First serious problem - very mysterious

Discussion in 'Reef Fishes' started by kevinsimons, Apr 27, 2008.

  1. kevinsimons

    kevinsimons

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    OK, I guess I'm now officially a member of the reef community - had a rough week that started with giving up a long-tentacled plate coral to the great reef in the sky, and then coming home from work 3 days later only to see one of my two engineer gobys (the hardiest reef fish of them all) clearly stressed - and dying.

    All his color was washed out, his skin looked patchy, and he was breathing VERY heavily. Within 30 minutes he was gone. It LOOKED like he had swallowed something too big and had a digestive blockage. Nothing else made much sense at that time... especially since I've seem them both stuff things down their throat that really were too big.

    Later in the week I noticed (with pride) how fat and happy the mandarin goby was - really - FAT (after all, I've probably spent $140 on Tiger pods)... he's active, hunts for food, and was doing well.

    Now, this AM - the mandarin has that same patchy appearance on his sides that the enginner goby had - is respiring heavily and also looks like he'll be joining the long-tentacled plate coral any time now...

    There have been no new introductions, water parameters are excellent, and the only changes made have been 2 doses of Kent Coral-Vite (starting about 12 days ago) and 2 doses of Marine S.A.T (after a one month break). I've had a small cyano outbreak but the S.A.T. has brought that under control.

    This AM I DID notice the coral banded shrimp was out - something that's unusual, as he's very reclusive - so I'm wondering if his true personality (aggressive, so I hear) has finally shown up. I don't see obvious wounds - but neither the mandarin nor the engineer goby are fish that are prone to disease.

    One other clue to consider: the flame angel is swimming around as if he's on a roller-coaster - kind of a "up-and-down" trajectory. This isn't all that unusual - he's done this pretty much all along - but it's always looked kind of unusual compared to what I consider to be normal fish swimming behavior.

    Any ideas as to what's going on - and what to do - are much appreciated.
     
    kevinsimons, Apr 27, 2008
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  2. kevinsimons

    Doc I don't work for anybody

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    that is a tough one. If there are no visual wounds, that would rule out getting beaten to death. Cb shrimp can be nasty. Sounds like stress. When weird things happen in my tank, I leave it alone for 4-6 weeks without adding anything or drastically changing things. I like to let my system work itself out. Keep up on water changes and keep parameters solid. Things will pull thru. Patience. This hobby is wrought with mysterious deaths.

    - Doc
     
    Doc, Apr 27, 2008
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  3. kevinsimons

    NewbReefer

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    have you checked your salinity? if so and it says it's where it's suppose to be i would go get another salinity meter. i've heard stories of meters going bad and not reading right.
     
    NewbReefer, Apr 27, 2008
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  4. kevinsimons

    kevinsimons

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    NewB, I don't use those crappy hydrometers - learned that lesson almost immediately - I use a refractometer - tested @ 1.024 this AM, which is where I keep it... that, and nitrates - were my first concern, and tested both of them as soon as I discovered I had a problem...
     
    kevinsimons, Apr 27, 2008
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  5. kevinsimons

    NewbReefer

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    hmm...well this is a dilly of a pickle then. did you purchase your tank new or used? if used was it ever used for a freshwater aquarium? trying to rule out copper poisoning.
     
    NewbReefer, Apr 27, 2008
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  6. kevinsimons

    kevinsimons

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    While racking my brain on this conundrum, I've been going over and over "WHAT DID I DO THAT IS DIFFERENT????" - and realized last week's water change involved a step I've never taken before: I vacuumed out all the cyano on the sand bed - and then added a cup of newly-purchased live sand to the bed after I finished the water change.

    I'm wondering of both of these species - who live in and on the sand bed - were exposed to something in this new sand? The sand was purchased last weekend, had an expiration date of 12/08 (can't remember the brand name - sorry). The remaining engineer goby is now looking just like his deceased brother - and the mandarin may be dead (can't tell - wedged in a rock).
     
    kevinsimons, Apr 27, 2008
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  7. kevinsimons

    NewbReefer

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    hmm...it may be possible there could have been something nasty lurking in that live sand. sorry i cant be of more help, hopefully someone with more expierence will be able to point something out.
     
