Instant Damsel Deaths - Help a noob :)

sampster5000

New member
Hi guys. I knew everything was going too good in my tank. Something HAD to be wrong. My tank has been up for a month. It is a 46 gallon bowfront. I am using 30lbs live rock, 40lbs live sand, and an eheim 2213 for filtration. I cured the rock for 3 days before placing in the tank. I then let the tank run, filter + live rock, for 3 more weeks. After this I added my clean up crew when the ammonia reached 0ppm. All are doing good and so far no deaths on inverts.

I have 10 hermit crabs, 5 nassarius snails, 3 turbo snails, 1 emerald crab, 1 purple lobster. Not going to lie, I impulse bought the lobster and emerald due to seeing very low prices on them. My SW friends told me that I did nothing wrong since the crab and lobster are so "hardy" but I still felt like I rushed them.

5 days later I got the hook up from a friend and added in some coral. 1 green mushroom, 1 unknown redish/brown polyp, another unknown purple polyp, and 1 green trumpet. I currently have 1x T5NO 10,000K and 1x T5NO Actinic. I am ordering a 4xT5HO + Lunar Light fixture in 2 weeks. The coral seem to be doing great... to me. I know nothing on how to tell if they are doing good or not. I am simply judging by the fact that they are opening and closing and seem to eat the brine shrimp I blow on them. I am not worried about the corals right now as they seem to be fine and my friends say I dont need to worry about them.


Okay now here is where I get very confused. I decided to buy some damsels to see how they do so I can see where I am at with water parameters etc. I added 5 assorted damsels yesterday in this 1 month old tank. My favorite was a domino damsel. I acclimated the fish by floating them in the open bag and slowly pouring in tank water over a 15 minute period. After this I netted them all out and put them in the tank. The 4 damsels did fine and were swimming around right away but the domino damsel headed straight for the sand bed and died within 5 minutes. I thought maybe he got messed up by the other damsels in the bag? I was very confused as this is supposed to be the hardiest fish in the world. Even if my parameters were out of wack, what would kill a fish that fast?

Today I brought home a domino damsel. This time I acclimated him in a container very slowly for 15 minutes. After this I put him in the tank. He swam around for about 30 seconds then nose dived to the sand bed and died even faster than the last. Pretty confused at this point. My 4 damsels are breating very heavily but are actively swimming. My temperature went up to 80F out of nowhere so I unplugged my heaters. It must've been at this temperature for the whole day. I have 4 powerheads running so I have not assumed lack of oxygenation but it is possible.

So I did a water change of 10% assuming that my nitrates were high. At this point I had only done 1 water change of 10% since the tank has been running. Is this my problem? Here are my current parameters:

Ammonia - 0
Nitrite - 0
Nitrate - 5-10ppm
pH - 8.2
Temp - 77

I had a friend test my alkalinity and calcium as I dont own my own test kits for these (very expensive). He said that they were both out the roof. I tested it a week into my cycle and then after a month. Same story. He said I wont need to worry about these levels at all.

Thanks for any help. I am a fresh noob to saltwater. Please give any advice or positive feedback. Feel free to tell me what I need to do. Please refrain from telling me what I did wrong if there is no way for me to take it back. IE: "You shouldnt have bought the trumpet coral". Thank you, but try and help me out from this point on. I cant change the past :)

I am going to set up a hang on back refugium after I get my new light fixture which will help a lot.
 

DoubleM 10

Active member
To me and I'm far from an expert it sounds like u did not acclimate properly. It's says u floated the back for 15 min then scooped them out and put them in.

If this is true than that would be my best guess.

Did u pour water into the floating bags? The scoop them out? Tell us more about ur aclimation process?



