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steveschafon

Clownfish on the sand bed on his side

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steveschafon

Hi everyone!

I need some help, newbie here.

ive started a used 120G with used sand substrate(was still in water when I got it) I’ve started the tank with few quick start bacteria and added 2 damsel fish and 2 clowns.

the fish are very small so I’ve decided to add another 2 clowns(bigger ones) the day after.

ive got the water check many times and when I added the fish the ammonia was 0.

today about 3-4 hours ago I’ve noticed one of my smaller clowns was near the bottom of the tank and looked like he is struggling, few minutes after he looked normal again but after few minutes went to the bottom again.

right now he is on its side on the sand but still moving. His fins looks little broken and looks like there is some peeling/something  around the bottom of his mouth.

I can also see some very small white dots on his body.

Ive fed them today with many live(adult) brine shrimp and when I saw so many still floating in the tank after 10 minutes I’ve picked them up with a net. The fish behaviour started after ive started my skimmer for the first time.

 

temp is always between 77-78

 

do anyone have any idea what is happening? All of the other fish looks normal.

 

thanks!

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empresto

I'm going to guess the issue is aggression from the new larger clowns. Tattered fins and damage to other parts of the body over a short time period sounds like abuse to me.

Typically, 2 clownfish in any tank is your limit unless you are specifically going to create a clown harem tank, which is its own complicated journey. Clownfish are incredibly territorial and don't often tolerate other clownfish. Sometimes even a pair of clownfish turns into a single clownfish due to abuse.

The white specks on your fish could be ick, but I'd guess it's likely flecks of sand stuck to the mucus coat of the fish from having been laying in the sand. Best course of action would be to isolate the smaller clowns from the larger clowns and then find a new home for one set or return them to the LFS.

Hopefully others can jump in, too, with more suggestions.

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Clown79

Most likely aggression as 4 clowns in 1 tank generally doesn't work. 2 clowns is rule of thumb unless its a harem.

A clown harem is a tank of clowns that must come from the same clutch.

 

 

Plus damsels are also aggressive fish and clowns are in the same family, so there could be a lot of territorial issues happening in there new home.

 

 

A few things to mention, going slow in this hobby is best. A lot of fish have been added in a short period of time and the tank is a newly set up tank.

 

Was the sand kept wet?

 

Was it disturbed?

 

Is there liverock in the tank? Was it kept wet?

 

At this stage ammonia should be tested daily because an ammonia spike could happen and you won't know without testing. 

 

I would definitely keep an eye on those spots because if its ich, all the fish will need to be put in a hospital tank and treated while the 120g goes fishless for 8 weeks minimum. 

 

Brine shrimp isn't very nutritional, its more of a treat. It would be good to feed a variety of good pellets, flake, and frozen mysis

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steveschafon

Hi guys, thank you for your answers.

unfortunately he didn’t make it.

I really don’t think that this is aggression from other tank mate since I’ve inspected the fish under a microscope after he pass.

For your questions:

I think I’ve finished the nitrogen cycle since before I’ve added the fish I had a reading of 0.1 ammonia and after a day or two with the fish I got 0 ammonia and I think 6 nitrate.

the sand was wet when I got it the rock was dry.

regarding the food, I’m planning on using the brine shrimp as a treat, I’ve purchased tetraMarine saltwater flakes and also saltwater multi-pack frozen food.

 

when inspecting the fish under the microscope I couldn’t see any signs of bites/marks and also couldn’t see the white dots anymore.

The only aggression I can see in the tank is my domino damsel against the other damsel, this is also on occasions and not severe at all.

ive added a picture of the fish that died, maybe you can see something that I can’t.

 

thanks 

3C9BAA3A-6770-4C3F-8995-F06AAC8A4987.jpeg

35AAD024-7FE6-4124-9706-50844D089957.jpeg

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Clown79
25 minutes ago, steveschafon said:

Hi guys, thank you for your answers.

unfortunately he didn’t make it.

I really don’t think that this is aggression from other tank mate since I’ve inspected the fish under a microscope after he pass.

For your questions:

I think I’ve finished the nitrogen cycle since before I’ve added the fish I had a reading of 0.1 ammonia and after a day or two with the fish I got 0 ammonia and I think 6 nitrate.

the sand was wet when I got it the rock was dry.

regarding the food, I’m planning on using the brine shrimp as a treat, I’ve purchased tetraMarine saltwater flakes and also saltwater multi-pack frozen food.

 

when inspecting the fish under the microscope I couldn’t see any signs of bites/marks and also couldn’t see the white dots anymore.

The only aggression I can see in the tank is my domino damsel against the other damsel, this is also on occasions and not severe at all.

ive added a picture of the fish that died, maybe you can see something that I can’t.

