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FAQs on Marine Aquarium Maintenance 1

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Cloudy Water I am having a terrible problem with cloudy water. I made a quarter water change and ever since (approx.. 5 days after) my water is murky and looks horrible. All of the tests are good but the water looks bad. I am at a loss of what to do next. I have a porcupine puffer and a maroon clown. Help! BK <Whoa, not so fast... need to know more about your system. How long has it been up? What sort of filtration do you employ? What do you feed your two fishes? If indeed your water is "testing good" don't change any more of it out... but have patience, feed sparingly and it will clear on its own. If you want to speed things up, put in some live rock, and wait....  Bob Fenner>

Need guidance... actually just more practical learning, reading  I have recently began this wonderful hobby and read everything I can on your web site. <And elsewhere I hope/trust> I was given a 125 gallon aquarium by some friends who were moving. I've had the aquarium for approx. five weeks. I am truly clueless. I had the previous owners' LFS move the aquarium across town. I did not question the system as I should have. Water and all was moved within a few hours.   What I have learned is from books and your web site. This aquarium should have gone through a renovation and didn't. It has one venturi skimmer, two very large power heads (can't tell how large for they are submerse along with the skimmer) getting good strong flow, 150 or more lbs. of live rock, two of the waterfalls filters and about 4 to 5" of mixed sand and crushed coral substrate, 3 tangs, and 3 damsels. I seem to be getting a good skim, I'm cleaning about every three days and cleaning the waterfall filters every week. I think my tank is cycling. I'm having an algae bloom. Cleaning algae about every two days off the sides of the tank. I've done a 10% water change using RO water. Had been topping off with tap, but stopped that practice. Still seem to have a high nitrate (N03) problem. <How high?> All other levels seem to be in line. Everyone made the move without much stress. Everyone seems to be happy. Have cut back on feeding (frozen krill and brine). <Please read re other foods> I think that the substrate needs to be replaced since it had not been cleaned or changed in years. I think this is where my problems are. <Some likely> Everything was stirred up during the move. Planning on doing this a third at a time. I plan on replacing all the lighting also, since this has probably not been done in a few years. Are there any other suggestions one could offer as to the high nitrate and algae bloom? <Posted. On WWM. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm> I don't want to do something that will hurt more than help.   Or I just might need to be more patient and do a few more water changes.   I hope I have given enough information. I love this web site. It's the best I've found. Thanks, Cindy <Keep reading. Bob Fenner> Ammonia, Consideration of Others' Time is Lacking  11/10/05 Bob, purchased your book, you're web site is awesome, but don't have the time to navigate the thousands of options. <I strongly encourage you to acquire the skills, practice of executing searches, choosing the cached version (so as to pick out key terms)... a very useful skill for all such Net uses> I have a large colony of dark red calciferous algae in my marine tank (55 gallon few live rock, undergravel filter, mostly fish, healthy, few invertebrates).  Red algae covers side walls of glass tank and covers crushed coral substrate to the point I filter, rake substrate to remove excess. Tank chemistry seems fine, although I always have small total ammonia level(<.025 ppm) maybe due to not vacuuming undergravel plenum?) Please advise? <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nh3marfaqs.htm ... and the other linked Related files above. Bob Fenner>

System/Setup Advice - 08/16/05 WetWeb - I inherited a 55 gal tank about 6 months ago.  It had two clowns, a pygmy Basslet, and a BioWheel 300 filter, and I have added, over time, a canister filter, 210 watts lighting, a yellow tang (mistake) <<yes>>, a green Chromis about a month ago, and recently a Dartfish.  Also a couple of frags in the last few weeks.  I think I've overloaded b/c now I'm getting a lot of buildup on the sides of the tank and the covers. <<Remove the tang.>> I've been researching protein skimmers and just ordered an Aqua-C in hopes to alleviate some of the buildup. <<Excellent...great skimmers.>> My question is, once the skimmer is added, I'm considering ditching the BioWheel altogether and relying on the canister which is a Penn Plax rated up to 70 gal.  I think the BioWheel may be responsible for the usual high levels (20 ppms) of nitrates. <<Is likely...but the canister filter will need "weekly" service/cleaning or it too will become a problem.  If you have live rock in this system I would relegate the canister filter to chemical filtration (carbon, Poly-Filter).>> Other current parameters:  salinity is at 1.0235.  temp 78.  pH seems to run about 8.4, nitrites and phosphates zero.  Any advice on this greatly appreciated as I'm still learning the ins  and outs of keeping a marine.  I had never even had a freshwater prior :) <<Even experienced hobbyists have questions/need for information/reference...If you haven't yet, purchase some good books on the marine hobby.  Here's a good shortlist to begin with: Mike Paletta's "New Marine Aquarium" Bob Fenner's "Conscientious Marine Aquarist" John Tullock's "Natural Reef Aquariums" Many, many thanks. Gerald Souder Louisville KY <<Kind regards, EricR>>

Misc. marine op. Q's 7/13/05 I just looked very closely at the sebae and it has red/brown lines through the body which I would think it is coming back from being bleached. I do have the fan blowing across the surface. What pump do you recommend and is the SCWD any good?? thanks Joe <Uhh, all answered on WWM... use the search tool, indices... Bob Fenner> Saltwater aquarium questions... very basic 07/01/05 Hi Bob, <Jeanette> I am all new to the saltwater aquarium hobby and want to share with you my experience with the LFS and ask for advice. <Okay> What I purchased at the LFS (following the employee's advise): 1. 10 gal tank with stand 2. Sand (not sure if live). 3. 5 pounds of live rock 4. Outside hanging power filter with floss/activated carbon media 5. Artificial plants 6. Nitrifying bacteria product 7. Floating thermometer 8. Deep Six Hydrometer 9. Test strips 10. Fluorescent lamp (already installed on the hood) How LFS person told me to setup the aquarium: 1. Fill the tank to half of its capacity with filtered water and mix in some salt (synthetic salt mix) stirring the water by hand and measure the specific gravity (with  hydrometer) and keep mixing until the required specific gravity is reached. 2. Place the live rock in the tank. <... all in one day...?> 3. Place the sand around the live rock. (by the way, they sold me half the sand package; they said that I only needed half of it) 4. Finish filling the tank completely with filtered water. Add more salt mix. Keep mixing by hand and measuring specific gravity until reaching the required SG (AGAIN). <Very hard on the "live" portion of the rock...> 5. Install the filter and filter media. Fill the filter with saltwater from the tank and turn it on. 6. Pour 1 tsp. of bacteria on the saltwater every three days. 7. Install the thermometer and place the artificial plants NOTE: They said that I should test the water chemistry after a week. If everything tested good, my tank was ready for livestock. <... no...> I followed all the steps as the employee told me to. After a week I tested the water parameters and everything was ok, but the ammonia was 0.5 ppm. The guy at the LFS told me that it was ok to add two damsels to help in the cycling process. <..... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm> I did so and after a week one of the damsels died (yesterday). Some questions: 1. To me it seems like the order of some steps was not the best. Should it be better to place first the sand, then the live rock and after that fill the tank with filtered water and mix in the salt? Doing it that way would make any difference? How you setup your tanks? <My friend... you are trying to "do" things that take a few weeks, all at once... the "cookbook" recipe you received for setting up this system is unworkable period. Please take your time, read... a good thorough book on the subject of marine aquarium keeping... and/or the Net if you have patience. Our general bit on set-up here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marineSetUp.htm> 2. How I do make sure that the live rock is live? Mine does not have any algae. It is light grey color with some red spots (I do not think that the red spots are red algae; they don't seem to be; but you are more experienced than me. <... see WWM re LR, curing... yours is dying> 3. The water is crystal clear, but every time that I move the live rock or disturb the sand surface (even a little/slight/minimal movement) I can notice particulate floating on all the water. Have you experienced that? <Oh yes> It has anything to do with the filter not working well? <Maybe> Is that normal? <What do you mean... healthy? No> Can that harm/kill my fish? <Yes... but a ten gallon tank is too small for even one damsel...> I have read that you can change the aquascaping of your tank after it is set up if you want to try a different look. But I have not read if first one has to remove the fish from the tank. Please advise. <Read> 4. I have read that you can "cycle" the aquarium using household ammonia. Is that safe? <Mmm, can be, but with most folks, no> Also, read of cycling the tank by letting decaying food stay in the tank. Please advise. <Heeeeee!> 5. Is it a good idea to use beach sand (picked up by myself) instead of purchased sand? What are the drawbacks/advantages? <Good questions... all answered on WWM. Use the search tool, indices> Thank you for dedicating time to read all this, please replay ASAP. Jeanette <Your enjoyment, success here will be commensurate with your knowledge, understanding of underlying principles... and human nature. Study my friend. Bob Fenner>