Sent from my Eris using Tapatalk
 

karsseboom

New member
Your friends are wrong, you should not have corals in a tank that new BIG NOOB MISTAKE. You added 5 fish at once? are you serious? thats some crazy stuff man. You should loose the canister filter and build your self a sump, do you have a skimmer? what kind? you are GOING WAY TO FAST. your alk and cal should not affect your fish, its the fact your going about your tank in the wrong way. There are many threads in the stick ssection about cycle a new tank. you should have came here first before you went all crazy at the LFS>
 

james-lee

New member
1. Whats your salinity.
2. Drip acclimate everything for 30 minutes prior to adding.
3. If you dont have one you NEED a skimmer.
4. Have your water tested at the LFS sometimes what you measure is completely different. I used to use API test kits (nitrates) and API measured 0. I used salifert now and I rad at 20. I was shocked. Brought my water to LFS and they used salifert and ye smy nitartes were at 20.
5. Add only one fish per week as to not overload your infant tank.
6. If possible get some LR from a well established tank to help seed yours.
 

sampster5000

New member
I slowly poured water into the bag while they were floating. I just have the canister filter. I am looking into a refugium and am not sure what kind of skimmer I want to get yet. I researched setting up a saltwater tank for about a year before I started to set up this 46 gallon. Right now I dont know what I did wrong from just being told that I did things wrong. Please explain. From doing freshwater for years I believe that if the parameters are good not much can go wrong but I know this is not the case here.
 

sampster5000

New member
Thanks james-lee. My hydrometer measured right on 1.024 about an hour ago. I didnt even think about the problem of adding multiple fish at once. I should've remembered that from my research. There goes the impulse disease!

Could you recommend a skimmer? All of the ones I see are made for 100 gallons and up and are hundreds of dollars.
 

james-lee

New member
Dont worry bro. When I first started I had that 'impulse buying' disease too lol! You get over it though when you spent $500 in corals and live stock to have it almost nuke on you. You tend to learn quick in this hobby haha. You can get your self a good cheap coralife skimmer. I know it maybe over kill, but better to have something that can do x 2 to x 4 your tank size, so get a coralife super skimmer 220. They can be had used for $100 or less. Check craigslist. Believe me once you get a skimmer you will be amazed at all the crap that is in the water column that the naked eye cannot see. Also forgot to ask do you have a sump? If not you best better invest in one. You can make it with a canister filter but having to change the filters all the time is gonna be a PITA. Better to get a sump and overflow box and set up a refugium and add chaeto macro algae.
 

streak

Reef Madness!
Might let the tank stabalize for another month. As well.. I didnt even put my first cuc in before the second month mark. Waited to see how they responded before i brought 2 fish i had in quartine into the main tank 2 weeks after that.
 

sampster5000

New member
I dont have a sump. I have done a lot of research on sumps and believe that the refugium is the most important part. I do like that your water level will always be topped off but that is not worth the extra bit of money for me. I was going to buy a hang on back refugium and grow some plants and algae in there. I like canister filters so I'll stick with this one for now. I'll look into the coralife skimmers. Anything wrong with the seaclone protein skimmer? Its pretty cheap.

Still wondering why my damsel died so quickly but I guess it was the acclimation. The other damsels must just be hardier.
 

sampster5000

New member
May I ask what a "cuc" is? I have been seeing this term used a lot here. I will probably wait a good amount of time before I do anything. I know I impulse bought and will possibly lose some things. I didnt spend too much money at on all the inverts, fish, and coral. I was ready to accept any of their deaths. I needed to start with something instead of watching the rocks sit there. I'll wait until everything is stable and settled in. Might even wait til I can get my refugium or a skimmer. I might hold on the light until I get these in.
 

james-lee

New member
Yeah seaclones are okay too. You can mod the Coralifes though and they perform pretty well. Also in a 46 bowfornt with that many damsels you are asking for trouble. Damsels are very aggressive esp towards new tank mates. I have two yellow tailed blue damsels that are about 1". They have the guts to get in my Des Tangs face (whos is 4+"). The only fish that holds there own against them is my pair of clowns only because they have paired up now. Just so you know.
 

Cgreene

New member
Canister filters are nitrate factories in my opinion unless you clean them excessively. You need a sump/refugium for sure. Canister filters are water polishers, not really filters.
 

sampster5000

New member
They'll be the only fish I add until my leaf fish. I'm gonna wait a good while before I add one of them in. Want the tank to be perfect. The damsels are there to be eaten by the leaf fish or as dither fish.

I'll try to find some overflow sumps. I only see the ones made for drilled tanks but I'll keep looking. We have an overflow sump on our 180 gallon (freshwater) but it came with the tank.

