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FAQs on Reef System Operation/Maintenance 21

Related Articles: Reef Maintenance, Marine System Maintenance, Reef Set-Up, Refugiums, Reef Filtration, Vacations and Your Systems

Related FAQs: Reef Maintenance 1, Reef Maintenance 2, Reef Maintenance 3, Reef Maintenance 4, Reef Maintenance 5, Reef Maintenance 6, Reef Maintenance 7, Reef Op. 8, Reef Op. 9, Reef Op. 10, Reef Op. 11, Reef Op. 12, Reef Op. 13, Reef Op. 14, Reef Op. 15, Reef Op. 16, Reef Op. 17, Reef Op. 18, Reef Op. 19, Reef Op 20, Reef Op. 22, Reef Op. 23, Reef Op. 24, Reef Op. 25, Reef Op. 26, Reef Op. 27, & Marine Maintenance, Reef Systems 1, Reef Systems 2, Reef Set-Up 1, Reef Set-Up 2, Reef Set-Up 3, Reef Set-Up 4, Reef Set-Up 5, Reef Set-Up 6, Reef Tanks, Reef Lighting, Reef Lighting 2, Reef Filtration, & Reef Livestocking, Reef Livestocking 2, Reef Feeding,

Automatic feeders are a great way to supply small amounts of food several times per day.

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

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

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

My ETSS Skimmer question & reef maint. f' 12/10/09
Hello Bob,
<"Come on Irene!">
We met at MACNA in Atlantic City. I never knew there was an Acropolis in the United States!!!! I'll have to make the pilgrimage one day.
<Heee, and in Tennessee of all places! A scaled-down version, and stuccoed, but quite neat nonetheless>
I'm so glad that you're so approachable and friendly. Your wealth of knowledge in the hobby is unsurpassed with a willingness to share with all.
<Well-placed in our hobby interest eh?>
Five months ago I set up a 150 gallon sps/clam tank. Each of the 2 overflows drains to its' own dedicated sump. One is a refugium and one is a Rubbermaid tub that feeds the skimmer. The skimmer tub is plumbed to the refugium, which holds a lower water level due to the return pump pulling only from the refugium at a much faster rate than the Rubbermaid tub can flow through. This way, I don't directly skim anything living in the refugium, which has approximately 25 pounds of live rock and ball of Chaetomorpha.
My skimmer (an ETSS Evolution 500) is externally plumbed into the garage.
Powering the skimmer is an Iwaki 20rlt.
I've always been able to pull a dry,
disgusting foam, yet my remote gallon of milk waste container usually has taken 3 weeks to fill. I did my routine 15% water change Sunday morning and have added no new livestock, yet for some reason it has been filling my remote container twice as fast for the last few days. I started a zooplankton supplement for my sps corals, yet that was over a month ago.
<Mmm, don't think this is a factor>
My water parameters are as follows:
Specific Gravity: 1.025
Phosphate: undetectable with my kits
Nitrate: undetectable
Calcium: 430
Alkalinity: 9dkh
Ph: 8.4
ORP: 380
I have what I consider to be a heavily stocked system: 1 Yellow Tang, 1 Achilles Tang, 1 Red Sea Desjardini Tang, 1 maroon clown with Bubble Tip anemone, 1 six line wrasse, 5 chromis, 2 lyretail anthias, 1 Royal Gramma and a blue devil damsel. I do feed heavily (3 frozen cubes of mysis and Formula 1 twice per day and half a sheet of Nori every other day) yet have seen no ill effects. In fact, my Chaetomorpha has actually began receding from what I assume to be a nutrient poor system. I have approximately 120 pounds of live rock in the display, as I feel more swimming room for fish and growth room for corals will make for a better long term environment and higher volume of water.
<We are in agreement>
My question is... even though Chaetomorpha is receding and parameters seem ok, I'm noticing that a greenish film is developing on my front display pane daily. Is something going astray which I am not aware?
<I suspect the skimmer and this green growth are indicative of an overall change, "aging" in your system itself>
My skimmer is rated for a 250 gallon aquarium. Could it be possible that I need a higher flow rate skimmer; a bigger one?
<Mmm, no. This is a fine, though high water flow unit... well-matched here>
I love the fact that this countercurrent downdraft consumes a mere 45 watts for what it's pulling. Could the need for a bigger skimmer be in my future. Thanks.
<I'd do the following: Add to your maintenance schedule, the taking of the ETSS off line, and diluted bleach soak, rinse it to remove "bio films" every three months or so... and start adding ten, twenty pounds of new/fresh live rock to bolster the biodiversity of your system period.
These two steps should re-center your system, return the skimmer to peak performance, and rid your glass of the green film. Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: re: My ETSS Skimmer question
As always...you're a scholar and a gentleman. Thank you.
<Heeee! Well... trying to be more of both! Cheers! BobF>

After Curing LR???/Live Rock 10/15/09
HI this is Markos from Athens Greece,
<Hello Markos, James from Michigan, USA>
I have now curing the LR for 2 months, everything is in place and operational, (skimmer, DSB, pumps, heaters etc) my water parameters are all good, no lights till now ( no algae). I am planning to add Chaetomorpha in the refugium my question is;
1) Should I start the photoperiod in the main display tank also, and for how long
<Yes, any photosynthetic animals on the live rock will need it to thrive.>
2) what is the Chaeto going to feed on if there is nothing in the tank?
<Plants are photosynthetic and will survive without nutrients, but nutrients are likely present from die-off in the live rock.>
3) Should I start seeding the DSB with janitors ?
<Best to read here and linked files above.
You may also want to read here.
Best regards,
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Liquid Calcium and Iodide: Dosing without testing SW Chemistry\Supplements 10/13/2009
<Hi Tom.>
I have a green carpet anemone which is hosted by two saddle back clown fish.
I went to the LFS and they told me that I should be adding liquid calcium, iodide, and strontium to my tank because I have corals that need it.
<Well, corals, and in fact most invertebrates need those to some extent.
Unless you are heavily stocked, and doing regular water changes, you probably have all your system needs in the salt mix.>
They recommended the Kent Marine bottles to me.
Ever since I have been adding them my carpet has been shrinking up very small.
<It is trying to tell you something.>
I am only putting the exact measurements my tank requires but the carpet still seems to be affected with the slightest add of the supplements. I was wondering if you recommend this brand?
<I will use them in a pinch, but prefer Seachem personally.>
I have a 100 gallon reef tank 5 months old, all parameters are stable, are there any all in one reef safe formula(s) you would advise?
<The first thing I will recommend is to stop adding supplements and buy yourself a few test kits. Do your regular water changes, then 24 hours later test for calcium, iodine, and magnesium. and get some baseline numbers. Do the same tests again a day or so later and see if the numbers have changed. That will give you a rough idea of the calcium demand. You will likely find that it has only changed by a few parts per million (ppm) or not at all. Iodine is touchy, everything in your tank does need it, but if dosed too high, it can become toxic. There is a test available for strontium, but it is expensive, time consuming, and involves working with strong acid, so I cannot in good conscience recommend it, unless you have a huge reef system with a large amount of stony corals.. Plus, as I said before, unless you are heavily stocked with stony corals or clams, you likely have all of the strontium you need already. Please read here:
as well as the linked files on the top of the pages.
Thank you very much !
<My Pleasure>
Orange County, CA
<Brevard County, FL>

Saltwater Storage/Make Up Water 9/18/09
Hi Crew,
<Hello Jill>
It's me again, this time with a saltwater storage question. My LFS came over to show me how to clean my 125 g. last night. That was part of the package I bought as I am pretty green about the gills not to mention a tad intimidated by the whole Marine Hobby.
<Sounds like a good deal.>
Freshwater not a problem...Anyway, I have an R/O unit installed along with a 50 gallon container to mix my saltwater in. We did a 25% water change last night which left me roughly 20/25 gallons of saltwater left. I unplugged my pump and heater and was only going to plug it all back in about 3 to 4 days before my next change. I would like to do changes every 2 weeks. Will the water still be good if it is just sitting there
without circulation for a week or so? I know fresh water can go stagnant after awhile but am unsure of saltwater. Also, will I need to re-check my SG before my next change?
<Salinity should be close to that in the display system. Do read here.
Oh yeah, one more thing....we only vacuumed the live sand in front of the LR and never moved anything around to get beneath it. How often should I move the LR around to vacuum beneath it?
<Would not do, can/will be stressful to inhabitants.>
I do have puffers that can create quite a mess when feeding.
Thanks again . I'm still getting through all the FAQS so the answers are probably in there somewhere.
<You're welcome, and do keep reading, much to learn. James (Salty Dog)>

Swimming space vs. filtration, reef op. 7/18//09
Greetings crew,
<Hello, Josh here.>
I have a 240 gallon "mixed reef". No "true" corals, just lots of mushrooms and some leathers with my Angels, Wrasses, Triggers and Sohal Tang.
<Wow, lots of big fish.>
Tank is well stocked, with a wife approved upgrade to 700 gallons in 2 years or so.
<Excellent, but I hope it can wait that long.>
I have about 190 lbs of Live Rock in the tank and another 25 in the sump, I have always felt that plenty of swimming space was important for these type of fish.
<You are absolutely correct. Swimming space is a must for all these fish.>
I have seen my nitrates crawling a little higher, fish are healthy as can be (no deaths in over a year...knocking on wood), mushrooms are thriving, but the leathers (colts, umbrellas, and a large Devil's Hand) are struggling. I'm thinking due to the nitrates, they have climbed up to 60+.
<The nitrates are likely the culprit here.>
I change 20 gallons of water every week, my turnover is about 7,000 gallons per hour.
<This is a rather small water change for a tank this heavily stocked, (less than 10%).>
I was considering adding another 50 lbs of rock, do you think this would have a significant positive effect?
<Likely not, most standard sized pieces of liverock contribute to the dentrification from ammonia to nitrite, and nitrite to nitrate. Only very thick rocks will contribute to the conversion of nitrate to N2.>
Or do I need to step up my water changes?
<I would continue and increase the size of the water changes. Additional improvements you can make would include the addition of a deep sand bed, and skimming more heavily, (you are skimming right?).>
One other note, I let my PC's go too long, and got a Cyano outbreak, I treated (for my first time in 7 years of SW fish keeping) it with Kent Poly-Ox Red Slime remover, I noticed some of the LR lost some color, the Cyano is gone, but could this have negatively/temporarily affected my existing LR?
<Oh No, try to avoid these chemical fixes. The Cyano was actually a bacteria, and the Kent product was an antibiotic. Use of these products can cause problems with your beneficial bacteria. Please read up on WWM regarding alternate ways to deal with Cyano bacteria.>
Thanks for your time and the wonderful site,
<Your welcome
Josh Solomon>

reading, observing, enjoying and sharing (and asking questions too) Reef op. 6/27/09
Hi Crew, and Hi Mr Fenner!
<Hello Claire!>
First of all, thank you so much for your help and for being so patient and friendly;
So, as you suggested in your reply, I read a lot and, as a result, I decided first to upgrade the lighting of the tank (80 gallons - 1.5m x 58cm x 40cm- Skimmer RedSea Berlin X2 Turbo - 2 Hydor Koralia 4 - 1 auxiliary pump - 2 Rena XP filters under tank) as follows :4 T5 Glo full spectrum (instead of 2) and 2 actinic - all lights 1.17m long. Do I need to upgrade further?
<Mmm, for what purpose/s?>
Then I bought 6 evap fans (1x4 and 1x2 Jebo) to bring the temperature down. I can now get 28 C almost steadily (perhaps I will get picks of 1 or 2 C but I think I have read somewhere in the articles that it is not lethal for the animals).
By further reading your articles, I made another timing for lights : from 6am to 8am, 2 T5, then from 8am to 16pm, addition of the 2 other T5, and from 16pm until midnight the 2 actinic, then all lights off (if I understood you well, everybody needs to sleep, including inhabitants of the aquarium).
<This is so>
It happened to me last week to cross the way of a wonderful green carpet anemone and I almost bought it, even reading in the same time ALL the documents in the site about these animals, and if I was so stubborn in my will, the reason was that the aquarium of the LFS was so small (a poor 60cm x 60cm x 60cm) and that the fact that the new carpets were arriving in this already crowded cubicle containing already 1 very big carpet along with a lot of other livestock was almost making me cry over these poor creatures. But, after one week of internal war with myself, I decided to look for another LFS, and if people don't buy animals that are so much mishandled, then, perhaps some lagoon equilibrium will be rescued somewhere.
<I am always hoping...>
And then I decided that I will try to create an
Indo-Pacific biotope.
Aquarium parameters for today:
pH: between 8.2 - 8.6
Nitrite: 0
Ammonia: 0
Carbonate: 10dkH
Calcium: 480
<Mmm, a bit high>
Phosphate: 0
Nitrate: 0
Salinity: 1.022 (middle green of the hydrometer Aqua-Medic)
<And too low>
So I began by taking 2 snails that I believe to be turbo snails (are they?) and one blue legged hermit crab (sweet little creature), very active, that in fact I think is electric blue legged hermit. Now will this be wrong to bring in another week another 4 little hermit friends to complete the cleaning crew (with a lot of empty shells) or is it too much for the 80 gallons?
<Not too much>
I should like too to plant one or two mangroves (if I can find it here); A professor wants to give me 2 frags of Acropora (one blue, one green) and here too I have questions: it is harmful for the coral to be held by the skeleton, but how can I handle it properly?
<The skeleton is fine... further down, toward the base (older)... after "waving" your hand at to make the polyps close up>
and would it be wrong not to glue them but simply to stuck each fragment in a little hole of the rock lower first then higher and higher for acclimating to light?
<As long as secure enough>
I remarked too that when I add iodine for instance the skimmer is producing a lot of foam, so I decided to turn off the skimmer for 2 or 3 hours when I am adding substances to water or when making complement for evaporation (approximately 7l daily). Is it all right?
Last finding in my aquarium was a little starfish (actually became 4 little stars). I wonder if it is a predator or not.
<Not much of one... see WWM, the Net re Asterina spp.>
Thank you again for your help and your site, which is really a wonderful teacher and companion.
Sincerely yours,
PS. I join pictures of the crab (sitting on my magnet and making acrobatic exercises after going down from it, and star)
<Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Re: Water parameters out of whack?
I did the research today that you were talking about and I see why I should not run the Carbon and Phosban (unless level are too high). Here is the original email with the answers to your questions:
Hi all, I have been out of the hobby for about two years and decided to make a come back. At any rate, I decided to do a SPS/Clam/Zoa tank.
So here is the issue, I added some frags SPS from a friends tank about 4 weeks ago...all dead with in a week. Their tissue sloughed away.
> > <Oh, now that doesn't sound good... This was the first life you added to a new system?>
<The first life was the clam and the Zoas after the cycle was over>
two weeks went by and I bought a frag from a LFS, It's showing signs of tip burn and I have had it for about 3 weeks. I bought another 4 frags from a LFS (Idaho Grape Cap, Orange Cap, Leng Sy Cap, and a green slimer) The caps are doing ok (Idaho grape is starting to show tissue slough). The green slimer is starting to turn white at the base and start to have some of the tips turn white.
> > <...>
The clam looks great, but the a few of my Zoas have closed up and appeared to have died.
> > <What? The Zoanthids could have poisoned the Scleractinians... see WWM re them, allelopathy>
The local reef group (salt-city.org) I am in thinks that my Alk is the issue, but I am looking for some direction as far as where to start because I don't think that Alk is it.
> > <... Ok>
<Don't know what you're thinking here Bob :) >
<<I am in agreement with your stmt. that "Alk is not it">>
Here are my tank parameters:
Tank is a bare bottom 120 gallon with 40 gallon sump.
<Why no substrate?>
<I wasn't totally accurate on this, I have a 5" deep sand bed in part of my sump....there is also Marco Algae in there with a small group of hermits and Nassarius snails for turnover. However, the display is bare bottom (personal preference)>
<<I see>>
Skimmer: Deltec AP702
CA reactor: Geo 612 (not in use)
> > <Why?>
<I figured that I was holding a high enough level of calcium and Alk that I could leave it off for the time being. Plus I had no test kits to make sure that I was not over running the reactor>
<<I'd run it>>
Running Phosban and Activated carbon 24/7
><Again, why? Cnidarians need the materials these remove...>
<These have been turned off!>
Lighting: 2x250 watt DE Hamilton 14k MH with Lumen Bright reflectors and 2 54watt T5 actinic for supplementation
> > <Is this much more than these were exposed to previously?>
<Previous tanks both had 400 watt bulbs on Lumen bright or Lumen Arc reflectors...although they were 20k instead of 14k>
Circulation: 2X Tunze 6100s on a Neptune Aqua surf
Tank has been running for 3.5-4 months.
water parameters :
Temp: 79-79.3
pH: 8.11-8.23
Spec. Grav: 1.026
dKH: 12 (4.29 mEq/L)
Calcium (460-480)
> > <Too high>
<Do I let this deplete naturally?? Or can I do a few more large water changes this weekend and the next, or quicker if needed?>
<<I would lower by dilution, precipitation through elevated carbonate...>>
Mag: 1140
PO4: 0 (Undetectable)
> > <Needed>
<Taken Care of...>
Nitrate: 0 (Undetectable)
> > <Ditto>
<Taken Care of...>
Ammonia: 0 (Undetectable)
Top off/Make up TDS: 0-1
Salt used for water changes is half Instant Ocean half Oceanic. Last water change was done yesterday at the advice of my local forum. I did 25% in hopes of getting the dKH reduced (my tank was at 12)...the dKH remained the same, 12. I tested the new water prior to doing a water change and it was at 12 dKH also.
I'm trying to solve the mystery that is causing things to die off.
> > <Understood... see the questions above? Search them on WWM. Bob Fenner>
<thanks again, hopefully this helped a little>
<<Am hopeful as well. RMF>>

