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Old 02-20-2012, 02:56 AM   #1
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Facing facts - ich confirmed, going fallow

Wow, lots of ich threads going right now! Sorry to add yet another.
We did QT all our new fish, but maybe not long enough, or maybe some LFS or web order water got in when adding frags, inverts, chaeto or ... who knows. We'll have to tighten our introduction protocols even more.

We've been watching our 3 fish in the DT closely for a week now. Used to be four, but as mentioned in another thread our RG showed a couple of spots last Sunday. Removed to hospital just in case, looking fine now. But our Green Clown Goby has 2-3 clear spots today so we're facing facts.

I hope we've done our research well enough. Some good reading linked by many others:

Marine Ich/Cryptocaryon irritans - A Discussion of this Parasite and the Treatment Options Available, Part I by Steven Pro - Reefkeeping.com

Marine Ich/Cryptocaryon irritans - A Discussion of this Parasite and the Treatment Options Available, Part II by Steven Pro - Reefkeeping.com

and two more I really like:

Marine Ich - Myths and Facts

Curing Fish of Marine Ich

Our current stock:

Hospital Tank (15G):
Royal Gramma - No spots since 6 days ago, has been in HT 7 days with Coppersafe dosed. Never behaved sick, good appetite.
Just drained HT & refilled with hypo (1.010) instead of Cu. RG back in & sleeping now, just checked.

QT (15G):
QT tank is currently suspect, but so far no spots on anyone.
Six Line Wrasse
Pair of True Percs
All in for 8-9 days now, but staying quite a bit longer!

DT (36G):
Banggai Cardinal. Can't see any spots but how could you?
Green Clown Goby - healthy & active, but 2-3 spots on body/dorsal
High Fin Red Banded Goby - possible 1 spot on pectoral fin, healthy
- paired with a Candy Stripe Pistol Shrimp
Peppermint Shrimp
Skunk Cleaner Shrimp
Pom Pom Crab
Emerald Crab
Mystery pistol shrimp - in a LR hole, snaps once in a while but we never see it!
3 x Nassarius snails
Many Astraea coneheads
Many various hermits
2 Feather dusters
Corals:
Frogspawn, Candy Cane, Zenia, Sun Coral, Toadstool, 2 medium plating monti, 1 tiny plating monti, Green Star Polyp, Cloves, Zoas, mushrooms, button polyps, plus a Blue Ridge on a large LR.
About half & half LR to new base rock from MarcoRocks, all nicely aquascaped.

HOB Refugium: a little LR, chaeto & some bugs.

So this is getting long but I think it's best to lay it out up front!

We've prepped temporary tubs for LR, coral & non-fish critters and plan to do a full tear down tomorrow. Sounds dramatic but looking back at all the lessons we've learned since starting up this tank - I'd just like to start over. It's still early in the grand scheme of things.

3 fish from the DT go to the hypo salinity HT.
Once everything else but the sand is out of the DT, I'm going to stir up & thoroughly rinse the sand. Nothing to do with ich, but it's not even 2 months old & I didn't do that at start up so this is my chance. Rocks will all get a good swishing rinse in a bucket before going in their temporary tubs.

Refill DT with RO/DI. Let water clear & warm up (filter going). Redo aquascape. Return corals (getting a CoralRx dip first) & all non-fish critters. Enjoy a fishless reef for 8 weeks.

Sadly, this means returning the Candy Stripe Pistol Shrimp to the DT withOUT his Hi Fin goby buddy. My wife is very worried about their separation. Is there any reason to fear they won't re-pair after 4 weeks?

This is going to be a huge effort & painfully long wait with 3 tanks running, but I'd rather hit it hard & get it sorted out right than fight it over & over again.

Shopping list tomorrow: extra heater, reef salt, 25G of RO/DI water from the Water Store ($1/5G). Yes, this is when having our own RO/DI unit would really pay off in convenience at least!

Wish us luck.

- D
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Old 02-20-2012, 05:49 AM   #2
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Couple things. First, good luck! That sounds like a major undertaking and I don't envy you.
Second, this might be a good time to have some fun with the aquascaping. Next time I upgrade my tank, I'll be building a PVC pipe frame to take the rock higher and make it more stable.
You should take before and after pics if you change anything. Hope it goes smoothly!
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Old 02-21-2012, 07:18 PM   #3
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OK, so yesterday was long & late, but we got it done. Isn't it amazing how long it takes to put together a rock scape? The old setup was all in the middle of the tank, which we thought was a bit limiting. Some before & after pics follow.

