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Old 08-19-2011, 11:30 AM   #1
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hello! saltwater questions

So I have recently started my saltwater fun! I got a tank that had been set up and established already. Have added a few fish (after checking my water levels at a LFS of course). But now all of the sudden my fish are starting to die one by one. I don't know what to do! What are normal levels? What is a good temp? I know my ammonia and nitrate levels are good. Ph is good too. I'm just very upset about it cuz I hate to see fish die. Fish that have been in my tank for over a month are dying. They breathe fast it looks like and in a couple days are dead. Had 2 clowns(regular ones), blue hippo tang, gold headed goby, grouper panther, 2 urchins for a while then added coral beauty angel and a mandarin. Next day angel was dead. Day after tang was dead. Added clarki clown and a damsel. Today the clarki, damsel and gold headed goby were dead. Temperature was at 85 and I have reset it for 72 so the temp will go down. I have a 50/50 light I have on from 8 to 8 usually. Will that heat my water too hot? On for too long? Ugh, just frustrating. Please help!
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Old 08-19-2011, 12:26 PM   #2
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Sorry to hear about your losses.

What size tank is this? Is it Fish Only (FO) or Fish Only With Live Rock (FOWLR)?

The recommended temperature is 78-82 degrees. With temperature consistency is key, you don't want the tank jumping from 77-82 several times a day. You need to try to keep the temp constant. 85 is pushing it big time.

Do you have a sump, refugium set-up?

One way to bring temp down is to use frozen two liter's of water placed in your sump or tank - again bring temp down SLOWLY.

Also many people use fans - typically clip-on 7"ers to blow across the top of the tank or the top of the sump. The blowing across the surface of the water will cause evaporation and lower the temp a degree or two.

The mandarin I am very concerned for as well. They are notorious copepod (pods) eaters and if you don't have a population of 1000's in the tank, you will be spending around $30 a week to feed bottled pods, and even then there is no guarantee that the mandarin won't starve.

My last thought is... Did you quarantine (QT) any of the fish before placing them in the tank? It sounds very feasible to me that the Coral Beauty may have brought in a parasite. She died immediately and the parasite / disease is making its rounds in your tank.

My advice is to set up a QT tank immediately with just a filter and a heater - get all of your remaining fish out of the tank and QT them for (5-6) weeks which will give the Display Tank (DT) time to rid itself of the disease. As long as there is no livestock to host - the tank should be good. I would also continue to keep up with 20-30% pwc's weekly until the QT period is over.
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Old 08-19-2011, 12:32 PM   #3
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Thanks so much for your help. I have fish, rock, soft corals, snails, crabs, a little shrimp, 2 anenomaes. A filter that sucks up and filters through 4 layers before returning. No sump. Thinking about making my tank the sump for my 120 gallon. But right now they are in about a 30 gallon.
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Old 08-19-2011, 12:34 PM   #4
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I also did not quarantine them. Got coral beauty from LFS that said they had him for about a month or so. What if I don't have a tank to quarantine them? Would a 10gallon work to quarantine?
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Old 08-19-2011, 12:56 PM   #5
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Yup, 10 gallon should work for any fish sized for a 30 gallon.

If I am reading this correctly, the fish are in a 30 gallon tank? Or was it the 120, and you moved them to the 30? Either way IMO you are incredibly overstocked for a tank this size. Here is a great site for fish recommendations for tank size / feeding / etc:

Aquarium Fish: Tropical Freshwater Fish and Saltwater Fish for Home Aquariums

"Had 2 clowns(regular ones), blue hippo tang, gold headed goby, grouper panther, 2 urchins for a while then added coral beauty angel and a mandarin."

I hate to be the bringer of bad news, but the blue tang needs a 180 gallon tank minimum (all tangs need about 6' long tanks to swim). The panther grouper needs a minimum of a 300 gallon tank! The goby even needs a 50 gallon tank minimum.

I think that the clowns and urchins would be fine in a 30 gallon, but the rest - NO WAY.