Water Changes With No Fish? 6/19/09
Hey guys,
< Hello!>
I love the site! I just have a quick question.
< Well, Ok. Since its just a quick one. Ha Ha >
I've been in saltwater for over a year now but recently I got a new tank.... I've had my tank set up for a few months now (29g BioCube w/30lbs of LR).
No fish just yet, but I do have some coral in there. I've been testing my water every week and every thing comes out perfect, corals are doing very well also.
< Great! >
I'm not really planning on getting fish in the near future, I want to do this right and take my time. Now let me get to the question, if I don't have fish (no wastes being produced) do I have to do water changes every week?... Thanks a lot guys. Mark-
< I'm a believer in water changes. The not only remove wastes (fish & CORALS both produce waste)
but replenish trace elements. Regular water changes are a reefers best friend. GA Jenkins >

Keep your hands out of my tank Marine System and Maintenance. 6/5/2009
<Hi Edward.>
I would just like to take a moment and share my experience with you.
I have found no other hobby that excites and disappoints so often. 'Tis a roller coaster ride beyond match. And I do consider them pets, short of naming them...so far.
<Me too, though the rest of my family names them. The only one that seems to fit is "George" the Clownfish.>
My comment and general advice is this, keep your hand out of your tank as much as possible. I have found this to be the single most important principle to my aquarium. Letting nature take its course and allowing the tank to mature and stabilize is just as important as the research beforehand.
<We are in agreement.>
I have customized my own aquarium to minimize contact with the water during feeding and water changes. This means I let coralline build up for a while before inserting my hand to scrape it off.
<I leave one of those magnetic scrapers in the tank at all times, hand never has to enter the water.>
If something is on my hands or arms, I'd rather take the chance of contamination only once. My ill-educated excitement has led my initial fish overstocking to a select few by following this rule...survival of the fittest. I thought a mixed reef would be nice, but found that :chasing numbers" didn't allow me to really enjoy my aquarium.
<It is a common source of frustration. In the scant few months I've been a member of The Crew, I've answered countless emails from people stressed because their pH or calcium level wasn't exactly right.>
And while I may yearn for a colorific SPS dominated tank, I wonder how natural that really is? I can even survive the seemingly seasonal Cyano outbreak because I know as long as I keep up with regular maintenance and my hand out of the tank, it too will pass. It happens in the ocean, why such a big deal when it happens in our tanks.
<There can be some adverse reactions to your livestock by the presence of Cyano, but I agree. In my tank, Cyano loves a few particular spots on my back glass. As long as it stays there, I don't stress about it too much.>
But, I digress. Having found myself further from my original point I would just like to say that there is a lot to be said for natural looking reefs, even if their and result doesn't look exactly as planned.
<Thank you for sharing, and I do agree with you.>

Stocking - nitrates - feeding 05/21/09
Hi there,
I have three questions, but first I will tell you about my system.
Age 1 year
55g = 48 L x 12 W x 18 H
2" DSB
<No such thing as a 2" DSB... DSB are at least 3.">
50 lbs L.R.
Aqua C Remora HO Protein Skimmer
2 - fluval 304
with Seachem Seagel
Seachem Purigen
Ceramic discs
Filter pads
Poly wool
2 - Aquaclear 50 Powerhead
200 watt heater
standard hood fluorescent lights (12hour cycles)
Temp 78
Ammonia 0
Nitrites 0
Nitrates <10
Ph 8.1 - I know - should be higher
<No, depending on the time of day, this is fine...>
Cal 420
KH 3.5 meq
Phosphates 0
S/G 1.025
Water change - 10% every week with aged synthetic water source - tap water - tested for nitrates and phosphates both are 0 rinse weekly and replace filter media as needed
4 Green Chromis
2 Ocellaris clowns
1 bicolor blenny
1 cleaner shrimp
1 peppermint shrimp
5 Astrea snails
5 Nassarius snails
1 bumble bee snail
8 blue legged hermit crabs
1 pom pom crab
various L.R. Hitchhikers, i.e.: feather dusters, 3 bi-valves ( haven`t been able to id yet) syconoid sponges, tunicates, small crabs, spaghetti worms. etc. Lots of coralline, pinks - purples - dark reds. I had a tank that was up and running and doing very well, but with very few fish. I had two ocellaris clowns - one zebra blenny (the funniest little creature) a cleaner shrimp and a peppermint shrimp. The tank had cycled and had been running for 9 months. So I decided it was time to get some more fish in there.
<Nooooooo... your tank was just about fully stocked at this point already.>
I bought an Atlantic Blue Tang -
<Double nooooooooooooooo>
a Lemonpeel Angel and a Blue Damsel.
<Oh dear lord...>
I did not quarantine.
<Hun... this was not your problem. You just about tripled your bioload in one day. Oy!>
Shame on me. I lost all of my new fish and the ones that I already had.
<Yep... sounds about right>
I learned a very hard lesson. I was devastated. It would have been so easy to give up. But I was determined to have a saltwater tank. The two different shrimps did survive as they were placed in a 33g isolation tank, which I purchased after the fact. The main 55g was fallow for 12 weeks.
During that time I re-arranged my L.R. and fed the tank every 3 days or so. I put the shrimp after the 12 weeks back into the 55g main tank. I then bought 5 green chromis - two clowns and a bicolor blenny. All of the fish acclimated very well. During the isolation period - the smallest of the chromis` was not doing well due to environmental stress. The larger and more dominant Chromis started with the pecking order. He was placed in a 10g hospital tank. But unfortunately did not survive. The 4 Chromis `and the two clowns and the blenny have been moved into the 55g main without any issues. All are doing great. All are feeding, but the chromis` will ONLY eat frozen meaty foods. I would like to add pellet to the mix for variety. I have tried Ocean Nutrition Formula one and New Life Spectrum.
<a great food>
The Chromis` will suck in the pellet the spit it right back out. I went away this past weekend, I fed them on Friday (the day I left) and then again when I got home (Sunday). They had been 24hrs without ANY food - I figured they would be pretty hungry when I got home and would take the pellets. WRONG!! The others will take them - but the Chromis` won`t. Any suggestions would be awesome on how to coax them into the pellets, I don`t want them to starve. The formula one is what they were eating in the LFS.
<I would feed them this then.>
Are they just holding out for the ``good stuff ``- will they eat when they get hungry enough?
<Maybe, but I would just give them what they want.>
There stomachs still look ok, not pinched or anything.
Question # 2 - I would like to add to the tank a Dwarf Flame Angle and another Chromis. Would 3 more Chromes' work in the mix or would a total of 7 be too many with a flame angle and with what I already have. ( 4 chromis - 2 percs - 1 bicolor blenny - two shrimp - crabs - snails)
<You could add another chromis, but that's it! You shouldn't add the dwarf angel or any other fish at this point.>
Will a flame angle fit good into this mix? Do you think that this is going to be too much of a load with the system I have.
<It will likely be too much.>
Question #. 3 I would like to start removing some of the bio filter media, to help reduce the nitrates. How would I go about it and what can I remove. So would I be correct in saying that the two Fluvals would be for circulation ONLY, as well as a place to add chemical media IF necessary. Should I keep the Seagel and Purigen or should I remove them as well. How much of the filter media would you remove at once and how often? What should be left in the canister filter?
< I think that, with the LR and Remora and canister filters, you have enough filtration. But I would use activated carbon in the Fluvals. More circulation would also help (with a powerhead or two).>
Oh yes, the only survivor out of my disaster was the blue damsel. He found his way back to the L.F.S. Other than the Chromis `not wanting to take pellets everything seems to be going great but I would like to get the nitrates lower.
<Try filling your canister filters with activated carbon.>
The cleaner shrimp molts about every 3 weeks and lately has started having a underbelly full of eggs. The DSB has lots of nitrogen gas bubbles that you can see in the sand thru the tank glass. (from what I have read that`s a good thing - right?) I hope that this e-mail has not been too long. I think that service you offer is incredible. I will spend a great deal of time reading your site, and not just when I am in need of answers. It was Bob`s book `The Conscientious Marine Aquarist` that kept me hanging in there to give it one more go. He said that most people leave this hobby after a heart breaking plague. Hard lesson - the hard way. QUARANTINE -
<Well... yes, it's good to quarantine, but your failure to do so the first time is NOT why your fish died. Your fish died because you overstocked the tank and added way, way too much (and added it all at once).>
I got the book after the fact.
Thanks so much for your advice.
Have a great day!
<Thanks, you too.>
<Take care,
Sara M.>

Re: Ca reactor 4/28/09... Chatting... re SW maint. -- 4/29/09
These bulbs are less than a year and run on Lumatek ballasts, meaning they last 3 times longer than when run on magnetic ballasts.
<I do not personally buy into such claims.>
Recently I've noticed that when I take out my Phosban reactor, I get a waaaay more accelerated growth of my Caulerpa roots and shoots during the night cycle. This makes sense because phosphate is a major component for plant fertilizer.
<Yep, a component.>
This seems to be more effective harvesting Caulerpa than depending on Two Little Fishes reactor filled with Seachem Phosguard which is also expensive to replenish. Caulerpa can effectively remove phosphate just as well.
Anyhow, I've only been doing interceptor treatments once at a time every few months that is probably my problem. I'm really supposed to be doing 3 treatments, once every week to knock out any seedling Acro red bugs from arising from the previous generations. Maybe once I take care of that, I can reintroduce my emeralds and hermits to take care of the hair algae/bubble algae colonies that slowly arise from nowhere.
<Yes, this needs to be resolved.>
Sometimes I just feel like all of these steps are so tedious and I get nervous thinking that if i use the interceptor 3 times, do big 50% water change then reintroduce my crustaceans and then a few weeks later...darn a red bug appears from nowhere, I've wasted 3 treatments, added all these crustaceans, and that's what gets me on edge just the thought of what if this doesn't work. I'd have to find every crab and remove it before repeating the whole process.
<Dang, well, all the more reason to follow the whole treatment protocol.>
I have plenty of gas exchange in the system, the ASM skimmer give plenty of oxygen, the 2 Tunzes really mix up the top surface. The pH actually isn't so low, it gets to about 8.2 in the afternoon. starts at 7.97 in the morning.
<Scott V.>

