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FAQs on Marine Environmental Disease/Losses 9

Related Articles: Environmental Disease, Establishing Nutrient CyclingMarine Water Quality, Maintenance,

Related FAQs: Marine Environmental Disease 1, Marine Env. Disease 2, Marine Env. Disease 3, Marine Env. Disease 4, Marine Env. Disease 5, Marine Env. Disease 6, Marine Env. Disease 7, Marine Env. Disease 8, Marine Env. Disease 10, Marine Env. Disease 11, Marine Env. Disease 12, Marine Env. Disease 13, & FAQs on Environmental Disease By Cause/Types: Environmental Deficiencies, Oxygen/Gas Problems, Poisoning, Mis-stocking: Psychological Challenges, ( Aggressive Behavior, Territoriality, ), Physiological Challenges (e.g. Metabolites, Allelopathy, Stinging), & Troubleshooting/Fixing

Can you make out this Opistognathid? Then you're too dang close!

Cyano Problem 9/24/06 Hi there, <Greetings> My aquarium is 120 g. and it has been running fine for almost 2 years. My two gobies were doing very good and seemed to be a pair.  We added some soft corals two months ago, Kenya tree, polyp stars and a sea mat.  Then, we started adding the Kent Marine Coral Accel because we wanted our corals to grow healthy and fast.  We follow its directions and added the liquid daily. Later, the tank started to create the red slime all over the place.  So we decided just to add the liquid once a week.  The red slime covered all the sand bed.  But the gobies were still digging things from it and were also eating what we threw into the tank.  We just noticed a couple of days ago that the gobies may be little skinnier than before.    Now, one goby is already dead and the other one is in his home below a rock and is breathing heavily.    It is because of the red slime that covered the sand bed what caused their death?  If so, how can we get rid of the slime?  I know there is a chemical, but it hurts the corals.  So, is there an animal or invertebrate that can help us out? Thanks, Winnie <Winnie -- Unfortunately the red slime sounds like Cyano Bacteria.  There are no critters that consume this and it can sometimes be difficult to get rid of.  Older bulbs and lack of flow sometimes play a key role in feeding it more.  The best thing to do is to check these things and test your water to make sure it is ok.  Siphon out as much as you can.  I agree, the treatment should be a last resort, but does help a lot.  Cheers! -- Dr. J>

Wants help, too little info. of use   9/21/06 I am very particular regarding my water condition, but seem to always be faced with the following problem. From time to time i am faced with a thick plastic like cover on the eyes of my salt water fish. <Bad...> Recently i had a Blueface where both eyes was affected, and now i have a semi butterfly with only one eye affected. I am using a high performance skimmer, and running Chemi-Pure through a canister filter, also have a ozone unit combined with a controller. Any help regarding this matter most welcome. Regards Alan <Mmm... need more info. than this... You do have water quality test kits? What are the measures, brands? How do you measure, regulate ORP? What is the time frame twixt your acquisition of these animals and the appearance of eye opacity? Bob Fenner>

Snot Algae & Bleaching Mushrooms. SW system out of whack, driven further   9/20/06 Hi Crew, <Richard> I have a 75 g. reef that I just tore completely apart and put back together again, due to a monstrous invasion of brown slime, or "snot" algae. Brown filamentous stuff (Cyano, I'm told) <Very likely so> that also produces lots of air bubbles within it. The tank had turned into one big swamp. I tried everything and couldn't get rid of it, and it had finally killed off all my corals, save a few hardy mushrooms of various kinds, which had shriveled up, but were somehow still breathing; and my 4 fish: a Maroon clown, Hippo Tang, Cleaner Wrasse, and a Neon Dottyback. I rinsed the crushed coral and scrubbed off all the rocks (in salt water, old mixed w/new). I added 2 more powerheads (4 in all now, 2 Maxi-Jet 1200's and 2 Aquaclear 50's), replaced all the lights (6x40w: 3 URI actinic whites, 3 actinic blues), replaced the lamp in my (25w) UV sterilizer, cleaned the bio-tower and protein skimmer (Kent Nautilus), put new impellers into the 2 Mag Drive 7's (one for the return, one for the skimmer), and reinstalled the plenum (4" of aragonite on top of it, with screens halfway down to prevent burrowing creatures from breaking into the plenum). I have the 2 Mag Drives plumbed externally, trying to keep the water temp down (still tends to run about 81 or so from all these heat sources). I used half/half old and new (Tropic Marin salt in distilled) water. I live in the mt.s, and my well water's alkalinity is just off the charts, about 30 dKH. Even the RO unit I put in doesn't do any good). pH 8.3, Alkalinity 13 dKH (not sure why it's so high), NH3, NO2, NO3, PO4 all zero. Calcium is very, very low right now, about 180. (I'd just stopped trying to fight the stuff, and had given up regular maintenance for quite some time). All started off well enough on restart, trying to keep everything very clean and in order, but within a few days the snot algae started to return: little air bubbles all over the rocks, etc. So, I went to plan B, and decided to treat the tank with Erythromycin (fresh water Maracyn), <Am sure you've seen my/our opinions on such... short term non-solution> (1) - 200 mg tab each day for 4 days, (air to protein skimmer cut off, and UV sterilizer unplugged). At first, I thought it was working, but after the 4 days, the Cyano all returned again, <Bingo> nonetheless. One day later, on advice from pet store, I did a 2nd round of ER, this time double-dosing with (2) - 200 mg tabs per day, & this time for 5 days. Every day I would get in with a toothbrush and turkey baster and scrub all of the little air bubbles and slimy brown stuff that had developed off of the rocks, substrate, glass, etc. Yet every new day saw new growth of the stuff. It's just invulnerable, tenacious as hell. Right now I'm running an old Magnum canister filter for a few days, while stirring up anything that's accumulated on the rocks and substrate over the last 2 weeks, just trying to keep things as clean as possible. So this is problem #1. How on earth do you kill this stuff, short of using bleach on everything: rocks, corals, substrate, fish & invertebrates included?! <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm and the linked files above...> 2nd problem: After re-establishing the tank, <It's not> I went out and bought a few easy corals, just to have something to make it look more like a real reef tank again. I bought some blue mushrooms, some (I think they're) Ricordea mushrooms, and some green star polyps. I also put in 40 new Astrea snails, (as there is still a lot of green hair algae on the rocks, which had grown somehow underneath the snot algae), 40 tiny blue hermits, 2 scarlet hermits, and a couple of unknown hermits (?? I had one like them before, with salmon-coloured legs and dead-blue eyes. Cute, and very peaceable. A real workhorse at his job). I also added 2 new fish, (a Powder Blue Tang and a Tennenti Tang), <No...> and a 2" Linckia <... no...> starfish (brown in color, not sure what variety he is). All seemed well enough at first, the Cyano problem aside. After about a week, I woke up one morning and the Ricordea mushrooms had started to bleach (by now almost completely bleached, and drawn up). It happened overnight. There were 2 things different that I'd done the day before. I'd added a healthy (but not extreme) dose of Kent Essential Elements, <Of no use here> and added a dose of Seachem Reef Advantage Calcium (1 1/2 tsp of the dry crystals, mixed in distilled water). I did this on top of having already put in  1 tbsp each of  parts A & B, Kent  Tech CB Calcium Buffer liquids, (which I'd already been putting in each day before that, as well), <Such supplements should only be introduced with new water during change-outs... pre-mixed and stored ahead of time> trying to get the calcium level up a bit. 2 questions here: I'm sure that one of these must have stressed out the Ricordeas, and that they've lost their zooxanthellae. Which one of the additives would you suspect as the culprit, if either? <Does it matter? Both, mis-applied> I had the Ricordea high in the tank, but it had been doing great there for a week, until this happened overnight. The blue mushrooms are still doing great, as are the assorted little green and brown varieties that are making their comeback from the swamp era. The final question is, will the mushrooms ever get their zooxanthellae back, or are they just doomed? They look really bad at the moment, bleached almost completely white. Anything that can be done to save the poor things? Thanks for the help, RickG <Rick... you need to "get" your system to "center"... under regular control... I suggest you consider adding a refugium, incorporating a DSB and macroalgae... with a RDP light arrangement... this is the simplest, easiest, most straight-forward "thing" you can do to salvage this system. Bob Fenner> Re: snot algae and bleaching mushrooms   9/21/06 Thanks for the advice. Will try to look into the refugium, although I'm not sure how I'll accomplish it unless I just put in a hang-on, as the area under my tank (inside the tank stand) is already crammed full of stuff. <May be located elsewhere... or other gear moved...> My sump is a  25 g DIY job, with I huge bio-tower in one end (also a DIY, with both the sump and bio-tower made out of plastic storage containers. You'd have to see it). And of course there's the skimmer (inside the sump), UV sterilizer, and a 250 w Pro Heat II Titanium IC heater in there, as well, with the 2 Mag Drives sitting plumbed outside of the sump, but still inside the stand. I'm disabled from a back injury and on a real budget, and don't want to have to buy a big, expensive factory made sump/refugium if I can avoid it. <You can easily make, fashion one... Please... read... and search before writing...: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm> (Same reason I don't have better lighting, a calcium reactor, etc). <Not necessary> A new development today. (I'm like the character in the old Lil' Abner comic strips that has the black cloud that follows him everywhere he goes. If something can possibly go wrong, it always will). My tank sits in the middle of the room, as a room divider between the dining and living areas. The live rock and corals are mostly arranged in the center of the tank, so that it can be viewed from both sides. (The tangs love to swim laps in a circle around the rocks). There's a sofa up against the living room side of the tank (the back of the tank stand), and underneath it is a 125v floor outlet I installed, which supplies power to everything. Plugged into that outlet (besides the power strip that feeds everything else) is the Pro Heat IC heater, which has a digital readout and a dial to adjust the temperature. That dial turns very, very easily. When I was working on the tank last night, I'd moved the sofa out to get to the back side of it, and apparently when I pushed it back in, the skirt on the back of the sofa brushed against the dial and turned it. This morning when I awoke, I saw that the blue mushrooms were bunched up. I started to put my hand into the tank to move a rock that had slipped out of place and found the water very hot! <Yikes... I'd fashion either a cover over the heater dial/set or a sort of lock for the setting... or both!> I checked the temp, and it was 89d F!! I've been gradually lowering the temp, about 1 degree per hour, and can only hope that most everything survives. Just out of curiosity, why the "No..." on my addition of the Powder Blue (5"+) and Tennenti (4"+), and the 2" Linckia? <... Please... see... the listings... for these species... archived on WWM... we have tens of thousands of users per day...> I know they (the Tangs) get really big, but am hoping to upgrade eventually to a 125 or 134 g tank, <Not large enough...> if I can ever afford it (another reason I haven't invested in better lighting, which I'd just have to buy all over again if I get a bigger tank). The Hippo (5"), Powder Blue and Tennenti are so far living together quite harmoniously, and pretty much ignore one another, just picking at the algae on the rocks, and the algae sheet in the seaweed clip. The Linckia came to me by accident, attached to the bottom of the rock that the star polyps were on, but the pet store said it was reef safe, <...> and that I'd gotten a freebee. From what I've read online about Linckias, a lot of reef owners seem to have them, (although I've never been able to find anything about a brown one). He just seems to graze on the hair algae, (really doing a great job of clearing a rock of it). Is there a problem with him that I should know about, other than the fact that he will probably get quite large someday)? <Read> One other question that came to mind: I told you about our well water, which is so loaded with minerals (besides Ca) that it can't be used, hence the distilled water route. (We already have a water softener, as well as the small RO unit I installed, but the alkalinity is still too high for the water to be used in the reef). A local pet store told me that I should install an add-on DI unit, and that that would likely resolve the problem, allowing me to use our water at home. I've seen such a unit in a catalogue, and it's only $64. Do you think that would solve the problem or no? Thanks again, RickG <Likely so. RMF>

