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JenniferBergstrom 04-15-2009 04:08 PM

Newish Tank Troubles
So, I am new to the marine aquarium world, but I have been doing my research and trying to do things right. I have a 55 gallon aquarium that I have been asking my local fish store guy lots of questions about, but he seems to be very full of himself and unwilling to help.

I got the tank and cycle it for two weeks before my LFS told me to drop 3 blue damsels in it. I did this for about two weeks before I took the fish back. I then let it cycle for another week and put in my cleaning crew. (24 hermits, 10 turbo snails, 12 nassarius, 1 peppermint shrimp, 1 sally light foot.) I let it cycle for another two weeks, with no spikes in ammonia, and the blessing of my LFS. Then the sally disappered, and a few empty hermit crabs shells showed up, but I just thought there as some sort of national georaphic thing happening at night.

So long story short, I got a Yellow Nasel Tang and Coral Beauty. The Yellow Tang had a few little white dots on his fin and around the edge of the fin before I even took him out of the bag, but the LFS guy told me the small spins in his fin probably brokein transit it, and this was normal and fine. It looked like ich to me, but far be it for me to argue with the LFS.

Both of the fish seemed to acclimate well so latter in the week I went and got a rather large Sebae anemone. The day after I got the anemone I started to see both fish having fraying on their fins. The tail fin on the beauty has some holes near the end and has gotten very dark just around where the damage on the tail is. One of the the pectoral fins on the yellow tang is deteriorating and he has some red blotching on the bases of his fins.

I think they have ammonia burn and a bacterial infection, possible due to a spike cause by putting the anemone in. I did a ten gallon water change Monday, and have been dosing with melafix antibotic becuase the bottle says its reef, coral and invert safe. I haven't seen any change better or worse, the nitrites are a zero and the nitrates 20 ppm. I have some of the nasty brown alge is growing again.

Do I need to get a hospital tank? I really don't want to torture the fish, nor loose them.


Pasfur 04-15-2009 06:31 PM


Originally Posted by JenniferBergstrom (Post 188173)
Do I need to get a hospital tank? I really don't want to torture the fish, nor loose them.

Ok, first let me say that this is a very sad situation. We will address that in a minute. First, let me tell you that you made me laugh out loud. I almost cried I was laughing so hard. Here I am, reading this horrible story about one of the most ridiculous LFS situations that I have ever heard. I see so many things wrong with this situation that I am close to telling you to start over... and your ONLY question.... the ONLY thing you asked is "Do I need to get a hospital tank?" It was very funny.

Ok, sorry, lets try to fix this. First you need to realize that you have a gigantic learning curve. It is going to be difficult to explain all of this in one post. My plan is to tell you what needs to be done with a brief explanation, and allow you to ask questions and do research to fill in the gaps. Fair enough?

Ok, first lets talk about the "cycle". It sounds like you are using some sort of biological filter on this aquarium. I gather this from how long you said it took to cycle. A properly set up marine aquarium should not be using a biological filter. You should rely on a protein skimmer and live rock as your filtration, along with a sand bed. No other filtration should be used if you intend on having any level of sustained success. Read this short article for more details: filtration

Next we should discuss your choice in fish. I am not sure if you purchased a Blonde Naso Tang or a Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens). The Naso Tang is a rather difficult fish for a beginner and needs a very large aquarium, upwards of 180 gallons, for any amount of success. The Yellow Tang is a good beginner fish, although 55 gallons is very small for this species. Again, reference this great article on Zebrasoma Tang species: Zebrasoma Tangs. I realize you are a newby, so please be aware that each of these references comes from a "big name" in the hobby. An expert, if you will.

The anemone was a horrible choice. These animals have very special care requirements and are difficult to keep, even for very advanced marine aquarists. You have no business even attempting to keep an anemone, and the LFS employee should be tied to the cealing with duct tape for even allowing you to purchase it. This just makes me furious. I should also point out that you are partially to blame, because you should be doing research BEFORE making purchases.

Next, all new purchases have to be kept in a quarantine tank for a period of 3 weeks prior to placement into the display aquarium. EVERY reputation source of information will offer this advice. I have no idea why most people ignore this critical step, suffer losses, wonder why, and then decided that maybe the experts were correct. If the LFS did not suggest a quarantine tank, then FIRE YOUR LFS and find another store to purchase from.

Ok, just to clarify, I am not at all angry with you. I am sick of the LFS employees that don't know a Yellow Tang from a Lemon Tang trying to assist with marine purchases. If my post comes across bitter, it is only bitterness with these ridiculous pet shops.

So, what now? First, stop medicating. Take your anemone back to the LFS. Just give it back to them. They probably won't give you credit. If they won't take it, just leave it sitting there and leave. They won't let it die. Then lower your salinity to 1.013 by doing water changes with freshwater replacement. This is a hyposalinity treatment and will help rid your tank of the ich on your Yellow Tang. More details to follow after you complete these initial steps.