Rock scape pretty much covered in frags, not much room for more or to give them enough room:









During the tear down we had it down to the last rock with the shrimp & goby pair's den below it:





I left the filter running as I rinsed sand, but with just foam & floss packed in:



Down to the last bit of rinsing & using a siphon:



Continued on next post!
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Old 02-21-2012, 07:32 PM   #4
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Starting to refill & heat up, clarity came back pretty quickly:



All new rock scape!! Maybe not final, coral placements certainly aren't. It was very late and we just wanted to get things back in the tank.









You'll just have to ignore the little plastic container. This is the pistol shrimp's temporary home for the next 8 weeks. We figured it'd make it easier to reunite the pair at the end of it all.

We got more rock in than before but somehow it still looks like the tank has more room.

Only one MIA after all this. The cleaner shrimp went back in the tank OK, but today is either very will hidden or ... let's just say he's shy. We hope.
The little Pom Pom crab that can never be found before/while moving rocks around has even resurfaced.

- D
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Old 02-21-2012, 07:49 PM   #5
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Not sure I understand where everything is right now.
All fish are out of the DT and in a QT. The QT tanks are either at 1.009 SG or on the way there, correct? It takes a couple of days or so to get down to that level without severely stressing the fish. Allow about double that to bring the SG back up after the treatment period is over.

The DT was torn down, sand was rinsed with ??? water.
Did you really put RODI water into the DT and add back the corals?
You need to use aged (overnight) sw mixed to what the DT was at (1.025?).

The DT most likely is going to cycle again. That will likely kill all inverts and corals.

Hyposalinity means keeping the QT at 1.009 for 6-8 weeks. Let it go to 1.010 and start the timer over.

See Hyposalinity for the treatment plan.
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Old 02-21-2012, 09:26 PM   #6
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There's always the risk of a cycle when breaking down a tank, or even making a major change in an established tank. The Live Rock should help a little bit, but one thing you can do is add in a bacterial culture to keep ahead of any die off.
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Old 02-22-2012, 01:17 AM   #7
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@cmor1701d - Thanks for the link, that's one article I hadn't read yet. I did a LOT of reading prepping for this, we had a week to consider the worst case. But I see differing opinions around about how fast to go hypo. Some seem to say straight in, others the 3 day reduction plan. Most of what I'd read was that it was more effective to go straight to hypo.
We did about a 2 hour drip as a compromise. Double the volume, throw away half, double the volume again. 24 hours later they seem to be fine.
Also have seen 1.008-.009 as the range, and .009-.010 as the range. Given that we don't yet have the refractometer we need, I opted to err on the high side. Once we have it I'll go to .009.

Only one tank is hypo, calling it the HT. Our other "QT" tank has the Six Line Wrasse and Perc pair that have never left QT, so they'll just stay there.

Guess I should better outline how the tear down & rebuild went.

We prepped 2 plastic bins with some salt mix the night before, same salinity as DT (measured at 1.024). About half as much as we'd need in each. Got movement & heat going. Also mixed 3 buckets worth of salt mix (all from dechlorinated tap) at about 1.015 to be ready for the sand rinsing. (Call me cheap, didn't want to waste too much salt!)

Next afternoon we siphoned off quite a bit of DT water into the bins and transferred corals into one, LR & critters into the other.

Did a LOT of sand stirring with just remaining DT water & running the filter. Then siphoned out more & replaced with a 5G bucket of mix. Stir, Repeat for 3 buckets, then siphoned out all the last of the murky water.

The tank was refilled with about 60% new RO/DI mix & 40% original DT water & day old salt mix from the bins. The RO/DI mix was made at about 4PM and added to the tank with just sand in it. Filter & heaters going, we warmed to about 75deg before putting back in the LR & new dry base rock and playing with the aquascape.
Around midnight we called it good & started transferring corals & critters back in. So about 60% of the water was 8 hour old mix. Maybe a bit soon but hopefully not horribly so for the corals.

I'm not expecting TOO much of a re-cycle since we kept all the LR very much Live and the sand was rinsed with salt water. All the bio-filter in the Fluval 305 was kept alive too.

We'll be feeding the tank so it should stay bio-active & we'll keep an eye on the numbers. No ammonia yet today.

Thanks for the info & advice, we'll keep the thread updated as we go.

- D
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Old 02-22-2012, 10:38 AM   #8
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That sounds MUCH BETTER! All except the part of stressing fish bu going straight from 1.025 to 1.010 SG. Not saying they won't survive, just that it's additional stress.

The QT has the Six Line Wrasse and the Pair of True Percs, correct?
This tank has not been treated and is running normal SG (1.025)?
Good procedure, make sure to keep the fish there for another 30 days at a minimum.

So the HT now has the royal gramma, Banggai Cardinal, Green Clown Goby, and the High Fin Red Banded Goby, correct?
Did you add some PVC or other items to be used as resting/hiding spots?
What are you doing for filtration?
You may need to to do twice daily ~20% pwc's for a week or more till the bio-filter is established to keep the water parameters in check.

