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Old 01-16-2004, 03:34 PM   #1
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Newbie problems

Hi All,
Since this is my first post, let me first tell you a little about my setup. I have recently installed a 55 gallon tank, with 80lbs live sand and 21lbs live rock. I'm using a Fluval 404 filter with carbon and ammonia remover along with the usual mechanical and bio filtration stages. My current water stats are :

Temp : 77.2 F
PH : 8.2
Ammonia : 1.0
Nitrite : .5
Nitrate : 10 ( I don't actually have the readings with me right now so I may well be mixing up the
NO2 and NO3 readings - you more experienced folks will probably be able to tell which is which)

Fish : 7 Blue/Green Chromis, 1 Ocillaris Clownfish, 1 Royal Tang, 1 Flame Angel and 1 Coral Beauty Angel.

I know that Ammonia and Nitrite should ideally be at zero but this is a new tank, just running for a week now. Also - before the flames start, I now know that there is no way I should have fish in such a new tank. I went to the LFS with the intention of starting out with Freshwater but the guy at the store told me that it is no longer difficult to keep Marine tanks so I perhaps foolishly took his advice completely. He suggested the setup above and that I bring in a water sample after 2 or 3 days to see if the tank was ready for fish. They tested the water and gave me a green light to add the fish listed above. I really hope I haven't screwed up too much but I'm beginning to have problems that I hope you may be able to help me solve and protect the fish I've got.

So here are the problems I've been seeing :

The Coral Beauty ate the first day in the tank but has not eaten since. The first day it did not eat I noticed it briefly scraping itself on a rock. It did it just once but I had a closer look at the fish and noticed a small fuzzy white patch on its left pectoral fin. Following further advice from the same LFS I dipped the fish in Formulin 3 for 25 minutes. The fuzzy patch has now disappeared but the fish is still not eating. At feeding time if a piece of food comes close she wll move towards it as if to eat but after taking a closer look then backs away. I've been feeding a couple of different types of flake food and frozen mysis and brine shrimp. All the other fish in the tank feed affressively on whatever I put in. Other behavioural traits for the Coral Beauty - she's not as active as the others and tends to hide out a lot. When there is no movement in the room around the tank she will come out of hiding and swim around to an extent but rarely strays far from her hideout.

Other than that I had not noticed any strange behaviour from any of the other fish, but despite that I had a sudden loss overnight last night. This morning one of the Chromis was dead and lying at the bottom of the tank. I immediately removed the fish and all other fish seem to be fine with the exception of the Coral Beauty who continues to behave as described above. I then took measurements giving the results listed above. In hopes of preventing further loss I used some Ammo-lock 2 to neutralize the remaining Ammonia and I also put in a dose of stress-coat. I put in the same treatments 1 week ago when I first set up the tank.

One other note - Unfortunately I set up the tank with regular tap-water, using just the treatments listed above. Since then I have learned the value of RO/DI water and I have purchased a Maxxima Hi-S system from Kent Marine. I'm still looking for a good way to connect it a household faucet but I expect to solve that later today and then this weekend I'll be ready to do a water change.

So - there it is. Flame me if you feel it necessary but I know that I have made some dumb moves here and any advice you can give me will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
BrendanH.
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Old 01-16-2004, 03:41 PM   #2
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One other thing I have noticed with the Coral Beauty - there seems to be a small off-white patch at the top of her right eye. It's only visible if the eye rotates down, if that makes any sense.
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Old 01-16-2004, 07:55 PM   #3
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So - there it is. Flame me if you feel it necessary
That won't happen here...maybe urgent guidance...but no flames

1st, get the fish out. The ammonia is at a lethal level and the fish will most likely die if not removed from the tank and returned to the store. I would also add, your LFS just got a gut check and they failed miserably.

Quote:
Fish : 7 Blue/Green Chromis, 1 Ocillaris Clownfish, 1 Royal Tang, 1 Flame Angel and 1 Coral Beauty Angel.
The tank, even if cycled properly is woefully overstcked. It may not seem like it, but Saltwater fish need space. You need to remove all the fish, but just a FYI, the chromis alone take up over 1/2 the available bioload for that size tank, the larger fish even more so.

Again, the only advice that is prudent at this point is to take the fish back to the LFS.
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Old 01-16-2004, 08:00 PM   #4
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Again, the only advice that is prudent at this point is to take the fish back to the LFS.
Uhh..oh yeah, and cycle the tank properly before adding more livestock to the tank.
You will find these links interesting and helpful.

How ammonia is converted to nitrate.

How to cycle your tank with out the use of fish.

Quarantine

Acclimation

Common mistakes when planning to start a new aquarium
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Old 01-17-2004, 11:52 AM   #5
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Thanks for the advice - I'll be going back to the LFS today. One other question - I know that frequent water changes cen help dilute the toxins but how often and how much can I change ? I've got my RO/DI filter up and running now so I can change in some much better water. I'm still gonna try to bring the fish back to the store anyway.....
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Old 01-17-2004, 12:33 PM   #6
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BTW, if you've got an ammonia-removing cartridge in the filter, the ammonia readings you're getting may be indicating the presence of a safer form of ammonia called ammonium (NH4+) rather than the usual lethal NH3. Nonetheless, your tank is not cycled--and ammonia and nitrite levels will continue to increase. I'd def follow ReefRunner's advice--he knows what he's talking about.

But I'll stop there coz I'm actually a FW fish guy, and things are a little different on this side of the fence.
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Old 01-17-2004, 07:31 PM   #7
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As I understand it, ammonium cannot exist at saltwater ph?? Am I incorrect?
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Old 01-17-2004, 08:18 PM   #8
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BrendanH,

I hope your LFS comes through for you and returns the fish for now. I also agree with all stated above. The one big difference with FW and SW is patience. SW is less forgiving than FW when you do not wait and cycle properly. If you can not get the fish out there are some products out there that will help rapidly cycle your tank. They contain live bacteria. I cannot recall the one I used to help establish a larger tank that I was transferring to with already established filtration. It was quite pricy ($25), but claimed you can add fish within one hour. It did cycle my tank within a week instead of 4-6.

IMO I would also look at adding additional biological filtration in the long run. The guys on this site are great and can probably better recommend than I since I do not use a fluval and am not real familiar.

Good luck,
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Old 01-17-2004, 09:10 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the advice folks. Here's an update on today's adventures :

I looked online for reviews of LFS in my area and found a good one close by (Aquatic Variations in Mountain View, CA). I first went to them to get their advice and they confirmed everything already suggested above. I then went back to my original LFS and asked them to take back the fish. They said they can take the fish back but would only give me partial credit towards other purchases. I can somewhat get over the partial refund thing but the guy's attidude was way off. Firstly he told me that the reason my levels were not at zero was due to overfeeding ( I have been giving them the tiniest amount - always completely consumed within a minute or so ). Anyway, I could go on and on on the various ways they tried to weasel out of all previous advice they gave me but it would just get me mad again.

So to cut a long story short, I brought the fish to the new store that I now trust and they will give me credit towards future purchases there. Today I added about another 25-30 lbs live rock and will be monitoring levels very carefully. Thanks for again for the advice - hopefully this time around will be more successful.

Brendan.
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Old 01-17-2004, 09:18 PM   #10
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I am very proud of your actions, especially the research on a new LFS!!

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