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OnePsychLynne 03-27-2009 09:20 PM

Sudden Multiple Deaths! Please Help!
Please help! I am panicking. At around around 6pm my tank was fine, everybody was swimming around happy except for one mexican turbo snail that appeared to have fallen over onto his "back". I moved him next to the rock and went to lay down. At around 8:30pm, my husband woke me up and told me my tank was cloudy and my two firefish gobies were dead, my coral banded shrimp was dead, my pulsing xenia was shriveled up to nothing, and we thought all the snails and the two serpent starfish were dead. We've moved what we can get a hold of at the moment (there's a lot of live rock to work around) and the snails appear to be recovering, as do the starfish. My yellow tang has since succumbed to whatever this is and is barely hanging on in the quarantine tank with the snails and starfish. We're taking out the rock to get the rest of the inhabitants: a kole tang, two ocellaris clownfish, a pajama cardinalfish, and four green chromis. I also have a mushroom leather toadstool that doesn't appear to be affected but the polyps aren't extended. The problems that we think may have contributed are the temperature is close to 84 degrees when it's normally not over 81 or 82. And the protein skimmer wasn't working-my husband found that when he found the cloudy water-he said the impeller wasn't turning but he thinks it was running before the water got cloudy. The water parameters are: ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 5, pH may be 8.4 or 8.8-it's so hard to tell the exact number with the cards, copper 0, calcium 380, specific gravity 1.023. The tank is 150 gallons and has been set up for over a year. We do regular water changes. Does anybody have any idea what has happened? Please help.:BIGweepy:

Kellsindell 03-27-2009 09:54 PM

Wow, i'm really sorry to hear that.

Since it's so late, more then likely you can't get to a LFS. do you have any carbon to run? also get that skimmer started asap.

It could be the skimmer not working to aerate the tank and livestock isn't use to this, or The temp being so high, or the PH, what was the alk? and where all these taken shortly after the indecent?

Kellsindell 03-27-2009 10:10 PM


onefish2fish 03-27-2009 11:38 PM

what size tank, brand/model skimmer? any other filtration?

what did you do to the tank earlier in the day? dosing? feeding? . . .

Pasfur 03-28-2009 01:00 AM

I need more details. What exactly is the filtration? Livestock? Every minor detail is important in this situation.
Substrate type and depth? Recent feeding, maintenance, water changes? New additions? Anything at all would help. A long winded post of seemingly insignificant details would be helpful. A picture of the tank, a full shot, would be nice.

OnePsychLynne 03-28-2009 06:40 AM

Thank you, everybody, for your support. We do regular water changes every two weeks. We used to do them every month but the nitrates got too high and we increased the frequency of the water changes. It's hard to know where to start-this is an awful experience.
Kellsindell, I'm sorry, but I don't currently have a way to test the alkalinity. I did all of the testing immediately after we discovered the incident. onefish2fish, the tank is 150 gallons and has been set up for over a year. The skimmer is a ASMG II (?) and we use a standard wet/dry filter with the white/blue filter pads. My husband fed the fish some pellets early that morning before he left for work around 6am but other than that we had not done anything else to the tank. I was going to feed them before I went to bed. Pasfur, what we had for livestosk is: two horseshoe crabs, one large coral banded shrimp, five mexican turbo snails, one striped serpent starfish, one purple serpent starfish, two ocellaris clownfish, two firefish gobies, one large yellow tang, one medium kole tang, four green chromis, one pajama cardinalfish, two tiny pulsing xenia-one about 1/2 inch in diameter at the top and the other about 1 and 1/2 inched at the top, and one mushroom leather toadstool coral about 1 and 1/2 inches at the top(closed). We had a mandarin goby but she died a couple of days ago from starvation (I tried everything with her). The livestock in red have died since this occurred. I'm not sure about the horseshoes-I only saw one this morning. The substrate is Caribsea aragonite and is 2-3" deep. There is 117# of live tock. The xenia appears "melted" and has shriveled up to nothing. The mushroom is standing straight but does not have it's polyp extended. The major difference was the pH was higher than normal and the temp. I don't know if something in the tank malfunctioned and made the water toxic or could one of the animals be toxic? I've never read anything about them being toxic exept maybe the mushroom? The scariest part of all of this is what if we can't find out what it is? We won't know how to stop it from happening again. I got really attached to my fish and this is a horrible experience.

OnePsychLynne 03-28-2009 06:46 AM

Pasfur, I just realized I forgot to tell you about the algae. We have a lot of what looks like hair or filamentous algae in the tank on the live rock. We started getting it about six months ago when the nitrates got high and we haven't been able to get rid of it. We suck as much of it up as we can when we do the water changes but it comes back. We originally put the yellow tang, kole tang snails and a lawnmower blenny (he died a couple of days after we put him in there but that was a month ago) in the tank to control the algae but none of them were eating it.

