How often do you lose fish?

Discussion in 'Reef Talk' started by madducks42, Nov 28, 2017.

  1. madducks42

    madducks42 Resident Nihilist BRS Member

    So we've had our reef tank for almost a year now and we've had mixed success with fish. I'd say about half the fish we've purchased have died within the first two months of us having them. We got a pair of clownfish from Live Aquaria shortly after our tank finished cycling. They died a few weeks apart from each other after a few weeks. They were SUPER tiny when we got them. We started going to Tropic Isle in Framingham after that and got two clownfish from them who we still have that seem to be doing great. We also got a purple tang about 6 months ago who is also doing great. But those are the only three fish that have done well. We're on our second royal gramma. We picked up a flame angel and potters angel about a month ago from Tropic Isle. Seemed like they were both doing well and then they both died Sunday. Checked all the tank parameters, ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates are all at 0. Also checked for copper just to be safe which was also at 0. pH has been stable around 8.1, we're doing a three day blackout because we have a lot of brown algae so pH dipped to 7.8 at one point but that's not much of a swing.

    Every time we lose a fish we check all the water parameters and they always come back normal. So yay for the tank being stable but it means we have no idea what caused the fish to die which is more than a little frustrating. They never show any signs of being sick and will be swimming around and eating just fine, then we wake up the next morning to a dead fish : /

    Any thoughts or suggestions?
  2. SilverWolf229

    SilverWolf229 Well-Known Member BRS Member

    Do you quarantine your fish? A simple 15 gallon tank will do. Just need heater, hob filter, and a hide. It’s easier to observe / treat new fish this way. I’m setting one up today with a fusion 10 for my cube build.

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  3. madducks42

    madducks42 Resident Nihilist BRS Member

    We haven't been, I might do that in the future but I'm not really convinced it will make a difference. In all cases the fish have been in the DT for 30 days at least before kicking it. So quarantining them wouldn't have made a difference since they would have been in QT for 30 days and then put into the DT where they would have been fine and then randomly died after a month or two of unknown causes. I've read mixed opinions on treating all fish that come in regardless of whether or not they show any symptoms. Also mixed opinions on how long to quarantine healthy (appearing fish) and the pros/cons of possibly stressing them out more than necessary.
  4. SilverWolf229

    SilverWolf229 Well-Known Member BRS Member

    How big is the tank? 2 pigmy angels can be a problem, where you get them can also be the issue. If you buy from petco, you have to quarantine them without question. There tanks are loaded with ick/parasites. I don’t blame the employees as much as the company standards. To put that much live stock on too small filtration is insane.

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  5. Paul B

    Paul B paul b

    In time you will figure out how to keep fish until they die of old age. But first, unfortunately you have to go through this learning process and your tank has to mature.
    I do not quarantine but that is for a different thread and some of my fish are 26 years old.
    Food has a lot to do with it, but that is also for another thread as it takes up a lot of pages. Good luck, but you will get there.
    madducks42 likes this.
  6. madducks42

    madducks42 Resident Nihilist BRS Member

    It's a 90 gallon tank with lots of live rock. The flame angel tended to swim around a lot while the potters angel usually stuck around the live rock picking off algae. We have a surprisingly chill tang who wasn't happy about the flame angel the first day but after that they basically ignored each other. I would never buy any live critter from Petco but I'm honestly not sure how much better Tropic Isle is, I've discovered quite a few more LFS in the last month that I'll probably go to from now on instead of Tropic Isle so maybe we'll have better luck in the future. Going to be traveling in January so not going to tackle any new fish additions to the tank any time soon.
  7. AlbertG

    AlbertG (BadPapi) Staff Member Moderator Officer BRS Member

    I always had bad luck with lfs fish that’s why I buy fish from othe members . I have better luck with those .
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  8. Chris A.

    Chris A. Formally toomanyfish BRS Member

    Some of my fish came from petco and I never quarantined them. Still alive and kickin. Only fish I’ve had dye was a tang and I’m still trying to figure out if it was me or he had a broken jaw
  9. this is me

    this is me I like turtles BRS Member

    I echo this message.
  10. aresangel

    aresangel Well-Known Member Officer

    I heard the Nashua petco has healthy fish, the Leominster one has always had problems. I had had two mass die offs from their fish.

    I either get my fish from the Fish Nook in acton (he quarantines before selling) or from members here. It is always great to see the systems before buying and the petco systems have visible ich every other week. They get their pets from live aquaria. I know members have bought fish from there but If they come in sick I would imagine they have issues at home base too.

    Earlier I also underfed my fish to try to fight algae. Now I overfeed and my cuc takes care of the mess. So I second the two points that Paul states, good feed and a mature system that can take the messy food bioload is my advice.

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  11. madducks42

    madducks42 Resident Nihilist BRS Member

    So I'm pretty sure we're having some ick problems. I'm going to recap this as best I can but I don't remember the exact timeline of events.

