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General Discussions This is a general purpose forum open to all topics related to Fish and Aquatics.

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Old 07-31-2014, 02:06 PM   #1

I was wondering if anyone could give me some ideas of what's going on in my Salt Water tank.

So the tank itself is a Biocube 18-1/4"L x 17"W x 18-1/4"H

I currently have in the tank:

2 large pieces of live rock
(first was purchased when I got the tank March 2012, and the second June 2013)

a fairy wrasse
Purchased only a few weeks ago july 2014

a baby clown
Purchased only a few weeks ago july 2014

2 chocolate chip starfish
First purchased when I bought tank March 2012

and several hermit crabs which have been bought at various points to keep the sand clean

Anyway... This all started back in February of this year...I had 2 clowns at that point and one of them went missing...checked the overflow and filters. Couldn't find him.

Then in March, my fiance got me a baby snowflake eel for my tank...he only existed for a couple of weeks before he vanished as well.

Take in mind this all happened over night

We recently bought another clown for our lonely clown AND the fairy wrasse. And the lonely clown goes missing as well.

Our starfish are fed on a regular basis of clams and shrimp plus they are slow eaters..I would have found part of their bodies from night to morning.

Any suggestions would be appreciated. I will be buying an ammonia test kit this weekend to see if there are any spikes
Old 07-31-2014, 05:47 PM   #2
Saltwater can be very tricky. I sold my reef tank almost 15 years ago because of all the work it required.
Aside from finding them dried up behind the tank or under the live rock this is what I would consider:
What sort of temps are you running?
Does the temperature fluctuate at all?
how often do you do a partial water change?
What kind of salt do you use?
What supplements do you add (if any) to the water?
What sort of lighting are you using (mostly important for inverts and rock)?

I would suggest testing for nitrite and nitrate as well as ammonia. These levels should be at zero for ammonia and nitrite; nitrate should be kept low, below 40ppm at most. Any spike in the ammonia could indicate a dead fish hidden in the tank or overfeeding (similar situation for nitrite). excess nitrate is from the water not being changed often enough.
Your pH should be sitting in the 8.0-8.6 range.
Also, keep in mind that a small cube will be more difficult to keep stable than a 60 gallon setup.
Old 07-31-2014, 05:54 PM   #3
Could the eel be buried in the substrate and snacking on your stock?
Old 07-31-2014, 06:29 PM   #4
Lucille, that's what I thought because I know they are more active at night but even in moving the live rock I didn't see him also the first clown went missing way before him.

Oh and to answer your questions Jon

What sort of temps are you running?
I try to aim to keep my tank between 75-77 F

Does the temperature fluctuate at all?
Just a few degrees between the upper 70s

how often do you do a partial water change?
10% weekly and then 30% every 3 weeks.

What kind of salt do you use?
Instant ocean[i]

What supplements do you add (if any) to the water?

What sort of lighting are you using (mostly important for inverts and rock)?
It is a biocube so it is PC/LED

and for food, the fish eat salt water pellets
while the Starfish (and the eel when I had him) ate clams and shrimp

Yeah, the pH is normal at 8.3 currently
but I've never done an ammonia test before. Had an idea the starfish might be chomping away but I've never caught them eating anything other than their own food and occasionally if some of the pellets aren't eaten by the clown off the top of the live rock.

This is the tank when I first got it. You can see the two clowns and one of my starfish, Pancake.
Old 07-31-2014, 06:29 PM   #5
Originally Posted by Lucille View Post
Could the eel be buried in the substrate and snacking on your stock?
good point. eels are notorious for this.
Old 07-31-2014, 06:46 PM   #6
sounds like everything is being done like it should be.
See what your ammonia, nitrite and nitrate are and go from there.

a side note: live rock should develop a slow growing purple velveteen algae on the surface over time; if this does not happen, the calcium levels may be to low. Instant ocean is good salt for this setup; I used reef crystals to maintain my inverts' trace element levels. It may help add more purple to the live rock. This costs more but worked well for me. The inverts thrived and the rock looked was solid purple.
Otherwise, calcium supplements and test kits are relatively cheap and effective.
Old 07-31-2014, 06:52 PM   #7
Thank you, nice to know I'm doing something right.

I checked the crevasses in the live rock for anything and can't see anything.

The other thing I thought it might be is a Bristleworm I'm just not seeing immediately and is dragging the corpse under the sand.

I just don't know where they are going.
Old 07-31-2014, 07:03 PM   #8
the bristleworms I dealt with tended to ravage the corals and left the fish alone. They are active at night so you can spot them if you turn the light on after the tank has been sitting in total darkness for a few hours.
you can pick them out with forceps if you are careful not to break them.
Old 08-03-2014, 05:25 PM   #9
Hey all, sorry for not posting these earlier.

Did my tests yesterday but couldn't get to a computer.
The only thing I see wrong is the Nitrate being too high while I'm currently treating and the pH is low (which is strange because I tested that the other day)

Old 08-05-2014, 12:10 PM   #10
The lack of ammonia and nitrite indicates a good beneficial bacteria bed.
Do 15-20% water changes twice a week or 25% once per week for a few weeks to reduce your nitrate. Take care not to over-clean the filter or substrate so you can keep your good bacteria alive and healthy.
If your tap water has a high pH this will help fix that too.
Usually high nitrate causes the pH to drop.
Also, if the substrate you are using is not crushed coral or coral sand, I would add some or gradually switch to it. Remember to do this over the course of a few months so your bacteria can transfer to the new substrate if you do replace it. Coral based substrates help keep the pH in check.
Good luck.

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