fustrated with fish dying - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 27 Old 02-08-2009, 02:34 PM Thread Starter
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fustrated with fish dying

I have had my 30 gal. tank up and running for 8mths. All the specs are fine accept the cal. Its extremely high.
I have 30 lbs of live rock,crushed coral, protein skimmer, 2 power heads and a aquaclear that I run with the carbon (which I run about 8-12) every couple of weeks.
I have lost count of how many crabs and snails Quite a fews.

My problem is that any new fish that I bought are dying within 2 weeks after putting them into the tank. I have done all the proper proceedures. Letting the bag sit in the tank for 1/2, Then slowly add my tank water to the bag. And then finally letting the fish out of the bag.
cleaner shrimp - alive
2 clowns - alive
1 yellow blenny - alive
1 algae blenny - just died last night
The above were my first set of fish introduced to my tank.

2 anthias - died 1 month after purchase
1 yellow tang - died 1 week after purchase
1 cleaner wrasse-died 3 days after, then bought another one it died. recently
The above are the new fish that I had purchased with in 2 months.
So back to the question: what is happening in my tank that all the new fish are dieing soo quickly? Is it my calcium level. Because EVERYTHING else is fine.
Oh ya I also just purchased a urchin which so far is fine.
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post #2 of 27 Old 02-08-2009, 02:56 PM
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The answers to this question are endless, so lets focus on the basics. Rather than try to figure out what went wrong, lets focus on doing things right next time.

Lets start with Calcium. What exactly is your Calcium reading? To say that Calcium is extremely high and everything else is fine is a direct contradiction. Calcium is directly related to pH and alkalinity and impacts magnesium and indirectly phosphate. If Calcium is high, then something is going on to cause this. Do you use a buffer? What brand and how do you use it?

Lets also discuss acclimation. Your procedure is subject to much debate. Floating the bag really serves no purpose. In fact, by surrounding the bag with water (the portion of the bag below the water surface), you are cutting of gas exchange that occurs through the bag. It is much better to use a drip method. Simply open the bag, place it in a container, and use airline tubing to slowly drip water from the aquarium into the bag. This should last 20 to 30 minutes for most fish, up to 2 hours for sensitive fish.

Can we get an idea of what you are testing and what results you have to report?

How long have you had live rock in the tank? I know it has been set up for 8 months, but i'm wondering how "mature" the system is. This is area that is often misunderstood. Obtaining zero readings of Ammonia and Nitrite are required, obviously, but this is just the beginning of what you should be watching for to consider an aquarium mature. For starters, you want your diatom algae bloom to come and go. You want the cynobacteria bloom, which usually occurs, to come and go. Then you should begin to see Nitrate fall to zero as your sand bed becomes seeded. Copepods, amphipods, and other small life will begin to climb in numbers and be visible to the naked eye. Finally, coraline algae will start to spread over your live rock and on the glass. These are the signs of a mature aquarium and this is what determines your ability to provide a stable environment to the fish.

Lets brainstorm and see what we can figure out.
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post #3 of 27 Old 02-08-2009, 03:44 PM Thread Starter
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k- calcium is at 705. the temp is at 78c.
I have tested for Nitrates 5.0, ph7.8,salinity is at 36. ammonia 0.25 I also had my phosphate checked from the fish store and he said its a little high but nothing to worry about. I don't have that test at home.
I put in purpleup a month ago.
I am feeding them a variety of foods, flake, frozen myshrimp, frozen phyton.
I also do a water change everyother week. about 1/4 tank.
As for the maturity of the tank. I am at the stage of getting/having alot of hair algae, and algae on the glass. if that means anything.? I have had a couple of blooms when it was first up and running about 1 -2 months after the start up. I have no idea what kind of blooms they were but the first one - my tank went all white. The second I can't remember what the color of the tank went. Then my crushed coral went all back then turned green. (hair algae)

I did forget to mention that I also have a few pieces of coral which are doing very well.
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post #4 of 27 Old 02-08-2009, 04:07 PM
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Lets talk calcium. Something is wrong with your reading. You can't have calcium at 705ppm, because it would precipitate out of solution before it gets that high. Literally, it would snow inside your aquarium! Have you tested calcium with another test kit to confirm your reading? Is this an at-home kit, or the test at the LFS?

Ammonia .25??? This also must be an incorrect reading. Ammonia is highly toxic and would certainly have caused lots of problems.

pH is a bit low, but probably because of the elevated calcium. What brand buffer do you use? What branch Calcium supplement? Do you test Alkalinity?
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post #5 of 27 Old 02-08-2009, 10:14 PM
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a few things to add.