Dearest Crew/Scott! SW op. f' 3/17/09
Hi Scott, =)
<Hello Michael, good to hear from you!>
It's been a few weeks since we spoke last and I hope all is well on your end! So the economy isn't getting any better huh? Perhaps if we wait another 2 weeks? Heehee! =)
<I wonder how many US dollars can be printed in 2 weeks time?>
Scott, I have returned for some much needed advise as I find myself at a loss once again!
It's been a long time since I really provided any details regarding my tank so perhaps we can start there? (new tank so I had to do it...)
Tank: 60cm x 60cm x 60cm (top 15 cm not filled as spill overs are not an option, tank is sitting next to my TV!)
Equipment: Metal Halide 150w, Cheap skimmer (will replace as we spoke of previously), Tunze 4045 x2, Tunze 4025x2, Chiller, 300w heating tubes x2 Rock/Sand: 100 pounds of live rock, 1 inch sand bed Inhabitants: 2 clowns (less then 2 inches), 1 green wrasse (1 inch), 1 flounder (1 inch), 1 clown goby (1/2 inch) (I have a mutual understanding with my LFS so when my fish grow too much, I am able to return the fish, gotta say... much better deal for him kk)
Scott, I finally got that custom tank that I mentioned previously! The tank has an insolated front viewing section (60 cm wide, 40 cm deep, 60 cm tall) with a acrylic panel dividing the front and the back. The acrylic panel has 5mm holes every two inches, creating a total of 70/ 5mm hole in total.
Also, the rear portion holds 95% of my live rock and all of my equipment.
I am working on the pictures now but I don't own a camera so I am waiting for my girlfriend to charge hers heehee [?]!
<Oh no! Learn for yourself my friend!! ;-)>
Will send you a shot of the tank and the panel holding mechanism asap (I think they used double sided tape!!! heehee)!
<Sounds good, I do remember wondering about the whole contraption.>
Scott sorry to hassle you yet again but I wanted to ask you a quick couple of questions!
<No problem.>
1) I currently have three Tunze nanos (4045x2, 4025) in the rear portion of the tank in addition to my skimmer, a pump for my chiller and all of my other misc. equipment. In addition, I have most of my live rock in the rear... (literally only 4 pieces of liverock in the front section). With all the equipment in the back I have quite a bit of water flow/turnover...
but my question is... with the acrylic panel in place, is there enough water flow between the front and rear of the tank? I guess my main concern is water quality being decent in the rear and not as good in the front...
From a logical point of view, the 70 odd 5mm holes should suffice but I wanted to run it by you just in case!
<This sounds like it could work, your eyes will tell you. Watch for detritus accumulation in any spot, that will tell you if you need to adjust your water flow.>
2) I am an avid reader of your site and have learned that when using water pumps, one should place them in the upper rear corners pointed towards the front center of the tank so that the streams will ultimately collide and create some what of an erratic current in the tank... I have my Tunze Nanos in the rear of the tank which is literally jam packed with live rock... so I am not sure how well the above set up will work for me(presuming the water streams will be blocked by rock). I guess my ultimate question is... I would like to use the excess water pressure and the abundance of live rock as filtration... if this is the case, should I just point the Tunze Nanos directly at the rock pile? (no live stock in the rear other than hitchhikers)
<Yes, your main objective here is to prevent detritus buildup. Aim them as low as you can, keep it in suspension to be removed by the skimmer.>
3) Last question! Please forgive me for sending over so many =(
I recently bought a few chunks of live rock and have found four black clawed crabs! =) I tried using a clear water bottle with a piece of shrimp tied onto a small chunk of live rock but managed to catch a lime green wrasse for all of my efforts =) (He was not HAPPY!)
Well I tried this for about a week... every night... to no avail...
I was wondering if there was an easier way to remove these guys without harming them?
<I have personally had success using a small glass or a bottom cut off a plastic
bottle with bait in it. The crabs can get in, but not always out.>
If possible, I can simply let them live out their lives in the rear portion of the tank!
<You could.>
If the only way to rid myself is to kill them... I will just leave them be =)
<Well, in that case, if you do catch them, do you have somewhere to take them?>
(I promise that I read through at least 5 pages regarding liverock and their hitchhikers before I wrote up this email!)
Thank you once again for all of your amazing advice Scott! Do take great care!
<You too Michael, keep in touch.>

Re: New Marine Setup 3/11/09
Hi there
Just an update on the new tank.
Been up and running for 4 months.
All the test readings seem to be fine.
Got some corals from a friend, some green striped and some purple mushrooms, an elephant ear (about 3 inches across), a leather finger coral, 2 pieces of frog spawn, 1 with 12 heads and a small bit with just 1 head, and a small bit of green and orange Zoanthid, which is getting bigger every day (beautiful when the main lights go out and the blue lights are on).
I added some small turbo snails and 2 large Turbos, they have been busy.
4 weeks ago, added 3 small clowns, a bicolour blenny and a yellow watchman goby, all are doing fine, all eating well. Last week had a bit of a disaster, had ordered 12 small hermit crabs and an orange lipped conch, back in January, they were sent last Tuesday, but only arrived on Friday, all were dead except 2 of the hermits they are eating a lot of algae, its a pity the rest were not doing the same.
Tonight I noticed a bristle worm in the tank, this is the first thing I have noticed coming out of the live rock. Some parts of the rock get covered in air bubbles as does the sand, what can be causing the bubbles?
<Could be from algae, BGA, bacterial activity, or even just small air bubbles in the water grouping together on the rock.>
Have you ever heard of a small type of copepod called Acartia tonsa?
I have a friend that works at a water test centre here in Orkney. They breed these under very strict conditions.
She told me that they got them from America originally. They are smaller than the usual copepod. I can get small amounts at any time. Do you think they are any good to add to the tank as food?
<Sure, just expensive over time'¦but if you can get the gratis!>
They also breed brine shrimp, which I can get, along with phytoplankton.
<All can be beneficial'¦see http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fdreefinverts.htm It is a pretty good rundown on how to feed different corals.>
Thanks for the great web site, have learned loads.
<Thank you and have fun. Scott V.>

Re Nitrate And Unidentified Invertebrate 3/10/09 (Bob, I added double carats to his answers, why he inserted, I don't know.)<...> 3/10/09 I answered your questions below > Nitrate And Unidentified Invertebrate 3/9/09 > The picture isn't Jordan's award :> > I have two questions, I have a 65 gallon saltwater tank with soft corals and fish. I've had it for about 14 months and really enjoy it, although it is a continuous learning process. Water is changed weekly, calcium, strontium, and iodine was added and everything has been fine except I can't get my nitrate lower than 20. > <How about magnesium levels, is a major element.> > I've done multiple water changes, watch how I feed and everything is healthy in the tank. Is 20 an acceptable level? > <If your kit measures NO3-N, 20ppm would be acceptable for fish only systems, but for corals, your measured level is high. <<My kit measures N0H3 and says" Other nitrate kits that measure nitrate-nitrogen (NO3N) will give readings 4.4 times LESS than this test kit). And that means???? <Your kit measures total nitrogen.> I have a Bubble Tip Coral (doing great), a Bubble Coral, Mushroom Coral (blue) and another with small bumps on it (came with something else) but doing great and splitting (no problems and star polyp, divided and multiplying too. This higher range nitrate has been going on for months. The only thing I've lost is a brain coral. Fish; 2 Cardinalfish, a Yellow Tang, 2 Clownfish,3 Green Chromis, 1 Purple Chromis (looks almost black) a dark blue tang with yellow tail (tangs get along fine) <Hippo Tang>. I'm am not adding anything else, planning on getting a 90 gallon tank with underneath drill in the spring (shortly). I realize the fish and corals will grow and I need to have more room for them. <You also need more room for the fish, too high a bio load for your tank and is likely the cause of your high nitrate level. The Yellow and Blue Tang can grow quite large, and even the upcoming 90 gallon will eventually be too small for them.> > Are you using a protein skimmer? This will aid immensely in lowering nitrate levels and is considered a must have for maintaining healthy systems.> <<Yes, I have a protein skimmer, an under the tank large filter, and water wheel that turns filter.>> > I've also got a new addition that must have come from the rock. Can you help identify it, I just want to make sure it isn't a glass anemone. The body is round with what looks like the mouth in the centre, the tentacles are long and fine like hairs. > <Picture is a little blurry but from what I can determine, it appears to be the dreaded aiptasia anemone. This needs to go. Do search our site for info regarding this unwanted hitchhiker.> <<Thank your for the directions, I went right to it and see that sucking it out isn't a very good idea. Will try some of the crabs first and keep an eye on it. I did try to suck it out but it just retracted into the fissure hole, didn't want to start pulling it apart and end up with more.>> <You might want to try a product called "Joe's Juice". I have been hearing that the product works quite well. In future responses, do not insert your text into the original answered text, it makes it difficult to read and define who wrote what when. Just reply to the email. James (Salty Dog)>

Suggestions 2/23/09 Dear Sirs, <And Madams, hello Larry.> Thank you so much for your forums, I get a lot of great information here. <Good to hear, thank you.> I have been in this for little over 2 years now and Mr. Fenner's book has been my main guide. <! He will be no doubt happy to hear.> I started with 55 gallon tank and little over a year ago went to 75 gallon. It has 3 inch sand bed, 90 pounds live rock. Blue legged crabs, turbo snails, 1 sand sifting star, <Hmmm, see http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsiftfaqs.htm> 1 brittle star, coral banded shrimp, red shrimp, 2 Tridacna clams, bubble tip anemone, star polyps, green button polyps, green and purple mushrooms, finger corals, yellow and orange sponges. 2 maroon clowns, 6 green chromis, 1 midas blenny, 1 yellow goby, 1 sohal tang. AquaC protein skimmer, emperor 400 power filter, 3 power heads, DIY denitrator, 48 inch dual compact fluorescent lighting. I do a ten gallon water change weekly. Turn filter and skimmer off for 30 minutes. Add Kent tech cb calcium & buffer systems, iodine, strontium, phytoplankton. <All of this is tested for, right?> My water quality stays great except for nitrates, reason for denitrator. The polyps have grown and look great, the coral and mushrooms are trying to take over. Have to weed them out. <Typical'¦but a good sign.> But I can't keep an anemone. I am on my 3rd one. They last about 4 or 5 months. Start out great, then wither away. I feed piece of shrimp weekly. Tried everything I know????? <Could be a number of reasons, incompatibility in your system, instability, lighting, water quality'¦ all plays in. See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/cnidaria/anthozoa/bubbletipanemones.htm and the linked files above.> I would like to add sump, without bio-media, with skimmer, but have problem with cabinet. There is 14 inches to first shelf. The shelf is 1 inch thick and is built in. I would have to cut out. Wasn't thinking ahead at time of purchase. I was thinking about putting a CPR dual BakPak 2 and doing away with power filter??????? <What about your Remora? It is a far superior skimmer.> I am also starting my 55 gallon back up. It has been running little over 3 weeks. Put 40 pounds live sand and 10 gallons water from established tank. 2 power heads, Skilter filter, SeaClone skimmer. The filter and skimmer are temporary, not crazy about neither. <'¦a good assessment.> I added 40 pounds live rock yesterday. Turned skimmer on, adjusted, adjusted, adjusted. I plan to put 30 more pounds rock in about a week if water quality is o k. If I go with CPR BakPak, will put AquaC skimmer and 400 power filter on 55.The frame on 55 is open steel type, <<Mmm, this won't do... hard to coat so it won't rust, pollute the system. RMF>> so there is room for sump at latter date. Any suggestions and pointers would be greatly appreciated. <Opt for Remora #2!> Thank you all very much! Larry Leesburg, Al. <Welcome, Scott V.>

Re: Overflow sizing, amount/Ca reactor valve 1/27/08 Hey Scott, <Hello again Matthew.> I just went ahead and ordered a couple more needle valves from the reef creations site. I found that to be much easier but i appreciate the McMasterCarr website. <Yeah, the site is amazing but sometimes it is just not worth sorting through it all for a few bucks savings. Time is worth something too!> Question for you: If i were to place a 150 gallon Reef tank in a waiting room where sunlight hits the tank for a bit of the afternoon, and this would be a tank equipped with 2-400 watt lights on it, would i run into serious algae problems regardless of having an added midnight lit refugium and 20% water changes every 2 weeks to reduce any chance of nitrates. I am looking into this kind of project but wanted to be sure that i wouldn't have to stop by more than once a week to address algae problems. <Hmmm, well lighting is one factor in algae growth. But if you have other factors (see: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm if you need to, but I have a feeling you know all this) under control it will be fine. I have done just this in my own waiting room in the past.> I had a 90 gallon reef tank setup in this location before but that was equipped with an insufficient/poor quality skimmer and had no refugium and had only 10 gallon water changes once a month...not nearly enough water changes as required, quite a contrast from the proposed and improved routine above. What are this tank's chances of success? <Very good by my estimation.> Thanks, -Matthew <Welcome, Scott V.>

Hank needs Help! Env., iatrogenic reef dis... Goniopora hlth. 01/23/09 Hi! I sent the e-mail below a couple weeks ago and didn't receive an answer. <Huh, I couldn't find any answer posted either. Sorry about that!> I'm sorry to send it again, I know you guys are busy, but out friend Hank needs help! I appreciate any of your time you can spare!!! Thanks!!! Hi!!!! I love your web site!!!! I looked and looked for a related answer to my question and apologize if I overlooked it! Okay, so here are my tank specs and a picture of Hank our tank: http://img510.imageshack.us/my.php?image=adulthankxt9.jpg 55 Gallon SW / 100 lbs of live rock / FILTERS: max jet 120 & Marineland multi 260 / LIGHTING: Corallife 48 inch LIVESTOCK: Pink Carnation / 2 Clavularia Clove Polyps / 1 Leather polyp / Ritteri Anemone / 5 mushrooms (4 green, 1 purple) / Tree Coral FISH 9 Green Chromis /: Lg Cardinal / 2 Bangal Cardinals / 2 Percula Clownfish / Mandarin Goby / Black White Blenny / Sea Cucumber / 2 Starfish / Emerald Crabs / 2 peppermint Shrimp / Snails / Hermit crabs LEVELS: Temp 75-80F / Gravity 1.022 / pH: 8.2 / Ammonia: 0 / Nitrite: 0 / <Your salinity should be higher for your invertebrates (closer to 1.025 to 1.026).> Nitrate: 19PPM <This is way too high.> Okay, so my questions, A.) We have a Leather Polyp that seems to be in trouble. <All your inverts/corals are in trouble. Your salinity is too low and your nitrates are too high.> He use to stretch out and now he just stays stuck in his rock and never comes out more than a 1/2 inch (he use to stretch out to 3 inches sometimes! (although I admit, he would do that about 8 months ago and our tank has much more live rock in it now). Also, when we got him, the entire surface of his rock was covered with him and not he seems to be dying off because there are lines and holes in it. Also, there is a white soft almost transparent sponge/alga growing under him. Can you help? I don't know how to help him and its our favorite piece! I downloaded pics to Imageshack so I didn't have large attachments. http://img141.imageshack.us/my.php?image=leathercd2.jpg <Whoa... this is NOT a leather coral! This is a Goniopora! A very, very different kind of coral altogether! Who told you this is a leather coral?!> http://img81.imageshack.us/my.php?image=leathernr0.jpg <The coral is bleached and dying. You need to start feeding this animal asap if it is to have any chance at all. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/gonioporapix.htm http://www.asira.org/goniopora> And 2.) Also, we have white worms all over the tank. I believe its due to overfeeding (our neighbor fed our little guys while were out of town and I believe he over did it a little) Do you have any suggestions of an invert that will eat these little guys? <No need... please let the worms be. They're good for the tank and don't cause any harm. Chances are, their numbers will decrease in time anyway.> http://img81.imageshack.us/my.php?image=whitewormsed6.jpg Okay, sorry for the long e-mail. I know its probably easier if you know about the tank to answer. Thanks for any advice/help you can offer and for your time. I really appreciate it!! Happy New Year too!!!!! <And to you too, thank you.> Heather Brion on behalf of: Hank the Tank" <Keep reading/learning, Sara M.>
Re: Hank needs Help! 01/23/09
Hey Sara, Sorry to bother again. quick question, We have a QT that is unused at the moment as everyone is pretty healthy with the exception of our Goniopora. Would you suggest putting him in there to aid in him getting better? We also clearly need to get some frozen rotifers, oyster eggs, and Cyclop-eeze to feed him. I just don't want to have him competing for food while being nursed back to health if it will help. Penny for your thoughts?? <I would not move the coral. This will likely just cause it more stress. There are different ways you can target feed corals. One is to use some kind of inverted container over the coral during feeding (so that the fish don't steal the food). Some people use an inverted strawberry basket (the green plastic ones). You'll also want to turn off the circulation so that the food doesn't blow away. But don't over do it... remember you have to get your nitrates down too. Do you have a protein skimmer, carbon filtration?> oh! also, this is a pretty good site about this species specifically: http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2005-10/nftt/index.php\<http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2005-10/nftt/index.php/> <Yep, that's a good one.> Thanks!!!!!!!!! many many thanks.... <Cheers, Sara M.>
Re: Hank needs Help! 01/23/09
not a protein skimmer. that is something we have to get. HAVE TO. We do have NitroMax Marine by Tropical Science <Ok, but this won't solve the problem in the long run...> that have a high density nitrifying bacteria and oxygenating bacteria booster that I can add until we get one..... <Do get a protein skimmer asap! Cheers, Sara M.>