Damselfish, (actually aquarist) Problems 29 Jun 2005 Hi, I got a saltwater tank about two weeks ago and started off with a yellow-tailed damselfish. <You placed a Damsel in an uncycled tank...> My tank is 30 gallons and shaped like a cube (with not a lot of surface area). For decoration and hiding places I have a conch shell and large rocks. I'm assuming that you get a lot of questions about angry damselfish and I've read through most of them... but they didn't really answer my question. A few days after I got my tank, I added a coral banded shrimp <Not a good idea to add invertebrates into uncycled systems> and the damselfish seemed to get along fine with him.. but after I added a second yellow-tailed damselfish and a neon goby my original damselfish went crazy. It uses its fin to push the other damselfish away and chases everybody out of its territory (the rocks) <This tank is too small...> It even began bothering the coral banded shrimp, which spends most of its time in the conch. And now my shrimp seems fed up with my damselfish and has begun trying to attack it back. Although you've mentioned repeatedly that the aggressive damselfish should be removed, I was wondering if it would be alright to wait it out and see if my angry damselfish will calm down and become friendlier, instead of having to just remove it. I don't really like the idea of having just one damselfish because... I "want it to have friends". Is there anyway I can achieve harmony in my tank without having to remove my first damselfish? Thank you! <Mmm, not waiting till your tank was established is a mistake, and has contributed to the aggression you list. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm and on to the linked files above, then over to Damsel Compatibility, Systems... Bob Fenner>

Tank General Questions 29 Jun 2005 Hi Was hoping you could help me out with some general questions re my tank. <Okay> 1) My tank has a purple coloured tinge to it. Is it meant to be like this or is something not right? (see my photo) <Does appear to have quite an outbreak of Cyano/BGA> I have a small amount of nitrates and phosphates. Calcium is around 450ppm and no nitrites/ammonia. The 50 gallon tank with sump has been running for about a year and is stocked. with ---- 1 x Firefish 2 x Chromis 1 x Bicolor Angel 1 x Dotty Back I am running two fluors/actinic and I replaced the actinic a couple of months ago. Never replaced the other fluor. 2) There appears to be a somewhat unnatural element about my tank. Most of my fish have been in there for a year now. As soon as I come home all they do is crowd around the corner of the tank waiting for me to drop food in.  (You can see this in my attached pic). I don't think they just swim around naturally any more. except for perhaps when I am not home :) <Likely related to the BGA or in turn whatever is allowing it> 3) I would like to add a clown fish to my tank. Which one would be suitable?  If you think I am over stocked then could I return the 2 Chromises and get one? <Could try with... remove the Damsels if they're trouble> 4) If just say the phosphates in my tank is sourced from the tap water. When I do my fresh water topups, can I add "PhosGuard" to the fresh water while I am aerating it? <Yes... your in-tank phosphate is likely "bound up" with the pest algae/bacteria> Any help to the above questions/queries would be greatly appreciated. Yours sincerely Simon <Mmm, I'd like you to read re controlling BGA: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm and consider adding some means of ongoing passive competition here... perhaps a refugium... DSB... Bob Fenner>

Marine tank op. questions 6-28-05 Hi Was hoping you could help me out with some general questions re my tank. 1) My tank has a purple coloured tinge to it. Is it meant to be like this or is something not right? (see my photo) <Hi. It's hard to tell from the photo. It could be slime or diatoms.> I have a small amount of nitrates and phosphates. Calcium is around 450ppm and no nitrites/ammonia. <What are the nitrate and phosphate measurements?> The 50 gallon tank with sump has been running for about a year and is stocked. with ---- 1 x Firefish 2 x Chromis 1 x Bicolor Angel 1 x Dotty Back I am running two fluors/actinic and I replaced the actinic a couple of months ago. Never replaced the other fluor. 2) There appears to be a somewhat unnatural element about my tank. Most of my fish have been in there for a year now. As soon as I come home all they do is crowd around the corner of the tank waiting for me to drop food in.  (You can see this in my attached pic). I don't think they just swim around naturally any more. except for perhaps when I am not home :) 3) I would like to add a clown fish to my tank. Which one would be suitable?  If you think I am over stocked then could I return the 2 Chromises and get one? <A. percula might be suitable all things being equal (see my comments below). Make sure it is tank raised and not wild and please quarantine him before adding to your system.> 4) If just say the phosphates in my tank is sourced from the tap water. When I do my fresh water topups, can I add "PhosGuard" to the fresh water while I am aerating it? <Nuisance algae, slime and diatoms are best controlled by the aggressive export of nutrients. You might a search on "nutrient export". Protein skimming, water changes, activated carbon and PolyFilter pads are the preferred methods for nutrient export. Phosphates can be introduced through tap water but more likely, the phosphate source is food. I would suggest investing in a good RO/DI unit to clean up your tap water and remove both phosphates and silicates. If you are feeding frozen food, I would suggest thawing and rinsing the food before feeding. Good luck - Ted> Any help to the above questions/queries would be greatly appreciated. Yours sincerely Simon

