. They each made it 2 weeks to the day, finally at the bottom gasping for air, and dying quickly after. I let my tank go fishless for 5 weeks, and bought another Gramma. He seemed to be doing well, so a week later I bought another Banggai. My 2nd Banggai made it just under a week, dying with a white string of death, and gasping for air. My Gramma was still eating, so I tried another fish (a Flametail Goby) In the middle of this, I thought maybe there may be a parasite in the tank, catching my Gramma flashing on the rock once. I read up on your website, and bought a Neon Goby, so he could clean any thing up if there was. Well, my Gramma made it another 2 days, and then my Flametail committed suicide! UGH!! Didn't he know that he couldn't swim on my hardwood floor??? <Heeee, Ohhhh> I even have a cover on my tank! Well, I waited 2 more weeks, and was given another Banggai by my awesome LFS. He had a hard time at first, not eating for 4 days, then he came around and was eating like a monster, and all of a sudden, 2 weeks after he came home, white string of death, gasping for air..... What none of us can figure out, is what the heck???!!! <Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/cnidcompppt.htm or perhaps better, use the in-place search tool with the terms: "coral fish allelopathy"> My Neon, is still the happiest creature in the tank with his goofy little face, now in my tank for 6 wks!!! <This group of fishes lives in close association with "corals"... is much more tolerant of their activity> His staying alive (which is great of course), is confusing all of us! I drip acclimated each fish each between 45 min.s and 2 hours each, nothing works. One thing though, I did lose a peppermint shrimp in the mix, but I honestly think he got beat out of food and home by the fire shrimp who didn't seem happy to have him around. (I will be buying a QT tank along with my 90g btw). I did have some minor Cyanobacteria, that I siphoned out when the last Banggai was in the tank, thinking that may the problem. <Good... might be an influence as well> I also replaced my 50g HOB with a 70g HOB, and added a 3rd powerhead to the tank. It didn't save him. This seems to happen after every water change (I am using RO/DI), but I can't go without doing changes so what now? <Save up for the 90... keep what you have now, try to be satisfied that you are doing the best you can... and read> I never lost a fish setting up my Mbuna Cichlid tank which has been running solidly for a year now, loosing these fish has been heart breaking! <Good... a good thing to have such a response to loss> I have an idea that you will be telling me not to add anything, but in the hopes of being able to keep one or 2 more fish.... Sorry for the long winded explanation, thanks again for your input!! Nancy <Thank you for sharing Nancy. Your "situation" is not uncommon at all... With time going by, often there is "better success" in introducing new life to such settings as yours... In reading, going over the ppt presentation cited above... you'll encounter a process of "Boris Karloff-ing" water back and forth twixt a main/display as yours, and a quarantine system for new arrivals... "acclimating" them over some weeks time... This may work here for introducing new fish livestock. Bob Fenner>

Dwarf lionfish poisoning tank   8/12/08 We had a fuzzy dwarf lionfish in our tank for about two months and everything was going good, that is until this morning when we woke up to find it dead. <Oooh> So we quickly removed it and thought everything would be fine. When we returned home from work we noticed our other fish were not looking so good so we tested the water and everything was good so we changed the water to see if that would fix the problem while changing the water we found our pink skunk clown and royal gamma were dead as well so we still thought changing the water would fix it. <Might help...> Well it didn't are other fish were still put them in a different tank <Ahh, very good> that we have and they are doing much better. So I was wondering if the death of our lionfish caused this <Very likely is implicated... along with perhaps whatever the "cause" of the Lion loss was> or if it is something else and if it was the lionfish how do we get are tank back up so our fish can return home. James <I would change out a good deal of the water volume, vacuuming the gravel, utilize a good volume of high-quality carbon in a bag, in your water/filter flow path... wait a few days, add one of the fish back to test... Bob Fenner>

Who killed the Damselfish? - 07/19/08 Hello, <Fabrice> I hope this email finds you all well <Thank you> I have a 20 gallons tank with plenty of sand and live rocks, 5 blue fins damsels fish <Yikes!> (tiny ones) the water conditions are optimal, 0 Nitrite, traces of Nitrate less than 20. I also have a similar tank with just a general star fish and a sea cucumber (black hairy fellow an inch long). <... I wonder what species this is> I am setting up another tank a 40 gallon one to combine the 2 an give more space to the sea creatures. <Ah, good> Today I just temporarily transferred the sea cucumber and the starfish into the damselfish tank. Within 30 minutes 3 of the fish die with awful skin burs the other 2 I took them out and placed them in a kind of refuge. they are not going to make it they show the same symptoms. <Something toxic...> I have these animals for over a year...I never encounter anything like this before. I checked the water after the accident and the condition are the same as stated above. The Starfish and the sea cucumber are still fine grazing around the tank. Any insides on who is culprit in this water version of Agatha Christie's mass murder case. Thanks Fabrizio <I principally suspect the Sea Cucumber... some have quite toxic defensive means, and "let loose" when disturbed... as in, when moved. Please read here re: http://wetwebmedia.com/cukecompfaqs.htm I would remove this animal. Bob Fenner>

Tank Wipeout Aftermath -- 06/28/08 Nature Hello Masters of the SaltWaterverse! <All bow down> Your site is terrific and your answers are always very helpful and often amusing. <Heeeee!> It is the most informative website I have found. <Okay, enough, my head won't fit through the door> Have spent many, many nights up till the wee hours reading the various posts to my husbands annoyance! He's not an animal lover like me. I have a 47g tall tank. It has a live DSB with 3" of aragonite on the bottom, and 2" of oolite on top, 45 lbs live rock, pc quad 50/50 lighting, 450 bio-wheel filter, SeaClone 100 skimmer, and 3 X Koralia 1 400gph powerheads for water movement. Is this too much water movement? <Mmm, no> I have one in the back behind the LR pointed down and one on either side at the front at different heights pointed toward each other. The tank parameters are as follows: calcium 420, KH 16 (and counting!), <Too high!> PH 8.5, Nitrate 0, Nitrite 0, SP 1.021. <Mmm, too low> KH is very high due to the following ( I think! ): tank was fully cycled, everything was perfect, water parameters were perfect, had fish, corals etc. everything healthy, happy and growing and doing great. Then, Wham! The sweet little sea cucumber that the LFS sold me as a sand sifter died and poisoned everything in the tank! <Argghhh! Too common> (hanging head in shame over not researching this critter before purchase, have since purchased Bob's book to smarten my brain up!) The only survivors were my snowflake eel, 2 hermit crabs, 3 snails, 1 Blastomussa coral and 1 snake polyp coral. I have since cleared out all the remains, did a 50% water change, 3 X 20% water changes, disassembled and scrubbed the skimmer, cleaned out the filter and added a second clean filter to it. Now I cannot seem to get the KH down. I have tested each time I've done a water change and the numbers are high each time ( stick test as well as reef master liquid testing each time). I have purchased a new cleaning crew and 5 damsels which are in the tank and doing fine, even the eel seems fine at the moment, but time will tell. <Mmm... likely some high tension amongst the damsels in this shape, volume system> With the KH being so high I stopped the daily dose of calcium. <Good> Any suggestions other than time, that will lower the KH? <Mmm, yes... these are posted though> Asked at the LFS and they had no clue. Also, did the Cuke explosion kill my live rock and copepods? <Not likely altogether> I purchased more copepods since this happened figuring they died as I want to get another Green Mandarin goby and want to be ready for it when it arrives. <The Echidna should go... likely most of the damsels as well...> Your advice is most appreciated and definitely needed. Thanks a lot Crew! Cindy <See here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/index.htm scroll downnnnnnnnnnnnn. Bob Fenner>

