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Need help sorting out the aftermath of this crash!?

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Rownsurf

Member
Joined
May 18, 2004
Messages
21
Location
Norfolk, Virginia
Hey all,

Well I posted yesterday early about my tank having crashed overnight. As of this morning the last of the fish have died :(
My polyps are all opening like normal and the hermits and snails seem fine. Other corals I cannot tell yet. Anyways, I'm still unsure what happened. I had added Chemi-Clean to deal with an overwhelming cyano problem that was choking corals and which water changes didn't seem to remedy. I have to assume something went wrong there. It has been suggested since that perhaps my sandbed was majorly unhealthy and the chemical kept oxidizing the organics down there until there was no more oxygen. The fish appeared to be gasping when I found them. It's only a 2inch sandbed, so not deep.

All my readings yesterday seemed fine and again this morning after a 20% water change last night, they are as follows...ammonia, nitrites, nitrates all = 0, phosphates = .2 mg/L, calcium = 200, alkalinity = 3, SG= 1.023, Ph = 8.2, temp = 78....This is in a 75g reef with a 20g sump/refugium, euroreef skimmer, PC lighting, etc..

phosphates were a bit high and I was scheduled to water test again this weekend, so they had gone up, but otherwise I cannot see anything there that would lead to this.

So now I'm looking at a tank depleted of fish and wondering how to proceed. Should I get everything out and remove the sandbed altogether? How can I test the oxygen levels right now? I have no meter to test it and local stores don't carry them that I know of. Should I pull the rock and corals out into plastic bins with half and half new water/tank water?

Well, anyways, thanks for the help thus far and if anyone has any thoughts on the Chemi-Clean or on any other possible causes please let me know. Also any advice on how to proceed from here to make the tank better with my follow-up attempt would be appreciated.

thanks,

Justin
 

wrightme43

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 1, 2004
Messages
4,355
Location
bowling green ky
I am sure you already know this, before filling your reef with fish, we need to find the underlying cause of the cyano outbreak that set this whole chain of events in motion. I am sure others will have a lot of questions for you too. Here are mine. How many fish did you have in your tank? What and how often did you feed? Do you use ro/di water? What type of sand bed maintence do you do? How often? Did you follow the instuctions exactly for the chemi-clear? I have a very similer tank to yours 75 w/20 gal sump, and such and the like. My sand bed is only 2 inchs as well. Do you use nassirius snails, starfish, What is your cleanup crew like? Is your skimmer making good skimmate or just pulling water from the system? Thats all for now, but it will help others to narrow down what possible causes are. Then we can go from there. HTH Steve
 

Rownsurf

Member
Joined
May 18, 2004
Messages
21
Location
Norfolk, Virginia
Exactly, I don't want to restock till I've reasoned out as many of my old problems as possible. I had 7 fish which I fed every other day with brine or other packaged frozen food. Emerald Entree and such. I am running CoralLife PC lighting for about 10 hours a day. I top off with Ro/DI water and do a 20% water change twice a month. I move the sand bed around when I preform water changes and a few times a week I'll move it with the baster. I followed the Chemi-Clean instructions. I had an airstone as they ask for. Perhaps not enough airation still? I do not have any nassarius snails or sifting starfish. My cleanup crew is aprox 4 brittle stars, 20 assorted hermits, 10 turbos, sally lightfoot crab, two queen conch(1 lrg, 1 very small) Was always building the cleanup crew. Crabs killed snails, snails flipped over, etc.

The skimmer worked well as it was explained to me. It's a euroreef. Was pulling foam slime junk into the cup unless I had it positioned to dump more liquid debris. I'm not real good at adjusting this and still would like more info on the best way to set a skimmer??

Thanks for the response ad hope you can come up with something with ym answer! :)

Justin
 

reedman

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 30, 2003
Messages
3,255
Location
Mukilteo, WA
Justin,

Cyano is typically brought on by a couple of things:

1) lighting shifting spectrum toward red (old lighting)
2) not enough flow
3) enough nutrients (nitrate and phosphate) for it to feed on

Cyano is an oportunistic feeder. Remove the elements that it thrives on and it will go away. There really is no need for chemicals to get rid of it.

