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marinebio13
01/16/2016, 06:47 AM
Hi everyone,

I have a 75-gallon saltwater tank. I have an RO/DI system and only use RO/DI water to mix with salt. I've been doing about 20-25 gallon water changes weekly so far. I added live rock and let the tank circulate for about a month. After I started turning on the lights, I got a pretty good algae bloom going. I purchased scarlet hermit crabs, margarita snails and dwarf red tip hermit crabs from liveaquaria. I was surprised they wiped out the algae in about a day, so I've been supplementing with seaweed. I haven't been putting seaweed in everyday because I was worried about causing a spike in the tank and I wanted them to still graze on algae in the tank.

About 2 weeks ago I tried putting in two clownfish. I purchased from liveaquaria because my lfs just closed. One clownfish did not survive the shipping, but the other one seemed pretty active and healthy. No questions asked they reshipped a replacement and a second clownfish (the fish went on sale and they wanted to honor my credit). I was pretty disappointed by having one fish not survive, but their customer service was great. The two replacements arrived active and healthy looking. They are labeled as captive bred. I used the bag method before putting them into the tank.

Yesterday, I came home from work and saw the hermit crabs finishing off what was left of the original clownfish. He only survived one week, but was eating and looking healthy. I did notice he was a much lighter and duller coloring than the two newest ones. I'm pretty frustrated and ready to give up on shipping fish.

Water parameters haven't changed, I keep the tank at 76 degrees, 1.025 salinity, about 0 ppm nitrate, 0 ppm nitrite and 0-.5 ammonia. No spikes within the last week. I doubt the crabs killed the clownfish, but with two left that I'd like to keep alive, is there anything different I should be doing?

Marchillo
01/16/2016, 07:09 AM
It doesn't appear you are cycled. Ammonia has to be zero. Sounds like ammonia poisoning.

Shawn O
01/16/2016, 07:12 AM
Looking at your water parameters, I see you have .5 ammonia. Are you, by any chance, using API test kits? If you are, that reading may be false. Try testing straight RODI with it to see if you get a zero reading or if it's still 0.5. If it is reading any ammonia, the test kit is bad. If you're using an accurate test kit (not API), you may have a bit of a problem.


It could also be that your new clown pair killed the original clown. You do not say which species of clown you have, and I'm going to assume they're either Perculas or Ocellarises, which should be less likely than more aggressive species would be.

Were there small white spots on them or was there a fuzzy, velvety look to them? How did you QT them when you received them? Did you treat them for parasites?

You said "the bag method". Please elaborate on this. Did you just float them and then dump them into 1.025? Did you check the salinity of the shipping water?

pyithar
01/16/2016, 07:15 AM
ammonia should be zero. water change and add prime. and you should quarantine future livestock purchases. is "the bag method" temperature acclimation? the salinities of the store water and your water should match as well (+/- .001 is fine). good luck.

Scoted
01/16/2016, 08:28 AM
Also keep the salinity change in mind. from Liveaquaria "The California facility maintains a specific gravity of 1.018- 1.020 for fish and 1.023 - 1.025 for corals and inverts at a water temperature of 76 degrees Fahrenheit. At our Aquaculture Coral & Marine Life Facility, the Coral System maintains a specific gravity of 1.025 at a water temperature of 76-78 degrees Fahrenheit. The Fish System maintains a specific gravity of 1.025 at a temperature of 76-78 degrees Fahrenheit."
What part of N.J. are you from? There are a few good LFS in the south jersey area.

marinebio13
01/16/2016, 09:00 AM
Looking at your water parameters, I see you have .5 ammonia. Are you, by any chance, using API test kits? If you are, that reading may be false. Try testing straight RODI with it to see if you get a zero reading or if it's still 0.5. If it is reading any ammonia, the test kit is bad. If you're using an accurate test kit (not API), you may have a bit of a problem.


It could also be that your new clown pair killed the original clown. You do not say which species of clown you have, and I'm going to assume they're either Perculas or Ocellarises, which should be less likely than more aggressive species would be.

Were there small white spots on them or was there a fuzzy, velvety look to them? How did you QT them when you received them? Did you treat them for parasites?

You said "the bag method". Please elaborate on this. Did you just float them and then dump them into 1.025? Did you check the salinity of the shipping water?


I'm using Tetra Ammonia Test Strips that I had left over from my freshwater tank (it says its good for salt or fresh). I've been looking around at better and more accurate test kits, but haven't been sure which is the best way to go. I think the test strips may be bad, they are showing the same reading from my pure RO/DI water and from the tank. Thanks, I didn't realize they could expire, I definitely want to get a better test kit ASAP.

