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Old 11-02-2009, 01:14 PM   #1
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Clownie not eating!

Hi All:

I am new to the forum and new to aquarium maintenance... My latest issue is that my new clown fish is not eating, but guess I need to give the full history to complete the picture...

I had kept fish mollies a while back and had no issues with them... For the last few years, I did not have any fish and now my son wanted a "Nemo"... So I went and got a 10 gallon starter kit with 10 lbs of sand and 10 lbs live rock. Kept it on for 2 weeks and introduced two clown fishes. ( Now I know I should have waited longer, but being a newbie, I was just going by what the shop guys were telling me). I did not do any kind of water testing at that time. Every sat I changed some 25% of the water - but now I know I did it the wrong way - I took water from the top using a small cup and then replaced with new water bought from the shop. Another mistake I did was, I did not top off with reverse osmosis water to compensate evaporation. Didn't know, shop guys did tell, I din't do my research and I din't do. Long story short, after 4 weeks, green algae started showing up. I changed the filter and did water change. But the clownies started not to eat from that day eve and after three days, on a Sunday, both my clownies turned up dead in the morning!

Went back to the shop and then they suggested water testing. I did and found ph to be low (7.8, Ammonia, Nitrites and Nitrates to be high. Phosphates were way high also. They said that is the reason for fish loss and talked of adding snails, crabs etc. Did water change on Monday, this time siphoning off from the bottom. At this point, I had no fish in the tank. There are a bunch of peanut and fire worms though.

Tested water again on Wednesday - Ammonia was at 0 , Nitrite at 0.25, Nitrates between 10-20. pH was at 7.8. Added ph up as well and made ph to 8.2. Phosphase was between 5-10.

Tested water again on Friday- Ammonia was at 0 , Nitrite still at 0.25, Nitrates between 5-10. pH went down to 7.8 again. Added ph up as well and made ph to 8.2. Phosphase was between 1-5.

Aquarium guys said okay to add fish and I added two clownies, two turbo snails and a starfish on Fri eve. I said No to crabs after reading some of the forum threads. Sat eve, one of the clownies died.. I hadn't fed anything to them until then (Shop guys said no feeding for two days). I went back to the shop and it turned out that the salinity was high (1.028. My hydrometer was showing 1.023! Anyways I got reverse osmosis water too and added 1 liter of that. My hydrometer still showed 1.023. I guess that is not working. The clownie, starfish and the two snails are surviving until now. the Star fish and snails dont' move around much; clownie seems to be swimming just fine, at times, spending time near to the sand in one corner. But the clownie just doesn't eat. I tried "salt H20 flakes" and frozen shrimp alternatively, but absolutely no interest. If a piece flies by its face also, just turns away!

I talked to the shop guys and they asked me to turn off the light for 2 days and then try again. I have switched off the light, but anything else I need to do? Not planning to add another clownie until the current one settles nicely and start eating. Anything I can do? I don't want to loose any more fishes... :-(

Another point is, for the last two days, my bigger live rock (I have two pieces, one about 6.5 lb sitting under the filter and a smaler one of 3.5 lb) is slowly turning purple. From reading the forum, looks like that is some kind of algae, which is okay??

1. How long have you had the fish? Do you know if it was wild caught, or tank raised?
Since Friday, don't know if tank raised...
2. How long has the fish been in the tank? What are the tank mates? Any aggression?
One star fish and two snails.. no aggression...
3. Is the fish eating? If so what does it eat?
4. What are the water parameters? pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, SPG? (actual numbers please: posting high, average or normal is not helpful) What saltwater test kit are you using?
Right now, Ammonia at 0 , Nitrite still at 0.25, Nitrates between 5-10. Phosphate at 1. (How do I get rid of the nitrites?)
5. Is the fish showing any physical signs of disease, grain of salt size spots, discoloration, ragged fins, misting or spots on the fins, cuts, cloudy eyes, etc?
Don't think so.
6. Is the fish "flashing" (scratching or rubbing on rocks, decorations or substrate)?
7. How is the fish acting? Is it swimming around, or just hovering in one spot or corner of the tank?
Both.. sometimes swims.. some times hovers in one corner top... sometimes hovers near the sand at the opposite corner...
8. Did you use quarantine? If so for how long and did you have a need to treat for any ailments? Is it in qt now? Are you currently treating with any medication(s)?
No.. there were no other fish in the tank... no medications...
9. Describe in detail how the fish was acclimated.
Put the cover in the tank without opening for some 30 mins, then cut a small hole and let the water mix in slowly for the next 20 mins... then cut open the cover and let the fish swim out...
10. What size system? What type of filtration do you use? Do you have any live rock or sand?
10 gallon.. 10 lb live rock and 10 lb sand.. got the filter which came in the kit, with carbon. I added stuff to absorb phosphorous last wed.
11. Do you use any additives? Have you used any sort of meds in the main tank?

Thanks a lot,

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Old 11-03-2009, 05:32 PM   #2
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One thing about small tanks is that the water volume is so small that mistakes are magnified because of the small water volume. It is less forgiving. You have made several huge mistakes in this tank. My suggestion would be to return the livestock in the tank to your LFS and start all over. Cycle the tank first and make sure that your water parameters are stable for a month after the cycle. Then slowly add livestock. The tank is too small for a starfish. It will starve to death in a small tank like that. My most important suggestion is find a new LFS. That one is plain no good.

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Old 11-04-2009, 10:54 AM   #3
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Thanks much Mike. For a LFS, what do you suggest - Currently I was going to one of the big chains - should I go for one of the smaller one-off shops or another chain?

Yesterday afternoon, the parameters read Ammonia at 0 , Nitrite at 0.25, Nitrates between 5-10. pH at 8.2. Phosphate at 2. Salinity at 1.021. Looks like ph as stabilized and the green hair algae has come down a lot. I got a Chemi pure Elite and put it in the filter to get rid of the nitrite. By late eve, the clownie seemed to be much more happy - was casually swimming around investigating the rocks, all the areas of the tank etc. He was picking up stuff from the live rock too. I tried feeding the brine shrimp, but that didn't work... Will test the nitrite again today. If I can't get him to eat by tomorrow also, then I will try returning them - not sure if the shop will accept them back or not though.

The star fish - currently it is some 3 inches long and sand colored.. He mostly spends time just under the sand during day and comes out in the night. On the first morning, I found him sticking to the wall, since then, only on the floor. He moves around , though slow. He can survive on the brine shrimp, right? Would you know what kind of star fish that is? How big can it grow?
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Old 11-04-2009, 12:05 PM   #4
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I agree with taking all the livestock back and starting over. You never cycled the tank. Check out the articles at this site to find out more about it.You can't just fill a tank with salt water and let it sit for two weeks and start adding livestock. I'm pretty sure your starfish will die with the course you're on.

Read here and on the internet a lot more. Do not. I repeat, do not rely on that lfs for any more information. I can't believe they've been advising you on the things they've told you and let you buy so far.

Asking hoow to get rid of nitrites tells me you have no idea what a "cycle" is. Knowing that is HUGE for what you're attempting to do.

By the way, any chance of at least a 30g tank? As Mike said, in a small tank like yours, things can go south REAL quick.

And of course, my manners.... Welcome to AA!

"Life may not be the party we hoped for but while we are here we might as well dance!"

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clown, eat, eating, not eating

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