PDA

View Full Version : Reputable food/over-feeding & a dead marine tank


VickyS
06/29/2016, 07:12 AM
Gang, I'm not sure if I need advice or simply consoling.

First, I'm not new to fish-keeping but I'm relatively new to marine (couple of years). I'd always fed my guys on frozen shrimp but decided to try them on New Era Marine pellets, thinking I can use an automatic feeder while I'm on holiday, but obv. can't put frozen food in there, so need to start incorporating other food into their diet.

I tried it once, they didn't touch it, so I scooped it out of the tank. Tried it again a week later. Same result and I stuck in a pin in that idea, thinking I'll try something else and intending to take the food back to the LFS for advice (kept forgetting)

Every Wednesday for a few weeks, I'd come home and the tank was super cloudy and I'd started to get a brown crust-like touch on the sand with a few mysterious brown lumps. Curious. Did a water change each week, tested the water (all fine) and each week asked my LFS for advice. "It's a bacterial bloom, as long as your tests are ok, change water and it should be fine" ... ok. "It's algae, add phosphorus" OK. Same thing, every Wednesday and it didn't get better. Last couple of weeks it was a bit smelly. Fish were happy as per usual. I just couldn't figure it out.

I don't know why it didn't occur to me that our cleaner (yes, I'm one of those) comes every Wednesday ... yep, you see where this is going. Last Wednesday I came home from work and it was the cloudiest it had ever been. Fish seemed ok. Went out to dinner for a few hours. Came home, everyone was dead. Well, apart from the snails - but they all died by morning

(2 x cleaner shrimp, 4 x turbo snails, regal damsel, 2 x clowns, yellow tang, flame dwarf angel)

My sister-in-law was with me, went through drawers (ppl do random things in a panic) and found the old fish food. I told her I didn't use it, but she said "those pellets are the same size as the lumps in the tank", the food stank (ok, it was pretty pongy before) and was half gone. We tried putting a little in the tank (nothing to lose ... right?), yep. It was the fish pellets that our cleaner had been putting in the tank every Wednesday that caused the cloud.

When I emptied the tank and got down to the last inch of water and sand, it stank to high heaven ... and I mean, stank. Moving the LR, I could see where the food had aggregated and rotted.

Today, my OH gently asked her if she'd been feeding the fish and she said "yes". I can't be mad at her as she thought she was being nice and didn't realise what she was doing was bad. She is devastated but know now not to touch the tanks.

Now - I have an empty tank. My OH has convinced me to get set up again (once more unto the breach). It's all been steam cleaned, including the pump et al. The sand has been ditched and the live rock was put in a bucket of water to keep it going.

Questions.........
Has anyone else heard of this? I thought New Era was highly reputable.
Has anyone else had problems with pellets (or even flakes) when fish are used to frozen?
Is it safe to keep the live rock or shall I bin that too? There's a fair bit so want to make a wise decision there.

*sigh* Feel like I'm clutching at straws but I want to do everything possible to safe-guard against this again

Timfish
06/29/2016, 08:09 AM
I am really sorry to hear about your loss! Uninformed people thinking they are doing a favor have killed a lot of systems. I recently lost a 22 year old tang, some younger fish and a bunch of corals in a system I maintain because a visiting family member thought the AC should be turned off when no one was home.

I seriously doubt it was the pellets per se that caused the problem but the quantity used. Even high quality food will cause problems if over fed and the system doesn't have the biology to handle the sudden nutrient influx. And keep in mind frozen foods have higher water content so are not as concentrated as pellets.

Fish are pretty smart and will have preferences and learn prefferences so switching from one type of food to another may be a bit of a challenge. It might take persistance or compromise depending on the strength of wills involved.

As far as the live rock I would go ahead and reuse it if it was my tank. You will be told there is an issue of phosphates leaching and if that is a big worry for you then ditch it. My expereince over the years is in the long run it works as well and doesn't have any more of an algae issue than new wild or maricultured live rock. If there are a bunch of cryptic sponges still alive on it that would be a very good argument for me to keep it going and use it for setting up a system.

Greybeard
06/29/2016, 09:05 AM
Ugh.

ALL fish foods will rot, if they're not consumed... they are, after all, made from dead sea life of some sort. I've never used the pellets you're talking about, but obviously your fish didn't like them, and I'm assuming you were still feeding them frozen, so we're talking about massive overfeeding here. I doubt that the brand would have made any difference at all.

Getting fish to take new foods is a common challenge. I've got a shelf full of stuff mine won't eat.

I'd run GFO and Carbon in the rock holding buckets to try and absorb as much gunk as you can. Lots of flow. I'd guess there's all sorts of life remaining on those rocks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9D7w_tbtKM

Ok, enough pity... You've got the opportunity to rebuild from scratch. Change or fix the little things that have been bugging you about your tank... we've all got some, right?