Clown with swollen mouth not eating. Sm. SW tank, over and mis-stocked...   9/19/06 Hi, <Howdy> First the needed info'¦~1.5 month old 15 gallon tall FO tank - Ammonia/Nitrates/Nitrite all zero ppm.  pH ~8.2, Salinity 1.024. Temp 84. /Over the back filter rated 30g/ powerhead 30-50g/substrate I purchased 2 percula clowns <This tank/world is too small...> from my LFS a week ago today.  The first few days they were spectacular, swimming all over the tank in their cute little wiggly manner.  They made friends with my 3 stripe damsel <Way too small...> but I had to get rid of him (the damsel)  because he was being quite the bully to the other yellow tail blue damsel <Still too small...> that was in the tank. As soon as I got rid of the 3 stripe it seemed like things seemed to go downhill quite rapidly.  The day after getting rid of him, the clowns seemed significantly more lethargic and the blue tail was picking at them a little. <...> A day goes by and the clowns will no longer eat, the hang out in the areas of the tank with little circulation and still won't eat.  At this point since both of them looked perfect, I thought that maybe the blue damsel had been picking on them a little too much, <Yes, likely> so I fished him out (no pun intended :-):-):-) ) and took him back to my LFS, after all these were only the fish used to cycle the tank. <And infest it with parasites? Not a good idea to use such fishes for cycling> So, I went home all happy expecting the clowns to have perked up, no such luck :-(  I decided to keep attempting to feed them (frozen Mysis shrimp & Emerald entrée which they had eaten with some appetite the first three days I had them) still no success. Yesterday I did a little more reading <Ah, good> and went out and bought a pink skunk cleaner shrimp'¦ Also, I thought they might be depressed because of losing their tank buddies. <Ahh, no> I had read about fish refusing to eat when they lose a companion fish, so I bought a 3/4' hippo tang <... no> in an effort to cheer them up. (Don't worry, I plan on getting a larger tank in the near future to accommodate the tangs growth) <Too late>   But'¦ the fish are still not eating, and the hippo has joined them in their strike (although I have only had him for a day, I'm hoping he may still be a little stressed and that could be the reason for his refusal of food.)  A lesson learned though, I feel victim to the newbie's 'I have to have that' syndrome. <Yes... seems so>   Shortly after bringing them home, I noticed one of the clowns going to the surface and attempting to eat the bubbles from my over the back filter. A bad sign, I know'¦ <Mmm, not necessarily> This morning: After looking at them closer, one of the clowns is definitely worse off then the other.  I have spent many hours searching the disease info for clowns on this website and others with no definite symptoms. <Is an "environmental disease"... Crowded and bullied from the get-go... never fully adjusted to their setting... and re-crowded further with the introduction of the Tang...>   The larger clown seems to be breathing at least twice as fast as the other and has an enlarged mouth.  By 'enlarged' I mean about twice, maybe three times as big as the clown with no observable problems (other than not eating.)  Both of them seem to have a very thin string hanging from their underside (sorry.. I'm a newbie to this, don't really know all the terms yet)  It does tend to fall off of the smaller clown, but remains on the one with the enlarged mouth. Their colors are still very bright, and their fins are not clamped to their body at all.  I'm really worried, I tried a freshwater dip with both of them, they seemed to improve a little bit (they moved out of the corner they were hovering in)  I don't know how much good it did though, I only left them in for one minute. Which I found out later today should have been fifteen. (sigh)   I called 4 different LFS's today and did some of the things they recommended'¦ a 20% water change and I also added a very finely minced/ground small garlic clove to the tank and tried to feed them dried seaweed. The garlic seemed to help a little, the hippo fell for it.  I saw him eating a few of the chunks that would come close to him.  The smaller clown seemed interested too, he swam up to a few pieces and ate them, but then spit them right back out again, same with the seaweed.  ( I told him to swallow, he didn't listen)  The Hippo seems to be breathing rapidly as well, <The environment...> although I can't tell if that's just because he is so small and it really isn't that fast for his size.    It has now been 4 days of the clowns not eating, the shrimp doesn't seem to be doing any cleaning on them.  One of the LFS's that I talked to said it's probably a phosphate problem because I have been feeding primarily frozen food and the other said to just wait and watch them to try and identify a disease. <...?> The first store suggested that I do a 20% water change everyday for the next three days to lower anything in the tank that may have accumulated. The mouth has become more pronounced since I talked to the stores, I don't know how fast I should act to treat this. I have a bottle of Kordon Rid Ich+  (ingredients formalin and zinc free malachite green) <Yes, thank you for this listing... toxic>   that I bought today from the advice on the disease pages.  I don't want to put it in the tank though as it would probably harm my shrimp/hermits/snails ? <Yes, will assuredly kill them... the rest of the tank in turn> I was thinking of setting up a small hyposalinity 2 gallon bucket or acrylic tank to put the treatment in.  Do you think I should put all the fish in this or just the large mouth clown or both since neither is eating? <None of the above> Also would I do this for 15 minutes everyday for a few days or leave them in it for a few days?  I was a little confused about this information on your website.   And, I don't know if this would help them or not, but I have a protein skimmer in a box that I haven't put on the tank since I got it.  I was told that my tank is too small and doesn't need one. <Incorrect. I would install and run it pronto>   It's a SeaClone 100.  Too big for a 15g?   <No> There also seems to be some brown diatom algae in my tank, not a lot. <Actually a good sign... the system is cycling still, more completely> My snail eats the majority of it.  And the last thing, the same time I got rid of the 3 stripe I added a fake anemone (rated for saltwater) that I purchased from the LFS, could this be causing the problem? <Yes... some of these ornaments were manufactured of problematic material... I would remove this> Just wanted to put all the info out there.  I really appreciate your help! - Nicole <Well... I would return the Hippo Tang ASAP, add the skimmer, keep up with water testing, be careful re matching spg with new water changes, add no more fishes (you're overstocked as is with the two Clowns), and forget re actual chemical treatments... Oh yes, and keep reading.... this last so you can make up your own mind re the science/factual base of your decisions. Bob Fenner> Filter Problem Caused High Nitrates   9/16/06 Dear Crew My 100g saltwater tank has been up and running since 3/2006.  I currently have 2 yellow tang, 1 coral beauty, and 1 clown fish.  I had 3 more fish prior to this disaster.  My problem is last week my filtration system was not working properly.  I tested the water on Friday, and tests were good.  Several days later I noticed the fish were not acting normally.  I did another water check and found nitrates to be 80+.  I looked around and found the filter was running, but not filtering the water.  I did a 20gal water change.  The following day I did another 20gal water change.  Between the 2 water changes and the filter working properly, nitrates dropped to 10.  During the period of high nitrates, I lost 2 fish.  Last night one of my clown fish died, and now the other one is not acting normally.  I am very concerned for the remaining fish.  The 2 tang and angel seem fine, but the clown fish that died also seemed fine.  They seem to be eating, but so were the fish that died.  Are the remaining fish in danger even after lowering the nitrates? Thanks for your help!! <<Catherine:  Normally, once you reduce nitrates, everything should be OK.  But, you should continue to monitor the situation and be prepared to do additional water changes.  Best of luck, Roy>>

