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Old 01-13-2009, 09:36 AM   #31
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I'll add my two cents here. First is the acclimation method used may be stressful. First you temp acclimate for 15 - 20 minutes with the bag sealed, then open the bag. The shot glass method is to add about 2-4 ounces of tank water to the bag every 5 minutes for an hour. When the bag gets to be about 2/3 full, remove about half the water in the bag and continue. I've read pros and cons on this method and these days I tend to drip aclimate. Fish are somewhat resiliant (depending on species) and some can tolerate more stress than others.

I also question the source! There is one lfs near me that I've had a successful purchase of livestock from. I don't know their supplier gets cyanide caught fish or what the problem is, but regardless of the acclimation I use, fish from this lfs die within a week. Try another source or get them online from a reputable place.

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Old 01-14-2009, 01:58 AM   #32
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It's the API test kits. I got a master test kit from Petco... there wasn't the slightest bit of dust on the carton and I know they don't go around dusting their stock, so I'm assuming it was fairly new. I got an ammonia only test kit from my LFS to confirm the 0 ammonia reading.

Half the fish I got from my LFS and the other half I got from Petco. I've had several die from both batched so I'm assuming it must be something specific to my tank. They all looked very healthy in the bag... no breathing problems, no eating problems, no fighting, no problems swimming... it all looked good.

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Old 01-14-2009, 02:00 AM   #33
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P.S. I know that Petco isn't exactly the greatest place to get fish from as they probably don't tend to take care of their fish as well as they should, but it's a second source that I tried out and it was unsuccessful...
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Old 01-14-2009, 06:43 AM   #34
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I would ask them if they use any chemicals in their water, but moreso check their water parameters before you acclimate. As far as acclimation, I prefer the drip/stream method. Float bag in tank for 10mins+/-, put fish in bucket or other holding container, and drip or lightly stream water in from airline tubing for 45mins.-1hr. You also might want to consider a quarantine tank because if there is a problem with the fish then that problem will be in your tank. I would cycle a quarantine with just a sponge filter or hob filter, heater, and pvc for hiding. At least a sterile quarantine tank will eliminate variables for you even if it takes longer to stock your tank.
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Old 01-18-2009, 09:03 PM   #35
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I talked to the fish store... they say there are no chemicals in their water. I took the liberty of testing the water in their bag with one of my test kits, and the ammonia was 0, nitrite was 0, nitrates were 0, and pH was 8.3-8.4... all of these values are the same as my tank.

As an update, I've come some ways from my last post (not in a good direction either) and I'm wondering if the latest problems may shed some more light onto what may possibly be going on with my tank.

Back to the beginning... I moved one black mollie from my freshwater tank into the saltwater tank. He did fine so a week later, I went to LFS 1 and got 2 blue damsels, a domino damsel, a three stripe damsel, and a chromi. The chromi died the same night, but I figured it was a fluke. Then the two blue damsels both died about 3 days later and I started to get concerned. I took my water to LFS 1 and they confirmed that everything was ok and the tank had cycled. I suspected as much, but the people on these forums suspected otherwise. I'm not sure if it really was cycled or not, but at least now I had confirmation from a 2nd source that my personal test kit readings werent faulty.

I waited a couple more weeks and everyone was doing ok so I figured it may be the fish store's stock. I went to LFS 2 and bought 2 yellow tailed damsels, 1 blue damsel, and another chromi. This time the chromi changed from green to white (never did that the first time) and everyone was ok for a few more days. Then the domino damsel and the three stripe damsel from the original batch as well as the new chromi all died within about 36 hours of each other.

At this point I'm getting very frustrated. I have two sources telling me the water is perfectly fine, the temperature is at 75 (supposedly perfect), ammonia/nitrite are both 0 and nitrate is between 0-5. Calcium is 450, phosphates barely read on my home test, and this water is coming from an RO/DI unit so everything should be swell. I decided to go to LFS 3 which is a very ritzy place that has been in business for like 15 years and does home service for a bunch of people I know, everyone raves about them, and I couldn't find one troubled looking fish in the entire store. Beautiful coral tanks and the whole bit... basically they seemed like they might know what they were talking about. I brought my water there and once again, they confimed that the tank was more than ready for fish. All the levels were exactly where they should be... So I ended up buying an anemone (can't remember what kind now, but it's not green tips with a brownish base and they said it would work well with a percula clownfish) as well as buying a cardinal fish.

Brought these home, drip acclimated them, put them in, and everything was going swell. The anemone is eating great... the cardinal fish doesn't move around much, he kinda found a corner and likes to stay there, but he isn't breathing hard/fast and he's eating well, so I think thats just the way he is. After about a week, everything was still going fine so I figured all was well and made the trek back to LFS 3. I picked up a male/female clownfish, a bubble anemone, and another anemone whos name I can't remember (long white tenticles with small purple tips on the end). Drip acclimated these guys, got them in the tank, the anemones took hold very quickly and are eating great. The clownfish looked ok when I put them in.

Earlier today the black mollie I took from my freshwater tank died right in front of me. Out of nowhere, he started having a very difficult time swimming. Started getting pushed around by the powerheads, and seemed to have a very difficult time figuring out which way was up as he tried swimming in whichever direction he happened to be pointing at the time. No more than two minutes later, he ended up getting stuck to the powerhead intake (it's a maxijet 1200 with the grate on the bottom so he wasn't sucked directly into the intake, but the water going in was more than he could pull away from) so I lunged for the power switch, turned the heads off, he swam away from it (still haphazardly) and I grabbed him up in a net, filled a little QT tank with the water from the main tank and hung it inside, then put him in that. Upon inspection, he had several slices across the side of his body. It looked like he may have hit the live rock or something... didn't look like he was attacked by another fish. I put some melafix in his little QT tank in a desperate effort to help him out, and he seemed better for a few minutes... managed to right himself and swim around more normally, but then gave up and floated to the top dead.