Water Film - 06/24/05 Greetings WWM crew. <<Evening>> I'll make this short.  I'm not very sure when this "film" over the water started occurring but I don't recall it always being there. <<Organic materials attracted to the air/water interface (just like in a skimmer) at the surface of your water.>> My tank is 45 gallons and contains 2 percula clowns, 1 coral beauty, and 2 blue chromis. Also an assortment of snails, crabs, and a shrimp. I have a SeaClone skimmer with maxi jet 1200 on it, and a standard filter.  This adds up to be around 600 gallons per hour I believe , maybe more maybe less. Recently the film on the water surface has now began to get bubbles in it. <<A common occurrence.>> My friend recommended getting a power head to get the water circulating.  Is that the solution? <<Water circulation is always important, but not going to solve this in itself.  You need a way to "skim" the film from the surface of the water.  Several ways to do this, most notably with a surface skimmer that drains to a sump.  But with a little imagination and/or searching the WEB, you can rig a device for your "standard" filter to do the same.  Another option is to turn off all the pumps and lay a clean paper towel on the calmed surface for a moment...then lift away the film with the towel and discard.>> Thanks <<Regards, Eric R.>>

New marine aquarist Hi!  As a newcomer to the hobby, I was hoping you could help me with a few questions.  I've started off small and have a Juwel 180 litre with 3 power heads, 1?" coral gravel and a large mixture of rock - mostly ocean rock - with about 15Ib of living rock (covered in brown Anemones). <Aiptasia likely...> Since starting the cycle, I've added 9 small blue-legged and red-legged Hermit crabs and 2 Lysmata cleaners - <Before the system was cycled?> unfortunately having lost one after a week.  On first filling the tank with tap water, I made the mistake of treating with a de-chlorinator - eradicating all Ammonia in the process.  Since then, the tank has been maturing for about 5 weeks and although the Ammonia and Nitrite levels are almost zero and the Nitrate level negligible, I never saw the customary Nitrite rise and fall!  Does this mean that the tank cannot yet be regarded as matured? <Mmm, actually, you likely just "missed" this part of the process> Secondly, the afore-mentioned Anemones often shrivel-up and lay limp, moving with the water flow.  Is this a bad sign and would you suggest the Anemones may be a nuisance variety (small and dark brown in colour)? <Yes> Whilst maturing the tank, I have been adding PH buffer to the water daily for a few weeks yet cannot raise it above 8.0!  Is this enough and does it indicative of something being wrong? <Maybe, but not likely... please read on WWM re alkalinity, pH...> Finally what fish stocking limit would you impose on such a (small) sized tank and would a small orange starfish be too much to ask? <Depends on the species... see WWM re Fromia spp.> I thank you in advance of any response/advice you give and wish to add that your site is an absolute godsend to budding aquarists like myself and really does serve to champion the hobby. <You're doing fine thus far... take your time (easy to say, key)... and inform yourself ahead of visiting your stockist/s... and your system will be satisfying. Bob Fenner>

Damsels, skimmer... WWM I have obtained two blue devil damsels. one is around 1 in long, other is 1.5-2 in long both are the same  color pattern. my question is --- how i can tell if this is a pair or not, when they do sexually mature (at what size, age), and also can I do anything if they are fighting? also do I need a protein skimmer, what are the alternatives? my tank is 25 gallon eclipse system, live rock, mushroom corals, send sifting star, two Turbos, some macro algae;  3 years old system. <Please read over these topics on WWM... your answers are posted over and over on our site. Bob Fenner>

Beginner Support 05/07/2005 Hi there crew!<SUP>  It's me again. I am hopping you can help me. I have searched through your FAQ's and all I know about saltwater aquariums I have learned from your website. Needless to say the pet store wasn't very helpful/knowledgeable. The question I sent before was a hypothetical one (to ensure compatibility). I am brand new to saltwater tanks. When I purchased my 30 gallon tank and stand, I informed the store clerk that I would like to buy any and all things that I would need to have a successful tank. Well, what he told me was to buy distilled water, salt, sand, fish food, and one of those gauges that test how much salt is in the water. From reading the FAQ's it sounds like I need a lot more. <That is definitely some good advice.  The Hydrometer that the store owner was referring to is definitely a must and the others are a little vague but right on.  Fish food is too vague just because depending on the animal that will decide what food to buy.  But it was good advice none the less> Can you please help me. With a lot of the items I read about on your website I have no idea what they are, what they do, or if I will need it for my tank. Here are my plans. I currently have a 30 gallon tank with a substrate of live sand. (about 2 inches) There are 2 blue damsels in there now. One is very active and even comes to the top of the tank when I opened the lid to feed them. The other I rarely ever see. <The other one may be too aggressive toward it.  They will cause it to hide quite a bit> I am constantly searching for him to ensure he's not dead.  They've been in there for almost 2 weeks (so he must be eating). I now  understand my tank is "cycling" and this could be the cause of that fish's behavior. <Damsels are very very hardy.  So the cycling should not really have an affect on them> Some fish I plan on purchasing further down the road are: a yellow tang, a maroon clown fish, a coral beauty, and a mandarin fish. <Nice fish!! But a yellow tang is going to get too big to keep in that tank.  I know people do but it is not really fair to the fish> I asked the pet store if I would need to place more sand in the tank for the mandarin. He said no, but I am asking you to make sure. <Mandarins main source of food are Copepods.  If they do not have these in your tank they will most likely die.  The problem with this diet is that copepods come in on your live rock.  They will breed freely in the aquarium but with a mandarin and a small tank they will be consumed too fast.  So a large tank is required for a mandarin. The equipment I have is basically what came with the tank. The filter, a hood with a light, and a heater. I purchased a bubble disc and test strips that test for nitrate, nitrite, alkalinity, and pH level. Also a kit that included a pro-buffer, ammonia detox, and essential elements. What else can you suggest I purchase that will make my tank a healthy environment for the fish I would like? <Water changes, water changes, and oh did I say water changes.  There is no miracle chemical.  Water changes is the best thing that you can do> One last thing to ensure I am on the right path. I recently tested the water and the results were pH 7.8, Alkalinity 120, Nitrite 3.0 and Nitrate 20. I know the nitrite is in the stress level. I wasn't sure if I should treat it since it is in the cycling stage. I really appreciate any information you can give me. I love my fish and I want to make sure that I'm doing all I can to ensure their health and happiness. <No the cycle will have to finish but make sure to do water changes at each cycle change> Thank you. <No problem.. EricS>