Without a calibrated refractometer you don't for sure what the SG is in the HT. Get on ASAP along with some calibration fluid. Keep it at 1.009, not 1.010 as the former is the gold standard.

Stick with the Hypo regimen for 6 weeks minimum after you get the refractometer. If any of the fish in QT shows any signs, start Hypo there too and let that tank go for 6 weeks of Hypo treatment.

This can be beat. My tank has been Ich free for 4 or 5 years now following a similar tear down to get all my fish out (I left the sand bed alone).

Good luck and keep us posted.
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Old 02-22-2012, 12:27 PM   #9
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Thanks again, you've got it right.

HT has some plastic decorations & I cut a plastic bottle in half vertically to create two little hidey holes. Three sides of the tank painted black too. Two PF10 HOB filters running, one with the standard filter inserts & one with a packet of Purigen. But certainly no bio-filter alive yet. I'll get a pic up later for interest. Barely a trace of ammonia yesterday (< .25 on API) & we'll test again today with our new Salifert kit.

pH is the bugger, gonna be cooking some sodium bicarb today.
I've read to mix up 1lb/G and then add 'as needed' to adjust pH. Also read to use 1tsp/20G and check an hour later. I don't want big swings so I'm a little worried about the 'dosing' levels. Any advice there? Again, 15G tank.

Thanks!

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Old 02-22-2012, 02:44 PM   #10
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YES. Arm and Hammer baking SODA from the grocer. Use it to adjust Alkalinty. Keep Alk, Calcium and Magnesium (~3x Ca) in line and don't chase pH.

Use 2 1/4 cups Arm & Hammer per gallon of water.
An Improved Do-it-Yourself Two-Part Calcium and Alkalinity Supplement System
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Old 02-22-2012, 07:56 PM   #11
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Thanks again. That's what I would use for a drip, correct?

Some pics of the HT. Love the paint we used btw, who'd have thought that Martha Stewart would help with our aquarium life? Martha Stewart "Multi-Surface" Acrylic Craft Paint. $2 bottle at Michaels.

I've also added an air stone in one of the HOB filters, seems to be helping with the pH already. Didn't want to put it in the tank and freak out the fish.





- D
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Old 02-22-2012, 08:57 PM   #12
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Driping is one way of dosing, using a doser pump is another, as is slowly adding it to an area of high flow.
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Old 02-23-2012, 10:42 PM   #13
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Quick Update
DT: No Ammonia or Nitrites in the rebuilt DT yet. The non-fish critters in it are definitely behaving more hungry tho - the reaction at feeding time is much more dramatic. Need to get salinity up a bit too, .0225 not good enough.

QT: Percs & Wrasse still doing great. 33% PWC for them yesterday, sucked up a lot of diatom dust.

HT: pH stable at 8.1 (API) with a VERY slow drip of the sodium bicarb water, lights off, airstone in HOB. Fish appear well, no spots. Salinity just below .010 on our hydrometer. Refractometer ordered. No ammonia in HT either - perhaps between the Purigen & StressGuard that's to be expected. 20% PWC yesterday but don't see the need today. Need to find a better 'shelter' for the Hi Fin tho, it never looks comfortable. I put together some small PVC structures today so we'll see if it even dares to go in.

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Old 02-25-2012, 10:48 AM   #14
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I just use pvc elbows and 90's of varying sizes for hiding places. The fish get to hide a bit and I can still see inside. You do need to remove them every few days and clean them.
Vacuuming the bare bottom on a daily basis is essential to remove any tomonts on the bottom along with all detritus that builds up. That should be a 10% PWC at a minimum. Yes it's a pain, but worth it in the end.

I would not trust the SG reading until I had a calibrated refractometer. How often are you checking the SG?
How are you making up the water lost to evaporation?
That affects the SG and you have a smaller tank and much smaller range to be kept.

I believe that Hyposalinity is the best method for curing Ich, but it takes time, and dedication to do it right. Remember that the tomont stage of the parasite can be up to 28 days. So not seeing any spots is meaningless unless you haven't seen any for 30 days or more.

The tomont stage is followed by the Theront stage where the newly hatched parasite is looking to attach to a host fish. That usually occurs at night when the fish are resting near the bottom. That stage only lasts about 48 hours. If no host fish is found the parasite will die.

If a host fish is found the parasite is now attached to the fish and growing. This is the only time it is visible. This period only lasts 3 - 7 days before the adult drops off the fish and looks to attach to a surface where it encysts and and grows (tomont stage).

