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FAQs on Reef System Operation/Maintenance 25

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Related FAQs: Reef Maintenance 1Reef Maintenance 2Reef Maintenance 3Reef Maintenance 4, Reef Maintenance 5, Reef Maintenance 6, Reef Maintenance 7, Reef Op. 8, Reef Op. 9, Reef Op. 10, Reef  Op. 11, Reef  Op. 12Reef Op. 13, Reef  Op. 14, Reef  Op. 15, Reef Op. 16, Reef Op. 17, Reef Op. 18, Reef Op. 19, Reef Op 20, Reef Op. 21, Reef Op. 22, Reef Op. 23, Reef Op. 24, Reef Op. 26, Reef Op. 27, & Marine MaintenanceReef Systems 1, Reef Systems 2, Reef Set-Up 1, Reef Set-Up 2, Reef Set-Up 3, Reef Set-Up 4, Reef Set-Up 5, Reef Set-Up 6, Reef Tanks, Reef LightingReef Lighting 2Reef Filtration, & Reef LivestockingReef Livestocking 2, Reef Feeding,

Small Marine Aquariums
Book 1:
Invertebrates, Algae
New Print and eBook on Amazon:
by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Small Marine Aquariums
ook 2:

New Print and eBook on Amazon: by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Small Marine Aquariums
Book 3:

New Print and eBook on Amazon:
by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Frustration setting in! Reading... flatworm ID, hair algae contr.    11/21/10
Hey there crew, Jordan here. So I'm asking for a little help with an ID of sorts and am also getting to the point of frustration. My tank has been up and running since May 2010. All has been great so far until recently. I did loose several fish to an Ich outbreak. I realize the problem is probably still there but there is no way of getting the remaining fish out of the tank or finding somewhere to put them as I only have a 10g QT. All the fish I have purchased have been watched well at LFS and have been there for at least 4 weeks before I touch them. I am down to 1 flame angel, 1 hippo tang, 1 false percula, 6 chromis, 2 diamond gobies, and 1 cleaner wrasse. All these fish appear ok as of right now. My question is not
really with the Ich issue as much as with the sudden (last few months) constant growth of hair algae and what appears to be little brown/orange flakes covering a lot of the algae and rock. This is the ID question I have and pictures to follow.
<Mmm, these are flatworms...>
All the corals that I do have, 1 frogspawn, 1 torch, 1 green Acro frag, 1 open brain, 2 x Rhodactis are doing awesome.
Tank parameters
125g w/ 25g sump
3 x150w HQI canopy from AquaticLife 72"
All water parameters have always been perfect. I use Aquavitro salt and do 10-15% water changes weekly. PH- 8.3 Sg 1.025 Nitrate/ite 0, Mg 1440, Cal 420ppm, Alk 3.5meq/l
I run 2 Vortech mp20 powerheads one on each side wall and a Koralia 2 in one corner. If you have any suggestions re algae problem or ID of flakes I would appreciate it.
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/fltwmid.htm
and the linked files above... "control"...>
Feed x2 a day, New life spectrum pellets/ PE Mysis and Fish & Reef #2 - one or the other
Clean up crew is roughly - 15 Nassarius snails, 6 turbo, 30 blue leg hermit, 15 Cerith
Do I need more cleaners/algae eaters?
<Mmm, not the approach I would take... nutrient exclusion, use by/through a DSB... remoted best...>
Is amount of flow possibly the problem?
<Possibly a contributing cause>
I really do not thing phosphates are the problem, I also have a lrg bag of Chemipure elite in sump, 1 month old
Please any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. I know this sounds like a lot to ask for.
<Mmm, not... Please read here:
and the linked files where you lead yourself. Enjoy the process... a measure of all things is what you become by them. Become yourself. Bob Fenner>

90 gallon filtration, reef maint.    11/15/10
Hello crew or Bob
<Am one!>
whoever I may be speaking to. I just wanted a second opinion that I trust on my current stock plan for my 90 gallon. I currently have a 55g up and running but a friend is giving me a much nicer 90g setup.
My occupants are as of now 1 yellow tang, 1 blue jaw trigger, 1 snowflake eel, 1 false percula clown, 1 fire fish goby. A little crowded I know hence the upgrade. I also have lots of corals in my 55. They are: Favia, hammer, trumpet, candy cane, blasto's, chalice, Birdsnest, greenstar polyps, several different kinds of Shrooms and zoa's, button polyps, Kenya tree, xenia, blue clove polyps, and maybe one or two others.
<Yikes! I'd keep the 55 going as well>
I also have a few other inverts like a cleaner shrimp, feather dusters, brittle star, and a tuxedo urchin.
I know its crowded but I have not lost anything and have had to set up a 40g breeder for a frag tank so I must be doing something right. I don't plan on getting any more live stock when I switch to the 90. I only plan on adding more live rock, I currently have 75-90 lbs roughly and will probably put another 15-30 lbs of Fiji in. I also grow red mangrove's and Chaeto in my sump, I also use a vertex skimmer that is rated for 120 gallons. As I said I have not lost anything but the hassle of being in school and doing weekly 10% water changes is wearing on me.
<? These are "the good olde days">
I was wondering if my idea to add more live rock to a larger system with my current stocking would help to push water changes back to the two or three week mark.
I think my filtration is adequate but I wanted an honest second opinion. I have never had Cyano, or
hair algae problems and wouldn't want to start now. I know a big part of my success is the constant monitoring of my system but it is becoming tiresome.
I just want to know how much filtration I would need to add to give me a bit of a break if there is such a thing. Thank you for the amazing site and your hard work. Zach
<I suggest making the routine maintenance of your system a bit more fun... consider it a necessary part of your/the game here. Bob Fenner>
Query reply, to reef maint. ayer   11/15/10

<Let me guess>
"<I suggest making the routine maintenance of your system a bit more fun...
consider it a necessary part of your/the game here. Bob Fenner>"
Mmm, I would have linked him to the fish girls maintenance site. Would make it much more fun, likely to do water changes 3 or 4 times per week.
>I catch your planktonic drift. B<
Re: Query reply  11/15/10
Um, I was there with the fishwhoregirls. I know it is a big laugh in all the forums, but it is a big dent in what is and hopefully will continue be a family hobby. I really hope it does not set a standard for shows in the
future. These gals were brought in by Greg Carrol, who thought it was hilarious, with his show that sold passes along with the Home and Garden show in the building next door as they always do. It is hard enough for some reefers to get their wives to go with them, then they see this. Not to mention the families that came through from the H&G, many of which walked in and then directly out. What a pitiful ploy for attention here.
Scott V.
Re: Query reply, reef maint. (joke) 11/16/10

Um, I was there with the fishwhoregirls. I know it is a big laugh in all the forums, but it is a big dent in what is and hopefully will continue be a family hobby. I really hope it does not set a standard for shows in the
future. These gals were brought in by Greg Carrol, who thought it was hilarious, with his show that sold passes along with the Home and Garden show in the building next door as they always do. It is hard enough for some reefers to get their wives to go with them, then they see this. Not to mention the families that came through from the H&G, many of which walked in and then directly out. What a pitiful ploy for attention here.
Scott V.
Re: Query reply

I agree with you completely but I do understand they are pretty well booked up.
My only response to those who book them is one of my fave Fennerisms "YOUR FISH ARE GONNA DIE!"
Scott V. 

