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Clownfish keep dying. why?

Discussion in 'Damsel / Anemone Fish' started by Plague, Aug 24, 2010.

  1. Plague

    Plague O.o

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    First off I'd like to say I'm a freshwater guy and only have a basic knowledge of marine fish.

    I decided to post this for my best friend since he is too proud to admit defeat and ask for help. He has a 10g nano reef tank set up. Using a AquaClear 70 mod he learned online, he has a refugium of some sort with cheeto (i think it's called that). He has two shrimp, a cleaner shrimp (skunk shrimp I believe?) and a peppermint shrimp. Both were juveniles when purchased and get along fine. He also has a lot of snails, 8 or so margarita snails and 2 nassarius snails. About 14 pounds of live rock. Sorry if this isn't detailed enough this is all from memory.

    Now on to the main point, he has killed a total of 12 different clownfish. Every time I've supported him and personally gone with him to the LFS to hand pick the fish, but every time we get the fish, they end up dying from illness. We tried drip acclimation, some other type where you add a cup of tank water every now and then, even dripped acclimated over night. His clowns ALWAYS end up getting some kind of illness whether it be a severe case of Ick, mouth fungus, head in the hole disease, clown fish disease, and so on. The guy looks like he is running a doctors desk at his home since he has so many meds. Are we doing something wrong? He always does water changes and using AquaVitro products to help with water quality.

    Has it something to do with the LFS? Or does he have the worst luck ever? We quarantined 8/12 fish and always buy pairs.

    :help:

    I would like to add that I've owned freshwater fish for 6 years and currently run a well stocked 55gallon tank and I have never had problems with fish illness. He just recently started only 3 months ago. The tank is well cycled and he had a hair algae problem with which he dealt with by building the refugium.
     
  2. Ace25

    Ace25 www.centralcoastreefclub. com

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    Could be a problem with the LFS.. or could be that he is "loving the fish to death" by dosing extra stuff/meds in the tank when he shouldn't. There really shouldn't be anything needed for a simple small clownfish tank other than water changes. Not sure which of the AquaVitro line would have any positive effect on clownfish.. but overdosing any of the products in that line can stress out fish. One would think the shrimp would kick the bucket before clownfish though because shrimp are more sensitive.

    When you QT the fish, what meds if any where used? I would probably go with just copper meds in a QT/Hospital tank, but also test copper levels at least 2x a day with a good reliable test kit. You have to be right on with copper to make it effective and not go overboard.
     
  3. Plague

    Plague O.o

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    By quarantine I mean that we've had to put the fish in a separate bucket due to illness. He hasn't properly quarantined any fish to try to fix an illness that isn't there. All the clown fish we've gotten have gotten some kind of illness. We've gone to 6 different stores, even bought from a petco. We've gotten from true perculias, to oscellaris, to false perculias, maroons, fire dartfish. They all just get some sort of illness. I'm wondering if there is something lurking in his tank that causes all of this? The only Aquavitro product he is using is the water conditioner btw.
     
  4. Ace25

    Ace25 www.centralcoastreefclub. com

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    So, if your using water conditioner like Alpha, then your probably not using RO or RO/DI water, right? Could certainly be something in the water supply since there are 1000's of unknowns when it comes to tap water.
     
  5. Plague

    Plague O.o

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    I'm using tap water for my own aquariums though. All my fish would be dead to no? He initially started the tank with RO/DI water bought from the store. I mean I find it hard to believe that RO water is that crucial to maintaining marine fish.
     
  6. Ace25

    Ace25 www.centralcoastreefclub. com

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    Believe it...
     
  7. RiVerfishgirl

    RiVerfishgirl AC Members

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    It could be something with the water supply, but honestly shrimp and stuff usually go first. However, shrimp and snails can sometimes tolerate higher levels of nitrates, nitrites and ammonia than the fish, and possibly differing pH and salinity levels.

    So first of all, what are his water parameters? What is his pH, ammonia, nitrites, nitrates? What is his salinity? And what is he measuring his salinity with, and has he tried measuring with different equipment?