QT your fish!! this is a big step. setup a smaller tank bare bottom ( you can even use a HOB filter for this on since its temp. but make sure to keep the filter pad clean ) and QT 1 fish at a time to observe health and eating habbits.
not only is floating the bag a bad idea, dumping the LFS water in with the fish is horrible. anything from their tank is now introduced to yours.

crushed coral is horrible. it traps detritus in the wide spaces so sand is your best bet. seeing you have a hair algae issue i bet your phosphates are not "ok" as well as your nitrates not being 5ppm. the hair algae is most likely consuming and feeding off of whats in your tank.
using frozen foods to feed need to be pre-rinsed with RO water prior to feeding. the water that the food gets frozen in is very high in phosphates. using RO/DI water to make your own salt water is really the only way to go IMO.
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post #6 of 27 Old 02-10-2009, 09:37 AM Thread Starter
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onefish - I have never been told to qt my fish before putting them into my tank. The way that I have been doing it is how I have seen many fish stores do it. And told to do so. So I can' t see it being a big problem.Supposedly cocopods like crushed coral substrate more so than sand. (I have no idea)

Pasfur-I redid my calcium test. It was at 600. Which i did at home. I know my phosphate is high but again that test was done at the lfs. I didn't redo the ammonia as yet (probably do it tonight).
My LFS thinks it might be the heater not being at a steady temp. that is stressing out the fish.

Talking to a couple of LFS here, i was suggested to cut back on the feeding and do a weekly water change. (?) I was feeding once a day and doing a change everyother week.
But all that in mind I think I have found out what one problem is and that is how I change the water. I now know that the way I have been doing it isn't the best way to do it. Which is I get a pail of water from the tap. Put in all that is needed salt..etc. left it overnight and then gently poured it into the tank the next day.
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post #7 of 27 Old 02-10-2009, 10:19 AM
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feeding daily IMO is feeding heavy unless you have a tang, anthia, seahorse or something of the sort that needs daily ( usually a few times a day) feedings. frozen food is high in phosphate and needs to be pre-rinsed using a fine mesh net/paper coffee filter.
tap water has all sorts of things you do NOT want to add to the tank, to start chlorine/chloromines possibly copper (which will kill inverts) phosphates, even nitrates, ammonia and all sorts of nutrients you dont want to add to the tank which can be avoided using an RO/DI unit.
Crushed coral traps detritus, period. the large spaces in between the substrate catch debris and nutrients build up causing issues.

and prob. most importantly QT your fish for at the minimum 2-3 weeks before adding them to the display!!
if the LFS wasnt using a QT and recommending not to i dont think i'd trust them or their livestock and this is an even better reason to use a QT. i would say the fish store isnt using a QT because they are just looking to push a sale.
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post #8 of 27 Old 02-10-2009, 01:41 PM
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Why are you talking about calcium when your fish are dying...just curious?

The 2 most important things for fish are ph and salinity. If you don't want to spend the time aclimating, then test the water that the fish are in and test your tank. If they are the same then you might be in luck and your fish won't die. If they are drastically different, then you have about 3 days to enjoy your fish, plain and simple.
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post #9 of 27 Old 02-10-2009, 02:58 PM
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we were talking calcium because the original poster was talking about his high calcium levels.

regardless, calcium effects mag which effects alk which effects pH so in turn (with them all working together) that could have caused a pH swing. there shouldnt be an excuse to skip acclimation. your right, if you do you will enjoy your fish for a few days, prob. less as they will want to hide esp. because of the extra stress. drip acclimation is the best, and IMO only way of doing it after QT. there are also other important things to consider then pH and SG, like temperature and oxygen content, even territories/behaviors of other fish because a lionfish will eat a damsel before the pH kills it.
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post #10 of 27 Old 02-10-2009, 03:54 PM
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You are absolutely right, there are other things to consider. But I was assuming that the fish weren't getting eaten by lionfish since he didn't mention it. Oxygen problems would show up in the ph test of both the tank and the bag the fish is in. So would Alk issues, as far as a fish is concerned. If it had been a sensitive coral, then the response would have been different. Temperature, although I do let acclimate my fish to the temperature in the tank, they can handle pretty large swings in termperature. If you ever have swam in the ocean, you may notice the huge swings in temperature that can happen almost instantly from one location to the next and fish swim freely through those areas without any problems. I'm not saying that it's always a good thing to drop a fish into a 20 degree difference of water, but it's not killing the fish. Most likely, it's the difference in ph or salinity. Sorry, I didn't mean to sound so abrupt. I'm a breeder so I just know fish really well.
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