Please help me, SaraM's go 01/22/09 HI please help me! I have a 72 gallon bow front aquarium with a current 2x 54w t5 light.( i have used the same bulbs for about 6 months). It has been running for about a year with no problems. I am running a eheim 2215 filter with mechanical and biological filter media plus sponge scrubber, SeaClone 150g skimmer 2x Koralia 2 power heads and a 250w heater. (I use Filter floss on my skimmer outlet it makes the water very clear). I have 3 green chromis, 1 orange spotted lawnmower blenny, 3 domino damsels and a Hawaiian blue puffer or a jewel puffer. I also have some or had 5 blue leg hermit crabs, 5 scarlet hermit crabs, 5 turbo snails, 5 Nassarius snails, 1 cleaner shrimp and recently purchased a Electric Blue Hermit Crab. I also had a Bali Pincushion Urchin which was the first to die. My water salinity level is between 1.022 to 1.023 <Too low for inverts... should be close to 1.025 to 1.026> depending on the water evaporation and the only noticeable thing is the Nitrate level between 20-25 ppm, I recently did a 25% water change about a week ago which reduced the nitrate level. The temperature is steady at 75F. <Too cold... should be closer to 80.> I have reduced the feeding of my fish to once a day and feed them thawed brine shrimp. I use tap water with API stress coat for water to-ups and Bio clean for breakdown of waste. I have included pictures of my tank, electric blue hermit crab, puffer and Aiptasia infestation(more than 100 sprouts of various sizes). <Thanks> Question: 1. Recently my hermit crabs and snails have been dying they have stopped traveling on the sand and hide a lot. I have found 2 that didn't move for 2 days and have a horrendous stink to them. I took them out and disposed of them. On one of the crabs there was little parasite like creatures white and very small almost microscopic not sure if that's the problem. <?> No fish are showing sign's of white spots or cyst's on the gills. The inverts have started disappearing a month and a half ago and since then I can't figure it out. <Your salinity might be too low for these inverts. Also be sure you're measuring your salinity accurately (hydrometers are notoriously inaccurate unless meticulously maintained). You might also have some kind of toxicity issue... or maybe you didn't acclimate them slowly enough. I really can't tell you for sure what your problem is for sure. But I can refer you to here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/snaildisfaqs.htm> 2. I have an infestation of Aiptasia could that be a problem? (I am going to buy peppermint shrimp to get rid of these.) <Not necessarily. But if they get really out of control they can clog things up and start stinging other tank inhabitants. The peppermint shrimp might help or they might not (it's really just luck of the draw). Plus, your puffer might eat them. There are many, many other ways to fight aiptasia, please research these. You can start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/cnidaria/anthozoa/aiptasia/aiptasia.htm> 3. This morning I woke up and found my cleaner shrimp striped of all legs and his face and tail had bite mark's on it. I went to my LFS and learned that the puffer might off eaten it him and my crabs. <Possible, yes.> I am not sure what to do or what to buy to make this problem go away. <Do start doing a lot of research/reading/learning...> Any help would be greatly appreciated regarding these problems or general suggestions for my tank, by the way your site rocks!!!!!!!!! Thank you Marcin K. <Cheers, Sara M.>

Please help me, NO3, normal predation by Toby et al. reading, RMF's go -- 01/22/09 HI please help me! <Hello, will try> I have a 72 gallon bow front aquarium with a current 2x 54w t5 light.( i have used the same bulbs for about 6 months). It has been running for about a year with no problems. I am running a eheim 2215 filter with mechanical and biological filter media plus sponge scrubber, SeaClone 150g skimmer 2x Koralia 2 power heads and a 250w heater. (I use Filter floss on my skimmer outlet it makes the water very clear). I have 3 green chromis, 1 orange spotted lawnmower blenny, 3 domino damsels <Meanies!> and a Hawaiian blue puffer or a jewel puffer. I also have some or had 5 blue leg hermit crabs, 5 scarlet hermit crabs, 5 turbo snails, 5 Nassarius snails, 1 cleaner shrimp and recently purchased a Electric Blue Hermit Crab. I also had a Bali Pincushion Urchin which was the first to die. My water salinity level is between 1.022 to 1.023 <Mmm, needs to be higher and more stable for the invertebrates...> depending on the water evaporation and the only noticeable thing is the Nitrate level between 20-25 ppm, <Borderline high> I recently did a 25% water change about a week ago which reduced the nitrate level. <Need to look into, do other things to mediate... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm and the linked files above> The temperature is steady at 75F. I have reduced the feeding of my fish to once a day and feed them thawed brine shrimp. <Poor nutrition... why didn't you search, read before writing?> I use tap water with API stress coat for water to-ups and Bio clean for breakdown of waste. <Won't do the maintenance you need to...> I have included pictures of my tank, electric blue hermit crab, puffer and Aiptasia infestation(more than 100 sprouts of various sizes). <Oh joy> Question: 1. Recently my hermit crabs and snails have been dying they have stopped traveling on the sand and hide a lot. <Likely chemical imbalance... twixt biomineral content and alkalinity... posted over and over on WWM> I have found 2 that didn't move for 2 days and have a horrendous stink to them. I took them out and disposed of them. On one of the crabs there was little parasite like creatures white and very small almost microscopic not sure if that's the problem. No fish are showing sign's of white spots or cyst's on the gills. The inverts have started disappearing a month and a half ago and since then I can't figure it out. <Mmm, the above and likely the Toby... the puffer is eating them... what they do> 2. I have an infestation of Aiptasia could that be a problem? (I am going to buy peppermint shrimp to get rid of these.) <Could be> 3. This morning I woke up and found my cleaner shrimp striped of all legs and his face and tail had bite mark's on it. <The Canthigasterine> I went to my LFS and learned that the puffer might off eaten it him and my crabs. <Ah, yes> I am not sure what to do or what to buy to make this problem go away. <What problem?> Any help would be greatly appreciated regarding these problems or general suggestions for my tank, by the way your site rocks!!!!!!!!! <I'd suggest using it> Thank you Marcin K. <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Old Lady, New Hobby With Potential Problems Ahead 1/20/09 Bright Blessings WWMCrew, <And ditto to you my friend.> I have spent much time on your web site and have learned much from your discussions. <By looking below, you need to learn more.> Being new to the hobby I just wondered if you would check the following stats of my tank and let me know if you would make any changes. I am a bit concerned about the lighting and water flow and am wondering if what I have is conducive to soft corals. My toadstool has been situated for about four days now and has not yet opened up at all like it was at the LFS. It occasionally has goose bumps but nothing more. I have placed it in approximately the same area that it was in the tank at the fish store. Perhaps I need to be a bit more patient. <The Toadstool is going to require more light than you are providing, especially with a tank 24" deep. Do read here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm As far as the coral not blooming, this is not uncommon when moving to a different tank.> Thank-you again for the excellent service you provide. <You're welcome James (Salty Dog) Do look below for suggestions in carets.> J. Sage. Old lady, new hobby) TANK 6 mos. old 65 GAL. GLASS TANK 36 W / 18 D / 24 TALL LIGHTS ODYSSEA 12000K 96W TRUE DAYLIGHT 96W ACTINIC <Lighting needs to be upgraded for keeping corals re above link.> PROTEIN SKIMMER/SUMP CLF1 COMPACT BERLIN SYSTEM 24X13X14 LIFEREEF CLF1 SUMP SVS2-24 LIFEREEF PROTEIN SKIMMER <Good product choice here.> MAGDRIVE 9 PUMP FOR SKIMMER MAGDRIVE 9 SYSTEM PUMP LIFEREEF PREFILTER SIPHON BOX 35 lbs. LIVE ROCK 2 INCHES SAND SUBSTRATE LIVESTOCK Sarcophyton Alcyonium <Again, needs more light.> Antennarius maculatus (No problems with any of her tank mates. She is hand fed silversides and seems very happy.) <Mmm, unusual to keep an Angler Fish in your set-up. Can be risky with small fish present.> Amphiprion ocellaris Paraglyphidodon melas (2) <An aggressive fish that can grow to 5"> Chrysiptera parasema (2) <Better choice here in the Yellow Tail Damsel.> Cyaneus viridis <Chromis viridis> Goby Neosynchiropus ocellatus The Scooter Blenny/Dragonet can be difficult to keep due to it's feeding habits.> Centropyge flavissimus <Not an easily kept fish for a newbie. Does require more algae in it's diet than most pygmy angels.> Condylactis <The anemone does not belong here, can/will sting corals during moves and at risk to fish.> Lysmata wurdemanni Percnon gibbesi <When large, can/will attack small fish and inverts. Caution recommended here on the Sally Lightfoot.> Paguristes cadenati Mithraculus sculptus <Again caution, is an opportunistic feeder and if food is scarce, may supplement their diet with corals and inverts.> Turbo sp. Nassarius distortus (2) Nudibranch H2O CHEM Temp. 76 SG 1.025 PH 8.0 NH3 .025 <Mmm, this should be 0. Allow LFS to test and compare readings.> NO2 0.1 <Shouldn't be seeing anything here also. May be reading the residual level of the test kit.> NO3 10 <My suggestion would be to remove the anemone, the Blue Fin Damsels and the Yellow Angler/Frogfish as the angler can swallow fish close to it's own size. And, do read/learn more on the Lemon Peel Angel, not easily kept for a novice. Do read here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/c_flavissimus.htm I've also provided a link to our Marine Index. Do continue to read/learn. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm James (Salty Dog)>

Snail shell discoloring amongst other queries Good evening all. I have searched the FAQ's as much as possible today and I couldn't find an answer to my question. I have a 29 gallon aquarium that has been running for about 2 years now. I have 10 hermit crabs, 11 or so Mexican turbo snails I believe and a black and tan serpent star as my cleaning crew. As for fish I have a small snowflake eel that is about 8 or 9 inches. <Mmm, needs more room than this> I have an Amiracle H.O.T. protein skimmer/ wet dry filter, an aqua c remora skimmer, a penguin 1100 power head and a Koralia 1200, I think. There is approximately 40 lbs of sand and live rock in the tank. My levels are as follows: pH 8.4, Nitrate 10 mg/l, Nitrite 0 mg/l, Ammonia 0 mg/l, salinity 1.022, and temp 78. I have recently noticed that my snails have stopped moving around drastically and no longer climb on the glass, also some have developed bluish green patches on their shells. <Good observation skills> I'm concerned that they are ill. From what I've read I think it could be that they have run out of food, and I plan on putting a algae sheet in the tank tonight. <Mmm, not food...> Or, it could be that there is some sort of magnesium poisoning which I think is doubtful because I buy my saltwater from a very reputable dealer who uses RO/DI water. <Possibly an imbalance twixt calcium and Mg as you speculate, or alkalinity and biomineral (common cause here), or... something even more devious... BGA growth, its effect> I do about a 5 gallon change every week. Lastly I thought it could be a lack or overdose of calcium, I have never tested for it because I do not have any corals at the moment but do plan on getting some once I upgrade my tank in a year or so, assuming I can get things on the right track. I don't think any of the snails have died but like I said, I am worried that they are not active at all any more. All the other livestock seems to be doing very well. I should mention that up until a day or two ago I also had a Dottyback in there also but the eel ate it while I was away on a weekend trip. I feed the eel some scallops the night before I left, then did a water change the next day right before I left in the afternoon. When I returned 3 days later, the Dottyback was gone and there was a large amount of what I believe to be Cyanobacteria on the glass, which surprised me because of all the skimming I have going on. I just installed the remora skimmer a week prior and emptied about an inch of pretty much nasty water when I returned. <The skimmer addition should help a great deal> I understand that there is a break in period for the skimmer but that was a lot more Cyano than I've seen in that short amount of time. I've tried to attach a photo of the snail's shell to help with the ID and any info on what I should do or should have done different would be greatly appreciated. Also, I use the Instant Ocean brand test kit, that used to be fasTest or something like that, and I was wondering what the ratio of mg/l that it gives me is compared to ppm that other tests give. <Milligrams per liter is identical to parts per million... they are the equivalencies> Thanks for all your help and the great web site, sorry this was so long. <Mmm, there are a few "standard" possibilities here, and related "cures" to try... The first, as you state is that something is off in water quality... most likely twixt the common components of hardness and alkaline earth compounds... Read here re: http://wetwebmedia.com/snaildisfaqs.htm That your live rock is a bit olde may be a factor here... and you may want to supplant, replace a bit of it per your reading here: http://wetwebmedia.com/substrepl.htm and lastly (for now) from your photo... there is likely a Cyanobacteria situation at play here... Read: http://wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm and as much of the linked BGA Control FAQs files above as it takes for you to understand what is going on here... Other possibilities abound... It might be that your supplementing practices themselves are compounding the imbalance and BGA problem/s... These additions, modifications should be done, esp. in/w/ such small volumes, outside... via pre-made water change-outs. But do give the above citations a bit of reading and we'll chat further. Bob Fenner>

