New tank not doing bad but....


George & Julie
... we had an issue with an oscellaris clown.

Got the tank up and running, had sand and live rock for awhile - our LFS seems pretty knowledgeable BUT sold us clowns that came from someone's tank and had been returned when the customer took their tank down (supposedly deciding that college and a saltwater tank were too much work at the same time).

anyway - it is entirely my fault - my husband wanted another pair but I felt so bad for that pair - I thought of them as "rescues" since I work with a non-profit education & rescue for sugar gliders, it was second nature to me to want the ones who seemed to need the most "help" I guess)... at the LFS they were swimming straight up and down as ast as they could in the corner of the tank... I felt bad for them and we bought them.

Once in our tank at home, after drip acclimation, they at first did the same thing they had at the store - the female also swam on her side at the surface a lot. They never hosted to anything and while the male often swam about after the first day or two, he didn;t liek to be away from the female and often ended up near her while she behaved erratically.

The LFS told us to feed OSI Spirulina flake so we did. They refused to eat. We got them Feb 11th and after they refused to eat until the 14th, we called the LFS and got told maybe the previous owner fed something different and they would eventually eat if hungry enough,

We live almost 2 horus from our LFS so only go once a week or so. We went again on the 18th and were given samples of "the tiny pellets clowns are fed as babies in hatcheries" and some Hikari Marine A pellets plus they sold us some pemysis frozen, a hippo tang, and a new piece of live rock, 5 blue leg hermits and 15 astrea snails. The male began eating when we introduced the forzen and while he still ignores the flakes most of the time he also munches pellets pretty regularly too - the hippo eats no problem... we still never saw the female eat specifically - though she did seem interested int eh new foods.

Her behavior continued to be fairly erratic and she began to swim sort of "listing" to the right... we being very new to the hobby had no idea this might be a swim bladder issue.

Yesterday, I found the female clown resting ont he bottom of the tank on her side gasping... she tried to swim but would lean tot eh right really bad when she did and always seemed to wear out quickly and sink back down when she did manage to swim any at all. The male refused to leave her but was getting a bit frantic. I registered at Reefland's forum and asked for help - I got a message saying my post had to be approved by admins before it could go on the site... it has STILL never been posted and my clown was dead within a half hour... floating at the bottom not the top and sort of "under" a rock ledge... though when I moved her out from under the ledge to remove her from the tank, she never floated to the surface. The male went NUTS for about 20 minutes after I removed her- zooming around looking for her, I guess. :(

There are pictures of our whole project - setting up and everything - HERE - the last few photos are of the female in obvious distress - sorry for the quality I couldn't find my camera and had to use my iPhone 3Gs which is hard to use with just the acintics on at that time of day (this was between 10:30 and 11:30 yesterday the 22nd of February)

We are just hoping for some input here - maybe some suggestions as to what might have been the issue - how this might have been better handled - what we can do to prevent such things in the future - and also whether or not we can get a new clown for our remaining (now lonely) guy without issue - he is still fairly small.

Sorry to hear about your loss...Unfortunately in order to help you out, I have to answer your questions with more questions.

Please just answer these to the best of your ability.

1. Did you cycle the tank? Do you know what that means?
2. What are the parameters of your tank? Who tested the water?
3. Where are you getting the water that you're using in the tank?
4. How long did you acclimate the clowns before introducing them into your tank?
5. Was the Blue Hippo Tang in the tank before or after the clowns, if before how long before?
Ok. So after going through your pictures, I'm going to try and take a stab at the issue.

At pic #17. I see the first pics of the clowns.
At pic #37. I see the first evidence of diatom algae in your tank (brown algae)
At pic #46. I see a Blue Hippo Tang.

What this tells me, if I'm correct in looking at the pictures, is that you didn't let the tank cycle before you put fish in. That can/will certainly kill fish.

Diatom algae is "the beginning" of "the end" of a saltwater tank cycling. It's the last thing that happens, You shouldn't put fish in before. And I don't see any evidence of diatom algae until 20 pictures after the first clown sighting.

On top of that, you then increased your bio-load by adding the Blue Tang. (Which shouldn't be in a 55g tank anyway, and will more than likely die as well).

A Blue Hippo requires a tank at least 125g. They're very susceptible to ich,and should be removed from the tank and taken back to the store.

Saltwater Aquarium Fish for Marine Aquariums: Blue Tang

You simply added fish Too Many Too Soon....This hobby is a marathon, not a sprint. If you try to rush things with saltwater aquariums, you're going to have disasters.
1. Did you cycle the tank? Do you know what that means?
We did what the LFS said to do - put in sand - cover with dinner plate - pour in sea water - set up equipment - let tank run minimum 2 weeks (longer if takes water longer to clear) - after 2 weeks or water is clear add live rock - wait at least 1 week - except for 2 soft corals and the CBS, we have obtained every item in the tank from the LFS with their knowledge as to size, parameters, time frame, etc of our set up - they were supposed to be very good - they only do saltwater and they do commercial and residential and have some very impressive references especially from commercial properties they have done builds/do maintenance for - we thought they were giving us good info :-(
2. What are the parameters of your tank? Who tested the water?
I have no idea because I am the only one home right now - my husband does all that and he is at work until this evening - last time it was tested, these are the parameters I wrote down: SG 1.025 / Temp: 78 degrees / PH: 8.2
3. Where are you getting the water that you're using in the tank?
from the LFS who gets it directly from the ocean - they are right on the coast
4. How long did you acclimate the clowns before introducing them into your tank?
Drip acclimation - LFS said to empty fish and store water into a 3 gallon bucket and use drip method until bucket 3/4 full then move fish to tank (but NOT the water from the bucket)
5. Was the Blue Hippo Tang in the tank before or after the clowns, if before how long before?
After by 1 week exactly and acclimated using same method