Waste heat, questions of sorts about life 7/12/05 Hey guys you always have an answer for my questions! <Or at least some sort of response> I have a 55 gallon reef and it has 2 maxi-jet 1200 and 1 Rio 800 for circulation along with a Eheim 2026 pro 2 filter and an AquaC remora operated with a maxi 1200. <Manufacturers', product names are capitalized> In these summer months I have taken out my heater and put a fan next to my tank <Leave the heater/s in... they're thermostatic... won't come on...> to blow on the lights (Coralife AquaLight 260 watts). <Mmm, not on the lights, but across the water surface> It stays stable at about 80-81 degrees with the fan and a/c. However the a/c where the tank is broke yesterday and it rose to 85 digress. I need to get rid of the heat and I don't want to buy a chiller. I was thinking of getting rid of the powerheads and buying one external pump such as the quiet one 3000 that packs 780 gph with less wattage than the powerheads. <Good move, point re the power consumption, waste heat production> I am also having a Cyano problem in one corner. Some I think is on few of the tentacles of my sebae anemone. <Mmm, strange if so> Unless it is getting its color back since it is bleached. <Much more likely> I think I'm going to borrow red slime remover from my friend to eliminate it from the anemone because it worked for him. <Not smart... could (easily) lead to a complete wipe-out... read on WWM re> Well anyway I wanted to make a closed loop system with the pump and a SCWD. I don't know how well they work but it looks interesting. How would you go about hooking this up and if it is good. What pumps do you recommend with low wattage. It is on sale online so i wanted to get it. thanks Joe   <Time to send you to WWM Joe... enjoy the journey, learning. Bob Fenner>

Follow up on sick fish... Anthony/Bob thanks for answers I hope this is last time I bother you with my lack of knowledge! <no bother at all...ask away and keep learning. Anthony> I am having trouble with cable modem email please reply to both emails above, Thanks. <OK> Skimmer is producing coffee! Around 6 oz per day.  <excellent... keep up the good work!> I have been adjusting to get qty down slowly. <why... get as much dark skimmate as possible> Figured no hurry to limit its flow. I have overflow to a 32 oz container. Replacing water as needed. Question... PS below is Protein Skimming, right? <correct abbreviation> How about reduction of light, good thing or bad? <depends on your invertebrates and the age of the bulbs, etc> I was at 11 hrs, went to 13 trying to beat this - no luck, but lots of green glass! Now at 8 hrs. <not sure why the manipulation? If halides... yes, more than 8 hours is unusual and perhaps undesirable> Next subject.... Sorry... How do I get a Auriga Butterfly to eat? I bought it 2 weeks ago, he is in quarantine and has not been seen eating at all. <try "Sweetwater plankton" (comes in a glass jar)...very tantalizing. If not, put a freshwater clam/mussel in the tank (notch hinge and purse open... very tempting for the snout of a butterfly. After it eats the bivalve, stuff the shell with a more convenient frozen meaty food (Formulae 1 and 2, etc> Food floating by seems to annoy him and he is very easily agitated. I started treating with copper two days ago.  <aaaiieeeee! Who suggested that?!? Butterflies and angels can be very sensitive to copper. Do be careful...test levels often> He has three spots, like ich on one fin that showed up this week. <why not freshwater dipping... natural and not so noxious as copper> A also purchased a Black Pearscale which is in my 2nd q tank.  <you don't intend to put them together do you? butterflies are hard enough to keep by species without extra-specific aggression> He is doing well but I noticed a growth behind his right eye socket. Its about 1/2 to 3/4 size of eye with some red in it. I have tried to take a pic but that is harder than it seems and I do photography on the side! Its that digital shutter lag that's getting me. Pictures attached. Question is should I treat him with copper or just let him go?  <copper is only good (and barely so for Cryptocaryon Marine Ich). I can't tell from the pic the nature of the growth... and alas a treatment> He did not eat for first few days but now is a pig! He seems like he will make it if this growth will not get him. Thoughts? <a very good sign> And Thank you very much for your feedback. It's like taking care of a newborn, and wanting to do everything perfectly and not killing them with Love!  <agreed> Actually I think it was easier with the kid!!!! But a second voice from you and from reading Bob's books many, many, many times helps! I think if you asked a question about what page a certain sentence is on I might get it right! Thanks Again, Dale <our pleasure indeed, kindly Anthony>

Fish growth and tank size Hi guys, I need to solve a question that has been coming up a lot lately on many of the fish forums. Do fish only grow to the size of the aquarium they are in? I think this is an idiotic statement, but I've been an idiot before when it comes to this hobby. If fish only grow to the size of tank they are kept in, why did I have to upgrade from a 75g to a 125g tank when my Koran angel outgrew the original tank? I didn't see any indication that he was going to stop growing anytime soon. :) Thanks and great job on this web sight. I've been coming here for 2 years and it only gets better!! Regards, Susan <Susan, the idea that fish will only grow to the size of their aquarium is an old one, but is only slightly true. Freshwater fish are fairly easy to stunt and usually do not outgrow their tanks. They just usually die prematurely from health complications from poor water quality in cramped quarters or they just jump out and die on your rug. Saltwater fish do not stunt well and again succumb to the health issues relating to water quality or jump. In general, if you want a healthy, happy pet, provide it with plenty of room, good overall water quality, and a varied diet, and you will be rewarded with a long-lived friend. -Steven Pro>