 

thanks 

3C9BAA3A-6770-4C3F-8995-F06AAC8A4987.jpeg

35AAD024-7FE6-4124-9706-50844D089957.jpeg

Dry rock is not live rock.

Its dead or was never live to begin with. Therefore there is no biological filtration and needs to fully cycle before it's fully capable of providing biological filtration.

 

Sand does very little for cycling.

 

How long have you had the tank? How long before the fish were added?

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steveschafon

I started the tank 10 days ago, added a bottle of startsmart complete.

also added microbacteria 7 daily(like the bottle says) 3 days ago added 2 small clowns(one of them is the one who died) and 2 damsel fish added a bottle of Dr Tim‘s one and only. The day after I’ve added 2 big clowns and a shrimp.

the ammonia was 0 before adding the first fish and stayed at 0 till now.

the reason that I’ve added more livestock is because I don’t think the 4 one inch size fish are enough to increase the ammonia, I might be wrong but for now it seems like the ammonia is in control.

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Clown79
1 hour ago, steveschafon said:

I started the tank 10 days ago, added a bottle of startsmart complete.

also added microbacteria 7 daily(like the bottle says) 3 days ago added 2 small clowns(one of them is the one who died) and 2 damsel fish added a bottle of Dr Tim‘s one and only. The day after I’ve added 2 big clowns and a shrimp.

the ammonia was 0 before adding the first fish and stayed at 0 till now.

the reason that I’ve added more livestock is because I don’t think the 4 one inch size fish are enough to increase the ammonia, I might be wrong but for now it seems like the ammonia is in control.

Its cruel to cycle with fish and can cause health issues/death.

 

Its a very old method of cycling that the majority no longer do or recommend

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ECLS Reefer
1 hour ago, steveschafon said:

I started the tank 10 days ago, added a bottle of startsmart complete.

also added microbacteria 7 daily(like the bottle says) 3 days ago added 2 small clowns(one of them is the one who died) and 2 damsel fish added a bottle of Dr Tim‘s one and only. The day after I’ve added 2 big clowns and a shrimp.

the ammonia was 0 before adding the first fish and stayed at 0 till now.

the reason that I’ve added more livestock is because I don’t think the 4 one inch size fish are enough to increase the ammonia, I might be wrong but for now it seems like the ammonia is in control.

It is supremely rare to have a tank not go through a cycle that’s freshly put together. If it’s only 10 days old and you started with dry rock, there is almost zero chance you’re not going to see a cycle and most of those fish you put in there are either going to show a lot of distress or most likely will die. A freshly started tank’s ammonia level has little to do with the fish’s nutrient foot print and everything to do with the nitrogen cycle. You can keep adding bacteria but it’s not going to stop the cycle from happening, especially if those were uncured, uncycled dry rocks. 

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steveschafon

The rocks that I got were used in a tank for 3 years, but they were delivered to me dry, so from what I understand it's not beneficial to the cycle.

What you guys say is completely different from other sources and LFSs claims, but it make sense. You don't think that adding all of this bacteria I've added really cycle the tank as it claims? I mean, search for Dr Tim's one and only, people swear by it. adding the fish as I did and never losing a fish.

I was told by the local fish store that everything in this hobby is controversial, so I'm not surprised to hear so many opinions.

 

What should I do now do make sure I give the fish that are already here the best chance to survive?

Thanks guys

image.jpg

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ECLS Reefer
1 minute ago, steveschafon said:

The rocks that I got were used in a tank for 3 years, but they were delivered to me dry, so from what I understand it's not beneficial to the cycle.

What you guys say is completely different from other sources and LFSs claims, but it make sense. You don't think that adding all of this bacteria I've added really cycle the tank as it claims? I mean, search for Dr Tim's one and only, people swear by it. adding the fish as I did and never losing a fish.

I was told by the local fish store that everything in this hobby is controversial, so I'm not surprised to hear so many opinions.

 

What should I do now do make sure I give the fish that are already here the best chance to survive?

Thanks guys

image.jpg

Well how dry were they? I mean if they were only dry for a few days or hours that might be a different story, and adding bacteria to boost it might work. I’d get some Seachem ammonia badges (really you just need one) and stick in there. They do a good job of measuring ammonia. If the levels are going up, you’re going to need to take the fish out and put them in a hospital tank with maybe a couple pieces of PVC until the rocks finish cycling.

 

People used to cycle tanks with damsels because they’re really hardy fish and “can” make it through the cycle, but it’s like asking someone to live while sitting in their own septic tank. So people don’t tend to cycle with fish on purpose anymore. And *most* LFS will tell you whatever to sell stuff. I have one that cares about animal health and coral health and will tell you the truth, and one that will tell you *just* about anything. So you kind of have to glean the truth from between what everybody tells you. Almost no one on this forum will recommend putting fish in a brand new tank with dry rock. If it had been live rock from an established tank with seasoned water and sand from that same tank, that’s one thing, and even starting a tank like that can have a mini cycle. But dry rock will almost always go through a cycle. 