Re: Inherited Tank (the journey begins) -- 11/24/10
Good evening EricR,
<<Morning now, hey JR!>>
I felt inclined to follow up with you after putting some of your advice in to play, and provide you with some stats/pictures.
<<Thank you for this>>
Thank you in advance for all of your help thus-far and also any questions answered in the future.
<<Quite welcome>>
I admire the site and did all of the recommended reading, in addition also researched the WWM website for the questions I'm about to ask.
<<Excellent'¦does help with formulating better/more complete/more to the point questions>>
Attached are 2 pictures of my tank at work.
<<I see them>>
As you previously mentioned, I do plan on being the exception and giving this tank and its inhabitants the attention and care they deserve at my business,
<<I do hope this is so'¦>>
now that I know the mistakes being made (I take responsibility for taking the bad advice).
<<Indeed, and a big step forward. Don't beat yourself up about it, but it is your/my/every hobbyist's responsibility to gather information from "multiple avenues" and make informed decisions using our own good judgment>>
I'll make sure to follow up with you, hopefully with a success story vs. a failure.
<<I look forward to realizing your success here>>
Here are the stats that I compiled; if I'm leaving anything out you would like to know I can defiantly get you the info: 1 Royal Gramma 1 Bicolor Dottyback 1 Yellow tail Damsel 1 Tomato Clownfish 1 Ocellaris Clownfish 2 Pacific blue tangs 1 yellow tang 4 turbo snails 12 margarita snails 1 banded coral shrimp 175 gal FOWLR, crushed coral and LS 50 gal Sump: Bio Balls, Kent Nautilus TE protein skimmer, undetermined amount of live rock, amount seems to be appropriate if not overkill.
<<The "volume" of rock looks okay, but the arrangement is poorly done in my opinion and size of most of the pieces is too small to be of use in other than maybe a refugium. I would prefer to see more bigger pieces of rock, arranged to provide better water flow-through and at the same time providing more caves/areas for the fishes to hide/retreat to>>
I would like to accomplish the following: -Lower Nitrate levels. pH 8.4, Ammonia 0ppm, Nitrites 0ppm, Nitrates 160+.
<<These "piles of rock" (looks like the rock was simply dumped out of the bock in to the tank) are likely big offenders. I would imagine much detritus is being trapped here>>
Test kit accurate and new.
<<Very good>>
My water source is at 40ppm, next month I will purchase an RO/DI.
<<40ppm Nitrate? Yikes! Yes, do get/employ the RO/DI unit--stat!>>
Recently I have configured the skimmer to the best of my abilities....Seems to be producing a lot of foam and water in the collection cup (I can continue to mess with the exhaust, but I plan on getting one of the skimmers you recommended in the next two months).
<<A "MUCH BETTER" solution>>
I have swirled all of my bio balls in tank water. I moved a lot of the LR, and siphoned the CC/LS which was EXTREMELY filthy (again, for 8 yrs it was very neglected).
<<And as mentioned, the jumble of small rock and likely inadequate water circulation has only compounded matters>>
Aquascaping is cool, the fish definitely responded well to the new scenery.
<<Uh-oh (open mouth, insert foot [grin])--please don't take my previous comments personally, but the rockwork needs to be opened-up some as mentioned>>
I plan on making some arches, caverns, and minor rearranging (it's a really cool tank if you have any suggestions you would like to see let me know!)
<<Ah (whew!)>>
Here nor there, I would like to be able to add an anemone for my clownfish,
<<First things first my friend--lets get comfortable and proficient at keeping what we have, for now>>
and start the refugium per your suggestion
<<This'¦better sooner than later>>
(ultimately ending up with a reef tank done right).
<<Sessile and motile (the anemone) inverts are not a good mix. It can be done with a large enough system and thought given to proper separation and stocking (noxious soft corals are "never" a good mix with an anemone, in my opinion), but you are a ways away yet>>
I feel confident about being able to do the refugium.
<<Excellent--this will be a big benefit to the system re expanded water volume, filtering capacity, beneficial biota'¦more>>
Do you have any other suggestions on how I can lower the Nitrates?
<<You are already well on your way with the vacuuming/removal of detritus, better arrangement of the rockwork, addition of the refugium, replacement of the current skimmer with a "quality" unit, and prefiltering of the tap water. Complete these changes and lets see where you stand--we can always reassess>>
I am going to continue to siphon and change the water; maybe it was so filthy from neglect that it will take some more effort (?) to get to at least my tap water level
<<Agreed>> (LSF recommended the salt I am using for the situation).
<<'¦?>> I've read on the WWM website to use the guide to find the appropriate anemone for my clownfish, but with that high of a Nitrate level; would you suggest adding it right now?
<<No'¦ Not now or in the near future, as explained>>
Or wait until it's a little more under control.
<<Wait until there's a LOT more under control>>
Truth be told, I have never seen the fish so happy after the care I have recently given them.
<<The dilution of organics, and an improved diet (no more brine shrimp; except as an occasional "treat"), is no doubt improving their lives already>>
And as sissy as it sounds, yesterday I let a 4yo kid feed them (I feed tropical fish flakes recommended by my LFS once every two days, better feeding schedule than the previous man maintaining its recommendation of a strict brine shrimp diet),
<<Yeesh'¦ ('¦we were doing so well) Your fishes need and "deserve" a more robust and varied diet. Your fish should be fed "daily" (one of the challenges to office/school systems), and preferably "multiple times a day" though a single daily feeding on the weekends/when the office is empty could be tolerated. You also need to provide your fishes a more varied diet suited to their needs. I very much suggest foods such as frozen mysis, frozen glass worms, frozen blood worms--and--New Life Spectrum pelleted food. One to two cubes "each" of the frozen foods just listed (based on the number of daily feedings), and a large pinch of the pellets; at each feeding, would not be too much here based on your stocking list in my opinion. Occasionally offering some type of "greens" (see Two Little Fishies "Sea Veggies") is also mandated>>
and the kid was so happy and so were the fish. So as a recap.....Can I/would you "okay" the addition of an anemone to my tank as a starter to ultimately end with a well maintained reef setup?
<<No my friend--as explained>> Side note, I did recently add an arrow head crab......cool addition to the cleanup crew.......he died in 3 days......I should have read about acclimation more before putting him in.
<<No more additions for now, please>>
Hopefully that's what did him in and I learned a valuable lesson before any more additions. As always, I praise you and your site for its abilities to answer such repetitious noobie questions, but I'm sure that even though you hear a lot of the same questions, getting to help the inhabitants of each tank hopefully makes up for it. Regards, and thanks in advance again. JR
<<Be chatting my friend (keep reading! [marine foods/feeding, acclimation, proper livestock selection, anemone systems])'¦ Eric Russell>>


