Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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CowgirlFishKeeper 07-30-2010 12:00 AM

Strange deaths?!
I have had three deaths in the last 48 hours and we have no clue what is happening.

We have a 33g long with about 12 small to large live rocks we obtained from a healthy tank, as with the live sand. We have a refuguim made from an aquaclear 75. Our heater, which is brand new, holds steady at 75 at the time, and the tank does get some sunlight, for the live rock. We have a very small colony of blue star polyps. Our Parameters are Nitrate/Phosphorus at 0ppm, the KH was between 8 and 9, salinity holds steady at 1.025. Fresh water is added twice a week, water changes 1g once a week as well. The water was cycled from another tank when we got it, and the tank had never had any disease whatsoever. Inhabitants are as follows: 2 cleaner shrimp, 2 peppermint shrimp, 7 hermit crabs, 1 bengaii cardinal. The fish that have died are a Leatherjacket Filefish, and 2 yellowfin saddleback clownfish, a mated pair of juveniles just preparing for a first round of babies. Other contents of the tank are a piece of mopani, and a plastic plant to provide some "green" in there. There is a couple empty shells and a clean, dead barnacle piece. We have one powerhead at the top of the tank. It's a smaller one.

The fish had NO symptoms before death. The Banggai is a little territorial, but nowhere near aggressive. The filefish died first, rather suddenly, presenting no symptoms whatsoever, found on his stomach at the BOTTOM of the tank, where he loved to hide and play with the shrimp. He had typical filefish behavior and was his usual slow, curious, lethargic self, acting like a leaf, and then, dead. Within hours of him, the female clownfish was spotted stuck to the aquaclear intake, and I freed her from that, only to notice a thick white slime on the right half of her body and an inflamed gill plate. Not even an HOUR before that, she was fine, playing with her mate like she always had. Not even an hour before posting this, the second clown has completely vanished from the tank and I suspect the clean up crew got to him before I noticed him dead. Of course, the Banggai and the clean up crew are perfectly fine, as are our small, sensitive colony of star polyps. I am so confused; what on earth is killing off my fish?

As a preventative measure, I've fed them some garlic-laden foods, and have turned up the temperature to 84 degrees Fahrenheit, hoping to kill off whatever is killing off my tank...The shrimp cleaning antennae are shorter than they were this morning, and the Banggai is hovering by the heater as he has the whole time we've had him (couple months now). Does anyone have any idea as to what on earth is happening here?...

GNR1985 07-30-2010 11:37 PM

Having a 33 gallon, you should change more than just 1g every week. Try something like 10g and then about 5g every week after that. Have you checked your ammonia and nitrite levels? Have you done a PH test? How old is the tank and have you cleaned the filter recently?

I had a similar problem before and it was because there was carbon in my filter (black stuff) and apparently it can sometimes make fish sick. Be careful with raising the heat that high suddenly because heat spikes stress out the fish and sometimes kill them. Be careful with the sunlight levels because that can turn up the heat quickly too.

So sorry for your losses, it's hard to loose pets :'(

CowgirlFishKeeper 07-31-2010 02:25 PM

The guy who set us up has a bachelor's degree in biochemistry, and is waiting to get his masters. He told us to do the 1g change a week, but I guess 5g a week won't hurt in a 33....

Plus, it's a refugium made from an aqua clear 75 - that means there's no media in it, just the curly plant that absorbs everything. It's built for a tank double the size our tank is, and the chemicals are perfectly fine where they are. I also didn't jack the heat up right away, I DO know what I'm doing, and I did it slowly over a few hour. We also have a floating temperature gauge and it's never been over 85 with sunlight. The heater is that good.

And, the Ich had completely vanished for several days, and it was mostly gone when the fish suddenly died.

GNR1985 07-31-2010 02:51 PM

Well it sure does sound like you know what you're doing. It's been a little while since the first post, how are the other fish doing? Sometimes fish just die for no apparent reason, it's sad to say. I don't have further answers, have you consulted the guy who set up your tank?

Pasfur 08-20-2010 06:17 PM


Originally Posted by GNR1985 (Post 436327)
Having a 33 gallon, you should change more than just 1g every week. Try something like 10g and then about 5g every week after that. Have you checked your ammonia and nitrite levels? Have you done a PH test? How old is the tank and have you cleaned the filter recently?


This answer sounds like it was intended for a freshwater post. It is not at all uncommon for marine tanks to have very little if any water changes, when set up as a natural system, as indicated in this thread.

How are things at this point? Do you test calcium? How long had you had the filefish?

CowgirlFishKeeper 08-20-2010 06:28 PM

I've actually lost everything in the tank save for the inverts to ich, which I caught far too late, since it attacked through the night as we were sleeping, and the rid ich never arrived in time....

So, I left the tank as it was, only dropping little bits in for the shrimp and hermits to "clean up", and left it like that for a few weeks....Now we have some odd grey mushroomy things growing, two clowns, and our blue star polyps are recovering from one lone polyp up to about 40 now, and we have only 2 apstasia left dying off and the red bubble algae isn't doing well, too...

So I'd wager to say the deaths were from ich, and that our refugium is in fact doing it's job...

I guess I should just top off with fresh and not bother with water changes then? I guess the issue there is the build-up of bad chemicals that I can't test for...

And no, I don't test for calcuim - I've hit a really rough patch with finances and can't afford the kits right now. :/

Also, we had the filefish for three days...

CowgirlFishKeeper 08-20-2010 06:52 PM

bearwithfish 08-20-2010 08:33 PM

those are Palythoas.... i just bought some but not near as beautiful as yours.:)

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