Not more than a few hours after that incident, I had one of the yellow tail damsels die as well. He had no lacerations, no signs of gill disease or any other sort of disease... looked perfectly fine to me. Then, to top it all off, the smaller of the two clownfish is breathing very rapidly (almost faster than I can count the breaths) and swimming vertically part of the time which makes me think his time is limited. Everything I've read online basically says thats the beginning of the end.

So now I'm at a crossroad... I can't figure out what in the world is happening with these poor fish. I'm left with three anemones (all different breeds) which seem to be doing perfectly fine. Two clownfish, the bigger of which seems ok but the smaller one is acting odd. A yellow tail damsel and a blue damsel. The yellow tail seems fine, but the blue damsel is breathing more rapidly now as well. Then a cardinal fish who found a corner and doesn't tend to come out of it, but other than that he seems to be doing fine. I've sat in front of this tank for hours each day and I can't figure out whats up... nobody is fighting, there are no signs of a disease in the tank (no inflamed gills, spots, blood, fin rot, etc.). I've tested the levels daily and everything remains at 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 0-5 nitrate, 8.4 ph, 75-76 degrees F, 300-500 calcium, barely readable phosphates, and 1.023 salinity (as measured by a refractometer). I don't know if it's better to give up and stop senselessly killing fish or if there is some kind of miracle answer to this that I just haven't been able to find? At this point, I'm finished buying fish... I've already killed too many and it seems to me that I'm pretty ignorant since I can't even figure out why everything continues to die.

I'm hoping that someone here may have that miraculous missing piece to this puzzle?
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Old 01-18-2009, 09:19 PM   #36
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By the way, here are some pictures of the tank as it stands right now... there are some very colorful algaes growing on the live rock and the invertebrates all seem happy, it's just the fish I'm having problems with...

Cardinal hiding in his corner in the back of the tank (bottom right of pic)

1st anemone to go into the tank

2nd anemone to go into the tank

Bubble anemone (third to go into the tank)

The two perculas hiding in a corner (reflection on glass makes it look like four)... they don't come out at all and don't seem to be eating much.
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Old 01-18-2009, 10:58 PM   #37
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This is a really weird story. Is there any possible source of other contaminants that we don't normally test for? Heavy metals, concrete, arsenic, ...? I'm not sure how you'd go about testing those things, but I guess I would be taking a hard look at the rocks and any other foreign material in the tank, and anything that looked like it might have semi-soluble components would be suspect. Any of the rock that might be coal slag?

This is purely speculation, but your investigation so far seems thorough and you've ruled out all the normal things. The only other possibility I can think of is a lingering pathogen introduced from the first batch of fish, but I don't know what it might be.
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Old 01-18-2009, 11:12 PM   #38
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Was that A used or brand new Tank you purchased? Meaning when you first set-up the Tank?
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Old 01-18-2009, 11:17 PM   #39
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Hey, Deb...so sorry about your troubles...I feel really bad for you. I am certainly not an expert in water chemistry but to me it sounds so much like there is a toxic element here that I just wanted to mention a couple of things you can check out just to cover all bases if possible..

I have found on occassion, pieces of metal in my DSB...old metal...that has come to the surface; whether from the sand itself (which was rinsed) or from the LR. LR comes from around islands...many of these islands were involved in wars...there are tons of metals around these islands and on their reefs and in their sands. I know this for a fact...I lived on an island when I was young...my brother and I would sneak to the other side which we weren't supposed to and find old war bunkers...he even found a grenade once. Saying this, you might check your LR very carefully and also your sand. It doesn't look like beach sand though, but I would make sure there isn't anything in it that is rusting. This may not be the answer, but at least something to rule out.

Does anyone do your cleaning for you? Is it possible that someone is using sprays like Windex or furniture polishers, or scented candles, or room sprays that are working their way into your tank?

Just a few thoughts to check out. I hope you resolve this. I know we are all pulling for you.


I wish I could walk my fish ....
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Old 01-19-2009, 12:14 AM   #40
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All of the rock is fiji live rock, tonga rock, or marshall islands rock. I did a pretty good inspection of everything before it went in and didn't come across anything suspicious. Maybe I could take the LR out and put it in a bath of RO/DI water, let it sit there for a few days, then take a TDS meter and see if it still reads 0 after the rocks have had a chance to leech some contaminants out? But would that kill off all the algae and everything I've grown thus far?

I used a new tank from Petsmart. I cut the glass with the kit from glass-holes.com and installed the overflow, then washed everything off with really hot tap water and wiped it off with a freshly washed cloth. I did a decent one-over on the tank and didn't come across anything suspicious there either.

I'm the only one that cleans that room (dining room). I've never used any cleaning agents on/around the tank, and we usually don't even windex the dining table. We have a few waterproof tablecloths that we just take off and throw in the washer once a week and put a new one on. We don't smoke or use air fresheners or anything else I could think of that may find its way into the tank.

All good ideas so far... I'm tempted to dump the rock into a tub of RO/DI water just to see what sort of contaminants that yields, assuming that won't kill off all my beneficial bacteria. Any ideas if theres even a remote possibility of that working?

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