OnePsychLynne 03-28-2009 07:21 AM

I found this post on WetWebMedia which I thought was interesting but I never touched the toadstool. I wonder if it felt threatened by the algae (the algae is starting to touch the toadstool)
Sarcophyton leather toadstool (and the near death of my tank) - 04/16/06
<Hi, Leslie here with you today>
Maybe I'm an idiot but I learned a important lesson this week, thought it would be a good idea to share this with people.
<I doubt that . Admitting and sharing our mistakes so others can benefit from them is a very honorable gesture. Thank you! >
I took my leather toadstool out of the tank and thought I would propagate it by cutting it in half. Well when I cut it open a massive amount of " juice " came out (no big deal) I rinsed it off with saltwater and put it back into my tank. Well within 5 minutes my fish were going nuts, my Kole tang turned so pale he was almost white and was instantly covered with spots, my Clownfish was breathing very heavy, my Bubble Tip Anemone looked completely dead and my finger leather closed completely. Needless to say I freaked out and did a quick search on Sarcophyton being toxic to fish, yup found out the extract can kill your fish in 30 minutes. I quickly went to the LFS I work at (no one that works there knew this was a deadly procedure) and picked up 15 gallons (55 gallon tank) of water and did a quick water change (and dumped the toadstool). My bubble tip immediately looked completely normal, the fish resumed breathing normally and other than an ich outbreak everything was fine the next day. Anyway just wanted to let people know that if you are going to do something like this make sure you have a really good carbon filter that moves a lot of water quickly, and I would definitely not attempt doing cutting one up in your tank. Found it interesting that everything that I read about propagating a leather said nothing about it being toxic, found out that there are actually 50 toxic chemicals in a Sarcophyton leather toadstool (after the incident of course). Like I said, maybe I'm an idiot but I just wanted to get this out there so people don't repeat my mistake.
<You made a mistake. I know for a fact you are not the first and you will not be the last. We all make mistakes. It seems to be the theme for today’s queries. I have certainly made my fair share. An idiot most likely would not have acted as quickly as you did to resolve the problem. Your quick thinking and action hopefully saved the rest of the creatures in your tank. Fingers crossed that they recover from the ich. I don’t do any propagating myself but most of the folks I know that do use separate propagation tanks.>
<Thank you for sharing your story. Best of luck with your tank, Leslie>

Another difference is that I couldn't save my tangs-they never recovered.
My husband has checked the tank for "stray voltage" and hasn't found any-I would have thought is would have killed everything instantly anyway. The toadstool is drooping now. It's exhibited this behavior in the past with no ill effects. I'll wait and see.

Pasfur 03-28-2009 08:04 AM

I am nearly 100% certain your problem is in no way related to your toadstool. I know you are looking for answers so this all makes sense... searching for something, anything, that could possibly explain why your fish are suddenly dying after over a year of success. The truth is, you will find that almost nothing happens suddenly in the marine hobby. Most everything happens very slowly and gradually, until it hits a breaking point, and then the results appear to occur suddenly. We need to identify what has been happening gradually that caused a change to occur, which is now resulting in a disaster. This will take some brainstorming, so lets get to it.

You said you increased water changes because your Nitrates were elevating. However, you posted Nitrates of 5ppm. Was this a typo? Are the actually 5ppm? How high did they get? How long ago did you switch to more frequent water changes? How much water do you change? Do you use tap water or RO water? When was your last water change?

I am also wondering what is causing the cloudy water. It does not sound like a bacterial bloom. Unfortunately you will have to purchase more test kits if you really want the answer. You need to test alkalinity, calcium, and phosphate. This is vital for our discussion and could immediately identify the cause of your problem.

Is there an unusual smell coming from the aquarium? The sump?

Lets start there. I will check in frequently today so this discussion can move forward at a timely pace.

Kellsindell 03-28-2009 02:14 PM

Could honestly be the horseshoe crabs doin the sand thing and causing a lot of uproar in the tank. The same thing happens when a pump falls and blows the sandbed around. I'm guessing the skimmer was stopped by the sand that was caused by the horseshoe crabs, because of the sand. many of the fish can't handle the shock of so much ammonia (especially a well cycled tank) and it killed the fish, it could have also caused your PH to fall because of lack of O2 in the system (skimmer) and your ORP could have dropped very rapidly causing stress on top of the stress they are already going through... where you certain the fish were indeed dead? and not just stressed? They can be extremly stressed and lay on the sand looking as though they are dead, when infact they are not.

This is just a thin guess, we need far more thought on this...

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