 

But bottom line - for the sake of the fish you’ll most likely need to put them in a temporary clean tank until the cycle completes or risk losing more of them. 

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steveschafon

If I check and the ammonia doesn't go up, it means it's ok? and If I do see the ammonia go up, how do I set up the clean tank? I mean, it will need to go thurgh a cycle as well, right?

I did order a micro reef and I will do what you say if it will become necessary.

 

 

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ECLS Reefer

A clean tank with no sand and no rocks isn’t typically going to cycle much. That’s what people put together for hospital tanks or QT tanks. You would need to check with the ammonia badges or chemical tests because there won’t be much of a bio filter at all in a water only tank like that, but its easy to change the water on those to keep the levels clean. 

 

The problem with the other tank is how dry those dry rocks were. I mean if they were only dry for maybe a day or some hours, I’d think they’re fairly viable for a quick start up and might not cycle hard. I would still expect some increase in the ammonia level because even with a direct tank transfer and new sand, old water and fully cycled established rocks, the new tank can experience a small cycle. Reefs don’t like change much. So on the whole I’d expect the ammonia levels to go up some regardless. If those rocks were really dry for a long time, then I’d expect a full cycle with pretty high ammonia and bad conditions for the fish. 

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steveschafon

 

1 minute ago, ECLS Reefer said:

A clean tank with no sand and no rocks isn’t typically going to cycle much. That’s what people put together for hospital tanks or QT tanks. You would need to check with the ammonia badges or chemical tests because there won’t be much of a bio filter at all in a water only tank like that, but its easy to change the water on those to keep the levels clean. 

 

The problem with the other tank is how dry those dry rocks were. I mean if they were only dry for maybe a day or some hours, I’d think they’re fairly viable for a quick start up and might not cycle hard. I would still expect some increase in the ammonia level because even with a direct tank transfer and new sand, old water and fully cycled established rocks, the new tank can experience a small cycle. Reefs don’t like change much. So on the whole I’d expect the ammonia levels to go up some regardless. If those rocks were really dry for a long time, then I’d expect a full cycle with pretty high ammonia and bad conditions for the fish. 

The rocks were dry for a week or even more. I needed to build the stand and reseal the tank.

I'm checking the ammonia using a chemical test every day, till now I've tested in the fish store with more precise equipment.

As I mentioned before, I only saw ammonia(0.1) before adding the first fish and when I've added them it was at 0.

You don't believe that all of the bacteria I've put into the tank and the used sand could have finished the cycle?

 

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ECLS Reefer
1 minute ago, steveschafon said:

 

The rocks were dry for a week or even more. I needed to build the stand and reseal the tank.

I'm checking the ammonia using a chemical test every day, till now I've tested in the fish store with more precise equipment.

As I mentioned before, I only saw ammonia(0.1) before adding the first fish and when I've added them it was at 0.

You don't believe that all of the bacteria I've put into the tank and the used sand could have finished the cycle?

 

😬 I’d be very surprised if it doesn’t start to cycle higher even with added bacteria. I could be wrong which is why I said you have to take the truth for your tank and fish by reading between the lines of what every one says. No two tanks are the same, or ever act the same. So you could get lucky, but I’d be very very watchful about the ammonia levels and how the fish are acting. Adding fish immediately to a dry rock system is usually a no go, but I can’t tell you it has never worked out for some people. The other thing is used sand evidently comes with a mixed bag of success because it has to be washed well to prevent releasing a bunch of nasties. I tried that once and it killed all my fish, so the next time I did a transfer I just got fresh arag-alive sand. 
 

Id test the ammonia every day like you’re doing or get an ammonia badge to save on the work with the chemical tests, and just be ready to pull the fish out in case they start acting distressed. 

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steveschafon

Thanks, I will definitely order some ammonia badges because I really don't trust the ammonia kit I have. I do trust the fish store machine but its like 8 dollars a test( which I did like 4 timed by now lol).

I will keep you guys updated here how everything goes, I really hope I'll get lucky and that everything will work. 

Does anyone have any ideas about the dead clown? since it's not high ammonia, what could have killed him? what should I put an eye on for the other fish?

 

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ECLS Reefer

There’s no telling. It could be it didn’t ship well, sometimes they just don’t introduce well, sometimes a fish just doesn’t thrive. It’s hard to say why one clown out of a group didn’t thrive if you’re not seeing aggression, or signs of parasites or ich or other problems with the rest of the animals. 

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steveschafon

I'm really not sure about the parasites.

I did see white dots on the fish on the day he started acting sick.

You can see from the pictures what I've saw.

the question that might clarify if it was parasites, would the parasites(white dots) will get off the fish when it's dead? or when it's out of the water?