That is why you need 6 - 8 weeks of not seeing any spots AND maintaining SG at 1.009 (or under 1.010)
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Old 02-25-2012, 02:13 PM   #15
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Checking SG daily, pH several times a day. Both are staying consistent now. I don't have a lot of evap loss since it's a small tank and well covered, but it's more than the drip is making up so I do add fresh daily.
Hadn't thought of sucking up tomonts daily, good idea as an extra layer of protection. We are seeing a touch of ammonia today and will be doing a PWC. I have 4G mixed & ready - so about a 25% change.
Understand the life cycle & duration of hypo, also that you may not see the parasite if it's attached in the gills for example. We're in for the long haul.

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Old 03-11-2012, 11:05 PM   #16
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Nothing exciting to report really, fish still doing well in their respective HT & QT. Eating well - Rod's Food seems to be a favorite.

Refractometer came in from BRS a couple of weeks back. After calibrating I tested the HT water and found it to be at 1.008-9 and in agreement with our swing arm hydrometer. So now I do the daily checks with the hydrometer and reconfirm with the refractometer on weekends.
Seeing about .5ppm ammonia. For daily PWCs I usually do 2.5G worth (about 17%), vacuuming the bare glass floor as much as possible. Still dosing with Stress Guard. pH slowly came up to 8.2 and is remaining stable there.

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Old 03-12-2012, 12:58 PM   #17
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As you are still seeing ammonia you should up your PWC's to 2x/day. What are you using for filtration that is not keeping up with the ammonia production.

Rod's Food may be too much for a HT. Are you using the original or the Fish Only variety?
How often are you feeding? I would only feed 2x/week in the HT (that's all I feed in the DT) and make sure there is no leftovers.

Why wouldn't you use the refractometer daily? It takes much less water to get a measurement and is far easier to use.
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Old 03-12-2012, 05:28 PM   #18
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Thanks for the input again! I guess the hydrometer vs refractometer is just a personal preference - I feel like the hydrometer is quicker & easier.

Here's an interesting twist on the ammo. I really had no reason to doubt the API results but double checked with Salifert just now. API gave me almost 1ppm, while Salifert was "clearly" (see what I did there) <.25. That's an awfully large discrepancy. I have both Purigen & Zeolite in the HOB filter and I'm dosing with Stress Guard. Could any of that be causing either test to give incorrect results? As I understand it, ammonia detoxifiers like Stress Guard should still show positive ammo on tests, tho it is less harmful to the fish.

Daily feeding, usually no leftovers because I'm very stingy. I think I will reduce the feeding frequency tho. We've been alternating between flake, mysis, 'marine cuisine' & the Rod's. They clearly like the Rod's best. It's the 'coral blend' so yes it has stuff not needed in the HT.

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Old 03-13-2012, 10:32 PM   #19
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Don, I would suggest that Stress Guard is throwing off the API kit. They may even reference it in their instructions or online at their site. Now you understand why I prefer Salifert for any test that I don't have an electronic measuring device for <g>.

As for the swing arms, I found when I did my testing years ago that it was usually the same as a refractometer, but repeated tests were all over the place. So unless you did a test, rinsed thoroughly with fw, dried it overnight, the next test result could not be trusted. If I was checking 2 or more times a day I wanted to be sure the results were accurate. I know I get that with a refractometer. I am uncertain if a swing arm hydrometer will do the same.
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Old 03-30-2012, 12:18 PM   #20
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So now we're over the 5 week mark on hypo in the HT. Gave it an extra week in case the salinity wasn't quite low enough in the first week (but I think it was). Brought the SG up from 008 to about 0095 yesterday according to the refractometer. So I've mapped out a 7 day course using SaltyZoo's calculator:

This plan calls for 7 water changes
Tank Sal. (BEFORE) Gallons Salinity Tank Sal. (AFTER)
1 1.01 sg / 13 ppt 5 1.017 sg / 22 ppt 1.012 sg / 16 ppt
2 1.012 sg / 16 ppt 5 1.019 sg / 25 ppt 1.014 sg / 19 ppt
3 1.014 sg / 19 ppt 5 1.021 sg / 28 ppt 1.017 sg / 22 ppt
4 1.017 sg / 22 ppt 5 1.023 sg / 31 ppt 1.019 sg / 25 ppt
5 1.019 sg / 25 ppt 5 1.026 sg / 34 ppt 1.021 sg / 28 ppt
6 1.021 sg / 28 ppt 5 1.028 sg / 37 ppt 1.023 sg / 31 ppt
7 1.023 sg / 31 ppt 5 1.03 sg / 40 ppt 1.026 sg / 34 ppt

So by next Friday we'll be back to normal levels. Then we can observe for another week or two and be ready to re-introduce to the DT middle of April. That's also past the 8 week mark for the DT going fishless.

Fish are all still well and eating in both HT & QT. The DT is being overtaken by 'pods that I'm sure the Six Line will go crazy on when finally introduced. Should be entertaining!

- D
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