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richmckee

Newbie, about to give up

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I'll have some pics once I find my memory cards...it looks awesome under the halide with all the corals.

 

Thanks everyone for being so helpful and supportive during my time of crisis (I loved that [language filter] jawfish and was really hoping he'd make it). It's a community like this that keeps people in the hobby instead of feeling helpless and broke.

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Thanks for the reply,

 

One thing of note. Here is an abbreviated timeline of my cycling

 

December 11 - purchase and setup.

 

Jan 2 - Everything died for the first time

 

5 weeks of nothing but corals (corals looking great - even now)

 

February 5 - New group of fish added

 

Feb 21 - Tang/Blenny died but I thought my giant hermit crab hunted them down due to strong circumstantial evidence

 

Today - Blue spotter died for no apparent reason (after hermit removed)

 

The only confusion I have about your recommendation is that I cycled for almost 2 months before I added the last group of fish. Also, my corals (zoanthids and several other types) are doing GREAT. There is visible new growth on every non-fish item in the tank. Are you saying that I need to let the tank be absent of fish completely in order for a new cycle to begin?

First off, dont give up my friend! :) I know it can be very difficult. I think whats going one here is an illness. You probobly have some parisites or fungus killing your fish. Many you cant even see and have no warning signs. All fish need to be removed and treated in a quarintine tank for a few months. Without any fish to host the bad stuff will die. But this will only happen when there are 0 fish in the tank. Im sure thats what it is if your corals are fine.

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took a water sample in today and everything checks out fine.

 

My light hood is wired incorrectly and producing a small current. I didn't think this was a problem because it isn't touching any water in the tank and is supported by non-conductive materials. But it's best to just eliminate that vector of contamination. I'm going to mount the light on the wall and rewire the hood so that it sits a few inches above the tank.

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Pictures fo shizzle.

 

I personally am new to the hobby too, but I've taken these guy's advice and only spend about 1 hour a week total on maintenance. I don't own any cool reefkeepers, just set up a cheap auto top off and do small water changes and sit back and let what happens happen.

 

Good luck Rich, once you figure out your problem the tank is going to be awesome with little work :)

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As everyone has said, don't give up. This is a very frustrating, very rewarding hobby.

 

Second, as others have mentioned, slow down. Many people think that buy starting with live sand and live rock, it eliminates the cycle. This isn't really true. The "cycle" is really building up a balance of bacteria capable of responding to your bio load - and then adding and changing slowly. When you start by adding three pretty large fish to a 60 gal, there isn't sufficient balance to allow your tank to absorb this increased bio-load without a spike. Then it sounds like you adding another big number of fish, probably before your tank had adjusted to the first batch.

 

It's very tempting to jump in and start adding a lot of fish/coral, but the more patient, the less problems, and the less likely that you'll quite out of frustration.

 

Take it slow, add 1 fish a month. And start out creating a complete list of the fish you want in the tank and make sure it's a reasonable list for the size of tank.

 

Good luck - and don't up!

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So I gotto ask, what store is selling you clown tangs and clown triggers to put in a 60 gallon cube? And then selling you another clown tang. Stop shopping there. Biggest beef with some of our LFS is that they have no problem telling you to put a clown tang or a clown trigger in a reef tank that is 60 gallons. Next a clown trigger will eat anything it can fit in its mouth.

 

Seriously, find another store. But first slow down and read up on stuff. Go to reefcentral and READ. There is tons and tons of stuff for new people there. Educate yourself before you go into that store and get duped by someone trying to make a buck. I learned the hard way myself and it sucks that people take advantage of the first timers.

 

Just my thoughts from someone that was in your position a few years ago.

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I'd rather not name stores because I don't want to cause any drama (unless you really want to PM me and find out). And, yes, I'm aware that it's buyer beware....my buddy gave me a slight warning but was convinced by the sales associate as well. I figured that between the owner, the sales clerk, and my friend that I was ok. Also, I figured that since I am the best customer ever they would want to keep me happy. I'm a great customer because I believe people at face value, have tons of cash (no credit card fees), and will buy almost anything that people recommend because I don't want to skimp and have it cost me. Great personality traits for an academic, but terrible ones for the real world.

 

One thing of note: every fish that has died has come from the same tank system. The only fish that has lived was from the same store, but a different system of tanks.....

 

I started shopping at Sea Horse the other day and enjoyed the dialogue with the owner. If his fish survive I'll definitely start shopping there more for fish and just stick to accessories and supplies at the store closest to my house.

