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Old 01-11-2015, 01:15 PM   #1
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Exclamation Emergency: Aquarium Rescue!

I have researched a lot about salt water tanks recently (something I do not have personal experience with) in order to help save my biology teacher's aquarium. Please read fully, or if you would like me to get to the point, scroll down...

My biology teacher has multiple animals in his classroom (bearded dragon, crested gecko, corn snake, and iguana. As well as a freshwater tank and a salt water tank. He also had two rats that recently went to a loving home!).

I have recently taken over the care of his 50 gallon turtle tank. The turtle (a yellow bellied slider) had no appetite, was shedding his shell due to poor water conditions, had no place to dry, and has no UV light.

I have invested time and money to save the turtle. (having dedicated over six hours to doing a 75-90% water change) After this water change and some time under a neighboring snake's UV light, he had a very improved attitude and even ate one of the feeder fish! This is a big step up from his previous conditions, and while the tank is still overcrowded with goldfish (hopefully the turtle eats most of the feeder fish in the tank!), this is a much better habitat then he had.

I have experience with turtles and experience with freshwater fish as well as aquarium plants.

So to get to the point...I need advice on what I should do to help his 100 gallon, long salt water aquarium. At the moment it is stocked with:
1 starfish (chocolate chip maybe?)
2-3 clown fish
1 Royal Gramma
1 shrimp (unknown species)
1-2 other fish that stay hidden
1 Blue tang that recently died (had a bacterial infection I believe and discoloration around both of its eyes)
100+ baby snails
3-5 big snails
25+ bristle worms (fairly small)
1 white sponge moss (???)
1 sea anemone ~ which is the reason I started this escapade, because when sea anemones become stressed they detach and free float...his is currently attached to the glass after floating for two days and it makes me upset because I love anemones.

He does not have anything to test parameters. (probably one of the first questions I would be asked...as well as: ) I do not know what type of filtration/heating system he is using.
He does have two power heads that are severely clogged with algae, an over the back and into a pump type filter (I have no experience with the sort) and a long air stone. (which after research I found is the reason that he has salt creep) He has two long blue lights, later this week I can find more information about the filters and power heads he is using.

His substrate is sand (which I believe he has never cleaned), and on one side where it is at a higher depth then the rest, there is bubbles of air forming under the sand. He has large rocks in the tank that are covered mostly by slimy-algae.

My question being, what would be the appropriate way to do a full cleaning of the tank, remove the snails/bristle worms, and make this aquarium hospitable for his fish. I have no experience with salt water tanks, so full explanations would be very helpful. I have done a lot of research but haven't been able to find very much regarding my circumstances.

Any help is greatly appreciated!!!


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Old 01-11-2015, 02:23 PM   #2
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First off, if he refuses to take care of his animals then he needs to get rid of them. You may be helping out now, but next year when he isn't your teacher then what is going to happen?

As for actually helping the tank:
  1. First is to get a water test. You can take a sample of water into almost any aquarium store and they can test the water for you. Make sure they know it's salt water. Also ask them to check the salinity. From there, we can figure out what exactly needs to be done. I would bring about a quart of water in.
  2. Second don't clean the substrate. It needs to be left alone or it will nuke the tank. The substrate isn't cleaned in salt water like it is in fresh.
  3. Get lots of pictures of the tank so we can see exactly what's going on. Be sure to include the anemone as well as any problems you see.
  4. They make traps that can catch critters such as the bristle worms and snails. You can look into getting one of them to cut down on the populations.

Once we get some more information, then we can make some better suggestions for you.

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Old 01-11-2015, 02:41 PM   #3
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Okay, thank you!
I will try to get more information this week and update with pictures of the tank.

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Old 01-11-2015, 04:49 PM   #4
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My bio teacher also has a lot of poorly cared for animals in the classroom. Kind of ironic in my opinion.

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Old 01-11-2015, 07:20 PM   #5
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You can go to the principle of the school and express your concern over the care of his animals. Tell the principle that it's sad that a teacher that's suppose to be teaching responsibility to the class, is not responsible enough to care for the animals he/she chose to care for.

As for the turtle, he is going to need more than just a UV light. He will need the proper heat. You want 95 degrees for his basking spot and at least 75 degree on the cool side of the tank. So this means two docks for the turtle. The docks needs to let the turtle become fully dry and out of the water. One where he can get under the heat UV lamp and one where he can get away from the heat. The next thing that is very important for the health of the turtle is a UVB bulb. This provides no heat, but it produces the long rays of the sun. This helps with bone development and helps keep the shell hard. This light should be on during the day along with the heat lamp. The water needs to always be at lest 75 to 78 degrees. A water heater is a must. The turtle also will need a 40 gallon tank for his whole life. Here is a good set up for a turtle.Click image for larger version

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Notice the two docks? You really do not need a infrared heater lamp of the school is warm during the night. 70 degrees is fine for night.

That kind of set up is for an adult turtle. If your turtle is still a baby, than the water level should be only deep enough where he can stand in the water on all four feet and get his head out. Plus a baby turtle should have more spots to get out of the water. A baby still needs a basking area that is around 95 degrees where he can get fully dried off, and a baby really needs UVB. Plus all turtles need a good calcium supplement with vitamin D3.

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Old 01-11-2015, 09:46 PM   #6
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Thank you for the suggestions, I believe those requirements are met. And he definitely is a happier turtle for it!

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Old 01-13-2015, 05:14 PM   #7
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Will try to update pics later today.

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Old 01-13-2015, 08:47 PM   #8
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The blue and the bubbles disrupt a lot of this picture (taken on an iphone) so if more info is needed I can try getting better ones.

The sand is piled up on one side of the tank.

You can see some of the little snails and bristle worms.

There seems to be no stickers or labels of any kind on the pump he is using.

This is not a very good picture of the sea anemone, but he is barely holding on to the glass, he is all shriveled up too.

I have yet to retrieve a water sample. However, based on this what would your advice be? I can try to find out more information if need be. Thank you!

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Old 01-14-2015, 04:16 PM   #9
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The blue makes it really hard to see whats inside but what I can say is don't distrub the sand. That sand looks like it has all sorts of nasty in it, if that gets in the water its bye bye fishes...

Do the white lights ever come on?
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Old 01-14-2015, 06:05 PM   #10
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The best advice I could offer is get some liquid testing kits and a refractometer. That's where you'll get your most reliable info for anybody to be able to begin to give accurate responses of the actions to take. Just on a brief summary of what I can see with the filter, it's a Fluval 06 series. (The 05 was grey, the 04 was blue, and the 03 had individual intake and discharge ports.) I can't tell from the picture if it's a 306 or 406 but to the top of canister of the 406, it's a hair over 16". I didn't see any indication of a sump and it's likely with little attention to the canister, it's become quite the junk factory and a good portion of the demise of this tank.

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