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ECLS Reefer
6 minutes ago, steveschafon said:

I'm really not sure about the parasites.

I did see white dots on the fish on the day he started acting sick.

You can see from the pictures what I've saw.

the question that might clarify if it was parasites, would the parasites(white dots) will get off the fish when it's dead? or when it's out of the water?

If he had ich then it’s most likely in the tank, and it’s completely common for fish in any tank, bought anywhere to come with cooties. Now venturing into the communicable diseases area you’ll have to consult with @Humblefish since he’s the most knowledgeable fish vet. I fail utterly with disease treatments. 

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Clown79
1 hour ago, steveschafon said:

If I check and the ammonia doesn't go up, it means it's ok? and If I do see the ammonia go up, how do I set up the clean tank? I mean, it will need to go thurgh a cycle as well, right?

I did order a micro reef and I will do what you say if it will become necessary.

 

 

You would need to use seachem prime to detoxify the ammonia and do frequebt waterchqnges to reduce ammonia if ammonia starts to rise in the 120g because unfortunately, you will not have a cycled hosiptal tank ready for that.

 

Hospital tanks or qt tanks are normally started by using some sort of source with beneficial bacteria like used filter media, biological media like rings, blocks.

 

I always used filter media from my existing tanks to start up my qt's. This prevents ammonia rising when you add fish because fish poop/pee is waste which leads to ammonia.

 

So ya, starting up a hospital tank/qt won't cycle on its own but once a fish is added(ammonia source) then you run into problems.

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Tamberav

The main thing I want to add is to slow down and think what what fish you want in this tank long term. Adding multiple clowns and a domino damsel early on can be very detrimental down the road.  
 

The fish will get more aggressive as they age. Clowns will pair off and can get extremely intolerant of other clowns. 
 

A domino damsel can completely ruin your plans and kill fish later on and they are a nightmare to catch in such a large tank with extensive rock. 


Saltwater fish stocking and choices matter a lot. They are not community tanks like freshwater. Most every fish will stake a claim to something with certain ones being more fierce than others. Some will be completely intolerant of other fish added after them once settled. 
 

As far as the bacteria you used, they are not all equal but perhaps 10 days was long enough. I am not familiar with smart start and have never found microbacter to be great for a quick set up (or much of anything really lol). Biospira and Fritz turbo start (being the best and also really costly) seem to do a pretty good job at jump starts. 
 

An ammonia badge is probably not a bad idea just in case. 


Another thing worth mentioning is saltwater fish disease is a huge deal with some diseases capable of quickly taking out a tank of fish in 48 hours. This is more of a problem in new tanks. 
 

Tread carefully though this hobby and research everything. Many people get into this hobby and then quit once the livestock starts dying and the money burns away. 

 

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steveschafon

I had to go to the store to check the PH once more even when my test kit shows 0.

So the results are not that good as I thought.
what should I do next?

28EB0A49-452C-4A21-B8EC-989A87A5B26E.jpeg

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ECLS Reefer
6 minutes ago, steveschafon said:

I had to go to the store to check the PH once more even when my test kit shows 0.

So the results are not that good as I thought.
what should I do next?

28EB0A49-452C-4A21-B8EC-989A87A5B26E.jpeg

Yeah that looks like the start of a cycle. Problem is it could take absolutely forever if you suppress it with frequent water changes. It might be faster and much safer to pull the fish out and let the rocks cycle out, hopefully fairly quickly. 

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steveschafon

As we discussed earlier I don't have anywhere to put the fish in, even if I'll buy another tank today I won't be able to cycle it.

Any other options? is 0.2 too high for them to survive? I've noticed many brine shrimp that died in the tank and caught up in the powerbeads socks, I guess they can leave ammonia so I removed the socks for cleaning.

does gravel vacuum any good at this point? or it might disrupt the bacteria I've put in?

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ECLS Reefer
2 minutes ago, steveschafon said:

As we discussed earlier I don't have anywhere to put the fish in, even if I'll buy another tank today I won't be able to cycle it.

Any other options? is 0.2 too high for them to survive? I've noticed many brine shrimp that died in the tank and caught up in the powerbeads socks, I guess they can leave ammonia so I removed the socks for cleaning.

does gravel vacuum any good at this point? or it might disrupt the bacteria I've put in?

Even in a pinch with no tank do you have a 5g bucket? An extra pump and heater? It would be safest for the fish to get them out to temporary housing until it cycles because otherwise the cycle will take forever and you’ll have to do daily fair sized water changes which can be expensive as well. And I’m not sure that putting prime in to lock up the ammonia with the rocks is safe either. There are people more familiar with prime than me. 
 

Id say if nothing else a Lowe’s bucket, cheap heater and small wave pump from the tank would help the fish. And an ammonia badge so you know when to change the water.

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