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Old 08-11-2004, 02:48 AM   #1
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When your QT bio-filter breaks down....

Hey all...got another situation that the books don't offer much advice on. Or maybe they do and I'm just not understanding it. 2 weeks ago, got a tiny baby Clown and Royal Gramma. 2 days later, Gramma had white spots and died. I assumed it is/was ich, but flushed it without necropsy (one LFS in town offers to examine dead fish, but didn't find this out until afterward). My QT had just finished cycling (Am 0, 'trite 0, 'trate 10), so I moved the Clown over there to help save him. Did some research and decided to go the hyposalinity method because no chemicals or radical treatments required, plus I've got to let the display tank sit fish-less for 30 days anyway.

Have finally got the SG down to 1.009, but now it looks as if the still-fragile biofilter in the QT has crashed. I've started registering ammonia (.25 or less) and nitrites (2.0) again. Have been doing 30-50% water changes every other day, feeding him tiny bits from my fingertip (he's so small he can't catch the food if it falls past him), scraping stuff off the bottom and sucking out uneaten stuff with a turkey baster, treating the water with Prime to detox the ammo/'trite, and put a big chunk of biofloss from the big wet/dry in the main tank into the QT tank filter to boost the good bacteria.

So far, he seems to be dealing with it okay, except he swims upside down a lot (which I assume is because he's so young and the salinity is so low he has trouble righting himself). Am I doing all the right things? Are there any other suggestions to help me get the ammo and nitrite readings back under control? He's got another 40 days or so in quarantine and I don't want him to get sicker from the treatment.

TIA,
--Aquabear
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In order of setup:

FW1-16g, 5 Zebra danios, 4 Pristella Tetras, 4 Black Skirt Tetras, 2 Gold Barbs, 1 Brush-nose Pleco
FW2-5g, 1 Baby Gold Marble Angel (raised from fry), 6 Zebra Danios
SW1-75g, (80# LR), Scarlett hermits, Turbo snails, Percula Clownfish (Gizmo), Oscellaris Clownfish (Whizzer), Indian Yellowtail Angelfish (Mikado), Royal Gramma (Orpheus), Black Sailfin Blenny (Casper), Yellow Tang (Pele), Racoon Butterflyfish (Raptor), Lyretail Anthia (Juliette)
FW3-30g, 2 mated Gold Marble Angels (Oscar/Yenta)
SW2-20g, QT, currently empty
FW4-30g, currently empty
FW5-20g, 2 Gold Angels (non-paired)
SW3-35g (REFUGIUM for SW1) - EVIL ChocChipStar, Nassarius and Turbo snails
SW4-55g, 4 BlueGreen Chromis, King's Crown snail.
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Old 08-11-2004, 04:47 PM   #2
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Re: When your QT bio-filter breaks down....

Quote:
Originally Posted by AquaBear
treating the water with Prime to detox the ammo/'trite,
Could easily be a false reading. Many types of water detoxifiers do not remove the problem but simpley make them less harmful and most test kits cannot read past it.

Do you have access to Seachems ammonia alert badge?

Cheers
Steve
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Old 08-12-2004, 09:41 PM   #3
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Hey Steve-S! I realize that. The fact that it makes the chemicals less harmful is probably why he's still alive. I know it's only a temporary fix, but I don't know of any alternatives. I can't put him back in the main tank (which is established) for fear that the ich (or whatever he may have been exposed to from the Gramma) might take him. Do you think it would help stabilize the QT if I put a couple pieces of the live rock in there with him? Oh, no, because the law salinity will have a negative effect on the LR. I don't know what else to do, except try to keep the tank as clean as possible for as long as he's going to be in there.

I'm open to trying ANYTHING...this little guy is SO cute, and I've already promised him (yeah, I talk to my fish) that I'd make him well. I'd do 90% water changes twice a day if that's what it takes.

And I've never heard of a Seachems ammonia alert badge. What is it?

