Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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Steph 04-22-2009 10:22 PM

Dying fish and cloudy water
I have a 29 gallon tank that has been establied for 2 months. The past couple of days it has gotten cloudy and last night my 5 damsels were all in a group. This morning they were all dead. However, I have a shrimp, anemone, and snails which are still alive. I checked my water and everything seemed fine. I took the water in to the pet store for a second opinion and they said it was good. Saliity was perfect. The temp. is 78-80. I got two new damsels because I was told the water was fine and three hours after putting them in the tank, they died as well. The fish were properly acclimated. Please help!! What is going on? :cry: :-?

onefish2fish 04-22-2009 10:27 PM

could you please post more about your tank? filtration, water source, flow, lights, all livestock, how many inches your substrate is and what kind, what exactly were your test results and what test kit were you using, salinity? and hydrometer or refractometer? how much live rock, what was the last thing you changed in your tank? how often do you water change? feed? and what? and anything and everything else you can include.

welcome to the forum.

Steph 04-23-2009 07:38 PM

cloudy tank dying fish
ok, here are the specs of my tank. My filter is a Bio-wheel with two spouts coming from it with the filtered water. I used tap water to fill my tank , but did put a water purifier in it. I have two flourescent tubes that are natural dylight and I do turn the lights off at night. I currently have six snails, three hermit crabs, one peppermint shrimp, an anemome, and a live rock. I have coral substrate that is about 2 inches deep. Salinity is 1.023, ph is 8.2, Amonia is .6, nitrate is 40, and nitrite is .8 maybe 1.0. I have not made any changes of any sort recently. I change water 1 or 2 times a month. About 25%. I feed twice a day with Ocean Nutrition Brand- Prime Reef Flakes. Also feed brine shrimp. Hope this helps. :-?

Thank You for helping.

Pasfur 04-23-2009 08:29 PM


Ok. Here we go again. This situation seems to come up every week. It is a real shame that we can't catch these mistakes ahead of time, but at least we can help fix them before you get to far along.

First off, you have to be very patient in the marine hobby. You have way to much livestock for an aquarium that is only 2 months mature. Your poor anemone has absolutely zero chance of survival in this system. The LFS employee should be slapped upside the head for allowing you to purchase this animal without asking a lot of questions about your system and your experience level. These are very sensitive animals and require advanced care. Not only are you missing the proper equipment to keep an anemone, you do not have a mature or even remotely stable environment.

First we need to address your filtration. The BioWheel is not an appropriate filter for a marine aquarium. This filter adds Nitrate to your water, and traps nutrients which cause phosphate buildup and a depletion of carbonates. Keeping a stable alkalinity in these type of setups is very difficult, and over the long haul extreme algae blooms usually occur. Additionally, your goal is to reduce Nitrate to zero, so why use a filter that adds NItrate to the aquarium? This just doent' make any rational sense at all. AGain, why did the LFS sell you this piece of equipment?

You say you have "a live rock." Did you know that live rock is the basic foundation of any marine aquarium system. You need between 30 and 45 pounds of rock, minimum, your size aquarium. Live rock creates the stability that you need for success in keeping these delicate systems. The live rock will actually serve as your only biological filter source, actually breaking down ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate into Nitrogen Gas, which is harmelss and leaves the system naturally. This is how we keep successful marine aquariums. Live rock.

In addition to the Live Rock you have to have a protein skimmer. I can not say this enough. Your filtration system is grossly inadequate. The protein skimmer removes organic acids prior to being broken down biologically. When used along with Live Rock, the skimmer stabalizes the overall system. The removal of organics allows for stable alkalinity and calcium levels, which are the 2 most critical tests you should be performing weekly on your aquarium. If these levels are not correct, the ions which make "saltwater" will not be in proper balance and the entire system becomes unstable. These things do not show on an ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, or salinity test. It is a requirement to test and control your alkalinity and calcium levels. Additives will be needed and a routine should develop.

Finally, your sand bed is not the proper depth for long term success. You need less than 1'' or greater than 4''. Anyting between 1'' and 4'' will trap nutrients causing long term stability problems. This occurs because of oxygen flow, which is not correct at these depths to allow for denitrifying bacteria to grow.

Can you post some pics? {edit: pics of the tank, that is. I'm getting married sunday, no reason to get carried away.}

Steph 04-24-2009 07:24 AM

At this point, what is the best plan for me to do with this aquarium? Should I completely start over or what? My water is still very cloudy despite no fish in the tank and a new filter and water parameters are good. What should I do??

onefish2fish 04-24-2009 08:42 AM

what is a "new filter?"

honestly i think now is a great chance to get some solid research in.

Steph 04-24-2009 09:11 AM

My filter is a Marineland Eclipse Filter. I replaced the cartridge which has activated charcoal.

Pasfur 04-24-2009 08:11 PM

As I mentioned, the Eclipse filter is really of no use on a marine tank. The ONLY improvements to water quality are the removal of ammonia and nitrite. On the other hand, it makes the water quality worse in many other ways. (alkalinity, calcium, magnesium, phosphate, Nitrate) Given that we have other methods of eliminating ammonia and nitrite, there is just no reason for this filter selection on a marine tank.

If you gave me your tank today, I would break it down and start over, using the post above as a guide. I agree with OF2F that this is a perfect time to research. In the end, you want a beautiful marine aquarium. Lets make it happen. Lets just do it the right way so that you can truly enjoy the tank for many years to come.

Steph 04-25-2009 08:32 AM

What type of filter would you reccomend? I bought this aquarium as a package. The tank, filter, heater, it all was in the same box and stated to be for a saltwater aquarium. Also, you say now is a good time to do some research, ok, where can I get this solid research? I have been reading for the past six months about salt water tanks and so far all I seem to be getting is everyone contradicting each. I've been told can't use gravel, have to use coral substrate, then been told run tank for 24-48 hours and then go ahead put fish in other person told me no, no, no run tank for a month then add fish!??! If you can tell where to get the best info, would be great. Thanks.

onefish2fish 04-25-2009 11:03 AM

a local reefing club.

no filters, a hang on protein skimmer would work, personally i would make a DIY sump out of a use tank and i wouldnt use gravel or crushed coral...i would use sand ( less then 1'' or 4-6''s anything else causes problems )

everyones going to have their own opinions and ways of doing things, personally i suggest reading as much of anything/everything you can and make your own choices/ask questions.

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