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Old 10-25-2008, 12:12 PM   #1
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New tank doing HORRIBLE.

Hi guys,

I put together a fish only 36 gallon tank about 2 months ago. It has a heater (set at 80degrees), a hang on back filter thats good for up to 50gallons. I used live sand and some Seachem tank stabilizer to kick start it, and I added a Blue Damsel in a month after that...All the levels were at 0. Waited a week to see how the Blue Damsel did, and then when he was ok, added 2 false percula clown fish. Waited a few more days and added a little Yellow Tang and Royal Gramma.

I noticed a little white spot on the yellow tang that day, ICH, so I went back down to the LFS and got some copper, since its a fish only tank, shouldnt have much problems, right? Well a few days later the Yellow tang died, and all my fish have the white spots on them. I keep using the copper, but it doesnt seem to be doing anything yet. I also bought a UV sterilizer.

I noticed my clowns gasping on the surface, so I do some water testing.

Nitrite is ridiculously high. Couldnt tell if it was 5.0ppm or 1.0ppm, because the colors were too close. Also the ammonia levels were high (.50ppm). I did a 50% water change, and the nitrate went down to .50ppm. Ammonia stayed the same. I put in some Ammo-lock to detoxify the ammonia.

Nitrate was at ~10ppm before the water change. Anyways, when I woke up the next morning, I tested the water again. The Nitrite was right back up to 1.0ppm....Did another 50% water change. Brought it back down to .50ppm. I have done that a few times, but it just goes right back to 1ppm within a day. I decided to do an 80% water change, and it brought it down to about .25ppm, but it still went back up to 1.0 the next morning. Then my royal Gramma died, and one of my clowns is on the verge of dying. I cut back on feeding them to only about 3 times a week to cut down waste/uneaten food. Also, there is brown slime all over my rocks, decorations and sand, is that normal? I have no idea what to do. I am going to end up starting all over, but my tank was cycled, I shouldnt have had this problem to begin with.

What happened? How can I fix this?
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Old 10-25-2008, 12:26 PM   #2
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Welcome to AA!

It doesn't sound like you cycled your tank before adding any fish, and then you continued to add fish too quickly.

The waste from your fish is causing the ammonia and nitrIte to build up, but your bacteria to convert that stuff hasn't had a chance to catch up. Read the article in my signature about the nitrogen cycle, this will explain the whole process.

My SW experience is limited, but the only way now to keep the ammonia and nitrItes down while your tank continues to catch up is by doing PWCs.

I would strongly recommend that you see if you can take the fish back to your LFS for store credit or for them to hold for you while you properly cycle your tank, then add them in at a much more gradual pace.
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Old 10-25-2008, 12:31 PM   #3
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I know all about the nitrogen cycle. I watched the ammonia/nitrite levels go up, and then watched them fall to zero, and saw nitrates before I ever added any fish. I know I may have added too many too fast, but I didn't expect this. And the development of ICH already on top of that....
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Old 10-25-2008, 12:32 PM   #4
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Your tank did not fully cycle is my guess. By adding so many fish so quickly your bacteria colonies couldn't keep up with the increase in bioload. The ich is more then likely the result of serious stress on the fish. The tang would never have been happy in that small of a tank. Yellow tangs grow pretty quickly.

I've never really had an issue with ich so others will have to chime in on that.

The best thing you can do is take all the fish back and let your tank cycle completely before adding anything to it. Since you have used copper in the tank you will not be able to have any inverts.

Go to the article section on the site and read about cycling your tank.
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Old 10-25-2008, 12:39 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by neilanh View Post
Welcome to AA!

It doesn't sound like you cycled your tank before adding any fish, and then you continued to add fish too quickly.

The waste from your fish is causing the ammonia and nitrIte to build up, but your bacteria to convert that stuff hasn't had a chance to catch up. Read the article in my signature about the nitrogen cycle, this will explain the whole process.

My SW experience is limited, but the only way now to keep the ammonia and nitrItes down while your tank continues to catch up is by doing PWCs.

I would strongly recommend that you see if you can take the fish back to your LFS for store credit or for them to hold for you while you properly cycle your tank, then add them in at a much more gradual pace.

this is exactly what happend you did not give your bacteria a chance to catch up to the new bio load. that spiked all your readings. and everyday you did the pwc's the bacteria was still trying to catch up. and was unable to break down the left over food and the fish waste. take the fish back and take your time.

every time i add a fish to my tank i buy a packet of bio spira 2 weeks in advance and put it in my tank then i qt all incoming fish for 6 weeks.
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Old 10-25-2008, 12:46 PM   #6
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I dont think my LFS will take them back, since they have ICH. I doubt they will hold them for me either.

Should I continue the heavy water changes, or will that screw with the cycle?
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Old 10-25-2008, 12:48 PM   #7
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It will cause the cycle to take much, much longer (months as opposed to weeks) if you continue to keep the ammonia and nitrIte levels below what's safe for the fish, that's one of the reasons fishless cycling is so heavily advocated here. I think I understood that you did that, but in adding so many fish so fast the bacteria haven't been able to keep up.
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Old 10-25-2008, 03:45 PM   #8
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The PWC`s will prolong the cycle but I really dont think you have much choice. You need to make it as nice as possible for the fish.
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Old 10-25-2008, 06:13 PM   #9
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Ok, I talked the LFS into holding them for 2 weeks or so. Hopefully that will give my tank some time to stabilize, and let them recuperate a little.

Will it be OK to add my 4 fish back at the same time when I get them back? Will Ammo-lock interfere with the cycle? And is there anything I can do to make sure my tank gets through this cycle in the next couple of weeks?

Current Water:

NitrIte - 4.0ppm
Ammonia - .75ppm
Nitrate - 30ppm
pH - 8.4
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Old 10-25-2008, 06:16 PM   #10
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Wow, sorry to hear about what's going on. There is some great advice being offered. That tang wouldn't have been happy in that sized tank.
Now that you have used copper, you will not be able to add inverts at all, like snails, shrimp, crabs, stars or corals. The life on your rock may be limited too. You should set up a QT for your fish ans treat them with hyposalinity and should never treat your main with meds.
With that being said, you can try something like this:
Aquarium Water Quality: Poly Filters Filter Media
In the hopes that it will absorb the copper after you are finished with your treatment.
Hang in there and we will help any way we can.
I would also buy a copper test.
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