--Aquabear
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In order of setup:

FW1-16g, 5 Zebra danios, 4 Pristella Tetras, 4 Black Skirt Tetras, 2 Gold Barbs, 1 Brush-nose Pleco
FW2-5g, 1 Baby Gold Marble Angel (raised from fry), 6 Zebra Danios
SW1-75g, (80# LR), Scarlett hermits, Turbo snails, Percula Clownfish (Gizmo), Oscellaris Clownfish (Whizzer), Indian Yellowtail Angelfish (Mikado), Royal Gramma (Orpheus), Black Sailfin Blenny (Casper), Yellow Tang (Pele), Racoon Butterflyfish (Raptor), Lyretail Anthia (Juliette)
FW3-30g, 2 mated Gold Marble Angels (Oscar/Yenta)
SW2-20g, QT, currently empty
FW4-30g, currently empty
FW5-20g, 2 Gold Angels (non-paired)
SW3-35g (REFUGIUM for SW1) - EVIL ChocChipStar, Nassarius and Turbo snails
SW4-55g, 4 BlueGreen Chromis, King's Crown snail.
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Old 08-12-2004, 10:20 PM   #4
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I'm going through the same thing right now. I have 9 of my fish in a 40 gallon qt right now treating with hypo. (see below). My Coral Beauty and Blenny are in a separate 10 gallon. I added 30 gallons of volume with the help of an overflow, return pump and a garbage can. The battle with ammonia has been tough. It was as high as 1.5 at one time. I kept with the daily water changes and eventually a cycle was established and it went down. I still get borderline reading between 0.0 and 0.25 but have lost no one to it. They have been in this enviroment for 3 weeks and are doing fine.
The water changes are the key. You may not get it to stay at 0. You just need to keep battling it. No additives, use water changes.
Also watch the PH is has a tendancy to drop in the hypo environment. I need to buffer a little every day or so.
The message is don't freak over the ammonia. .25 is not that high for qt and if you keep doing what you doing it will turn out fine.
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Old 08-12-2004, 10:35 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AquaBear
Do you think it would help stabilize the QT if I put a couple pieces of the live rock in there with him? Oh, no, because the law salinity will have a negative effect on the LR.
Any inert material where bacteria can grow onto will help. I wouldn't suggest the LR either. Everything living in/on it will most likely die anyway. If you can add more seeded material from the main tank that will help. Carbon, filter floss or the like. If you do transfer anything from the main tank it will put you back a square one though. Adding some extra suface area like small pieces of PVC pipe will also help.

Quote:
And I've never heard of a Seachems ammonia alert badge. What is it?
Wasn't meaning to sound chastizing about the chem. You are doing what you can to provide for you animals. What I was suggesting is being sure what your tests are reporting is accurate. The Seachem ammonia alert badge will read past the Prime additive and give you a more accurate account of what the levels actually are.

What quarryshark said is pretty much true, water changes are about the only way of keeping things in check until the ammonia begins to subside on it's own. The extra effort you've been putting in cleaning up detritus and such will eventually pay off.

Cheers
Steve
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Old 08-13-2004, 12:45 AM   #6
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Hey again...
Quote:
Wasn't meaning to sound chastizing about the chem
I didn't think you were. I really had no idea what a Seachems badge was. Sounds like something I should look into.

Quote:
The message is don't freak over the ammonia. .25 is not that high
Ah, my buddy Quarryshark! He's helped me out many times! Actually, the ammonia isn't concerning me as much as the nitrites...today, they registered at 5.0. I didn't have enough water cooked up, so until I can get that ready, I did add some Prime to the water to cut back on the toxicity as much as possible. Since the SG is so low and so specific, I'm giving my water plenty of time to "cook" to get the mix exactly right before it goes in the tank.

Thanks guys...I'm learning, but it's still good to bounce ideas off more experienced aquarists to make sure I don't do the completely wrong thing.

--Aquabear
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In order of setup:

FW1-16g, 5 Zebra danios, 4 Pristella Tetras, 4 Black Skirt Tetras, 2 Gold Barbs, 1 Brush-nose Pleco
FW2-5g, 1 Baby Gold Marble Angel (raised from fry), 6 Zebra Danios
SW1-75g, (80# LR), Scarlett hermits, Turbo snails, Percula Clownfish (Gizmo), Oscellaris Clownfish (Whizzer), Indian Yellowtail Angelfish (Mikado), Royal Gramma (Orpheus), Black Sailfin Blenny (Casper), Yellow Tang (Pele), Racoon Butterflyfish (Raptor), Lyretail Anthia (Juliette)
FW3-30g, 2 mated Gold Marble Angels (Oscar/Yenta)
SW2-20g, QT, currently empty
FW4-30g, currently empty
FW5-20g, 2 Gold Angels (non-paired)
SW3-35g (REFUGIUM for SW1) - EVIL ChocChipStar, Nassarius and Turbo snails
SW4-55g, 4 BlueGreen Chromis, King's Crown snail.
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Old 08-13-2004, 01:02 AM   #7
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Your doing fine and not alone. IMO ammonia is the important factor, nitrite is important, but not as lethal in a qt setting with frequent water changes.
Keep changing and your little Nemo will be fine. I just do up a lot of water and keep it handy (8-10 gallons a day...huff, puff)
Ya, I added some live sand, went on vacation only to come back to my fish covered with spots. 8O Its the only thing that could have brought it in.
Were all going to be pros at qt after this is said and done.
BTW, SteveS in the best of the best. He has helped me and many other through more than one crisis. I have some knowledge, but I defer to him in most matters.
Keep us posted, we will help in any way we can.
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Old 08-14-2004, 01:16 AM   #8
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That's great to know. Both about the ammonia and about Steve-S! He's helped me out before on some of my posts. I've run into several very knowledgeable people on here who have shared information freely, and it's wonderful. I've realized that some of the books I've been reading must be seriously out of date. They don't mention a lot of this stuff. And they weren't used books either, fresh off the shelf, the spines hadn't even been bent. But it's old information.

