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Old 04-27-2005, 01:42 AM   #1
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Please help with Lionfish - think it's dying

Hi, please give any advice you can. We've had this lionfish for about two months, has been very healthy, eats well, no problems. Last week our snowflake eel got stuck in an ornamental cave and died. Last Saturday we introduced a new wolf eel into the tank. Today the lionfish is sluggish, staying on the bottom of the tank, not eating and fins seem to be stuck together and raggedy looking. Eyes are clear and breathing seems normal. Water parameters are the same that they have been, pH 8.2, nitrite 0, ammonia 0, specific gravity 1.022 to 1.023. Tank is 55 gallons, only other inhabitants are the wolf eel and two starfish. Will appreciate any advice; thanks.
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Old 04-27-2005, 02:22 AM   #2
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What do you feed the lion? Also, what are the nitrates reading?
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Old 04-27-2005, 12:13 PM   #3
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Sick lionfish

We feed him krill and the nitrates are very high, our test kit reads up to 160 mg/L and they are higher than that. I have been doing 10-12 gallon water changes once to twice a week, but it hasn't helped at all. However, the nitrates have been high since before we got the lionfish and the guy at the Fish Only store assured us that the nitrates wouldn't hurt fish. The fish looks worse this morning, fins seem to be breaking off and he is pale, still staying at the bottom of the tank.
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Old 04-27-2005, 04:03 PM   #4
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High nitrates can and often do induce and progress disease causing bacteria and parasitic infestations. You should QT the lion as soon as possible just to get him out of that water. He's obviously not doing well for whatever reason and should be put in a QT anyway. A 5 minute freshwater dip may help just in case the lion has any external parasites. There are some that are transparent and nearly impossible to see on the fish.

Continue the 10% to 15% water changes, but do it every other day for as long as it is needed...(when nitrate levels reach below 40ppm. Invest in a large bottle of Nitromax Marine and use it with every water change. A denitrate filter media will help absorb some of those nitrates. Cut back on feeding. What's the current feeding routine?

The person at the LFS is wrong. Though nitrates are basically non toxic, in high concentrations can reap havok on any tank. Bad bacteria and parasites thrive in a high nitrate system. Gotta get that down. As I stated before, high nitrates can induce and progress disease and parasitic infestations.
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Old 04-27-2005, 04:09 PM   #5
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Thanks for the advice, but it's too late for the lion; he died about an hour ago; his fins just disintegrated. I posted another topic in the general discussion about converting from saltwater to freshwater and what that would entail doing. I've tried everything with this saltwater tank and I'm tired of losing fish constantly. If you have any suggestions on how to convert or know of any places on the web to get the information I would appreciate it. Again, thanks for trying to help.
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Old 04-27-2005, 04:44 PM   #6
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Have you tried a reef with coral and inverts? With any aquatic system, the same basics apply. Nitrates must be kept under control. You were under the impression that nitrates are harmless. Now that you know otherwise, take what you've learned and apply it to the next. High nitrates accumilate when there's a lot of waste and lions and eels and other bulky fish push out more waste than most other fish. Even freshwater fish like oscars and other cichlids as well as goldfish are notorious heavy waste producers. Saltwater systems, even fish only benefit from protein skimmers to help control nitrates. Please note: protein skimmers do not work with FW.

To convert, you'd have to tear down and reset using FW materials like gravel and FW rock if you plan on having anything FW with one exception...African cichlids. If you choose to set up for African rift lake cichlids, you can keep the rock and substrate. Though the live of the rock would transform to suit it's new environment, it can still serve it's purpose without mineral conflict. Live rock is high in mineral/metal content like calcium and would kill most other FW fish, but African rift lake cichlids are natural to the higher levels. You'd just need to change out the water and replace with all FW.

A trick to good natural nitrate control is building a DSB (deep sandbed). This includes at least 3" or 4" of substrate and animals that crawl through the sandbed. Loaches are good in freshwater systems. Wrasses, eels, bristleworms, snails etc are good for marine systems. The thick layer of substrate chokes the bottom layer of oxygen, making an ideal envrionment to cultivate denitrifying bacteria which would eat up the nitrates. The animals in the DSB release hydrogen gases that accumilate during the denitrification process. Those gases then dissipate in the atmosphere, completing a full nitrogen cycle. This method of nitrate control is preferred in systems that require a lot of rock work such as reefs and African rift lake cichlid tanks. It eliminates the need for vacuuming the substrate, though you still need to exchange water.

Sorry to hear about the lion. Did you know that coral, though may be more expensive to support with most, they are much easier to keep alive than fish.
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Old 04-27-2005, 04:56 PM   #7
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Thanks for the help and the condolences on the lionfish; I was really quite attached to both the lionfish and the eel that died recently. Thanks also for the advice on how to keep the nitrates down and hot to convert if that is what we decide to do.
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Old 04-29-2005, 04:21 AM   #8
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DONT convert to FW, SW is so much more rewarding...i just takes way more time to get established...but once it is its a thing of beauty
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