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Old 04-14-2004, 07:11 PM   #1
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Help me...I'm a damsel killer

well, not even a day into my first adventure into saltwater aquarium keeping, and I've just killed my first domino damsel. I cycled the tank (40 gallons) using the shrimp method and did a 25% water change and now ammonia, ites and ates are all at pristine levels. pH is good too. feeling impatient but still nervous, I went to the LFS and against my better judgement bought 3 damsels (they were on sale). well, about 13 hours later one is laying on it's side buried in the sand and now, 3 days later, another is not eating and is acting very skiddish. now, my tank is at 83 degrees C but I guess I really don't iknow if that's a good temp... is it? Also, what would be an acceptable salinity? I did the acclimation according to the article on this site with the airline drip and everything. Did I just buy too many fish at once? There seems to be a diatom bloom, will this have any adverse affect on my poor guinea pigs? I don't wanna look into more fish until i feel they're not falling into a death trap. What do you guys think?

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Old 04-14-2004, 10:02 PM   #2
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83° is on the higher side but should not be the cause of the fish's deaths unless the temp swings wildly. Personally I keep my tanks closer to 80° but the higher temp should still be fine. A decent salinity would be 35 ppt using an ATC refractometer. If using a swing arm hydrometer I would keep it just shy of 1.0235 SG due to the temp.

If you are sure the water quality is up to par, I would suspect a parasite possibley. By the sounds of it, the fish where not QT'd prior to adding to the 40 gal? In future, I would not add so many fish to a newly cycled tank. It needs time between each fish addition for the natural biofilter to catch up to each newly added waste producing animal.

Did the fish show any signs of stress, faded color, surface gulping, darting, spots or other signs of concern?

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Old 04-15-2004, 02:27 AM   #3
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Obvious problem...

Obviously, the problem is your forum name!

Hard to say for sure, but my suspicion is simply that the tank is still very new, in spite of your contention that it is fully cycled. I agree that you should shoot for a slightly lower temperature.

You should probably have only added 1 fish to start with. Did they have an easy trip from the store?

It is always hard on fish to come to a new aquarium. If you're going to lose them, it is often in the first 48 hours. Old fish can be especially hard on the new guys, BTW. My convict damsel has personally taken out 3 or 4 fish over the years, yet there is another damsel in the tank that has been there forever and has no trouble with him.

I'm willing to bet that 1 or 2 of them make it.
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Old 04-15-2004, 10:43 AM   #4
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bad news... another damsel death :-(
you're right, I did not quarantine them before introducing them, but is that necessary when they're the first organism to be put (intentionally) into the tank?
the first fish showed signs of stress immiediately. I hope he didn't have a parasite and passed it onto the next. (hopefully the third can remain uninfected). I didn't really notice anything funny their scales/fins or anything, but then again I've never had any SW fish before.
I guess my I just shouldn't have sprung for so many at once, especially w/the smaller tank. You know, I knew even at the time that I shouldn't add that many, but I guess I just crumpled under the pressure of the sale.

I'm still concerned about the diatoms though. is the only way to reduce them with RO/DI water? I don't really have the money to buy more equipment right now.

thanx for all your help.
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Old 04-15-2004, 10:53 AM   #5
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Quarantining is not soley to protect existing animals but also a safe haven to acclimate new fish and treat if necessary without delay. Even the first fish added to a new tank should go through the process. You should never consider treating sick fish in the main tank no matter what else is in there, it's just not wise.

Sorry I cannot be more helpful on the figuring out the deaths, but there really isn't enough info to go on. It could just be many possibilities. If the last fish passes, be sure you leave the tank fallow for 6 weeks to be sure and make sure any future fish are properly quarantined.

As far as the diatoms are concerned, this is fairly common in newer tanks and will often subside on their own once the tank ages some. With the use of tap water though, you will continue to introduce the silicates which feed them. Until you get your own RO unit, I would suggest finding an alternative water source or possibley using a good quality PO4 granular sponge to remove any excess silicate and phosphates.

Have you tested the tap water for possible NH3, NO2, NO3, PO4, copper, ph and alk? It wouldn't hurt. I would also check with the water dept to see if they use fluonides and be sure you use a water conditioner for chlorine and chloramines. Prime by Seachem is a great product and will also help bind certain metals.

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Old 04-15-2004, 01:27 PM   #6
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It would also be helpful to know exact water parameters, such as ph, ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. Pristine does equal zero on all the above (except ph).

Damsels being a very hardy fish, I would suspect a bad batch at the store that just are succumbing to whatever after the stress of being moved. I am wondering if that is why they were on sale....but that is just my suspicious nature.
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Old 04-16-2004, 03:09 AM   #7
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SOrry for your loss...
I wish I had yor patience... And you will wish you had my luck...
On tuesday I got 90 pounds of rock and 55 pounds of sand. And that night, I added 6 Chromis. All are happy. and I found a few starfish and a pistol shrimp. I guess I lucked out.. All specs are alligned up perfect...
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Old 04-16-2004, 04:06 PM   #8
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I'd recommend a better test of the water as well. Don't diatoms require some degree of nitrate to exist?

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