Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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starfsh379 06-18-2007 01:10 PM

Disease Outbreak in Educational Aquariums
I maintain the aquariums at a local environmental education center. I only maintain the aquariums and do not actually stock fish (although, occasionally I am for my advice). Recently there has been a nasty outbreak of ich, as well as possible other diseases. Let me give you a little background on the facility, because this makes upkeep and maintenance very challenging.

The facility is located in Florida, and the building is un-air-conditioned. This means that air temperatures can range upwards into the 90s, or down into the 20s-30s. Some tanks also get a large amount of sunlight in addition to tank lighting. The tanks range in size from what I think is about 70 gallons to 20 gallons. The filtration is rudimentary with only impeller filtration (the kind with the carbon packets that hang on the back of the tank). The local fish and invertebrates range from crabs to puffers to snappers, etc. The only things that I have to clean all of the tanks, are one algae magnet, a scraper, and a scrub brush. This is used for all tanks (you can see how disease can travel easily). Also, often the fish are added to the tanks without quarantine (much to my dismay). Dead fish are often left to decay, also raising nitrate issues. I have only now been provided with a test kit to make sure the tanks are in proper balance.

Basically my questions are--what is the best way for me to treat disease, and also to attempt to prevent further outbreaks? I have already lost numerous puffers/burrfish, filefish, conchs, and crabs recently.

Any help or advice with this challenging set up would be great.

Thanks so much.


mHeinitz57 06-18-2007 01:29 PM

how did the water quality test out? What is the salinity of the water kept at? Can you give us some numbers? Also, as far as the alge scrubber and nets that you use, either get seperate ones for each tank or get a bucket and fill it with either "Net Soak" by Jungle or a mixture of different medications and water to sterilize anything you put in there. At the fish store I work at our nets are always kept in buckets of either Netsoak or we'll make a combination of mostly water with quick cure, fungus medication, and an antibiotic. It could be overkill but it helps keep any disease from spreading to each tank. We change the water out of the bucket daily.

starfsh379 06-18-2007 02:12 PM

The center that I work at has an extremely tight budget, so extra supplies are out of the question ( I barely received a back up scrubber, and new tanks for some that were so poorly taken care of, with algae embedded into deep scratches in the glass). I requested the test kit. Unfortunately, the test kit just now arrived, and they only have me come in once a week. So, I have not been back to test the aquariums. I was able to test the nitrates in some of the ones that I know that dead fish were left in the tanks for sometime (was unable to tell whether ich was the culprit because the fish were too badly decomposed). The nitrates were through the roof in most of those tanks (dark magenta!), leading to complete water changes (since there were no longer any living occupants). The salinity is brackish, and is kept at approx. .18. The other staff does not spend much time maintaining the fish. They drop flake into the tank and walk away. Basically, the diseased fish that I have currently is one mojarra clearly with ich, another mojarra who's eye is falling out, and 2 filefish with ich. I now have 4 empty tanks, that the staff would like to add fish to, without waiting for treatment. I also have a quarantine tank that was holding a fish that succumbed to ich, that soon after they dumped a number of fish into, that now all have to be treated. They want to treat the tanks with Kick Ich because another aquarium facility (with much more commercial aquarium set up) recommended it. I'm not sure whether this will solve the problem, since I have now read that some people still have problems with the product.

mHeinitz57 06-18-2007 03:02 PM

wow...what kind of educational facility is this and why are they teaching kids to not take care of pets that they purchase. I'm not saying you are doing a bad job, sounds like you are doing as best as you can with not much help from them. Can you give us a breakdown of each tank, what is in it, water parameters of the tank if you have them, and the problems in each tank? I know that is a lot but you really have to treat each tank individually. Is there live rock in the tanks? coral? invertabrates? I'm sorry for your frustration. Try to avoid re-stocking any tanks right now because Ich parasites need hosts to reproduce and if you can leave an empty tank empty for long enough, you can get rid of ich that way as well. Ich generally is brought on when a fish is stressed from poor water quality or another fish picking on it. With nitrates as high as you shown and the salinity that low, I could see how that could happen. YOur first defense is going to be getting properr water quality for everyone.

starfsh379 06-18-2007 03:37 PM

In their defense, they are attempting to showcase local intercoastal waterway species, so there are some issues with local collection, and water issues.

I have to maintain brackish water, because that is what these species are collected from, and asking them to acclimate fish before they add them to tanks, is way too much.

Looking back at my email, it's actually my specific gravity that is kept at approx. 1.018.

My tanks include--

70 gal (44f x 2ft)

approx 10 mojarra & 1 large blenny & hermit crabs (maybe 2?0, and unfortunately the new addition of 3 very small drum

2 sheepshead with crown conchs (5?)

1 sergeant major & 1 blenny

1 empty (used to have large burrfish), now just 1 live quohog clam & a few shrimp (non ornamental)

20 gallon tanks

2 small filefish & possibly hermit crab

1 hermit crab & crown conchs (2-4?)

1 juvenile mangrove snapper & crown conchs (2?)

1 pinfish

2 mud crabs & hermit crabs (4?)

2 very small mangrove snapper & many hermit crabs (8?)

2 empty tanks ( one that held 4 small flounder --all of which died--very high nitrates, another that held a spider crab


appprox 10-20 gall tank

3 very small sheepshead, 1 small filefish, 2 small flounder, 1 small puffer (don't get me started on this tank--the only reason that I haven't moved these fish was because this was the tank previously infected with ich)--I am well- aware of the incompatibility of these species, and will be making a table with species that are NOT to be put together

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