The clownfish are all ocellaris clownfish. The two newest ones stay together, and seemed to be staying away from the original one. I did not notice any white spots or fuzzy areas on the original one. I definitely don't see any on the two remaining ones.

To acclimate them, i floated the bags in the tank water for 15 minutes to adjust temperature. Then I opened the bags and poured about half a cup of water into each bag about every 4 minutes. Once the bags were almost full, I dumped out half of the water into a bucket, put the bags back to floating in the tank and repeated adding 1/2 a cup every 4 minutes until it was full again. Then I netted them out and put them into the tank. I've done the drip method before for puffers I have in a brackish tank. Is that preferable to the bag method?

marinebio13
01/16/2016, 09:05 AM
Also keep the salinity change in mind. from Liveaquaria "The California facility maintains a specific gravity of 1.018- 1.020 for fish and 1.023 - 1.025 for corals and inverts at a water temperature of 76 degrees Fahrenheit. At our Aquaculture Coral & Marine Life Facility, the Coral System maintains a specific gravity of 1.025 at a water temperature of 76-78 degrees Fahrenheit. The Fish System maintains a specific gravity of 1.025 at a temperature of 76-78 degrees Fahrenheit."
What part of N.J. are you from? There are a few good LFS in the south jersey area.

Thanks, I know they came from the California facility. I didn't think to test the salinity in the bag, I was just trying to stay within the recommended parameters....stupid mistake.

I'm from north jersey. I had a few really good fish stores in the area and they've all closed.

thelawnwrangler
01/16/2016, 10:56 AM
Thanks, I know they came from the California facility. I didn't think to test the salinity in the bag, I was just trying to stay within the recommended parameters....stupid mistake.

I'm from north jersey. I had a few really good fish stores in the area and they've all closed.

What is your LFS?

Oakland here near Wayne and I am in Absolutely Fish in Clifton 2 times a week sometimes 3 if I have no shame.

gone fishin
01/16/2016, 11:06 AM
Assuming there are not any ammonia issues, tough to say with your test strips, I would be inclined to say the pair of new fish killed your original clown. Usually one mated pair of clown is all one can have in a tank most folks keep.

FWIW if you choose to not QT fish then when acclimating fish, especially shipped fish, keep the acclimation under 30 minutes once the bag is opened to minimize ammonia damage to the fish. Good luck just my 2 cents.

marinebio13
01/16/2016, 01:39 PM
What is your LFS?

Oakland here near Wayne and I am in Absolutely Fish in Clifton 2 times a week sometimes 3 if I have no shame.

There was a fish store in Newton that was amazing, but then a Pet Smart moved into the same strip mall and they closed soon after. Fin City in Sparta was really good, but they just lost their lease. I've been to Fish Hut in Saddle Brook for freshwater, I'd like to get something saltwater from them but it's about an hour away. Absolutely Fish is great too! Someone recommended a place in Pine Brook I'd like to check out. There are a bunch of places, but unfortunately all about 45 to an hour away. I'm pretty much the last exit in NJ from PA.

thelawnwrangler
01/16/2016, 04:05 PM
There was a fish store in Newton that was amazing, but then a Pet Smart moved into the same strip mall and they closed soon after. Fin City in Sparta was really good, but they just lost their lease. I've been to Fish Hut in Saddle Brook for freshwater, I'd like to get something saltwater from them but it's about an hour away. Absolutely Fish is great too! Someone recommended a place in Pine Brook I'd like to check out. There are a bunch of places, but unfortunately all about 45 to an hour away. I'm pretty much the last exit in NJ from PA.

I actually bought my setup from Fish Hut. They have a great cichlid selection. Those guys are very helpful. I was wondering if you were way west.

I know your stocked but absolutely has mocha clowns they Aquacultured. The mom is in one of their coral displays. Marinewise Absolutely has a lot more coral and marine fish. Fish hut cichlid section makes me want a fish water tank again.

That is ashamed about petsmart the chain stores just don't come close to touching lFS on livestock imo

ClownFishGuy6
01/16/2016, 04:11 PM
Do you have any other fish in your tank?

marinebio13
01/16/2016, 06:38 PM
Do you have any other fish in your tank?


No, just the two remaining clownfish and the hermit crabs and snails. I started off with clownfish because I've been told they are good starter fish. I would like to get different fish once the tank is established, and eventually live corals.

