New Tank Help


Reefing newb
Need some help, just ended up with $120 of dead fish this weekend. very frustrated.

- new tank: 45 gallon hex tank, 20lbs of live sand (aragonite) and roughly 40lbs. of marco dry rock (key largo rock) added 4 weeks ago
- added two bottles of Fritz bacteria, salinity is 1.022; water tests were in-line.
- then added 2 small clowns app. 2 weeks ago, then added a small fox face and a hawkish this weekend
- long story short>> the fox and hawk were dead within 12hrs, and this morning the clowns were gone
- after the fox and hawk died, went to the store, they said my ph was off (brownish color vs. purple); was reading the ph wrong on the test strip
- bought and added 4 spoons of a ph increase product (and a new ph test kit), but 2 hours later the ph was back to a brownish color; added more ph product same result
- why won't the tank maintain the ph?
- the nitrite and nitrate were in the ok range; I'm using stick tests for this
- could the problem be the new rocks? too many or have do they need more time to develop?
- the store agreed to give me 50% next purchase, but don't want more dead fish
- equipment: canister filter, alternating powerheads, T5 lighting (app. 8 hrs.)
- did the fish die-off spike the water somehow that killed the clowns? or did the ph swings kill them?
My thoughts exactly...did the tank complete it's cycle? And if it did, you still placed the other fish in too soon after putting the clownfish in. I think you may also have a bad test kit, because there's no way that you added 4 spoons of buffer and your levels remained the same. If anything, the ph level probably went too high. Perform a nice water change, and give your tank a chance to stabilize itself before adding anymore fish. Good luck.
I'm with Smitty on this one, that much buffer would send the PH much to high, huge swings in PH can be harmful to fish, so that may explain the demise of your fish. It sounds like your tank has not been fully cycled yet.

How long has it been up and running?
You say nitrite and nitrate are 'fine' but what exactly does this mean?
What is your ph currently reading at?
How long has it been up and running?
You say nitrite and nitrate are 'fine' but what exactly does this mean?
What is your ph currently reading at?

- I'm using those test strips, so it's a color range result.I'm assuming I should upgrade.
- RE the cycling: had the sand and rock going for about 3 weeks. I never saw the spike and fall I read about. The nitrate levels were always low/zero.

can someone just give me my next/best steps?
Hello and Welcome!

You should get liquid drop kits, the strips are very inaccurate.

Next step will be to properly cycle your tank. Read this on how to do it:

Then once your tank is ready for fish you need to do a little more research about the fish you put in your tank. Not every fish will do well in every tank. The clowns would be fine, but the tank is much much much too small for a foxface and that could have contributed to his death.

Here is a great place to research fish, find out how big of tank they need, reef safe or not, temperament, and other things needed for their proper care:
Aquarium Fish: Tropical Freshwater Fish and Saltwater Fish for Home Aquariums

Also, only add once fish every 3 weeks or so to let the bacteria in the tank grow to handle the new bioload before adding a more. Also you can only have one fish for every 10 gallons.

Slow and steady and the well informed reefer (research everything BEFORE you buy it) are the keys to success in this hobby

Also ditch the canister filter, unless you clean it every 3 or 4 days its only going to lead to more problems than it solves. Instead get a good protein skimmer. Make sure you have plenty of flow, you want around 40x the volume of your tank turned over per hour