Need advice on a fish tank 9/3/10
I have a bit of a dilemma on my hands. There is a saltwater tank at the local library that the Mayor of Long Beach donated when the Library opened. One of the fish looked rather sickly and then died shortly after I brought it to the library staff's attention. So I sent the following letter to the Mayor. Some recent developments since I sent the letter give me a reason to be more concerned that the new fish added to the tank is going to starve to death like the previous one likely did. At the end of the letter are the most recent concerns and the parts of the letter in red were not a part of the original letter and have been added to help clarify some things. I have the impression that the library staff does not believe what I am saying to them because the Fishman ((FM) Sorry, but I do not know his real name) is telling them one thing and I am telling them something completely different. I cannot in good conscious turn my back on this and watch another fish possibly slowly starve to death.
Dear Mayor Foster,
I would like to express my thanks to you and your wife for your generosity in donating the marine tank at the Mark Twain Library. I would also like to relay to you my recent interaction with the staff regarding the tank and my concern for the fish's health. This will also tie into an issue that is currently before the City Council.
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned to the library staff that one of the fish (the Yellow Tang) looked kind of ill and was perhaps starving to death. This same fish was found deceased this past Monday morning (08/09/10) when the staff came into work. I think that this fish may have been helped & may have lived a longer and healthier life if more urgent action was undertaken. Although the initial response was positive I later got the impression that they thought I did not know what I was talking about. Also in the tank there is a fish that I believe is a Red Head Solon Fairy Wrasse (Cirrhilabrus solorensis) that has a dark spot on its right side below the lateral line and above the anal fin. I am not sure what it is though. It could just be natural discoloration of the pigment. 'The FM was going to catch the fish this past Tuesday 08/31/10 and take it to be treated'
I offered information to the library staff regarding what type of food was more appropriate for the Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens) and offered to buy and donate the food if necessary because I noticed that the fish are being fed freshwater fish food. It makes no sense at all to feed freshwater food to marine fish when there are numerous choices of foods that have the correct nutritional value for marine fish and can be purchased at a cost that is comparable to the freshwater variety. I emailed the manufacturer of the food and they confirmed that there are better choices. I can forward the manufacturer's reply to you if you like. The following link will direct you to the food product that the fish were being fed at the time that I brought it to the staff's attention: http://www.tetra-fish.com/sites/tetrafish/catalog/productdetail.aspx?id=1276&cid=22.
'The fish are also being feed frozen brine shrimp that look sickly. They are pale white and not the orange-ish color I am use to seeing. They may not be gut loaded and may lack any real nutritional value and I believe they are not a good staple food for the Purple Tang (Zebrasoma xanthurum) that is in the tank. There is absolutely no algae (except coralline) in the tank for the Tang and it is not being feed any either like Nori strips.'
I was told by the library staff that the person that is caring for the tank explained to them that the fish died because they only live about 3-4 years. The information that I have read states that Yellow Tangs can live 6-8 years in the wild and up to a decade or more in captivity. The website, wet web media, is the source of the information that I gave to the library staff. The Q&A that I read is entitled "Yellow Tang Longevity". It would also be helpful to read the next Q&A entitled 'Zebrasoma Flavescens'. Please note that Mr. Fenner answered the first question and contributed to the answer in the second question. You will need to scroll down to see it. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/yeltangfaq4.htm
I also mentioned to the staff that the Purple Tang (Zebrasoma xanthurum) and the Yellow Tang are not always compatible especially when food is in short supply. Sometimes an exception can be made. For example; when they are housed in very large tanks that have many structures that block their line of sight of each other and affords them the ability to maintain their own territories. Even if fish do not coexist together in the wild they can still recognize each other as competitors for the same resources based on things such as body shape and feeding behavior. And since most all marine ornamentals' are wild caught they still have their wild instincts which can lead to aggression between them with the dominate one harassing the weaker one and causing it stress that can contribute to disease and early death due to over all poor health. Also, both the Yellow and Purple Tangs are of the same genus; Zebrasoma. Please see the article at
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/YellowTang.htm for information regarding inter and intra-specific aggression & foods, feeding and nutrition.
The following people [their books, published articles & websites] are just a few of the people that I rely upon for information when I have questions and it was their information that I tried to pass along.
Bob Fenner is a former marine science instructor at the University of California and in the California State University system. He is the author of The Conscientious Marine Aquarist and has been a regular contributor to a number of aquarium publications. Bob has worked in all phases of the aquarium business -- as collector, wholesaler, jobber, retailer, hatchery worker, designer, manager, and owner. His Wet Web Media site can be found at: http://www.wetwebmedia.com. http://en.microcosmaquariumexplorer.com/wiki/Robert_M._Fenner.
Martin A. Moe, Jr. holds a master's degree from the University of South Florida and his career as a marine biologist began when he went to work for the State of Florida. He entered the private sector and in 1970 developed the basic technology for breeding Florida pompano. He accomplished the first commercial culture of marine tropical fish and he founded the first commercial marine fish hatchery, Aqua-life Research Corporation, in 1973. Moe is the author of the best-selling marine aquarium books, Marine Aquarium Handbook: Beginner to Breeder and The Marine Aquarium Reference: Systems and Invertebrates just to name a few. http://en.microcosmaquariumexplorer.com/wiki/Martin_A._Moe%2C_Jr.
I was trying to impress the Mayor by dropping names'¦Just Kidding. I wanted to let him know that I was not giving him my own opinion & what the background is of the people that I rely on for information because I am sure that the Fishman ((FM) Sorry, but I do not know his real name) is telling the library staff how long he has been in the business and that he has always done things the same way.
The most recent event to happen was on Tuesday 08/23/10. A new fish was put into the tank. The fish has a light colored body, a blue streak under its eyes, a yellow head and is about 3 ½' to 4 inches. The FM said it was a diamond head goby but gave no scientific name and stated that they 'clean the sand' I think that it is actually a yellow head goby (Valenciennea strigata) because as far as I know the 'real' diamond head goby has orange spots on its body (hence its other common name 'orange spot goby) & is Valenciennea puellaris. To add to my confusion and perhaps his as well, I noticed that on a couple of websites they had a picture of the yellow head goby but had it labeled diamond head goby and even had the name Valenciennea strigata. The following website has a picture of a yellow head goby and an orange spot goby both listed as Valenciennea strigata. Can these fish look alike?
<Not really, they are quite distinct>
http://www.vividaquariums.com/tFrame.asp?Category=Fish:Gobies&SortBy=Price&ProductCode=01-2721-S .
I am concerned that the goby is going to suffer the same fate as the yellow tang because I have read on WWM that the yellow head goby is hard to keep alive without live sand and or a refugium. I understand that they feed on the fauna in the sand and not just fish waste and decaying fish food. I am not sure if the substrate is 'live' or not since I have never used the stuff myself. If a scoop of the substrate is taken out can you see the interstitial fauna without a magnifying glass? Also, the substrate in the tank looks like it might be 2-3 mm and I have read that 1.5mm or less is better. But I must admit I am not good at estimating things. Can the larger grain size damage the gills of the goby when it sifts through the sand?
<Not really, no>
Also in the tank are a bubble coral (Plerogyra sinuosa), two Rose Anemones (Entacmaea quadricolor), some frog spawn (Euphyllia divisa) and some 'Shrooms. I am not positive as they are hard for me to I.D. sometimes but they look like the pictures in James Fatherree's book The Super Simple Guide to Corals. I watched as one of the library staff was feeding them squid. He was using these huge tongs. They look like the kind an elderly person would use to get something off the top shelf of a cabinet. When feeding the inverts he pushes the squid down into their mouths with the end of the tongs & then uses the tongs to try and fold them closed since they 'open up' when the pumps are turned off and their mouths are visible. Is cramming food 'down their throats' a good way to feed them? I have never kept any but it looked to me like it was too hard on them to be feed in this manner. I do not fault the guy since I am sure his is doing what he was instructed to do and has never kept any of them either.
I am not looking to take the FM's job. I am only concerned about the fish & invertebrates being healthy and living out their full life potential. The FM could very well be an honest person that is doing what he thinks is correct but, I am a very cynical person by nature and cannot help but wonder if he may be doing these things knowing that the fish will not survive long and thus can increase his sales as sales are the life blood of every business.
Any comments on the letter would be helpful to me. I am hopeful that I have not give incorrect advise myself.
Thank you,
<I consider that you have done an admirable job here Jon... I would leave a note for the Fishman, and try to send him this message as well. Bob Fenner> 
re: Need advise on a fish tank
Thank you for your reply Mr. Fenner. I am sorry that all the paragraphs were run together. I copied it from a word document and pasted it into the email and not thinking that the formatting would not carry over.
<Ah, I see. B>

