Banging My Head Against The Wall


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Fellow fish nerds, I need some help. Just lost two fish in two days and need to know how to move forward. Here's my current situation:

A few months ago, I upgraded to a 75G. I was running a 20G long for about a year with no issues. Moved livestock over from 20G (Pair of clowns, fire fish, fire shrimp). Added more live rock (about 45 pounds and 60 pounds of sand). Just started to recently get an outbreak of brown algae, figuring that my tank had a minor cycle to possibly do because of all the new space with my older items in it.

Added a Flame Angel, Kole Tang and sea egg over the two month period of the new setup.

No sump (yet), have CoralLife 125G HOB protein skimmer.

Parameters and Personality
I do water changes religiously. Everyone is happy in my tank and gets along great. Stress shouldn't have been an issue. My Kole Tang and Flame Angel were best friends they hung out so much. My tank just had a slight ammonia spike (0.25 ppm), nitrates have been hanging around at a steady 20 ppm and my nitrite is 0. I've been using a nitrate reducer from the LFS to help with this, but I'm wondering if I need to add more live rock or if a sump will do the trick. I can't imagine adding more rock to the tank because it'll just dominate it.

I also only feed my fish every other day to eliminate any overfeeding and make sure it's food they can consume within three minutes.

Kole Tang Ich
I didn't see it at the time but the Kole Tang had a spot on it's lower fin once I added it into my DT. It blossomed, and eventually gave my Flame Angel ich as well, even though it wasn't nearly as serious as it was on the tang. I pulled the Kole out of my tank and put it in my old tank that I set up for a QT. I took water from my DT, used an HOB filter without any carbon and put some PVC in there for it to hide. I was dosing the water with Kich-Ich, a non-copper Ich medicine that is safe for all inverts and fish, either scaled or scale-less. The Kole Tang died three days later in my QT.

Flame Angel Death
This morning, I woke up and the Flame Angel was stuck to the intake of my HOB protein skimmer. I freed it, but it swam all sorts of ways and just sank to the bottom gasping for air. Due to the stress, it had more ich on it, but by judging from how it was acting in my tank previously, I blame more of the death on the protein skimmer than I do Ich.

Moving Forward
I'm getting ready to go to Petco and take advantage of their $1 per gallon sale. I'm going to buy a 20-29 gallon tank depending on what fits under my stand and look at how to make a homemade sump. I will also be quarantining all of my fish.

  • QT Tank: What recommendations would you make? I could permanently set it up, but I'd rather not have to maintain two tanks. I could set it up on an as needed basis, but would I always copper dose my fish for the two weeks or so of watching them? Do I have to do a full water change before every new fish? Is it fine that the tank isn't cycled? Should I just add water from my DT, even though Ich is technically living in it?
  • Treating DT: Should I use the Kich-Ich in my DT tank? I would prefer to not harm my Fire Shrimp and Sea Egg so I'm very cautious about adding ich medications.
  • Should I add a JawFish to help clean the sand of brown algae?
I've attached a picture of my tank as well.


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In all truth a quarantine tank would be very easy to maintain. All you need is a filter, some form of water movement or maybe an air pump, and a place for fish to feel comfortable. Now going back to the hiding place for fish, do not have live rock or sand in a quarantine tank. This is because the parasite you're trying to kill could end up on that rock somewhere and seek refuge. Pvc pipe is probably the best thing to make your fish feel comfortable in a quarantine tank. Yes, you should dose copper every time you quarantine a fish, because a disease like ich can come out of nowhere. Also it might be wise to dose other things like PraziPro, which treats flukes, flatworms, and other parasites. A tank, quarantine or not, should always be cycled or you're just killing your fish with nitrites and ammonia. I think you should try to find a ich killer that won't harm inverts, I'll try to help with that. Also, jawfish will sift your sand, but probably not enough to keep it clean. Sand sifting gobies are much better at this, but there's always the risk of them kicking up too much sand on to corals.

Here's a video I found a while ago, that I thought was really informative:

Very nice looking tank by the way!
Thanks for the reply, Spongeycrab. That was by far the best video I've seen on the topic. Thank you for passing it along.

I currently have Kich-Ich, which I could treat my display tank with. However, I'm not too fond of the idea of taking the carbon out of my filter and turning my skimmer off for a few weeks, especially because I don't have a fugue at the moment. The Kick-Ich doesn't have copper in it and won't harm inverts according to the bottle, but I think I just wasted $15 unless that's always what I run in my QT.

What do you think about running that all the time or what copper product would you use instead? I'd rather not have to make a cocktail of three different bottles of stuff.

As for my nitrates not being at zero, what would you suggest. I know 20ppm is livable, but I'd like to really get it down if I can. I change out 15 gallons of water per week religiously. Is it the fact that I don't have a fugue at the moment or do I need to add more live rock. As you can see by that picture in my original post, I have a lot of rock as it is. Adding this QT is going to be even more water and I've been buying it at the LFS even though I just recently purchased an RO/DI unit. We're housesitting for the year and we're on a well. I get concerned with using so much water versus just paying .50 cents at the LFS and mixing it with my own reef salt.

I did purchase a tank today from Petco and will be custom making my own fugue sometime this month.

Knowing that Ich will always be in the water or will likely pop up again at some point, should I just move on with QTing all of my fish in the future, not worrying about my DT because all the fish in there are fine, eating and ich free?
Personally, I would use copper for the QT just because it's stronger and Kich-ich for DT if it pops up. But I understand that being a hassle. I always recommend doing 25% water changes, which is about 18 gallons for a 75 gallon. So maybe start doing 20 gallon water changes and you'll remove more nitrates. I see that you have a lot of rock, but do you know exactly how much? The general rule is one pound of rock per gallon. Also I think even though buying water from your LFS is cheap, an RO/DI is better in the long run. Also, it's great that you're getting your own fuge. Hope it works very well for you.
True, but IF you use water from your DT don't need to cycle the QT.
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i use a 29 gal with a few pieces pvc, bare bottom and an aquaclear for filtration. i leave it running all the time. if its empty of livestock then i turn off the lights and heat. if i quarantine a fish [minimum 4 wks] that developes ick then i do hypo salinity and run a uv sterilizer on it. with a bare bones tank there is no place for the ick parasites to stay and after a couple months empty they are dead if you are storing it running while you are finishing up your tank
once you get your system running the way you want it with a good compatable mix of stock then you are not going to want to take a chance on placing stuff in there thats questionable, also once you have some coin invested you are not going to want to take chances with that either. easiest way around those issues is a hosp tank.