Re: snail shell discoloring amongst other queries 1/7/09 Hi Bob, Thank you so much for the insight. From what I've read, and also something I just noticed the other day myself, I do believe I have an idea of what to do for my snails and health of my system in general. I remembered the other day that I used to have a pretty deep sand bed, about 2 or 3 inches in my tank and now its about 1 or 2 in areas, so I will add some more sand after doing a bit more research on the best way to tackle that. <Ah yes. Surprising just how much dissolves with time, eh?> Also, I will be purchasing a testing kit to check on my calcium, magnesium and alkalinity levels. <Good> The other thing I have neglected which may have been a factor with the Cyano, is I have never replaced my bulbs so I will do that as well. <Ah, yes> Another question I was wondering about, I am currently in the process of removing the bio balls from my wet dry and wanted to know, if I replace some of the live rock in my system, could I just break the old stuff up and put it in my filter, or would that be the same problem as the bio balls building up nitrate? <Would, will be a tremendous improvement> My original plan was to just put a bag of charcoal in their with a filter pad. <The LR, old or new is far superior> Lastly, I thought I would mention that while observing my tank late last night (the best thing I can think of doing when I can't sleep), I noticed that all of my snails had come out and although they weren't super active they were moving around quite a bit. There were about 4 that were all piled on top of one another and I saw several of them excreting this brownish stuff into the water. <Mmm, X-rated behavior> I figured that it was how they pooped, but as I checked into it today I found that some are possibly trying to reproduce, which I will take as a good sign although I do still have some things to take care of. They are much more active at night which I don't quite understand. <Think about if you were very slow moving... a tasty bit... when would you be more active... avoid predators?> Thank you again for all your assistance and I apologize if my questions are located in the FAQ's and I didn't see them. <No worries... most all situations are a bit more complex, multiple-input, possibilities than simple reading, reference can address... Hence the need, benefit of individual nuancing, syncretizing, synthesizing response. Cheers, BobF>

Feeding Your Reef 11/30/08 Hi Eric, <<Hello Michael>> I am always a bit worried when it comes to overfeeding, <<Mmm, yes'¦ And the line between feeding enough and feeding too much can be a fine one indeed. But it has become my opinion that feeding a little too much is far better than not feeding enough. Though this needs to be supported by feeding the proper/necessary foods (all the brine shrimp in the world, if fed solely, is not going to do any good)>> and it seems like the general opinion among (reef) hobbyists is to underfeed. <<This was popular opinion when I set up my first reef tank in the late 80s. But then the use of bleached coral and under-gravel filters was common then as well. Underfeeding your livestock (read: starving) as a means to control nutrient buildup is an outdated concept in my opinion. I believe hobbyists who do so would experience fewer fish illnesses/deaths if they simply fed them properly (assuming a healthy environment overall)'¦thus making the fishes healthier/bolstering their immune systems in the doing. I have some fishes often considered difficult to keep (Tomini Tang, spawning pair of Leopard Wrasses, etc.) to which I contribute a large measure of their success to the feeding of a �large� and proper diet>> But don't you think that too many people overfeed their tanks? Or do think that it is actually the other way around? <<Each type system has differing needs re'¦ But when it comes to REEF systems then yes, I think many hobbyists underfeed their systems, with a few overfeeding with the wrong foods>> I always rinse the frozen food in RO water, because I am thinking of phosphates. Is this overkill? <<Maybe'¦ Maybe not'¦ Phosphate is a required nutrient, as is Nitrate (some advanced hobbyists actually administer Nitrate to their reef systems to promote coral health/color/vigor). Both in excess can be problematic for sure, but if your system is not expressing problems re, then your livestock/system maintenance/husbandry practices may well handle or be handling the load just fine. While sometimes a necessity, and while also strongly advocated by some authors, I do not routinely rinse my frozen foods as I believe this also robs the system of some beneficial dissolved nutrients (remember, you are feeding more than just the fishes in your reef tank). But that's not to say that if an issue emerges that I think I can help deal with by rinsing for a while, then I will. Each of us must assess our own situations re>> By the way what kind of fish do you have? I would like to know a bit more of what you have in your tank including corals and invertebrates, if that's okay? <<Sure'¦ I have a large and well stocked system (375g display supported by a 75g sump and 55g vegetable refugium) comprised mainly of Acroporids with a few Faviids scattered about, and a couple of ever-growing hitchhiker colonies of neon-green Palythoa and orange Ricordea (which I will not be able to ignore much longer). My fishes are comprised of five Tangs from four genera (Blond Naso, Mimic, Powder Blue, Tomini, and the ubiquitous Yellow Tang), the aforementioned pair of Leopard Wrasse, a Strawberry Basslet, a Bullet Goby, an Orange-Tailed Damsel, a Copperband Butterfly, a Scribbled Rabbitfish, and a dozen Pajama Cardinals>> On an entirely different note do you have a quarantine tank? <<I do'¦ Though admittedly used primarily as a �treatment� tank if/when needed. I generally use just a prophylactic freshwater dip for new introductions>> I don't know of any who does, although I can clearly see the benefits of it. I freshwater dip new arrivals, and run a UV filter. <<Depending on your source/how your fishes are acquired it may well be all you need, and the dips should certainly be the minimum that you do. Interestingly, I have heard Bob state more than once that if the trade (collectors/shippers/wholesalers/retailers) would only adopt this simple procedure as routine, that many fishes could be saved thus>><And hobbyists! RMF> I did have an outbreak of Ich a year and a half ago, then I bought a UV filter, and it went away, and I have not seen it since (knock on wood). <<Mmm, this is likely attributable to more than the UV device (lack of overcrowding, good husbandry, etc.). These devices have their uses, but there's no single silver-bullet out there>> After that I started to do freshwater dips of new arrivals. <<This probably has helped you more than the UV ever could. An ounce of prevention'¦>> But I would like to have a quarantine tank in the future. <<Very good>> Michael, your friend in Denmark. <<It's good to have friends. Cheers from wet and dreary South Carolina'¦EricR>>

No Idea What Else To Try...Please Help! (Just how much rock can you stack in a 180g tank!?), reef maint. -- 10/06/08 Dear Gang, <<Hi Susan'¦Eric here>> This is the third time over a period of 2 years that I have written you. I spend many hours on your site, and find your advise most helpful. Thanks, again, for taking the time to share your experiences and expertise with the rest of us. <<It is good to know you have benefitted from the site'¦and we are all happy to share>> I have had a 180 gallon saltwater tank for 4 years. The tank is stocked as follows: approximately 400-500 pounds of live rock, <<Yowza! That's a lot of rock'¦I can't imagine there is much room for anything else! I don't have even near this much in my own 375g reef display>> 2-3 inches of live sand, 2 colonies of cabbage leather coral, 10-12 small to medium Kenyan tree coral, a very small colony of green starburst coral, small colony of button polyps, a very large toadstool coral, a very itty bitty toadstool coral (was a surprise result of the large coral after it was separated from a nearby rock and moved!), a very small hammer coral. I have a Bariene Tang (about 7" long), <<A uncommon (in the trade) and pricey species>> a Yellow Tang (4-5" long), a Sailfin Tang (4-5" long), 3 P.J. cardinals, a Pink Skunk Clown, a Neon Goby, 4 Engineer Gobies, a Keyhole Pygmy Angel (have had for 3 ½ years and is still only about 2 ½ -3" long???), <<Hmm'¦one of the larger Centropyge species (to almost 9' in the wild)'¦is only speculation but, perhaps the tank is too 'cramped' for space with all that rock causing this fish's growth to stunt>> a Yellow-tail Damsel, about 175-200 Nassarius snails, 5-7 large Turbo snails, 1 Queen Conch (have had for almost 2 years and is now about 2" long). At last count, I also had a mix of 7-9 small hermits - red leg, blue leg, scarlet leg - but I have not seen any of them for a while (not looking too hard though, and they are good hiders). I have a 60 gallon tank under the display that serves as filter/refugium. The fuge has about 10-15# of live rock, 4-5" of live sand bed and a fist-sized clump of Chaetomorpha algae that I have been unable to make grow for about 2 years (but it's not shrinking anymore, either). I run a Berlin Classic skimmer that I recently upgraded with the Turbo upgrade kit. <<Mmm, not a great skimmer to begin with'¦and certainly too small for this tank in my opinion>> For the most part, it has been quite a stable tank, and more or less self-maintaining with regular water changes and basic daily care. I have not added any livestock, coral, rock or sand to the tank for over a year; about 18 months ago I added the Sailfin Tang and a pair of Engineer Goby babies. Several months ago I noticed that things seemed to be not-quite-right in the tank. The first thing I noticed was that 3 of my large turbo snails had died in a period of about 1 week. I purchased 15 of them when I got the tank and had only lost a couple over that period of time. Not sure if this is connected to anything or if they perhaps reached the end of their lifespan. <<No way for me to say'¦but might even be a result of food shortage>> The next thing I noticed was a serious outbreak of Aiptasia. <<Hmm'¦a clue I think>> I have had some here and there, but right now I have over 60 (stopped counting at that point). I am painfully aware of what environmental conditions allow the Aiptasia to thrive, and this is basically the root of my frustrations. <<Oh?>> I am seeing more and more changes within my system - some other examples are very obvious shrinking of my hammer coral and colony of button polyps, increase of green algae growth in the tank (I typically have only trace green algae in the tank), and what seems to be retreating coralline algae <<More clues>> (perhaps it's just covered by the surge of green algae?) <<Is possible, yes'¦nuisance algae will readily overgrow Coralline algae>> At one point a couple of years ago I thought that the tank might be too clean, as my bristle worms seemed to be disappearing, but now I am noticing a strong resurgence of bristles... <<Yet another clue>> The surge of Aiptasia and bristle worms, the growth of green algae, the suspected retreat of Coralline, and the suffering of the button polyps and hammer coral all indicate to me that there is serious water quality issue going on. <<Indeed, but what has changed to cause this? Or maybe this is result of something that's been building up to this point over the years (this is my suspicion here)>> I have always had a calcium issue, but have never had other water issues of this nature. (With regard to the calcium, I have always had difficulty getting it under 600 mg/L. <<This is without supplementation? Unusual'¦>> I have changed brands of salt from Instant Ocean to Seachem with no luck. <<Regardless'¦I think the switch is wise as I too have had issues with Instant Ocean (after 30yrs of use) and now use the excellent Seachem product. But neither one of these salts has ever come close to having Calcium values such as you describe>> My fresh/filtered water tests 0 for calcium, and as soon as I bring the salt level to 1.024-1.025, the Ca level shoots to 600-800). <<I very much suspect this is a problem with the test kit. I suggest you try a couple different brands to validate this reading>> I do water 30-50% changes every 7-10 days, with a very occasional stretch to 14 days. <<Though this seems like a good idea, large frequent water changes can be hard on your livestock due to the constant rapid and likely large fluctuations in water chemistry caused by such'¦and depending on how well aged, by the ongoing chemical reactions of the new water mix itself. Large partial water changes are sometime necessary as corrective measures, but I would limit your routine water changes to about 20% every two to three weeks>> I had noticed a slight decline in skimmer output, so I took the skimmer apart as much as I could and cleaned it with hot water and vinegar and changed the venturi hose because of dry rot -- no improvement in amount of output. <<This may be a result of the large water changes'¦or just a fact of the function/design of this skimmer>> Ordinarily it would not have worried me, but I knew that things in the tank were not that good... After doing several hours of research I decided to purchase the Turbo Upgrade kit for the skimmer, <<Hmm, how's that saying go? Something about 'lipstick on a pig' [grin]. The money would have been better spent on a new quality skimmer>> all of the reviews and recommendations that I read promised that I wouldn't be disappointed. They were right. Disappointed wasn't the word....dumbfounded is a much more accurate description, as the output from the skimmer went down about 80%. <<Yeah'¦my experience with this unit is similar'¦better off with the original venturi and an 'oversized' pump, if an all-out upgrade to a better skimmer is not possible>> I made some minor adjustments to the setup of the skimmer and output improved trivially. <<You will likely have to 'fiddle' with the skimmer almost daily to maintain peak performance'¦such as it is>> I am getting less than 1 cup of junk per week, and prior to this problem starting, 2-3 cups per week was the norm. I really don't have the money for a new skimmer, but don't know what else to do here. <<I see'¦maybe just switch the unit back to its original configuration for now and upgrade to a new/better skimmer when possible>> I did a water change 6 days ago, and will do another tomorrow night. <<Unless you can identify a specific need for this I would hold off, for reasons already stated>> Water testing this morning yielded the following results: pH 8.1-8.2, alkalinity 2.25-2.5 (tested twice), calcium (600-800...used two different tests and got two different results), <<You stated this is also what your newly mixed water tests at, yes? How old are these test kits? I still think the tests are suspect. I would try a 'new' quality test kit (Salifert, Seachem, Hach)>> nitrate 5-10 mg/L, <<Not terrible but'¦has this been edging up? (a possible clue)>> nitrite 0, ammonia 0.25 mg/L. <<Yikes, toxic! A definite problem (and another clue)>> Overall, I am quite frustrated and don't really know where to go from here. <<Okay Susan, based on what you've told me about the tank, I think what is happening here is the result detritus accumulation under and amongst all that rock in the tank. I can't imagine there is much room to allow good water flow (not to mention lack of space for fish to swim, corals to grow) with 400-500 pounds of rock in a 180g tank. It is my opinion that the rock should be reduced by half, along with a good vacuuming of the substrate. Unfortunately this is not going to be an easy task as I don't recommend attempting such with the livestock in the tank. I fear such a large disruption will cause toxic spikes (even more so than already evident) and possibly fatal stress. This means you would need to find temporary homes for your livestock while you remove all the existing rock, clean out the accumulated detritus, and then replace 'half' the rock back in the tank (and maybe look to ways to increase/improve water flow throughout)>> I would really like to upgrade to a 250-300 gallon tank to give the Tangs a bit more room to grow and swim (if anyone in or around PA has just the tank for sale, email me at sand0113@yahoo.com ), <<This would be much better for the long-term health of the Sailfin, for sure>> but I don't really want to change things over until I get whatever this problem is under control. I have read for hours and short of changing the water every day, I don't know what direction to go. Thanks for your help! Susan <<The clues do seem to point to an accumulation of organic material as you have surmised. You need to find and correct the source of the issue'¦and based on the information provided, I believe it is a problem of too much rock in the tank likely coupled with inadequate water flow/circulation for the past four years, allowing a dangerous buildup of organic material. Reduce the amount of rock, clean out the accumulated detritus, and improve water flow and I think you will see an improvement. Regards, Eric Russell>>

A few questions... reef... using WWM -- 09/29/07 Hello there! Great site! I have a 215 litre marine tank, with Fluval 405 external filter, an Aqua C Pro hang on Skimmer, 2 Tunze 6045 Nanostreams and a V2 UV sterilizer. Lighting is from a Arcadia Luminaire housing 4 37watt T5's. 2 blue 2 white. There is good amount of live rock and 20kg of live sand... with two Percula Clowns. I am planning on keeping these as the only fish in the tank to let the flourish. I have a few questions the first is i have this film on the surface of the water and i cant think of how it is there or how to get rid of it. <Could be generated ex- or internally... Often household cooking, other activity can result in such... or endogenous metabolites... Wick this off with a clean paper towel, dip away with a submersed pitcher... and/or look into a surface skimmer attachment for your Canister filter... these are made/available commercially> Any suggestions? I also keep getting patches of slime algae on the sand. I used to think it was phosphates that caused it, but I've read that low salinity can cause it too. Which is right? <Mmm, possibly a factor...> I also have seen some really nice algae plants in the local aquatic shop. <Likely some species of macroalgae... see WWM re> Could i keep these as i was told that they can absorb phosphates and nitrates, but I've also read they can leak them back into the tank at a higher quantity! <No...> If so would it help to trim the plant down after a period of growth and so remove these chemicals safely from the tank? <... see WWM> and finally i would ideally like to keep an Anenome for the clowns. I know its not necessary, but i have been told a Bubble tip is the hardiest. Also is there any corals that could become a surrogate Anenome for them? <... see...> Hope you can help and my letter isn't too long Clint <Mmm, no... but too vague. Do learn to/use the search tool, indices: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/question_page.htm Bob Fenner>