Re: At my wits end...cloudy, microbubbled water. Weird colors/foam. Bob Scott V Eric 8/29/10
Thank you for your reply. I hope the latest hashing was a "success", with a few gallons of one's favorite bier consumed!
<The HHHH's Toga "run" about did me in ayer>
I knew I'd leave some info out, a follow up if I may. I've released the bat and went back to logging probable situations like room door, ac vent, open vs. closed room/tank temp, yes I'm aware, a little fanatical. I assume when you said just not "over", that you meant water overfilling the sump?
On the front of sump I actually have marked with tape, maximum/minimum running/off levels.
<Ah, very good>
I noticed I put "operational" however I left out the fact that the maximum sump volume was with everything off [42gal]. The actual maximum running [operational] volume is right at 38 gallons. So about 4 gallons running through the lines. I left enough holding area for an additional 4 gallons with room to spare because as soon as I drill it for drains, I have a 55
gallon sitting above the sump [6" under and beside DT] that will be my "display" fuge, as the one in the sump will be for RDP. Other than the closed dish type sponges I find around here,
<Not to be used! Many, if not most of these are treated>
any certain product that is open like you mention?
<Try the "yardage stores"... If necessary go on the Net... open cell polyurethane foam of medium pore size...>
Knowing indeed Emperor Aquatic was your recommendation, I found an EBay deal on my three filter socks pretty cheap. They probably are of lesser quality, the next set will be EA brand. Just puzzled me that with the socks in place, the bubbles came back once salt was added. Is that normal or due to adding in the tank?
<To some small extent, possibly>
As far as higher concentration, do you mean higher salinity?
Oh and normal procedure will be to pre-mix, I just got jumpy looking at the salt bucket haha. About 20ft from the "reef room" in my laundry room near my R.O. unit I have 3 55 gallon food grade drums, per your advice. 2 for saltwater [enough h2o available for 100% change], 1 for R.O. All equipped with heaters, movement.
Eventually assuming summat of the same opinion, thank you, my nerves are at ease with the weird colors. And funny you should mention the 'scope. I have a cheaper, Fisher brand I purchased a week back on the way. An old biology professor of mine used to bring in water from his reef tank for us to view,
I was always fascinated by what is actually kicking around in there!
Freaky how an amphipod looks under one! With having 2 Koralia 4's in the DT it was thought of, but I take it from lack of mentioning, you don't prefer to throttle back the return pump?
<I'd replace it w/ something smaller flow/volume wise if you felt it has to be throttled back much>
So I am moving forward with the plan, I'll outsmart those bubbles eventually while enjoying my live rock in the process. Heck hopefully the rock will absorb some of these devils!
<Oh yes it will>
I can't imagine the amount of people this site has made fall in love with the hobby, thousands I'm sure! After spending a few years being a WWM addict, literally pouring over hundreds of hours worth of info [many laughs too], I feel my little donations along the way don't suffice.
<Perhaps you'll join our Crew one day>
If you're ever on the east coast, I'd love to shower you with little brown bottles and the Kentucky bourbon around here is pretty good too Heeeee. Bob thanks again, and in advance for any future help. You and the crew do it because you want to, not because you have to! That's what makes it great! Much appreciation!
<Thank you for sharing Jeremiah. BobF>
Re: At my wits end...cloudy, microbubbled water. Weird colors/foam. Bob Scott V Eric 8/30/10

Just the word toga explains everything, bet it was fun indeed! Just wanted to thank you again and once I've got something of value, experience worthy to share, help with, it would be an honor to give retribution as a Crew member one day! Nothing but a few years of studying really on the "resume" but hey, I like beer, I've heard somewhere that it was a prerequisite hehehe. Keep up the good work my friend. Be chatting.
<Ah yes. Cheers (and biers), BobF>

Algae question and maybe a few others   8/2/10
Hello to the crew of WWM and thank you in advance for taking the time to read over and answer my questions. I'm hoping to answer a few questions, plus get any helpful advise from your team along the way.
First a bit of history, I purchased this tank back 2006 and it was already about three years old and fully stocked with fish and corals. While I had previously kept salt and fresh water fish only tanks, corals were completely new to me. I'd like to list all of the livestock and equipment I currently have, as some has been lost, changed or upgraded over the years.
Oceanic 92 gallon corner tank, stand & canopy with two 120mm fans
Pro Clear Aquatics 175 wet/dry, sump
Mag-Drive 9.5, return pump
ASM G-1, skimmer
2 Hydor Koralia 3's, tank circulation
Coralife 24" Aqualight Pro with one Aqualine Buschke 10k 150 watt MH & two
Coralife 65 watt actinic PC's, lighting
Coralife 3x, UV sterilizer
Two Little Fishes Phosban 150, with Pura Phoslock and Kent reef carbon, phosphate reactor
<...? Why all this HPO4 removing?>
1 Sailfin Tang (7")
1 Yellow Tang (4")
2 Maroon Clowns (4" and 3")
3 Blue Chromis (3")
1 Blue Damsel (2")
1 Engineer Goby (14")
1 Pink Starfish (5")
1 Bubble Coral
2 Heads Dendro Coral
1 Frog Spawn Coral
1 Green BTA Anemone
<And a good deal of BGA>
A mix of Purple Mushrooms, Yellow Polyps, Green Star Polyps, Kenya Tree Coral, and Zoanthus
All of the fish are adult the corals are of mixed ages.
Two feeding of Omega One Marine Pellets (about 10 pinches, there very small pellets)
Two feeding of Two Little Fishes Green Seaweed (3"x2" piece)
I hand feed the Engineer Goby one Krill
I feed the Starfish one Kill 3-4 times a week
I feed the Dendro Coral small cut up pieces of Krill
I also feed the Anemone one Krill 2-3 times a week
All of the Krill is rinsed and soaked in Two Little Fishes Phyto Plan
Water change of 30 gallons with Instant Oceans Reef Crystals and store bought RO water (Windmill or Glacier water stations). vacuumed from gravel.
Removal and replacement of filter pad in wet/dry.
Removal and replacement of Phoslock and Reef Carbon.
Test nitrates, phosphates, calcium, salinity, ph and kH.
Average test results:
Nitrates 10 PPM
Phosphates .5 PPM
<? Surprising>
Calcium 460 PPM
Salinity 1.023
PH 8.2
KH 214.8 PPM (sometimes higher)
Nitrite and Ammonia always test zero
Clean pumps, skimmer, and sump
Treat for Aiptasia with Aiptasia-X
Change all bulbs
This maintenance list is really for the last year, prior to that it was not as good.
As I have a small group of questions I figured I'd just list them out.
In between water changes I always get very fine bright green algae on the glass, even after cleaning its back within 48 hours. Is there anything I can do to reduce this?
<Mmm, yes... directly... raise your RedOx... indirectly switch out,
replace some of your live rock (should be done annually... see WWM re), add a DSB in a tied in refugium/sump... with a RDP lighting regimen and useful macroalgal culture... Mmmm. Get a much larger system...>
I also have a very dark red/brown algae
that covers some of my rocks, it even over grows the small amount of coralline algae I have. It grows in high light areas and oddly enough it has grown more since my water parameters have improved (mainly the phosphates dropping). Is there anything I can do to reduce this algae and promote the coralline algae?
<The photo attached is almost certainly BGA... is it soft to the touch? Peals off when pinched?>
I believe my water changes of 30 gallons a week are causing the tank to have a small cycle. Could this be, and how harmful is this?
<Well, you don't want to have so much change period that cycling is interrupted...>
I'm in the process and strongly considering some new changes to the tank.
I'm looking to have a sump/refugium custom built to allow for the most volume I can fit in my cabinet.
It will add a real 10 gallons of water volume to my system, giving me a spot for a five gallon refugium. Good/Bad idea?
<Well, the bigger the better...>
I'm also looking to add a larger skimmer with the new space in the sump.
Currently I'm looking at the CoralVue SRO-2000 INT Good/Bad idea?
<These are good units IMO>
Strongly considering the Red Sea Wavemaster, and using airline tubing on my Koralias to keep them from clicking when the pump cycle on and off. As well has upgrading the ballast and sockets to support a 250 watt metal halide in place of the 150 watt. Good/Bad idea?
The main reason for the upgrades is because I would like to start adding some SPS to the top portion of my tank. I actually added a small Pocillopora about 3 weeks ago and so far so good. All the upgrades would be in stages mainly to cut down on the upfront cost. First would be the sump/refugium, second the skimmer, third the wavemaker, and lastly the 250 watt metal halide.
<Sounds good. Is the order I'd do them>
I've also recently been learning about algae scrubbers. I'm curious if this could be any help to my system. If there <they're> what I believe them to be, my small 30 gallon tank my have a naturally occurring one. As my HOB filter is under my T5's it always grows thick green algae on the two 1"x 4" lips of the return. And the test parameters of that tank are always perfect of course there's only one Damsel and Hermit Crab in that tank. If
this would be any help in my 92 gallon tank I could add a small 2'x15.5' lip to the wall going to the refugium. Worth the effort, or not the same thing?
<I would go w/ the rest of your plans first>
I would love to have your thoughts on these things or anything else that you may help me with from the information I provided. And thanks again for your time.
<You'd do well to learn to use the search tool and indices on WWM. Thank you for sharing, and do send along specific questions, and your follow-up input as your plans progress. Bob Fenner>


