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Old 01-04-2011, 02:54 AM   #1
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Banded Cat Shark died, help please

He died tonight. A few things I'm thinking it could have been were low oxygen like someone mentioned... I do have a protein skimmer (hang on back reef octopus bh100ss) and an eheim canister filter, neither which put much flow in the water. I do have a power head that was located near the bottom of the tank pointing straight out (so there was very little surface aggravation). I did move it up higher today to increase O2 but it was too late at that point I think. I also dropped the temp from 78 down to 75, but he was dead before it lowered much. lastly, I lowered the salinty from about 1.024 to 1.022-23 but again... too little too late.

Here's the constant water specs (there was never ammonia in the tank like I had thought there was... improper reading from wrong spec card)

125 Gal
Ph 8.2
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0-minimal trace
Nitrate 0
Salinity 1.025
78į


Is there a way to diagnose what killed him so that it doesnt happen again? The only other fish in the tank are the 9 damsels that are doing fine.

How should I proceed from here?

If you watch my youtube videos, in order of about a 6 day period:

"Banded Cat Shark" looks happy and healthy, 5-6 days ago. eating well.
YouTube - jacobzking's Channel

"Sick Cat Shark" about 3 days after the first video... has a big red spot on his left side that continues on to his belly a little, looks bad, and some other small red spots randomly on fins (still active but wont eat)
YouTube - jacobzking's Channel

"Cat shark a little pale" VERY lethargic, rapid breathing, wont eat, feels stiff already but the red spots have mostly gone away
YouTube - jacobzking's Channel

I'm trying to learn from this and I feel terrible about Mr. Shark passing, enough to almost cry. Any help would be appreciated.

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Old 01-04-2011, 07:04 AM   #2
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Not sure anyone can diagnose and determine what killed him. Could've been il when he came home. Never know. Sorry for your loss.
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Old 01-04-2011, 09:35 AM   #3
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i think it was ammonia poisoning. a bump into something would not cause that big red blotch on it's gill area. nitrite is also toxic. stability is also important for marine life. you can't raise and lower temps and salinity and expect them not to be stressed. besides, where you had your temp and salinity were fine. that had nothing to do with the death of the shark.
nor was it oxygen IMO.

there should never be ammonia present. if there is, it's like the equivalent of a human breathing in toxic fumes. eventually, it's going to kill you.
how did you cycle this tank?
how much are you feeding?
btw, that skimmer you are using is way underpowered for your tank (you said it's a 125 gallon, correct?)
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Old 01-04-2011, 09:48 AM   #4
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i think it was ammonia poisoning. a bump into something would not cause that big red blotch on it's gill area. nitrite is also toxic. stability is also important for marine life. you can't raise and lower temps and salinity and expect them not to be stressed. besides, where you had your temp and salinity were fine. that had nothing to do with the death of the shark.
nor was it oxygen IMO.

there should never be ammonia present. if there is, it's like the equivalent of a human breathing in toxic fumes. eventually, it's going to kill you.
how did you cycle this tank?
how much are you feeding?
btw, that skimmer you are using is way underpowered for your tank (you said it's a 125 gallon, correct?)
there was never ammonia in the tank. every time I had gone to the LFS their readings were 0 ammonia, but mine always showed minimal trace... because I had received the wrong chart (fresh water testing chart so the colors were off a little). so ammonia was never an issue.

as far as nitrite levels there was just a hint of purple in the reading, but less than .25ppm

as far as cycling, the tank was too new. it started about 3 weeks ago with water from the LFS, 100 lbs of live sand and 15lbs of live rock (I didnt want much live rock, just a little to help cycle). I let it sit for a week, then added the 9 damsels to help cycle. Waited another week and that's when the LFS said that everything looked good and to proceed with the shark.

as far as the protein skimmer, i just went on what the guy at the LFS recommended. he is their shark guy so I took his word (and again, he REALLY seems to know his sharks inside and out). its rated for up to 90 gal but with 2 rays and a shark the LFS said that the bh100ss would suffice.

