I've been an aquarist for 20 weeks now and after an initial 9-10 weeks of relative enjoyment, I've been experiencing problems keeping fish alive and my pleasure in the hobby strong. Here's a brief summary of my experience to date:
Setup the tank with all the equipment described below (see "Tank Details"). Cycled the tank naturally (no fish) for 5 weeks. Water levels appeared safe (no ammonia or nitrites, nitrates a little high at 60ppm). Added inverts consisting of blue crabs (10), snails (8), brittle seastar (1), cleaner shrimp (1), emerald crab (1). Still looking good on week 7, added kole tang and clown fish. All went well for 2-3 weeks. Clear water, fish eating, inverts scavenging, everybody getting along. Added more fish on week 10. Within a span of 6-8 days, added more fish. Now I had:
Two Blue Chromis
Didn't seem like too much but probably too fast. One day I noticed the Kole Tang developing a few white spots. Two days later they were gone. Another day or so, and the poor thing was covered in them. I did some fast research and started learning all about fish diseases (I had previously skipped all these chapters when thinking about setting up a tank). I added a cleaner wrasse, hoping to supplement the cleaner shrimps efforts. The Kole Tang went right to it but the wrasse could only do so much. Eventually, all my fish were infected, and within a couple of weeks, all were dead - despite continued water changes, lowered levels of light, and one futile round of treatment with Kick Ick.
I then waited four days, the supposed life cycle of an Ick outbreak (no host within 72hrs they all die?). I added two new fish, both from a highly reputable shop (the previous bunch all came from a fish superstore). This time, the "ick" kicked in within 24 hours. Within 72 both were dead (clown and small goby).
Now thoroughly stressed out and depressed, I consulted a few news groups and experts and was told to wait 4 weeks before adding any more fish. I waited the four weeks, performing regular water changes 1-2 times a week. The inverts appeared to be doing very well - everything was growing and eating, no deaths.
So, 10 days ago, I added two more fish. This time a Coral Beauty and a Percula Clown. Here's a description of where things stand now:
Both 10 days in tank, unquarantined, both eating. The Beauty displays an aggressive eating response (e.g., rapid swimming, picking-up then dropping food). It's symptoms, like the others before him, are white spots (continue to suspect ick). The Beauty has swollen, cloudy left eye. The Clown has no spots but a white meaty clump attached to its left fin. It seems mildly bothered by it but not shaking constantly or visibly stressed. Neither appear to be scratching on rock but some of my previous fish with the same affliction did do this. As for treatment, I am now using Kick Ick again (WITH skimmer running). I have continued with twice weekly 20% water changes (see "Water Levels" below).
Here's the twist to the whole situation - I have to move the tank at the end of the month (unexpectedly acquired a new house). Given this situation, my questions now include how to move a tank. Here they are:
1. What the heck can I do, drastic or otherwise to get a healthy tank?
2. If I have to move the tank, are there any opportunities to make improvements along the way?
3. How should I move the live rock?
4. How can I keep my inverts alive (they seem healthy and happy, and I like them)?
5. Should I replace the sand? Water? Live Rock?
6. Is my Live Rock okay or has this disease ruined it?
7. What can anyone tell me that will help cure this problem, keep my tank healthy?
THANKS for listening! It was good to get all of that on paper.
PH - 8.0-8.4
Ammonia - 0
Nitrite - 0
Nitrate - 40ppm
SPG - 1.22-24
Temp: 79-82 depending on temp outside.
R/O Water Only
Using Mardel test strips and Instant Ocean Hydrometer.
18 weeks old
E-Heim Wet/Dry Filter (200+gal
55lbs live rock
80lbs live sand (approx 2-3 inches)
Remora Protein Skimmer
Single 150Watt Heater
Twin Compaq (90W each) Flourescent Lighting