Jump to content
Ryan Evan

5.5 Gallon Help!!!!!

Recommended Posts

Hey all!!

 

Don't want to bore you with unnececery details about me, but I have been in and out of the hobby since I was 12, and decided to start a 5.5 gallon around 4 weeks ago. To make a long story short, on 2/09/17 I started the saltwater tank pictured. I added the live sand, live rock, and saltwater then and let it sit for 3 and a half weeks and watched it go through its cycle. Since the cycle ended and the water parameters seem to be perfect, I decided to start added a juvinile ocellaris black clown and move it to a larger tank when it outgrows this one.

 

Anyway, this is the second clown that passed away in this new tank. Purchased one on Monday and it passed away mid-day Tuesday. Got another one Thursday and it passed away mid Friday. Obviosly before I introduced the second one I went over everything at the LFS about my tank and had them test everything about the water and they thought it was a fluke. The first day the fish get in the aquarium, they were swimming and everything was amazingly good. Swimming, eating, and looking very healthy. Every day around the second day when I wake up, they are breathing heavily, hiding or on the substrate, and then eventually pass away a few hours later. Also, to acclimate I left the bag floating in the aquarium for around 30 minutes, then kept taking a shot glass worth of water out of the bag and put a shot glass of my tank water in every 5-10 minutes or so for about an hour, then put the fish in the tank. 

 

I will post my parameters below, but just a little diagnostic info. I installed an ATO so salinity is perfectly stable at 1.024. Have a heater set at 80 degrees and has a very stable temperature.

 

The only other info I have for you is that the alkalinity is high due to a pH buffer I had to add a week or so ago before i got fish, since all levels were perfect other than pH that was low around 7.4. So I added the buffer and it got the pH up but raised the alkalinity a bit. But the LFS employees agreed it isnt high enough to effect a FOWLR, just a reef. Also, I use RO water that I make at home. The filtration is just the stock filtration for the Fluval Evo Sea, and I planned on relying on religious water changes for nutrient export since its so easy for a 5 gallon. ALSO, I upgraded the stock return for a 180 GPH hydor mini pump. The surface of the water is very very aerated and broken up from the return so oxygen levels in the tank I really dont believe is the issue due to the surface water being broken up and such a high flow in the tank.

 

Parameters:

pH: 8.2

Alkalinity: 450 (high but had to add pH buffer to get the pH up)

Salinity: 1.024

Nitrite: 0

Nitrate: 20

Ammonia: 0

 

I am really upset and baffled as to what could be the problem. i invested all the time and waiting and money into this tank to do it all right after all my prior experience, I thought this would be a really good home for a fish!! 

 

Please let me know if there is anything I am missing and why these fish are dying. Thank you so much for your time and advice!!

0CC617FB-51E8-4F7A-BABF-1FF1A066CC1B.JPG

Share this post


Link to post

80 degrees is a little bit high temp-wise. It's best to keep it around 78. Is the source you get your fish from reliable? Remove the stock media. Get an InTank basket. Nitrates are high. IS there any surface agitation? There may be no oxygen in the water.

 

Nick

Share this post


Link to post
1 minute ago, RIP Sebastian said:

80 degrees is a little bit high temp-wise. It's best to keep it around 78. Is the source you get your fish from reliable? Remove the stock media. Get an InTank basket. Nitrates are high. IS there any surface agitation? There may be no oxygen in the water.

 

Nick

I will bring down to 78 but with the acclimation I dont think 2 degrees will kill a fish. Also, yes this a very reliable local fish store that specializes in saltwater. And as you can see from the picture, plenty surface agitation with a 180 GPH pump going through the 5.5 gallons. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
4 minutes ago, Ryan Evan said:

I will bring down to 78 but with the acclimation I dont think 2 degrees will kill a fish. Also, yes this a very reliable local fish store that specializes in saltwater. And as you can see from the picture, plenty surface agitation with a 180 GPH pump going through the 5.5 gallons. 