What went wrong!?  Small SW tank troubleshooting  05/30/2008 Hello, <<Hey, Andrew with you today>> I have a 24 gallon aqua cube which has recently become a 24 gallon death cube. In the beginning we started out with a 12 gallon and moved to the 24 gallon, in recent months everything has been great. We had a good share of soft corals and live rock. In the tank we had an orange diamond goby, (Moby the goby), a Blenny (Lenny the blenny), a black and white striped damsel (pokey), Clown fish (primo) and half yellow half purple fish(mystery). We also had some crabs, 1 porcelain, 1 emerald and a few hermit. We had a turbo snail and a starfish and black sea urchin. Everything was great, levels were good and everyone was happy. <<Ok>> Then it happened. My wife and I went to a new aquarium store to look around, we were ah struck when we came across this slug, a Nudibranch, he is purple with yellow horns and flames out his back. <<Ah yes, could be a few different species of Nudi, please do identify from here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nudibran.htm >> We were told they are easy to care for and that they ate sponges, something we didn't have. <<Yes, this is true. All have their own specialist diet>> They sold us a light blue sponge also saying they were easy to take care of, just drop it in the tank and make sure it doesn't get exposed to air. So we got home and acclimated the slugs (we also purchased a lettuce Nudibranch) and put the blue sponge in our tank. This was on last Sunday. <<Ok>> Everything seemed to be happy, then my wife came home from work on Tuesday, called me and told me something was wrong, the soft corals were shriveled up and hadn't come out and 2 of the fish were dead (mystery and pokey). All the other fish were breathing heavy and sitting on the bottom of the tank. The blue sponge appeared to be dying, the blue was falling off and u could see the white spongy skeleton underneath. I immediately pulled the sponge out and tossed it along with the dead fish. I tested the water and the nitrates were showing 160ppm! <<Yikes>> I also tested the ammonia but it was fine. I immediately did a 10 gallon water change per a friend. The nitrates seemed to have dropped to around 80ppm, the next day (last night) when I got home from work (after picking up some supplies at our normal aquarium store) 80% of our soft corals were dead, Moby ,Lenny, black sea urchin, starfish and turbo snail were also dead. I pulled all of them out, did another 10 gallon water change, added charcoal and a bag of something (white) that is supposed to absorb nitrates and nitrites. This morning the water seemed crystal clear, Primo was still alive along with the Crabs. I did another water test last night after the water change and the nitrate was 40ppm. I hear that the blue sponge releases a deadly neurotoxin when it dies and that is what wiped everything out. Im not sure what spiked the nitrates. Any insight? <<Not "usually" blue sponges which release this, more so with some red sponges. Do not rule out the possibility of the Nudibranch releasing toxins. Please do read page 3 of the above linked web page on Nudibranchs. The spike in nitrates will be down to the death in the tank, ammonia --> Nitrite --> Nitrate. I would be tempted to remove the Nudibranch, return to the store>> John C. Curry <<Thanks for the questions, hope this helps. A Nixon>>

Mystery deaths  9/7/07 I work at a LFS, I have a customer whom has lost several fish. Water parameters are all great, Nitrates less than 5ppm, .5 on the phosphates, <Soluble? This is high> 8.2 for the ph, and currently a Fire shrimp and some hermits are enjoying life, health as ever. After there initial losses they waited several weeks, then replaced there fish, 48 hrs and they were floaters. While testing of their water (everything great) they admitted to not performing a water change in 6 months. I suggested two large water changes, with a day in between. In addition to a 72hr dark period to clear up some Cyano. <This is likely the culprit here> After waiting two weeks, in that time the Cyano. all but disappeared, water chemistry looked even better, they took home a Orange spot sand sifter and a yellow tail damsel. The fish lasted five days, st least the sand sifter, the Damsel is M.I.A. presumed dead though. I hope you can offer some guidance on our situation. I am at a loss, and would like to help them. Maybe some parasite which does not require a fish host to complete it's life cycle is lurking within their tank. I hope you have a fresh perspective on this problem. Let me know if I left out any pertinent info. Thanks for what you do, James. <I do suspect a latent/residual toxicity from the long-standing water and BGA... If it were me/mine, I'd have these folks dump the water, bleach all... and re-set-up... Please read and have them read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/clnornart.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

What happens within the tank when an Anemone dies? 12/20/07 Hi Crew, <Hello Bobby, Brenda here!> I have a question about Condylactis Anemones. <Okay!> If I were to buy a Condylactis, and it happen to die (obviously not hoping, just sort of planning ahead), what would happen within the tank? Would this pretty much crash my tank? <It is a definite possibility, especially in smaller tanks.> I'm new to anemones so any information about what happens after their death would help. <They can fall to pieces, and are very hard to get out of the water in one piece. You may need to siphon a lot of it out. It smells horrible, and will cause an ammonia spike. You will need to do several large water changes over the next few days. Having a supply of premixed saltwater is always recommended for emergencies. I recommend researching their care several months in advance so you can eliminate the chances of it dying. More information here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/cnidaria/anthozoa/anemones.htm > Thank you very much, Bobby <You're welcome! Brenda>