Re: Algae question and maybe a few others. BGA cont., Reef op. f's  8/4/10
Thank you, I really wasn't expecting such a quick reply. Although I do appreciate your timely response.
<Ahh! In action, watch the timing... a resounding/repeating theme in human cognitive history/writing>
A few of your questions and mine could have been answered if I would have given a better history rather than just a current status.
<You show/display wisdom.... wish I did!>
When I first purchased this tank the previous owner had a list of problems and failures. And even though I knew little to nothing about Corals, for the price they were asking ($600.00 for Tank, Stand, Sump, Light, UV Sterilizer, Skimmer, Return Pump, Live Stock and Accessories) I felt I couldn't pass it up. At first I felt that my experience keeping Fresh and Saltwater Fish for years before would help in my success with Corals, and the rest I could learn along the way. This was not so much the case, there were things I never even thought of. The problems I noticed and fixed right off were more equipment related.
The owner had cut a huge hole at the top of the over flow box to allow them to put the U drain pipe in the main tank. This also put uneven pressure on the rubber seal along the bottom of the drain pipe, causing a small constant drip.
The Skimmer body had been cut or drilled out to allow for a bigger pump.
<?! Not smart>
However it was done so badly and without any type of gasket, that just as much water leaked out has went in. I noticed these issues right off and fixed all of them. The Skimmer was replaced with the ASM G1.
What I didn't realize was how over stocked the tank was, or how big the fish that were in the tank would become. And how under sized my new Skimmer was going to be for it's future job. In addition to the 9 fish I listed in my current setup, there were originally 7 more. Including 1 Chromis, 2 Yellow Wrasse, 1 Red Coris Wrasse,
<Gets quite large, rambunctious>
1 Scooter Goby, and 2 Blue Devil Damsel. There were also 3 BTAs, 2 Tube Anemone,
1 Green Flower Pot Coral, 1 Bubble Coral, 1 Flame Scallop, 1 Feather Duster, 1 Star Fish, and another Star Fish I found dead in the overflow box that the owner had mentioned went missing, 2 Porcelain Crabs, and 1 Banded Coral Shrimp. Out of the Coral/Invertebrates I only have the Bubble Coral and Star Fish left. The Flame Scallop and Green Flower Pot slowly died off,
<Very typical, par for this course>
one of the BTA's did not make the move, the other two died after 2 to 3 years, the Star Fish ate the Feather Duster, and I donated the Tube Anemone's to my LFS after reading about them in your book. Of the fish, 1 Yellow Wrasse Jumped out of the tank, the other was bullied to death by the Maroon Clowns,
<Common beh.>
1 Chromis died from starvation, (he just stopped taking food, even live Brine Shrimp).
<Very social animals...>
And the Scooter Goby died of starvation too during a bad out break of Aiptasia (he couldn't even move over the rocks to eat Copepods, without getting stun by the Aiptasia, and he eventually stopped taking Live Brine Shrimp). The 2 Porcelain Crabs and Banded Coral Shrimp were eaten by the Red Coris Wrasse.
<Ah yes>
That's a sad thing, to admit all of that, I feel as if I failed them, after all they were in my care. I also donated the Red Coris Wrasse and the 2 Blue Devil Damsels to my LFS as well. In addition to the heavy bio load the tank had no water movement, besides the return line. I also noticed that the return line first went through the UV Sterilizer reducing it's flow and making the UV Sterilizer
pointless. I rerouted all of this with a new Maxi Jet 1200 and ball valve to run UV Sterilizer and Phosphate Reactor. And of course the Mag Drive 9.5 is only a return feed pump. The tank also had a huge amount of Bristle Worms. These were killed off during a radical treatment for the Aiptasia.
After losing the Scooter Goby to the Aiptasia, (one of my favorite fish in the whole tank). I removed all of the Live Rock and put it in a 35 gallon container with fresh mixed saltwater and a 800 gph pump, covered the container and left it outside in the sun for a week. Monitored temp which was in the high 90's almost 100's and changed out the water as needed. The high temp killed everything, Aiptasia, Bristles Worms, Algae, and I'm sure a good amount of my Beneficial Bacteria. After this I went through the cook process, keeping the rock at a temp of 78 to 79 degrees with water movement and changed the water as needed, until everything was well cycled and safe to put back in the tank, about a month total time. The rocks that had large growth of Polyps and the Bubble Coral went into a 10 gallon QT tank and were treated for Aiptasia as well as the addition of some Peppermint Shrimp. This was all during the same time the live rock was being treated outside, the fish stayed in the tank, with make shift PVC housing during this process. While I killed every Aiptasia on the live rock and in the tank, I know I had to miss a few on the rock I kept in the QT tank. I still treat with Aiptasia X for these guys once a month, however there are very few, and they don't seem to spread. My understanding is that a heavy nutrient rich tank, higher heat (was at 82 at one point, now a constant 76 to 78) and low water flow, basically gave them a perfect breeding ground and they started to reproduce asexually, which is what caused the out break of literally hundreds in the tank.
<Likely so>
Now I probably treat about 20 a month. Another problem I had after this was high Nitrates, even with weekly maintenance the heavy bio load was causing me to see deep red in all my Nitrate test. During the beginning of 09 I finally got these under control, and tested 20PPM on average, sometimes higher. Although I still was seeing Algae, It never dawned on me to check Phosphate. The first test for Phosphate turned dark blue instantly. I changed to RO water and over time saw them drop to 2.0PPM,
<Still way too high>
I could never get below this mark though. I read a lot on your site about Phosphate Reservoirs and saw that while I was on the right track, it was going to take time, as everything in this hobby. I then added the Phosphate Reactor, and saw a drop to 1PPM by the beginning of this year.
During a desire to re aquascape and maybe eliminate the Phosphate Reservoirs, I again broke the tank down, but no where near as severe before. I simply set up a few buckets of fresh RO water and a large 35 gallon tub of fresh saltwater. Pulled the rocks out one by one, dipped in the fresh water and shook them clean before placing them in the 35 gallon bin of saltwater. Once done, I thoroughly vacuumed the Crushed Coral
<You might switch this out for sand...>
in the tank, changing out a total of 70 gallons. The Phosphates instantly dropped to .5 PPM and have never risen above that, and recently have been at .25 PPM. All this was done about 4 months back. The reason I'm doing the upgrades I mentioned is so I can feed my fish a bit more and support SPS, my Sailfins lost a bit of weight, nothing scary but I don't like seeing weight loss in any of my fish. It's mainly because I stopped using the Large Shrimp Pellets from Omega One, do to the fact it's a Shrimp based food and the whole Phosphate thing. I'm going to see how the levels do by putting him back on the larger pellets rather then the small ones he and the other fish eat. Either way I'll still be feeding far less than I used too. Suggestions on a good dry food of larger size would be greatly appreciated.
<Oh, Spectrum brand by a very long shot:
Wow, that was a lot. I don't think I listed all of it before because I was afraid of length and embarrassed about some of it too.
<Don't be>
I really do feel bad that some of my live stock has died do to poor care and naivety. I've learned a lot over the years, and yes I do read your site quite often. I find it very informative, most of the things that have me on the right track now are do to your site and book. I put the email together with a few questions I found some answers to on your site, but felt that since everyone's tanks just a bit different I'd still ask for your advise. I'm glad I have and appreciate all the help.
In answer to your question about Magnesium, I have no idea I've never had it tested.
<I definitely would>
I was under the assumption that if Calcium, Alkalinity and PH were in line, them Magnesium should be okay.
<Not the case, no>
Considering that you asked, I'm guessing I'm wrong and should be concerned about this?
<Yes... if out of proportion, all else to do w/ alkalinity and biomineral content will be mal-affected: http://wetwebmedia.com/mgmarfaqs.htm>
And seeing the Algae with the low Phosphate and Nitrates is surprising to me too. Any Ideas?
<All sorts... again, the substrate switch out... the addition of a good-sized refugium, RDP lighting, macro-algae culture... if you'd like an ozonizer, perhaps a dryer...>
(light cycle 10hrs PC's and 8hrs MH)
The Dark Red Algae does not come off. I've never tried to peel it off, however I did try to use a stiff nylon brush on it and nothing. The top is some what soft and my Tangs do eat it if that helps.
<Is indicative of a bad situation sorry to state... And can be used (through its diminution) as a gauge of improvement in your system/water quality>
The new Sump/Refugium is the largest I can fit, with out making it a two piece unit, and even then I might only be able to add 5 gallon.
<No chance for one elsewhere? In another room/closet, above?>
Current design is 26"x16"x16" with a 8.5"x15.5"x9" for the Refugium.
I'm planning on having 3" of Live Sand and Chaeto Algae. With a 12 watt PC 6500k or 10000k, I currently have a 50/50 bulb in this size, but I didn't know how well it would work. I do plan on running the lighting opposite cycle of my main tank lights. Honestly I read a lot over Refugium design on your site, I'm just limited to space.
<I see>
Oh and in the main tank I do have 3" to 3 1/2" inches of fine crushed coral, it's just not under the Live Rock, the Goby Engineer keeps that area completely free of Crushed Coral.
<Again... I'd switch to sand for sure: Sara's new pc. here:
and the linked files above>
I'd personally like to know if there's a way to avoid changing out some of the Live Rock yearly, I've read about this before on your site. However I'm not big on the idea of the cost or wasting Live Rock. Are there any ways around this?
<A good deal of it "melts down" and you don't need to change/add much... 10% in larger systems will do>
I'm going to have to read about RedOx, this is new to me. Is it something that could be causing my Algae growth?
<Mmm, more like "allowing it"... is an aspect of water quality>
From what I had a chance to skim over, it sounds like my new Refugium and Skimmer will raise it?
<Yes, hopefully>
Which is good?
But either way sounds like I need to have it tested to know the level.
<Indeed you are correct>
I also don't' do or know much about Ozone. I'm guessing this should be on my list of things to read up on too?
<Heeeee! But of course>
Thanks again for all your help and I will keep you posted on how things are going. I'm having the Sump built this week, next month the new Skimmer.
Mark Morales
<Thank you for sharing Mark. BobF>

