Hello everyone! New tank issue @#$!


Reefing newb
Good Morning,

My son wanted a salt water tank for his birthday so we recently started this hobby.

I setup and maintained a 80 gallon saltwater tank for just under 10 years from 2002-2011. I then had thousands of Tilapia for 3-4 years before the business was bought out. Fortunately I had no problems with either to report. My sons story is very different.

During the first week of November we got a 10 gallon tank to house 2 Green Chromis' while acclimating his water. The fish went in on day 2 and died 3 days later. We used distilled water, InstaReef salt, 5 pounds of live rock, NiteOut 2, and the normal equipment for 10 gallon tanks. They were eating well (PE 1mm pellets) and active. The fish were already not guaranteed and the store told us our salt level was fluctuating too much in a 10 gallon tank with evaporation. I tested salinity at 1.023, then adjusted down a bit. We then got a clownfish to put in the tank at about day 10.

On day 48, we bought 2 more fish, a sea urchin, a Serpent Star fish and a refractometer. All fish are very small and the intention was to move up to larger tank. With in 2 days our Ruby Red Drogonet died. We took it to the store and they asked us to bring a vial of water. They tested the vial for Nitrites and then used the same water to test salt level on the refractometer. They said the salt level was so high it couldn't be measured and said we killed this fish by burning the gills. This was odd since I had always used a buoyancy meter with no issue but now was also using a refractometer. I tested salinity at 1.022 before the visit and when we got home. I then tested with the nitrite solution in some water and the salt level jumped about .010 so I knew the store was full of it.

We have been alternating 1 daily feeding of brine shrimp and PE pellets

In the past 2 days we set up a 30 gallon tank with NiteOur2. I pulled the fish and transferred the 10 gallon tank water over and acclimated the fish with a drip line for 3 hours. While transferring the clownfish we noticed one eye looked hazed. Today the clownfish looks like it is losing scales and the tips of the fins look bad but he is eating well. Is this ick or a sign that the salt was too high at some point?



Thanks in advance for the knowledge this community has!
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Looks like ich to me but luckily I have little experience with it.
Do you have a test kit? If you don't trust the store, get a test kit before getting any more animals in the tank!

Do you have anything moving the water? They may just be suffocating.
How much live rock do you have? Did you cycle the tank?
Big K, do you mean an ich test kit? I didn't know about that. I did have a test kit for ammonia/ph/nitrite/nitrates. The tank was cycled for a 6 week period before we added more fish.

We had bought about 10 pounds of live rock to start a 10 gallon tank and then moved everything over to a 30 gallon last week when the fish started dropping.

At this point all the fish have died. Our original clown fish lasted the longest but died the day I posted. I setup a quarantine tank for the clown fish and a goby to treat them with copper solution, but they didn't last 24 hours in there.

The main tank will now sit for 2 months to rid of any remaining ich. We have 2 corals, urchin, star fish, 2 hermits, and a sea slug that was partially eaten overnight.

I got a Pajama cardinal to QT since we already had another tank set up and I don't want to deal with ich again. my son and I also made a rock that we will be digging up this afternoon to see what we created.
Wlecome to Living Reefs!

That looks like brooklynella to me. The fish would have needed baths with medication, or placed in a qt and dose the water with meds that way. Brooklynella is a rapid killer. Couple days at the most and fish are usually dead.

Good info here:

My advice is to slow down. From reading your posts, it appears you've gone into this quite rapidly. Reefing is a very slow hobby and rewards patience. Impatience is expensive, as you're discovering.

As stated above, that looks like brooklynella to me. But... if you should find yourself needing to run fallow due to an ich infestation, you'll want to go longer than 2 months. Give the tank 3 full months to remain fallow. There is recent information that suggests ich tomonts (sp?) can go into hibernation and survive a fallow period over 70 days. They can sometimes find an anaerobic area of the tank and go into a type of suspension -- indefinitely. During your fallow period, you should aerate the sand and use a powerhead to blast ditritus off your rock work. Keeping things mixed and well circulated will help prevent the tomonts from entering into this extended state of hibernation during your fallow period.

You can read about ich tomont dormancy in anaerobic (hypoxic) environments here:

You'll still need to feed your inverts during the fallow period.

When you're ready to reintroduce fish, go very slowly. Limit yourself to 1 new fish per 6--8 week period. The reason for this slow pace, is because you need to give the beneficial bacteria colonies time to grow and mature so they can handle processing more waste. Each new fish you introduce will produce more waste. The bacteria colonies need time to adjust, and populate so they can handle the additional bioload each fish produces.

Good luck!! Let us know how you're doing.
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Thank you RCpilot! I will look into brooklynella. Is that specific to clownfish or can it spread to other fish?

We have no fish in the main tank for 2-3 months. The main tank is doing well. We actually found baby (tripod) urchins all over the tank and our 2 coral have doubled in size!

We do have a fish in a QT tank with a small amount of copper solution (started with recommended dose 9 days ago) to rid of the ich we thought we had. I added a pic of his tail, the upper half looks milky and has some white dots. Any help identifying that issue would be greatly appreciated.

I also added a pic of the rock we made for the large tank. It turned out fantastic. We embedded some 3/8" straws around the top to plug in frags. I will let it cure in a tub of water for 2 months and don't plan to color it in any way. I read about adding acid to quicken the curing but I thought acid breaks concrete down?




OH NO, how do I get rid of them? I read you can torch the colonies on the rock, but I don't see them on any rocks.

Any idea, what is on that fish tail?
Yes, every fish we bought from That Fish Place has died. I tried a quarantine tank for each new fish we added and they all dies one by one. We also bought a few corals and a sea urchin as recommended by the shop. Unfortunately the sea urchin has devoured all 3 of the corals. This whole thing has been a huge frustration for my son.
:( I'm so sorry.
It can be a frustrating hobby.
Search out new stores. Find out their procedures. Some treat all new arrivals with copper and qt. You can usually find out their arrival dates.