PH Hi Robert! <Steven Pro this evening.> First of let me say that you web site is great. I wish I would have found it months ago!! I have a 75 Gallon tank with about 40-50lbs of live rock, 1 maroon clown, 1 yellow tang, 1 fox face, 1 convict tang, a blue damsel, and a Naso tang. I have all a Extra large Red Sea Berlin Skimmer, a Wet/Dry, HOT Magnum hang-on, Wave Maker, ozonizer and UV Sterilizer. I added a TECO CA200 Chiller on yesterday. I would like to introduce some beginner corals, what do you suggest? Also what is the ideal temp for the tank with corals such as hammers, frogspawn, torch and red/blue mushrooms? <The corals mentioned above are all good candidates. Make sure they are in good condition, no tissue recession, and have all the LPS's floated upside down with Styrofoam. 78-80 should be fine.> My tank is crystal clear. I have a pretty good set of test kits. Do I need a PH meter or tester before I try to tackle corals? <You need a good pH test kit (no meter required), alkalinity, and calcium test kits, too. Also, get yourself a good book, such as Anthony Calfo's "Book of Coral Propagation" or Eric Borneman's "Aquarium Corals".> Are the Seachem products good enough to have a pretty nice reef? <Kalkwasser, Reef Builder, and an Iodine solution should be used.> Thanks in advance. <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Poor confused soul (more marine filtration planning, deliberation) Hello Gentleman. <Good evening, Bradley. Anthony Calfo in your service> I have been keeping fish for over twenty years. In all this time I never had a sump. I am upgrading my 55ga. to a 75ga. Oceanic Reef Ready. I want a sump filtration system for the reasons most do, more water volume, getting gear out of the tank and more efficient skimming etc..  <all the right reasons indeed. You will not be disappointed> I am buying Euro Reef for the skimmer and that is where my certainty ends.  <agreed... and the single most important investment beyond live rock> Now I am COMPLETELY lost! What type of sump style, size,  <bigger the better> return pump (internal or external ,brand etc.)  <many good choices... but Japanese Iwaki's are far and away top shelf and time-tested. My first choice> and plumbing in general?  <hard plumb as much as possible, be liberal with slip unions (disconnects for easy removal of components like pumps), always use gate valves, never use shut-offs)> I am not a do it yourselfer so "out of the box" it is for me. How do I fend off disaster if the power fails?  <good husbandry beforehand and a little preparation. Do not overstock or overfeed. Feed nothing during a power outage. Maintain temp with blankets or styro tapes to tank. Keep tank dark. Buy a battery powered air-pump (like a bait aerator) with batteries to keep on hand> SOOOO many questions! I am having a hard time finding out anything on sump filtration and general plumbing on the web or in books and magazines. Wet Web Media has some info on this but it isn't helping me much.  <Try the DIY links as www.ozreef.org too... very interesting and informative> I know you guys know what you are talking about and I could really use some help. I want to get it right the first time. <the best time to do it indeed> I am thinking of buying a 30x14x16 sump from Custom Aquatic that seems pretty complete for an "Out of the Box" guy like myself. Will this fit comfortably under my tank? <you'll need at least 12" clearance above the sump to work and this is pushing your luck to begin with... see if you do by measure> Is it big enough?  <a whisker small if you plan on a heavy bio-load but fine for a reef> Quality?  <fine> They have one exactly the same size except it is 16 inches wide and I think that would be cutting it too close. Anything in your opinion that is better?  <simply put in the biggest that will fit> If I do go with this, what return pump?  <external> I just want to get this part over with so I can get back to paying attention to my critters with the comfort of knowing I have a sound filtration system for them. zimmy <happy reefing...<wink> Anthony>

Live rock (marine system set-up, maintenance) Hi Bob! <Thanassis... Anthony Calfo here again. If you will be kind enough to teach me a polite greeting in Greek, I'll be sure to use it in reply <smile>> I really enjoy reading your book (the conscientious...). I received it some days ago from Amazon.co.uk and I find it really useful. <excellent book indeed> As I wrote you before, I have a 210 liters fish-only tank with an Odonus Niger, one Paracanthurus Hepatus, one Damsel and one Acanthurus Lineatus. I have some questions: 1. Would it be good to add some live rock that I will buy from my dealer ?  <an excellent investment if it is fully cured and stable> The Lineatus is eating everything green in the aquarium, including the green lettuce I offer almost every day. In case he eats all the green of the live rock is it worth to buy one or not?  <yes. very much so. An incomparable food source> I also think it as a solution to my high Nitrate (100 mg/l). What is your advice? <not really so much... a deep sand bed (3+") would be better, or more frequent water changes> 2. My Odonus Niger (2 1/2 inch) is trying to hit the damsel and saw today half of a fin missing. Should I quarantine the Damsel? However the Damsel does not hide at all. it eats regularly . <hmmmm... aggression that lasts longer than three days with new fish usually doesn't abate. Do quarantine> 3. Three days ago I noticed a mark on the side of the Lineatus (4 inch). It seemed like he has been attacked by the Niger. I see them fighting many times , but just for second, and the Lineatus deems to be stronger. Do I have to worry? <same as above... and Niger triggers usually are more peaceful. It looks like your trigger did not read the same books that we did <wink>> 4. My Blue Tang (2 1/2 inch) is a very clever fish and escapes easily from the sudden attacks of the Niger, especially when he get close to the "home" of the Niger (he has a hole on a rock as "home"). The Niger was the last one in the aquarium , and I was told that he is calm and peaceful. Mine is not at all... <yes...agreed. I would consider trading him for another one> 5. My ammonia suddenly went up to 1.5 after some small pieces of lettuce were floating on the water surface .  <the lettuce alone would not cause a jump this high... do investigate further> I took the out but within half an hour the same thing happened. I do not know where they come from (perhaps the Niger took some piece of lettuce in his cave and it slowly began to dissolve...?). I made a 10% water change 3 days ago and today I made another 10%.  <yes... very good. Do as often as necessary> Tomorrow I will check again my ammonia. In the meantime I did not feed today the fishes. I am considering not to feed them until ammonia drops to 0.0.  <no sir.. the feeding is not the problem. Do feed at least lightly and figure out if there is a filtration problem or a lot of trapped organic material in the system somewhere> How long can they stay without food? Will the Niger be more nervous if hungry? <towards a week (4-5 days) with no trouble at all... but again, not the solution.> Thanks again and best regards, <with kind regards, one of your American friends, Anthony Calfo> Thanassis, your Greek friend

Yellow Spots Bob - Thanks for answering all of our questions. I have yellow spots growing on the sides of my 75 gal saltwater tank. The spots are as large as a dime and start as a small dot. They have to scraped from the sides with my fingernail. Is this a type of encrusting algae?  <Not a very encrusting variety if so...> If the spots were purple, I would say they were coralline algae spreading from the live rock. Any ideas? <Lots, but none re this organism or mix... Please read through the many materials posted on WetWebMedia.com re algae, their control, marine system maintenance. Bob Fenner> -- Thanks

lucky, with anemone, clownfish Dear Bob, Love your site and all the time you have put into it. I have a few questions that I need to ask. I guess that I have been LUCKY, cause I add no chemical and have had my 75gal. for about 4 years now. <Perhaps lucky, but also smart... there is no to not much need to "add anything" to a properly set-up, stocked and maintained system.> I have about 45 to 60lbs. of live rock. I have several fish that I still have since I first started. I have just bought a Sebae Anemone and it is fine and the Clown is fine, but they have nothing to do with each other.  <May not be "compatible"... this happens... or may take some time to become acquainted> It has been about 3 1/2 weeks and still no change. One last thing, all of the live rock and my jets, glass is purple and don't know if this is a good sign or what. <Better than not> I live in a very small town in Mississippi, so I don't have very many resources that I can go to for facts. <We have each other. Bob Fenner>