We added the CUC this past weekend on Friday with the understanding we would be back this coming weekend to the LFS to increase the CUC - as for the hippo, they knew our tank size - heck, they are supposed to get us a sailfin tang in 2 weeks! i realize they are a business, but why would they go to such an extreme in giving incorrect info? We have LOTS of friends and family using ONLY them now - they would lose a TON of business if they cost us our hard work! What in the world?!?!

The one thing we knew was to go slowly - guess we just got bad info on HOW slowly :(
You sound like you're trying to do the right thing, you just got some bad info....That's actually pretty common. Fish stores exist to sell you fish. That's how they make their living.

In regard to the sailfin, just go ahead and cancel that order...

A few rules of thumb when you're buying fish..
1. Ask them to feed them first...If they say they just ate, that should raise a red flag...HEALTHY FISH WILL ALWAYS EAT.
2. If they tell you to feed them flakes, that should raise a red flag...I don't know anybody on this site that feeds flakes. Nobody.

Bottom line is this, we have nothing to gain in you buying fish. We're only here to help you make the best choices for your tank..Tangs are no where near the best choices for your tank.

When your husband gets home have him check the Ammonia, Nitrites, Nitrates of your water. The Ammonia and Nitrite should be at 0...Nitrates should be as close to 0 as it can be....I think you're going to find that they're still quite high.

I'll try to walk you through this in a paragraph or so....When you first set up a tank and let it cycle, you're creating "good" bacteria...that bacteria helps break down the waste created by the fish.

If it's a new tank, the bacteria hasn't had time to establish itself. When you keep adding fish, the bacteria can't keep up with the added waste form the fish, and your parameters get out of whack, and it can end up "crashing" your tank.

Good rule of thumb, with a new tank, only add 1 fish per month. With Saltwater tanks, you add 1 fish for every 10 gallons. So in your case 5 fish..

Take a look at


You want to keep smaller fish in a 55g tank.
For starters, LFS are a business. They WILL sell you stuff. I absolutely LOVE my LFS. They're great, EXTREMELY friendly and helpful and knowledgeable...but they, too, were saying that my old 45g tall tank would be fine for a yellow tang...I know better. You have to go into an LFS with some sort of research done. We're all guilty of impulse buys, but you should at least have done just a little bit of research. Had I researched refugiums more, I wouldn't have been suckered into buying an $80 bag of mud :shock:

I'd have to agree w/ PRC -- the tank might not have been cycled. I have a took me a whole month to cycle it properly using just frozen food. Now, the rocks you put in were live, so it's possible, assuming there was die off, that you would not have a cycle. How much live rock did you put in there? If the clowns were acting the same at the lfs, they were probably already sick, and the move stressed them.

I would seriously return that tang. You run a rescue, and you understand that animals have certain needs...a tang needs lots of swimming room. There's not enough room in your 55g. Hopefully your lfs treated all their fish for ich, because tangs are ich magnets, and yours may not do well in a small tank.

I'd take things slow going forward. It's great that your LFS is a good one. Just keep in mind that at the end of the day, they want your money or they would have no business. It doesn't mean they're necessarily bad. Just come armed w/ research ;) Welcome to the site!
Yes we definitely want to do the right thing here - we had no dea tanga needed so much space - we looked at gobies but our LFS said we needed a well established tank before we even thought about gobies - the weird thing is, they told us the first time we were in there that unless they knew personally that you had your stuff right already they would not sell you anything live other than rock and soft corals - and here we are now getting crappy info :-(

I will have George test the water this evening and will tell you what the results are then. Thanks for all the info.
Welcome, glad you're asking good questions! PRC is dead-on.

Please don't take this as patronizing, but I'd HIGHLY recommend a good book on reefing - even though we're always here to help, it's a great go to reference in a pinch. I can't recommend "The Reef Aquarium: Science, Art, and Technology" - by far the best of my reef library.

That fish store sounds very suspect. Also, I wouldn't recommend using the water they're giving/selling you. Locally obtained water can often be contaminated by pollutants. I'd recommend a RODI filter to make your own, pure water at home. It's what most of us do.
Sorry to hear about your clown thats very sad. Welcome to the site please feel free to ask more questions and gain more knowledge its a learning process.

FYI I LOVE my blenny they are awesome little guys very interactive if you want to look into smaller fishes.