Ok. Just making sure. DO you use air fresheners or other cleaning products near the tank?

Share this post


Link to post
Just now, RIP Sebastian said:

Ok. Just making sure. DO you use air fresheners or other cleaning products near the tank?

Nope. If I ever use glass cleaner I spray it on the rag far away from the tank and then wipe the glass clean. Why do you ask?

Share this post


Link to post
6 minutes ago, Ryan Evan said:

Nope. If I ever use glass cleaner I spray it on the rag far away from the tank and then wipe the glass clean. Why do you ask?

Sometimes people have had issues with accidentally spraying stuff into it.

Share this post


Link to post

Do you have any other livestock at all in the tank, and clean up crew inhabitants? If so, have they been doing fine? They can be a good barometer at times. 

 

Maybe something is leaking stray voltage in the tank?

Share this post


Link to post
17 minutes ago, Weetabix7 said:

Do you have any other livestock at all in the tank, and clean up crew inhabitants? If so, have they been doing fine? They can be a good barometer at times. 

 

Maybe something is leaking stray voltage in the tank?

Nope no clean up crew at the moment. What could stray voltage be from? 

Share this post


Link to post
6 minutes ago, Ryan Evan said:

Nope no clean up crew at the moment. What could stray voltage be from? 

 

I would suggest that you try adding some CUC and see how they do. Even just a couple. 

If they perish, something is really off. 

If they are fine, well heck you need 'em anyway and you know it's something more specific to fish. 

 

Stray voltage can be from anything in the tank like a powerhead or heater that's leaking a little stray current. They make grounding probes for that, I've had to use one in the past. Doesn't mean that's what it is, just trying to brainstorm with you. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, Weetabix7 said:

 

I would suggest that you try adding some CUC and see how they do. Even just a couple. 

If they perish, something is really off. 

If they are fine, well heck you need 'em anyway and you know it's something more specific to fish. 

 

Stray voltage can be from anything in the tank like a powerhead or heater that's leaking a little stray current. They make grounding probes for that, I've had to use one in the past. Doesn't mean that's what it is, just trying to brainstorm with you. 

I am just hesitant to add a CUC because the tank is pretty clean as of right now as you can see in the picture- I guess the liverock has plenty for a snail to be happy with. But with the cycle, I added the live beneficial bacteria "in a bottle" just to add to the bacteria colony right off the bat. I still waited for the cycle to start and end obviously but just trying to add some more detail. I mean could it be possible the tank didnt cycle properly? I still have the dead clownfish in there unfortunately and hes been in there all morning and since I got him. If my tank didnt cycle and he was in there, wouldnt the ammonia and nitrite spike? I checked just now and not a trace of either with the fish in there along with some uneaten food, so it seems that the tank has a pretty adequate biological filter. Any more ideas? 

Share this post


Link to post

Your Alk can't possibly be 450, are you measure calcium or alkalinity?  If it's 4.5 dKH then it's definitely too low.

 

As for the 80 degree temp, I don't think that's a factor at all. 78 or 80 won't make a difference as long as it's stable.  I've had clownfish in tanks anywhere from 77 to 84 with no issues, and in the wild the tropical reefs are actually in the low 80's. 

 

The fish quickly dying could be many factors. Did you get them from the same store? Clownfish are extremely hardy, so something is way off either with the fish you started with (their health was suspect to begin with), or with your water parameters having a drastic swing overnight (you mentioned they died after just one night).

 

Given the overnight death and your history of buffering the water to raise the pH, my suspicion is a pH swing.  Make sure to get an accurate measurement of your Alkalinity first, and then measure the pH over the course of a 24 hour period, say every six hours or so.  At 5 gallons this system is probably susceptible to wider pH swings especially if you're not sure what your Alk is.

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
45 minutes ago, J-Ranko said:

Your Alk can't possibly be 450, are you measure calcium or alkalinity?  If it's 4.5 dKH then it's definitely too low.