Re High pH And Tons Of Hair Algae/Lacking Useful Info/Now Toxins/Now Anemone Health/Now BGA 4/18/10 - 4/19/10 - 4/20/10 - 4/21/10 4/22/10 -/23/10 - 4/26/10 - 5/11/10 - 8/1/10
Hi James,
<Hello Dan>
A slight update on this disaster and yet more questions.
I checked my parameters last night:
Calcium: 430 to 440
KH: JUST under 7.
everything else was 0 as desired
I did not check magnesium, however.
<Is a major element of sea water, should be tested and maintained.>
1) I still have hair algae. A month or 2 ago, I took the rocks out and used the toothbrush till they were as clean as I could reasonably expect. I've been doing at least 10-20 gallon water changes every week since. What grew
back was not as green or severe (note pictures in the last 3 images. You can use the list at the bottom to skip to the last 3).
I suspect that my RO/DI unit wasn't turning off completely due to a bad auto shut off, hence dirtying up the filters in a couple months. I've fixed that issue this week and replaced the filters.
2) A couple months ago, I added another skimmer. I now have an AquaC EV120 AND a Remora Pro hang on. They seem to produce the skim mate and stay busy.
The Remora doesn't produce as thick a foam but that's ok, I empty out the brown water in it every other day. I figure it's just helping!
<I've looked at all the pics and it appears to me that your stocking level is on the heavy side and nutrient levels are soon to get worse as the fish grow thus increasing nuisance algae growth. The new EV-120 should help with this but in the near future with your present fish load, nutrient levels are likely to be imported faster than they are exported.>
3) The anemone looks awesome again (noted in the pic). It reseated itself at the very left side of the tank for some reason and has slowly started to drift (pushing through the gravel) back towards it's old spot in the center.
Not sure why but hope it's happy as it looks, should I be concerned?
4) Note how crappy the star polyps look. For a while they looked great.
Not sure why they seem to be turning down the last couple weeks. This may coincide w/the hair algae turning a browner/lighter color. Any idea?
<Possibly allelopathy and/or being irritated by fish and or invertebrates, change in lighting.
More found here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/polypbehfaqs.htm>
5) Can't seem to grow much coraline. Even though I dose with Kalkwasser a couple times a week, I can't seem to get my Calcium over 350. kH tends to stay at the low normal range as well. I used to be able to get it to 400
when dosing. I checked my Tropic Marin mix and it comes out at an expected 350. I suspect there is still a water quality issue?
<May want to maintain dKH at 5-6. High dKH levels can cause calcium to precipitate.>
6) Do I dose Kalk properly? I have a 2 gallon container which I fill with RO/DI water. Then I take 2 tablespoons of Kalkwasser and mix it vigorously.
I then drip the entire amount back into the sump return over the next hour or 2 at a rate fast enough to keep the air hose from clogging. Is this ok?
<No, the newly mixed Kalkwasser should be allowed to settle at least 24 hours before dosing and
only the clear liquid should be used. Best to read here.
Again, thanks for your help and time. You guys are invaluable to this hobby!
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re High pH And Tons Of Hair Algae/Lacking Useful Info/Now Toxins/Now Anemone Health/Now BGA 4/18/10 - 4/19/10 - 4/20/10 - 4/21/10 4/22/10 - 4/23/10 - 4/26/10 - 5/11/10 - 8/1/10
Sorry James, I was a bit vague:
<Is OK, I can only go by what I see/read.>
1) concerning the bioload, the first pictures are of the previous critters which at one time or another inhabited the tank. Those guys no longer exist.
Only the 2 clowns, a pistol, a blood red shrimp, BTA, a few small colonies of green and purple star polyps, a couple round urchins (not pictured), and some snails & hermits live in the tank now. The 2 clowns were replaced since the die-out but that's it. I wont buy anything else till I'm 100% back.
2) Concerning alkalinity, isn't 5 dKH low? I believe the acceptable range is between 6-12, mine being at the VERY low side??
<The Europeans have been keeping their dKH in the 4-5 range for quite some time with great success, and has been recommended for reef systems by Lou Ekus of Tropic Marin (personal phone conversation).
Tropic Marin developed Alka Balance for just that purpose.>
3) Kalkwasser: I will do it correctly from this point forward!!! What was downside to just letting all of it drain into the tank?
<The dosing of suspended particles is not recommended as it does not aid in increasing the Ca levels of your water, and over time, can lead to a CaCO3 (calcium carbonate) buildup within the substrate.
James (Salty Dog)>
Re High pH And Tons Of Hair Algae/Lacking Useful Info/Now Toxins/Now
Anemone Health/Now BGA  8/2/10, reef op. f'
Thanks James.
<You're welcome.>
I'll take a look into Tropic Marin developed Alka Balance.
I'm about to order a magnesium test kit. The Salifert is more expensive and for less, I can get the Seachem which also tests carbonate alkalinity, borate alkalinity, and total alkalinity.
Any preference?
<I use/like the Salifert kits. James (Salty Dog)>