Aquarium ID I don't know if you can help me but here goes... I have an aquarium, it is a 55 gallon, and I have five fish. Some time back, I noticed many small white "cysts" on the glass of my aquarium. These cysts form, mature and disappear for a period of time. they don't appear to harm the fish, but they are unsightly. Do you know what these cysts are? If so, how do I rid my tank of these things? Thank you, Corbin <need more information, my friend. Freshwater or saltwater tank? Cysts are hard or soft, spiral tubes or globules, duration of stay on glass, etc? Anthony Calfo>

powerfilters and protein skimmers Bob, How are you doing? <Fine, you?> I am new to marine aquariums. I have a 75 gal tank that I am setting up to be a marine tank. I have 100 lbs of Live Rock, and 80 lbs of Live Sand. I would like to use HOT filters and skimmers to keep the cost down. I currently have a TetraTec PF500 powerfilter and a RedSea Prizm protein skimmer. I wanted to know what you thought about these 2 products, if you had reviewed them and how do these 2 products compare with similar products? <Fine products. Very good for what they're designed for> I had originally filled the tank and then added the uncured Fiji live rock about 3 weeks ago. I then read that Tetra had a new powerfilter to replace the Whisper 5 that I got with the tank, so I exchanged the original filter with the TetraTec. I then tested the water and the Nitrite and Nitrate readings were very high. So I did about a 80% water change 2 days ago and installed both filters (TetraTec and Prizm). <... eighty percent is way too much... better to do smaller changes... wait off on all during your "run in period". Please read over the set-up, establishing biological filtration sections on the marine index on WetWebMedia.com here> I was going to wait about a week and test the water again before I start putting fish or invertebrates into water. <Mmm, wait about a week after your nitrites go to zero... or more to try a hardy invertebrate> I read your book and thought it was wonderful. Are there any monthly magazines that you would recommend so I can keep up with the technology changes and other interesting news about marine animals for my tank? <Yes... as a matter of fact all three of the national monthlies: AFM, FAMA, TFH... their URLs et al. from there can be found: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/links.htm in the middle top of our links page. Bob Fenner> Thank you, Tom Schumacher

Re: who killed my fish?!?! <Anthony Calfo, with the follow-up> thanks for the quick reply. well there is no way it could have jumped out that's for sure but say it is in my live rock - do u mean stuck in there? or dead in there? <either, but if dead it has long since been consumed by scavengers (as small as copepods and as large as crabs/starfish> well if it is does that mean that if I don't get it out, the decaying fish will contaminate my whole aquarium?  <not at all...too small of a fish. Did you notice a flare in brown algae (diatoms) this week on your glass that would suggest decay?> how risky is it to dismantle my live rock though? it will fall apart if I do that and won't that just disrupt the aquarium's harmony? I guess it's better than all the organisms dying due to the dead fish. I'm confused as to where to go from now. <no worries, again. The fish was too small. Just make sure the skimmer is working daily and don't look back. Kindly, Anthony> thanks coralline

still learning! Hello Robert, <<Hello, not Robert but JasonC, but Bob is here and he says hello.>> I have been reading and reading at the WetWeb site to hopefully answer my own questions and not hound you continuously with emails,....( how do you do it??)! <<we get by with a little help from our friends.>> But it seems that one question leads to another, then another, and eventually I feel like I have thrown myself into a world of NOT KNOWING ANYTHING!! <<is part of the 'human condition' methinks. At least the ones who want to get smarter, that is.>> So, here I am again, and I must attempt to keep it simple,...( I know, .....too late for that!) <<ok, let's go.>> Today, I want to talk about Ph and Buffering capacity. My Ph is an ungodly 7.0~ and my Buffering capacity is @ 240ppm. ~~~~ 55g.~~~60lbs LR~~~~2" crushes coral, (I know, not enough, working.....) and only a handful of damsels, 6. <<a pH of 7.0 that is awfully low and so much so that your damsels shouldn't be very healthy. Have you had the opportunity to try another test kit?>> I know there are many factors that can contribute to lower ph, over feeding, infrequent water changes, heavily stocked, poor skimming, working on that one too, Skilter now), But I feel that I am only guilty of not changing the water frequently enough, would this alone cause the problem, AND I thought that a good Buffering Capacity would keep the ph steady. <<well, I suppose if you never changed your water this could be a problem, but even monthly changes should be sufficient.>> Can you please explain what the heck Buffering Capacity is? <<In a simple sense, it's the ability to resist change. In this case, the ability of your tank to not skyrocket instantly in one direction or another. All compounds have this ability, and in this case we are talking about a resistance to shifts in pH - even at 7.0 the buffering capacity should make it difficult to bop the tank to 8.0 in a one shot-deal. Have I confused you enough?>> Thanks so much for your time, As always,.......... still learning! <<You are quite welcome, I'm trying to learn all the time too.>> Pamela <<Cheers, J -- >>

New Marine Tank Questions Hi Bob, My name is Luci. <Greetings Luci... Anthony Calfo here> I just started my tank. It is only 29 gallons. I have 6lbs of live rock and 4 damsels (spelling). I just got them today. 3 days into my tank and I am already freaking out! :o) Anyway to my questions. I have been reading your site for the last 2 hours and I want to know when I can get a Goatfish to be a cleaner.  <wait at least 4-6 months as a bare minimum> I know my tank isn't nasty yet but I know it will be growing things. I have a powerhead in the bottom corner and a Biowheel system hanging over the side. I do believe I have good movement in there. How long will it take for my tank to go through the "change" The guy at the fish store said to come back in 3 weeks to have them test my water to see.  <agreed.. typically 3-5 weeks> He also said not to add/change my water until then either. <debatable but OK> But to add PH when needed. And not to worry about my other tests right now. Is that about right?  <for the first two weeks ... agreed> I want to get a puffer fish, and small red starfish, and one other fish he said gets along with everyone, can't think of the name right n! ow! But he was saying that the puffer fish will be fine with my small damsels (spelling again). Is this right. <varies by species and individual> While reading you site I have seen that they really don't get along that well with the star fish and smaller fish. <correct> These puffers are about 1 1/2 inches maybe 2 inches, for now that is. If there is anything that you can tell me I would greatly appreciate it. I am sure you will be hearing from me again! Thanks, Luci <Luci... could you please elaborate on what kind of puffer they are? Anthony>

