Hornberson Reef - DSA 90 gallon mixed reef

Discussion in 'Tank Journals' started by wpeterson, Feb 8, 2015.

  1. wpeterson

    wpeterson Webmaster

    Our female clown died this morning and the male is not looking good.

    I took the morning off and I'm setting up a 20 gallon hospital tank in our garage and hoping to move fish over later today or tomorrow.
  2. Enderturtle

    Enderturtle Volunteer

    Ooh sorry to hear about the dead clown. Do you know what killed it Ich? Marin velvet? Pistol shrimp?

    Check the Equipements thread on here. Theres some fish medication there available for free if you need it.
    wpeterson likes this.
  3. wpeterson

    wpeterson Webmaster

    It's been a brutal week. Our water quality has been good ( undetectable nitrates, phosphate between 0.03-0.09ppm) and our coral remain happy. Despite that, a serious cryptocaryon or oodinium outbreak killed one fish 5 days ago and most of our other fish over this week. Only our bengai cardinal and dartfish have survived.

    I was reluctant to use medication in the tank and setting up a hospital tank has been quite impractical. I have a 20 gallon hospital tank in our garage, but it's wasteful to heat with an unfinished, un heated garage. The surviving fish showed no symptoms but will be treated for 2-3 weeks while our display tank lies fallow (just coral and invertebrates - no fish).

    I've never seen anything move so quickly without other problems in a tank. It seems like the only thing to do is aggressively QT incoming fish in the future.

    We're devastated, but doing our best to cure the display and treat the few survivors.
  4. aqua-nut

    aqua-nut Supporting Member

    Hang in there!

    It moved so quickly, I'd be suspicious of it being Ich. I haven't had experience with either Brook or Velvet (both known quick killers) but Ich has been a slow to no kill for me.

    I'd leave the DT fallow much longer than 3 weeks. At this point you've gone thru the pain and expense, wait a bit longer to make sure the DT is clean!

    The hospital tank could be wrapped in blankets/insulation to help with the energy loss. By the time the fish are ready to go back into the DT, the weather will be warmer so you can just keep the HT setup as a QT for all the new fish.
    wpeterson likes this.
  5. bluprntguy

    bluprntguy Webmaster

    Agree with everything @aqua-nut said above. I'd shoot for 6-7 weeks fallow and put it in your calendar. It always seemed to me that the display tank has been fallow for much longer than it actually had been. There is nothing worse than returning your healthy fish to the display tank and then having to tear everything apart 2 weeks later when they start showing symptoms again. :-(
    wpeterson likes this.
  6. denzil

    denzil Webmaster

    Sorry to hear about your fish. :( I guess Live Aquaria isn't as guaranteed as most people think.

    I would also wait the longer, more painful weeks (I'd even go as far as 10-12 weeks!) to make sure the DT is clean. @goldielocke76 ran into the same problem of her fish dying so quickly which from our guess was some advanced form of crypto.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2015
    wpeterson and jonmos75 like this.
  7. wpeterson

    wpeterson Webmaster

    We'll be shooting for at least 6+ weeks of fallow tank. The 2-3 weeks was how long I plan to treat these guys in hospital to make sure they're healthy and cured, even though the survivors have remained asymptomatic through the entire ordeal.

    This has also been my experience. I worked hard not to over-react and do major changes or dose anything in the tank, because I assumed well-fed, non-stressed fish should be able to fight off the normal strains of cryptocaryon. This was an unusually aggressive strain or something entirely different. I can't differentiate the symptoms between ich, brooklynella, or velvet.

    This is the first time I've ever ordered from regular liveaquaria site and I'd never do it again. The wrasse and the urchin both arrived stressed and in rough shape. Both did not survive very long.

    We also ordered the dartfish from divers den and they were much healthier. Unfortunately, they were twice the size described (3-4" described, fish are all 6-7"). We have a 20 gallon long that should be big enough for the three dartfish and the cardinal, but I may have to find a new home for the dartfish in the long run once I know they are healthy.
  8. wpeterson

    wpeterson Webmaster

    I was able to get all the fish out today, but it was a huge hassle. I had to remove almost all 100 lbs of rock and coral to capture the fish. We built too many caves and hiding places into our aquascape and these fish are wily.