Help requested. Reef toxic event... Holothuroids? Algae?    02/17/07 G'day Bob, Loved the Conscientious Keeper & sell it regularly in store.... <Ah, good> But flattery is not what has led me to correspond. I was wondering if it would be possible to pick your brains. <Only have a mite left... but go ahead> I realize you must get no end of requests, but I am stumped at the moment, and could really use some help. I am a retailer in Australia, been keeping marines for 20+ & reef for 15 or more, but I have a problem tank at the moment that I can't get a grip on... The tank in question is a 5 * 2 * 2 1/2 foot reef  with deep sand bed (crushed marble chip) 3" deep  closed loop circ system, (6000 LPH)  main return pump  (6000 LPH) (rainbow lifeguard quiet ones in both cases) One 2,300 LPH powerhead mounted close to surface of water. Nutrient export via a Turboflotor 1000 skimmer  ( on for ~14 hrs a day, off for a couple of hours while dosing supplements) <Good technique> Bare sump no trickle Tank has a 25 litre refugium <Am sure we both wish this were larger> fed from main outflow line from tank, & fuge has been lit 24 / 7 in past, but lights are off now. (more on this later) Tank is equipped with a chiller, and runs at a constant 25 deg C. Tank contains approx  125 kg liverock  (270 lb) Various corals ranging from Sarcos to fungi's, Duncanopsammia, Scolymia, Turbinarias, Morphs, and until recently a 14 year old Tridacna (sadly departed but not related to this story directly) All Supplements used are Seachem, apart from one liquid coral food that we use from a different manufacturer. Main aquarium lit by 2 * 250w 13,000 k halides  Fuge is lit using a 24 watt 50 /50 actinic 10k PL power compact . Tank usually runs at...... P.H.  8.0  - 8.2 SG  1.024 KH  9 - 11 dKH nh3  0.3  - 0.5  ( not 100% happy with the zero on the test kit though,   Hagen ammonia kit in use) No2  0 no3  Currently ~ 5ppm  but  sometimes as high as 10 Ca++  420 today, targeting 450 as a rule. PO4  under .5 ppm today. Additives used: Reef builder for KH buffering   Reef buffer when necessary for P.H.   (Not frequent) Reef magnesium Reef strontium Reef Iodide  and Reef Plus ( which is a multi vitamin / amino acid supp. Magnesium strontium & Iodide are not tested for currently, Seachem's basic dose rates are used. W/changes of  175 litres  (from 750)  performed when NO3 is on the rise So much for the overview, here's the problem. Corals look good, My fish keep dying. <Mmmm> Around 3 months ago, a sudden procession of deaths took out Zebrasoma flavescens Lo vulpinus //Synchiropus splendidus// Amphiprion ocellaris  ( over 8 years in captivity )  :'( Rock hopper blenny  (Salarias sp.)  *  3 in rapid succession <Something toxic, amiss... that doesn't affect Cnidarians> and also during the past few months all cucumbers (H. edulis predominantly but not exclusively) seem to have vanished, though a number of strombid shell are still active in turning over the sand bed. <... a clue here> I have saved one half of the clown pair which is currently in a hospital tank, but there is a comet grouper C. altivelis which due to  difficulty in removal has sat in the tank apparently unaffected for the entire time. I placed a Sailfin tang Z. veliferum into the tank 4 days ago,      Dead overnight I placed a Salarias blenny suspended in a restricted net so the animal could not eat anything from within the tank and would be protected from any predation  (none suspected),      Dead overnight I  have had a (I'm pretty sure) Dinoflagellate bloom in the refugium on & off over the last few months but the lighting on the fuge has been off for a number of weeks, & there is no trace of anything macro or micro algae wise...  (coralline growth in main tank is excellent by the way) I am running out of thoughts, and any steers in any direction would be greatly appreciated if you can spare the time. Thanks in advance, Bruce. <My primary suspect here is the Sea Cucumbers... they can be extremely toxic to fish life, leaving other phyla unscathed... But the mention of the Diatom bloom... brings to mind the possibility that an algae toxicity might be at root... In either case, a very large water change and the use of chemical filtrants is the route I would take here (a kilo of activated carbon, perhaps a couple of pads of PolyFilter)... and the careful testing (in a week or so) of the water/system with a tough fish... perhaps a couple of damsels. Unfortunately, as of yet, there are no good, inexpensive means to test for such random toxicities... but I can see this in the coming years. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dead Cowfish  - 04/23/2006 Hello, <Hi Justin with you today.>   I had a Small Long horned Cowfish (1 inch) die Sometime last night. This morning I woke up to find My Yellow tang breathing really heavily. My clowns and Gramma seem OK right now. I did a 10% water change. Should I move all My fish to a Quarantine? It is only a ten gallon since I am 13 And don't have very much extra money. <Your cowfish probably released its tetradotoxin poison when it died.  Please be VERY careful, and do a water change of about 30% of the tank.  Wear gloves as well.  Continue to do 30% water changes for the week and you should be fine.  If your fish seems even more ill, do a 80% water change ASAP.> Great Site Chad <Write back and let us know if you need more help.> <Justin (Jager)> 