Where was the Cyano? all over, focused in one area, etc?

How old are your light bulbs and what color spectrum are they (i.e.10K, 6500, etc.)?

What kind of flow do you have? With a sandbed it can be difficult to get enough flow down low in the tank without creating a storm. That is why a lot of us have removed the sandbeds. I like the look myself, but I just couldn't get enough flow across the sandbed to prevent dead areas near the bottom of the rockwork.
 

Rownsurf

Member
Joined
May 18, 2004
Messages
21
Location
Norfolk, Virginia
The cyano was all over. Bottom, on the rocks, on the corals, on the side of tank, filters, etc...

My lighting is 10k PC and are 6 months old. I'm seriously considering removing the sandbed. What sort of decorative layer did you put on, if any?

thanks,

Justin
 

reedman

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 30, 2003
Messages
3,255
Location
Mukilteo, WA
I started with just a thin layer of sand (less than an inch) figuring I would vacuum it out with water changes and put in new. Thi sdidn't work out with the high flow I have in my system so the sand blew under the rockwork (I can still see some). I now consider my tank essencially bare bottom. It's easier to maintain that way and the corralline and zoos are starting to cover the bare glass anyway. It took a bit of getting used to as I swore I wouldn't go bare bottom, but the health of the tank was more important to me.

I woudl check your flow to make sure you have water moving throughout the tank. Were your Nitrates and Phosphates low before you put in the Chemiclear? IF not that may have been why you had cyano. How old is the live rock? do you blast the rock with a powerhead or turkey baster regularly to clear it out? Sometimes if the rock clogs you loose quite a bit of your biological filtration.
 

Electrokate

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 25, 2003
Messages
401
Location
Portland OR
I had a tank crash a month ago, I think I know why but am not sure... It was a 10 gallon nano on a metal stand in a 63 degree room. There were sps, zoanthids, mushrooms, all kinds of frags of this and that and 3 small fish in the setup (2 green chromis and one clown goby). Nitrate, ammonia, all that stuff was zero and ph and calcium were right, and had been stable for almost a year.
It started with a slug, one that comes in with the liverock and that my boyfriend thought looked cool so I agreed to save it (they survive curing with nasty liverock so are quite tough) But after removing the dead slug and doing a water change the crash got worse. The smell was astonishingly foul. I removed the animals (only lost the one slug) But the gravel bed was devoid of life. No brittle stars, no worms, no pods, nothing. When I started removing the gravel I noticed that the 2.5" deep sand bed was very cold. I believe my problem was that the gravel chilled from the bottom up, killing the sandbed and fouling the tank. The smell of the gravel when I removed it was unlike anything I have experienced.
I don't know if this is anything like your situation, but I think the point is that there could be odd circumstances that we don't think about with tank setups that can lead to crashes. I know one brand of cyanobacteria killer says right on the box it will lower ph and that you need to have all the water ready for an emergency change when that happens. Are they the same chemical? I don't know, neither brand lists ingredients. I know with freshwater plant tanks people use heater cables to keep the gravel from chilling but I hadn't considered the possibility when I set up the little marine tank. Now I am worried about the new 80. I can sink a thermometer into the gravel with that one, and still read it. It's above a sump on an enclosed stand so should have a source of heat from the sump to keep the sandbed warmed. Don't think I trust the heater cables for freshwater in my marine setup. Anyone ever notice their sandbed being colder than the tank water and wondered if it was a problem? I suppose it's possible the slug released some toxin too. Shouldn't have tried to save it. It was brown and white with purple horns, very creepy looking. Oh well, live and learn.
I would suggest using R/O water and getting your tank cleared out of all the cyano bacteria killer, and letting the tank sit for a while. Watch for the pods coming back, and then start slow when you restock and observe your animals. The cyano could be due to low water flow too, seems to really like low flow tanks.
Good luck!
Kate B
Oly WA
 
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