The very small tank with all this livestock, could have easily led to stress related death.

Again, if in fact all these fish were being kept in a 30 gallon, I am very suprised the bio-load wasn't driving Nitrates way up.
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Old 08-19-2011, 01:05 PM   #6
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I think you should start over and do it right. You should buy a liquid test kit so you don't have to rely on your lfs to tell you your levels are "good". Rapid breathing is usually ammonia poisoning. Also read that you had 2 anemones, I honestly wouldn't even keep one. I have one and it's worrying whether it will move, or eat a fish, or eat my clownfish that are hosting it; it's too stressful.
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Old 08-19-2011, 02:05 PM   #7
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Die from stress a month later? What's pwc? So now I only have the mandarin, panther grouper, 2 urchins, 2 clowns. In the about 30 g tank. That ok? Or should I make my 120g a salt tank? What's the best way to make saltwater? Cheapest? Etc.
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Old 08-19-2011, 02:37 PM   #8
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Here is a good link:

http://www.soyaqua.org/asaimusbtech/...fishstress.pdf

This explains how stress in fish will greatly decrease their immune system and general tolerances for change. Often times this will eventually lead to death.

Like I said above, the mandarin is going to starve - you need a set-up that has an established copepod population that could take months to over a year to get. Bottle feeding pods will cost you $30-50 every week in order to keep that fish alive. I say take it to the Local Fish Store and save its life.

I would recommend the same with the Panther grouper, unless you are planning to upgrade to a 300+ gallon tank, that fish needs to go to the LFS as well.

PWC = partial water change - you should do a water change weekly, some people do it bi-weekly depending on set-up and stability of aquarium.

There is quite a bit of an upfront cost to make a 120 gallon tank into saltwater. You will need water, salt, heaters, filters, more than likely a protein skimmer, generally Live Rock and a substrate of sand.

An RODI unit in the long run will be the cheapest to make saltwater: There is a sticky on this site that explains:

http://www.aquariumadvice.com/forums...er-137331.html

You should also read the (2) sticky threads at the top of this forum as well.

Approximate cost of making saltwater by using the RODI water from a Supermarket at $.29 per gallon + if you buy a bucket of Instand Ocean (IO) salt mix you get 160 gallons for $50, or $.32 / gallon.

Therefore you are looking at (.32+.29) x 120 = about $74 to initially fill your tank and an additional $11 / week in water changes at 15% water change ratio.

LR typically $5-7 per pound at LFS, and possibly on craigslist for $3-5. Base rock you can use for 75% of your rock at $2-5 per pound. You will need about 160 lbs of base rock and 50lbs of LR. BR at $3 = $480 + LR @ $6 = $300.

Looking at around $800 for Rock, if you don't want corals the lights won't need to be that expensive. If you do, add another $300-500 for lights.

Sand, you can use pool filter sand from Home Depot, $5 for 50 lbs - you'll want to get I believe about 250 lbs.

You should buy a refractometer to check your own salinity - Salinity Refractometer 0-10% ATC Aquarium Salt Water | eBay

That's a nice inexpensive one - $30.

If your tank is already plumbed than you are good to go if not, you will need a HOB (hang-on-back) filter. And again, depending on how you stock the tank, you will want a skimmer - good ones are around $250-$400.

I'm not sure if this helps, but its a good start. Carey just did a 125 gallon build, you could check out her's and other's threads to get a good start.
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Old 08-19-2011, 02:41 PM   #9
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Thank you! Gives me a lot to think about.
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Old 08-19-2011, 02:45 PM   #10
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You are certainly welcome. There is tons and tons of information available on this forum. If you are looking for anything, try searching. Typically, every single question I had I found that other people had already asked it. It's pretty simple and will teach you a lot.

I would also suggest, like I mentioned following a Carey or a Buffy build to see step by step what needs to be done, and both of these people ask a ton of questions and it always teaches me a ton. Good luck!
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