New Member with lots of questions!

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New Member with lots of questions!

Postby TanyaBloom on Sat Mar 02, 2013 7:04 pm

Hello to everyone! I am brand new.. Just signed up 15 minutes ago. Have been browsing around the site a little bit. Amazing page if I might say! Please forgive my ignorance as I am brand new and everything looks a little chaotic to me!

SO I was referred to this site by my favorite employee at my LFS. I am constantly calling him and stopping in for help and advice!

If I am posting in the wrong place PLEASE let me know! :oops:

THE STORY:
We have had our 55 gallon salt water tank set up for about 4-5 months now. We are brand new to the hobby and have acquired quite a bit of knowledge, but still have a long way to go. We are having a bit of issues. Bare with me......

We cycled our tank for about 2 months, placed start up chemicals in it, the whole nine yards, etc. We started with a yellow tail blue body damsel, an ocellaris clown fish, a chocolate chip starfish, 8-10 pounds of live rock, 2 emerald crabs, 2 blue leg hermit crabs, and 4 snails. Everything was going FANTASTIC. 2 weeks later, we added 2 more snails, 1 more ocellaris clown fish, 2 more damsels (one yellow belly, yellow tail, blue body, and one black and white stripe), and 1 condylactis anemone. Within 2 days, the black and white stripe damsel was toast... (no, literally). Someone in the tank was obviously very rude and he was laying on his side (dead) with a huge hematoma, and before I could scoop him out, one of the emerald crabs was snacking on him. No big deal.. So then all was well, everyone getting along for another 2 weeks, then added a yellow headed sleeper goby. Still getting along. Woke up one morning, came downstairs to turn the lights on and what do I find? A yellow headed sleeper goby sucked up face first into the power head... :( I won't go over the morbid details of what he looked like when we pulled him out of it.... :shock:

Okay.. so we tossed him out and were very disappointed because he was probably our favorite fish yet (not to mention our sand was very clean thanks to him). Few days later.. my yellow belly damsel was dead at the bottom of the tank, with bruising all over her. What the heck? Took her to the LFS I bought her from and told my favorite employee that I knew it wasn't his fault but I wanted to just show him what the fish looked like. He said it obviously looked like she was very badly beaten up. No big deal, because we didn't pay a lot for her and I know damsels can be pretty aggressive. At this point we were back down to 1 ocellaris, 1 anemone, 1 choc. chip starfish, 1 damsel, and all of our critters.

So what do we do? Stock our tank again.. because we bought and are maintaining a tank for a reason-- we want stuff in it! We bought 3 more ocellaris clown fish and a coral beauty. Few days later.. our ORIGINAL ocellaris is somewhat pale, missing his tail fin, and as the hours went on, the current picked him up and the anemone ATE HIM! (I told the anemone, "How'd you like your $30 steak?" .. yes I talk to my fish) So back to the pet store... again... (few days later). Purchased 5 more snails, 1 scooter blenny, another condylactis anemone, 5 blue leg hermit crabs, and a cleaner goby. Cleaner goby is great, snails are great, hermit crabs, coral beauty, and clown fish.. fantastic. Scooter blenny.. covered in sand and on his way out to fish heaven, and the anemone... Well she has wedged between 2 live rocks, and you can hardly see her. Our original anemone has been shriveling up and puffing back out quite frequently last 3 days. Fed our original anemone a piece of frozen krill shrimp (thawed) and this morning half of it came out whole..

What is going on? What am I doing wrong? Why are these poor creatures doing fine and then BAM! they are not so fine? I'm getting frustrated and I am totally ignorant. (mark it on the calendar, I admitted it) ...
Our salinity has stayed at 1.020 - 1.025 at all times. Our temperature is at 78 F. Our levels are at (and have been at since day 1 of placing fish in the tank)
Nitrate: 40 ppm
Nitrite: 0 ppm
Alkalinity: 300 ppm
pH: 7.8

We have a protein skimmer, a fluval 306 filter, a powerhead (not sure the number/strength sorry), and a T5 light. The light gets shut off at between 9-10 pm and goes back on by 8 am.

So very sorry about the book I just wrote... Any suggestions? Ideas?

If I can figure it out, I will post some pictures I have in a reply to this thread...... IF I can figure it out

THANKS A LOT EVERYONE!!!!!!!
~Newbie~ :oops:
TanyaBloom
 
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Location: Janesville, WI

Re: New Member with lots of questions!

Postby TanyaBloom on Sat Mar 02, 2013 7:38 pm

IMG_4489.jpg
IMG_4489.jpg (42.11 KiB) Viewed 574 times

This is what our tank looks like currently.

IMG_4479.jpg
IMG_4479.jpg (33.62 KiB) Viewed 574 times

This is our original anemone when we first brought it home.

IMG_4406.jpg
IMG_4406.jpg (46.42 KiB) Viewed 574 times

Just a random picture of the right half of our tank.

I don't know if these will help..

If anyone wants to see a specific picture let me know and I will post one!
~Newbie~ :oops:
TanyaBloom
 
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Re: New Member with lots of questions!

