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Old 12-20-2011, 02:17 AM   #1
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Unhappy Is this bad luck, or am I doing something wrong?...

I came into this hobby a few months back with zero experience and started setting up a tank for my fiance's birthday. I have 50 pounds of live rock, 40 pounds of live sand, an AquaC Remora protein skimmer, Marineland Biowheel power filter, and two RENA Smartheaters in an AquaClear 50 gallon acrylic aquarium. We fully cycled for a couple of months, and have never really had any issues with water parameters. I test a couple of times a week, and have done weekly 5 gallon (10%) water changes since cycling and my water is always fantastic and crystal clear. I'm not really at my point of concern yet, as I think I've got the water part figured out. It's the next chapter that gets interesting.

Once we started adding fish, we've had nothing but problems. We began with our clean up crew, five Turbo Snails and five Red-Legged hermits. No problems so far. The next week, three Blue Damsels, still no problems. Next we added a Green Clown Goby and Diamond Goby, the latter of which promptly jumped out three days later. So mistake number one. I had read of these things going carpet surfing, but couldn't imagine this guy getting out of the small area in the back of my tank where my HOB's are. I was wrong, paid the price, learned my lesson, and have since remedied this by covering the 2"x12" opening with a thin grate to completely seal off any escape route available. Next we added a Checkered Goby to replace him as well as a Catalina Goby. All is well again. Maintaing water testing and PWCs weekly with parameters staying perfect. After that came our Ocellaris Clownfish, who lived about three weeks before swimming down the hollow back of a heater and getting stuck and dying. Again, learning the hard way, we've since covered the heater tops. Next we added a very small Longhorned Cowfish (I know, maybe big for a 50 gal. eventually but this guy was like 1"-1 1/2") and a Coral Banded Shrimp. We came home one day to find the LH Cowfish stuck between the intake of filter and the aquarium wall. He acted lethargic for a while after that, showing flashes of his normal self, but died a couple of days later. Again, another lesson learned, and we adjusted our intakes to prevent this in the future. Next we added a small Flounder (2"-3", again maybe not a 50 gal. fish, but our LFS said it was okay) and five Tongan Nass. Snails). The Flounder was great, floating around the floor, burrowing in the sand for about a week before we found him upside down, dead one morning. Along the way, since these have all been in there we have "lost" both our Catalina Goby and our Green Clown Goby. They just disappeared, not a trace or sign of anything. They went from normal, happy, swimming, eating fish to little guys on the back of milk cartons. Tonight I noticed one of our Blue Damsels are missing, who we've had for months. I also lost the five Turbo Snails due to stray voltage, or I'm assuming, going by the advice of my LFS. Again, I've remedied this by adding a GFCI and replacing the faulty equiptment. We now have two Blue Damsels, the Checkered Goby, Coral Banded Shrimp, Hermits, and Tongans. That's it. I have lost seven fish and five snails. Is this a live and learn thing, or am I doing something wrong? Sorry this is so long, so to recap:

Added 5 Blue-legged Hermits and 5 Turbo Snails, all Snails dead due to alleged stray voltage, problem solved and fixed.
Added 3 Blue Damsels, down to 2, one gone missing after seeing it earlier today, and now he's just gone.
Added Diamond Goby and Green Clown Goby. Diamond jumped out three days later, and Green Clown Goby went missing in about a couple of weeks.
Added Checkered Goby and Catalina Goby. Checkered Goby still doing fine, but Catalina went missing after about six weeks.
Added Ocellaris Clownfish, who got stuck in heater after about three weeks and died.
Added Longhorned Cowfish and Coral Banded Shrimp. Cowfish died after being stuck behind intake tube and CBS still doing fine.
Added Flounder and 5 Tongan Snails. Flounder died a week later and Tongans are still doing fine.

That's three missing fish (Blue Damsel, Catalina Goby, Green Clown Goby), four confirmed dead (Checkered Goby, Longhorn Cowfish, Flounder, and Ocellaris Clown) and five dead Turbo Snails.

I've never really had any signs of any of them being unhealty, other than the Cowfish after being stuck, and always had perfectly testing, crystal clear water. They all eat well, and seem to get along. I understand the obvious deaths of the jumping Goby, trapped Clown, and stuck Cowfish, and call them bad luck, but what of the Flounder and the three missing fish? Where could they go, because I'm not finding any trace of them anywhere?

I've been pretty much following my LFS guy's advice to the letter so far, and while what he's said and what I've read on here and a few other online resources has differed once or twice mainly on tank requirements for certain fish, I trust him fully. Am I wrong in doing this? The guy has an excellent reputation, and has been in business at his current location for over 20 years. He's been a bug help so far, and I hate to think it's something he's telling me. So it has to be something I'm doing then. I'm not afraid to admint that, as I'm new, but would like some help pinning down exactly what it is. Again, sorry for rambling, just getting frustrated with literally flushing money down the drain. Any help would be greatly appreciated, and thanks for your time.

Bobby
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Old 12-20-2011, 03:40 AM   #2
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I don't think you have researched your choice of fish very well and the lfs guys are trying to turn a buck so the more they sell the better. The cowfish is one of the hardest fish to begin with Saltwater Aquarium Fish for Marine Aquariums: Longhorn Cowfish and the catilina goby is cool water Saltwater Aquarium Fish for Marine Aquariums: Catalina Goby
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Old 12-20-2011, 12:55 PM   #3
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Agreed. I do as much reading and researching as possible before even thinking about going to the LFS. And when I'm there, if I find something I'm not sure what it is, I look it up on my phone. Example of good practice, yesterday I was looking for a 6 line wrasse. There wasn't one, but there was an 8 line. I looked it up on my phone and saw it was not going to be able to stay in my 36 gal.
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Old 12-20-2011, 08:05 PM   #4
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Quote:
never really had any issues with water parameters
Can you be more specific?
What brand test kits do you use and what is your......
nitrate - ?
temp - ?
pH - ?
Salinity - ?
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Old 12-20-2011, 08:46 PM   #5
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Joy,
Not disputing anything, because I've heard that before regarding the Catalina, but the funny thing is he LIVED in one of my heaters. Yes, the same one the Clown got trapped in. My Catalina loved to stay in there and pop out to eat. I have plenty of structure and caves and hiding places in my LR, but he always stayed in the heater, for the whole six weeks or so we had him.

Capt,
I test 2-3 times weekly, using a MarineDepot Hydrometer and an Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Saltwater Master Liquid Test Kit.
Salinity-1.022-1.023
Temp-77 with two heaters, one on each side and two thermometers to double check.
pH-8.2-8.3
Nitrate-The highest I've seen it get up to is 5-10PPM.
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Old 12-20-2011, 09:08 PM   #6
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Have you considered disease? Are the damsels mean? I don't think the fish were being killed by the things you covered up, just ending up there afterwards. It sounds like you have water under control, do you have powerheads (I may have missed that part) for surface agitation and gas exchange?
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Old 12-21-2011, 07:30 AM   #7
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Even though it's probably not related to the fish deaths, I would raise the salinity to a more natural level of 1.026 and buy a refractometer to check the salinity. Hydrometers can be very inaccurate. I would also raise the temp to 78-80.
Reef Aquarium Water Parameters by Randy Holmes-Farley - Reefkeeping.com

Did you get all the fish from the same LFS?
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Old 12-21-2011, 04:59 PM   #8
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Also, flounders and cows get way too big for a 50. Clownfish get one and a half feet in captivity sometimes..... So...... Ya.
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