Emp. Angel not eating -dying fish from a fan?-  - 5/7/2006 Hello, <Mike> First I admittedly made a terrible mistake in collecting from my local beach (San Diego) a small gorgonian fan and added it to my established (2yrs) fish only tank with the following: 125 Gallons with Live Rock and Live Sand. 1) Russell's Lion (8in) 1) Clown Trigger (6in) 1) Fiji Puffer (3in) 1) Cow Fish (5in) 1) Zebra Moray (20 in) 1) Yellow Tang (deceased) 1) Christmas Tree Wrasse (deceased) <Too many fish for this system> 1 month after introducing the fan to my tank the yellow tang went on a hunger strike and passed away.  Shortly after, I acquired a 4 inch Emperor Angel.  3 Weeks ago the wrasse also would not eat and passed away last week.  While the other fish still appear to have appetites, the Angel has now stopped eating. <I do NOT believe this is from the fan you added to the tank, while it may have had contaminants and or pollutants on it, Your stocking list of fish seems to be the culprit here.  You have one of the most nasty tempered triggers maybe even the nastiest fish period (the clown trigger) in with a cowfish, one of the few fish in the world that not only carries Tetrodotoxin (the most potent toxin on the planet) but the cowfish can release that poison as a deterrent to predators or due to stress.  In a home system such as yours, it can kill everything.> Could the fan, now back in the Pacific, have been the culprit?  Bacteria, internal parasites? The angel has gone a little over a week without eating.  He still appears to be active, color is good, no noticeable rubbing on the sand or rocks, no visible signs of disease (As with the tang and wrasse).  I have tried Angel formula 1 and 2, frozen krill, flakes and brown algae. <My hunch is that the clown trigger is either harassing the angel, or harassing the cowfish and has made the cowfish release enough poison to seriously injure the other fish.  I would pull the clown trigger immediately and re-home it to another tank, and do the same with the cowfish.  If you do not want to re-home them, setup a tank for the clown trigger by itself, and one for the cowfish by itself as well.  If you decide not to move the cowfish, you will still need a 240 gallon or bigger tank to handle the puffer (gets 12-15") the lionfish (18"+ without fins and is very venomous) the 15+" angel and the 8-10" cowfish.  The clown trigger will hit 2 -15" or more as well and will become a holy terror to tankmates as it ages.> My water parameters are .22 SPG, Nitrites 0, Ammonia 0, Nitrates b/n 20 - 40 ppm.  I maintain a strict regiment in conducting 12% water changes every other week.  Is there anything that I can do to help this little guy?  I started with a 30% water change yesterday and gave the angel a fresh water dip for 4 min.s.  Please advise. <Try setting up another tank for the angel to live stress free for now, and remove the aggressors as above to ensure it is not harassed.> Thank you, Mike Ferrante <Please re-home and remove fish, as this mix will result in death for more if not all of your fish.> <Justin (Jager)>

-Dying fish from a fan part 2-  - 05/09/06 Thank you for your quick reply. What I had left out of my previous email was that I had noticed some long white feces, which from what I have read in Mr. Fenner's book,  could indicate an internal parasite.  This is what triggered my suspicion that it might be something internal.  Could toxins do that?  My local fish store suggested that I use Pimafix?  I'm a bit reluctant to try chemicals right now. <Yes internal parasites do seem to be one issue here, There is a food supplement that is parasite medicine, but it may be hard to get the angel to eat it.  But you should dose it for them ASAP.> I will take your advise and move the Angel immediately to another tank so he can recover.  I purchased an all inclusive and very basic "beginner tank" 10 gallons to use for quarantine.  Would this, and what I suspect comes with a very basic filter, be sufficient for a few weeks? <Do daily water changes of at LEAST 70% from your main tank while the angel is in the ten.> I assume that I should use water from my main tank to supply it? <Correct> Last but not least, when I do remove the Cow, Trigger and Lion, could you give me a list of options and quantity that I may want to consider for re-stocking.  I'd like to keep the angel, assuming that he will pull through. <Most wrasses, tangs, gobies, a butterfly fish, Anthias, there are quite a few choices.  please see WWM and www.fishbase.org for what's available.> Thank you for your time and help. Mike Ferrante <Justin (Jager)>

Ptereleotris evides (black Dartfish)  immunity to Porcupine Poison?   7/16/06 Hi, <Hello there> the question I have is short, the reason is not. I will add the reason just in case I am on the wrong track. <Okay> Q. Having trawled around the Web & your as always excellent site I cannot confirm a suspicion, If the Black Dartfish (Ptereleotris evides) is known at all, to be resilient or immune to the Porcupine Puffer's toxin (released when stressed)? <Mmm, don't know> The reason for this question is that this morning I woke up to a tank of dead fish. The porcupine puffer was stressed but the two black Dartfish were fine. <Interesting... could be that they were the smallest... had/have the largest percentage gill surface area... more sedentary/less need for dissolved oxygen...> Tank: 90ukgal - 3 year old Filters Fluval 404 on spray bar, Fluval 304 & LAC 828 Vecton UV15 sterilizer Deltec MCE 600 (considering changing due to bearing noise problem) Lid houses 2 T5 lights & Marine blue Live rock, 3/4" to 1" sand, no corals RO changes Water quality spot on bar 1mg/l Phosphate (before water change) Fish established 1- 3 Years: 5" Pink tail Trigger - RIP Cleaner Wrasse - RIP 4.5" Blue Cheek Goby - RIP Two 4" Monos - RIP 4" Sailfin Tang - RIP 5" Birdnose Wrasse in final transition from female to male - RIP 5" Porcupine Puffer - now RIP Two 3.5"-4" Black Dartfish - fine (now, just incase, in other marine tank) Circumstance: On light feeding last night I noticed two light rocks out of position (dislodged) - so I repositioned. This morning I awoke & found all but the puffer & Dartfish dead (Pinktail was floating). At 80 degrees F & a topped up water level to the spray bar, <He's likely the one who was "bothering" the puffer> I initially wondered about oxygen depravation. <Me too> After a couple of phone calls once the dead were removed, I setup a hasty water change & did 30% approximately 40 min.s later. <Good move> As my one available QT tank was set for freshwater due to an ongoing ammonia problem in my Discus tank (due to a piece of wood in the inlet tube of my Eheim Wet/Dry making it run low - still awaiting it to cycle as do daily water changes) & the other QT tank is rearing toadfish; I shot down to my LFS and got some more carbon media. When I left the Porcupine was still stressed, when I got back he was slightly puffed up & RIP. On removal he was coated in slime (I assume another toxin release) & the same rocks were dislodged again. <Strange about the rocks...> So far I assume a toxin release (some of the RIP fish were agape - & fairly quick after feeding last night as two out of 4 defrosted frozen shrimp were still left; a big oddity), but to my amazement the Dartfish were fine/happy??? Taking no chances (I do anything to help my fish) I transferred them into my reef tank (open topped with 6" rise above the water, I will be watching for jumps till I can be sure of the other tank). <Good> I am told the carbon should clear up the toxin now, but still wonder about the tough little Black Dartfish. <Me too> Any input would be greatly welcome/appreciated. Ed <It may well be that Microdesmids are more "immune" to tetrodotoxins... or perhaps it was/is something to do with gaseous exchange at play here. If it were me, mine, I would likely change about all the water out of the contaminated system... for general purposes. Bob Fenner>
Re: Ptereleotris evides (black Dartfish)  immunity to Porcupine Poison?  7/18/06
Hi Bob Fenner, <Ed> Cheers for the reply. Water is being changed + new carbon (again) & new PolyFilter (told it would be a good idea - certainly no harm). <Agreed. Bob Fenner> Thanks    Ed