Bubble in Tang's Eye...GBD? - 08/27/06 Hi, <<Hello Deb>> I have a tang who had tiny air bubbles in her eye, then the next day the tiny bubbles became two larger one then the next day they merged into one big bubble. <<Can't say I've ever seen this before...still, is possibly the result of an injury or environmental condition>> Is this the same as POPEYE, or is this something different? <<Something different, as stated.  Popeye infections generally affect BOTH eyes>> Also I see that Epsom salt is recommended for Popeye, <<Mmm, not really...a true Popeye infection would require an antibiotic treatment, but the Epsom Salt may prove beneficial in this case>> if this is what she has can the Epsom salt be added to my tank with the other fish or should she be put into a smaller tank. <<Separation/quarantine would likely make it easier to observe/treat this fish, but the Epsom Salt can be added to the display tank if you so wish (a level teaspoon per ten gallons actual water volume is recommended)>> Also how long can you use the Epsom salt? <<As long as perceived necessary...will not need to be re-dosed until you perform a water change>> She is eating but her balance seems off and she looks like sometimes she bumps into things. <<Indeed...peripheral sight/field-of-view is affected, though the loss of "balance" may indicate another problem...emphysematosis, Gas Bubble Disease>> Can tiny micro-bubbles in tank cause this or is this just something that fish just get? <<Ahh, yes...is this an issue in your system?  If so, definitely remove the tang for treatment...and see here about rectifying the bubble situation in your display: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bubtroubfaqs.htm >> I thank you in advance for your help. <<I'm happy to assist>> I Love this fish and will try anything I can to help her. Deb <<Remove the tang and treat as described...and fix your bubble problem.  Regards, EricR>>