Parasitic diseases (Re: Herbal Ich Attack) Good Morning Bob, After reading through WWM I see no mention on treating Brooklynella with peroxide. Is that an acceptable practice? <Not in my "book"... too hard to measure, too dangerous a proposition... Other treatments (formalin et al.) are proposed for treating this protozoan (Brooklynella hostilis) It seems that this is what my maroon clown fish has. One of the LFSs I go to suggested to dip the fish in 1 litter of saltwater for 15 mins after adding 5 ml of peroxide. The white stuff/film is now peeling off, but the fish looks stained and weakened (won't eat either). I researched the web as well, and I couldn't find any info on treatments with peroxide. One website mentioned treating it with formalin/performing freshwater dips etc.. but everyone seems to be trying something different I guess prevention is better than cure in this situation). <Yes, definitely. One of the principal reasons I refer people to trying specific pathogen free tank-bred, reared amphiprionine stocks> Also, should I leave my skimmer on while I'm medicating with Herbal ich attack this is for the 55 gallon tank, the maroon clown is in a QT).  <Contact the manufacturer (Kordon/Novalek) re this issue... yours is still the only mention I have of this products use> The LFS guy said it doesn't matter as long as I remove the carbon which I did before I started medicating). What are your thoughts on Hardness Plus? The LFS told me to add that every other day to keep my pH from fluctuating but this morning it was 8.3 ppm. <For what reason are you using this product? To maintain, elevate pH? What is the unit of scale you mention? How much is your pH fluctuating in how much time, time frame? What is the soluble carbonate make-up of your system?> The yellow tang still has grainy spores on him and there was some discoloration on him (which seems to go away after the lights come on(?)) so bottom line, I am still medicating with Herbal Ich attack (day 3).The scratching seems to have stopped though. Thank you for your advise. D. <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Parasitic diseases (Re: Herbal Ich Attack) (Actually a/the broader stroke of aquarium husbandry period) Just to maintain pH. It was recommended by the LFS expert I purchased my fish/corals from. Also, he said to use Alkalinity plus which I am every other day). pH sometimes fluctuates from 8.0 to 8.4(I have seen it dropping down to 7.6(once over night) but it is mostly at 8.2 during the day).  <You should investigate the reason/s behind these pH swings... and get out of the expensive supplement habit... Better salt mixes (with more alkaline reserve), more and more soluble substrates, carbonaceous live rock... better filtration... use of macro-algae... Do read over the set-up, maintenance sections of WetWebMedia.com here> You had recommended to increase aeration, and the system(55 g) now has 3 power heads (MJ 1200, 900, Rio 600). I have not measured the Carbon dioxide; I am using the aquarium pharmaceuticals test kit. Also, I have brought this to my LFS before... <Excuse me... brought what? A water sample for testing? Some criteria, e.g. C02 can't be measured with time, moving the water about> the Penguin 330(w/ BioWheels) is rated at 330 gph, however the BioWheels are kind of slow at turning. Would filtration have something to do with the pH? <Yes... in many profound ways...> Should I get a better filter? <Yes, IMO... a sump type, refugium with live algae, lighting would be ideal> I am also running a Remora skimmer. I have spent more than one grand only too see my fish having problems (oh I have also done another 10 g water change with instant reef-never hurts). D. <Please take a step or two back here... forget about how you've gotten to where you are... and consider your possibilities. Perhaps have another "fish friend" come by and review what you have... Join our chatforum: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/... to get others input on what you might do. You are very likely an element of your continuing problems... with the use of countervailing chemical strategies... that are partially toxic, create instability. Look to changing your system to being more homeostatic, more self-regulating. Bob Fenner>

Hey (Rude salutation, marine maint.) Hey Bob, I got the water tests from the well in our new house today. (We are going form city water to a well). It tested at 0mg/l for NO3, a Ph of 7.5, and no heavy metals. I assume that the only water conditioning I will have to do is to adjust the Ph and use dechlorinator. <I would go the route of storing, aerating water to be used for your aquariums... in a designated container.> Anyways, I am setting up a 20 gallon tank at the new house right now. I added a bag of that bagged "live" sand and seeded it with some live sand form my tank. I also added a 12 lb piece of live rock and transferred some snails and hermits from my old tank. If the water tests come back good tomorrow I would like to move my livestock one at a time over a couple day period to the 20 gallon. I plan th move my final piece, my coal tang, on Dec. 24 and move and set up my 54 gallon on Dec 26. I hope that 36 hours in that little tank wont harm him. Anyways I have a question about stocking the 2 tanks. In the 20 gallon I would like to keep my pair of percula clowns, my pair of cleaner shrimp, and a small 6 line wrasse, with 12 lbs of live rock, clean up crew, 20 lbs of live sand, and a Berlin Prizm skimmer. Does this sound like too big of a load for this tank. In my 54 gallon I would like to keep my tank and add a trigger. I like the Huma-Huma and the Blue lined. Which do you think would be a better tank mate? <Neither. This tank is too small. Bob Fenner> Thank You, Jonathan Pac

Re: Hey Thanks Bob, I use to 55 gallon trash cans on wheels. I age water in one and use the other during water changes. Since the triggers wont work in my system could you suggest a fish that would go well with a Kole tang in my 54 gallon? Ill send you some pictures of my tanks after the move. Thanks, Jonathan Pac <Please read through the many FAQs on marine livestocking and groups. Bob Fenner>

Salt Deposits Hi Bob, Great site. I have been reading it now for about the last 3 hours, too much information. Is there such a thing? <Yes... a definite "rate-limiting" function is our time... For myself, an abiding regard for "knowing enough" to act on, "being satisfied"... Though in regards to "pleasurable activities" can/do count spare/enjoyment time as my own... and clarity is pleasurable.> The problem I am having is a large amount of salt deposits around the top frame of the tank and on my lights. Other than enclosing the entire top, is there a way to prevent this. My salinity is at 1.021, and I have 75gal tank. <Do knock these back into the tank (not on top of sessile livestock!) when doing your regular maintenance... and consider using silicone, tape... restricting bubbling around these areas to slow down the processes which are "salt creep". Please read over the marine maintenance sections of WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner> Thanks for all your help. Jim

New with saltwater...HELP! Bob, I have been to your site many a time, and I have done a lot of reading but I am not sure if I am doing something wrong, or just not taking what comes naturally well or not. I want to start a reef tank bad. But before I go out and start a 120 gallon tank, I decided to start out with something smaller and then upgrade. <Good idea> I got 45 lbs of Fiji rock that had to be recured. I did that in a 29 gallon tank, two 100W heaters, a 500 GPH foam block filter (which may be part of my problem) and I have upgraded the lighting to 80W 5K, 7.2K blue, 10K, and a 20K. I had my rock cycle for about a month and then I got a small anemone. I thought I was getting the hang of that, and getting my water right, threw in about 30 blue dwarf hermit crabs after I started getting an algae problem. I added a sponge in, the rocks fell. the anemone met the filter, which was depressing. So I got this long tentacle anemone to replace it, and it was doing great. My little tomato clown loves it. I come home and I find the thing facing the bottom of the tank all shriveled up... I had to suction out something it was spewing up with a syringe and try to revive it. The poor thing is clogged with algae particles, I have since changed the water 2 times in the past to days, it is still alive, I don't know if it will improve, it showed some improvement but it is in bad shape. <Yikes...> My SG is 1.024-5 or as close to 1.0245 as I can get it, pH around 8.2 and I raised the water temp to 78 since it seemed to like that best. My crabs are almost nowhere to be found, and I don't know if this algae will go away or not, or if this is normal and if I can finish curing this rock, will I go through the same thing in another new tank or once it is cured is that it? <Pretty much a once-through event... some "mini-cycling" does occur... not much with moving the rock from about the same circumstances...> The sponge seems to be doing OK, it is a red tree sponge, it is not discolored or anything, the clown is doing great, but this algae is killing me. I have since gave a good freshwater bath to that foam block, I am really wondering what next. Joe Szweda <I would read through the Algae and Algae Control FAQs for hints as to what might have gone awry here... otherwise, keep your skimmer going and be patient. Bob Fenner>

