Y'all are not going to believe this. I found ANOTHER tank that is in horrible shape. This one is maintained by someone who, from what I gather, maintains tanks for a living, or at least on a part time basis. I know this because a job that I had for a while involved calling on local businesses, and whenever I came across one with an aquarium, I asked who maintained it. I always got the same name and same story, he comes in about every 2 weeks and does a cleaning and takes out the fake plants and puts clean ones in, tops off the food, and maybe does a water change.
After you read this, I think you will agree that this guy can only be in it for the money, just providing a service to businesses to keep a tank that looks nice and collecting a check for minimal work. Because if he really cared about the environment that THESE fish are living in, it would not have gotten this bad. It makes me so mad, as an avid aquarist and SCUBA diver, that anyone would let a system get this out of whack. Although, if you've read any of my other journals on this site:
Tank Journal – 125 Reef
Tank Journal - 135 FOWLR
You'd know that just about anyone out there can maintain an aquarium poorly. This is absolutely no exception. I don't know if I should even bother calling the guy who maintains this tank and chew him out, or just leave it alone. But I digress. Here's the tank:
Like the thread title says, it's a 95 Bowfront fish-only tank. From talking to the front desk person, the same guy that set it up for them also maintains it. I asked if they ever had any fish die, and she said they went through a lot of fish at first when it was set up, but since then, the same fish have been in it for about 4-6 years. I'm assuming that he didn't cycle the tank before putting fish in it.
The inhabitants are a Clownfish and Blue Tang (of course), a yellow/blue damsel, and a big honking Blue Angelfish, which you can see in the lower left hand corner of the picture, behind the oh-so-natural-looking fake plant. The Tang is hiding. So the first issue is that an 8" Angel is probably a little too big for the tank.
Next issue: no protein skimmer, and the sump looks like this...
...the tank water looks like this...
...and I can't even describe the smell of the water to you. Chemical soup comes to mind. Pungent, nasty, gagging, gross. I honestly can't place the smell, but it does have a definite chemical smell to it that I can't put a finger on.
This is approximately 1 WEEK after a cleaning was done. When I first saw this tank, last Friday, the guy had just been in to clean earlier in the day, and the sump looked exactly the same.
So I ran a battery of water tests and talk with her about taking over and fixing this tank up. Here are the results of the tests:
Salinity 33 / SG
Nitrate 250-300 (had to dilute the sample 10 to 1)
Phosphate 20-30 (had to dilute 20 to 1)
Silicate around 3
The tank has an auto-feeder, so I'm sure the phosphate/nitrate problem is a combination of too much food (about 4-6 times too much), insufficient maintenance, use of tap water instead of RODI
, lack of a protein skimmer, and excess bio-load. The silicate measurement is a dead-on indicator of tap water use.
The other thing that I found when I opened the sump was this:
Coppersafe. I suppose that could cause the greenish-brown look to the water, but the bottle looks like it's years old based on the condition of the sticker from the pet store on the top, and the Chemi-Clean also looks really old, so there's no telling when that is from, and I don't have a Copper test kit right now, but I'm going to get one.
I basically wrote them a proposal that said I could either do what I did to the other tanks: get a skimmer, clean the sump, add Live Rock, do PWCs. Or, I could find homes for their fish and clean out the tank completely and start it over.
We'll see what they say, if they even want me to do it. With the amount of work needed, I figured either way they choose, it's going to cost them, and it's their maintenance guy's fault for doing a bad job.
So the one question I have at this point relates to the copper treatment.
Since I know that copper was used at some point in this tank, I know that it could never house any corals. Or could it? What about snails and hermits? I'm assuming the answer would also be no.
The other copper-related issue would be related to adding LR
to the tank. I think I would only add base rock / dry live rock and let it colonize with bacteria to perform denitrification eventually, and that would be it's only purpose. Would LR
perform this way properly in a tank that has had copper treatment in the past?
So that's the story for now. If I ever come across this maintenance guy, I'm not sure exactly what I would do!