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If your tank has that little LR in it I think you took all of your biological filtration out of your tank.

IMO you need more LR in there for filtration.

 

Get the tank set up the way you like the look of it. Wait a couple weeks before doing anything else. Don't give up.

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There is just as much rock in the sump which has been there the entire time. I have also added 15 more pounds to the display part of the tank since the last pictures. I am going to quarantine for 14 days and then let a friend keep the fish for a while. I'm going to start adding fish in about 2 months.

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a good rule of thumb is around 1# of live rock per gallon, cube might be different, but i have a 6'x2'x2' tank, (180 gallons), i have a least 150# pounds of rock. so more rock would not hurt, that is a big part of filtration. with copper power, which is what i am using for my qt tankyou only need a ounce per 20 gallons. i have a ten gallon tank you can use, will give you an ounce of copper, if you have not got that far yet.

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Thanks for the replies....

 

Once I found out that the rock was for more than display purposes I put more in. I think there is about 60 pounds in there now.

 

Frlejo, thanks for the offer, but a store owner offered to give them a home for a while and I don't want to mess anything up. The tank is empty and the fish have been taken to a store that was generous enough to offer a quarantine for me. After that I am going to give them to a friend with a 150 gallon established tank for a few weeks and slowly add them back. I'll have some updates in a few weeks.

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Good call on adding in more of the rock. As others have already said that is going to be your main source of filtration so you really need it. Also you want to try and make as many areas for your fish to hide as possible. I know you are thinking that you want to see your fish and I understand that. Any new fish that you put in your tank is going to be stressed to some point, and having ample hiding places will help them calm down and give them a lot less chance of getting sick. I have 12 fish now and every single one of them hangs out in the front of my tank. All fish need a place to hide in case they get spooked. Just think about the ocean and all the rock that they have to hide in. We are all trying to make our glass boxes as close to the natural ocean that we can. Just keep your head up take all the advice you can and read as much about the hobby as you can.

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haha, unfortunately no tangs or triggers. Definitely going to ask this forum about which fish I should add.

 

Had I known a 60 gallon tank was so limited in terms of habitat I would have gotten a 150 right off the bat. Half of my favorite fish need a bigger tank :(

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Hi,

Deos anyone in your household smoke? What is your tank's alkalinity? Do you have a cat that could be putting its paws in the tank? There are so many possible reasons things go wrong... one friend had his tank go milky, he tore his hair out trying to figure out the source. Turns out his toddler stuffed half a bologna and mayo sandwich between the skimmer and the back wall of the sump. Without actually seeing your system it's really had to guess what diseases or predators could be in there... Giant hermits with hairy legs are notorious. But you removed it. Even a stray coin, snip of wire or screw in the tank is a problem, and it could be buried in sand. Another friend lost all her fish in her entire fish room when the landlord sprayed herbicide on the landscaping outside and her window was open. Thousands of dollars of fish dead. Met a guy whose roommate fleabombed. Byebye reef tank.

 

I think someone did address this already, but I wanted to reiterate in case it got missed. In the first post you mention feeding once every 4-5 days. That is not enough, how long did that go on? A cube of prime every other day would also not be enough unless you are talking certain small fish in a large established copepod filled tank. Most fish need to be fed small amounts often. I feed mine 4 or 5 times a day, and they are fleshed out like I have seen them in the wild. You'd think this would be worse than it is. Yeah, I have some ugly algae (which they eat). I have mad coral growth and good sps color, no HLLE (yet) and little aggression. Only thing the fish fight over is who gets to eat the eggs of whoever just spawned. 4-5 times a day is a lot, and your fish probably would not need that many. Every day definitely, twice a day. Add it slowly so they eat it all before it can drift under a rock. Try a variety, Prime is ok but it has so many fine pieces, they just look like shell to me. SF Bay has a couple products that stand out-one is called "Plankton", not to be confused with their product labeled "Reef Plankton" which is so tiny some fish don't eat it. Hikari and PE Mysis are great. Even just grated raw seafood soaked in vitamins. Some fish need nori and other algae. Formula 1 and 2 pellets are well regarded, but store the bulk of your supply in the fridge well sealed, it goes rancid pretty fast. I rinse frozen food to get rid of fines and "juice" since all that stuff does is pollute the tank.

