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Old 12-23-2007, 03:20 AM   #1
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Oxygen issues?

Hi! This is my first time posting so bear with me.

I set up a salt water tank back in august and have had no issues until the last month or so. Just over a month ago, I had a major ammonia spike that led to the death of my butterfly fish. I know that some of you will ask if the tank had cycled. I allowed it several weeks with roughly 80 lbs of live sand and I watched the ammonia cycle and allowed it to stay level at no reading for a couple of weeks before adding my fish. The fish had managed to stay happy and healthy until i saw the butterfly gasping for breath at the bottom. I checked the ammonia levels and they were through the roof. I immediately changed the water to get it under control but the fish was gone.

The ammonia since then has been under control until about 2 weeks ago. It has been reading high on my test strips and I have since performed partial water changes several times with no change in ammonia level. My fish however seem to be doing fine with the toxic levels present in the aquarium. My first question is why would the ammonia stay this high for a prolonged amount of time and why is it for the most part not affecting my fish?

Next issue was I was in the process of re-arranging stuff in the aquarium and after lowering the sprayer bar from the filter underneath the water I noticed my angelfish on the tank floor gasping for air. After I moved the bar back above the water, the fish managed to come back to the living. It was only ten or fifteen minutes after moving the bar that the fish was affected and took over an hour to come back. I think it was oxygen deprivation, but there is enough air in the water that I can see the small bubbles in the water. Bubbles form on most of the surfaces under the water and the water is constantly cloudy from what I thought was over oxygenation. I want to be able to lower the amount of air in the water so It wont be quite so foggy but my fish seemed to want to die with that slight change. Can a fish get used to high levels of oxygen and when the level changes not be able to cope?

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Old 12-23-2007, 09:34 AM   #2
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Welcome to AA.

My first question is what did you cycle your tank with? I see you mentioned live sand, but what about live rock? What do you use for filtration? What are your water parameters..especially nitrite and nitrate.

Any ammonia is too much. It has to be coming from too much uneaten food or something dead in the tank. IMO, whatever you use for filtration, it isn't cutting it. I don't think your fish are doing fine if there is ammonia present in the water. They may tolerate it to a degree, but they aren't fine.

Can you post a pic of those bubbles? My guess (without seeing it) would be dinoflaggelates and the cloudy water a bacterial bloom.

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Old 12-23-2007, 11:17 AM   #3
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How big is your tank?

What else is in the tank? Please tell us all the equipment you are using and what livestock you have.

You mentioned using test strips to test for ammonia.
What are the pH, Nitrite and Nitrate level in the tank?

What are you using for top off water (replacing the evaporated water), tap water, or RODI?

Have you been doing regular partial water changes?
How are you preparing your change water?

Is your tank covered or open top?
We need more information about your tank before we can offer suggestions.
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Old 12-23-2007, 02:12 PM   #4
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The tank is a 55 gallon with a cascade 700 65 gallon canister filter. The load currently is a 3 inch long pearl beauty angelfish, 1 small clownfish and 2 blue damsels. I am not using live rock and the cloudiness is the air. Once the bubbles began clearing out after I altered the sprayer position the water cleared up quite a bit. I dont think that uneaten food is causing the ammonia because the angelfish will pick the sand quite clean. There is some weird algae that i have been dealing with, it is kind of a brownish green and will try to cover random spots on the sand floor. And the fake plastic aneome is growing a black coating on the tips of its fronds.

The way I have been doing the water changes was to vacuum off whatever waste I saw on the floor and to mix salt with tap water (after treating it with aquarium water treatment) and pour it back into the tank.

The tank is covered and the ammonia levels are from what I read online enough to kill quickly but the levels have been high for a few weeks now. I have used ammo lock to neutralize it and I have read that it only converts it to a non toxic form and that I would still get readings but changing the water out is not lowering the levels.

After I moved the sprayer arm back into place where it was blowing lots of air back into the water and the fish recovered, they are all acting normally again. I am wondering if fish can grow accustomed to high levels of oxygen not be able to tolerate lower levels. At this rate, I wont be able to quarantine them if I need to because they seem to require so much air (more than airstones seem to provide).
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Old 12-23-2007, 04:28 PM   #5
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You still have not posted the water conditions of your tank. Please post them if you have test kits or take a sample to a lfs and have them test pH, alk, Ammonia (you test kit may be bad), nitrite, nitrate, etc.

A covered tank interferes with the oxygen/CO2 exchange in a tank. That happens at the surface of the water. Bubbles of air in the tank do not add oxygen until they break the surface. I'm guessing that when you move the sprayer bar above the surface the water from the bar breaks the surface tension allowing for gas exchange to take place. This is usually done by have a power head or two point slightly upwards causing the water surface to ripple (good) instead of remaining calm and flat (bad). This lack of gas exchange also plays havoc with your pH. That why I keep asking what the pH readings are. Ph must be checked at around the same time each day as it will fluctuate between lights off (lower) and lights on (higher) conditions.

I don't believe any of your fish are jumpers so why not remove the cover for now.
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