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

Tank Cycling - 25/8/06 Hi there!   I need your astute advice on this. <'astute' is my middle name... (ahem.. yeah, right...)>   I had an aquarium go "bad" with, I guess, ammonia and nitrates, etc. <You need to be testing for these with test kits. Beats guessing.> Several fish died before I removed them and the survivors went on living in a non-contaminated aquarium. <It's not a matter of an aquarium being 'contaminated' or not... it's all to do with the ability of the biological filter to be able to respond to the fish load and convert their wastes fast enough. Indeed, if the filter in the new tank is not used to such a heavy fish load, you'll soon be facing the same issues there.>   I then tried EVERYTHING to bring the ammonia, nitrates, etc. down, but I'm having a helluva time! I've vacuumed at least three times and withdrawn much of the old water and replaced it.  I've put in practically a whole bottle of Novaqua in but the bad stuff doesn't seem to subside. <How are you measuring this? What 'bad stuff'? I wouldn't dump a whole bottle of anything in...> Why does it seem so difficult to do this?  Is there something I'm missing? <If I were you, I would research "cycling" (the process of establishing a biological filter) - on WWM and on many pages on the net. If you are in the US and can purchase the "Bio-Spira" product locally, it may be your best chance not to kill more fish at this stage.> I want to get the fish back in there ASAP, but it just doesn't seem to be responding! <More reading! Thanks for writing in, hope you get the tank under control. Best regards, John>   Thanks,     Leslie Best Intentions Gone Awry - 08/23/06 Hi crew. <<Hello Seth>> Okay, I wanted to get into this hobby so I've done some reading in books and on my own, and I was taking it slow and being patient for about eight weeks.   Then I blew it. <<Uh-Oh!>> Confession: My wife and I went into the LFS, were told we had perfect water quality (they tested it), and proceeded (at the behest of the salesman) to buy a 450 watt full spectrum lighting system, 3 "hardy leathery" corals, some little green polyps, a yellow tang, a percula, and (the worst part) an anemone that we were told was a bubble tip but now suspect is a LTA. <<Ay yiyi>> We went home and spent the afternoon doing dips and drips and then added them to our 55 gallon tank that is equipped with 50 lbs of live rock, a protein skimmer, a couple of power-heads, and that already contained one domino, two yellow-tail damsels, a blue velvet, a blenny, and a cleaner shrimp. I know, I know. <<(heavy sigh)>> This was five days ago.  The corals opened up and seem happy (their little "tentacles" are very active).  The anemone wanted to wander around so we placed him loosely in a crevasse in the rock and he is opened up and the domino has moved in with him (he loves that thing and it seems to respond to him). <<Indeed...the clownfish will never have a chance>> Everybody else seems happy and they are all eating, although the clown is a little timid. Repentance: I knew from my prior reading I had moved fast but thought I could still manage it, but after finding your site today and reading several articles and FAQs I feel like I have created a disaster in a tank. <<Can be rectified...>> I now understand that this is way too much metabolic activity to add to this small system all at once, and that this anemone is going to be an issue. <<As will this mix of damsels...especially the Domino damsel>> Penance: I'm sorry I did this.  My questions are: What should I expect? <<As the Domino matures...bloodshed...>> Do I have any chance of maintaining this tank? <<You do...with caveats>> What immediate steps should I take to minimize the damage that may befall these specimens and my system that was coming along so well? <<Monitor water conditions and have some saltwater mixed up and available for water changes should they be necessary.  Find another home for the Domino and possibly the Blue Velvet damsels.  And if you're determined to keep the anemone, bone up as much as you can on proper care/feeding of this specimen...else return this too...or maybe set a species specific tank for the anemone>> Let me add that I do not believe the anemone can climb up the rock to where I placed the corals. <<Don't be fooled...it will go there if it so chooses>> mea culpa Seth <<Cuiusvis hominis est errare, nullius nisi insipientis in errore perseverare.  Regards, EricR>> <Wowzah Eric... Nihil moliris! RMF> Protoreastor lincki Star... ridiculously over and mis-stocked system   8/22/06 Hi Crew,   I have a Protoreastor Lincki Star ( Red General Star as I call it or Crimson Tide star as my LFS called it).  In my 30 gallon <Needs more room> tank I have 20lb live rock 1 yellow Tang, <Ditto> 3 Damsels, <Ditto...> 1 Clarke clownfish, 1 Green Clown goby, 1 Chocolate Chip Starfish.  Everyone has been living in harmony for the past 6 months or more and about a week ago I added 1 Domino Damsel, <... You're... not... joking...?> 1 Blue Mandarin, 1 Spotted Mandarin, <... you... are... joking> and 1 Particular Clownfish.  They were all acclimated with the slow drip acclimation for two hours prior to putting them in the tank and they all survived with the exception of the Blue Mandarin that my Chocolate Chip Starfish ate. <Not w/o its dying first>   I usually hand feed my starfish frozen krill.  Now a few days after this I noticed my Red General's thorn like markings on his one arm was white as though he caught it on the live rock or something. <It's dying> I checked the water levels to make sure it wasn't ammonia burn or something but levels were fine.  Ph was down just a smidge.   Around 7 hours later I noticed the same thing happening to two other arms. I did a 25% water changes to vacuum out floor and added some buffer. Is this normal? <Mmm, no> Is this a disease?  Should I be worried? <I would be>   No sign of other fish or starfish with this change.  No sign their attacking him.  What should I do? <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/stardisfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Your tank is ridiculously over- and mis-stocked... It is likely on the verge of an outright crash... I would quick like a bunny read re the requirements of the species you list and either ASAP get another much larger system, or give away what you can't provide for here. Bob Fenner> Low Oxygen Levels Causing High Stress!  - 07/27/06 Greetings to all the crew at WetWebMedia! (again) <Scott F. here tonight!> I have read your website for approx 2 hours and I cannot find out what is going on in my tank.  Your help would be greatly appreciated... <I'll try my best!> I now have my JBJ 24 gallon Nano reef tank (20 lbs Marshall live rock & CaribSea AragAlive live sand) custom fitted with a CPR Aquafuge (Small  2.5 g w/ Miracle Mud and Chaetomorpha Algae), Maxi-Jet 1200 w/ a Hydor FLO, Ice Probe Chiller & Controller, and an Aqua Medic Niveaumat Auto Top-Off Pump (top off with RO water) up and running for 3 1/2 weeks now. I am still on a reduced lighting schedule: 9 hours per day in the tank and 9 hours per night in the refugium.  Ammonia, Nitrite & Nitrate are 0.00; PH is 8.2; Alkalinity is 2.74; and Calcium is 400.  You can see in the pictures that I have Algae growth on the live rock (I think it is Diatom Algae?) Is the Algae okay? <Algae is not a bad thing, but the aesthetic impact is not always good! Sure, some can be toxic, but most algae are simply a natural component of the aquatic environment. What we need to do is reduce the algae's appearance in our aquaria so that it doesn't ruin the look of your aquarium. Nutrients that accumulate in newer aquaria with immature export mechanisms tend to > I added 6 Caribbean Nerite Snails today and I noticed that most are staying at the top near the waterline, so I tested the water for Oxygen (Salifert) and it is at 2 ppm! <Nerite snails tend to be intertidal creatures, which will often hang out above the water line. I've had them crawl out of their aquarium and travel considerable distance on the floor. Why is the Oxygen level so low? and How can I raise the Oxygen level? Thanks again for your help, Gretchen <Well, the oxygen level is low...should really be around 5.0 ppm. Prolonged exposure to oxygen levels below saturation may die at levels below 3ppm. Ways to increase dissolved oxygen in our aquaria include using good circulation methods (like powerheads and other pumps that agitate the surface), surface-skimming overflows that remove surface films that can impede gas exchange, and aggressive protein skimming (which removes organic compounds that can break down and consume oxygen). Deep sand beds also are great if there is no power interruption! Otherwise, they can consume oxygen. Bottom line- look at some of the aforementioned ideas and see if you can enhance your system to increase performance in these areas. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.> Low Oxygen Levels-High Stress (Pt. 2)   7/27/06 Thank you Scott for your ideas. <You're quite welcome!> I have the Maxijet 1200 with the Hydor and it produces good flow, and I use the surface skimmer. <Good to hear!> I am not sure if a protein skimmer will work (fit) in my nano tank.  Would the wood airstone used in a protein skimmer placed in the sump area of the nano help with the Oxygen level? <It could, although I'd go for more "coarse" aeration, with larger bubbles. Wooden airstones tend to produce fine airstones.> I am really stumped - any help is appreciated.  By the way, my temperature is at 80 degrees. Thanks again, Gretchen <Well, Gretchen, you could lower the temperature a few degrees; lower water temperatures hold more oxygen. Also, perhaps your should aerate your source water before mixing it with salt. It is possible that substantial C02 is in the water if you used RO/DI. You could help liberate the C02 in the source water with aeration. As far as protein skimming is concerned, there are lots of smaller skimmers out there; do some research and I'm sure that you can find one that fits your aquarium. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.> Heat wave and AC outage with Ribbon Eel   7/24/06 Hey...  thanks for all the great advice you have given us all in the past. <You're very welcome!> I have a 55 gallon saltwater tank FOWLR. I am currently building a new home with a 290 gallon custom tank built in. <Very nice> I have a small (2 inch) Clown trigger, a sand sifting goby, a Ribbon Eel (which was the best eater I have ever found.  He would eat anything including frozen food.  I also have Porcupine Puffer. My problem is this....    I am in the military (Air Force) and am stationed here in Florida.  I went on a trip for 4 days to Washington DC, and received a call the second night I got there.  My A/C unit in my home stopped working.  This was on a weekend of course (par for my luck) and the soonest I could get anyone to come out was this morning.  I had my brother try his best to cool the tank, however the temps inside the house were 98 degrees plus. with 80 percent of more humidity after every fan I owned was being used.<Yikes!> I am pretty sure the temperature in the tank probably hit somewhere around 96-100 degree range yesterday. <Utto> Fortunately (not for him) all I lost was my ribbon eel. <Awwww I'm so sorry.> I instructed my brother to place ice in a zip-lock bag and float it on top to try and cool the temp down. I got back into town this morning and got the A/C working again. I noticed the eel passed away.  Everyone else in there seems to be ok just kind mad at me for being so hot. I have slowly throughout the day lowered the tanks temp back down being very cautious not to let it drop too fast.... and have since let it stop at 85 for the night to let them adjust.  Could the heat in the tank have killed the good bacteria? < No, should be just fine.> I did a water test and found no traces of ammonia or nitrite and about 10 on the scale of nitrate.  What can I do to ensure these little guys continue to survive this? <Keep a close eye on the survivors for any signs of stress induced disease; a water change would  not be  bad idea; keep up the water quality;  and seriously consider a chiller to avoid future overheating issues and big temperature fluctuations. In the mean time, a couple of small 6 to 8' electric clip on fans work well to keep temps down on the modestly warmer days. Place the fans so that they blow across the water surface.  This will however increase evaporation, so you will need to top off more frequently.> I am planning on doing a little larger than normal water change tomorrow, after I hear back from you. < Good plan>   Thanks again for all the help, and hopefully I can make the little guys feel better and continue to thrive. Josh Henley <Your most welcome, best of luck to you and try to stay cool in that heat. Leslie> Lowering KH: Fish panting  7/14/06 Hello WWM Crew you guys are great! I have been reading through articles trying to find a Q&A about lowering KH found a lot of article but nothing to specific.  I have a 55g SW FOWLR and cleaning Crew had my water tested at the LFS yester day Parameters Where; <And were?> Ph 8.3, KH: 25, S.G of 1.025 Ammonia 0, Nitrite: Trace, Nitrate: 10ppm Temp stays steady at 80 I only have 2 Maroon yellow stripe Clowns and 2 Damsels (Velvet, yellow Tail) 1 sand sifting star and 1 Chocolate Chip Star Cleaner are 7 Nassarius, 9-12 Blue Leg Dwarf hermit, few scarlet reef hermits, 2 turbo snails All the fish where... are slow moving and breathing heavy... <Good observation, bad behavior> How do I Lower the KH or is it even a problem for them I also am running a Berlin Airlift 60 Protein skimmer and power head with a with a wire wheel and an airline mixing in some oxygen so I hope the power head was from a knock off SeaClone skimmer... <Mmm, really, the best way, and with many ancillary benefits here, is to change out a good deal of your water (like a quarter) and replace it with new that is of a lower KH... do this every handful of days...>   I also had a yellow tang die yesterday :-( my wife's fave. fish too!!! What could have caused this? <... Life... No way to tell from here> It had been doing well for almost a month. <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ytangdisfaqs.htm and the linked files above... Anything look familiar?>   Then no more than him hitting the sand for a sec about 6 Nassarius snails and three emerald crabs were on his poor dead body just feasting is it normal for them to be so aggressive and fast at getting on the dead fish? <Yes... a good sign that they're healthy, not overfed> I fed frozen Mysis shrimp every other day and Seaweed to the tang every other day (was)... What am I doing wrong...? Help me please!!! <Read on my brother. Bob Fenner> Metal Halides... mal-affect/disease?   7/8/06 Greetings from Pennsylvania, <Right back-at-cha from sunny southern Cal.> I am about 6 months into my first saltwater aquarium. I read a lot of literature on the subject before I started. I bought good filters, filter media, protein skimmer, etc.  All was going great. My mushrooms were growing, my flower pot, <Not easily kept... see WWM re Gonioporas...> and pink tree coral all seemed to be doing well as did the invertebrates and fish that I purchased. I kept reading about metal halide lighting and finally purchased a 75w retro-fit kit that I put in an additional canopy that I bought. I fitted it with fans and don't seem to have any problems with it getting too hot. I only leave it on for several hours a day. My mushrooms and corals absolutely took off and are continuing to do great, so are the invertebrates. However all of the fish except for two green Chromis died. They got what I thought was marine ick. They had these little bumps all over them, however they were not white bumps which is what I was told they would be. Do you think that it is stress or burning from the metal halide light that is causing these non-scaled fish to die? <Mmm, no... highly unlikely> Any information or opinions you might have would be greatly appreciated. I don't know what to do, but don't want a strictly liverock/coral tank. Please Help. Thanks in Advance Becky <...? Do you have a photo, photos of the infected/infested fishes to share? Cannot discern much of value from the information presented. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisindex.htm from the top to the bottom... Bob Fenner>

