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Old 01-12-2011, 06:10 PM   #1
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Started new aquarium, everything was fine for awhile, then a death..whats happening?

Hey Everyone,

There's some great stuff on here, it has helped me out a lot so far. For the most part even though I'm somewhat new, I'm more confident in what I'm doing then the day I bought everything to get started, except I've run into one problem recently.

My tank has been running for almost two weeks now, started off with a two clownfish only after a couple days of running the tank (I know, bad, usually I do my research before but I was at Petco when I decided I wanted to do this, just got my first apartment so I've been wanting to do something cool like this) Anyways, I did a lot of research and not to my surprise one of them died, I think it was the initial spike in ammonia. The other one has been just fine though. The cycle obviously wasn’t there but I at least made sure the salinity, water temp, pH, etc were good to go.

Not long after the clownfish died, my girlfriend added a black damsel, which was doing just perfectly fine for about 4 or 5 days until this morning when I found it dead on the bottom. I did some readings and noticed that the ammonia is still there but it appears to be declining, with nitrite now showing up. Is this what killed the Damsel? Isn’t it easier for them to adapt to harder conditions then clownfish? Also to, still waiting for nitrates to show up, but how much is too much? I found articles saying that nitrates can be very bad, which doesn’t make sense to me after reading several nitrogen cycle articles, I thought that's the good part.

Sorry for all the questions, just want to do things right. Clownfish is in a 20 gallon tank by itself with 12 pounds live rock, two snails, ammonia is a bit less then 2 /ppm now and I forget exactly where the nitrite level is at but it’s not extremely high, and the clownfish appears to be doing really well and I can tell it's growing.

I realized to get into this moreI need something bigger so I have a 50 gallon now, but it's running on it's own with no fish till the cycle is complete


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Old 01-12-2011, 06:43 PM   #2
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the ammonia and nitrite spike is probably what killed the clown and damsel.

they are all bad, but nitrate is very harmless compared to the others, i've seen fish surviving in tanks with nitrates off the color card charts. but the any amount of the other two can kill fish.

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Old 01-12-2011, 06:51 PM   #3
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they have a an additive that can prevent the start up tank syndrom, i put soem in my aquarium but i'm still goign to be on the safe side and let it cycle
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Old 01-12-2011, 06:53 PM   #4
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Yeah I found that at the store yesterday, it's called stability I think. It says to add a certain ammount every day for 7 days, I've been doing that to help the process move a long in the empty 50 g tank.

From what I've read it seems like my 20gal has been cycling very quickly. althought i didn't start the best way, adding live rock and a fish after only running the tank for 3 days ended up working very fast, so far at least.
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Old 01-12-2011, 08:45 PM   #5
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adding the live rock was fine. adding the fish was the mistake. any ammonia or nitrite is toxic to fish. imagine having a tank that's doing well with fish in it, and opening a bottle of ammonia, and pouring some in. would you do that, simply because the fish you chose have been known to be hardier than most?

there is nothing that will make a cycling tank safe for livestock as far as i know.
i would remove the fish and let the tank cycle properly.
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Old 01-12-2011, 08:48 PM   #6
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yeah, I understand now. part of it was bad advice I got at the place I bought some of the initial stuff, they told me I needed "starter" fish. sounds dumb now, but then I didn't know any better and figured it would help the process.
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Old 01-13-2011, 10:28 AM   #7
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fish in an un cycled tank......dog in a car boot on a hot day......
it's the same.
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Old 01-13-2011, 10:36 AM   #8
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Ok, I think he gets that the cycle with fish is a bad thing. To answer his question (which has been answered a few times), yes it was the ammonia and nitrites that killed the fish. Anything above 0 will harm them in some fashion. Glad you are learning and doing the right thing with the 50 gallon tank. Keep up the good work.
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Old 01-13-2011, 10:50 AM   #9
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Actually according to Randy Holmes-Farley's article on Nitrite

Nitrite and the Reef Aquarium by Randy Holmes-Farley - Reefkeeping.com

It's not the nitrite that's causing any harm. This is only an issue for FW fish.

Marine species are less susceptible to nitrite toxicity because chloride (at 19,350 ppm in seawater) outcompetes nitrite for the same uptake mechanisms.
I understand the urge to buy now. But, take it as a learning experience. Resist the urge!! Do a 50% PWC every day to keep the Ammonia down below 0.5 (preferrably 0.1 or less) until is goes to zero and stays there.
My tanks: 120 Reef w/L2 Algae Scrubber, 60 Reef Pond w/floating Algae Scrubber, 40 Breeder Reef w/L2 UAS Tester Algae Scrubber
I maintain: 144 SW Reef w/L2 Algae Scrubber | 200 SW Reef w/L4 Algae Scrubber
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Old 01-13-2011, 11:38 AM   #10
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hey david....anyway, welcome to AA~~
as mentioned all above, i would say your fish died because your tank not fully cycle...i made a mistake like you before which i lost 2 of my first clownfish until i found this web....i add the 2 clown 1 week after running all the pump for my 20gal...the LFS guy told me that the clowns will doing fine but only 3 hours, 1 of my clown died...after a day, another died...since then, i keep read and read from this site how to begin my SW tank...just want to share with u...read read and read then ask questions is the best way....

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