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Old 02-22-2007, 10:17 PM   #1
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Saltwater Reef Tank and invertebrates/mollusks

Hello, I hope somebody can help me with this problem. I have a 58 gallon display tank that my father gave to me back in late October '06. When I first got the tank my friend and I broke the Oceanic "Reef-Ready" sump that he had filtering the tank. For a week I had it running on a regular bio-ball drip system and everything in the tank did just fine. I took the pieces from the oringinal sump and installed them in a 20 gal. high tank and reinstalled the sump with a powerhead to help power the sump motor as it is now drawing water over the lip of the sump rather than through a fitting cut in the bottom. Within a 48 hour period, almost all of the invertebrates were dead with the exception of a few hardy crabs. I lost a fire shrimp, a starfish, the anemone, most of the crabs and all of the snails. Since then, I have been dealing with re-establishing the tank and testing the water over and over. All of my tests, and those of the local fish store, show that my water quality is just fine(i.e. no copper, out-of-wack ph, nitrites, nitrates, ammonia, phosphates, etc.) and yet when I add Red Stripped Asterias, which are supposed to be a relatively hardy breed of snail, even they die within a 24 to 48 hour period. I have checked everything, even a possible stray voltage, and nothing seems to be out of whack. Is there possibly some sort of disease that hurts everything in a tank except fish? HELP!!!
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Old 02-23-2007, 10:13 AM   #2
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Inverts (especially Sea Stars) are very susceptible to ammonia spikes and while test results now are showing 0 ppm it probably spiked slightly while changing out the sumps. Inverts are also naturally disease resistant so I'd rule that out as well.

Fish can survive small spikes in nh3 better then inverts which is why you haven't had any fish loss. Temperature also could have been a factor if you had a rapid rise/fall which inverts don't tolerate very well.

Could you please post your parameters and more info on your tank i.e. ph/sg/alk/nh3/no2/no3/po4 How much base/live rock you have & fish list and sizes.

Usually when inverts die within a 48 hour period it's due to acclimation issues. How long did you acclimate them and how did you acclimate them?
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Old 02-23-2007, 10:22 AM   #3
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I agree with Micah. My first thoughts were acclimation.
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Old 02-23-2007, 12:31 PM   #4
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Hello again, those of you that had the time to reply wanted to know more information on my tank. I only have the basic test kits and my knowledge of the fish isn't very good but I will tell you what I can. The things that I can test and their average readings on a weekly basis are as follows; temp.76 to 79 degrees daily, salinity-1.0215, ph-8.2, ammonia-0ppm, nitrites-0ppm, nitrates-20ppm to as high as 40ppm(when it has gotten this high I have followed with a 20% water change), all other testing has been done at the local fish store. I know they have tested for phosphates, boron, magnesium, and copper. I'm not sure on the alkaline. The boron and magnesium levels were high so we did at least two water changes to address that problem. As far as fish, I have two clownfish(very lonely since their anemone died), two types of damsels, a variety of sea-bass, and a really dark blue fish with a bright yellow tail that resembles a tang of sorts, as well as acting like one, but it doesn't have the right facial features so I'm not quite sure what it is. The tank as a relatively large amount of base rock, in pounds I'd say at least 60? As for acclimation I usually take at least 2 to 3 hours using a drip kit. If you need any more specific information let me know and I will try and provide it. Thank you so much for your time and knowledge, hopefully I will be able to put it to good use soon before killing any more snails!
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Old 02-23-2007, 01:29 PM   #5
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no3 at or above 20 ppm will stress your inverts to the point of death, especially Sea Stars.

When you say sea-bass I hope you mean Basslets and not the kind that get up to 3+ feet

Not even counting the sea-bass you have over 24" of fish once they are adults which is twice the length that a 58 gal tank should have. You didn't list sizes but that along with your wet/dry are probably the biggest contributors to your no3 getting so high. What and how much/often do you feed?

The blue fish with the yellow tail is most likely a Blue Tang.

Your boron and magnesium levels should not be high if just doing pwc. Have you added any additives or buffers?

Drip acclimation is best and 2-3 hours is usually fine assuming you also keep the temperature close to the main tank.

The temperature fluctuations are not healthy for inverts or fish but at that level is not deadly. I'd try to find a better heater to maintain the highest temp of 79.

You almost have enough rock to get rid the wet/dry but you will need a little more base/live rock and reduce your fish load if half before you do.

I'd hold off on any more inverts till you get your no3 down to 10 ppm or less.
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Old 02-23-2007, 03:46 PM   #6
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Thanks tecwzrd, and no the sea-bass is I assume of the small variety. The fish were actually added by one of the employees at the local store I go to when the tank was originally established. That person used to work for the store that my dad originally purchased the tank from. They set the tank up for him, maintained it and introduced all of the elements that make up the system and it was in perfect condition until I got a hold of it. The total amount, in inches, that the fish add up to can't be more than 13 or 14 inches so I don't know if that is good or not. It is quite possible that I got the species wrong, like I said originally I haven't really identified all of the inhabitants! I have actually removed a few of the original pieces of rock that they had in there so there is now more room than there was before and no I do not add buffers other than the one I use to maintain the ph. I have however, started to use filtered water rather than tap for my freshwater top offs and we tested the water today at 7.7 on the ph. We also checked the calcium levels, which was quite low at about 240ppm. So now I am bringing the ph back up and I have introduced a calcium buffer to bring that up to par. I know that calcium mostly affects the coral growth but the guy said it might help invertebrates also. We don't know. Thanks again for all of your input. Do I seem like I'm on the right track? Also, the snails are still moving a little, at least when I go to remove them, should I keep them in there and pray that they might make it? Oh, I almost forgot, I feed them frozen brine in cubes. Once in the morning and once at night. As for the no3 I have never been able to get it below 20ppms even with frequent water changes. I know that most aquarists prefer it lower for invertebrates but I can't get it there. Any ideas? Thanks again.
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Old 02-23-2007, 04:04 PM   #7
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If the snails shell doesn't smell (and that is the worst smell on the planet) then they are not dead and I'd keep them in there.

About 12" of total adult fish length is generally all I'd recommend since the tank would quickly run out of oxygen if you had a prolonged power outage.

ph is most affected by alk and then ca along with a couple of other factors like keeping your tank top open so carbon dioxide can escape.

Getting a reef test kit will help you to make adjustments without having to go to the lfs. Often depending on how far away your lfs is the results will be off if kept in an air tight container.

Checkout the following articles for more info:

What is Alkalinity?, Calcium in the Aquarium, Solving Calcium and Alkalinity Problems.

I'd test your source water to make sure it doesn't contain no3/po4.
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