    The cardinal and three dartfish are in the hospital tank now and are eating.

    The rock work is messed up and will never go back together quite the way I had it, and some of the corals took some damage when they were bumped moving around but 95% of them are back in the tank and OK.

    All told it took about 4-5 hours and it was a huge mess, but the tank is now fish free and the fish are in the hospital tank. This was a terrible end to a terrible week. I can understand why folks quit the hobby when things like this happen. I'm determined to see this through and get the tank clean after running without fish for 2-3 months.
    denzil, tygunn and tr1gger like this.
  9. tr1gger

    tr1gger Keyboard Cowboy

    Glad to hear its all finished and you can start getting things back in order. I am so thankful I finished adding livestock without outbreaks (didnt QT anything) All my fish came from the same 2 places and I was nervous adding in the purple tang at the end.

    Good luck and hope it all works out!
    wpeterson likes this.
  10. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    One week from adding a fish to others becoming sick is not unreasonable for marine ich.
    Key is that a newly added fish could be actively dropping trophonts when it is added.
    From that, encysting, becoming theronts, and infecting new fish, can be as short as 3 days.
    wpeterson likes this.
  11. wpeterson

    wpeterson Webmaster

    All fish are doing OK in the hospital tank, still no symptoms from the survivors, but I'm treating them anyway. It's been difficult feeding them in such a small tank without building up trace ammonia, which I've been neutralizing with Prime and doing frequent water changes.

    The main tank is doing well. Super stable without any fish in it. I've been feeding live phytoplankton, zooplankton, and fish pellets to keep the corals and clean up crew happy. Alk/Calc remain stable though phosphate has dropped to almost 0 without having to feed all the fish. (5 ppb phosphorous/0.015 ppm phosphate). I'm worried I may need to pull the phosphate reactor or feed more to allow enough nutrients.

    The UV runs about 280gph with a 36 watt bulb and I've seen zero algae growth on the rocks or glass since turning it on - though this may also be because of the drop in nutrients. I'm running the UV on a separate loop in the return chamber since the return pump flows 2000gph or so. This low flow should be in the kill zone for parasites and combined with a fallow tank provide strong assurance that everything is cleared out. I fear it's also cooking Copepods and Amphipods coming out of the refugium. I can live with that in the short run but seems concerning for the long run.

    This has been a tough time but I'm determined to get through this and restock our tank. Our Benggai Cardinal was our first fish and I'm looking forward to getting her out of QT and back in the display.

    It was good to see everyone at the frag swap but bittersweet being there since I don't want to add any new fish or coral. I had frags prepared to trade but I did not want to risk exporting anything from our tank until it's been fallow for several months.
    Coral reefer likes this.
  12. wpeterson

    wpeterson Webmaster

    I moved the heater from the refugium chamber into the return chamber of the sump. Originally, I was worried the sump water level might drop and expose the heater, but I've put it on the bottom and that rarely happens. I've also tied to the heater to the return pump so that it's disabled if the return is turned off (feeding/maintenance).

    This fixes temperature reading spikes because the Apex probe holder was in the same chamber as the heater - causing localized higher readings whenever it was on. With the apex reading temperature in the chamber before the heater - I now get much more accurate temperature readings and the heater applies itself to the higher flow water in the return chamber.

    I should have done this months ago.
    tygunn and Coral reefer like this.
  13. wpeterson

    wpeterson Webmaster

    The dartfish and the cardinal are doing well in hospital tank and have not shown any negative signs. They are more shy in a tank that's too small for them, so I'm looking forward to getting the cardinal back in the display tank. The dartfish are each 6-7", which was double the advertised size on Divers Den (< 4"). Due to this, I'm hoping to find them a home in a bigger tank with someone else in the club. There's a for sale thread if you're interested here:


    The display tank is doing great. Water parameters remain super stable. I've cut the lighting back a bit to only 2x of the Kessil A350s for 8 hours a day.

    We've seen a lot of coral growth and snail reproduction. Nassarius, black foot trochus, and stomatella snails have all reproduced baby snails 3-10mm in size. The nerites also seem to have laid calciferous egg sacks all over the rockwork so I'm expected baby nerites soon. We've also seen a lot of sponge growth, especially the small white pineapple sponges that show up as a tank matures. Without a mandarin our pod population is just exploding. Shining a flashlight at night causes at least 10-20 amphipods to scatter in the display or the sump. Coraline algae is growing like crazy and we're lucky to have a number of colors of red, purple, and green varieties.