Sick Jawfish?   6/8/06 Hey guys. I have a question about my Jawfish. He's been in the tank about two weeks, and just today I noticed two white clumps under his eyes. They look like either a break in his slime coat or just an accumulation of slime.  Otherwise, he's fine, eating well and relaxed breathing. <Good signs> No other fish in the tank has these white clumps-see the two pictures attached. <Mmm, hard to make out...> About a week ago, I introduced some new mushrooms and got some flatworms with them- I don't know if this is relevant, however. <Maybe...> The tank is running great on stats-no ammonia, nitrate or nitrite (but red algae...yuck) <This might be at play... the areas in question could be from the BGA mal-affecting the Jaw...> and a 1.025 salinity.  I read a little in Conscientious Marine Aquarist and it said this is one of the symptoms of a protozoal disease... which I really hope it's not.  But, you guys say Jawfish are exceptionally slimy, so it might just be some extra slime. Thanks for the help. <I would not over-react here... If this fish is feeding well, behaving actively, it will likely self-heal... I say "stay the course" in doing your best at keeping the system stable and optimized and all will likely be fine. Bob Fenner>

Re: Sick Jawfish? And BGA effects   6/9/06 Well, he's better today. You've piqued my curiosity-how would BGA affect a fish? <These bacteria are known to produce a wide array of toxic materials... that poison systems to their sold advantage. Bob Fenner>

Re: Sick Jawfish?   6/18/06 Well, against my hopes, the Jawfish got a lot worse all of the sudden. I woke up today to find him swimming at the top of the tank, breathing hard with cloudy eyes. <Bad signs> It looked like some of his slime coat was shearing off (small amount, if really at all) and the ends of his fins were either frayed or white. I put him in my QT tank and   I'm gonna try a low salinity treatment. On a side note, I noticed something odd. I had a rose BTA a while back <Oh oh...> that was doing fine for a week, but suddenly turned for the worse after I changed its diet to silversides. It died, and I chalked it up to my being a novice and anemones' tendency to crash.  I tried feeding my Jawfish some silversides, after refusing scallop- and he ate them with relish. And, now this happens. These are the only two fish who have eaten the silversides. I think I see a connection here... <Methinks there's more of a connection to a common deficiency or poisoning in this system. Bob Fenner>

Re: Sick Jawfish?   6/19/06 I don't know what the "common deficiency" would be. <Me neither Sam... will need to review your set-up, history of testing... but the "cloudy eyes, body slime" statement and lost anemone point to something likely amiss here>   This tank tests zero on all the metabolites, and is about 1.025 SG with a 8.2 pH...And my Clark's clown is doing fine, as are the mushroom corals.    The hermits and turbo snails, too. <Again, whatever this is, favors these other groups of organisms, disfavors others... BobF>

Re: Sick Jawfish?   6/19/06 This tank started as a freshwater tank, and about three months ago I converted it to salt.  I cleaned it out thoroughly, put in live rock, sand and some Miracle Mud. <In the tank itself?>   I buy water from my LFS and change it every week, about 15%.  The system has about 30-40 lbs of live rock in it.  The live rock was cured well, so the metabolite cycling was   finished early. <Mmm, this is more like "concrete curing"... not really "done"... as evidenced by your BGA incident>   I have the same set-up in a 24 gallon Nanocube, sans Miracle Mud, and the system thrives. Now, this just struck me as odd.  I realized that for some reason, some of the gravel in the system, and white bits of the live rock, have turned a neon green.  You mentioning poisoning makes me wary...doesn't copper show itself as a green tinge in things? <Mmm, more like a light bluish sheen in very high precipitation incidents... In other words, no... I would take a "long-term view" here and let this system keep "aging" before carefully re-adding livestock, after this is quarantined. Bob Fenner>

Tank Problems/Sketchy Info...Look To The Water Changes - 06/18/06 Dear Crew, <<Chris>> Just when I thought I was getting the hang of things, disaster strikes. <<Uh-oh>> I have a light fish load--a sleeper goby, a yellow tang (small) and a cleaner shrimp.  I just found the shrimp dead, and I am very surprised since it seemed okay as recently as this morning. <<Was there some sort of trauma/environmental issue involved?  May be nothing more than "old age" here>> My pH is a consistent 8.5-8.6, and I'd  been dosing twice a day with calcium to get levels up to normal (it had been hovering around 180 but even with twice a day dosing only went up to 220). <<Mmm, though not deleterious in my opinion, your pH is a bit on the high side with no clue/explanation as to why.  And what is your alkalinity reading?  Be careful that you don't mal-affect/disrupt the balance between your alkalinity and calcium by dosing the calcium product only.  It is best in my opinion to "dose" calcium and a buffer (alkalinity) together as a two-part system unless making a "one-time adjustment" (monitored with a reliable test kit) at which time a calcium chloride or calcium gluconate supplement is effective>> Anyway, I also added a nice Zoanthid at the same time as the goby, about two and a half weeks ago.  I'd written earlier that it never fully opened like it had in the store.  You suggested moving it lower in the tank (it had been near the top).  Since doing that a week or so ago, the Zo's are slowly disintegrating, and even the pods that were opening are no longer. <<Likely something environmental other than your lighting at play here>> This is pretty bad--I don't know what to do or what information I could offer that could explain things.  Many thanks... here are my specs for your review--please let me know if there are any other specs which would help with a diagnosis. Tank: 37G high w/ 10G sump and skimmer Lighting:  130W CF Water (RO):  Salinity .022 / pH 8.5-8.6 / Calcium 220 / LOW nitrates / Temp 83-84 <<Okay, a few things to mention here.  Firstly...STOP dosing!  On a tank this size it should be a simple matter to keep the water elements in appropriate concentration/balance with simple water changes (20% twice monthly).  Are you buffering your RO water before adding the salt mix (can be done easily with plain baking soda)?  Do you let the mix stabilize a "minimum" of 24-hours before adding it to the tank?  What brand of salt mix are you using?  Perhaps a change to one of the more consistent mixes (in my opinion) would help...Instant Ocean and Tropic Marin get my top votes.  Your salinity is a factor as well and may be a contributor to the demise of the Zoanthids...increase this to natural seawater levels (1.025-1.026 s.g.).  Next..."LOW nitrates" is of no help...what is the specific reading?  Anything much over 5ppm is likely also a contributor to your coral/invert's failing health.  Again...water changes will help with this too.  Lastly, the water temp, while at the upper limit, should not have been a direct problem if the animals were properly acclimated.  But that's not to say you shouldn't do something to bring it down a bit...you don't have much "buffer zone" here if something should drive it up further>> My water temp is obviously high.  I don't have air conditioning and keep the room dark all day long to avoid sun-heating.  I'm sure this is a cause, but is it THE cause? <<Hard to say...maybe just a/the catalyst>> If not, what else could it be? <<Likely a combination of things as I've alluded>> I know a chiller would help but would a room air conditioner be an option? <<Indeed, yes!  As would adding a small fan to blow across the water's surface for some evaporative cooling>> Thanks again for everything. <<Always welcome>> Sadly, Chris Los Angeles, CA <<Chin-up mate!  Buffer your RO water, verify the efficacy of your salt mix, increase the salinity, perform a large initial water change followed by frequent partial water changes as outlined, and reduce water temperature by a few degrees and you'll likely see an improvement in overall tank health rather quickly...though it may be too late already for the Zoanthids.  And not to pour salt on a open wound...but this tank is way too small for the continued good health of the yellow tang.  Please do consider trading it back to the store for a more suitable inhabitant.  EricR, Columbia, SC>>