VickyS
06/29/2016, 10:32 AM
I'd run GFO and Carbon in the rock holding buckets to try and absorb as much gunk as you can. Lots of flow. I'd guess there's all sorts of life remaining on those rocks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9D7w_tbtKM



This is great & thank you, Sir. I don't have experience with GFO (although I could simply google it). Unfortunately, as it even killed the snails, I'm in a lot of doubt there's much life left in the LR at all. I know there was a worm in there but that hasn't surfaced.

@Greybeard & Timfish - thanks for the pity, yep, my 'poor-me-pity-party' is almost over and it is on to new plans. With cycling, I've got a bit of time to figure that out, which should also get me over the 'once bitten....' nerves.

Thanks again!

Fitz19d
07/01/2016, 11:24 AM
How was your tank supposedly testing fine parameters when you clearly had a rotting build up of ammonia.

Timfish
07/02/2016, 08:14 AM
How was your tank supposedly testing fine parameters when you clearly had a rotting build up of ammonia.

An ammonia spike won't necessarily happen. The rotting food behind the rocks was being slowly consumed by bacteria and because the problem was "gradually" developing over several weeks each Wednesday food was being added standard tests might have been in "acceptable" range (I would have been concerned if there was a noticeable downward trend even if still in range).

Fitz19d
07/02/2016, 09:03 AM
Acceptable range is 0, and likely would have shown nitrite.

If it was so small and gradual that it doesnt show on tests then it was essentially cycling as fast as produced and only looking at a nitrate/phosphate spike. If the lfs was doing the tests i have a feeling they let op down. Either messed it up or figured cycled tank no way and was just checking other stuff.

reefwars
07/02/2016, 08:55 PM
This is great & thank you, Sir. I don't have experience with GFO (although I could simply google it). Unfortunately, as it even killed the snails, I'm in a lot of doubt there's much life left in the LR at all. I know there was a worm in there but that hasn't surfaced.

@Greybeard & Timfish - thanks for the pity, yep, my 'poor-me-pity-party' is almost over and it is on to new plans. With cycling, I've got a bit of time to figure that out, which should also get me over the 'once bitten....' nerves.

Thanks again!

Your liverock has all the life it needs.....worms, algaes and other animals come and go all the time it's the bacteria that does the job you really need and those are still thriving so your rock is still good and likely never skipped a beat :)

usmc1812
07/04/2016, 02:33 PM
New Era is the best food hands down, too bad they are no longer in the US. My fish produced less waste and kept my water clean.

inktomi
07/04/2016, 03:59 PM
I'm looking forward to them being available as "Balance Aquatic Nutrition" here in the US. I've yet to see anything for sale though :(

VickyS
07/15/2016, 03:08 AM
All I can tell you is the weekly tests I do (JBL test kit) came up as everything being fine. Admittedly I didn't test the water on crash day and perhaps I should have, but my head was in a very different place.

Rybren
07/15/2016, 06:15 AM
How much food was left in the pellet container? I must admit that I am a little suspicious of the pellets being the main culprit in this case, although it is likely a contributing factor.

If the fish were fed the pellets only once per week and only for a few weeks, that gives the tank a full week to process the uneaten pellets. Granted, there would still be some build-up, but you were also doing water changes to offset the build-up.

I'm more of the mindset that the tank was being contaminated by cleaning products. If your cleaning person was using any types of spray cleaner near the tank, then it could easily get into the tank. He or she may have been cleaning the top of the tank and/or glass with something toxic. To me, this is more consistent with the sudden bloom on Wednesdays rather than the addition of food causing a bloom on the same day that it is added. It takes time for the food to break down.

In pretty much any marine tank, the substrate will stink to high heaven and be loaded with detritus on breakdown. I've broken down 5 reef tanks over the years, and the sand stunk in every case.

Whatever the cause, the damage has been done and it is time to move on. I agree with the others that there is likely lots of bacterial life left on the rocks (unless the toxins killed it off). I'd cycle the rock in a container, clean the tank up, and move on.

VickyS
07/18/2016, 05:24 AM
@Rybren - all of those things crossed my mind and - agreed - I'm moving on.

Wrt the pellets - it was a new tub and I'd added maybe a qtr of a teaspoon on 2 attempts. When my sister-in-law opened it on the 'doom night' it was half empty and we found a mound of it in the corner.

Wrt cleaning products - yep, that was actually the #1 thing we thought.

The cleaner has since been banned (in an education/friendly way) of going anywhere near the tank or cabinet. We know that it wasn't intentional or malicious - just a little lack of education.

Wrt the LR - I chose to get rid of it in the end so I didn't take any chances.

Moving on ....... the tank was steam cleaned, all contents removed, new sand, LR and mini-bommi reef built. Going through final cycling .... onwards and upwards.

niladride
07/18/2016, 01:54 PM
I also think cloudy water is due to dead beneficial bacteria, somehow the bacteria colony got harmed in every Wednesday leaving lots of dead bacteria on water. This can be caused with the usage of soap/washing powder within the tank.

I am really sorry regarding your loss.