187 Gallon Help
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187 Gallon Help

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Old 12-26-2009, 03:41 PM   #1
 
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187 Gallon Help

So I'm very frustrated with my 187 gallon saltwater tank. I've been fighting it for years to get my animals to live and when everything starts to go right something bad happens and most the animals die. It currently has 250 lbs. of live rock, a G200 protein skimmer, and a 30 gallon refugium containing Caulerpa racemosa and 10 lbs. of live rock. My nitrate is 2.5, and my ammonia and nitrite are 0. PH is at 8.3, temp is 78 degrees F, and there are 2 of the giant Koralia pumps on the wall. The tank currently contains the following organisms:
1 Heniochus acuminatus (eats great and looks good for about a month now)
1 Chaetodon madagaskariensis (same as previous)
1 Centropyge bicolor (had for about a year and it's very hardy; eats flake)
4 Chromis viridis (got 6 of them 3 days ago, 2 died the first night, the others now have ich)
2 Amphiprion percula (Healthy for over a year now)
1 Sphaeramia nematoptera (healthy for 2 years now; toughest fish I've ever owned)
1 Gramma loreto (Bought with the chromis, but looks healthy)
1 Pterosynchiropus splendidus (Bought with the chromis, but looks good so far; eats blackworms!)
1 Diadema setosum (a nitrate spike made him lose his spines, so the butterflies picked at him. Now he's in a floating container with some grape caulerpa so they can't get to him until his spines grow back)
Caulerpa prolifera (I have large patches of it growing on my 200 lbs. of live sand and on an area of the Live rock.

3 days ago I bought the chromis, the mandarin, and the gramma, along with 2 cleaner shrimp. The shrimp died in hours. I found ine dead, and the other I found being carried across the basement by a 2 inch zebra striped crab. The shrimp was ripped in half. I've never seen the crab before, but I figure it was probably in the Live rock. I stepped in him and fed him to my FW stingray as revenge, but the $44 I spent on the shrimp was gone within hours. Set a bottle trap and caught some baby brittle stars and bristle worms, but thats about it.

So I know this is getting long but I want in the tank eventually (it includes what I already have). I know anthias are more difficult fish to keep, especially the purple queen, but I think I'm up to the challenge and the store by me has some that are feeding greedily for sale.

1 Bicolor Angelfish (Centropyge bicolor)*
3 Purple Queen Anthias (Pseudanthias tuka)
3 Dispar Anthias (Pseudanthias dispar)
3 Bartlett’s Anthias (Pseudanthias bartlettorum)
1 Borbonius Anthias (Odontanthias borbonius)
1 Royal Gramma Basslet (Gramma loreto)*
1 Pearl Scale Butterflyfish (Chaetodon xanthurus)*
1 Heniochus (Heniochus acuminatus)*
1 PJ Cardinalfish (Sphaeramia nematoptera)*
9 Green Chromis (Chromis viridis)****
2 Percula Clownfish (Amphiprion percula)**
1 Diamond Sleeper Goby (Valenciennea puellaris)
1 Mandarinfish (Synchiropus splendidus)*
1 Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens)
1 Hippo Tang (Paracanthus hepatus)

1 Long Spined Urchin (Diadema setosum)*
5 Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis)
1 Blood Red Fire Shrimp (Lysmata debelius)
N.A. Common Caulerpa (Caulerpa prolifera)*
70 Astraea Snail (Astraea tectum)
1 Fighting Conch (Strombus spp.)
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Old 12-26-2009, 08:33 PM   #2
 
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Ok, we can fix this situation. No doubt about it. And i'm willing to walk through this process every day with you for the next year if necessary. But before we get started I need to ask you a question. This is important, so let me tell you why.

I've been doing these internet forums since 1992, when you had to "telnet" from one intranet to another to establish a chat connection. In these 17 or so years, about every 2 or 3 months one of these posts comes along. The large majority of these threads become a total waste of time, because the person who asks the question is not open to change. From looking at your list of freshwater aquariums, I am willing to be you are quite the opposite and totally open to taking on new information and applying it where needed. Nobody becomes successful in a wide variety of freshwater systems without having patience, which is what you will need to follow this through successfully.

