View Full Version : In Desperate Need of Help for Saltwater Aquarium, Kelowna

02-01-2012, 09:34 PM
Hi there,
I have been having some issues with an 86 gallon saltwater tank that I purchased 2 months ago that was all ready up and running. The people had it for 5 years and it looked very well taken care of when I got it. Everything was good for the first 5 weeks and then everything started going wrong. I have 2 clowns, 1 sailfin tang, a cardinal, 3 damsels and one giant damsel. I also had corals as well which included an anenome. It began to not do well and I realized it was giving off ammonia. It died and I also lost the rest of my corals. Now my tank had been a mess from the ammonia and I am having other issues as well. I have been so stressed from this tank and noone in Kelowna seems to have any more knowledge than me.
Levels in my tank:
Salinity: 1.022-1.024
Ph is too low: 7.7-7.9
KH-14 drops which is way to high again. I added OH balance to try and get the ph up and it says it doesn't affect KH and calcium but now I am not so sure.
calcium in 500
Phos: 0
Ammonia was up to 2ppm but I am not sure now as the test goes blue, guess because I have added Prime to break down the ammonia.
Nitrite and nitrate are at 0 which makes no sense to me.

I am desperate to get my tank back to normal. I have done 2 x 20 gallon water changes in the last week and plan to do one on Friday again. I was adding Ammo lock every 2nd day but I have since changed to Prime. The fish have started to do better now. I am very confused about the readings that I am getting from my levels. My ammonia reading is blue which is not even on the card. And how can my nitrate and nitrite be 0? I just had to buy a new filter as mine started leaking everywhere. It is a Rena XP3 canister filter and I also have a hang on the side protein skimmer. How often should I be replacing carbon, sponges or filter media with the ammomia present?

What is the best way to get this tank balanced again and how can I get my ph up and stable or is it better to wait until all the ammonia is completly gone since higher ph is not as good with ammomia? It was on the lower end before this all happened and now I am begining to wonder if that is why the anenome died. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Leanne P, Kelowna

02-01-2012, 09:54 PM
When you moved the tank, you caused it to recycle again. I would do another water change and limit the amount of food you feed.

02-01-2012, 10:03 PM
A big water change, like 50g or more..

02-02-2012, 12:12 AM
+1 "you caused it to recycle again". Did you start with new water/sand? When I moved mine I thought I could avoid some problems by moving everything including most of the water. About 6 weeks later I had a mini cycle and had algae and cyano problems. Just had to do water changes and time until it cleared. And kept my flow up.

Sounds like your cycle is starting from the beginning. That's why you haven't been hit with nitrites and nitrates yet. But it is probably coming.

Your anenome would have hated the change in parameters.

02-02-2012, 12:43 AM
from what I have been told on here, dont mess around with your ph. if your fish are fine then leave it be, its better to have a stable ph then have it go to 8.4 after dosing, then a day or 2 later be back at 7.7 or less it causes too much stress. moving the tank for sure caused a mini cycle again, and the anemone dying creates more problems, like Brad (aquattro) says, large water change will help, or several smaller ones. I dont like the idea of canisters on saltwater tanks, but they can work fine too.. sumps allow for more water volume, more media/media reactors, etc. Good luck I hope everything settles in, and if you lose things its a bummer, but it happens to everyone! :wink:
p.s. welcome to Canreef :)

there are lots of really smart friendly people on here with lots of knowledge when it comes to this stuff

02-02-2012, 12:53 AM
Big water change

Quit adding chemicals to your tank to fix things that are not problems, your snowballing into real problems. 7.9 is nothing to worry about and the anonia is there because you moved the tank. Lower the amonia with water changes and leave the rest alone. Stable beats proper.

02-02-2012, 01:30 AM
Yep. wc, wc, wc. for sure is a mini cycle from the move. feed less and wait it out.

02-02-2012, 03:21 AM
how did you go about bringing the tank to your house??

ive moved alot of tanks to alot of houses any amonia i see is usually right away within days if there is any at all, with a tank that is five years old(if thats the case) it should be able to convert amonia pretty quick and at 2ppm( extremely high) your fish would have a hard time surving and corals would melt within days, but the amonia should decrease after a little spike not increase off the chart ,since the only die off would be what was released or very fragile(if transported right)

what kind of corals do you have??

are your fish ok??

lights and temp??

your parameters are out of whack besides what you added for ph what else have you added ???

02-02-2012, 03:23 AM
oh and your getting a false reading for your amonia ,use an api test kit for amonia:)

02-02-2012, 03:32 AM
there are guys local that can help if you want that and what you are asking here, sorry we never knew you were there having trouble, feel free to pm if youd like Id be happy to come take a look or bring some water over here to test ,help get all those parameters in check.