Dead Anemone Residue...Mushrooms Vacating  - 07/03/04 Hi Guys, <Hello Nancy> I had a medium bubble anemone for over a year who was home to a tomato clown.  A few months ago it moved to the underside of a rock and slowly withered away and left a cottony white layer where it's base had been.  Not knowing if the anemone would grow back from this I left it in place.  I now have a large covering of this on an adjacent rock and the resident mushrooms are vacating the rock (which they used to cover).  Is this something I want to eradicate or is it a friendly unknown species who has taken up residence.  This is a 75 gal tank with a deep sand bed that has been up and running without incident for 2+ years, (initially set up in 98 but had a severe algae problem and I had to tear down, scrub and redo to get rid of it all.).  H2O parameters seem ok, fish are happy, very little algae, VHO lights + Moonlights.  I will attempt to attach a pic but I am digitally challenged, sorry if it doesn't work. <Pic was sent with no problem. <<But not saved for posting... RMF>>  Nancy, any residue left by a dead anemone should definitely be removed.  This can be quite toxic to the rest of the inhabitants.  Probably why your mushrooms are heading west.> Thanks, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Nancy D

Pink Cucumber/System Poisoning - 07/20/06 Dear Bob, <<EricR here this morning...>> I have a pink cucumber who has been doing relatively well for approximately a year in my tank.  It's not very active but about a week ago it moved near the overflow box and has become extremely "squishy" and looks very wrinkled. <<Possibly just doing a "water change">> It still sticks out its Feather like tentacles partially from one end and the other end has a hole that appears to open and close like it is breathing. <<All good signs>> My question is, is this squishy body a bad sign. <<Hard to say.  In my experience these Holothuroids tend to just "shrink away" once they are on the decline (usually from starvation)...unless something has injured/poisoned it>> It used to be quite solid but now if you touch it you can almost push both sides together (Not that I've tried).  If it is a bad sign what can you do to try and resuscitate the poor guy. <<Excellent water quality and adequate feeding>> It's a great addition to my tank and many people love it as do I. <<I too am a fan of these...>> I appreciate any help and if you need any other information let me  know. 1.022 salinity <<Would like to see this increased to 1.025/1.026>> 0 ammonia very low nitrates <<Mmm...less than 5ppm I hope>> 0 nitrites ph 8.4 55 gallon with 12 gallon refugium (with mud, mangroves and a little Caulerpa algae with a max 700 gph pump, UV sterilizer, protein skimmer and a power compact.  I had a slime algae problem but used Slime gone and it was gone in 48  hrs. <<Ugghh...a bad practice my friend.  Likely the antibiotic has adversely affected the cucumber...not to mention killing off bacteria/other micro-biota the cucumber used for food.  And, it is very likely the BGA will only return as you have not addressed the cause with the antibiotic and rarely is the organism every totally wiped out>> Corals and everything else seem to be doing fine. <<We can hope...>> I add snow and phytoplankton about twice a week and generalize its  region. Best regards, Jason <<Cheers, EricR>> P.S. You guys at WetWebMedia are the most knowledgeable people  around and thanks for all the help you provide. <<Other "knowledgeable" folks about, but thank you for the praise.  It is our pleasure to help.  Eric Russell>>
Re: Pink Cucumber    7/20/06
Dear Bob, <<EricR again>> After scavenging around WetWebMedia I found that the squishy feeling is not a good sign. <<Okay>> So being scared for my fish I put it in a quarantine tank.  After  removing the Cuke I found that it became extremely hard again.  The feather like  tentacles retracted into the body and everything seemed normal like when I bought it. <<Yes...pumped up with water when it was disturbed>> Was everything normal and I just removed him for no purpose and just stressed it and myself. <<Is a possibility>> If I take the precautionary approach, how long should I keep the Cuke in quarantine and is there any non-stressful way to reintroduce it to my main tank without cutting off a lot of feet. <<You can keep it there for a week or so (be sure to target feed!) until you're comfortable with returning it to the display.  As for removing it...be very gentle and take your time to SLOWLY coax it away from the glass.  I find very light but persistent pressure from my fingers will usually cause the cucumber to release with no/a minimum of damage to the tube feet>> Thanks again. Jason <<Always welcome.  EricR>>

Sea cucumber disaster   8/8/06 I don't really have a question for you, just a cautionary tale you might share with your other readers. <Please do> I went to the LFS this past Saturday afternoon to get an easy-to-care-for fish of some kind, saw a pink and green sea cucumber, and made an impulsive last minute change to my plan.  Big mistake.  HUGE mistake.  I later paid your site a visit for a refresher on Cukes.  I had forgotten all about them expelling their guts into the water and pondered whether or not I wanted to take it back and see about an exchange  It made that decision for me early this morning when it went nuclear and killed all my fish, though the other inverts seem ok.  I did a 30% water change this morning and will do a couple more in the next day or so.  I'm hitting it with some new charcoal as well.  This is a small tank, so it was only three fish.  No real real financial loss, but it is definitely irritating and embarrassing.  I know 99% of the blame falls on me, but I really wish LFS had said something about a critter that dangerous.  The money they made on the Cuke is much less than the money they lost by losing me as a customer. <...> As strongly worded as your warning against Cukes is, maybe you should put some skulls and crossbones and biological hazard symbols on it as well.  Thanks for maintaining such a great site.  It really comes in handy, especially if used prior to a purchase. Thanks, Ty <Thank you for this. Bob Fenner>