Thanks again for taking the time to reply Mr. X. I appreciate your input. I am trying to learn from this and figure out how to proceed.
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Old 01-04-2011, 09:57 AM   #5
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they were using test strips correct? those are not accurate at all, and if you had nitrite, you had ammonia just before it.
they lied to you on multiple occasions. skimmer ratings are truly about half of what they really should be. in other words, a skimmer rated for a 90 gallon tank should be on a 55. they should have talked you into a skimmer rated for a 200-250 gallon tank. especially a predator tank.
15 pounds of live rock will not support 3 large predators. live rock is all about surface area. they should have explained that you would need considerably more if you were relying on that for filtration. the 100 pounds of live sand should not be considered anything more than extra surface area, since that stuff sits on shelves and has no expiration date.
2 rays and a shark can quickly pollute a closed system. how are the rays doing?
most of the time, fish stores would give you whatever advice benefits them. especially in this economy.

what i would do to proceed is to get more rock, and a much larger skimmer. then recycle the tank, and use the liquid test kits. API make a saltwater master test kit that's pretty cheap.
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Old 01-04-2011, 10:04 AM   #6
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they were using test strips correct? those are not accurate at all, and if you had nitrite, you had ammonia just before it.
they were using API test tube system, same kit I'm using.


they lied to you on multiple occasions. skimmer ratings are truly about half of what they really should be. in other words, a skimmer rated for a 90 gallon tank should be on a 55. they should have talked you into a skimmer rated for a 200-250 gallon tank.
any advice on a skimmer?


15 pounds of live rock will not support 3 large predators. live rock is all about surface area. they should have explained that you would need considerably more if you were relying on that for filtration.
Ideally I'd like no live rock in the tank; I'd like the rays to have as much burying room as possible and the shark to have as little live rock as possible to deal with. What do you recommend to reduce the amount of live rock needed. I do have an eheim pro 3 2075 canister filter FWIW

the 100 pounds of live sand should not be considered anything more than extra surface area, since that stuff sits on shelves and has no expiration date.
2 rays and a shark can quickly pollute a closed system. how are the rays doing?
no rays yet, what do I need to do before buying any?


most of the time, fish stores would give you whatever advice benefits them. especially in this economy.
I went in there with a pretty open wallet, I'm surprised that he would have sold me less than he actually thought I needed. The guy at the LFS has been a shark owner for a long time.
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Old 01-04-2011, 10:13 AM   #7
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interesting. i can't help but feel that ammonia had to be there- maybe you just missed it because you didn't test until the shark already showed signs of distress?

do you have a HOB overflow? i'm assuming not because you purchased a HOB skimmer. for that tank, if i had to go HOB, i would go with this-
Super Reef Octopus LX 2000S Hang-on-Back Protein Skimmer - AquaCave
but seeing the cost of that thing, and that i wouldn't want to look at it every time i saw the tank, i would buy a HOB overflow box and implement a sump. put about 100 pounds of rock in it and a nice in sump skimmer like this-
Reef Octopus NWB 200 Needle Wheel Protein Skimmer* - AquaCave

yeah..that's the thing about rays...the sand bed. then you'll have to implement a sump, and put all of the live rock down there. either that or use a couple wet/drys. you need a massive amount of surface area for bacteria to reside. rays really do better in a lagoon style tank. like a kiddy pool or something similar. can i talk you into something that requires less sand bed like perhaps rhinopias or anglers? they will definitely be cool to watch.
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Old 01-04-2011, 10:33 AM   #8
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so something like this for a HOB overflow (I know its a little large, but if I upgrade to a 210gal it leaves me room):
Eshopps PF1200 Overflow Box, 300 gal tank, Dual - AquaCave

what do you recommend for the rest of the sump set up for 100lbs of live rock?
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Old 01-04-2011, 10:36 AM   #9
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I've never set up a sump before. Where do I start...

HOB overflow (eshopps pf1200; rated up to 300 Gal)
Octopus NWB 200 for skimmer
what to use for the sump (for 100lbs of LR)?