Worms and Corallines, ScottT's go  -- 7/7/10
Hi Crew-
<Hi Sal!>
Hope everyone's well and had a great weekend! As you've all been so helpful in the past, I turn to the masters once again. I've got two problems, and I hope you can help with at least one. I've got about 80 pounds of LR in a
55, sand bed, inverts, corals, and some fish (including a pair of successfully breeding A. ocellaris).
<Great work!>
I've got a large, persistent population of bristle worms which I have been trapping, etc. for months. They keep returning. I've got both the Hawaiian Fire and the grey varieties. Some of those get quite large, and I once pulled one out that was almost 10 inches long. At my wit's end, I'm seriously considering removing all the rock with nothing on it I want to keep and soaking it in chlorinated tap water (bleach added?) for a few hours or a day while I sift through the entire sand bed to remove anything in there that's not sand. Is there a better way to kill these things
*permanently* than to uproot the entire tank? Also, how do I treat the rock that may contain corals, polyps, Chitons, and other life I want to keep?
<Have you considered embracing them? They do a nice clean up job. I personally love them.>
The other problem is, I am growing a *thick* coat of corallines all over everything. I have not added calcium to my reef tank in over 5 months, and the coralline grows about 1/4 inch thick in that time. Short of the above method which kills the worms, is there a way to stop it from growing? It's quite annoying, as it is encrusting all my polyps and must be broken off with a forceps at least once per month or the polyps will get strangled.
If I add any calcium at all besides what is available in the salt mix (Instant Ocean) I must free the polyps every week.
<I'm putting this back for someone who knows more to respond. You should get two replies.>
Much appreciated,
<Scott T.>
Worms and Corallines, RMF's go
 -- 7/7/10
Hi Crew-
Hope everyone's well and had a great weekend! As you've all been so helpful in the past, I turn to the masters once again. I've got two problems, and I hope you can help with at least one. I've got about 80 pounds of LR in a 55, sand bed, inverts, corals, and some fish (including a pair of successfully breeding A. ocellaris).
I've got a large, persistent population of bristle worms which I have been trapping, etc. for months. They keep returning.
<As they are wont to do>
I've got both the Hawaiian Fire and the grey varieties. Some of those get quite large, and I once pulled one out that was almost 10 inches long. At my wit's end, I'm seriously considering removing all the rock with nothing on it I want to keep and soaking it in chlorinated tap water (bleach added?)
<Mmm, I wouldn't do this... likely some individuals would be reintroduced with the rock>
for a few hours or a day while I sift through the entire sand bed to remove anything in there that's not sand. Is there a better way to kill these things *permanently* than to uproot the entire tank?
<... Predators, trapping... Read here:
and the linked files above>
Also, how do I treat the rock that may contain corals, polyps, Chitons, and other life I want to keep?
<... can't really. There are no processes, chemical treatments that are strictly harmful only to Errantiate Polychaetes>
The other problem is, I am growing a *thick* coat of corallines all over everything. I have not added calcium to my reef tank in over 5 months, and the coralline grows about 1/4 inch thick in that time. Short of the above method which kills the worms, is there a way to stop it from growing?
<... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/corlinecompfaqs.htm
quite annoying, as it is encrusting all my polyps and must be broken off with a forceps at least once per month or the polyps will get strangled.
If I add any calcium at all besides what is available in the salt mix
(Instant Ocean) I must free the polyps every week.
Much appreciated,
<Please learn to/use the search tool, indices. Bob Fenner>

A Stinky Situation- Reef Odor: That Marine Fish Tank Smell. 6/23/2010
<Hi Joe.>
Thanks again for your admirable (and perhaps saintly?) dedication to the hobby!
<Glad you find it useful.>
This is a question that I was not able to find on the site and it does not relate much to the hobby- maybe I should try Martha Stewart's page!
I have the most amazing reef tank thanks to Bob and the crew. Truly, it would not be a success without your wisdom and guidance. The corals are growing wonderfully and all specimens are flourishing. However, the last
guests to view the system were not knocked down by its beauty but by its smell!
<Ahhh yes...>
Ok, it is not that bad but a distinct odor is noticeable. The smell is hard to describe but it is NOT the smell of the ocean.
<I actually live next to the ocean and it can be pretty smelly from time to time.>
I test the parameters every week and have not noticed anything out of the ordinary (did not think numbers were needed in this email).
<That's fine.>
Water changes are performed weekly with RO water and skimmer is cleaned often. I also have a tight fitting lid that covers 99% of the surface area.
<Do you have a collection bottle for the skimmer?>
Any idea where the source would be and how to rid the smell?
<The first thing to keep in mind is that ALL marine tanks have a odor, which can vary from a clean, briny odor, to something slightly worse than rotten fish. In a well maintained system, the odor isn't that bad, but can bother some people. There are a few different sources for the stink, the skimmer, trapped water growing mold\mildew, and the tank itself - particularly if you have algae - even desirable macroalgae can have a distinct 'funk' to it.>
I use a fan for cooling and have lots of circulation within the room which does not seem to help regarding the odor. I would prefer not to use air fresheners as I know that the tank can absorb these.
<True. Avoid air fresheners if at all possible>
One possibility is that water got in the carpet and it needs to be wet/dry cleaned but this is my only hypothesis.
<A 'sniff test' on the carpet can confirm or deny that quickly enough.>
Any help would be GREATLY appreciated! Again, thank you for all that you do!
<There are a few things you can try. First, start running carbon in your system. If you already are, try changing it frequently. Second, keep the skimmer clean. If you are using a collection bottle for the skimmate, plug the opening with a sponge (which still allows the drain tube to enter) and cover the sponge with carbon. Lastly, adding ozone to your skimmer can help greatly. It not only helps keep your water quality high, but the ozone that isn't 'burned up' in the skimmer gets off gassed into the room.
This can deodorize a room pretty quickly.
Joe W.

coral questions and fish compatibility for a reef <maint.> - 6/11/10
Hi once again Guys & Gals,
I want to thank you for the time and patience you give to each and every one of us
newbies and not so newbies. I'll try to make this quick as I can. Listed below are tank specs.
125 gallon FOWLR (for now)
ammonia .2 (added more live rock last week)
<Don't add livestock... or feed>
nitrate 10 ppm ( lowered from 80 +)
nitrite 0
dKH 8
Calcium 530
<Too high... see WWM re; lowering>
Phosphates .5 ppm
<Could be too high as well>
Magnesium 1500
RO/DI water
Approximately 100 lbs of LR
Additives - Seachem Iodide every 3/4 days only
Seachem Reef salt
I'm trying to convert over to a reef system housing soft corals.
Current inhabitants:
Copperband (doesn't touch Aiptasia)
Diamond Goby
Flame Hawkfish
Harlequin Tusk (juvenile)
One Spot Foxface
5 Hermit Crabs (red legged little guys that survived the puffers)
5 mushrooms
2 small leather corals with a small group of brown star polyps ( I think)
baseball size cauliflower coral Just to be clear, I have no puffers anymore.
Mushrooms and corals came in on my live rock when I set up the tank about approximately 1 year ago.
Skimmer is junk so am trying to figure out how to make room in my wet/dry for an Octopus.
I've been reading ever so much literature on corals and am wondering if I need to remove the small group of star polyps from in between the two leather corals. All listed corals have come in on one beautifully huge piece of live rock. Do I worry or just leave it be?
<Likely fine leaving>
I never realized they could attack each other chemically until I started all this reading.
<Have likely "gotten used to each other"...>
I also have another two pieces of live rock that have not so nice red turf algae along with green hair algae. Not Cyano, I had that already and got that taken care of. I know that getting a decent skimmer employed will help immensely with nutrient export but until I can figure out the plumbing issues and conversion of the wet/dry sump into one housing live rock/skimmer I have increased my water changes to roughly 40 gallons a week. I would like to have a Lawnmower Blenny for the hair algae and maybe about 4/5 Mexican Turbo Snails for the red turf algae.
<The Tusk may consume gastropods>
The only other fish addition's I would like to make will be a couple of clown fish. I changed my mind, after much reading, and decided to forget the anemone and get a Toadstool leather coral instead. But with reading all this stuff about corals and chemical warfare. I'm wondering if this is a good idea or not. Your thoughts?
<Are archived on WWM re... if started small, a Toadstool soft coral should do fine here>
My Halimeda has really taken off. I wanted to cut it back but am wondering as well, if I should remove the live rock it is attached to and cut it off out of the main tank or can I just leave it and cut it off right inside the tank?
<Can be done in-tank>
I might just move the Halimeda down into my sump when I get that figured out.
I'm also wondering if I need to worry about the tusk if I start putting in other corals, I have read on other sites that they are not considered reef safe.
<Usually leave Cnidarians alone>
He has pretty much left everything alone but I also know he is still pretty young. The Copperband has also left everything well enough alone but I have reduced my feedings as I found out I was also over-feeding my tank so maybe that will change since the food isn't quite as available as it use to be.
Well, that's all I can think of for now. Thanks again ever so much. Jill
<Bob Fenner> 