How Clean is Good For a System I have a 37 gal. breeder tank that has been set-up since the end of April. I finally got a green mandarin and he is eating the food. I have always cleaned all the glass sides and was wondering since I now have more live rock if I shouldn't clean the back glass anymore. I was told the mandarin would eat stuff building on the glass. <Mmm, not directly... this species eats zooplankton (worms, crustaceans...) that may benefit from the algae growth) When I don't clean it, it looks dirty but I have seen ones that are all colors because they weren't cleaned...and they look ok. "To clean or not to clean...that is the question" ! Cheryl <I would clean these viewing panels if they bugged you. Bob Fenner>

Small orange worms? Hi Bob, I just noticed that my powerhead are covered in what I thought was orange coralline. That is until I saw 2 of them crawling along the glass... What are they and are they bad news? <Likely no problem... do you have "taking out, scrubbing your powerheads" (as with an old toothbrush, baking soda...) as part of your regular maintenance? You might want/need to do this every few months... to prevent clogging problems... But the animals involved no worries> 6 month old Reef tank... perfectly stable with 173 lbs LR and 160 lbs crushed coral as substrate.... The only things that got added recently is... One green torch coral... 4 of the 6 torches died within days of introduction. One hammer coral... was as good as dead when I put it in... took it out 24 hours later and got a refund. One large leather. Prior to that addition these oranges worms were not there.... Any ideas? Regards, Robert <Look into "The Modern Coral Reef" books for Xmas... leave hints about. Otherwise the "Critter i.d." areas link posted on WetWebMedia.com should be perused. Bob Fenner>

Marine Maintenance Hi Robert, I received a 35 gallon marine aquarium as a gift.....it has now been setup for about 3 months....I have an Excalibur protein skimmer, emperor biofilter, and small marine shells as my substrate (about 1 1/2" to 2 inches in depth)....and about 24 lbs of live rock....(and fish only) ...my ammonia levels, and nitrite levels are fine (now)....however I am having problems keeping my nitrates down.....everything was fine until about three weeks ago when I was doing some cleaning in the tank.....I had not moved my substrate around previous to this, but this time when I went to do a water change I sucked the water from the substrate and realized how "dirty" the substrate was.....I'm guessing that maybe I should not be "cleaning" the substrate... <Actually, better to regularly vacuum the substrate... if you can about half of it (let's say the right or left side) about every two weeks or so, when you do your regular water changes> and that I upset the balance in the tank by doing this...my ammonia and nitrates went up.....and then I had to do more water changes to try and get these levels back in line......but then I sucked more stuff out of the substrate......it was a very stressful time for this newbie...... .my question in effect is....if I have substrate should I be cleaning it?....and if so how? I really do not want to have another "episode" like I had.... Thanks Jackie <Hmm. Please read over the sections on "Marine Maintenance" posted on our website: www.WetWebMedia.com... Bob Fenner>

my tank Hi - My tank is fairly difficult to maintain and I was wondering if you could give me some suggestions.  <Surely> I have a 30 gallon with a power head, undergravel filter, and a power filter. I have 3 really tiny snails, a frog, two giant Gouramis (ms), 3 small tetras, a Dojo (mojo), <Likely a "dojo", aka weatherfish loach, Misgurnis...> a catfish, and one fish that is gold ( it was gray 6 weeks ago) but not a gold fish. It's the size of the Gouramis. None have died! I feed 1/2 Tubifex worm, Tetra flakes, twice daily. Also, a sinking wafer and 1/2 of an algae wafer once daily. In my power filter I have bacteria circles (I bought them at the fish store, she said to get bacteria started.) Can I take them out now it's been 8 weeks.  <I would wait another four weeks or so... and even leave them in then if they're not a bother> I also just added c-100 pouches to the back of the power filter. ( ZEOLITE to help purify the water.) I'm changing 10 gallons weekly by suctioning the gravel, adding stress coat, algae destroyer, and ph-down.  <Be careful with these chemicals... I encourage you to leave off with the algae destroyer entirely (too hard on your livestock) and to pre-mix and store your new water for a few days ahead of use...> My take gets a little murky by end of week. I tried feeding less and the fish seemed to start fighting when I fed them. Please just let me know if I'm doing it right or if I'm making something difficult out of this.  <Sounds like a very typical new set-up... a few things would help... I'll list below> Also, there's the undergravel filter with two, plastic, vertical, hollow poles. I put the power head in into the top of one these poles but there's nothing to go in the top of the other pole. I have to have something to keep gravel out of the hole if I were to remove the pole. It's just kind of an eye-sore I try to cover up with plants but I'm thinking if I don't have enough filtration or something I may need something there. Thank-you for your time. Bonnie Vest <Ah, exactly... you do need more aeration, circulation, and filtration... With the undergravel filters, a simple addition of an airpump, tubing, stones (and maybe a valve and check valve) will help here... with the stones placed down inside the airlift tubes (the poles you mention)... and/or another outside power filter... either a hang on type or a canister... And do look into (after stopping the Algae Destroyer use for a few weeks) using some simple live plant material in your system. Please read over the "Planted Aquarium" Index of the www.WetWebMedia.com site here... and just try some of the real hardy types of real aquarium plants... many benefits, including greatly improved water quality and ready food for many of your fishes... which will help reduce aggression, and keep your water clear... Bob Fenner>

Tank from hell -- help!! Hi Bob... We talked briefly after your "Tank Troubleshooting" discussion at WMC2001 yesterday about my discouraging reef tank problems. I truly appreciate your taking the time to walk with me through this ordeal.  <A pleasure and honor my friend.> I have been a marine aquarium hobbyist for close to 15 years, previously having a rather simple fish only tank -- with a powder blue surgeon fish that lived almost 4 years and a percula ocellaris that lived over 7 years -- needless to say it was very traumatic when she died (And, only due to my poor choice of a tankmate -- a young wrasse that, once older and bolder, suddenly harassed the clown to death in a short 24-48 hour period.) It has always been my dream to have a nice (i.e., clean) reef tank with a few corals and a fish or two, lots of inverts (I am thoroughly fascinated with inverts of all kinds :). As such, I converted my fish only tank to a reef system, adding skimmer, better lights, Kalk reactor, etc.. all to no avail. My system sucks!.. Water quality is out of whack, hair algae abounds, and my animals are definitely _not_ happy... alive, but that's about all I can say... <Hmm, let's chat> I would like to prepare a document with details of operation along pictures of the tank and equipment to send to you, if you don't mind, and we can go from there.. Thanks again Bob.. --chane <Looking forward to the interaction, and helping you get your plans back on track. Bob Fenner>

Scratches on Glass Tank Bob, the pad I was using to clean the inside of my tank must of had a substance on it that scratched my glass. The question is do you know of a way to remove the scratch from a glass tank? Nick


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