Looking for advice...again. Marine tank dis. troubleshooting   6/3/06 WWM Crew, <Bryan> I had a very troublesome week with my two tanks; two suicides and one unexplained death.  First suicide was an Orange Diamond Goby (V. puellaris), jumped out of the tank and ended up on the glass canopy, still not sure how because it is sealed. <Happens> Second suicide (different tank) was a White Sleeper Goby (V. sexguttata) who made his why through the maze into the skimmer overflow box and found the powerhead, and in the same tank, same night, <Bunk!> my Blue Tang (P. hepatus) died from unknown causes.  After all this devastation, I started researching everything.  Water parameters check out normal, nothing has been added to the tank for six months (last addition was the P. hepatus after two months QT), there was no warning signs at all of any abnormal tank conditions. <Might not be any... the two gobies do just "jump", the Paracanthurus might have been "doomed to die"...> As a matter of fact the tank was excellent the night before, as well as for the past year. I am still puzzled, but now I have another problem that I seek your advice.  My Purple Tang (Z. xanthurum) decided today that it wasn't hungry, swam in one place, and I noticed both eyes had a strange look to them.  They were not so to say "cloudy", but they looked as if they had a white star shape spot on both eyes.  Breathing seems slightly elevated, but not to a point to bring concern (< 90bpm).  I have never seen this sign before and haven't found anything on it.  Do you have any suggestions? <What spg. is this animal kept in? Especially when small they do better at Red Sea concentrations...>   As soon as I noticed it I did a larger than normal water change (25%) and changed out all carbon. Normally I do a biweekly 5% change and other maintenance.  Could this just be a little stress from the two previous fish losses, or maybe unknown bacteria in the tank that caused the Blue Tangs' death, and now working on the Purple Tang? <Mmm, possibly> There was never any aggression between the fish, except for Blue Tang introduction day, but that ended in a few hours when both tangs realized they had more than enough room to have to themselves.  Any advice you have would be more than welcomed.  I have work too long and hard to lose another fish, especially the Purple Tang, he was the first fish in the tank.  Also, all corals are showing no sign of anything wrong with the tank conditions (polyps, trumpets, hammers, pipes, Alveopora, plates, colt, mushrooms, and yes, even an E. quadricolor who hasn't moved in a year)  If fact everything is growing almost to a point of no control, and I'm not stopping them either.  One last thing, should I pull the Purple Tang or wait it out?  No other fishes show signs of distress. Thanks in advance Bryan <A new theory/potential exists that the negative interaction, allelopathy twixt these different classes of cnidarians is at play here... agitating the gobies to the point of their jumping... the tangs... better not to mix anemones with Scleractinians... Bob Fenner> Deleterious Effect of Hyposalinity? - 06/02/06 Thanks for your web page and all the valuable information it contains! <<We're happy you find it useful>> I have a question regarding the salt level and its relationship with macro algae. <<Okay>> I have my salt level @ 1.014 - 1.016 to hinder parasites (per a very reputable fish store in our town). <<Yikes!!!  Reputable or not, this is not healthy/suitable for a display system for the long term, is certainly harmful to a reef system, and may not be as effective/helpful (all things considered) as you believe.  Please read here (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/martrthyposalfaqs.htm) and among the links in blue.  I strongly recommend you (slowly) raise the salinity up to natural seawater levels (1.025/1.026), and rely on good/better husbandry practices to keep parasitic infections/infestations in check>> I have Cheetamorpha (sp)<<Chaetomorpha>> growing like gang busters and harvest it regularly, giving it to several pet stores in our vicinity for the last 6 months.  However I cannot get Caulerpa to survive in my 70 gal. display tank. <<As a single-cell organism the Caulerpa is likely more adversely affected by the low salinity>> Parameters are in check with the possible exception of low salt level. <<Indeed...way too low>> I'm not sure if the 2 algae are fighting each other, <<Another option/consideration...yes>> if the low salt level has a detrimental effect on Caulerpa, or is does the Caulerpa go asexual with the lights not being on 24-7. <<This too can be a problem>> No Algae eating fish in the tank. Appreciate any help and keep up the great web page! Steve Schollmeier <<Thank you for the kind words.  Regards, Eric Russell>>

Heater malfunction - 5/16/2006 My water temp is usually at 78-80 degrees.  This morning it was at 89.5 degrees! <<Fish soup!!>> I am thinking something must be malfunctioning. <<Likely.>> The tank is in the basement, so although it was warmer here in Montana yesterday (85 degrees), we have central air and the basement doesn't get that warm - the air temp was 70 by the tank this morning.  I checked the heater and it was set at 74, as always.  It is a Pro Temp 300W.  I unplugged it, opened windows (it is a cool 50 degrees outside this morning) and opened all aquarium cabinet doors.  We have an RO system with auto top off, so I checked the holding tank heater and it was set at 76, water temp in holding tank was 80, so I turned it down to 72.  We have 120 gal tank with 2-400W 10,000K MH, 2-110W VHO actinic, 4 LED moon lights. When I went to bed last night, the water temp was a little high (82), but I wasn't too concerned.  We have not been having fluctuating temps before this or any overheating issues, so I am thinking the heater must have malfunctioned? <<Probably, yes.  This has happened to me before too.>> Any suggestions as to what else to check or what to do? <<I would replace your heater with a few smaller ones.  That way if one should malfunction, there is less overall effect on the tank.>> Thanks <<Glad to help. Lisa.>> Starfish Losses, Saltwater Starter - 05/15/2006 Greetings, <Hello.> I have had my tank for 2 weeks now; it is a 29 gallon tank, saltwater. When I got my tank from my friend, he gave me some water included with it that he said was already cycled. I got more saltwater from a fish store that was supposedly already cycled too. <Mm, water isn't what's cycled or not....  Your nitrifying bacteria live in the substrate and rock, not the water column.> I have lots of live rock and the reason why I rushed to get water in there was to keep it nice and alive.  My problem started two days ago, when I found a starfish dead in my tank. It was one of the starfish that goes under the sand and goes around and cleans it. <This animal would have perished soon in such a small system, anyway....  Sand-sifting starfish need a LOT of substrate.  You'll do well to start reading/researching about the lives that are now in your care....> I wondered what was killed my starfish so I went and got my water tested, and the salinity was off the scale! He told me to immediately take out a gallon of saltwater and one gallon of fresh water. I have other things in the tank already, such as bubble coral, an electric clam, two sally Lightfoots, an emerald crab, two yellow guppies ( I think that's what they are, they sleep in the sand if that is any help classifying them, and they are yellow) <Guppies are freshwater animals....  you probably have "gobies" of some sort.> a clownfish, three horseshoe crabs, six snails, and thirty small hermit crabs. <This is a BAD mix for a tank of this size.  The horseshoe crabs will starve to death in your system.  Sally lightfoot crabs tend to eat small or slow-moving fish, especially those that stay in or on the rock.  Corals have extraordinary water requirements.  You really must do a great deal of research, and FAST.  Start here:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/index.htm , and read on.> They're all fine and all of them seem to be eating (which shows that they are less stressed). The problem I have now is that my green brittle star <!!  This is a predator of fishes.> is losing his spikes due to the fact that I put in fresh water! <ALL of your animals will suffer to some degree from sudden changes.> But, I also am going to get the salt levels tested today because they might be back up again, which means I might have to put more fresh water. <You absolutely MUST have a hydrometer of your own to test your water....  Really, there is a great deal you need to know and do, here.  I just saw a book tonight that I'd like to recommend, called Aquarium Keeping & Rescue: The Essential Saltwater Handbook & Log - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1890087491/002-3630958-9813618?v=glance&n=283155 - this would be an excellent book for you, to help you learn what parameters must be tested, what they are, and why they're important to you and your livestock.> I used something called Nitromax to add bacteria to keep the tank stable because my water levels had dropped and I had to add more water. Basically, are all of my creatures/coral going to die if this tank goes into cycling (which I'm hoping you're going to tell me it won't need to cycle?), <You'll only know if the tank is cycling by testing the water, which you really must do.  As for whether or not your livestock will survive....  Start reading and learning now, and maybe they'll live.> and if the salinity is high will I need to just kill off my green brittle by adding more water? <.... I would return this animal to the fish store urgently if you plan to keep fish.> Sorry for the long intro, but I was just trying to give you the best description of my tank.  Regards,  -Thomas <Wishing you and your livestock well,  -Sabrina> Crashed Bio-filtration, SW - 5/8/2006 PLEASE HELP! Well, after the puffer crashed my tank I lost EVERYTHING! <<Oh no.>> The puffer is now in a hospital tank but the problem I'm having is the ammonia level in my 110 gallon tank.  It is way off the chart.  The first day I did a 20 gallon water change; 2 days later did a 25 gallon water change and cleaned the filter for a second time with absolutely no change in the ammonia level.  My nitrites and nitrate levels are at 0 my ph is down to 7.8 but I'm assuming that's because the ammonia level is so high.  I have made sure there's nothing else in the tank only my live rock and sand. <<Do a series of large water changes to remove the ammonia.>> My ammonia level in my hospital tank is also spiked very high.  I don't know what to do at this point. <<In the hospital tank, you need to be doing large daily or twice daily water changes to keep the levels of toxins down for the puffer.>> Could my tank be cycling due to all the fish dying? <<The puffer crashed your bio-filtration, so yes it is re-cycling.>> Is this something that will go down after more time or is there something else that could be going on that I'm just not seeing? <<The tank will level out.  BE sure to add Bio Spira or fishless cycle to the intended bio-load before adding fish to your tank.  Lisa.>> Re: Crashed Bio-filtration, SW - 5/8/2006 I can not thank you enough! Thank you so much for having such a wonderful site that newbies like me can got to and get such wonderful help! <<You are quite welcome. Lisa. :)>> HELP! This system is driving me crazy! - 05/05/2006 Guys, I really need your help in identifying what is up with my system. History: 180 Gal set up for 5 years with a DSB, additional prop tanks plumbed into it (heavy SPS). I decided to revamp the prop tanks and move them to a separate area of the property (this meant digging lines etc). I started to experience losses but I couldn't figure out what was up (thinking maybe the DSB was crashing). To make a long story short, revamped the entire system, but continued to show ammonia until I finally got smart (if that's what you call it), tested the RO and bingo, apparently my membrane was toast letting pure crappy county water in my system! I changed out about half (300 gallons 2 weeks ago), all parameters are perfect except I am showing trace nitrites at .025 on Salifert. I just added another 100 lbs of cured rock 3 days ago, but nitrites are still hanging in there. <Not unusual considering...> I am using Seachem's Stability as well. I have a few Acros, Montis but they don't look super hot (no polyp extension and faded, lost a good amount of frags), Acans and zoos of course look fine. I am hoping that the trite will disappear in the next week. If it does not, is it possible some remnant contaminant from the city water is present? <Mmm, no. This residual is from the ongoing suffering of biota in your systems> I tested for copper and got zero, also using a heavy metal sponge, Purigen, and carbon, and have even run ozone (ORP is 400). <A bit high... I would allow this to drift to about 350> I am wondering at this point if I shouldn't have a sample professionally tested to find out if there is anything weird in the water. I used a good amount of 100% Silicone for windows <... when? I do hope/trust this is 100% Silastic... not a product with mildewcide in it> and doors in the prop tanks, is it possible the Silicone has arsenic or some other toxin in it? If so, can you recommend anywhere I could send a sample for testing? <... I suspect that what you have and are experiencing is a "cascade" effect from the original contaminated tapwater... If it were me, mine, I'd take a long-term view here... maybe add a good deal of high quality activated carbon in your filter flow path... and let all ride. Bob Fenner>

