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Keep loosing fish

David Sanchez

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So I am hoping that I can get some guidance as to what to try.  I have a 55 Gallon that is over a year old.  I have been taking it very slow.  4 months in added a clown.  month latter cleaner shrimp.  4 months latter Brown Tang and Yellow Tang.  1 Month latter Brown tang died no idea why.  Shortly after Shrimp died.  No idea why.  Two weeks latter Yellow tang got Black Ick.  Moved him and the clown to QT tank.  Tang Died after RODI water dip from stress I guess.  I also keep loosing snails and conchs fairly regularly.  I have 1 torch in the tank for 4 months and that is doing good I think. 

I test weekly and Calcium is low - Working on that slowly.  PH is good, Nitrate good, Phosphate is good (although its probably high due to hair algae issue I am fighting, but not testing high).  DKH is good too.    


I have no idea what the issue could be or what to look for.  Any Ideas?


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Start with the easy stuff. Confirm your measurements with other reefers or stores test kits. 

Salinity, temperature, ammonia are the parameters that can kill quickly. Dissolved oxygen is there also, but is harder to measure. As long as water is moving youre probably ok. 

Another thing to consider is pathogens. It might be a good idea to leave your display tank without fish and try to treat them in a quarantine setting with either chloroquine phosphate or copper. 

If your coral is thriving, it seems more likely to be a pathogen killing fish, and then something else messing with the inverts...

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If you leave the tank fishless for long enough, then you should be ok assuming the fish that you have in QT is treated. There is some debate about how long that period actually is, some say its up to 76 days, but thats based on some very old science. However, it might be worth it to stay disease-free in the future. Its also important you keep your QT either covered or far away from your display, as disease can transfer via aerosol. 

the two medications i listed will take care of must of the nasty pathogens capable of infecting fish (separately, not combined). 

Check out humble.fish forum, he has lots of good information about fish disease and quarantine. 

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the Yellow Tang had Black Ick for sure.  But I only noticed it for about 3 days before the transfer and died.  The brown Tang I did not see anything on him.  I know it may have been in the gills but I didn't notice anything.  He layed on his side on the sand for about a day not moving but gasping, before I put him out of his misery.  This was a few weeks before I noticed the Black Ick on the Yellow Tang.   and at least a week before the shrimp died.


And yes I only use RODI water from fish store for top off.  I don't have my own unit yet.  


The only thing I have been adding is I used Purple up a few times 5 ML each time a week apart.     

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Just a few other comments, I agree with all of the above.

Some of the fish/creatures you're picking can be difficult to keep regardless of the tank age.  Tangs, especially, have a hard time traveling.  Powder Blues and Browns have always been ich magnets for me.  Inverts like shrimp can have a very hard time if your water quality is off.  Hermits and snails are almost always short-lived, so you don't know if it's their lifespan, a predator, or water conditions.

Many will disagree, but for your first fish I would start with someone less expensive and hardier.  Damsels are notoriously tough, but hard to catch later if you don't want them.  I've always had good luck with dwarf angels to begin.  Hawkfish have also done well for me.

I would avoid exotic shrimp, starfish, and expensive fish until you start to see some success.

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Here's a good paper describing "ich" by University of Florida.  


The larval stage (Theront) can take up to 72 days to develop and hatch out from the cyst stage (Tomont) hence the long times given for keeping a system fallow.

From the summary of the Florida paper:

"Quarantine of any new fish for 30–90 days before introducing them into an established population will provide time for observation, treatment, and reduction of spread. Source water should also be considered a potential reservoir, and, therefore, should be handled appropriately. In addition, any equipment, tank structures, or other inert materials should be disinfected properly prior to reuse in other systems. Clinically healthy fish that have survived an infection may act as carriers. Similarly, slow developing or dormant tomonts in the environment may act as a reservoir."

Consideirng all the problems animals can have that we cannot identify or do anything about, if practical, the longer you quarantine the better. 

Also keep in mind you have no idea of how an animal was treated before you received it.  In my maintenance business I've purchased groups of animals of the same species (fish and inverts), quarantined them, then placed them in different tanks and then seen the whole group die within weeks of each other months after being placed in different display tanks.  Even though an animal may look healthy it may take weeks to months for problems to develop. 

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