Pictures please. And we need complete details of your setup. EXACT information.

Pasfur 04-15-2009 06:31 PM

One more thing. Your cleanup crew was a joke. They sold you way to many critters for such a new tank.

JenniferBergstrom 04-15-2009 09:16 PM

I felt the questions were implied, sorry I didn't ask them more directly.

When I first set up the tank I added 60lbs of live sand and 57 pounds of live rock, RO water and salt.I have two filter, enough to cycle 90g running with bio pads and bio balls. I have 120 watts of light, two daylight 6000k bulbs and one actenic 12000k. I have performed 5 gallon RO water changes weekly if not twice a week.

It cycled for a week, then with damsels for two weeks, then empty for a week, then with clean up crew for 3 weeks. I added the yellow tang Tuesday, the coral beauty Wednesday, the Sebae Friday. I did a 10 gallon water change Monday night, and have checked the levels daily.

Pictures to come.

Pasfur 04-15-2009 09:44 PM

No protein skimmer? How deep is the sand bed? What tests are you performing? What additives?

By the way, your questions were understood. It wasn't the way you communicated... it was the way I read it. It just really hit me as hilarious. One of those things.-)

JenniferBergstrom 04-15-2009 09:54 PM


Originally Posted by Pasfur (Post 188270)
No protein skimmer? How deep is the sand bed? What tests are you performing? What additives?

The sand bed is 2-3 inches deep, depending on the slope. My LFS told me I didn't need a protein skimmer, and he's the only one in my tiny little fish retarded town other than petco. I guess I will be purchasing one pronto. The tests are one of the five in one stick thing that check nitrites, nitrates, ph, and phosphate. I also take water in every other week to the LFS for his fancy color coded chemical tests. I had a calcium/tracemineral cube in it when it first began because the LFS said I had low calcium. The next time of course he said I had high calcium. I also use a ph buffer, and feed it phytoplanton.

Pasfur 04-16-2009 05:39 AM

I think you should really concentrate on doing some research and really spend the next 90 days educating yourself on the marine hobby. You can learn a lot on this web site by reading the "build" threads in the Saltwater Video and Pictures forum. You can see first hand how those of us with experience set up our aquariums. There are also endless resources available on the internet. Check out this web site for some awesome information:
Advanced Aquarist's Online Magazine - Volume IV

I would also suggest that your read "The Reef Aquarium" by Jullian Sprung & Charles Delbeck. The entire 3 part series. Subscriptions to Aquarium Fish Magazine, Freshwater and Marine Aquarium, and Aquarium Fish International would also be great sources of the latest information.

Your LFS has misguided you completely. a 2-3 inch sand bed is also wrong. You need less than 1'' or more than 4''. Anything between 1'' and 4'' is a receipe for long term disaster, because the proper bacteria do not grow at these depths to provide effective denitrification. As a result, nutrients are trapped and released back into the system after a period of many months.

The test kit you have needs to be replaced. Those testing strips are very inaccurate. You need the liquid kits and should be testing regularly for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, alkalinity, pH, and calcium. Ammonia and Nitrite should remain zero at all times, so a monthly test is adequate. Nitrate needs to be tested weekly to help determine the maturity of your aquarium and the necessary water changes. Alkalinity, calcium, and pH are the most important long term factors that contribute to the stability of your marine aquarium. These are weekly tests at minimum, and will require additives to keep the parameters in order. I use Kent Marine liquid calcium and Kent Marine Super Buffer DKH.

Please keep in mind that all of these suggests apply to EVERY marine aquarium, fish only, FOWLR, or reef.

Do you have live rock?

burlybear 04-16-2009 08:57 PM

Those magazines you recommended sound interesting. Out of three you recommended which do you think is the most valuable? I am interested in staying current but I am also saving up for my first setup.

JenniferBergstrom 04-16-2009 11:51 PM


Originally Posted by JenniferBergstrom (Post 188263)
I felt the questions were implied, sorry I didn't ask them more directly.

When I first set up the tank I added 60lbs of live sand and 57 pounds of live rock...

I went out and got a seaclone 100 protein skimmer today, and the package said it should 'cycle' with the tank. Obviously this isn't an option, but now I'm worried about taking out my power filter to soon. Do you think I should wait while the skimmer is 'broken in,' for lack of a better term, before I take out my power filters?

I have black sand, and it took a LONG time to settle and not be cloudy, so I don't think I should add more sand to reach the four inch mark. Should I attempt to remove sand? How critical is the sand situation, does it need to be addressed ASAP?

Thanks for all your help ;-)

Pasfur 04-17-2009 05:46 AM

Yes, you should attempt to remove sand. This is a wide spread problem which has been very well documented all over the internet.

It would not be a bad idea to allow the skimmer to break in for a couple of weeks prior to removing the power filters. But it probably is not necessary.

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