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Old 05-12-2009, 12:16 PM   #1
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Question Fishes die #243243124532543

hola guys.

i spent a while reading some postings here to find a solution for my problem here but im not quite sure - still..

to make a long story short. i bought a 30 gallon tank about 2 months ago. the dealer didnt explained me **** about important things so like always i started to read about everything online. setting up the tank with the sand and the salt was quite easy. after the first night the water was crystal clear and and ammonia, nitrite and nitrate on 0. at this time i believed that is is possible to cycle a new tank in 3 days because thats what the bottle with bacteria said which they gave us...

i always planned to mix fish from the ocean with some fishes we cant get here and to buy them in a store
. i live in the caribbean and love snorkeling in the coral reefs and so i started.
i bought a snowflake eel and got a see urchin and 2 sea stars.
plus awhole bunch of really cool fishes. for ab out 1,5 months everything seemed to be perfect except some missing fishes which had problems with the moray.

then i did something which was wrong but i didnt knew at this point. because the aquarium still looked a little boring rock-wise, i started to add more and more stuff from the reefs, like rocks and broken corals where the fish can hide.

i have the feeling that either that, or the fact that i got too many fish in to short time changed something in the water. the level of nitrite and nitrate was getting a little higher (but not much) and fishes started to get dark, losing
their color and either rest on the ground until they lay down to die or on the op, but more on the ground.

after 2 weeks almost everything in there died except the moray and mantis shrimp i got just a few days ago (yes it works great with it).

so.. i started to do water changes. 20% and so on. it wouldnt get better so i made a drastic water change and changed like 80% of the water. after that the nitrite (which is the only thing that was not on 0) was dropping from 1 to 0,5.

but it was getting more again one day after that. sick of the dealing with the tap water and already reading alot about the cycle and how long it can take with new water i decited to do something totally different.

because 80-90% of our fish are from the ocean anyways i tested the water from the ocean here just for fun and i was amazed HOW clean it is. everything on zero, just the salt was way higher than what i know it is supposed to be for an aquarium.


so again i changed more than 80% of the water, but this time with original salt water and i added some drinking water to lower the salt level. since i live right on the beach its no problem for me here.

the first day it was perfect everything on zero.

so just to make sure if its different now i got 2 little fishes from the beaches here around and they died the same way again.

the thing was, i wasnt sure if there is somehting in the water that could cause death in a way that i cant check with the water quality. i also had an anemona which i removed again because i thought this might be the reason.

so now i only have the snowflake the mantis and the sea stars and urchins left and i dont know what the **** cause that.

it seems like the fishes cant breathe anymore sut like what i read about too high nitrite levels. but they are not too high. right now everything is perfect except the nitrite on 0,25 to 0,5 again.

what should i do? im not planning to add new fish to the tank until i know more even if i may be forced to sooner or later to know if its better.

by the way. another question. i have a skilter 250 (filter and skimmer in one). a guy from antoher pet shop tld me im not supposed to turn on the skimmer for about 3 months. what exactly is the use of a skimmer? right now i let the filter run without "air-injection". oh and just in case the aquarium runs with a new filter pad since 3 weeks, because i didnt knew that im not supposed to wash the pads.

thank you for your time. oh. some of you might be interested in some pics, so i show you some from the first weeks when everything was still fine.

first day without fish:

http://c3.ac-images.myspacecdn.com/i...e0233c9072.jpg

first 2 weeks:

http://c4.ac-images.myspacecdn.com/i...1dd668f4d7.jpg

http://c4.ac-images.myspacecdn.com/i...93b181fda7.jpg

http://c1.ac-images.myspacecdn.com/i...b9bef86078.jpg

http://c4.ac-images.myspacecdn.com/i...400ec9e4c7.jpg

http://c3.ac-images.myspacecdn.com/i...92b0f22732.jpg

http://c4.ac-images.myspacecdn.com/i...3b2f26cb5b.jpg

http://c2.ac-images.myspacecdn.com/i...c8bb0e1fbd.jpg
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Old 05-12-2009, 04:29 PM   #2
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Sounds to me like you never cycled your tank. Any nitrite readings at all imply that the tank doesn't have enough bacteria present to convert the ammonia (harmful) into nitrates (not harmful.) I'd also hazard a guess that a 30g is far too small for an eel, but that's kind of a secondary point.

You mention testing for nitrites. Are you testing for ammonia? That's really the issue here, most likely.

Regarding the skimmer question... a "skilter" is not a very good version of a skimmer. They're better than nothing, but dedicated skimmers will be more efficient. Regardless... a skimmer produces air bubbles that collect nasty stuff from the tank water and transport it out of your tank and into the skimmer collection cup. Think of the ocean surf along the beach and how nasty that foam can look at times - that's what a skimmer is doing.