    With less feeding in the display due to no fish I have not been running a filter sock, which may be responsible for more sponge/snail reproduction without critters in the water columb being stuck in the filter sock. Most of the growth of small creatures has ended up in the refugium, which is a natural settling place for anything in the water column.

    It's been a frustrating and heart breaking setback to lose fish, but we're in a good place to slowly re-stock and recover.
  14. Enderturtle

    Enderturtle Volunteer

    If you run into an emergency and you absolutely need the dart fish out, you could donate them to a fish store. There seems to be two very different school of thoughts on the treatment and prevention of ich. There are the people who think ich is everywhere and cannot be prevented and there are people who think ich can be prevented and destroyed. It makes sense you often see ich's obvious present on a fish in a reef tank but all other fish are fine. It's usually some environmental stress or lack of fitness that triggers a fish to die from ich. For me, I left my tank without fish for 90 days and then used the tank transfer method for de-iching all new fish.

    Here's a thread on tank transfers as a method of removing ich from fish. You're essentially exploiting the ich life cycle and preventing mobile ich from reinfecting fish.

    I use the tank transfer method every time I add fish. To this day, I have never seen my fish scrape against the rocks/sand. And of course I've never seen them breakout with white dots.

    The major trick for the tank transfer method is that everything has to be STERILIZED between the tank transfer. Some people try this and fail because they forgot to change out a piece of equipment so they end up re-infecting the fish.

    Here's a thread on general facts about ich.

    And then of course theres the possibility that your fish don't even have ich.

    To the untrained eye, brookynella (aka clownfish disease), oodinium (aka marine velvet), and cryptocaryon(aka marine ich) superficially look very similar.
  15. wpeterson

    wpeterson Webmaster

    I'm not in a rush to get rid of the dartfish - they did well in our tank but I'm worried about the long term. I'm confident someone with a 120+ gallon tank in the club would love them and I'm going to wait until I know they're in a properly sized tank with good husbandry. I do worry about keeping them in a hospital tank for too long, since it's much smaller than our display.

    The symptoms we saw could have been oodinium or cryptocaryon, though the pace of infection/death was faster than usual for cryptocaryon. I've been doing a combination of tank transfer and medication in our hospital tank so I'm confident it's wiped out.

    In the display tank I'm running a 36w UV below the kill threshold (~ 280gph) for cryptocaryon or oodinium in the water column and planning to leave it fallow for a long time, which should take care of the display.
    Enderturtle likes this.
  16. wpeterson

    wpeterson Webmaster

    Tank maintenance today. Cleaned out the vortech wet sides with vinegar. Couldn't bring myself to clean the guards, which are covered in purple, red, and green coraline. It's growing faster on the powerheads than anywhere else in the tank.

    I added one of the rainbow Acans for the growout contest yesterday:


    I also re-located the rock our Rose bubble tip has been living on. I believe he's getting too much flow (living right where the two Vortech's flow collides), so I've moved him to a more sheltered area that gets a lot of light. We'll see if he moves. When I added him in January, I put him at the base of a rock column and he climbed over a foot over night to the top.


    Bonus picture of our larger torch colony:

    Nav and Ahruk like this.
  17. Coral reefer

    Coral reefer President

    Nice! Good luck w the contest.
    wpeterson likes this.
  18. wpeterson

    wpeterson Webmaster

    I fed the corals a bit with some pellet food this afternoon and counted 8-10 new baby nassarius snails growing up as a second generation in the tank. They're all about 3-6mm in size, you can see one in the picture of the Torch above.
    Ahruk likes this.
  19. MolaMola

    MolaMola Supporting Member

    Glad your tank is on the mend. Very cool about the snail reproduction!
    I really like your detailed setup info and photos. Plumbed my DSA 105 yesterday - basically same as yours with one more hole drilled. It was great to see a similar tank when I was researching what I wanted to do.
    wpeterson likes this.
  20. Ahruk

    Ahruk Guest

    Love that your nassarius snails are reproducing. They're so cute when they're little :)
    wpeterson likes this.

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