Thanks guys. Any other advice will help. Whats a good waiting period for coral?
 

bfoleyiii

New member
1. Whats your salinity.
2. Drip acclimate everything for 30 minutes prior to adding.
3. If you dont have one you NEED a skimmer.
4. Have your water tested at the LFS sometimes what you measure is completely different. I used to use API test kits (nitrates) and API measured 0. I used salifert now and I rad at 20. I was shocked. Brought my water to LFS and they used salifert and ye smy nitartes were at 20.
5. Add only one fish per week as to not overload your infant tank.
6. If possible get some LR from a well established tank to help seed yours.

2) Not true, check out the post on potential hazards of prolonged acclimation by Sk8tr (infact I would reccomend searching for all of his threads and reading them)
3)Also not true, there are plenty of amazing tanks that dont use skimmers. I use one, and I would reccomend that you do as well (for wht that is worth) but your tank wont blow up if you dont.
4 and 5) Good stuff, always better to side with caution (particularly if you are running into issues).
6) Not sure this will do much for you if you have already completed a cycle.


As to your issue with the Domino. Did you get both of these from the same LFS. A bit of bulling in the bag I could understand with the first if you had all 5 fish in the same bag on the way home, but it sounds like the second was added solo and the kinda puts the kybosh on that. I would guess that maybe there is already something wrong with the dominos at the lfs and the stress of the move is just hitting them harder than the others.

CUC is Clean Up Crew

Do you have a quarantine tank set up, I know it seems to prolong the process but it may have been able to save your Dominos if aggression played a roll (I just started my 90 going and run a couple of 10g tanks so I can QT two staggered and that can help get the fish in the DT a bit quicker).
 

stingythingy45

New member
You need to stop buying live stock and spend the money on testing kits and a refractor.
What does calcium and alk through the roof mean????
Calcium and alk test are expensive???Get an API test kit $7.99 expensive?
Lastly,I'd test for ammonia,from what I read,I don't think your tank ever cycled.
 

sampster5000

New member
The reason I did a faster acclimation than usual is because I read that post by sk8tr first. The dominos were from the same place so that was another possible reason of the death.

I'm thinking about a QT but not sure about it yet. I might just use the refugium for that.

stingything45 - I said I'm not buying anything else until my tank is stable. I measured my levels with a friends expensive test kits. I just have API's master test kit for saltwater right now. My ammonia was 0 and my nitrate was in between 5 and 10 so I dont know about it not being cycled.
 

Lynnmw1208

New member
what was the salinity at the LFS compared to your tank? the LFS I buy fish and inverts from has their tanks at SG 1.020 and my tank is 1.025. I have to put them in a bucket and drip acclimate them until the salinity matches, then I put them in. It sounds like your damsels are going into some kind of shock if they are dying so fast. They are supposed to be really hardy fish. definitely look into getting a refractometer as that is way more accurate than a hydrometer. your nitrate levels wouldn't kill a fish that fast so it has to be something with how you acclimated.
 

streak

Reef Madness!
what was the salinity at the LFS compared to your tank? the LFS I buy fish and inverts from has their tanks at SG 1.020 and my tank is 1.025. I have to put them in a bucket and drip acclimate them until the salinity matches, then I put them in. It sounds like your damsels are going into some kind of shock if they are dying so fast. They are supposed to be really hardy fish. definitely look into getting a refractometer as that is way more accurate than a hydrometer. your nitrate levels wouldn't kill a fish that fast so it has to be something with how you acclimated.

Not an expert but the way it sounds to me it was Osmotic Shock.

OS: difference between salt content ie salinity between cell membrain shock is caused by a big difference that usually ruputures the cells.
 

james-lee

New member
Yeah I dont ever drip anything for longer than 30 minutes. PH isnt going to swing THAT fast on a fast paced 30 minute drip (I am talking baout adding the same volume of water from my tank that is in the bag). I mean you wouldnt short drip a starfish that would be silly. :fun4:
 

mr.iacuessa

New member
drip acclimating is the way to go dude, you should do what your local fish store recommends you to do, even if its a hardy fish like a damsel, acclimating a fish to a tank can be stressful, especially on a new tank...and as for what bfoleyiii said, fast acclimation is a surefire way to lose most fish! check with your local reef club and see what they tell you to do, i recommend becoming a member asap
 
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