Urchin question   8/20/06 Hello WWM Crew, <Sara>     I have a few of questions regarding a Lytechinus variegatus urchin ( I was able to id from your site), I hope you can help me out with. My first question is if a Lytechinus variegatus urchin is in the process of dying, or not doing very well, is there any chance it could release toxins in to my tank? <Mmm... yes... this species is a member of the Family Toxopneustidae... toxic to even the touch... to fishes, humans> Should I remove this urchin from my main tank? <Unless it were very large (hundreds of gallons), exceedingly well circulated and filtered I would not introduce a member of this family>   I had noticed that my urchin had been losing spines at an alarming rate recently and had stopped moving around the tank. When I turned him over there was a brown/tan worm on him. This worm was not a bristle worm, rather it looked more like a common earth worm (only much, much smaller.) It had small bristles on it's side, but the bristles were not near as large as a bristle worm's. <There are actually thousands of different species...> I also have noticed that there are deep red spots on the outside of the urchin it almost looks like blood.   After I removed the worm from the urchin he immediately improved and began to slowly move around the tank again.   So, I guess my main questions are should I remove this urchin from my tank and quarantine him? <Yes, I would. Don't use your hands in contact... scoop into a container... i.e., don't expose to the air...> Is there any risk he will poison my tank if he dies or is dying? <Again, yes> Lastly, are there any know worms that are parasitic to urchins, or was this worm just a result of him dying/not doing well? <Could be either/both>      Thank you so much for your help,   Sara <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Toxicity of Cyanobacteria... can be extreme   8/27/06 Hi Crew, <Thomas/Tom> I have developed what I believe to be a Cyanobacteria problem in a 30 gallon with 2 Gobies,  2 soft corals, and 1 Fireshrimp. This algae is purplish in color and sort of thread-like, forming masses that hold together reasonably well. <Is likely a BGA>   I have found several suggestions on your site about how to go about correcting this problem, which I will get to work on.  But I still have a question. Prior to water changes, I have been attempting to break up this algae to syphon at least some of it out during those changes.  I have noticed my Fireshrimp suffering after water changes (looks bad, like he might not survive).  In today's change, I noticed that he looked bad, before the new water goes in, which is why I started to suspect this had something to do with what I was doing to the algae. <Mmm, either this and/or some part/aspect(s) of the new water... Both very common> So, can disturbing Cyanobacteria release toxics into the water that serious affect a Fireshrimp, but not Gobies or soft corals? <Oh yes. Bob Fenner, touching on this subject today at a presentation to the NJRC in Pt. Pleasant, NJ> Thanks, Tom

Deadly toxin?  9/5/05 Hello WetWebMedia crew members, <Alex> I have a 72 gal. tank that has been running for almost 2 years now. About 2 months ago something terrible happened, I fed my fish (at that time, pair of tomato clowns, hippo tang, 4 stripe damsel and green spotted puffer) early in the morning as usual and everything was normal and good but by lunch time the puffer, the tang and the male tomato were dead. All the inverts and corals were ok. I double checked parameters and everything was good (zeros for ammonia, nitrite and nitrates, PH steady at 8.2, Calcium at 420 ppm, density steady at 1.024, etc.) I immediately did a 50% water change and replaced the carbon in the canister filter. <Good> Unfortunately the 4 stripe damsel and the female tomato died slowly over the next 2 days. The problem is that ever since, every fish that I have tried to add and that seem healthy (quarantined for at least 2 weeks at my LFS and properly acclimated) die within one hour !!!! Symptoms include paralysis along with rapid breathing, but they only show up about 5 to 15 minutes before the fish dies. The corals in the tank (mushrooms, bubble, pumping xenia and finger leather) and inverts (mainly Astrea and turbo snails) are still doing fine. I have kept doing the regular maintenance that include  top off and 10% weekly water changes and 20% monthly water changes, carbon replaced weekly, skimmer emptied daily, adding trace elements, etc. yet I just lost a Naso tang today. I have no idea what can be causing this and I'm almost ready to give up due to the frustration, sadness and money wasting situation my tank has been in for the past couple of months. I think it might be a toxin of some kind. <Agreed> I'm thinking about nuking the tank and starting over from scratch. <This is, ultimately, your best shot...>   I don't think any of the corals I have can produce enough quantities of a powerful toxin like that, right? <Correct> If so, is it possible that it might be impregnated and accumulating in the live rock? And why it's not affecting the snails and corals, just the fish? Thanks in advance for your help. Alex. <Something very toxic, and persistent here... most likely microbial in nature... but might be related to the puffer... as you state, the best approach is to drain, clean everything and re-set-up... the cnidarians can be moved, the current LR rinsed in freshwater... and placed in the tank again. Sorry to read of your situation. These "wipe-out syndromes" are less common in recent years, but still troubling. Bob Fenner>

Blue tang sick......please help   2/9/06 I purchased a blue tang from a very large and reputable  LFS about 2 weeks ago and since I bought him he just keeps getting worse! In my  almost 2 month old 150 gallon tank I have     *   Yellow moray ( 3  feet)     *   Zebra eel ( 4  feet)     *   Miniatus Grouper ( 5  inches)     *   Marine Betta ( 5  inches)     *   Maroon clown (3 inches)        *   Large bubble tip  anemone     *   Naso tang ( 6  inches)     *   Yellow tang ( 3  inches)     *   Blue hippo tang ( 5 inches. very  sick!)     *   15 large soft  corals I have VHOs with more than enough lighting (just below  requirement for frags) and 160 pounds of live rock. All my parameters are in  check although just yesterday I did get a nitrate spike (in safe levels however) <Numbers please>   but everything is fine now¦ anyway on to the sad part. For about 2 days he swam  around (the hippo) and shook while swimming occasionally swimming on his side  although he definitely did not do this in the LFS! Anyway after that he hid in  the rocks and pretty much stayed there since now¦.. about 2 weeks (no eating,  swimming, hardly any activity whatsoever) he dame up today leaning on my snail  on the glass not moving and I caught him with my net <Must be sick!> and made a protective  plastic sanctuary at the top of my tank with a cut laundry basket with a little  home from shade from the light and etc. Now that I see him he has transformed  from the beautiful fish I bought, into a fish with faded blue spots and his  yellow tail looks like a beat up feather duster and is off white from the bright yellow it used to be. There is also a cluster of tiny red spots oh his tail which I have no idea what it is. He looks awful please help me I have read over 200 inputs with no real definitive answer and am blue in the face with  no progress. It would be a shame if he didn't make  it Thanks so much   <Very likely this new fish is reacting to a chemical "soup" situation your other fishes have become classically "adapted" to... their combined wastes, the soft corals... If you want to save this fish it needs to be moved to other quarters pronto... The overstocked situation in your 150... I'd stick to what you have. Bob Fenner>