 

As for the 80 degree temp, I don't think that's a factor at all. 78 or 80 won't make a difference as long as it's stable.  I've had clownfish in tanks anywhere from 77 to 84 with no issues, and in the wild the tropical reefs are actually in the low 80's. 

 

The fish quickly dying could be many factors. Did you get them from the same store? Clownfish are extremely hardy, so something is way off either with the fish you started with (their health was suspect to begin with), or with your water parameters having a drastic swing overnight (you mentioned they died after just one night).

 

Given the overnight death and your history of buffering the water to raise the pH, my suspicion is a pH swing.  Make sure to get an accurate measurement of your Alkalinity first, and then measure the pH over the course of a 24 hour period, say every six hours or so.  At 5 gallons this system is probably susceptible to wider pH swings especially if you're not sure what your Alk is.

 

 

I got the fish from the same store, but they were definitely healthy at the store and for the first day in my tank. Absolutely zero signs of ill health. No breathing heavily and swimming very healthily and accepting of food. So i think we can eliminate that from the equation.

 

My alkalinity is around 450 (KH)PPM or slightly below that. From my understanding, ideally it would be around 180-300ppm. Maybe that clears up the confusion- our units were different but on my test kit and how ive ever known to measure alkalinity is in PPM.

 

I was wondering why my pH would be so low to begin with- in the past I have never had to buffer for pH, but now I had to to get it up to 8.2 like I said. Every time I measure its right around the same area, but I will be sure to check every 6 hours or so- this is a great observation and thought. But also with such a high alkalinity, dont you think the pH would be more stable? Every time i've checked the pH it really doesnt change at all from the previous time and every time I have started to see the fish struggling, the parameters were the same as the night before

 

My nitrates are still at a solid 20PPM, could it be that the cycle may not have completely ended yet? The clownfish that passed away is still in the tank so I could see if the ammonia or nitrates spike at all from that and they are both still at a solid zero which, again, reinforces that I believe the cycle was a successful one (correct me if I am wrong).

 

Thanks very much for all your help and I really hope to get to the bottom of this soon.

 

Share this post


Link to post

After reading about pH swings, along with the fact that my fish had a hard time breathing or was gasping, osmotic shock due to nightly pH swings seem to be the possible culprit here since they have been dying or declining in health during the nighttime. But it seems that osmotic shock is due to algae producing CO2 in the nighttime and could result from too much algae or a lack of water changes, but I change my water very frequently and there is little to no algae in my aquarium as you can see from the picture. 

 

Any ideas on how I can prevent this pH swing overnight and keep a more stable pH? It seems that the buffer that I am adding is a bandaid to a problem I could solve- natural pH shouldnt be around 7.4 without a buffer. Any ideas on how to fix this naturally low pH?

Share this post


Link to post
6 minutes ago, Ryan Evan said:

After reading about pH swings, along with the fact that my fish had a hard time breathing or was gasping, osmotic shock due to nightly pH swings seem to be the possible culprit here since they have been dying or declining in health during the nighttime. But it seems that osmotic shock is due to algae producing CO2 in the nighttime and could result from too much algae or a lack of water changes, but I change my water very frequently and there is little to no algae in my aquarium as you can see from the picture. 

 

Any ideas on how I can prevent this pH swing overnight and keep a more stable pH? It seems that the buffer that I am adding is a bandaid to a problem I could solve- natural pH shouldnt be around 7.4 without a buffer. Any ideas on how to fix this naturally low pH?

PH isn't as important as a lot of people make it out to be. There are people with successful tanks with PHs from 7.3-8.4. It really shouldn't be an issue unless the swings are severe. How often do you do water changes? Do you use an RO/DI unit?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
9 minutes ago, RIP Sebastian said:

PH isn't as important as a lot of people make it out to be. There are people with successful tanks with PHs from 7.3-8.4. It really shouldn't be an issue unless the swings are severe. How often do you do water changes? Do you use an RO/DI unit?

