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Poisoned tank while on vacation--what do I do?

Discussion in 'Marine Fish Only (FO) / Fish Only With Live Rock (' started by Pandora3561, Apr 5, 2012.

  1. Pandora3561

    Pandora3561 Registered Member

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    I'm a newbie on this site. My box fish apparently died while I was on vacation. I had someone feeding him. The only thing I can think of is the smell from the hard wood floor refinishing got to him. Any way, he killed the other 4 fish in the 50 gallon tank. How do I get the poison out of the tank? I removed the live rock and put them in fresh salt water. I removed half the water. I had just cleaned and replaced the filter with clean carbon BEFORE the deaths and it is still running with 25 gallons in it. Obviously, I removed the bodies I could find. The crabs got the rest. How do I remove the poison before I put in more fish? Please help. Frustrated in Denver. Thank you.
     
  2. Cathan

    Cathan AC Members

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    I'm not an expert in this. But...

    Id take all living things out and quaratine them. Crabs fish snails etc.
    mid raised the tank temperature to high to break up the toxins. Add new carbon to filter and replace filter. Oh and Check your parameters and do a huge water change. After doing that and getting parameters correct, try a few cheap fish and see if they live. If they don't, I'd replace the live rock as it could of absorbed high levels of the poison. Same with sand. I hope everything turns out good!
     
  3. tanker

    tanker Josh Holloway--Be mine!!!

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    I have never had a Box or Cow fish, but have heard that carbon will help.
     
  4. oo7genie

    oo7genie Hello my fintime gal...

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    Nearly always, the cause of fish death while having someone else feed while you're away, is from them overfeeding. This creates a higher bio-load due to the extra waste, and causes ammonia spikes. The "poison" may be nothing more than an excessive amount of ammonia, in which case you may not need to take such drastic measures.

    Don't take my word for it not being a big problem though, as I haven't dabbled in marine tanks yet. For all I know, excess ammonia may be a huge deal in a salt tank, and may be harder to remove than just doing lots of water changes like you would in fresh. But my money is on overfeeding being the cause of death, regardless.
     
  5. greech

    greech AC Moderators

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    This is a tough one because you can't say for sure the box fish poison was the cause of the other deaths. Unfortunately you will find a variety of scenarios out there where some blame the box's toxin for wiping out the rest of their tank and some say the losses were due to either a parasite or some other issue like ammonia production from the fish remains. You are doing exactly what I would do, which is soak/rinse the rock and do at least a 50% water change and also replace the carbon. The only other suggestion I would have is to purchase some Poly Filter and run it in your sump/filter. PF is a very effective means of removing just about anything from a tank. Little pricey but it does work.

    After all that I think you will be ok. No expert on box fish but I have never read anything to suggest that the toxin cannot be diluted. It's not the same as say copper contamination which once its in the tank there isn't much you can do. I would do the 50% change, change all media and mix up some more water for near future water changes. Your tank will likely cycle again (at least a small cycle), so test often over the next couple of weeks and perform water changes accordingly. Once everything settles down, I would try a cheaper fish (but something you want to keep) just to test the situation before adding anything too expensive.

    Sorry about the losses. Hope everything work out going forward.
     
  6. the wizard

    the wizard Is it really Niko's fault?

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    I agree with Greech, you may just be starting over with your tank. You will probably see some kind of cycle, but that is normal after removing your live rock and I am sure you had to stir up the sand to get all of your CUC out. Set it back up and test params often. WC when necessary to hopefully avoid any hitchhiker death in the live rock and keep us posted.

    Not to go too far off topic, but I have seen a disturbing trend lately of suggesting throw a couple of cheap fish in and see if they live. This strikes me as cruel and unnecessary. As aquarists, we love these animals and to take that approach is, as I stated cruel. We can't always avoid losses but to intentionally subject them to unknown conditions as test subjects is out of line IMO.
     
  7. greech

    greech AC Moderators

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    Understood Wizard but in this case there really isn't much you can do other than toss out the rock and start completely over. I too do not like the idea of using fish to cycle tanks or even to use them as "cararies" but how else would one know if the rock was safe in this situation? There aren't any off the shelf test kits for box fish toxin. I honestly do not think there will be a lasting effect from the toxin. The crabs and snails that are still alive in the tank can't be used because the toxin does not have any impact on inverts.
     
  8. TL1000RSquid

    TL1000RSquid AC Members

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    Everyones advice sounds solid a few water changes and new media, mini cycle at the very least will probably happen.

    My GF had bought a long horn cowfish awhile back I gave that sucker away quick and told her it died cause I was afraid of coming home to see all my fish and corals dead. Plus eventually gets to big for my 90g.

    Like Greech said no tests for the toxin so go cheap with whatever you put in, I'd do a $1 sailfin molly from petsmart drip acclimate to tanks salinity.
     
  9. greech

    greech AC Moderators

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    I would add something you would at least want to keep long term. Something hardy like a clown.

    Squid - don't let your GF know your user name now that you have that confession in writing :).
     
  10. the wizard

    the wizard Is it really Niko's fault?

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    Don't get me wrong, I agree that there are possibilities, and you never know for sure until you put a fish in there. That said, refering to your post about diluting the toxin with water changes, going on the assumption that some kind of cycle will happen since the rock was removed from the tank, when convinced cycle has happened, as you stated, a fish you would like to keep. It may not survive and rock may need to be replaced, but through cycling and water change it isn't like just grabbing a few damsels and throwing them in and see what happens. I am not too familiar with toxins from box fish, but something tells me if he follows your advice about dilution and treats it like a fresh start up before adding fish he has a good chance of being okay.

    To the OP, keep us posted either way it goes.
     

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