What can cause all fish to mysteriously die quickly?    5/4/06 I am looking for suggestions and ideas on what might have wiped out all of the fish in my wife's 65 gal tank within about 36 hours. <... likely environmental, though there are some fast-acting pathogens...> A few days ago my wife's largest Percula Clown started acting funny, hanging around the bottom of the tank and appearing to gasp slowly and fighting to get back to the top of the water column. <A clue... as it was large/r...> But he was still eating. The next day I felt he was acting more lethargic. The next morning he was dead. So was her six line wrasse. Another chemical check showed PH had dropped to 7.8 overnight <Not atypical... lack of photosynthetic light reaction... CO2 in house going into solution...> for some reason and the temp was 76.8 degrees. Salinity was 1.024, ammonia was zero, nitrites were zero, nitrates were 30 (normal for her tank), phosphates were less than .05, alkalinity was 3.5 mEq/l, phosphates were less than .05. All seemed normal except for the PH. She immediately did a 33% water change with our RO/DI water, threw away all filter media, buffered the tank PH back to 8.12 and adjusted the temp back to 78 degrees. She then slowly raised the PH back up to 8.2 through the day. <Best to do such changes slowly... via regular gradual water changes> That afternoon her baby clown goby died and her yellow tang was just laying around. When I got home I did a fresh water dip on the tang, but it died a couple of hours later. The next morning, her other Percula Clown died. The tank is about 3 years old and all the fish were a year or more old except the goby that was about two months old. a 10% water change is done weekly.   I thought about parasites, but there has not been any additions for a couple of months except the goby, which was quarantined for 4 weeks before being added to her tank. <Yes, not likely a biological agent at play here> There were no signs of spots, lesions, or any other physical signs. All of the fish had good, vibrant colors. The eyes all appeared clear, with no cloudiness or anything like that. I know this is common with parasites, though. I also have not changed foods recently. I also checked the freshwater bath after the fresh water dip and did not see anything cloudy or dusty to suggest Velvet Disease, although that is about all I can think of that might have happened. All her invertebrates appear fine (snails, crabs, coral banded shrimp), and all of her corals appear fine (torch coral, many different kinds of polyps, Pocillopora, different kinds of mushrooms, bubble tip anemone, toadstool leather, and orange zoos).  Another reason to suspect Velvet? <Not likely. Symptoms not shown...> I am at a loss here. Any ides or suggestions you have would be welcome. <Two big categories of possibilities... lack of gas exchange (from an aerosol or endogenous "oil" source) via a coating on the tank water surface, and some sort of "old tank syndrome"... a blanket category involving the "winning out" of groups of organisms (mainly micro-) in an "older" system... And the principal reason for encouraging people to change out part of their LR, substrate every six months or so after a year or more... See WWM re... the term series "old tank syndrome", and "changing out old rock" on the Google search tool, read the cached...> Now that all of her fish are gone, I plan to leave the tank fish-less for 6 to 8 weeks and to keep up water changes and such for the inverts and corals.  But no fish that may act as a host. Do you think this would be long enough to wait before safely adding fish back? <Mmm, yes, along with switching out, adding to the hard decor here... see WWM re> Thanks for your help and great assistance to the hobby. Sincerely, Rick <Bob Fenner> Fish going blind? 400 gallon FOWLR tank, nitrates have been in the 60-80 range for several months after constantly being 10 or less. <Too high...> The other parameters, nitrites, ammonia, temp, SG, etc. are fine.  Most of the eight fish seem okay, but two small chromis (maybe 1-2") have problems. A strange affliction seems to be striking my once healthy chromis population.  Originally I had 5 but over the course of six months or so, two disappeared.  There are no predators but I do have some scavengers such as crabs.  I assumed they died, fell into the live rock and were eaten.   Then I was down to 3.  For a while it looked like I was down to 2, but the third reappeared one day but visibly impaired.   He was hanging in the corner near bottom of the tank with his tail pointed down and his head up toward the surface.  No interest in eating.  The next night I found him swimming with the others but erratically.  At feeding everyone dashed for food and it looked like he was trying to but just swam in a crazy circle, not at the food.  But he did not run into rocks or the walls.  He could sense his way around good enough to avoid collisions but not to feed. The other 2 chromis seemed fine. Next few days he still did not seem to be finding any of the food and was either hanging around in the same fashion or sometimes swimmy but not with grace (often swims backwards).   Then last night one of his buddy chromis seemed to show the same symptoms, now only one is acting normal.   If I bang on the glass near a fish it will scatter--except the two affected chromis, they are not startled at all, which makes me think they can't see (or sense?) my sudden movement.   All of the fish including the chromis have no unusual markings or spots, no reddish gills or other physical signs of affliction.   Is this a disease?  Nitrate poisoning?   <Is likely environmental disease... something related to nitrogenous poisoning...> Should I remove (terminate) the two sick chromis, all 3? <Mmm, I would not. I'd try to address, reduce the nitrate concentration... better skimming/cleaning, chemical filtrant use, adding a NNR, macroalgae, refugium... many possible techniques to try... covered on WWM> I have a QT although it is shut down right now, but there is no way I could put my other fish in it (it's only 30 gallons and I have a large Porkfish and a large wrasse among some medium size fish).   <Need to "fix" the whole/main system...> Jeffrey <Bob Fenner>