 

I have not met anyone yet who successfully keeps a clown tang, they are super mean. I have heard of people keeping them in very large tanks IE greater than 500 gallons or when the fish is very young. Even then they are foul tempered. Most triggers too. Clown tangs and clown triggers are amazing fish but if you can't keep em don't kick yourself, almost nobody succeeds long term with such mean fish. Lucky the trigger did not take off half a knuckle, they can do that. They got no qualms about biting the hand that feeds, to them it's all food.

 

People who work at fish stores do love fish, but can only know so much, and there is a ton to know. Your best bet is to make a list of fish you must absolutely have, verify you can keep them, then flesh out your collection with fish you know are compatible and not buy anything on a whim. Most shop people are too optimistic, hurried, distracted, etc to give you the time to hammer out everything that needs to be known about your system and habits before making a sale. Lucky if they can even ID everything in the shop, let alone tell you it's personality, ultimate size, rate of growth and dietary peculiarities. The worst shop workers are the know it alls. I would rather hear that the salesperson does not know and it's my job to research my pets than get bad advice from someone who does not know what he is talking about or is making it up as he goes along (fortunately I have not had this problem with the guy who owns the fish store you are not mentioning the name of). Hopefully you will not mind if you walk into a shop and hear that from me. If I don't know I am gonna say so and not just BS my way through the sale.

 

Wetwebmedia is a pretty good resource for research, I use my Droid to look things up there when I am at shops.

Good luck, and I am seriously wondering what your alk is at.

Kate

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I don't smoke anymore and have no children. When I am at my apartment, I am usually staring at my tank at least half the time because it's one of the few things I own. I doubt that it's a contamination problem as my apartment is cleaned with a HEPA filter vacum regularly and there is very little traffic. I make it a point, fish tank aside, to not have ANY pesticides or neurotoxic chemicals near my presence (and so should everyone - if it blocks biochemical/enzymatic pathways that are essential to life in an insect, what is it doing to you?).

 

I was feeding the fish every 4-5 days, then bumped up the feeding to every 2-3 days, then everyday. The fish died very consistently throughout my change in feeding schedule. Additionally, the largest, fleshiest fish was the first to die in the latest batch (a huge blenny), while my other, smaller fish actually lived until I was able to quarantine. The fish have died in the order in which they were purchased with the exception of the coral beauty. My feeding process consists of thawing the food at room temp, placing a drop of garlic extract, and then adding it 50% at a time to the tank over about 10 minutes. I've been told by countless people that everyday is enough. If that isn't enough, I'm really at a loss for words because it means that I can't trust anyone's advice. The fish seem to like the food because they swarm for it; I can see chunks of shrimp that are .125 - .25 inches long, making me think that it has some substance. I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to use a different brand and mix it up when I get my fish back.

 

I put a bunch of TINY shelled food in the tank (hermits, snails) because I have heard that puffers teeth will grow throughout their lifetime and need to grind them down. There are also a ton of unshelled black slugs that I have seen eaten by other fish while observing the tank. The puffer is a Valentini, which is "Easily able to live comfortably in a 40 gallon tank or larger." according to http://www.wetwebmedia.com/puffcareinfo.htm

 

I LOVE clown triggers and feeding the one I owned right out of my hand was awesome - best fish owning experience I've had :) I'm definitely getting one when the parameters are right in my next tank. Anyway, I don't have to worry about my favorite fish until I upgrade in a year or two, so I'll cross that bridge when I get there.

 

As far as the store shopping goes I am never trusting another fish store – EVER. It's less frustrating do my own research, but it's a shame because I'd like the hobby to be fun and social regardless of capitalism.

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Update:

 

All fish died during quarantine, but it took 7-14 days for them to die after quarantine. Some fellow hobbyists think I have some mystery disease when hearing about the history of my tank. I've been told Marine Velvet is unlikely because it kills more quickly. I've been advised to do some sort of whole tank cleaning that is WAY too much work considering there is no definitive answer for my problems.

 

Seeing as my tank is too small for most of the fish I want, I'm going to give up on fish until I get a more permanent residence. Since the tank is already set up i'm just going to keep collecting frags and growing them out so a future tank will look good. It's a shame though, corals are just an afterthought to me :(

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You have lasted longer than I would have, given your hurdles.

 

It is heartbreaking to hear others stories like this and not be able to find a "fix it" solution.

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Rich, I'd look into fairy wrasses and flasher wrasses, with your location, check out Ed's Reef over on Stark, super nice guy Ed is and Jay's just as cool, and they're both a wealth of knowlege and always have some impressive fish in stock.

 

But, I'd wait at least 6 weeks if not longer before adding any new fish LOL.

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