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Old 08-24-2008, 10:02 AM   #1
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Exclamation Help! Tank crashing...no idea what is wrong

I inherited a fully cycled 26 gallon saltwater tank a week ago and have no idea what I'm doing. Everything was fine until this morning when everything is dead or gasping.
The analyticals are:
temp 82 (I've lowered the heater to bring it down a few degrees)
pH 8.0
rel. gr. 1.023
Nitrates 40 ppm
Ammonia and Nitrites are 0
I only have a test strip for carbonate hardness but it looks like 240 (but it's been that way all week...)

None of the above reading are significantly different from where they've been so could it be oxygen? Please help!! My poor seahorses are gone. :-(

The only other thing I can think of is we did our first 20% water change 24 hrs ago - mixed 5 gallons distilled water w/ salt and aerated for 48 hrs before using. But that was yesterday morning and the fish looked fine all day yesterday.
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Old 08-24-2008, 10:40 AM   #2
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First, Welcome to AA.
Second, Thank you for posting all the information you did.
Is this a species (seahorse) specific tank, or else what else (livestock) is in the tank?
How long was the tank up and running before you got it?
Did you move the tank from somewhere to your place?
How high was the temperature and how long was it that high?
Lowering the temperature would increase the available oxygen, all other things being equal.
When you did the water change, did you match the tank's temp and SG before adding the new mix?
Is this the same salt brand as was used in the tank before (should not make difference on a 5 gallon change, but just checking).

Sorry I don't have any quick answers for you, but your parameters appear to be ok (Nitrate a little high,shold be <20)

Oh, I just found this list of temperature ranges for seahorses. Also they need a very stable temp, so lowering it too fast may have a negative impact.

"
1) Tropical species - kept at 74-78 degrees F (24-26 degrees C)
zosterae, 1 pair/1.5 gallons (6 liters) - recommended 5 gallons (20 liters)
kuda, 1 pair/8 gallons (30 liters)- minimum size 15 gallons (60 liters)
barbouri, 1 pair/8 gallons (30 liters)- minimum size 15 gallons (60 liters)
erectus, 1 pair/8 gallons (30 liters)- minimum size 15 gallons (60 liters)
reidi 1 pair/8 gallons (30 liters)- minimum size 15 gallons (60 liters)
fuscus 1 pair per 5 gallons (20 liters)- minimum size 10 gallons (40 liters)
comes 1 pair/8 gallons (30 liters)- minimum size 15 gallons (60 liters)
procerus 1 pair/8 gallons (30 liters) - minimum size 15 gallons (60 liters)
2) Subtropical species - kept at 70-74 degrees F (22-25 degrees C)
whitei, 1 pair/8 gallons (30 liters)- minimum size 15 gallons (60 liters)
ingens1 pair/13 gallons (50 liters)- minimum size 45 gallons (180 liters)
tuberculatus, 1 pair/5 gallons (20 liters)- minimum size 15 gallons (60 liters)
3) Temperate species - kept at 66-72 degrees F (19-22 degrees C)
abdominalis, 1pair/13 gallons (50 liters)- minimum size 60 gallons (240 liters)
capensis 1 pair/5 gallons (20 liters)- minimum size 10 gallons (40 liters)
breviceps, 1 pair/5 gallons (20 liters)- minimum size 10 gallons (40 liters)"

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Old 08-24-2008, 10:59 AM   #3
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Thanks for the fast reply! I'll try to answer all your questions:
There are several different species in the tank, a pair of seahorses, three clown fish, an eel (too big for 26 gallon, no?), and several other purple, yellow, and orange fish I have yet to identify.
As far as I know, the tank is at least a year old.

Yes, we moved it (15 min drive) a week ago by bagging the fish and syphoning 15 gallons of the water into bottles and then setting it back up in the new location with the same water and fake coral and stuff. The fish have seemed perfectly happy all week. No sign of distress.

Unfortunately in trying to figure out all the things I need to test with the water I haven't been paying attention to the temperature. There is a chance it has been high for a while. The water we added was cooler - maybe 72?

The salt was a different brand but we did match the SG. Actually, I think the former owner had been having trouble with mixing their own (they used tap so we tried distilled to see if that would be better) and they had been using the pre-mixed.

As far as lowering the temp too quickly, I think it may be too late for the seahorses. Last I checked one was barely breathing and I haven't located the other one.

This salt water stuff is complicated!! We've had a freshwater tank for a couple years without any problems.
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Old 08-24-2008, 12:25 PM   #4
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Distilled or RO/DI is the way to go. However, the only mistake which is a pretty big one was not matching the water temperature of your partial water change water with the tank water. That is a huge shock to the fish, ESPECIALLY, when you are adding water that is colder. Plus if the water was much colder, depending on how you measure your salinity/specific gravity, the temperature could have caused the SG to be off also. I am assuming a similar stress accured when you moved the fish 15-minutes down the road. Did you acclimate them into the new tank location or just put them right in?
Typically you should not keep seahorses with fish. The seahorses have a hard time getting any food.
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Old 08-24-2008, 01:27 PM   #5
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Great Advice so far. I just wanted to add that you should most likely get a larger tank if you wish to keep that many fish long term. 6 fish 1 eel and 2 seahorses May be a bit much for the tank (ID would help) A 26gallon is not big enough and probably the reason for the high Nitrate levels. I would shop around for at least 55gallon at the LFS Or they can even order you a larger tank. The eel will get rather big I would assume. How long did the previuos owner have the seahorses? Your seahorses are most likely not going to make it if they haven't croaked already.

Do you have any live rock? could you post a photo of the tank so maybe we could help with the ID of the fish
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Old 08-24-2008, 02:46 PM   #6
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I agree. When you do a PWC it needs to match pretty much what you have in the tank. Salinity, temp and other water parameters need to match up. Some frequent PWC`s are needed right now. BTW welcome to AA
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Old 08-24-2008, 09:43 PM   #7
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If the substrate is sand that probably got all mixed up duriing the move too, which is not a good thing. I agree with the other posters and that a larger tank would be best the for the number of fish you have. Seahorses really need to kept in a very passive tank, usually seahorses only..

Read the articles on this site including the Getting Started thread.

Keep asking questions. There are plenty of people who can help with their experience. We've all made plenty of mistakes when starting out and are here to help the newbies...
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Old 08-25-2008, 11:03 AM   #8
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Smile thank you

Thank you all for your advice. I think it was an oxygen issue because lowering the temp slightly and adding two airstones seems to have improved the situation. I think the skimmer wasn't working properly, and unfortunately we lost two seahorses and three fish. The three clowns, the eel, and the big blue fish are much happier today.

I have a bunch of questions that I'm going to post over in the getting started forum, I just wanted to say thanks for helping me out yesterday!
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Old 08-25-2008, 02:51 PM   #9
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Glad to hear that the tank is on the mend. Even better to hear that you are taking this as a learnig experience and did not get freaked out by it. We have all been there and we have all lost livestock for one reason or another.

Keep asking questions. There are a plenty of knowledgeable people around here to help.

Now do us a favor and click on the link to VOTE FOR AA in my sig. We need everyone to vote every day (but just once a day per computer).
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Old 08-25-2008, 03:00 PM   #10
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I figured it out - the big blue fish is a lyretail wrasse. What's he doing in a 26 gallon tank???
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