What's wrong with my clownfish? In too small, changeable a world   4/18/06 Hello, Thank you so much for such an amazing website.  It has been a great help to me, and as a new aquarist I am so grateful to have this resource!  I have thoroughly read all the clownfish info, including the disease faq, and haven't found an answer to this question.  First my tank info: specs I know offhand: 10 gallon tank (set up about 5 months ago), about 7 lbs. live rock, live sand, BioWheel filter (with a bag of phosphate and silicate remover in it for the past month) <Small marine tanks are the deuces to keep stable, thermally, chemically... and the use of chemical filtrants here may well have "thrown" your system off> , tiny "Rio 180" powerhead, heater. nitrates: ~20 (it was consistently at 0 until I added the blenny, <What species?> so I blame it on all his poop; I added a couple more snails and crabs and got more live rock since then, it's decreasing now) salinity: 1.022 <I'd keep this near 1.025. Match new water outside...> pH: 8.3 temp: 81 F livestock:  2 green Chromis (tiny ones, about 1"), <Can't live in a ten...> a bicolor blenny (about 2"), <Also...> a maroon clown (about 1 1/2"), <Definitely...> 2 blue-legged hermits, 1 scarlet reef hermit, 3 Nassarius vibex. I bought this clownfish about three weeks ago, after drooling over her (him?) <Her> in the LFS for the previous three weeks (looked great at the store, no abnormal behavior).  She has been great, eating voraciously, and getting along well with her tankmates.  I read that it is normal for clowns to sleep "sideways" up in the corner of a tank, which mine has done since I got her (she snuggles up above the powerhead!).  She has, up until last Friday, always swum normally.  The problem is that on last Friday morning, she started swimming sideways and hasn't stopped!  She struggles to stay upright and level but her belly keeps floating her to one side, and eventually she does a 360 (sometimes many 360s), which makes her flip out a little and swim like crazy for a second afterward, bumping into things.  She sticks herself between rocks or between the rocks and the glass to stay upright, but can't stay still for long, so it keeps happening.  She also will try just swimming against the bottom corners of the tank to try to stay upright, but she ends up doing spins on her head because her belly keeps flipping her upside-down.  She hasn't decreased in determination over the past three days (she is struggling 24 hours a day - I don't know how she does it!!), and still eats well (between flips).  I am always surprised when I come home to see her still wiggling like crazy, trying to stay upright. I have found info on swim bladder dysfunction - but only that there is not much you can do for it but they may learn to compensate, enabling them to live fairly normal lives.  I don't know if I could stand watching her be this crazy all the time!  I can't see how she could keep this level of compensation (if you could call it that) much longer. The only other symptom (?) I have noticed is that her gills on one side are sticking out a little more than on the other side, but that might just be from all the heavy breathing because of the work she has been doing.  I hope it's ok that last night I moved her into one of those mini "floating tanks"  (the kind that float in your main tank, used to keep baby fish from being eaten) so that she wouldn't keep beating herself up against the live rock.  (I am ashamed to say I don't have a QT!) Is there anything I can do for my little fish?  I would hate to lose her! Also, a P.S. if you will - upon adding my scarlet reef hermit crab, my aggressive little blue-legged hermit ripped off one of his legs and stole his shell (how rude!).  The scarlet reef hermit seems to be doing fine, and has even molted since the incident.  Will he grow back the stolen leg? <Should> Thank you so much, Stephanie <Remove the chemical filtrants, get a larger system. Bob Fenner> Sarcophyton leather toadstool (and the near death of my tank)  - 04/16/06 Hello, <Hi, Leslie here with you today> Maybe I'm an idiot but I learned a important lesson this week, thought it would be a good idea to share this with people.   <I doubt that . Admitting and sharing our mistakes so others can benefit from them is a very honorable gesture. Thank you! > I took my leather toadstool out of the tank and thought I would propagate it by cutting it in half.  Well when I cut it open a massive amount of " juice " came out (no big  deal)  I rinsed it off with saltwater and put it back into my tank.  Well within 5 minutes my fish were going nuts, my Kole tang turned so pale he was almost white and was instantly covered with spots, my Clownfish was breathing very heavy, my Bubble Tip Anemone looked completely dead and my finger leather closed completely.  Needless to say I freaked out and did a quick search on Sarcophyton being toxic to fish, yup found out the extract can kill your fish in 30 minutes.  I quickly went to the LFS I work at (no one that works there knew this was a deadly procedure) and picked up 15 gallons (55 gallon tank) of water and did a quick water change (and dumped the toadstool).  My bubble tip immediately looked completely normal, the fish resumed breathing normally and other than an ich outbreak everything was fine the next day.  Anyway just wanted to let people know that if you are going to do something like this make sure you have a really good carbon filter that moves a lot of water quickly, and I would definitely not attempt doing cutting one up in your tank.  Found it interesting that everything that I read about propagating a leather said nothing about it being toxic, found out that there are actually 50 toxic chemicals in a Sarcophyton leather toadstool (after the incident of course).  Like I said, maybe I'm an idiot but I just wanted to get this out there so people don't repeat my mistake. <You made a mistake. I know for a fact you are not the first and you will not be the last. We all make mistakes. It seems to be the theme for today's queries. I have certainly made my fair share. An idiot most likely would not have acted as quickly as you did to resolve the problem. Your quick thinking and action hopefully saved the rest of the creatures in your tank. Fingers crossed that they recover from the ich. I don't do any propagating myself but most of the folks I know that do use separate propagation tanks.>   Thanks. <Thank you for sharing your story. Best of luck with your tank, Leslie>

Dragonet Dragnet, Missing Mandarin - 04/05/2006 Hey I think I had a very very weird situation go down in my tank last night. I heard a thump and saw that my Lawnmower Blenny had jumped up and hit the top cover of my tank and then kept trying to jump until I turned on the light above the tank. <Disturbing.  This "escape tactic" may be indicative of something very wrong in the water.  Please check your water parameters (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, salinity) and check for broken heaters, anything toxic that may have spilled in the tank, and so forth.  Something may be quite amiss here.> The Lawnmower Blenny was pretty messed up and slowly died within an hour or two. <Very, very disturbing that he was distressed enough to cause himself such damage.> The next morning I removed him from the tank and flushed him down. <Should have removed him immediately upon death; dead fish = high ammonia.> Then tonight I noticed that my Mandarin Dragonet had vanished. I looked through the entire tank and I am positive he is not in the tank anymore. <If the tank is large enough and appropriate for a mandarin's incredibly picky feeding habits (should be roughly 100 gallons with 100lbs of live rock), I would doubt that the animal could be found if it didn't wish it.  If the tank is not large enough and with enough live rock, then the animal would have been essentially "on his way out" sooner or later in any case.> I highly doubt the Mandarin Dragonet jumped out of the tank because there isn't much open space. <Any space will be enough, if there's something dramatically wrong with the water.> Is there any possibility that the Blenny ate the entire Mandarin <No, I think this is *highly* unlikely.> (which may have caused the Blenny to jump), and if that happened I might have ended up flushing them both down. The Blenny wasn't too big about 4 inches and I think the Mandarin was about 2 inches which seems too big for the Blenny. Please help my figure out the clue of the missing Mandarin. <I really, really doubt that the blenny ate your dragonet.  Check around the tank, perhaps even blame any resident cats if you find no remains - but the blenny?  Not a likely culprit.  If the dragonet died some few days ago, it may already have been consumed by any scavengers.> Thanks,  Weston Wicks <My sincere apologies for your loss(es), and hope the tank returns soon to normal.  All the best to you,  -Sabrina> SW cascade of problems... env.  - 03/13/2006 Hello Crew, <Valerie> First, thank you for everything you do.  You have helped me numerous times and I really appreciate being able to get such excellent advice.   I am having a severe problem with my main tank and I believe that my water quality has suffered greatly because my skimmer was not working properly. I have a 75-gallon coral reef tank stocked with fish and numerous inverts. For the last week or so I felt that my corals looked a little off.  I worried that the addition of a Midas Blenny could have brought problems. Yesterday I did a 10-gallon water change.  I also decided to take out a large piece of fake base rock.  Tank is approximately 14 months old.  I have always regretted starting the tank with this fake plastic rock but the cost of live rock forced me to use a couple pieces of tofu <... bean curd?> and this plastic base. I have about 100 lbs of live rock in the tank.  Anyway, when I took this fake rock out a lot of nasty stuff came out of the hole in the bottom. <Not uncommon. A good practice is to move part of ones rock around every month or so during water changes, gravel vacuuming>    I also found my red star fish which was nothing more than a pile of mushy stuff.    I did the water change and was disturbed that the corals were not responding.  This morning I checked the water:  pH. 8.2, Salinity 1.023, Ammonia 0 ppm, nitrite 0.25 and Nitrate somewhere between 80 and 160!   <Yikes!> I immediately did another water change (15 gallons) and this made very little difference.    <Likely the dissolved Star here...> I decided that I would do another water change tomorrow and assumed removing the fake rock and stirring up the substrate probably caused the nitrates to go up.  Also, the decaying star fish probably played a part in this. Then I noticed some air bubbles inside the skimmer.  After checking, I found that a hose was not connected properly and saw that the skimmer cup has almost nothing in it.   I made the necessary repairs and felt that the skimmer had also contributed to the high nitrates. <I'd bet you're right>   I then noticed that my two PJ Cardinals looked ill.  One has what appears to be pop eye and they simply do not have a healthy look.  Possibly some white spots, dots on the fin of the one with pop eye.  All other fish are extremely healthy with bright eyes and excellent color.   Now to my point.  Can I use Epsom salts in the main tank. <You can, but I would not at this point... Fix your water quality and all should be fine> I have many corals in addition to one cleaner shrimp and a few crabs and snails.  If you indicate that this is okay, how much should I use?  Also, should I continue with frequent water changes and if so should I add more Epsom Salts. Thank you for your time which is greatly appreciated. Valerie   <I would utilize activated carbon and/or Polyfilter here as well. Bob Fenner>  

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