02-02-2012, 03:42 AM
if your new in the hobby i would take bkelly up on his generous offer its much easier to get a grip on alot of the questions you have if theres someone in person to shoot questions too, then he can set you on the right track or help point out any potential problems you could have:)

02-02-2012, 03:55 AM
I have halide lighting that I keep on for about 5 hours a day and my temp is 78-80. I have a fan but I still seem to fight with keeping my temp stable when the lights are on.
I have been using API test kits for the ammonia testing. I am kind of surprised that this is a cycle after 5 weeks. Would they not normally happen sooner. We used the sand from the existing tank and some of the water. Everything was moved in buckets and all the corals and fish were doing great the first 5 weeks.
I was wondering if I did a 50 gallon water change would it be hard on the fish since my ph is so low. It is 7.7 and goes to 7.9 when the lights are on but has been as low as 7.5.
I have been using prime for the ammonia or should I just be doing water changes.
And Brent I would love to get some help. Where are you.

Leanne P

02-02-2012, 04:25 AM
Hi Leanne,

I feel your pain...I ended up in the hospital for a month and my poor tank suffered for it - take Brent up on his offer !!!!!!
He's really a great help and knows pretty much everything you'll need to know about marine set ups.

We actually have to move my 55 gal this weekend...crossing everything I can cross that I don't lose anything else.
Brent is helping me out....and has given me tons of suggestions and ideas to get everything ready.

Curious about your move..... Did you leave the sand in the tank or put it in buckets then add it back again? I'm a complete newbie with SW ( 8 months in )...but do know that disturbing the sand bed can release some nasty toxins.


02-02-2012, 04:27 AM
Sent you a pm, cheers

02-02-2012, 06:36 AM
Hi Jan,
When we moved the tank, we put everything in buckets as it was too heavy to move with the sand in it. I talked to someone at j & l and they said that I should have put new sand in after it was moved but that was more for phosphates I think. I was having algea problems but they are getting better now. I am so sad I lost my anenome and the other corals. I am hopeful that I can get things back on track. Good luck with your move!


02-02-2012, 02:02 PM
Are you using RODI for water changes or tap water? If you decide to do another large water change, make sure you use pure water & let it mix with a powerhead & heater for 24 hrs, that will stabilze the pH.

02-02-2012, 03:28 PM
I think you may have fallen victim to old tank syndrome. All of the crap that was trapped in the substrate is throwing you a curve ball.

Since hindsight is 20/20, there's no point in kicking yourself.

I'd do the recommended water changes. Do a big one, and then do smaller ones daily for a week or so.

-Using ro/di water if you have access to it. Otherwise try filtered (RO) water from a local purified water store. Purified water stores don't usually put water through a DI stage, so the tds may be above zero.
-Water changes are going to be the only way to bring those levels down. A big WC followed by smaller daily WC's for a week won't hurt anything.
-Stop worrying about pH and buffering your tank. Rule #1, ignore your pH (within reason), you'll sleep better at night (okay, maybe not #1, but you get the point). I haven't compensated for pH in over a year. It's too stressful trying to keep up with it. And it changes daily based on your photo period. According to my graphs (click on my signature below), my pH varied from 7.83 to 8.45 in the past 24 hours.

02-02-2012, 03:40 PM
-Stop worrying about pH and buffering your tank. Rule #1, ignore your pH (within reason), you'll sleep better at night (okay, maybe not #1, but you get the point). I haven't compensated for pH in over a year. It's too stressful trying to keep up with it. And it changes daily based on your photo period. According to my graphs (click on my signature below), my pH varied from 7.83 to 8.45 in the past 24 hours.

I dunno, I would vote this as #1 :)

02-06-2012, 05:05 AM
Thanks for all the input from everyone. I did a 45 gallon water change on Friday and was hoping that would do the trick. I used Brent's test kit yesterday but it was an old one and told me I had almost no ammonia. My kit was testing positive so I went to the pet store today and they said the ammonia level was still at 6.1.
The fish seem to be doing ok except my cardinal hasn't eaten for awhile. Just wondering how much of a water change I should do tomorrow and each day after. The guy at the pet store said not to do another big one as it may start my tank cycling. I have another 40 gallons mixing.


02-06-2012, 05:45 AM
If there is anyone going to J & L in the next week or so, I am need of more salt. Thanks.


02-06-2012, 01:50 PM
I will be stopping in there on my way back on Sunday. Let me know what you need.

02-06-2012, 05:39 PM
If there is anyone going to J & L in the next week or so, I am need of more salt. Thanks.


Hi Leanne,

Just to let you know you can get salt in town from Purple Seahorse in Rutland, Pet City in Mission, and even PetSmart on Harvey. Purple Seahorse has the best prices I have found. I believe I have paid between $39-$49 for a bucket of instant ocean.