Thanks again!
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Old 01-04-2011, 11:13 AM   #10
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i think i would want to lean more towards this one-
Eshopps PF800 Overflow Box, 125 gal tank, Single - AquaCave
don't forget you'll need a return pump to match your overflow, and count for a few feet of head loss. so, i would probably want to choose a pump rated slightly more than the overflow box and choke it back with a ball valve at the exhaust port ...something like this-
Rainbow Quiet One Aquarium Pump 4000HH
the sump i would make myself using the largest glass tank i could fit in my allotted space. where are you going to put this sump? in the stand? if so, measure the inside of the stand and figure out what will fit.
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Old 01-04-2011, 05:08 PM   #11
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UPDATE:

I just got back from the LFS where I bought my cat shark. They were very honest with me and told me that before I had bought my shark one had sold, but the other two had died (I bought the last of the 4). The guy that I work with (the shark guy) was supposed to be off the day that I bought my shark, but he came in later in the day to help out because the store was so busy (that place stays busy!). I got there shortly after he came in, so he wasn't even aware that 2 of the sharks were "gone," he had just assumed that they had sold. Today was the first time I had seen him since and he told me what happened. They, without hesitation, credited me back for the shark.

Why they didn't pull that last shark from the tank to begin with, seeing that the other 2 had died, not sure. Maybe they just weren't sure if he would get sick as well. Or it could have just been that there was such a short period between the other 2 dying and me buying mine. Either way, I that it was VERY respectable for them to be that honest with me and re-credit me for the purchase.
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Old 01-04-2011, 05:13 PM   #12
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A good article to read.

Cycle your salt tank
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Old 01-04-2011, 05:19 PM   #13
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A good article to read.

Cycle your salt tank
that was a good read. I looked in to that method before adding the damsels. Had I read that particular article first, I think I would have gone with the already dead shrimp method. But, at this point I have 9 damsels in the tank. Your thoughts? Just let it cycle as is?
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Old 01-04-2011, 07:11 PM   #14
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they credited you back because they sold you a shark and it died. they want you to come back for more purchases with confidence. a banded cat shark costs them about 15 bucks plus shipping. it's a small expense for a lifelong customer.

i would return the damsels which are either going to be food, or extra bio load for nothing. just give it a good cycle and try again.
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Old 01-04-2011, 07:13 PM   #15
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you think I should return the damsels and try and cycle the tank with some raw shrimp? or will those damsels cycle the tank? could I just drop some frozen krill in the tank with the damsels?

do you think the shark could have "infected" the water with anything?
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Old 01-04-2011, 07:14 PM   #16
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just give it a good cycle and try again.
ps: thanks for the encouraging words. you've been a lot of help Mr X... or V
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Old 01-04-2011, 07:15 PM   #17
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I am sorry for your loss. I have read up on your setup, and before you get your rays may I recommend that you install a large sump (approx. 55 gal+) underneath your 125. In order to provide the tank with adequate biological filtration you need about 75-100lbs. more LR. Since your going to be keeping animals with delicate skin, keeping this in the tank is a no go, that's where the sump comes in. If you build a 4 section sump (section for intake,then skimmer, then LR, then return) You can get a quality in sump skimmer, pile in the LR, and keep your DT as open as possible for the rays.

Here is a 2 part video on how to construct a sump on youtube, hope it helps.
YouTube - Reef Tank D.I.Y. Sump part 1
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Old 01-04-2011, 07:15 PM   #18
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haha...remember, remember, the 4th of january....er..um.....
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Old 01-04-2011, 07:56 PM   #19
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i would return the damsels which are either going to be food, or extra bio load for nothing. just give it a good cycle and try again.
I totally agree. My reasoning is that it`s not fair to the damsels.
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Old 01-04-2011, 08:03 PM   #20
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next question (and thanks again in advancing for keeping up with my thread)... with the canister filter that I have already (eheim pro III 2075) doing a lot of the bio filtering, and the reef octopus skimming, what would you think about doing a sump just for live rock. basically no chambers, just live rock. water in, water out?
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