Postby Blue2Fyr3 on Sat Mar 02, 2013 8:01 pm

First things first, welcome to the forum :)

Sorry you have had such a rough time with your tank. I can understand the frustration.

First what are your ammonia, and Nitrite levels? Nitrate is pretty high IMO. I run a reef though so maybe it's more acceptable in fish only? Not sure.

How often are you doing water changes? How often are you topping off? That's a pretty big salinity swing which could be messing with things. I'd say for a 55 gallon you need a lot more that 8-10 pound of live rock. While I don't abide by the pound per gallon rule it can be a good place to start. Without sufficient live rock it can be difficult for your tank to have enough beneficial bacteria to help the tank stay stable.

Some of your livestock choices are questionable as well. While sand sifter gobies are neat, many starve in captivity after a year. Scoot blennies are in the same boat but they are pretty easy to get onto frozen food, at least mine was. You said the Scooter was covered in sand and almost dead? I know at night my burrows in the sand with only her eyes sticking out.

The salinity swings may be what is bothering the anemones. I would try and get everything stabilized before adding anything else. How many clowns do you have now? They don't tend to tolerate more than 2 per tank. 2 will pair up and often kill the others.

I hate to through all of this at you but I hope we can figure out what is going on and get everything back on track :)
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Re: New Member with lots of questions!

Postby TanyaBloom on Sat Mar 02, 2013 8:23 pm

Nitrite and ammonia is at zero. Water changes about once a week.. 10-25% change
top off probably once a week.. we watch the salinity very carefully when we do and we top off very slowly

goby was eating frozen brine shrimp with the best of them.. so not sure about the starving part..
had 4 clowns.. now down to 3.. the 3 are doing great so far :)

Do not hesitate to criticize, scold, and ask questions. I want to figure this out to be a successful aquarium owner! And do very much appreciate it!!

Help with keeping salinity the same level? What is best? We have a floating glass hydrometer and we always keep it in the green zone.
~Newbie~ :oops:
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Location: Janesville, WI

Re: New Member with lots of questions!

Postby jelly on Sat Mar 02, 2013 8:59 pm

you need to slow down this hobby is not one to rush, when you rush it you kill it. get a refractometer to check your salinaty. they are much more accorate. look for a good auto top off so you dont have to top off once a week and will keep the salinaty swing in check. later in time i would look to upgrade to a sump and getting more live rock for the tank and macro algea for the sump. although you do 10-20% water changes a week you can back that down and do 20% once a month if your peramaters are in check. what is your end goal? are you looking to do just fish or are you looking to do corals as some point? where are you getting your water? quaility equipment is always a good thing to.. Where are you buying your fish? are you watching the fish before you buy them to make sure they look healthy? the damsel may be the one beating the other fish up... one last think i said it before. TAKE YOUR TIME!!! YOU RUSH IT YOU KILL IT!!!
Wounded Warrior Project Alumni.
larger skimmers and calcium reators of all sizes
http://www.aquariumeng.com/index.html#
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Re: New Member with lots of questions!

Postby TanyaBloom on Sat Mar 02, 2013 10:08 pm

I understand what you are saying. We have been discussing a sump so will check into that further. Auto top off? Have not heard of that.. Any recommended brands/kinds for auto topper and sump?
Will switch hydrometers ASAP.
We buy marineland aquarium salt and mix it up ourselves. I know it is a big no-no but its so much cheaper! :oops:

End goal... Dont really know. Right now all I care about is fish and live rock... I would consider coral in the future, but not for a long time!

Thanks again guys!
Keep throwing it at me! :D

Will slow down on fish. Okay to keep adding critters? The little fellas help keep the tank clean!
~Newbie~ :oops:
TanyaBloom
 
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Location: Janesville, WI

Re: New Member with lots of questions!

Postby TanyaBloom on Sun Mar 03, 2013 11:48 pm

Added 13 pound of live rock tonight to (hopefully) help the tank out some more..

Here's a picture of what it looks like as of tonight!
photo 2.jpg
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photo 1.jpg
photo 1.jpg (33.24 KiB) Viewed 514 times

As you can see.. this is our condylactis anemone.... The pics I posted above are from when we first brought him home, here is what he looks like now... :( ... Just not sure.. Disappointing

Rented 6 books from the library today to read up some more and have been looking at suggested websites from members on this forum.

Thanks everyone...
~Newbie~ :oops:
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Location: Janesville, WI

Re: New Member with lots of questions!

Postby Socratic Monologue on Mon Mar 04, 2013 11:46 am

+1 on the great advice given so far.

You are using tap water -- pretty big gamble, IMO. (I guess this because it is very unlikely that your tank is maintaining 15dkh+ without chemical additions. The hardness is in the tap water, along with...well, without a lab test you don't know what's in there.) Use RO water only. Basic saltwater rule.

If your tank has 300ppm KH (15-16 dkh to most reefkeepers) and a pH of 7.8 (though likely this is not very accurate), the tank is holding a large amount of CO2. What kind of skimmer is on the tank?