    - About 4 months ago we noticed some white spots on our tang and one of the clownfish was acting off, wasn't eating and it's fins didn't look right. Two fish died, a royal gramma and a potter's angel. So we captured the surviving fish, purple tang and two clownfish, and put them into quarantine. I treated them with malachite green and they recovered quickly. After a few days no more white spots and they all looked good and started eating with their normal voracity again.
    - We left them in quarantine for six weeks and there were no fish in the tank during this period.
    - After six weeks we put them back in the tank and everyone continued to do fine, then a month or so later we got some more fish. We didn't add all the new fish at once, we added them over a period of 3 weeks I think. All of them were from tropic isle, really wish I had known about the other fish stores in the area (doh!). Over that three week period we added a scooter, royal gramma, potter's angel, flame angel, sleeper goby. We added to many fish over too short a period and I think we should have stuck with only one angel. My bad and I've learned my lesson.
    - The fish were fine for about a month or so. We've been having some algae problems in the tank (this started while the tank was fallow so unrelated to the fish being added). We added some chaeto to our sump and did a three day blackout on the tank which helped quite a bit. However during this three day blackout both angels died. They showed no signs of being sick, they didn't have any spots and were eating well. But we woke up to two dead fish.
    - Checked all the water parameters and everything was good. Corals were annoyed about the lights being off but still healthy and all of the invertebrates were fine.
    - Made it through the three day blackout and noticed that the royal gramma was flicking itself on the sand a lot and hiding in the rocks more than usual. It died two days later.
    - A day or so later the goby kicks the bucket. I loved that fish so I'm annoyed. The scooter disappeared actually before the blackout but I suspect it wasn't that healthy when we picked it up and we didn't have enough copepods in the tank yet to sustain it.
    - So now we're down to the three original survivors, purple tang and two clownfish, and they're showing the same symptoms as before. Purple tang has white spots, but is still eating and acting normal, and the orange/white clownfish is acting off. The black/white clownfish seems to be fine. I've caught the purple tang and the orange/white clownfish and have them in quarantine and I'm working on catching the black/white clownfish. That little guy knows what's up and is sticking to the rocks, hoping to catch him in the fish trap later today.
    - We also have a yellow watchman goby with a bonded pistol shrimp in the tank. They've made their home under and in a big live rock in the tank. There is no way I'm getting that little guy out without taking all the live rock out of the tank. It seems to be really healthy though and loving life so I'm leaving it for now.

    We're not really sure what to do from here. I can treat the clownfish and the tang again and leave them in QT for a few weeks. But if this happens every time we add new fish it's going to get old fast. It also seems like there is a lot of conflicting information out there about ick and how it should be tackled. It seems like there is one camp of people who believe you can have a 100% ick free tank, this requires quarantining all new fish for a minimum of 90 days and we'd have to leave our tank fallow for 120 days in order for it to be ick free. I can't get the watchman goby out though so it seems like this isn't an option for us. The other camp of people seem to argue that most fish have ick and as long as the fish our healthy their immune system can keep the ick under control, the fish will always have it but it won't bother them. While not the most pleasant analogy I basically viewed this as the herpes virus among people, lol. The vast majority of the population has it but healthy immune systems make it unnoticeable.

    So I'm leaning towards keeping the clownfish and tang in QT for a few weeks, planning on treating them with malachite green again since it seemed to help last time and then back into the DT they go. I'm going to be good and not add any new fish for a couple of months and when I do, I'm going to buy them from a better LFS, quarantine for a couple weeks mostly just to get them feeding well and then add them to the display tank. I'll only add 1-2 fish at a time and then wait a couple months before adding anything else. Self control, I can do this, lol.

    Any other thoughts or suggestions? Also any other fish recommendations? I love Potter's Angels and Royal Gramma's but I've lost two of each now so I'm inclined to try something else. At some point we want a mandarin and I would love another scooter, working on getting an established copepod population at the moment.
  12. Chris A.

    Chris A. Formally toomanyfish BRS Member

    That really seems like bad luck.
    I don’t quarantine fish but I think you might want to go that route with new fish so you don’t have to go through this every time you add new specimens
  13. aresangel

    aresangel Well-Known Member Officer

    With the watchman in the tank I think you may be fine with the over feed healthy live with the ick route. If you cannot take all the fish out and rub farrow then the slow introduction would be best to reduce the stress on the fish.

    I guess my question is... if the fish are healthy and do not show signs of ick, can they contract it and allow the cycle to continue? If their immune system can fight it off and not allow the parasite to attach and release offspring then the watchman can live in the tank and you can treat the others then go the quarantine route for all new fish.

    I guess my suggestion is dependent on icks ability to go through its life cycle with healthy fish.

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  14. gzr918

    gzr918 Well-Known Member BRS Member

    Fish can still have ich and not show signs of it. It can live in their gills or in small populations without showing many symptoms. There has been some research lately suggesting that as long as there is only one strain of ich in a tank, it will not survive past 11 months.
    aresangel likes this.
  15. frank180reef

    frank180reef Well-Known Member BRS Member

    Do you make sure the fish eat at the store before you buy them?
  16. SilverWolf229

    SilverWolf229 Well-Known Member BRS Member

    Another option is medic by polyp lab. It’s reef safe. I just got it but haven’t used it yet. My plan is to treat display tank and quarantine all new fish going in

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  17. madducks42

    madducks42 Resident Nihilist BRS Member

    Yep! All of them were eating frozen brine in the store and continued to eat well for us.

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  18. madducks42

    madducks42 Resident Nihilist BRS Member

    I don't know much about that stuff. I've started to do some research and it seems to have gotten mixed reviews with some people swearing by it and others saying it does absolutely nothing and is a waste of money, lol. I haven't seen anyone report that it damaged their corals in anyway so I might try it because I figure what can it hurt at this point.

    At this point only the purple tang is in QT. The clownfish that was in QT with it died, it continued to get worse in QT so I wasn't surprised. I haven't been able to catch the remaining clownfish in the DT. It still looks healthy and it knows what's up because it's sticking close to the live rock and won't go anywhere near the fish trap. Smart little bugger. Even if I can get him out though there's no way I'm catching the watchman goby. So is there any point to leaving the tank fallow 8-10 weeks if there is still one fish in it? That would defeat the purpose right?
  19. SilverWolf229

    SilverWolf229 Well-Known Member BRS Member

    As like my as it’s there ich will have a host to keep reproduction going.

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  20. SilverWolf229

    SilverWolf229 Well-Known Member BRS Member

    Darn auto correct, as long as there is a host, it will keep the cycle going.

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