Urchin mysterious death-poisoning of tank  02-05-06 Dear Crew,    <Dawn>   My tank recently crashed. Most everyone was saved, except the fish, who perished very quickly.  It happened while I was at work;  my housemate reported tank looked great at 3pm. It was cloudy / milky by the time I got home 3.5 hours later, fish were dead, and most everything else was severely stressed.       I suspect the death of a Diadema setosum or Antillarum (not quite sure which it was) is what triggered the crash. <Could, yes> I think it died, (it hadn't been well for some time, it had dropped it's spines 3 times in recent months), and in turn created a toxic soup that caused tank crash.      I do not have good facts for this, just my suspicions.  I've been researching for info re: toxicity of urchins in the tank once they die, but having very little success.        I did find this on WWM, but little else in the Urchin articles and FAQs - "There are no absolutely reef safe urchin species IMO... too much chance of mysterious death-poisoning of the system" ~ Bob Fenner.        My questions:      What leads Mr. Fenner to the above conclusion?   What can you all tell me about the death of sea urchins poisoning a tank?   Could you point me in the direction of additional information?      Thanks in advance and kind regards,      Dawn < http://www.google.com/custom?q=urchin+poisoning&sitesearch=wetwebmedia.com Bob Fenner>

Sea slug Toxin? Oh yes  02-05-06 Morning guys! <Too cheerful...!> Just found your web sight and it's now booked marked! <And the site too?> I've been searching all over the web trying to find an answer to my problem! About a month ago I purchased a beautiful sea slug. A week later I found it dead, caught in my filter. <Yikes... am trying to put away the pix from the last trip... and am on to the Opisthobranchs... and reading re just how toxic some of them are... no wonder they can be so gorgeously colored and not predated, eh?> A week later all my fish except for one damsel were dead! ( Niger Trigger, reef beauty, Butterflyfish, cardinal, yellow tang) I forgot to mention that my tank is a combo reef/fish 50 gallon. My soft coals and one Anemone were not affected nor were the cleaner shrimp, hermit crabs and turbo-snails. I immediately suspected the death of the sea slug and sure enough read that these slugs secret a defensive toxin. <Yes... but not so much a secret to the fishes they're found with... just in the confines of an aquarium...> I performed a 50% water change and replaced all my filters. I let the tank "stand" for 3 weeks then introduced one blenny to the tank. Within 36 hours it died! It's skin was sloughing off and fins looked as if they were dissolving. <Yep> My question is; should I completely start over with new live sand and live rock??? ( the rock is still very purple in color) or let the tank recycle for a longer period of time???? HELP! Great sight, Jim <Mmm, if it were me, mine I'd try adding a good quantity, quality of activated carbon in your filter flow path, let another few weeks go by and try some other "test fishes". Bob Fenner>

Suspended red algae ... numerous iatrogenic problems, SW   3/3/06 Dear WWM, <I, not "i"> recently treated my 55 Gal tank for ick <... not your main tank? No...> and then treated the  tank with Maracyn TC for secondary infections. the result was a full bloom of  red suspended (algae?) <Likely... a BGA> i have done two 15 Gal. water changes in the last five  days.  it has been reduced from a dark (blood) red to a purplish  pink. i lost three clowns a powder blue tang <Inappropriate for this size system> a goby and four damsels in the  process.  I'm left with a lonely yellow tang an empty pocket book and  a heavy heart.  i have a Skilter 400 filter <Insufficient...> and a Corallife full  spectrum light 30lbs of live rock and live sand and started the tank with  Bio nitrites Jan 1.  this is my first marine tank and my kids think I'm a  failure. can you help me?   <You can definitely help yourself...> the red algae is not like anything i have seen  online.    yours truly, "red in the face" <Put some time aside, read on WWM re Marine Set-up, Maintenance, Stocking... you've made a few grievous, avoidable errors... educate yourself. Bob Fenner>

Sea apple... disaster  - 03/05/06 My sea apple has some type of orange string coming out of her "butt" what  is this? What should I do? <Carefully, and I mean with utmost caution, remove this animal INCLUDING this material. Please see here: http://wetwebmedia.com/cukecompfaqs.htm Bob Fenner>

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>

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>

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

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

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

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

Re: problem with reef  I bought the flower pot a month ago and it died within 24 hours and 2 days ago I bought the anchor and 2inch maxima and as soon as I put the anchor coral in my tank a white secretion came out of it and I just bought the protein skimmer 2 days ago along with the coral and clam thanks  David  P.S what can I do to make this tank better  >> Time... and timing... The Goniopora (Flower Pot Coral)) no doubt poisoned the next couple of animals... and you're dollar foolish and late with the skimmer... Wait, read, have patience... take a gander at the materials stored on my website... www.wetwebmedia.com... for insights into system set-up, livestock selection... environmental disease, toxic tank conditions...  Bob Fenner

Caulerpa/toxic waste spill episode Anthony, <good afternoon, dear> After the Caulerpa/toxic waste spill episode, I did a 25gal water change using the gravel vac to pull out all of the remaining bits of dead plant matter where it had settled. (water was clear when I did this) <excellent> Then, I added about 25lbs of live rock. Now, 2 days later, my water is very cloudy. <was the rock fully cured...and can you confirm that with a zero ammonia/nitrite test...or did you just get snookered again (no mail order rock, right? Its OK if you'll cure it separately, but never to be put/trusted right in display> I have battled cloudy water before, but this is a weird cloud. It has almost a yellowish hue to it, and even more strange, when the morning sun comes in, you can actually see the make-up of the cloudiness and it slowly drifts around resembling cigarette smoke. You can only see this under the right sunlight condition, otherwise it just looks murky. It is difficult to make out objects on the far side if you are looking down the 6ft length on the tank. I have been aggressively changing filter medium as it becomes clogged with this seemingly never ending supply of dead plant material, but there seems to be no more now.  <may indeed be poor quality/uncured rock...any odor? Skimmer working like mad, I suppose> Do I.... 1) Simply wait for it to clear?  <water tests please> 2) Do another water change? <yes...perhaps several> 3) Shoot myself?  <nope.. but patience and the investment into a quarantine tank for all fish/plants/rock to got through for 2-4 weeks first would save you grief> This is disturbing. On a lighter note congratulations on your spritehood! Thanks again, -Pat <thank you, the Queen Mum was shorter in person than I thought she would be when I was knighted...er, spirited. Anthony>
Re: Caulerpa
Anthony, <here and full of cheer... I just turned into a sprite (the impish little imaginary creature, not the soda pop> You mentioned you would not do Caulerpa unless for a specific purpose. It was recommended to me to create a more stable natural environment, and keep down the growth of less desirable algae. Did I misinterpret that?  <nope, correct...it may. But not without disadvantages too> If this is not the case, I will not go that route again. What indeed are the specific purposes you speak of, and is it your recommendation to have macro-algae or to not go there yet? <like farming seagrass for aliotoms to encourage plankton, or mangroves for aesthetic effect, or Caulerpa to feed large tangs> Also, I took some advice from a reputable dealer yesterday and added 25lbs of live rock. (mostly Fiji) He said this would stabilize my system. (sound familiar?) <excellent... cured live rock is a good investment in one's tank's health> He also suggested distilled water or a R.O. machine to clear my problem algae. <will only help if the nutrient source of the algae is indeed the tapwater (have you found phosphates /nitrates/silica in your tap?> He told me my Brita on my tap was crap. <agreed for aquarium use> Is this good advice or was he trying to sell an R.O.? <conditional as above> I seem to be moving in the direction of a reef, as my wife seems to dig the critters more than the fish. <a common move...very fascinating to watch new reef creatures and behaviors everyday> For this, I've decided to expand my sump.  <very wise> From what I've read about pros and cons of Berlin, I think I'm going to keep the trickle anyway and add a large sump area with live rock and protein skimmers.  <heavy skimming very good> Would you agree or would you lose the trickle media for nitrate purposes? <very much so> Also, in my system, in the overflow chamber, and again post trickle I have a TON of mechanical media such as bags and bags of black diamond charcoal and "poly Filter" pads. Should this stay in a reef or should this too pass? <may be very good if you service it regularly> My apologies for taking soooo much of your time. It is very appreciated and I thank you. -Pat <quite welcome, my friend. Anthony>