Also, top off with FW daily. Keep the tank full (up to the trim) so that you can just top up to that level daily, and test (yes, a refractometer and calibration solution) once a week or two.

Also my opinion: get at least 75 lbs of good live rock in that tank. Filtration, aesthetics, food source, hiding spots for bullied fish.

Long term: learn about quality foods (brine shrimp is like carrots: a very nice part of a balanced diet, but you'll die if you eat only that). How many different things do you eat in a week? Marine fish are used to at least that much variety.

It sounds like you are going to the LFS with your wallet in your hand and buying animals that seem to be a good fit for you and your tank. Consider this approach instead: go to a lot of LFSs without your wallet. Then go home and spend some time (weeks, months) researching the animals that caught your eye. Think you want a clown and a couple damsels, say; buy Scott Michael's book on damsels. Amazon ships it to your door for $32, and you just saved (how much?) in dead clowns because you learned first about how not to mix them. Good books are reference materials, and as such are worth buying.

HTH.
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Re: New Member with lots of questions!

Postby bradhass87 on Mon Mar 04, 2013 3:06 pm

Socratic Monologue wrote:+1 on the great advice given so far.

You are using tap water -- pretty big gamble, IMO. (I guess this because it is very unlikely that your tank is maintaining 15dkh+ without chemical additions. The hardness is in the tap water, along with...well, without a lab test you don't know what's in there.) Use RO water only. Basic saltwater rule.

If your tank has 300ppm KH (15-16 dkh to most reefkeepers) and a pH of 7.8 (though likely this is not very accurate), the tank is holding a large amount of CO2. What kind of skimmer is on the tank?

Also, top off with FW daily. Keep the tank full (up to the trim) so that you can just top up to that level daily, and test (yes, a refractometer and calibration solution) once a week or two.

Also my opinion: get at least 75 lbs of good live rock in that tank. Filtration, aesthetics, food source, hiding spots for bullied fish.

Long term: learn about quality foods (brine shrimp is like carrots: a very nice part of a balanced diet, but you'll die if you eat only that). How many different things do you eat in a week? Marine fish are used to at least that much variety.

It sounds like you are going to the LFS with your wallet in your hand and buying animals that seem to be a good fit for you and your tank. Consider this approach instead: go to a lot of LFSs without your wallet. Then go home and spend some time (weeks, months) researching the animals that caught your eye. Think you want a clown and a couple damsels, say; buy Scott Michael's book on damsels. Amazon ships it to your door for $32, and you just saved (how much?) in dead clowns because you learned first about how not to mix them. Good books are reference materials, and as such are worth buying.

HTH.


Very good info here!

Read, read, read, impulse buying of fish and corals will only result in dead fish, dead corals and and empty wallet real quick. When purchasing fish research about aggression, diet, max size, what they can be kept with and the best way to acclimate them. Also if you read a lot of articles and posts you will hear mention of quarantine tanks. These separate tanks are setup to allow you to view behavior of the fish (or coral) and also to watch for diseases, before possibly infecting your whole tank.

R.O. Filtered water is a must! FYI you can buy this at Woodmans (by the gallon) till you get a filter of your own.

Top off your water daily, it's a must!

As a personal rule for me; NO DAMSELS! I learned the hard way, similar to what you are going through. They only get bigger and more aggressive.

I would recommend subscribing to 'Coral' and 'Tropical fish' magazines they always have new articles about fish and corals. The articles usually going into detail.
Image Two Hobbies, going fast and playing with saltwater, both very expensive...
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Re: New Member with lots of questions!

Postby MM on Wed Mar 06, 2013 11:07 am

Jelly hit the nail on the head slow down. If some fish are dying just observe for a several weeks or more, make sure everything is stable before replacing them. One thought from looking at your pics would be that in the long run a bit more live rock would be beneficial. More area for beneficial bacteria and small beneficial animals. That would help keep your nitrates down to a lower level also. Watch for someone selling good live rock on the buy sell forum here, make sure it was orginally wild collected live rock. The wild stuff is better from my humble opinion.

- Mark
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Re: New Member with lots of questions!

Postby Nemomma on Thu Mar 07, 2013 6:01 am

You definitely need more rock. Beefs Reef in Milton sells at $3 a pound, unlike the $10-20 your petco wants. Make sure you only add cured live rock at this point, or you will re-cycle and kill everything.
Go to Bulk Reef Supply website and watch videos on setting up your own reverse osmosis deionization (ro/di) water system.
You can only have one pair of clowns in a tank they size.
Damsels are devils.
You can easily transport fish from Madison or Milwaukee. I have been getting mine from Living Art Aquarium in Madison.
You can also order on line from live aquaria.
Damsels and six line wrasses are devils.
Tunze osmolators are great auto top off. Top off daily with ro/di water without the salt in it to maintain a sg of 1.025 for fish only.
Get a ten gallon quarantine tank set up for all new fish.
http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showt ... ?t=2195588
Better luck with better knowledge!!
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Re: New Member with lots of questions!

Postby Nemomma on Thu Mar 07, 2013 6:08 am

Also, put a nylon stocking over your powerhead before your anemones decide to move there...
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