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Old 04-03-2012, 04:16 PM   #1
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Saltwater (Fish Only) Nano Aquarium Problems

Surprise surprise. A Newbie at Salwater setups, gone for a nano aqaurium and having problems. Firstly the reason i didnt go bigger was due to space. i have a much larger tropical tank but i wanted to get started on something. So i bought a 55L aquarium, built in filter, put some live rock in it, crushed corals for the base, cycled it for 6 weeks with 2 black mollies then started to buy fish. I bought 2 Percula Clowns, 1 Strawberry Basslet, 1 Yellow Cap Damsel and another i forget the name of. They seemed to be doing great for a couple of weeks and suddenly...... DEAD! The whole lot died within a week. Forgot to mention i have a Coral Banded Shrimp and a small cleanup crew that are still doing ok! I have tested the water and Nitrates Nitrites & Ammonia are ok. Salinity WAS fairly high at 36 so i adjusted that which now reads 32 on my hydrometer. PH is 7.8. I think the problem with loosing the last 3 fish was due to the change of salinity which i may have done too quickly. I removed some of the water and replaced it straight away with RO water to reduce the Salinity level. Now i understand this must be done much much slower. The LFS is telling me the PH is too low at only 7.8 and needs to read around 8.3. so i bought some 8.3 buffer, i've used it 4 times now for the last 4 days and it isnt making a slight difference in the PH reading.

Apologies for the long text but i am a little clueless as to what to do about it, sceptical about adding new fish and certainly understand i need to brush up a little on my Saltwater knowledge.
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Old 04-03-2012, 04:33 PM   #2
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Hi there, welcome to the forum. If I do my math right thats about a 12g tank or so? That was WAY way too many fish for a 12g tank. The clowns themselves should be in a bigger tank. BUT either way, as far as the ph that isnt going to kill your fish, my 125g runs between 7.7 and 8.0 and its fine. Actually better to have a naturally lower ph than to be buffering all the time. The salinity drop would have affected the shrimp far more than the fish so I don't think that was the issue either.

What type of test kit are you using? Drops or strips? Did you have an ammonia spike and the a nitrite spike? And finally, how often have you changed your water and by how much? The salt mix will also help stabilize the ph as well so changes are important.
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Old 04-03-2012, 05:03 PM   #3
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Thanks for the quick reply. i am using drop test kits. The LFS tested the water in the same way and strangly told me the Nitrite was too high however when i returned home i did a test myself and there is 0 Nitrite.

I had ammonia and nitrite spike on about the 4th to 5th week of the cycle and both stabilized before i put fish in there.

Just to add one of my clowns actually manager to jump out of a small gap in the lid which is there mainly for feeding. i have now covered this hole. All the other fish died randomly, 2 before i lowered the Salinity and 3 after. i have only done 2 water changes after the 6 week cycle of about 15% each time. The second time round i took out the black carbon sponge and cleaned that in the old saltwater. the white media i havent yet touched.
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Old 04-03-2012, 05:04 PM   #4
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Sorry I can't help but this is exactly the reason I'm scared of venturing into saltwater. Hope you work things out
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Old 04-03-2012, 05:09 PM   #5
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Thats good that you have the liquid test, much more accurate than the strips.

However, maybe the LFS was actually right about the nitrites? If you added all those fish near the same time there would have been a spike in parameters. Since you had no ammonia the bio filter you have probably could only convert the ammonia to trites and got slowed down on the trite to nitrate conversion.

Don't feel bad about the jumper, I have had about 5 clowns jump, I am not adding any more until I make some screen lids lol.

This is all just a guess by the way. I think it's probable that the above is what happened. Going forward I would add slowly and small. There are plenty of fish that are small and are great. Have you checked Aquarium Fish: Tropical Freshwater Fish and Saltwater Fish for Home Aquariums and looked in their nano section under ssaltwater? Great website for beginners!
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Old 04-03-2012, 05:16 PM   #6
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It all sounds logical! I guess the only way i can get it back up and running is to be patient with in and like you said, add slowly and small. I was very much hoping to keep clowns however.

I will certainly look into that site you posted and read up on what fish are suitable for this tank. I am half tempted to sell the small nano and get a larger one to accomodate the fish i went for in the past and also to make things easy on my newbie knowledge.

Thanks for your help!
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Old 04-03-2012, 05:59 PM   #7
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I started with a 29 gallon and it is doing well. That is big enough for a pair of clowns and a couple other fish.
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Old 04-03-2012, 07:09 PM   #8
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Adding 2 fish at once would be the recommended maximum?
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Old 04-04-2012, 01:15 PM   #9
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In a tank that size I wouldn't add more than 2 at a time. But again, its so small you may still have a spike. Just be careful and watch your water. Best advice I can give, sorry.
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Old 04-04-2012, 04:27 PM   #10
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Thanks for all your comments. i have tested the water again today myself and also for clarification the LFS tested the water also. It is all clear and seems to be stabilizing again. Looking forward to getting a couple of clowns in there. I may consider removing the Boxer Shrimp as although they say they aren't agressive towards other fish this one seems to really go for them. They should give me store credit or swap them.
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