Ready to give up:( need help please!


Reefing newb
Hi we have a 90 gal reef aquarium that we purchased from someone. We purchased it in dec 2014 had it professionally set up, and cycled it through the end of jan 2015. The water is changed every 2-3 weeks, and tested once a week to week and a half. We started with putting a couple of clownfish and then slowly added, over 3 months, 2 damsels, a goby, a coral beauty, a blue tang, 2 chromis and a dottyback. Slowly all the fish except the 3 striped damsel died. We were told by a few stores it was probably because that fish was to aggressive so we got rid of it and started a month ago with 2 more clown fish. Have since added 2 chromis, another coral beauty, and a coal tang. The coal tang died and we lost the chromis last week and coral beauty and clown fish this weekend due to the drain pipes. This brings me to my first problem.

We have lost multiple fish down the drain pipes, what can we use to cap these pipes without losing to much gph. There isn't much room between the top of the water and the top of the pipes. We have tried a domed cap and drilled holes but not enough water was draining, we also tried an aquarium sock, but that keeps getting sucked down. What do other gravity only tanks use???

The second problem is the algae. We CAN NOT get rid of the algae!! We have blowers, multiple crabs and snails, and yet it keeps growing!!! It is probably an inch long. All of the tests come back normal, and we have 2 led lights that we leave on for about 10 hrs for the corals. How do we get rid of and prevent more algae from growing???

Last, are tangs extra sensitive, or are we just having really bad tang luck? There so beautiful and I would love to have them, but we cant afford to keep buying them to lose them weeks later.

I tried to attach pics, but I am not sure if it worked. 1 of tank, 1 of drain pipe, and 1 of algea

Thank you for reading and your help!!!


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Hi. Sorry to hear about your bad luck :
Firstly, what are your actual numbers. It is very hard to answer questions regarding problems like this without actual numbers. We need Sal, Mag, Alk, Cal, phos and nitrates. I am assuming ammonia and nitrites are 0.00 (but would def be worth testing them for me )

Firstly, the algea.
You will be getting false nitrates and phos reading with any test kit, because the algae is consuming those particular nutrients before they hit the water column for testing. If the rock was used for another persons tank, and you don't know their husbandry practices, it may have absorb a lot of phos and be leaching it back into the tank. We can deal with the algea after we get your numbers .
Do you run GFO ?

The drainpipe your showing in pic is NOT a normal set up. Most reef tanks have what we call a weir with a comb. The water passes over the come and into the weir. The comb is to stop fish from doing exactly that, going down into the pipe and sump. I would see if there is something maybe made out of perspex that you can build, to sort of put a box around the pipe lower than the water line, with a comb to make an internal weir. I run an external weir but used to run an internal one, I have included a pic of the weir.(although external, will give you an idea) You will continue to lose fish if you don't do this. It shouldn't be expensive, but a must. I would google internal weir". it will give you some idea.

It is a very small tank for tangs :( Tangs need a lot of swim room, or they will stress very easily. I would suggest maybe a yellow tang or something of that size (8-9 inches) max for that size tank.
I suspect that your nitrates may be higher than you want or aggression. ( I would love you to run an ammonia and nitrite test) Salt water fish can not and do not tolerate ammonia/nitrites at all and nitrates over 20ppm can become a problem long term.

What temp are you keeping ?

How long are you aclimitizing your fish for when you purchase them ?
What salt are you using, and are you using RODI ?

Are you aware of the numbers that should be kept ? Do you have an idea ?
Not meaning this in any derogatory way at all, just trying to help.

Seems that a lot of fish are dying, and there must be a reason why.

This type of box built around the pipe you speak of will save your fish. Please google "Internal Weir " There would be something that can be done for sure.
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Sorry for all your loses. So lets fix some of your problems, first, let`s tackle the drain pipes, an inexpensive way of fixing this issue is to buy or get hold of some 1/4 inch plastic netting. the kind they make covers for open top tanks and cut a piece lets say 3 inches wide and 6 to 8 iches long, roll it up into a tube shape and stuff it in the drain tube so some of the netting is out of the water and some in the elbow piece of the drain pipe.this will alow water to flow and stop any new fish from going down it. seconde issue, alge. since you are changing water every two to three weeks. when you do it, take a piece or two of the rock that has the alge on it out and a old toothbrush and scrub it off and rinse the rock with fresh saltwater before putting back in tank. also, I hope you are only changing 10- 15 % of the water at a time. you didn`t mettion what kind of filtration you have, so I`m going to guess that you have a protein skimmer and maybe a gfo /carbon rector. and thirdly the fish, it sounds like you have some kind of parasite like ich in there. If you can wait it out leave the tank with no fish for 6-8 weeks then, add 1 fish like a chromis or clown for a while( like a month) If you can`t wait that long, and I know I couldn`t, buy a ich treatment that is reef safe and treat accordingy.