I have to warn you up front, some of the things I will have to say on this thread you will find frustrating. But we CAN fix this and WILL fix this if you are ready to take this on. So, that being said, are you honestly interested in having a successful marine system, and willing to make necessary changes to be successful?
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Old 12-27-2009, 04:01 PM   #3
 
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I am willing to, and thought I'd add as a side note that today I bought 6 more green chromis, so now I have 10 of them. It's over what I had planned for, but I'll be plumbing the 25 gallon into this tank's sump and filling it with caulerpa, maybesome frags and some feather duster worms, so that should increase the gallonage. Just have to get dad to buy me the pumps... Also, I am not putting the Borbonius anthias in my tank, mainly because of the price... Does this sound like a better list?

1 Bicolor Angelfish (Centropyge bicolor)*
3 Dispar Anthias (Pseudanthias dispar)
5 Bartlett’s Anthias (Pseudanthias bartlettorum)
1 Royal Gramma Basslet (Gramma loreto)*
1 Madagascan Pearl Scale Butterflyfish (Chaetodon madagaskariensis)*
1 Heniochus (Heniochus acuminatus)*
5 PJ Cardinalfish (Sphaeramia nematoptera)*
10 Green Chromis (Chromis viridis)**********
2 Percula Clownfish (Amphiprion percula)**
1 Diamond Sleeper Goby (Valenciennea puellaris)
1 Mandarinfish (Pterosynchiropus splendidus)*
5 Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens)
1 Hippo Tang (Paracanthus hepatus)

1 Long Spined Urchin (Diadema setosum)*
5 Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis)
1 Blood Red Fire Shrimp (Lysmata debelius)
N.A. Common Caulerpa (Caulerpa prolifera)*
70 Astraea Snail (Astraea tectum)
1 Fighting Conch (Strombus spp.)

Last edited by fishfreak2009; 12-27-2009 at 04:06 PM..
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Old 12-28-2009, 09:13 PM   #4
 
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Great, lets get started.

After having spent the better part of the last 20 years having these types of conversations on a weekly basis, there are a few common features that tend to occur on systems that are not having consistent success. That being said, let me start with a few observations, just to get some clarification.

First, I notice that you do not give test results for Alkalinity and Calcium. I personally consider these 2 tests to be the most important tests you will utilize. Interestingly enough, the impact of alkalinity and calcium neglect tends to occur slowly, with many months of success often preceding problems. I have posted some more detailed thoughts on alkalinity & calcium here: http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/m...-marine-33079/

I also notice that you appear to be purchasing fish and then adding them directly into your display, skipping a quarantine period. Is this correct? I can not emphasis enough how important it is to isolate all new fish for 3 to 4 weeks prior to adding them to your display. These fish arrive at the LFS extremely stress from an overwhelming experience (capture, handling, and shipment). They need isolation time to regain their health, boost their immunity, and adjust to captive feeding and routine care. To skip this step on a large aquarium is especially risky, due to the extreme amount of live stock already in the display. I personally use a 38 gallon Q tank, and I would suggest you us a 20 gallon tank or larger for this purpose as well.

I also notice that your fish list is not by any means a beginners list. Your list is more like the list of a very experienced marine fishkeeper, someone who has had years of success. You are not a beginner, obviously, but it is still surprising that you would be attempting species such as the BiColor Angel, Anthias, Heniochus, Pearscale Butterfly, and Mandarine Goby. I bring this up because I wonder who is guiding you on these fish selections. Do you have somebody at an LFS that you are leaning on? Perhaps they aren't really up to task for this level of trust, if you know what I mean. On the other hand, if you are making these decisions personally, then I'd tell you to slow down and gain some experience first. If nothing else, your odds of success will greatly increase if the fish you select to keep in your tank have a reputation of being less difficult to keep.