    It's unlikely to be the stores stock if he's bought that many from so many different places.

    If everything measures ok, then I'd suggest switching to RO water.
     
  8. Plague

    Plague O.o

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    His ph is at 8.2 parameters are fine and has some nitrates. Salinity is usually at 1.024 and he uses instant oceans hydrometer. He once took his water to the store to get it measured there and they reported a lower specific gravity though the guy said their hydrometer was very old. He never used carbon in his tank and recently read that if enough bio material builds up in his tank it can be dangerous. I forgot exactly what it was but the symptoms of having it matched up. He said he always wondered why it looked like there was also soap in his water since he usually had bubbles on the top of the tank. So 4 days ago he added activated carbon to his Aquaclear mod.

    I told him just make it easy on everyone and switch to brackish already =P
     
  9. RiVerfishgirl

    RiVerfishgirl AC Members

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    The instant ocean hydrometers are nearly always incorrect. Some of them are off significantly. Mine was reading 1.024 when my refractometer read 1.017. So if his salinity is actually way lower than it reads that could stress clownfish due to the fact that they're reef fish which are used to a higher stable salinity. He really needs to get a refractometer or something in order make sure his salinity is actually correct.

    The bubbles on top of the water may just be due to organic waste in the water. Similar to how a skimmer works, if there's some type of protein the movement of the water will stir it up and bring it to the top. Also similar to the "sea foam" you see in the ocean. Though there is the possibility that his tapwater is contaminated with some type of surfactant that may be harmful to marine fish. In that case it would be likely his inverts wouldn't be healthy either though.
    If he does have the presence of something in has tapwater carbon may help, but he should really switch to RO. Otherwise he's going to have to run carbon on his water change water every single time he mixes it for a water change, BEFORE he adds it to the tank, and HOPE that it removes whatever is causing the issues.

    As far as biomaterial buildup in the tank, he should be preventing that by doing water changes, and also his macroalgaes will remove some of that.
     
  10. Plague

    Plague O.o

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    So you are saying that there is a possibility that his salinity is very low and is causing heavy stress to the fish, lowering their immune system and causing all these illnesses?
     
  11. RiVerfishgirl

    RiVerfishgirl AC Members

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    Yes. Not only that but the salinity level effects their slimecoat production.

    And what his water temperature?
     
  12. ToeJam

    ToeJam MMORPG ADDICT!!

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    I am with Ace... And River on the Tap water ...lord knows what can be in that from day to day.

    Also the scene you describe sounds like a mess. You are aware adding all that to the display will soak into it's surroundings? The medicines is what I mean...

    You also mention he doesn't run carbon...well after all that dosing of this and that with no testing...and no carbon used to pull out all the stuff...you have a toxic soup going of meds.

    I personally think you need to sit down ...Test the tap water...test the tank water and give us some numbers.

    Low salinity is actually a favorable environment for Fish over the Corals...only when its significantly low is it a problem. Not saying this is the case here.

    Also all that dosing could mean he could be still in cycles ..thanks to killing off the bio in the tank...hard to say.

    My clowns have gone through hell and back and never had died...seems 12 dead clowns screams something is very wrong in that tank. The live rock may have sponged up some things and is leeching it back into the water.

    TESTS please....really.
    Nitrates, Nitrites, Ammonia, PH 8.0 kits (use end of photo period for proper readings), Salinity test at the store with refractormeter, Alk , calc

    Also please test the tap water for kicks just to compare....

    As ace said Copper test that water...

    Post the results please I really like to see the results...and see if we can help him out at the same time.
     
  13. ToeJam

    ToeJam MMORPG ADDICT!!

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    You may want to give him some low salinity numbers that are OK I dont have my book in front of me....nor do I run my stuff low due to Reef.

    It is actually ok to run slightly lower than Reefs salinity ...worst case Ill grab my book and get the numbers for you all.
     
  14. Plague

    Plague O.o

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    heh getting the numbers from his tank will be near impossible. He'll scold at me and set me on fire if he finds out I did this thread. Like I said he is too proud to accept defeat. I'll see what I can come up with.