Gizmo is still waddling along okay. I wish I could do something to help him get through this quicker and more comfortably. Of course, after he's back in the main tank, it's going to be a while before I can get him some company, because every fish is going through QT first. I've learned my lesson!

Thanks a ton, guys!
--Aquabear
__________________
In order of setup:

FW1-16g, 5 Zebra danios, 4 Pristella Tetras, 4 Black Skirt Tetras, 2 Gold Barbs, 1 Brush-nose Pleco
FW2-5g, 1 Baby Gold Marble Angel (raised from fry), 6 Zebra Danios
SW1-75g, (80# LR), Scarlett hermits, Turbo snails, Percula Clownfish (Gizmo), Oscellaris Clownfish (Whizzer), Indian Yellowtail Angelfish (Mikado), Royal Gramma (Orpheus), Black Sailfin Blenny (Casper), Yellow Tang (Pele), Racoon Butterflyfish (Raptor), Lyretail Anthia (Juliette)
FW3-30g, 2 mated Gold Marble Angels (Oscar/Yenta)
SW2-20g, QT, currently empty
FW4-30g, currently empty
FW5-20g, 2 Gold Angels (non-paired)
SW3-35g (REFUGIUM for SW1) - EVIL ChocChipStar, Nassarius and Turbo snails
SW4-55g, 4 BlueGreen Chromis, King's Crown snail.
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Old 08-14-2004, 01:23 AM   #9
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Cool, a lot of us had to learn the hard way about qt.
Good luck!! Your little Clown is in good hands.
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Old 08-20-2004, 11:33 PM   #10
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Hey guys, just a follow-up. I've managed to get my QT back to Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0 and Nitrate 10. I'll just keep doing what I'm doing, because it seems to be working. Gizmo seems to be dealing with it okay, except he stays in the corners near the bottom. It's probably a little more comfortable down there with the additional water pressure. He's 12 days in, only 30 more days to go (if I'm doing the math right). Actually, since I never actually saw the spots on *him* (only the gramma had them), and I'm supposed to leave him in for 4 weeks after the last spot is seen, do you think I'd be safe after 4 weeks? I can almost hear one of you shaking your finger and saying "why shortcut it, just be patient....tsk, tsk!"

Thanks for the advice. I think it's making all the difference. Gizmo is the first SW fish I've had that I haven't lost.

--Aquabear
__________________

__________________
In order of setup:

FW1-16g, 5 Zebra danios, 4 Pristella Tetras, 4 Black Skirt Tetras, 2 Gold Barbs, 1 Brush-nose Pleco
FW2-5g, 1 Baby Gold Marble Angel (raised from fry), 6 Zebra Danios
SW1-75g, (80# LR), Scarlett hermits, Turbo snails, Percula Clownfish (Gizmo), Oscellaris Clownfish (Whizzer), Indian Yellowtail Angelfish (Mikado), Royal Gramma (Orpheus), Black Sailfin Blenny (Casper), Yellow Tang (Pele), Racoon Butterflyfish (Raptor), Lyretail Anthia (Juliette)
FW3-30g, 2 mated Gold Marble Angels (Oscar/Yenta)
SW2-20g, QT, currently empty
FW4-30g, currently empty
FW5-20g, 2 Gold Angels (non-paired)
SW3-35g (REFUGIUM for SW1) - EVIL ChocChipStar, Nassarius and Turbo snails
SW4-55g, 4 BlueGreen Chromis, King's Crown snail.
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