Random questions/reef tank... maint., crab comp., zoanthid contr. 9/26/07 Hello all and thanks for the great website! I hope this is not too annoying an e-mail, but I have several somewhat unrelated questions that I hope I did not miss the answer to in the FAQs. We have a 90 gallon reef, 4 inch DSB, 120 pounds live rock, with the following livestock: Naso tang (N. lituratus), <This genus, species needs more room than this... as stated on WWM...> pair of Clarkii clowns, mandarin dragonette, double-barred Rabbitfish, yellow tang, cleaner shrimp, peppermint shrimp, and sally light foot crab. It's the dreaded "garden reef" <Heee!> with predominately SPS in the upper third and LPS in the bottom half. However, just to cause trouble, we have three different types of zoanthids and two types of mushrooms. We have a protein skimmer and run carbon. No new fish or invertebrates have been added in over six months. Thus far, all corals appear to be flourishing and all fish are happily coexisting. Don't panic over the stocking..... we are in the process of upgrading to a 220. The tank is finally in and husband is installing the floor jacks tonight! Parameters are: ammonia/nitrate/nitrite/phosphate-0, SG-1.025, pH-8.1, temperature-81, calcium-450 mg/dl, and alkalinity-8.5 dKH. So, on to the myriad of questions......1. The Rabbitfish has developed a pink hue on both lateral sides just dorsal to his abdominal area. I have not seen this in any picture of a Rabbitfish, but perhaps it's just too subtle for pictures. Is this something to be concerned about? <Mmm, yes... highly likely environmental/stress caused... will abate with the move to larger, better setting> Fish is eating fine (varied diet of Mysis and other frozen seafoods, Nori, flake, pellets, etc.) and acting the same as always. 2. I inquired about a final fish to the stocking plan and EricR had suggested a powder brown tang. We weren't crazy about the tang when we looked, so what are your thoughts on a Sargassum triggerfish? Do you think the odds are good that this would be a reef safe fish (no guarantees we realize) and that this an appropriate addition to a peaceful tank? <Are good animals for larger systems... and not too adventitious as other balistids... May still sample your cnidarians> 3. The yellow zoanthids (Parazoanthus gracilis I think) have gone absolutely out of control. We started out with a small rock with perhaps 5 polyps on it over a year ago and we know have hundreds of polyps. They have grown through the rock to come out in different areas. <... got to keep them isolated... on their own patch of rock...> When we try to prune them, one polyp always seems to escape and then a new colony starts wherever it lands! They are growing across the sand bed, in the back of the tank, and even in the middle of other zoanthid colonies. Any suggestions for curbing their growth? <Remove as much as you can in the move to the larger tank> The main polyp area is on a huge rock that supports a lot of the other rock structure, so removal is not possible....well not easy anyway. At first they were quite pretty, now they remind me of dandelions on a manicured yard! 4. Last question and most important....any hints for trapping the sally light foot crab!?! <Box traps... you can buy as such or just the plastic ones for small rodents (they're the same)...> Last month I walked by the tank to see the crab eating one of the cleaner shrimp (Arrgh, the horror...I tell myself the crab was merely scavenging, but....). <Ah, no> Last week the yellow tang had a tear in the caudal fin. The fin healed, but we are worried the crab is on the prowl. We have tried physically grabbing the crab (yeah, no shock that didn't work) and commercial traps which resulted in one trapped and very stressed clownfish. When we put frozen fish in a jar or on a string to bait the crab, all the other fish grab the treat. We have tried feeding the fish on the other side of the tank at the same time, but they are too clever for that! Assuming we catch the crab, can we just place him in the fuge or would one crab defeat the purpose of the fuge, especially since we rely on the pod production for the mandarin? <Move, isolate, trade in with the move...> Thanks for the help as always and sorry for the long e-mail. All of you do a great service to us newbies out here! Michele <Congrats on the new, larger system. Bob Fenner>
Re: Random questions/reef tank 9/26/07
Thank you for the reply. Yes, we know the 90 gallon is WAAAY too small for the Naso which is why we are upgrading to the 220. We didn't do our research when we bought her last year, but we are trying to make it right with the new tank. <Good... I do hope you get on out to the wild... see these active fishes there> The tank was a custom order this past January right after we got the Naso, but it only finally got here last month! We had certainly hoped to have her in the larger tank sooner than this. You have me quite stressed now that the Rabbitfish's coloration is secondary to the small tank....we shall try and get the new tank up and running quickly! Michele Frazer, DVM <Do please send along an image or two when it's settled in. Cheers, BobF>

How am I doing? Reef Maint. -- 09/17/07 Ben here from sunny, sometimes smokey, Central Oregon. Big fan of CMA and WWM, you have helped me with my reefing experience for 7 years now. I started with a 30 G fish only system back in Boston which evolved into fish with hardy inverts and soft corals. I gave that tank to a friend when I moved to Oregon a year ago and started to set up a 55 G w/20G sump (the whole sump being a new experience). The goal being to set up a relatively low maintenance, interesting, harmonious reef tank while adhering to laws of a conscientious marine aquarist. The addition of the sump has opened up a whole new load of questions which I have researched through WWM to find answers to and found for the most part. At this point I have a stable set-up, and am almost fully stocked. I have a few lingering questions/concerns that I would like to put to the endless wisdom of the WWM crew. Also, I would like to see if there are any issues that I am not currently concerned about that I should be. So here goes: 55 G wide tank w/ 20 G sump tank Equipment: CA (Catalina aquarium) Super Vortex protein skimmer (admittedly a cheap device but quite effective in produce thick dark skimmate) Seio M820 powerhead 820 GPH CA 2200 return pump ~700 GPH (fighting gravity for 3 ft) 2 * 96 W PC 50:50 10K:actinic @ 13 hrs 2 * 13 W PC 850 lumen, 850 colour @ 13hrs Questions to this point 1. Depending on my adjustment to the protein skimmer, I can either get a dark liquid skimmate or a solid protein waste of mud consistency collected from the protein skimmer. Is there any reason not to set the protein skimmer up to collect only the protein mud (which is easier to manage) verses the less viscous liquid form of skimmate? <Mmm, not much... measuring nitrate can likely foretell the trade-off range here> 2. Am I getting enough circulation for the soft corals and the type of substrate that I have (both listed below) from my setup? <Likely so> Turn system water over roughly 19 times an hour. Also concerned about variety of circulation. With existing set-up the only way to vary the circulation would be to adjust the SEIO nozzle every now and then. Is this something I should do, how often? <Mmm, maybe with the upgrade to your next larger system... a closed loop arrangement and/or some powerful submersible pumps...> Stocking: 70 lbs live rock Aragonite sand in display tank of varying consistency @~2in 1 royal Gramma 2 firefish gobies 1 blue-green damsel 1 porcelain crab 2 mithrax crabs 3 peppermint shrimp 6 scarlet hermit crabs 3 turbo snails 30 Nassarius snails 1 Trachyphyllia 1 Cladiella 1 green star polyp 1 Sarcophyton trocheliophorum <Keep this "sized"> 1 mushroom colony refugium-> medium fine live sand in refugium @4 in 1 small brittle star 10 Nassarius snails Chaeto couple small pieces of live rock Limited Water chemistry: calcium 380 ppm Nitrate ~ 0 Nitrite 0 pH 8.0 (am trying to raise this a bit goal of 8.3) salinity reading 1.023 @ 80 F (so salinity of 1.025) Temp ranges from 76 to 80 F (try to keep as narrow as I can) Perform 5% water changes 1/week The water container seen sitting above sump is dripping Kalkwasser with Strontium & Molybdenum replacing evaporated water (I make a fresh batch weekly) Occasionally (explained below) use activated filter carbon (coal based from Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Inc.) Remaining Questions 1. I use carbon placed in a bag in the overflow box for a couple of weeks duration at times when I think the tank could use it; for instance when I introduced the brain, colt, toadstool, and mushrooms a couple of days ago (after having success with the existing green star polyp for 3 months), when I go on vacation, when inhabitants don't seem to be behaving normal, when the water colour is not clear. Do I need to use carbon on a more routine basis? <Mmm, no, not likely> 2. I don't use any filter sponges other than the one attached to protein skimmer outlet used to decrease microbubbles. I read that it is good to have an unimpeded pathway for copepods to circulate through the tank, and also that the sump acts as a particle trap. Do I need additional sponge filters? <No...> If so, I could either filter at the overflow box or between the baffles in the sump, which would be better? <Wherever it is easier to service> 3. In regards to the mini refugium in the sump tank. I added the Chaeto yesterday, can I expect that to thrive in the lighting conditions? Also, is it a sustainable environment for the brittle star and 10 snails? <Should be okay for all listed> 4. I read an article on deep sand beds yesterday that got me thoroughly confused on my substrate set-up which I had based on what I read in CMA. The articles said a DSB needs to be at least 6 in, CMA said over 3 in, mine is 4 in of medium fine live sand. Is the 4 in going to work? <Yes> I would not hesitate to add more to be on the safe side but if you look at the photo of the sump; if I added anymore sand I would be limiting the area for Chaeto to grow and if I added a higher level of water to the sump I would not maintain the safety area given for a power outage. Need I do any maintenance, stirring the sand bed, or is it best left alone? <If not too "clogged" I'd leave alone> The DSB article also got me concerned about the display substrate which is 2 in of a mix of very coarse aragonite (shells) and coarse aragonite (5mm diameter aragonite pieces) and a negligible amount of medium fine sand which I initially added to help seed the aragonite. I used coarse because my old tank in Boston had fine sand which would cause a mess when agitated by a pesky clown and I read in CMA that the courser sand has better flow through it therefore less maintenance. I was also counting on the refugium and live rock for my nitrogen cycling, and therefore aiming at a less functional display substrate. The article I read yesterday said that the course sand requires more diligent siphoning. Should I decrease the depth of this display substrate and attempt to remove the very course shells? <I wouldn't> You can probably tell from my photos that most of my circulation is in the middle and top of the tank, need I direct any circulation toward substrate? <Minimally> 5. The WWM information on Trachyphyllia states in the Habitat portion 'either booster fluorescent &/or MH if more than a couple feet deep' and then in placement section 'types & amount of lighting are not ultimately too important for this species'. I would imagine that this contradiction has to do with the depth of water through which light penetrates. <Yes> My Trachyphyllia is situated (on the course sand which I read is not as good as the fine for this species) at 13 in water depth, probably about 18in from PC light source. Is that ok, or would it be better off on some flat rock higher up? Which on the other hand would be in an area of higher circulation. <I would not change things here> 6. As I said before my tank is almost full stocked, will add a colony of zoos, maybe add a couple other soft corals in the future, <Mmm... take your time... read... take heed... use the carbon... place away from extant cnidarians...> but I would like to maximize my invertebrate capacity. Would my tank be capable of housing any more crabs, shrimps? What type of hardy starfish would be alright/beneficial on my course substrate? <Posted on WWM... See the Selection, Compatibility FAQs for these groups> 7. I was planning on feeding the Trachyphyllia mysis once a week, and adding Coralife smorgasbord 3 times a week for the rest of the soft corals and some of the invertebrate life. I, also, bought some Kent PhytoPlex to help with copepod growth in my refugium. Do these supplements sound ok? <Can work> I ordered some copepods with the shipment of soft corals that came 2 days ago thinking that copepods are little organisms that one should be able to see because I have read people on WWM talking about how great their population of copepods, part of the reason I bought them in the first place realizing that they should be able to populate from the live rock alone but I saw no signs of them. I realized that I may be getting copepods mixed up with arthropods when I received these copepods because it turned out to be just a green liquid that smelled foul which I had some hesitation in adding to my tank. Now, if copepods have 0.5mm size how do these people have any idea whether they have a good population of them or not? <A bright flashlight... looking toward evening...> I realize this is a bloody long email, but they are all nagging questions (which I did not find answers to on WWM) that I have come up with over the past 9 months of setting the tank up, thought it would be better to deliver them all at once rather than one at a time. Thank you for taking the time to read them. Let the crew rock on! ps. the Sarcophyton in the photo obviously needs reorienting, thought I would let it settle into surroundings before messing with it too much. Same for the position of the mushrooms, I'll try and get them to a location of higher circulation. <Keep it trimmed... Bob Fenner>

Help!! Reef maint.... & Vacations! -- 09/14/07 Hi, <Howdy> How come disasters always happens when you are away? Don't answer that. <Okay> I live in California and am currently in New York city for 1 week vacation. I have a 175 gal reef tank and I had my neighbor to check on it daily and supplement the auto feeder with frozen shrimps Phytofeast. Yesterday, they noticed that I have an inch of water on the floor and the pump was pushing air into the main tank. <!> We were able to diagnose the problem to my wet/dry where the top filter was clogging causing it to overflow onto the floor. Anyways, they fixed the leak and replenished the water level in the sump with the 6 gallons of already mixed salt water I had sitting around. <Thank goodness for planning> So, they got the circulation back running. But, the top off system was probably dumping RO/DI water into the sum for don't know how long. The SG is now at 1.013 instead of the normal 1.023. <!!> I have a total water volume of about 210 gallons. So, my rough calculation of (0.023-0.013)/0.023*210=91.3 says I have to add salt for 91.3 gallons of water. That is 46 cups of salt! <Mmm, about this, yes> My question is how quickly should I be adding the salt to bring the SG back to 1.023? <Depends on how stressed all looks... I'd start raising a .001 per day if all seems fine otherwise> It will be another 4 days before I get back home. I told my daughter to add in 2 ½ cups of salt to the return chamber of the sump twice a day. <Mmm, should be okay> I am wondering if that is too fast or too slow. Should I also add super buffer as well to maintain alkalinity? <I would leave off with the supplements> I have hard and soft coral, many anemone and fish. My daughter said the anemone and soft corals were looking pretty sad and shriveled up. My clam seems to be gone. Just the shell and scallop stem is left. After 5 cups of salt, the soft corals are looking a little better the next morning. Regards, Sammy <I do hope you can salvage what's left. Bob Fenner>