Lets stop there and gather some feedback. Plus, my wife is calling....
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Old 12-29-2009, 06:44 PM   #5
 
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I actually just took my water to 2 different LFS, and they told me that all my levels were perfect (Calcium was at 420, and alkalinity was at 8). The chromis had a mass-die off the first night and now I'm down to 4 (2 old and 2 new). I found another crab in the rocks today after taking out every rock and toothpicking every hole, but I killed it and found no more of them. As for my mandarinfish it is extremely fat, living off the extremely large population of copepods that breed in the refugium and in the Caulerpa growing throughout the tank. The Heniochus actually comes to the top and eats out of my hand, and is not afraid to try and clean my hand when I clean the tank. I did a 60 percent water change today, as well as pruning the grape caulerpa in the sump. I will admit that I have never had much luck with butterflies, however the madagascan pearlscale seems to be one of the hardiest fish I have ever come across.it is very fat and greedily eats all foods including color pellets and flakes. As for the Bartlett's Anthias, in the new Marine Fish and Reef USA they state that they are hardy fish as long as they have frequent feedings (I give 3+ feedings a day). I actually had a quarantine set up, but I changed it to freshwater for my 90 gallon (afraid of introducing diseases with the FW Ray). As soon as the green terror (who is currently in there for behavior issues) has his mini pond resealed I will reconvert it back to saltwater. I am hoping to get some biological cleaners for the tank so I made a new stocking list. Please point out any problems. I would normally only buy 1 Klein;s Butterflyfish, but right now they have a mated pair at the LFS.


1 Bicolor Angelfish (Centropyge bicolor)*
5 Bartlett’s Anthias (Pseudanthias bartlettorum)
11 Talbot’s Damselfish (Chrysiptera talboti)
1 Royal Gramma Basslet (Gramma loreto)*
1 Madagascan Pearl Scale Butterflyfish (Chaetodon madagaskariensis)*
1 Heniochus (Heniochus acuminatus)*
2 Klein's Butterflyfish (Chaetodon kleini)
4 PJ Cardinalfish (Sphaeramia nematoptera)*
4 Green Chromis (Chromis viridis)****
2 Percula Clownfish (Amphiprion percula)**
1 Diamond Sleeper Goby (Valenciennea puellaris)
1 Mandarinfish (Pterosynchiropus splendidus)*
5 Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens)
1 Hippo Tang (Paracanthus hepatus)

N.A. Common Caulerpa (Caulerpa prolifera)*
5 Common Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis)
70 Astraea Snail (Astraea tectum)
1 Fighting Conch (Strombus spp.)

Last edited by fishfreak2009; 12-29-2009 at 06:57 PM..
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Old 12-29-2009, 07:35 PM   #6
 
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Also, do you know if a stars and stripes puffer would be a good addition to this tank? I know that I couldn't add the shrimps and I would move the urchin to my sump, but would it go after the Heni's fns or the smaller fish? They have a 2 incher for $20 at the LFS right now. He's really tempting. I would not buy the Kleins Butterflyfish pair if I bought this fish.
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Old 12-29-2009, 11:50 PM   #7
 
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I'd suggest you stop adding livestock until you get your problem worked out.
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Old 12-30-2009, 06:42 AM   #8
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrdemin View Post
I'd suggest you stop adding livestock until you get your problem worked out.
I agree. Whenever i have any issues I put all new livestock purchases on hold for a good 30 days. This hobby responds well to conservative decision making, which should always dominate your decision.

However, to answer the question, your tank is not large enough for a Stars & Stripes Pufferfish. I have a 180 and would love this fish, but my tank just isn't big enough. The pair of Kleins Butterflyfish would be awesome for you. They have a great reputation in the hobby. I have one in my 180 and it has been very hardy and holds its own very well with the other more "aggressive" fish in the tank.

That being said, you are not ready for fish. Something is causing problems in your tank and you need to slow down. In fact, you need to STOP and wait.

Can you post some pictures of the tank?
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Old 12-30-2009, 05:03 PM   #9
 
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I'll try to post pics. I just got back from the ski hill, and when I looked in the tank another chromis was dead along with the madagascan pearlscale! I really hoped that big water change would solve my problems. I just tested water and pH is 8.3, Nitrate is less than 10, ammonia is 0, and nitrite is 0. I do not have a test kit for phosphates though. I am going to go take some pics right now.
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Old 12-30-2009, 05:20 PM   #10
 
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187 gallon, some tankmates and the stingray in my other tank for good measure.

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