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Old 09-18-2009, 10:42 AM   #1
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Unhappy Colossal failure! Help!

My son's salt water aquarium "tanked" in a huge way, and we need some direction. Here's the story... the aquarium has been established for a year, complete with live sand and live rocks. We've had a happy community for quite some time, with a friendly little puffer, a small blue damsel, a lemon-headed goby, a black goby of some type (?), and a gorgeous cleaner shrimp. All was well. Until 6 days ago. My son has dreamed of trying a mandarin goby, and while we knew our tank was too young, he really wanted to try. We found a small (1/2") psychadelic green mandarin. He lived for two days. Since then every other fish in the tank has died except the shrimp. Obviously the mandarin was either sick, or the worst mistake we could have made. Looking forward, how do I rid the tank of the disease? I can change out the water and filter mediums, but how do I make sure the sand and live rocks are clean and safe?
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Old 09-18-2009, 10:56 AM   #2
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It`s always best to QT your new additions. That way you can observe them and make sure they are OK. As far as what happened I would say that either parasites (ick) or disease was added. Did you notice on the mandarin or any other fish any sugar like parasites on any of the fish? Another thought just came to me. Did you notice any aggression between the gobies and the mandarin?
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Old 09-18-2009, 11:03 AM   #3
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It all happened so fast! The puffer was the only one that acted sick before dying (panting, not swimming). I watched him closely and checked out the other fish - he got some brownish discoloration on his body, but I didn't notice anything on the others. The others seemed fine the night before, and were floating in the morning. I didn't see any agression from the gobies, but there just wasn't very much time. The blue damsel was pretty territorial and I did witness him chase the mandarin out of his favorite hiding spot. Other than that, I just don't know. Any suggestions about starting over?
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Old 09-18-2009, 11:04 AM   #4
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How about some water test results so we can rule that out.
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Old 09-18-2009, 11:18 AM   #5
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I'll have to get that tonight.
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Old 09-18-2009, 02:04 PM   #6
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Really sorry that all of that happened, but just for my own curiosity, how big is your tank? Also, mandarinfish are pretty difficult to take care of since they rarely eat anything other than copepods. I know that has nothing to do with what happened since you only had him for two days, but it could have been worse, had he decided to not eat any food. Definitely get your water params checked out. If in fact you have a small tank, and one of the fish died, it could have produced a fatal ammonia spike, that may have damaged or killed another fish, and that fish added to that spike and so on. Sort of like a domino effect. Bad things happen pretty quickly in SW.
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Old 09-18-2009, 02:40 PM   #7
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Thank you for your advice. I feel a little lost. And sad for my son - he really enjoyed the friends we had in that aquarium. The tank is only 20 gallons, so you're probably right about the ammonia spike. I'm thinking that now we have to start over - new water, a few months to cycle, etc. But my big question is - what do I do with the live rocks and live sand? Do I need to do anything special with them when I change out the water?
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Old 09-18-2009, 02:49 PM   #8
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20G's.. hmm. Well 5 fish in the 20G doesn't sound that bad to me.. but the puffer, i don't think can be in such a small tank. Regardless of how big it was at the time of purchase, you would have to consider what it would be like when they fully mature, and how big they get. Not to mention that i hear from people all the time that they are messy eaters and messy poopers. I would think that just ONE of those puffers in a 20G would be a considerable bioload on your tank. And then added the extra 4 fish.. would make the bioload even higher. You would have to do some serious water changes to keep your params in check. Unless you had something like a nano-protein skimmer, but even then...

Also, how long has your tank been cycled? And what was the amount of time you waited, between getting all of your fish. Like, after the first fish, how long did you wait to get the next.. and so on.

The live rock and live sand(if it was live to begin with) Should be fine.. assuming that it was not an ammonia spike that killed off your fish. If it was.. then chances are some things may have died. Doesn't necessarily mean that everything in the sand and rock died, but some things may have if all of the fish died.. :/
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