Lake Level Change and Water Quality... reef maint. f' 9/10/07 Dear Crew, <Dean> I live North and West of Dallas Texas about a 125 miles. During the late spring and early summer we have received record amounts of rain. Our water supply is a lake that is located a few miles from town and went from 66% full to running over the spillway within 1.5 months. It is a rural area with a lot of cattle and farming. <Sounds nice> I have a 50 gallon Flat-Back Hex tank that is a garden variety reef tank with some 20 or so Corals, <! That's a lot of likely disparate life> three Pajama Cardinals at about 1 1/2", One Coral Beauty at about 3", one Copperband Butterfly at about 3 1/2" and one Yellow Tang at about 4 1/2". The Copperband was added last with much apprehension on my part due to my research on line, yours and others books and the Tang. For the first few days, the Tang did hassle the Copperband, but all is good now. When I feed my fish, I use a baster and she uses her long beak to feed from the tube. She is quite the piglet. She will actually bully her way to feed. When I target feed my LPS corals, it is a constant battle to keep her from stealing the food from the corals. For filtration, I have approximately 150 lbs of Texas Holey Rock <Not much room for water!> sitting on top of a Plenum that has a perimeter of about 4" of mixed grade sand. A Canister Filter I use for water movement and Carbon. A DIY Protein Skimmer That produces about 1/4 cup of really nasty skimmate each week and 25X turn-over with other power heads. For lighting I have a 260 watt Aqualight unit with another 80 watts of URI 50/50 lighting. My last water check was: Salinity - 1.027 Temperature - 79 Degrees Ammonia - 0 Nitrite - 0 Nitrate - 0 Calcium - 330 Working on raising this. Alkalinity - 10.0 I change 5 gallons of water every week and use RO water you get at the local grocery store machine. Just about the same time we started getting all of this rain, a friend of mine acquired a RO-DI unit. I started buying water from him instead of using the RO water. I started noticing Cyno-Bacteria to appear on my substrate about 2 months ago and it spread across my sand gradually creeping up on my rock, attacking my Gorgonians and Sun Polyps. I have always had some algae on my rocks, it has never been a real problem with the Tang and snails constantly grazing on it. <Won't eat the BGA> I have noticed some tissue recession on my Sun Polyps also. It got really bad. I quit feeding my corals all together and I cut way back on the amount of food I feed my fish. Historically, during the summer months, my temperature would get to about 81/82 degrees. So I opened the from doors to my stand a put a small fan blowing up and under the unit. I thought maybe a reduction in temperature would help. <A bit> It did lower my temp to about 78/79 Degrees. It did not appear to help with the Cyno outbreak. I also took a sample of my source water and my tank water to my LFS and they couldn't detect any Nitrates or Phosphates either. I would consider it an average retailer. So, would it be possible that some kind of DOC got thru the RODI unit <Mmm, no... not likely. Can/could test for...> due to the amount of rain <Would be removed> and did the reduction in temperature in my Plenum slow down the filtering capacity of my system so it allowed enough nutrients to feed this outbreak. It does appear that in the last two weeks that it is trying to subside. Thanks Dean <Much more likely this situation is a result of crowding... allelopathy by the stinging-celled life... and perhaps some material leaching from the Holey Rock... very common. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/cnidcompfaqs.htm and the linked files in this series above... What you really need here is a much larger system... and perhaps the addition of a refugium... with macroalgae culture there... Bob Fenner>

Thank you. Now onto feeding and future stocking options 9/9/07 Thanks so much Bob. I think I might be able to sleep tonight! I'm still going to keep an extra keen eye on all the fish for a while (if only the Chromis would slow down occasionally!). I've also told my partner that we're NOT getting anything else without proper research and quarantine. <Yay!> I think he now believes me (and thankfully he goes away more often than I do, so I don't think the situation will be repeated.) We do eventually want to up-scale from the new 55g tank, but that will have to wait until after we move out of the apartment we're renting and hopefully into something both larger and more permanent (for ourselves, as well as the fish). <Okay> Now that I've got the pressing issue sorted, I was hoping that you could give us a few more pointers re future stocking and feeding. For the time being though (in the current tank), we'd like to get a few more fish (over time), and then once the tank is a bit older, some Zoanthus (a couple of tiny colonies came on our rock) and maybe eventually some corals. some of the fish I've been thinking about (but haven't fully researched yet due to time constraints) are as follows (any suggestions/"don't even waste your time" tips?) *Banggai Cardinal (x2) (though am not sure about mixing them with the rambunctious nature of the Chromis. Puffy on the other hand is extremely sedate) *Flame angel OR Rusty Dwarf Angel (x1) (variety dependent on availability) *Royal Gramma (x1) *Longnose OR Pygmy Hawkfish (x1) (though maybe only after another tank size upgrade...?) *? Goby (haven't narrowed this field down at all yet) <These possibilities are all gone over on WWM...> We were also considering a policy of buying another 1kg or so of live rock 'with' every new fish purchased, to gradually build up the 'scape (per below, we have about 25kg currently). Since the rock will need time to cure (it's already shop-cured, but I'd like to be sure) before putting in the main tank, and we only have one quarantine tank, would this be better done before or after the introduction of the new fish? <Before> Our current feeding of puffy and the Chromis consists of randomly alternating between the following (we feed twice daily where possible, sometimes missing the evening feed due to late work/study getting us home after "lights out"): Sera Granumarin or Hikari Marine S pieces of Hikari algae wafers (rarely) Hikari Brineshrimp Hikari Krill frozen bloodworms live meal worms occasionally opened up frozen clams& a grated mix we've made ourselves of raw prawn (with shell), krill, raw squid, clam, bloodworms and small pieces of Nori (looks horrible, but they love it). How are we going? <Fine> Puffy won't eat any of the living shelled critters in the tank (ie, the small snails that sometimes appear on the rocks, or any of the crabs), <May in time... Tobies are notorious nippers> so as much as possible we try and get her to eat things like the krill while they're still frozen from our hands, so that she has to use her teeth. She will very occasionally prowl the rocks and peck at something though. Thanks once again -Jo <Keep reading Jo... you'll do fine. BobF>

Reef sys. NO3, Gomphosus comp. -- 08/31/07 I have a reef tank of about 1500lt. The tank is about 14 months old and I am struggling to keep the nitrates low. Have a algae refugium in sump with 400mm x 400 x 200 sand bed. Have a ocean runner 5000 skimmer. Deep sand bed in tank, about 300kg of live rock. Tank is not overcrowded. Doing 10% water changes each month. Nitrites, ammonia test's 0 grams per mil. liter. Calcium, magnesium and PH are fine. Please help! <Do bigger water changes, at least 20-30%.> Is a green bird wrasse save to keep in a reef tank. <They don't eat corals, but they will eat small crustaceans and even small fish. They can be kept in tanks with fish of similar temperament and size. See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/wrasses/gomphosus/index.htm> Thanks <De nada, Sara M.>

My 60 days old reef. 8/29/07 Bob, This is my 500 gallon reef aquarium, of course I am just getting started. The final finished aquarium will have lots of inhabitants. I'll send the you a final photo in the future-maybe a year from now???. Anyway I wanted pointed out that Acanthurus glaucopareius is not that hard to keep contrary to what everyone opinion. It is as easy as the "japonicus" (gold rimmed tang). The problems are all nutritional related. In my experience the hardest part of reef keeping is getting accurate water chemistry reading! Many of the test kit not that accurate. Pablo (Tepoot, of Spectrum Foods, New Life Enterprises... friend and fellow industry type) <Very nice. BobF> Here is a full length <Even nicer>

Protein Skimmer Woes... Umm, actually chemical algicide induced problems 8/20/07 Hello all, I have written in before and appreciate your help. I have a 125gallon fish only with live rock setup and crushed coral substrate. Fluval 405, Fluval 403, two 802 powerheads on an undergravel filter with rotating Hydor wavemakers on them, a Hydor 2 (600gph) on one side, and a Maxi jet 600 on the other side for circulation. I also have a red sea Berlin skimmer hanging on the back that has been collecting some good stuff over the past couple months since I got it ( used for $50) . For lighting I have a Custom Sea Life 72" 4x96 power compact with 2 50/50s and 2 10,000ks in it and 6 blue moon LEDs for nighttime. The lights cycle through dawn day dusk and night for 9 hours a day. I had an outbreak of Cyanobacteria, and after numerous water changes it was still persistent on covering my live rock, so I turned to some red slime powder to rid it. <... can be real trouble...> As per the directions I disconnected my skimmer, and put in two airstones for 5 days. the red slime for the most part went away, <Cycled...> when I disconnected the airstones and plugged the skimmer back in, the collection cup overflowed twice with in 2 hours, and the skimmer was dumping huge amounts of microbubbles into my tank. The liquid and foam in the cup was clear, and that never happened before either. There were always a few microbubbles before, but nothing of this magnitude. So I have disconnected the skimmer, and now there is a layer of gunk floating all across the top of my tank. I tried to run RO water through the skimmer in my sink and then reinstalled it, but it does the same thing. No matter what I do the skimmer over skims and does nothing because the foam and water in the cup are both clear. Could this be to left over red slime powder in the system? <Yep, tis> the directions on the powder said only to do a water change if the problem persists and you add more powder. <...> I am do <due> for a water change this week anyways, but I am still wondering why this is happening. <Biology, chemistry...> I have pretty much given up on the red sea Berlin ( mostly due to the noise it makes, but now due to the microbubbles, because they are very unsightly) and am considering purchasing a remora pro to replace it as I don't have a sump and the remora pro looks like a good option. What else can I do??? <... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/maralgcidefaqs.htm and the linked files above> There has never been a coating on the surface like this before ( even when I had no skimmer ) and it worries me. <Me too> Oh for livestock I have a yellow tang, Bluefaced angel, <Needs more room than this> flame angel, yellow tail damsel, 2 green Chromis, a stars and stripes puffer, <Much more room> a small zebra moray, <Ditto> and I am saving up for a harlequin tusk ( they are soooo cool! ) I feed krill, Mysis, Spirulina, and seaweed once daily, and feeder crabs and ghost shrimp 1-2 times a week. Any tips you can give me would be much appreciated as I am in the process of gathering equipment to set up a 29 gallon reef tank, and I want to get as much info and get my 125FOWLR skimming good before I jump into the reef tank :-) Thanks, and keep up the good work, your site is the best! Douglas M. Payne Jr. (DJ) <Consider adding a refugium of size... give up on chemical algicides... and keep reading. Bob Fenner>

Moving Livestock to a Larger System 7/31/07 Hello. <Greetings, Mich here.> I sure could use some advice regarding the transfer of live rock (10 lbs.), a BTA and 2 fish (royal Gramma and clown) that are currently in a year old 12g to a 65g tank. I'll be adding about 60 lbs. of cured live rock from the LFS next weekend, followed by a 4" of dry aragonite, seeded with much of the sand from the 12, to begin the cycle. The system will be low-tech--an Aqua-C Remora, some activated carbon run through a hang-on filter, 2 Maxi-Jet 1200's, and an ample T-5 fixture. My question: If the water parameters are stable after adding the new rock and sand to the 65, would it then be okay to begin transferring everything from the 12? <Should be.> I'm especially concerned about the BTA. Any advice would be much appreciated! <As long as your water parameters are as good or better than the 12 gallon and the water is clear and not filled with particulate (can happen when adding new sand) you should in theory be good to go. I would do a gradual acclimation with all livestock, just as you would when you bring home a new item home from the LFS and place in your QT tank. This will reduce the stress of transition. Cheers, Mich>

Wonderful Site ! Absolute BEST ! Small Snails, New Additions 7/27/07, reef op. Hello, <Hi> I want to make this short but I fear I have a bit too much to say. <Me too, but most is not appropriate for public consumption.> First Thank You for your wonderful site and the vast quantities of information! I found myself in the odd position of working in a local fish store (chain) with no marine experience. Hundreds of magazine and dozens of books were a great start but the past year using your site has been the best help by far. <Good to hear.> I am able to help so so many people who come into the store to shop or have a problem. I fear that your servers may explode from all the extra traffic. <More likely from the beer we keep spilling on them.> I tell ALL the customers about your site and that I believe it to be one of (if not "the") best resource out there. I constantly find myself checking your site for information when an "odd" item shows up as available for order from the distributor to make sure it is really a good choice to have available to customers. <You serve your customers well and should be commended for going above and beyond what most seem to do.> I am able to attempt to steer people new to the hobby away from fish that are for the more advanced. <And in doing so hopefully keep them in the hobby.> Well after all the well deserved accolades I wish to use your knowledge for myself personally. I ended up starting a marine tank about a year ago. I waited about 2 months to stock the tank to be sure it was well cycled. I had only a 25 gallon Eclipse with one feather duster, 2 peppermint shrimp 2 turbo snails (Mexican and I know the tank is too warm for them but still they have been around a year now) and a Ocellaris. They were all on sale and fairly easy to keep so I decided to give it a shot. I replaced the 2 bulbs with Ocean Sun (15w each) and added a Fission Nano Skimmer. Four months and no losses. I did bi-weekly water changes of 5 gallons with premix sea water. I got a little bold and decided to get a small leather mushroom coral. Seven months into in and all was still going well and the clown was growing quite large. Then it happened! We received a Hepatus Tang that was in really poor shape. She was showing the start of HLLE and the store was going to put her down. I don't know why but I wanted to give it a shot. Now I know 25 gallons is way too small but she was only about 2 inches long. So thus my journey began... I went to twice weekly 5 gallon water changes and kept a baseball size handful of Red Gracilaria in the tank at all times. She not only survived but has healed quite nicely and most of the scaring is now gone. <Nice> She has been in the tank for 4 months now and the water changes are killing me both physically and financially. So.. I bit the bullet and now have a 90 gallon oceanic with a 30 gallon wet dry with skimmer (not sure what kind since it came with the W/D). <Definitely better, but still on the small side for this fast swimming fish.> The lighting is coral sun 260 watt (the 48" one). I have a bit over a hundred pounds of cultured live rock (Fiji) and 2/3 inches of sand. Nitrates, Nitrites, and Ammonia are all at zero. (or as close to zero reading as you can get with the Jungle test strips). <Get some dry reagent kits, they are much much more accurate.> Temp is 79, PH is 8.4 and salinity is at 1.025 The tank has been running for 3 months and all fish/shrimp/snails/coral/feather duster have been moved to the new tank and continue to thrive. I added 2 queen conch and there is a serpent star that I forgot I had in the 25 gallon who was HUGE when I made the transfer of critters to the new home. Huge meaning about 8 inches from tip to tip. <That's a big boy.> Oh yes and a Horseshoe Crab that also grew quite large. (I know not the best choice but I had him prior to visiting your site). <Should probably start looking for a new home for this guy.> Everything was going wonderful. Until... (and you knew there was going to be an "until") tonight I noticed about a dozen smaller snails climbing mostly on the glass. They are white in color with a few dark spots on the shell. They are shaped flat sort of like a pill bug. I have no idea where they could have come from since everything has been in the tank for months now. <Probably always there, just now for some reason the environment allows their population to increase.> So I have a few questions for your expert advice... 1 - Would a six line wrasse Pseudocheilinus hexataenia be the answer for the snails? Would he be a threat to the peppermints (now about 3 inches long)? I would think they are safe since that tank size is 90 gallons and each piece of live rock are donut style with a nice hole in the center. <Doubt it would help, but I'm not sure why you want to remove these, have you seen them doing damage to something?> 2 - Since I am seem to have lucked into Indo-Pacific fish what else would you suggest for the tank? I am partial to inverts but they hide so much. I would like to try an anemone for the clown but I fear he is too large now for anything that I could reasonably find for sale. <I would not mix anemones and corals, usually both suffer from it.> Any other soft corals you could suggest as well? <An almost endless list I'm afraid.> Perhaps pulsing xenia? <Nice, can grow like a weed out of control.> I do add Calcium, Iodine and Strontium weekly to the tank. I also add live algae whenever I am able to get a hold of some. I looked over the site and can't seem to find a complete listing of fish by Range. <Don't think we have one, if you have access to Scott Michael's Marine Fishes there is a map in there, its a great book I recommend picking up if you don't already have it.> Your site has been such a great help to me over the past 2 years I just wanted to share my experience and get some of your valuable input for my personal tank. Thanks So Much ! Derek Walters <Welcome, keep up the good work spreading information to those in need.> <Chris>

