View Full Version : Keep losing livestock. Insight please?

05/17/2015, 11:38 AM
Hi all,
This is my first post. I've lingered through many websites and learned a lot but decided that it is time to get interactive help.

I got my 30 gallon tank up and cycling approximately 4 months ago. I have about a 1 1/2" live sand bed and about 35 lbs of live rock (from my LFS). I am using a reef octopus bh90 skimmer(producing brown-green skimmate) and two sicce 2 powerheads giving me roughly 65x water turnover. I got a 36" led system from build my LED @14,000k. I am dosing reef complete, phyto, strontium, iodide, and carbonate. Over time I have kept the following alive and well: 2 red scarlet hermits, 2 pom Pom crabs, 1 emerald crab, 2 skunk cleaners, 2 nassarius snails, 1 long tentacle anemome, 1 zoa button polyp colony, and one clown fish.

Here's what I have lost: 2 firefish, 3 nassarius snails, 1 engineer goby, 1scooter blenny(bad choice for new tank), and am in the process of losing a yellow wrasse.
Disposition on deaths: 1)both firefish died within 36 hours. One died in rock work and I didn't see its characteristics but the other was lethargic and laid on the bottom. 2)The scooter blenny began by sitting one only one position for a very long time, later had a swollen eye and that eye began to get a cloudy haze on it (cleaner shrimp began picking at it). 3) the engineer goby began getting small white spots on its head area (ick?) and began appearing confused. 4) nassarius snalis didn't move but w few inches after acclimation. 5) the yellow wrasse was found laying on its side but still breathing. I attempted to catch it but it moved in rock work. It appears to be lethargic and has labored breathing.

Now for the water parameters:

78degrees F
SG 1.022-1.023
Ammonia: 0ppm
Nitrates: 5 ppm
Phosphates: 0.02ppm
PH: 8.3
Calcium: 400ppm
Water change once a week at about 15%

I have also added a grounding prob which has not seemed to make a difference. What are some things I could change to stop the mortality rate??? If there is something wrong with what I'm doing lets get it fixed now.

05/17/2015, 11:54 AM
A fast read finds these possible causes: "I am dosing reef complete, phyto, strontium, iodide, and carbonate."
And "SG 1.022-1.023".

SG s/b 1.024-1.026. And your salt mix will already be containing sufficient strontium and iodide...If you have a test for the total amount of those elements I do not see it in the report, so we only know that the amount may exceed what comes in the salt mix.

I would recommend topping off with salt water to raise that SG a significant trifle, stopping dosing, and doing some massive water changes, 30% immediately, and 20% two days after, with another 20% two days after that, with 1.025 water. I'd stop the phyto, which may be contributing to the phosphates. And you don't give your magnesium level, which is the 'trace' element a reef may indeed need to add: that should be about 1300. If you don't have a test for that, do get it, and use it to reach 1300 again every time your DKH alk drops below 8.3 and when your calcium drops. I run stony coral, so I keep my calcium at 420, but your 400 is not too bad. Just don't let it go below that.

Hope that is helpful: it's a pita when you're doing many things right with a good rig, but things are still going south on you. I think you're actually working TOO hard with the supplements. You didnt' mention your salt brand, but a good reef salt would be my recommendation as you're going reef.

05/17/2015, 12:11 PM
How long did the other fish make it? What kind of acclimation process do you use?

05/17/2015, 12:50 PM
Sk8r: I will stop dosing and see if I get any return. I personally only test for ph, nitrates, and ammonia. I have my LFS test for all other levels, or atleast the above mentioned. No magnesium though...hmmm

DylanE: blenny: 2 weeks~, firefish 36hrs ~, engineer goby 2months~, nassarius snails 12 hours~ or less, wrasse 2weeks ~ still hanging on.
I am allowing the bag to float for tempature and utilizing a drip acclimation.