OrQidz
01/16/2016, 11:53 PM
Did you verify the tank was cycled before adding any fish? I'm guessing it wasn't, although maybe the test strips are iffy. Have you tested some unused SW to see if it reads the same as the tank water? Non zero ammonia can definitely kill fish.

My other guess is going from 1.018-1.020 to your 1.025 SG too quickly. The snag with getting fish shipped is that you don't have long after opening the bag to acclimate them (Sk8r has a thread on this somewhere). Basically once you open the bag the built up CO2 off gases and the bound up ammonia in the water becomes regular ammonia again and is toxic to the fish. So with shipped fish, you don't want a long acclimation.

Best bet is to have a QT set up with matched salinity so you can get them moved over pretty quickly.

However, you've now got 2 clowns doing ok? I'm guessing they might have killed the original remaining one. I would let these guys settle, do water changes if you have ammonia, and carry on.

For your next additions, really think about QTing, or you can get fish with ich or worse, and you are back to square one with no fish.

Grkgod36
01/17/2016, 12:13 AM
No, just the two remaining clownfish and the hermit crabs and snails. I started off with clownfish because I've been told they are good starter fish. I would like to get different fish once the tank is established, and eventually live corals.

Good if your two clowns sing show any symptoms in the next 8 -10 weeks . Your next fish should really be quarantined before going into your tank

marinebio13
01/17/2016, 06:38 AM
Did you verify the tank was cycled before adding any fish? I'm guessing it wasn't, although maybe the test strips are iffy. Have you tested some unused SW to see if it reads the same as the tank water? Non zero ammonia can definitely kill fish.

My other guess is going from 1.018-1.020 to your 1.025 SG too quickly. The snag with getting fish shipped is that you don't have long after opening the bag to acclimate them (Sk8r has a thread on this somewhere). Basically once you open the bag the built up CO2 off gases and the bound up ammonia in the water becomes regular ammonia again and is toxic to the fish. So with shipped fish, you don't want a long acclimation.

Best bet is to have a QT set up with matched salinity so you can get them moved over pretty quickly.

However, you've now got 2 clowns doing ok? I'm guessing they might have killed the original remaining one. I would let these guys settle, do water changes if you have ammonia, and carry on.

For your next additions, really think about QTing, or you can get fish with ich or worse, and you are back to square one with no fish.


I was checking the water parameters pretty regularly during the setup and cycling process. I was seeing stable readings so I thought it was ok to add fish. Someone on here asked about the test strips, so I looked a little closer and they are past their expiration dates..I was planning on replacing them eventually but first I was doing some research into which brands to get. I didn't know they expired, now I'm not sure they were even accurate. I did a 40-gallon water change yesterday and added some prime to detoxify ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. I also ordered Salifert test kits.

The two clownfish seem to be ok so far...I'm hoping for the best.


Thank you for all of the advice. I have a 10-gallon that I am now thinking of turning into a QT. What is the best way to get a QT running? Is it the same as starting up the regular tank?

A.Astore
01/17/2016, 06:39 AM
If one arrived not doing well the other may have had the same ailment and was a little healthier to last a bit longer. I know the salinity for a fish I recently received was 1.018 (it was not LiveAquaria) so simply adding half a cup of 1.025 every bit would have still been a drastic salinity change. It seems a lot of the shipping companies do run the salinity rather low for fish so it might be a good idea to grab a 10 gallon tank with a heater, air pump, pvc elbow, and hob filter. Obviously you are able to then treat a fish easily should they get sick but it also provides you one other benefit- you can adjust the salinity to a lower salinity for when the fish first arrives. You can't really do that with a DT and have to possibly drastically increase the salinity the fish is dealing with over a 30 minute time frame. If you have the 10 gallon to hold it (even if you don't want to completely quarantine) you can slowly increase the salinity over days to match the much higher tank salinity rather than 30 minutes.

The other thing is don't get frustrated. There is a good chance that fish will be lost. Shipping is a stressful thing for fish so you minimizing the stress inflicted will help reduce them not making it a bit. Make sure you test the incoming water's salinity next time. And while I understand not wanting a full QT regime (assuming you don't want to deal with it) I would still suggest the 10 gallon just to give new fish the chance to build up to the higher salinity. It doesn't even need cycled before getting the fish as far as the 10 gallon because it is nothing but clean equipment and a bare bottom so there is nothing to die off. You can use tank water to do small water changes to not only remove some of the building up gunk but also slowly raise the salinity. Just my suggestions though and you will find no one in the hobby will do things in the same way.