I'm guessing that the person that said not to use a skimmer for the first three months meant that you shouldn't use it while you cycle the tank. The skimmer will reduce the organics that your bacteria will need to populate your tank. That's counterproductive while cycling a tank. BUT... with fish in there now, you probably want to be running it to help reduce the ammonia. It's a catch-22 when you cycle with fish... ammonia will harm/kill the fish, but you need some level of ammonia to establish the bacteria.
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Old 05-12-2009, 05:14 PM   #3
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I agree with Kurt. Right now we need some water test results. Test your water and post the results. I personally would not change more than 33% of the water at one time. I`ve heard 50% but if you change 80 % of the water it just changes the chemical makeup of the water too quick. I would limit your PWC`s to 1/3 if it was me.
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Old 05-12-2009, 05:37 PM   #4
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hey guys.

well thats the funny thing. the ammonia and nitrAte is all zero. the only thing i can find in the result is a nitrite between 0,25 to 0,5 and thats it. im going to test it again today and tell you the results again. i still have the ocean water in there and im planning to leave it like that. shouldnt the cycle be done faster because the water already contains the bacteria? i was thinking it would be like me taking water of a tank that is already cycled. how can it be that first i have a bunch of fishes for weeks swimming around happy and suddenly they die in less than one or two days? the get all dark, loose their color, get confused and just sit on the bottom until they die...?

the water should be fine anyways. i dont overfeed or anything.

about the skimmer, thats what i thought too about the reason not to turn it on until its cycled.
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Old 05-12-2009, 06:01 PM   #5
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Hi, I don't see any live rock in your tank. The bacteria in the water column is not enough to do much good. You need the bacteria in the LR and the sand to do most of your filtering. Did you Acclimate your fish to the tank water. If the salinity is higher in the ocean that you get the fish from than that's the salinity you should have in your tank. If it's 1.026 in the ocean then it should be 1.026 in your tank or you must slowly let your fish get used to the lower salinity of your tank. I think that is why your fish are dying, not to mention the lack of a true cycle and LR.
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Old 05-12-2009, 06:09 PM   #6
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ok i tested it again. still the same.

ph 8.2
ammonia 0.0
nitrite 0.5
nitrate 0.0
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Old 05-12-2009, 06:13 PM   #7
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Quote:
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... shouldnt the cycle be done faster because the water already contains the bacteria? i was thinking it would be like me taking water of a tank that is already cycled.
As thincat mentioned, water itself doesn't have the bacteria you need. The bacteria "lives" in the sand, on the rock, in your filter sponges, etc... but NOT in your water.

Quote:
how can it be that first i have a bunch of fishes for weeks swimming around happy and suddenly they die in less than one or two days? the get all dark, loose their color, get confused and just sit on the bottom until they die...?
Because it took a while for the ammonia to build up to toxic levels. In the beginning, the fish tolerated the low levels of ammonia. But as it built up, and without bacteria to convert it to nitrates, it eventually reached a level that was toxic to those particular fish. Then the massive water changes diluted the ammonia back down to a level that the rest of your critters didn't die.

You might want to go our "articles" section here on the website and read up on the whole saltwater nitrogen cycle.

Also agree with thincat... if you're getting the fish from the ocean, and the water from the ocean, then you shouldn't really dilute down the water. If you do, then you're going to need to acclimate the fish to the different salinity over an hour or so - assuming the salinity is only a couple points different. Which brings up another question... how are you measuring your salinity when you're diluting the saltwater?
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Old 05-12-2009, 06:14 PM   #8
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Quote:
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Hi, I don't see any live rock in your tank. The bacteria in the water column is not enough to do much good. You need the bacteria in the LR and the sand to do most of your filtering. Did you Acclimate your fish to the tank water. If the salinity is higher in the ocean that you get the fish from than that's the salinity you should have in your tank. If it's 1.026 in the ocean then it should be 1.026 in your tank or you must slowly let your fish get used to the lower salinity of your tank. I think that is why your fish are dying, not to mention the lack of a true cycle and LR.
in the ocean water its 1.027

how do i know when the cycle is done? i took out the most stuff like plants and rocks because i wasnt sure if that might be the source or dead..

but i still have 2 rocks in there from the ocean which was there in the beginning too. im planning to get back other ones later but right now the tank is emtpy anyways except the eel and the mantis shrimp but they dont care so much about the water.

question. the guy from one of the stores here told me that before i use new rocks i should leave them in the sun for 2-3 days, then put them into a tank with circulating water for 2 weeks to clean it.

what if i use one of the rocks from the water on the beach from inside the water? it should be clean there too or not? i had a broken coral in the tank which looked amazing and provided lots of holes for the fishes to hide and i would like to take it back in. i left it in a pool at a rock formation near the beach where always water is coming in with waves. i shoould be able to get it back from there later without having problems again, right?
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Old 05-12-2009, 06:15 PM   #9
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The fish arnt dying from the salinity.. it can fluxuate some.. the Nitrites showing a .5 is probably what is killing them off. live rock is a must in a tank.. especially a 30 gallon that has the load of a 125+ gallons of fish in it. Now the only problem you will run across getting water from the ocean is where you get it from... if its near the shore, your basicly picking up the skimmer water.. which you dont want.. you would have to go out a way to get the water for the fish.
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Old 05-12-2009, 06:16 PM   #10
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I also agree that the bacteria is not in the water. It resides on surfaces like your LR, Sand. tank walls and other surfaces.
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