Is my tank poisoned? Mr. Fenner, <Anthony Calfo in your service> Thank you for answering many of my other questions from other sites. I now have a huge problem! I have a 54gl corner with a Fluval 304 w/ activated carbon, 55lbs of LR, 15lbs of LS, protein skimmer, and 2 powerheads. My stock list is 1 Wellsophyllia, 1 torch coral, 1 maxima clam, 1 pearl bubble, 1 Caulastrea?), assorted mushrooms and polyps, <I admire the fact that your coral selection is thematically compatible... mostly LPS corals and the others mostly low/med light and high nutrient just the same. The clam is the only oddball and is OK if kept high in the tank. I wish more aquarists were more conscientious of this... too many SPS, LPS and softies all mixed together> 1 Anthias, 1 royal Gramma, 1 citron clown goby, and 1 false clown. My water parameters have been at 0 with temp 77, Alk 11dKH, calc 390 until today. I found my pink and green cucumber dead but still had its guts intact and my impatiens Cuke dead with its guts expelled. This must have happened during the day because everything was fine until I came home. I was doing my normal water testing once per week) after I removed the Cukes and all my parameters have jumped! My ammonia is now .35, nitrites .3, nitrates 30 but calc and Alk stayed the same. I also added a piece of LR from a LFS on Saturday but all levels were normal as I was checking them everyday since the addition of that piece to make sure there were no spikes. Could it be from the Cukes or is it from the LR?  <more likely the Cukes but it is still not severe> What can I do to lower the levels before any damage is done to the corals?  <aggressive protein skimming, carbon and especially PolyFilters and good water changes> I also now know better than to have Cukes as part of the clean up critters event though my LFS said they would be great additions! Thanks for all the help. Chris <I'm really not too critical of sea cucumbers myself. They are fascinating and their toxicity is highly variable and overrated. They can be kept and even propagated. Best regards, Anthony>

Question: Hey Bob I enjoy reading your replies to others problems especially when I come to the same conclusion before I read yours but now I have a question that I hope you can answer for me. I have a 240 gallon tank that has been set up for about 5 months. I use a 350 magnum, HOT magnum, and a HOT wet/dry filter as well as a number of power heads. Basically a lot of scraps that I have from other tanks in the past. I also use a "home made " filter for polishing on a once every few weeks basis. As far as fish, I have 2 Leopard sharks and a Masked Puffer right now. My problem is that about two weeks ago I noticed my tank started to turn green so I tried to "polish" the water with no success. It got to the point where it looked like Mountain Dew. I did some tests and it was always fine and the fish seem to not be affected by it at all. I never left any uneaten food around in the tank either. I started doing MAJOR water changes in the past week or so and it is better but still not clear like it should be. Do you have any suggestions? I'm thinking of buying a protein skimmer but will that rid my tank of the discoloration or are water changes the best way? Also what do you think could have caused this in the first place? I was thinking of using a algaecide but I asked about it at a local pet shop and they said that there were no algaecides made for saltwater just freshwater and I really didn't want to take that risk if I didn't have to. I really don't like adding anything to my tanks. Any help would be appreciated. Bob's Answer: Hey Tim... you're experiencing "unnatural selection" of a sort. The probably single-celled green algae that are proliferating in your system are taking advantage of a lack of competitors and predators and over-running your view! Yes, I do have somethings that I'd do, and encourage you to chew on. One, definitely get a big skimmer going on this system. With Triakis semifasciata eating how much they're probably doing, not to mention that beefy puffer!!! You need to extract some of the gunk that is feeding your algae problem. The cheapest, surest way to do that is through foam fractionation. Do you run any amount of carbon through any of those Marineland filter products? You should. A few pounds in polyester bags and switch them out every few weeks... BTW there are algicides for marine systems, but in your case... I wouldn't fool with them. The copper-based ones are DANGEROUS with sharks especially.

I have a 125 reef tank that experienced a major melt down The tank is 4 months old with 150 pounds of hand picked Fiji rock, wet dry system, ETSS Gemini 750 downdraft skimmer, UV, 3 175 watt metal halide lights with 2 6' VHO. Water parameters are normal. Ammonia is 0. nitrite 0. Calcium is hovering around 450. Carbonate hardness is 10. Tank temp about 77-78. The other day I came home from work and found my fish breathing rapidly. I have 16 fish. The fish show no signs of disease. No white spots. Nothing. The next morning everything is dead except two clown fish and a Banggai cardinal. What happened? <System components and parameters sound okay, and the real clincher clue is the fish livestock that is still around... Some sort of acute poisoning event occurred that favors fishes that live in close association with invertebrates... over those who do not. Now, what is it? Did you have a large sea cucumber? Something happen with a largish stinging-celled animal? Something, somehow triggered one or more of your other non-fish organisms to release toxins into the system. Something got sucked into an intake, something got stung severely, fell on to something else...     At this point, I would encourage a large water change (about half), a change in chemical filtration media (or addition if you don't generally use same), and a good month abstinence for adding more livestock of any kind.>

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