Converting to a reef system   6/2/10
Hello again Bob and crew or whoever gets this,
<Hi Jill, Simon with you this afternoon!>
I have severe frustration's regarding my FOWLR tank that I want to convert to an anemone/reef friendly system.
After not being happy for a while with my saltwater LFS I decided to just take matters into my own hands before I finally just give up all together. Here is my system info:
125 gallon, 80/100 lbs live rock, Marineland protein skimmer (not producing enough skimmate), two BioWheels (removed one and replaced with live rock), Harlequin Tusk, Foxface, Copperband Butterfly, Flame Hawkfish, Diamond Goby.
<Hmm, a difficult fish by all accounts>
Ammonia/Nitrite 0, 1.024 Sg, <low> KH 10, PO .5ppm, <high> Nitrate 80ppm, <High> Calcium 520, <Also high> I use RO/DI water with Seachem Reef Salt. This is after a 35 gallon water change this week and a 15 gallon water change last week. I use Chemipure in my filters (replaced one a month) and foam pads replaced weekly.
<I would just remove these>
I also clean the skimmer weekly. I recently (within the last couple of weeks) got rid of my two puffers. I also just recently found out I have been way way overfeeding my tank so have reduced my feedings to two cubes a day.
<Ok. It may take some time to get this nitrate down. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm The phosphate should come down with it>
I, of course, am fighting some hair algae and lots of that red turf algae I believe. It's covering my live rocks.
<Do you mean BGA or Cyanobacteria? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm >
I'm wondering what my best course of action should be to get my tank reef ready. How aggressive can I be with my water changes until I get things back in line?
<As 'aggressive' as you like really. Just make sure that it is pre-mixed, aerated, heated first. Also make sure there are no areas in your system that are harbouring build-ups of waste (such as filter pads)>
I have been fighting this protein skimmer for 9 months now, I'm lucky to get 1 cup of icky stuff a week, and am looking into getting an Octopus skimmer.
<I've heard good things about these>
I just need to see if it fits into my sump.
<Do you employ a refugium as well? A great tool in this fight http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm>
I have always had high nitrates, hence the removal of one Biowheel. Do you think I would be fine removing the other Biowheel?
<I would, yes, but I doubt that this is the source of your issues.. these do not trap debris>
I also read lots and lots of FAQs about the red turf algae and am wondering if I should remove the live rock that it's on and replace this with some new "live" rock?
<I would rinse it in some water that you remove from the system.. perhaps blow debris out of it using a turkey baster.. this could be a source, especially if you used to have two puffers in there>
I have two corner overflows into my tank but think I still might need to increase my water flow.
<Good water flow is essential.. if you have the money look into Vortech pumps -- superior to every other method of providing flow IMO>
I do not add any chemicals to my water unless needed, my magnesium levels have been good ( I didn't test them tonight though) and since I switched to reef salt my calcium is high. How do I lower this?
<have you tested the make-up water for Ca before adding it to the system?>
Is it a danger to anything?
<Can cause a precipitation, and irritate animals>
I do have trouble keeping the KH high enough but it has gone from 7.5 to 10 now as I have been using Seachem Reef builder.
<Ahh! This is a 'three part' additive'¦ contains ca & mg as well, probably why your calcium is high. You want to fins a method of raising dKH without raising calcium http://www.advancedaquarist.com/issues/nov2002/chem.htm>
I brought my water into my LFS to be tested and he said my Sg was high at 1.027, he used a refractometer and I just have one of those plastic hydrometers and
tested it at 1.025 that same day so I'm now a little leery about going above 1.024 on my hydrometer.
<These can be inaccurate'¦ best to purchase your own refractometer -- good ones can be found cheaply.. try D&D aquarium solutions>
I was lucky enough to have a finger leather coral come in on my live rock with some star polyps, how these haven't died yet is beyond me.
<Tough corals>
They do seem to close up when I do water changes but all lights are off so I'm assuming that's normal?
<They will close up yes>
Basically, I'm just not sure where to start to correct this all. 40 Gallon water changes every week? I don't want to stress my fish out anymore than I already have with my in-experience.
<Once you get the nitrates down they will thank you for it.. especially that Copperband>
Thanks once again and take care.
<No problem Jill.. do research here on WWM and write back if you have any more questions. Simon>
Re: Converting to a reef system
Hi again Simon and thank you for taking on my questions.
<No problem Jill>
About my calcium levels. This was high (in the 500 range) before I started using the buffer to raise my KH levels.
<Have you tested your test kit? Might be worth getting your results verified, perhaps by a different brand>
I tested my source water mixed with the Seachem reef salt and the calcium was around 320.
<Are you sure? I have used this salt and found it to be much higher than that>
Could it be possible that old baby clam shells are leeching calcium into my system?
<No.. you would have to have a very low pH in the system to dissolve these to any extent that they contributed>
My Goby uses them to "decorate" his cave so I have left them in there for him. The clam shells were left over from the puffers.
<There is no problem with these>
After reading the link you sent me too, I'm figuring I should use baking soda to raise my KH instead of the buffer.
<Food grade can be used, yes, until your Ca & dKH are balanced. Mg is important in this relationship as well -- needs to be balanced http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2006-06/rhf/index.php
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm?h= >
Maybe a decent skimmer will help?
<With the nitrate? Indirectly by removing more waste from the system, yes it will>
When all is said and done, I would like to invest in a calcium
reactor at some point but not until I get it under control.
<Do you have much/ many Scleractinian corals? If not, then such apparatus is not really necessary>
As far as the red algae, it isn't BGA, I went through that hassle and my LFS had me use ChemiClean. I'm wondering if that wasn't the start of
all these other issues,
<Mmmm.. other issues? You mean the Calcium? No.>
outside of the nitrate/phosphate problem that I take full responsibility for. After looking at the pictures on this site I have confirmed its the red hair algae stuff.
<Standard algae control methods apply here.. including the nutrient control that you are working on, as well as lots of elbow grease>
I checked out the Vortech pumps. That is now added to my "shopping" list. I really like the idea of the motor on the outside of the tank. I figured I would have to go with the model MP40 for my size tank.
<Yes -- The best pump available>
Ouch!! But I bet it will be worth it.
<When you're on your on your way home with it sitting on the front seat, you are not quite sure. As soon as you plug it in, it becomes clear why this SO worth it>
I have only live rock, live sand, and some macroalgae in the tank. I really can't figure the reason I am
getting such high Ca when it use to be on the low side. The clam shells are the only thing I can come up with that has changed.
<No.. not this. You have added it somewhere. You write well and with intelligence.. use the articles by RHF, I give you good odds that you should be able to solve this>
One more question on calcium reactors. My understanding is that will help keep the Ca / KH in balance correct?
<Only once they are balanced. At the moment you are unbalanced. Calcium reactors are an automated method of adding two (sometimes three) part solutions to your system. They will not help with your present problem>
Would it add to my high calcium problem at this point?
Thank you...Clueless Jill
<No prob.s'¦ Knackered after moving house and ripping walls down Simon>
Thank you...Clueless Jill

Small Marine Aquariums
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