Water changes once a week, and I have an RO filter, no DI.

Share this post


Link to post
1 minute ago, Ryan Evan said:

Water changes once a week, and I have an RO filter, no DI.

Hm.

Share this post


Link to post

So your Alkalinity is really 450 ppm or over 25 dKH?  I'm using this conversion table http://www.captivereefs.com/forum/alkalinity-conversion-chart.html

 

If that's actually true your pH shouldn't be swinging drastically.  But that's way excessive to say the least.

 

What is your pH and Alk when you mix a fresh batch of salt water?

Share this post


Link to post
5 minutes ago, J-Ranko said:

So your Alkalinity is really 450 ppm or over 25 dKH?  I'm using this conversion table http://www.captivereefs.com/forum/alkalinity-conversion-chart.html

 

If that's actually true your pH shouldn't be swinging drastically.  But that's way excessive to say the least.

 

What is your pH and Alk when you mix a fresh batch of salt water?

Alkalinity is around 120 PPM and pH is around 7.4 for a new batch of water. 

Share this post


Link to post

So here's an interesting article about excessive Alk and fish: http://animals.mom.me/happens-alkalinity-rises-high-aquarium-6802.html

 

Damage to Fish

Aquarium fish may suffer from serious problems as a result of high alkalinity in the tank. If it remains high over a prolonged period, it can dissolve the protective mucus layer that normally covers fish, leaving them vulnerable to bacterial attack and infection. Water that is too alkaline causes non-toxic ammonia to become toxic. Fish may have trouble breathing. It can also affect the fish’s fins and tails, damaging their growth and making them look ragged. Ultimately, fish in a highly alkaline environment may fail to thrive and can eventually die.

 

Share this post


Link to post
11 minutes ago, Ryan Evan said:

Alkalinity is around 120 PPM and pH is around 7.4 for a new batch of water. 

 

That's actually not bad. On the low end, but not too low.

 

Using the conversion table, 120 PPM would be around 7 dKH, which is perfectly adequate.   Many hobbyists who maintain low nutrient systems keep their Alkalinity around 7dKH.

 

Why did you feel the need to buffer it to 25dKH / 450ppm?

Share this post


Link to post
Just now, J-Ranko said:

 

That's actually not bad. On the low end, but not too low.

 

Using the conversion table, 120 PPM would be around 7 dKH, which is perfectly adequate.   Many hobbyists who maintain low nutrient systems keep their Alkalinity around 7dKH.

 

Why did you feel the need to buffer it to 25dKH / 450ppm?

That is freshly-made saltwater. I need to buffer the tank for the pH to get to around 8.2-8.4. The alkalinity of the fresh saltwater is fine, its the pH that is only 7.4- which is why I use buffer. Any suggestions on how to raise that pH without dramatically increasing alkalinity?

Share this post


Link to post

Stop trying to raise the pH?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Just now, xAyanex said:

Stop trying to raise the pH?

But a pH of 7.4 is not acceptable.

Share this post


Link to post

pH fluctuates throughout the day, are you measuring it at the same time every day? Sure it may only be a small fluctuation, but sometimes my pH tests at 7.8 and sometimes it tests at 8.0, depending on the time of day.

 

Chasing pH is not a good idea from what I've researched in this hobby... Raising alk that high is probably just as dangerous if not worse than having a pH of 7.4, I would think, but I don't have any facts to back me up at present time so I don't really know.

 

RIP Sebastian mentioned there are people with successful tanks with a pH as low as 7.3. Perhaps you should just give it a shot. Or, if you insist on raising the pH, aim for something lower like 7.8. Then monitor your alk and see if it is less ridiculous.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

I would do a 100% water change and don't mess with the ph at all wait a week and test then get a cuc  and take it slow 

 

Again don't worry about the ph 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recommended Discussions

  • Sign Up or Sign In to hide this.

×