05/17/2015, 12:57 PM
FYI, the best entry procedure for a new fish is: have a bare glass tank set up to receive the fish with ample oxygenation. Pre-set the salinity to whatever the fish store or shipper uses for this species of fish: ask them. When the fish arrives, float the still-sealed bag 15 minutes, enough to take the chill off, then extract the fish from the bag with your gloved hand or plastic colander, soak him in a cup or so of qt water for a few seconds to wash off any remnant of store water, then transfer him to the qt with no delay. 'Acclimation' is 99.9999999 percent about salinity, and if the salinity matches, that's all ok. DO check the salinity with a refractometer to be sure you were told the truth. Slowly, via evaporation, bring the salinity of this tank to match your own DT.
Observe the fish in this tank at that salinity for 4 weeks before adding to your DT. Disease often manifests 2-3 weeks after arrival, either because of incubation period or because by the third week some stuff the fish was given that might mask symptoms finally runs out, and he may come down with what he was exposed to. By the 4th week end all this has played out and he's ready. Do NOT add a second fish: this re-sets the 4 week clock.

gone fishin
05/17/2015, 01:03 PM
I will assume you did not QT your fishes either. Along with what Sk8r said you cannot rule out an illness.

A drip acclimation on a fish can be pretty hard on them especially if they were shipped. IMO a drip acclimation should go no longer than 30 minutes. The reasoning behind that is once a fish is bagged ammonium starts to collect in the bag. Once the bag is opened the ammonium will convert to ammonia.

There are multiple possibilities to your problems.

05/17/2015, 01:31 PM
I think the absence of qt is critical. The tank may now have ich or some other patogneic condition.

05/17/2015, 02:24 PM
Both iodine and selenium are toxic when overdosed, and a little selenium goes way far way fast. They lost a whole stable of race horses in Florida because somebody misread the amounts on selenium. Iodine is marked with the skull and crossbones if you're old-fashioned enough to have any in your med cabinet, and it changes form so that it may elude a test even if you run one. For these trace elements, just spring for a good reef salt.

05/17/2015, 03:30 PM
Great info guys. Will a QT have a cycle that I would need to worry about?

05/17/2015, 04:07 PM
There are 2 kinds of qt's. Personally I prefer an uncycled tank, where you just tend it, keep it pure and clean, and toss its filter floss (use pillow floss from your local sewing emporium: it's cheap) and its teaspoon of charcoal daily. You test it with ammonia-nitrate strips (again, cheap and quick) and if there's any whisper of rising nitrate, you do a large water change. It's less fuss than having a tank that has to be set up, and less space than always keeping a running one ready. Fish can't have ammonia problems (lethal, fast, usually dies on 3rd day after mild exposure) if their water is sparkling clean and every bit of detritus gets swept up and their filter changed before it has time to set up bacterial action. If you run that qt tank with a little PVC elbow, it's a nice hiding place for the fish. You do NOT permit that tank to cycle and you clean it like a manic housewife. Sparkling.

The other way of doing it is to keep a sponge in your sump somewhere you can employ in a filter system so it is a cycled qt.

With both the above, you break down the tank, dry it all, and save it for the next time.

The third way of doing it is to have a fully functional fishless tank with sand and rock ready as an intermediate stop for incoming fish. FOr those iwth the room---and the patience to wait 12 weeks after ANY incidence of ich or the like.

As a note, there's a sticky up above ^^^ called SETTING UP that will have tons of info for you, things that might help you out.

05/17/2015, 04:16 PM
Okay great. I'll get a 10g QT set up and starting today. I'll take your original advice on dosing, get more methods of trace testing, and do a 4 week QT with anybody new. Would it be wise to QT the current fish I have now so that all my DT has is coral and inverts?

05/17/2015, 04:41 PM
Since you have had an instance of what could have been ich, I'd advise getting all the fish into one qt, but give the originals at least 3 weeks to see if anybody does get a clear case of ich.

Ordinarily if you've had ich in a DT you leave it totally fishless for 12 weeks to let the ich die out. We can't prove you had ich. It's your call on that one.

If you add any new fish to the qt, you have to re-set the 4 week clock, because one of the new guys could have just been exposed to something that will take weeks to manifest.

I'd say put the fish in the qt, see who survives, and add anybody new within the first week. Set the timer to 4 weeks, and you should be good if nobody comes down with anything. If they do break out in spots, you will need to run treatment on everybody in qt. For that, I recommend tank transfer, which involves not just in changing the filter floss, but moving the fish daily to a clean tank, clean filter box, clean floss, no sand, no rock. That way if the fish shed any ich they get caught in the filter and thrown out. I forget how long you carry this on, but it's a good way to get rid of the parasite without using copper (a poison) and stressing the fish's systems too much. If you get into that situation, consult the Fish DIsease forum to get the data on the course of treatment.

05/17/2015, 05:31 PM
Okay. I think you guys got me fixed up. I REALLY appreciate you guys getting me on the straight path, expecially you sk8r. I'll get them going tonight and see where I'm at in a month or two.