    NewbReefer, Apr 27, 2008
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  8. kevinsimons

    kevinsimons

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    The sand was Nature's Ocean Bio-Active Reef Sand and Reef Substrate... unless somebody comes up with a different theory, I'm pretty much sold on the idea that there was some toxin present in this stuff - this would also explain why the CB Shrimp is out ...
     
    kevinsimons, Apr 27, 2008
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  9. kevinsimons

    Bifferwine I am a girl

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    I don't think it was the sand. If I were you, I would check for stray voltage. This can lead to HLLE (head and lateral line erosion) in fish which can manifest itself as spots or blotches on the head.
     
    Bifferwine, Apr 27, 2008
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    daugherty part time reefer

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    i would not think that this would be a problem un less all the inverts died.
    as for the live sand i do not think that would be a problem either. i would check for stray voltage.
     
    daugherty, Apr 27, 2008
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  11. kevinsimons

    NewbReefer

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    Glad you spoke up :D forgot that copper is more toxic to the inverts.
     
    NewbReefer, Apr 27, 2008
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  12. kevinsimons

    Bifferwine I am a girl

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    Yes, copper wouldn't have killed the fish but left the inverts alive. It would be the other way around.
     
    Bifferwine, Apr 27, 2008
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  13. kevinsimons

    kevinsimons

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    How does one go about checking for stray voltage??
     
    kevinsimons, Apr 27, 2008
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  14. kevinsimons

    Bifferwine I am a girl

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    Bifferwine, Apr 27, 2008
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  15. kevinsimons

    daugherty part time reefer

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    by a voltmeter and use it to check for current
     
    daugherty, Apr 27, 2008
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  16. kevinsimons

    Ironman

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    It sounds like the fish are dieng pretty quickly. I think you said you did a water change when you added the sand, Is it possible the water you used for your water change could have been contaminated? It is unusual for the shrimp to be alive with most water toxins, but it seems odd to have 3 fish dying so quickly, If you have or your fish store has a POLY Filter pad, it wouldnt hurt to put it in your filter to pull out any posible chemicals that could be in the water, also run some carbon if you arnt already. it probly wouldnt hurt to do another small water change with known good water to help dilute whatever is there, If it is even something wrong with the water? but none of these things will hurt so its worth a try. good luck
     
    Ironman, Apr 28, 2008
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  17. kevinsimons

    kevinsimons

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    I do a 4 gallon water change every week, with my own RO/DI water (that tests .001 PPM). I always checked salinity in the tank and the new mix to make sure everything is square... I just put some carbon in per your (great) suggestion.

    I agree - it's odd that the shrimp (both of 'em, I have a cleaner, too) are still OK, but a coral and 2, soon to be 3 fish (all sand dwellers) are gone...
     
    kevinsimons, Apr 28, 2008
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  18. kevinsimons

    Altohombre The Tennis Pro Reefer

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    you didn't clean anything with soap and put it back in the tank did you?
     
    Altohombre, Apr 29, 2008
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  19. kevinsimons

    fatman

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    If you have a friend that does electronics repair or is a mechanic that works on cars produced in the last ten years, ask him/her to bring over their digital milti meter and check out your tank for stray voltage. They should no that all they need to do is stick one lead in the water and touch the other one to a cover plate screw on your house electrical system outlet. If there is a heavy paint applied to screw head he/she will need to use the round third prong hole which is the house running ground. A standard analog voltmeter will work but only if it is a high voltage, meaning in full numbers like one, two, three or more. They are not precise enough to read low levels, but digital meters are.
     
    fatman, Apr 29, 2008
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  20. kevinsimons

    kevinsimons

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    Well, whatever the problem is - it continues. (there's another thread here about isolating the electrical problem, which I believe is solved - if it existed at all. Voltomer is showing a reading now of about 2 volts).

    The remaining 2 fish in the tank (Maroon Clown & Yellow Tang) are stressed and clearly affected by SOMETHING. The Clown is covered with a greyish film; the Tang is hiding. I saw the Royal Gramma yesterday a couple times -just briefly - so it was alive yesterday - nowhere to be seen today.

    Did a full range of tests today - got an ammonia reading of .25, but have a zero nitrate reading. My ammonia test has ALWAYS shown .25.... corals and other inverts are looking great. I'm now thinking there's some kind of bacterial disease going on here...
     
    kevinsimons, May 4, 2008
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