    BTW all the meds were administered in a separate 5 gallon bucket, never in the main tank. Only thing ever used in the main tank was melafix and pimafix.
     
  15. ToeJam

    ToeJam MMORPG ADDICT!!

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    Well hand him this:
    http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2004-05/rhf/index.php

    Though its reef specific advice .... It is still a guide post for you or him.
    Reefs need a little more scrutiny on some things vs Fish only. It should still act as a guide post.

    here is another which actually posts some numbers targeted for Fish only:
    http://www.saltwater-aquarium-online-guide.com/water-parameters.html
     
    #15 ToeJam, Aug 25, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2010
  16. RiVerfishgirl

    RiVerfishgirl AC Members

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    You cannot generalize like that. Some fish species are ok for fairly low salinity, some are not. Clownfish are ok for lower salinity than many corals, but not for salinity as low as my instant ocean hydro was giving me (1.017).

    Clownfish should optimally be kept in salinity between 1.023-1.026, and it should be fairly stable. They may be ok in slightly lower and slightly higher, but not by more than a couple of points.

    The temperature should be around 78-80, IMO, though as stated in most information I've seen 75-84 is ok. Anything lower than that or higher than that would definitely not be good.
     
  17. ToeJam

    ToeJam MMORPG ADDICT!!

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    You must have been posting and didn't notice. I had asked you to provide some salinity numbers that are low but not too low for him. Since I made it clear I didn't remember.

    I also then took it upon myself to get him some numbers to use to act as a guide post.

    I don't see what the problem here is with my generalized answer since you proved my point that you can have lower salinity numbers than the 1.024 we normally would go for.

    PS. I don't take Hydro meter readings in here seriously,since they are very unreliable. So OP...do try to get it tested by the local store by a refractormeter ...it's the only way to get a accurate reading.
     
  18. RiVerfishgirl

    RiVerfishgirl AC Members

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    I also forgot to mention that the storebought fish are often wildcaught. They are not necessarily as hardy as tankbreds. If the fish has been caught from an environment with a specific salinity/temperature and transferred several times to tanks with differing parameters that is going to cause issues with their health. And then add on top of that his tank parameters may not match the fish store OR where the fish was caught, it might cause issues.

    So you should buy clowns from a store that knows where the fish were attained and knows what salinity they should be kept at, and also acclimates them properly. (not just having fish shipped in and dropping them into a differeing salinity than the bag they came out of, which some stores do. Or acclimating them to too low a salinity. Some stores keep their marine system at a fairly low salinity to save on salt, and this is detrimental to some species of fish.)
    He also needs to know the difference between his salinity and the salinity the fish are being kept in at the store. If it's significantly different then it can take a fairly long acclimation process.

    In addition do not buy fish from stores that just got them shipped in. These fish have been acclimated to the stores tanks recently and then to acclimate them to your own tank right afterward is stressful. Not to mention, you don't know if the fish are in good health due to the fact that they haven't been at the store long.
     
    #18 RiVerfishgirl, Aug 25, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2010
  19. RiVerfishgirl

    RiVerfishgirl AC Members

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    I assumed you'd read my post which mentioned the 1.017 number I got from my refractometer and you were implying a salinity that low was ok for marine fish since they don't need as high a salinity as corals. Because when I mentioned salinity I was referring to the fact that a hydrometer could be reading significantly higher than the actual salinity.

    So it was apparently a misunderstanding on both our parts. :)

    I have no issue with your assertion that marine fish can be kept in a lower salinity than corals generally need. I kept my fish only tanks around 1.022.
     
  20. ToeJam

    ToeJam MMORPG ADDICT!!

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    Where I was coming from was that the studies showed the slightly lower salinity environments were actually better for the fish. While Reef Tanks, prefered the higher end salinity readings.

    Without having the numbers at the time I couldn't be specific.

    Now that I have them and remember... Fowlr at 1.020+ was actually good for them over the 1.026 is all I was getting at. Let me emphasize though..I think personally 1.020 is too low to me...1.022 is low as I would personally go.


    I really wish they would pull those Hydro's off the market. So unreliable.
     

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