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Old 11-15-2010, 04:26 PM   #1
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I found another tank in trouble...

This week, I'm going to be looking at another system maintained by an LFS. I've been told that the owner of this LFS considers the local Reef Society "the enemy". This is probably because he's a total jerk in the first place, and because his idea of tank maintenance is to do a 20% PWC once a month and charge $250. One guy I met, who at one point maintained 60 tanks, said that his response to when someone tells him that this LFS maintains their tank is "I'll be right over" and they're always in trouble.

This one, I fear, is no exception. This one is located in a elementary school, built into a wing wall between the door to the office and the door into the gymnasium. Our oldest son has his basketball games in the school on the weekends, so whenever I have seen it, the lights have been off and the upper and lower cabinets have been locked.

It is probably about 180 gallon, acrylic column w/ dual end overflows, fake coral decor, and looks at least reasonably clean, save for a little fuzz on the decor - however, I haven't seen it with the lights on.

The first time I saw it, it was blowing air. I didn't have time to look closer at it.

The second time, I looked closer. I saw a Magnificent Foxface that was about 7-8" long, and I think a Clarkii Clown, about 4" long. The clown was acting very strange, swimming along the bottom at an angle (head up, tail down, about 10-20 degrees) and my initial thought was a swim bladder disorder. However, I have heard that some clowns act funny like that.

The third time was last night, and I found that they have a Blue Hippo Tang also, about 4-6" long, and he looks like he has a pretty bad case of HLLE.

I spoke with someone at the school, and they told me that I could come and take a look and evaluate the system. They also told me that they lost 3 fish in the last year, and one of them only made it a few days. They mentioned that the Tang was given to them for free by the LFS and that he had almost no color at first, the guy "added some drops" and he looks a lot better - but the LFS guy told him (correctly) that he will never look normal (such is HLLE). The clownfish apparently spent most of the last month laying on it's side in the corner behind the decor, he's been more active recently.

The only fish that looks even somewhat healthy is the Foxface, and I haven't had a good look at him.

I'll throw a question out there for all you Clownfish experts - is laying on the bottom of the tank for extended periods of time, or swimming as I described, considered normal (or, more importantly, abnormal) activity?

That's all at this point. I'll know more when the Nitrate test comes back over 500 (which I totally expect).
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Old 11-17-2010, 04:24 PM   #2
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I am not surprised

I can't stand the one LFS here - at least, as far as their tank maintenance service goes. It's just borderline criminal! I went and did my evaluation of this tank today.




The tank is a 335g Acrylic (60x36x36), dual overflows, dual double-head return jets, dual external pumps, 35g acrylic bio-ball sump. And yellow-brown water.

Fish are a Blue Hippo Tang (that was camera shy), this Bicolor Foxface



And this aforementioned Clarkii Clown (swimming vertically)



She mentioned that "this was the most active he'd been in a while" - he was swimming (body vertical) back and forth, up and down. He couldn't seem to (or didn't want to) swim down head first - at all.

The top had 2 T8 strip fixtures, I only looked at one, but it only have 1 bulb on



and an auto-feeder over a feeding station



...
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Old 11-17-2010, 04:30 PM   #3
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...continued

The overflows had no standpipe



And as you can see, extremely low water flow. The pumps




are 2 IWAKI Mag Drive 1200gph pumps. I doubt they're pushing 300, maybe 400 gph, and I doubt they've ever been taken apart and serviced. The funny thing is, I know that this company set up another tank I maintain

Tank Journal - 225 SW FOWLR, Possible future reef

Because the pumps, backflow 'preventers' and shutoff valves, and sump are 100% identical, down to the color of the valve.

And the sump?




And the NITRATES?!?!?!?



This is what it looked like <1 min after the 1 minute shake. It didn't look any darker than it did about 45 seconds into the shake.

PATHETIC JOB LFS.

pH 7.84
Temp 73.5 (both heaters unplugged)
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Old 11-17-2010, 04:38 PM   #4
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A bit of additional info. The first time I was in there, it was blowing air. I asked them about it, and she said it did that "big time" for several days - to the point where it was freaking out the kids in the school!! I asked if anyone comes and tops the tank off, she said they 'must have' because it stopped.

She said that the LFS comes out once a month and does a water change. I'm guessing that water change consists of 30 gallons or less.

She said they had several hermit crabs that died, and again several fish that died this past year.

Seriously, how badly do you have to neglect a tank before you start to get a bad reputation? I guess everyone figures that if you run a fish store, you must be the person to go to for maintenance too! Can't fault the everyday man for that I guess.

I'm going to start a different thread on the Clarkii Clown.
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Old 11-17-2010, 04:54 PM   #5
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Okay, that could be a submissive posture for the clarkii. One of the other fish may be harassing him.
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Old 11-17-2010, 06:00 PM   #6
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The other thing that I just realized, after looking at this pic:



Is that this acrylic tank sits on top of a steel plate, that sits on top of a square tube steel frame that you can see in this pic



I thought acrylic tanks needed to be supported by a flat surface. This sheet of steel is max 1/4" thick and obviously does not provide any support except for around the edges and across the middle (front to back) as supported by the steel frame.

Is there any danger with this support system?
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Old 11-18-2010, 05:53 PM   #7
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Test results

Time 12:30 pm : Lights on
Temp 73.5 (Hanna Meter)
Salinity 30 (Refractometer)
SG 1.023 (Refractometer)
pH 7.84 (Hanna Meter)
KH 6.0-6.4 (Salifert)
Ammonia 0 (API)
Nitrite 0.01-0.025 (Salifert)
Nitrate 200-250 (API - diluted 10:1 was about 20 ppm and 20:1 was 10-15 ppm)
Phosphate 10 ppm (API - diluted 10:1 and 20:1 confirmed it)
Copper 0 ppm (API) 0.5-1.0 (Salifert after 10 minutes, 20 minutes was same)
Silicate 1-2 ppm (Seachem - hard to test)
Iron 0 (Seachem)

So it looks to me like the LFS is using Copper as a preventative so he doesn't have to fix the Nitrates and Phosphates, deal with algae, or sick and dying fish.

QUESTION: If I completely drain the tank, throw away all decor, substrate, bioballs, and tubing and clean everything out and start over, will I ever be able to put hermit crabs/snails/inverts in this tank? I've heard you can't get it all out and any trace will kill inverts.
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Old 11-18-2010, 06:21 PM   #8
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looking at what that pic shows the support looks good, hard to tell from just the corner shot, but it looks like 2" square tube which is very strong, and if in middle should be just fiune. Prolly strong enough to hold a small car lol.
As for the copper i heard it does disapate after a year, but have no real proof of this.
Scott
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Old 11-18-2010, 06:31 PM   #9
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Yeah, I agree with the support, just seem to remember reading that acrylic tanks need to be fully supported all across the bottom, like with a thick piece of wood or a slab of granite, not an open-frame system like you can for a glass tank.

Anyone else on the copper? They had hermit crabs die...gee I wonder why...
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Old 11-18-2010, 06:54 PM   #10
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IMO, pull the tank out and you'll have to clean it hardcore. That plastic polish stuff would take abit of material off so you'd have ideally no more copper in the tank. I would think at least

With that you could properly support the bottom of the tank.

Question, with you maintaining so many tanks now - I assume you take over maintenance once you fix disasters like this - do you do this as a full time job now or do you have day job.Or are lucky enough to be retired lol.

Looking forward to the thread... I enjoy reading your fixes and I learn alot from them.
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