Reef pH -- 07/24/07 I have a 75 gallon reef which has been running stable for approximately 1 year. I don't have a RO/DI unit and I use tap water treated with Prime to remove chemicals. <Mmmm> Ammonia, Nitrate, Nitrite, and Phosphates are all at undetectable levels. My trouble is with the tank's pH, It always stays at 7.8. <Low> The alkalinity in the tank is around 8 DKH and calcium levels are kept at 400. I have no way of testing the levels of magnesium <Mmm, there are kits for such... etailers...> in the tank and the LFS doesn't have a test for it either. I'm wondering if the tank isn't ionically balanced and maybe that's why I am having trouble keeping the pH at acceptable levels. <A distinct possibility> I realize it is never a good idea to put in additives without a way to test for it, <them... change in number...> but would you have a recommendation for how much magnesium to add and see if it helps the pH? <... the amount? Should be about 3 times calcium concentration... Depends mostly on what the sources of carbonates, bicarbonates are in your system, could affect pH> Would using RO/DI water solve this problem? <... depends on the cause/s> I would like to stay away from adding buffers every few days to maintain pH, so I am looking for a slightly more permanent solution. I was told that a calcium reactor would stabilize the pH at 8.3 but I haven't seen any information online that would verify this. <These can be very useful tools... see WWM re...> Since my tank occupants don't seem to terribly mind the pH, I'd prefer not to add buffers and have the pH constantly swinging between 7.8 and 8.3 because I feel that it would be more stressful than just having a stable 7.8. <I would make any such change/s outside the system... gradually... though water changes> While we're talking, what would you think about adding a Siganus vulpinus to my tank. I currently have 1 Dascyllus aruanus, 1 Amphiprion ocellaris, 1 small Zebrasoma flavescens, lots of Euphyllia, and some clams, xenia, and mushrooms. Thanks for all your help. <Might not get along with the Yellow Tang in this 75... Please read on WWM re pH, alkalinity: http://wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

A few misc. questions... SW... Purple Up as sole suppl., feeding zoanthids... Reef maint. f' -- 06/28/07 Hello Crew, I'm very impressed with your dedication to the subject of marine life and to helping poor saps like me, so I hope to borrow some of your expertise. I have a couple questions regarding my 75 galloon marine aquarium that I can't seem to find elsewhere. First: I've recently (about two weeks ago) acclimated my first [sessile invertebrates] to the tank, zoanthids. They seem to be doing very well, but I wonder if they would benefit from trace elements in the water? <All the trace elements you need should be in your salt mix.> I've been told that a product called Purple Up would provide all the trace elements I need for most corals. <To my knowledge, Purple Up is mostly finely powdered aragonite and iodine. You can add it if you want to, but it probably won't make much a difference. There should be more than enough iodine in your salt mix already and aragonite does not dissolve in salt water unless your pH is way below what it should be.> Have you heard of this product and do you know if this is true? Also, I'm spot feeding the zoanthids 5 ml.s of zooplankton each day under the advice of my LFS. Do you see anything wrong with this practice? <There's nothing wrong with spot feeding zoanthids so long as you don't end up overfeeding the tank.> My second question is about phosphates. I was told that phosphates adversely affect corals by inhibiting them from metabolizing nutrients. By another person I was told that the only thing phosphates will do to hurt a tank is cause overgrowth of algae. Which is more true? <Well, I wouldn't say that phosphates inhibit corals from "metabolizing nutrients." What I can tell you is that phosphates can definitely inhibit coral calcification.> I have excellent water quality except for phosphates, which are a little below 1 ppm. I have a Seaclone 100 protein skimmer that I wish I'd never bought. Would you offer some suggestions for a replacement skimmer that is in my budget($200)? The tank is 90 gallons total volume. I'd prefer an in-sump skimmer. I've seen some of you sing praises of the Aqua C remora/urchin skimmers, but I'm not sure if these would be appropriate for me because they seem to be made for smaller tanks. What do you think? <Actually, in my opinion, the larger Aqua C remora pro would be fine for a 90 gallon system. However, how much one needs to skim a tank (and how big the skimmer should be) is largely a matter of opinion (as is which brands are best). For a good overview of the different brands/models, please see this article by Steven Pro: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/cav1i1/protein_skimmer_impressions.htm One thing to keep in mind though, is that protein skimmers do not remove inorganic phosphates (they do remove organic phosphates). Considering that phosphate test kits sold for aquariums do not usually detect organic phosphates, additional protein skimming might not bring down your phosphate readings.> Thank you so much for your continuous work. You saved many critters I'm sure! <Happy to help :) Sara M.>
Re: A few misc. questions. Reef maint.
6/29/07 Thanks for your reply! <de nada! :-)> I'm a bit confused about your info on phosphates though. <No worries, phosphates can get quite confusing.> If aquarium test kits usually test for organic phosphates and protein skimmers remove only organic phosphates, how would the removal not be detected by the test kit? <Hmm... I believe I wrote "phosphate test kits sold for aquariums do not usually detect organic phosphates." I know it can be hard to follow sometimes, so let me recap: protein skimmers remove organic phosphates while phosphate test kits usually test for inorganic phosphates.> Also, if skimmers don't remove inorganic phosphates, then what are some ways to remove them? <Water changes are probably the biggest way. You can also use a phosphate sponge or some kind of phosphate removing filter medium. These phosphate binding mediums tend to remove mostly inorganic phosphates, but they can remove some organic phosphates too. Just be sure you change out the medium as often as you need to (according to the product's instructions). Otherwise, the bound phosphates might start to leach back out into the water. Growing (and harvesting) macroalgae is another way to remove both kinds of phosphates.> Another question: do most salt mixes have all trace elements that are beneficial to corals? If so, then why are trace elements so widely used/available to aquarists? <Well, not everything sold to aquarists is something they necessarily need. After salt, the only chemical supplements you absolutely need to add to your reef aquariums are those you use to control calcium and alkalinity (i.e. your Kalk, 2-part solution, or whatever it is you might use for this). In some aquariums, magnesium (an important player in the calcium and alkalinity balance of your tank) depletes faster than it is replaced with water changes. When this happens, a magnesium supplement might be in order. But the only reason I can think of for an aquarists to need to use additional trace element supplements is if they never do water changes. If you only very rarely do water changes, your tank might become depleted of trace elements.> Ok, and one more quick question. People say that dwarf angelfish should be kept with caution in reef systems. How common are problems had with these fishes in reef tanks? I'm interested in a flame angel for my tank and I'm not sure yet if it will be worth the trouble though they are very beautiful <Honestly, it just depends. The more space they have and the more regularly you feed them, the less likely you are to have a problem with them. It also depends on how much you're willing to tolerate. Dwarf angels are curious fish and, at some point, they might pick at something you don't want them to pick at. This can really irk some of the more intensely invert-loving aquarists, but it might not bother you. These fish are also probably more a threat to anemones than to corals. For more information on Flame angels, please see: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/angels/centropyge/loricula.htm For more information on dwarf angels in general: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/angels/centropyge/index.htm> Thanks once again! <welcome :-) Sara M.>

Upstairs or downstairs? Reef/sump set-up, maint. -- 06/28/07 Good afternoon all! I am in the midst of oodles of research regarding adding a sump with refugium to my setup. I have a 55 gallon FOWLR at the moment, and would like to move up to a reef. The tank is about a year old now. I've been researching the proper plumbing, and am toying with the idea of putting the sump/refugium in my basement directly below the display tank. I have much research to do, and I'm sure I'll have questions coming regarding the specifics once I get to that point. My question at the moment relates to maintenance and water changes. It seems to me that many people with sumps perform their water changes directly from their sump. Is that correct? <It depends on the person and their set up. But I can try to explain to you the logic of doing a water change from a sump/refugium rather than the display. Many systems are set up such that water pumps from the sump/refugium to the display while water flows via gravity back to the sump (through a 'drain(s),' a hole(s) drilled in the display tank). If you do a water change from the display, you'd likely be bringing the water level down below the drain(s). But the water in the sump would keep pumping water back up. Since most sumps/refugiums are only a fraction of the volume of the display, your sump could pump itself dry during the water change. This is bad for the sump and for the pump in the sump. You could turn off the pump in the sump, but you'd have to do this after you lowered the water level in the display (or else the sump will overflow). Having a sump in the basement could make this tricky. You might find yourself running up and down the stairs, racing against the pump or gravity or both. If you do the water change from the sump/refugium, assuming the water volume of your display is much larger, the vertical water level in the display tank should not drop nearly as far as it would in the sump. Also, doing the water change from the sump could allow you to more easily pace your water change. Of course, the situation changes if you don't use a gravity-pulled output to the sump. Some aquarists use two pumps instead of a pump and a drain. And some use a combination of pumps and drains that can get quite complicated. But in your case, and for most beginners, I strongly suggest the use of a gravity pulled drain from the display to the sump, with a pump from the sump to the display. You can have more than one drain though. That just depends on how much flow you want from the two tanks and how many holes you're willing to drill in your tank.> In my current tank, when I perform water changes, I take that opportunity to siphon off the liverock, clean the sand, etc. I'm wondering when the "sump people" do that? <They likely do it as they feel they need to. To prevent either one tank from going dry or another overflowing, you will need to take out just enough water so that the water level is below the drain(s). Then, before the pump in the sump/refugium brings the water level back up, you'll have to turn off that pump. Again, this is where having the sump in the basement is a bit of a disadvantage. Some aquarists use float valves which automatically turn pumps off if water gets to a certain level.> Do water changes turn into a two step process......one being cleaning the display, and one being water exchange? Could you shed some light here? <It doesn't have to be a two part process. I have a 65g display with a 29g refugium and I do all my water changes from the display. Even if you get confused in trying to figure out when to turn off the pump or where to lower a water level to, usually you learn after your first overflow or dry out. Something about seeing it happen often helps people better understand what's going on.> I'm ultimately trying to find out where will be the best place to make all my water... ...upstairs with the display, or downstairs with the sump? Will I be doing equal amounts of work upstairs as well as downstairs? Am I better off to just put a sump underneath the tank in the stand? (I do love the idea of having ample room in the basement though). <I can understand why having the sump in the basement is tempting. Many aquarists do this and wouldn't have it any other way. However, if you plan on having a reef tank, there's another thing you will have to consider; build up in the pipes. The longer your pipes are, the harder they're going to be to clean and/or replace.> I should have prefaced this by letting you know that I am currently battling hair algae. In response, I have upped my water changes to weekly (from every other week), and considering twice weekly. <Have you tried getting more herbivores?> Every water change is a major ordeal, as I am removing and cleaning all the powerheads, heaters and canister filter intakes/returns during each water change. Believe me, I'm up to my eyeballs in frustration! I have finally figured out that there is phosphate in my tap water, <Ah, there's your problem! You should invest in a RO/DI water filtering unit. You will especially need this if you plan to keep reef invertebrates.> and thus have ordered and received a Kold-Steril unit along with their alumina media. (I just cannot stomach the thought of the wasted water of RO units). <Hmm'¦ it might be difficult for you to keep a reef tank without RO/DI filtered (or distilled) water.> I have added Chemi-pure as well. And until I get the Kold-Steril running, I am purchasing RO water for all change and top off. I hope that my battle plan pays off, as the tank is nowhere near a max bioload, <What are you considering the 'max bioload?' I ask because people usually overestimate their 'max bioload.' You can't go by the inches of fish per gallon rules, especially not for reef tanks.> I feed sparingly, and have four powerheads along with an Eheim 2026 filter that is cleaned out weekly. I guess I'm wondering if when a reef tank is running "optimally", whether the hobbyist is spending very little time invading the display to keep it clean? (making the downstairs setup more desirable). I should note that I believe I am very understocked as far as clean up crew. I have 3 crabs (which I could certainly do without......I'm not thrilled with having them at all) and 3 snails. I believe I need to add a significant amount more snails. <3 snails is probably not enough. While there's no certain rule for how many snails you can or should have, you definitely want more than one kind of snail. Different snails eat different kinds of algae.> I've been researching, and as always, everyone has a different opinion. Would 20 snails in a 55 gallon be a safe middle ground? <It would be two many if they were all of the same type. It's best to get 3 to 5 snails each of 5 different types. Also makes sure that whatever type you get, they are species that live at reef temperatures. Unfortunately, some of the snails sold for reef aquariums are species from much colder waters and so are not suitable for tanks at reef temperatures> Lastly, my plan for all this is to purchase a 75 or 90 gallon for the display, and use the current 55 for the sump. Is the 55 gallon too big? <Absolutely not, big sumps/refugiums are good things.> And my apologies for one more question.........when you add a sump, do you calculate the amount of water to change based on the total new volume? Say you've got a 90 gallon display, and 30 gallons in the sump, would the 10% for the water change be of the 90 gallons, or the combined 120 gallons? <This is something of a trick question. Theoretically, yes, you'd consider the total new volume of water when calculating for a water change. However, the more water your system has, the lower your effective 'bioload' (assuming you don't start putting animals in your sump) and so it's likely that, with the increased water volume, you can do fewer or smaller water changes.> As always, thank you for your time and willingness to share your knowledge. All the newbies are eternally grateful! <Happy to help :-) Sara M>
Best regards,

Small Marine Aquariums
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