Need Advice Please!


New member
I posted a few days ago with problems having 3 of my fish in less than 36 hours.....under the thread " Uh oh, all input is greatly appreciated"...

So my black saddleback clownfish, yellow tang, and green striped mandarin all died within 36 hours.

First the clownfish started gulping for air at top of tank and died hour or two later....maybe 3 hours later my YT started turning red and splotchy then gulping for air and then died, next day my mandarin was breathing very heavily and starting throwing off mucous and died too....I was devastated. Yes my LFS didn't fully explain things to me and I am new this and slowly learning. ( shouldnt have had a YT in a 30 gallon tank, or the mandarin yet since the tank is only about 5 weeks old ) ANYWAYs...

Had my water sample tested and everything tested just as it should no problems. So i bought 2 Green Chromis to test and see if they could survive in my tank since my water was fine.

Got them home yesterday acclimated them by floating the bag and doing a couple oz of water in the bag over a period of about an hour and a half before putting them into my tank. They immediately went to eating the copepods and stuff in the tank and swimming around and acting fine. This morning they both seem to be breathing rather rapidly (especially the bigger of the two) and not eating, I put in some frozen Mysis shrimp, and some formula two flakes.

Here are the tank details...

30gal tank
About 20lbs of LR
Dont remember how much sand but definitely plenty
Aqueon Quiet Flow 30 Filter
1 800gph powerhead
I use well water for the tank but treat it first...
Salinity is at 1.023-1.024 right in between
78 degrees

1 Chocolate Chip Starfish ( an original that was with the clown, YT, and mandarin, does not seem to have been affected by whatever is happening)
2 blue leg hermit crabs ( also original)
1 zebra turbo snail
2 Astraea snails
2 green Chromis (new additions as of yesterday)

Husbandry: Top off the tank daily, 25-30% water changes every two weeks on a Saturday, regular water tests of the tank once a week.

Did a 25% water change on Saturday and changed the filter as well.

Any clue why the fish are breathing so rapidly and that I lost my other three fish??? I do not know if these Chromis will die or not, if they do I am thinking of giving up on SW, I apparently suck at this. :uhoh2:

If the other fish had some sort of bacterial infection or something is there anything I can treat my water with now that will not harm my starfish and other inhabitants of the tank?

Sorry for so many questions and this being so long, just wanted to give all information I could think of in hopes to get the best response that I can get. Thanks in advance!! :wave:


New member
Sounds like ammonia. Or somesort of oxygenation issue.
Get yourself some test kits- SG/salinty, pH, Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate to start. Run your own tests and post the parameters. That's the only way we can help.


New member
My husband has went to another LFS in the area and is bringing a the API saltwater master test kit home to me, once I test will post what they are.


Staff member
RC Mod
You know now you should not have a mandarin in less than a 50 with a mature 20 gallon fuge, should not have a yellow tang in less than a 70, ideally 100 gallons. The response to fish gasping for air definitely should not be feeding: that lessens oxygen and contributes to a tank crash. You don't have enough live rock, (need 10 more pounds) and your tank probably isn't capable of handling much more bioload than a single chromis, because of that. You're oxygen short, and you're running a filtered system, which is going to require cleaning real often in a small tank. If that pump is the only pump, it may not generate enough oxygen for the tank: You're not cutting that pump off at night, are you? That would not be good. But I'm not seeing anything about a skimmer, which would help oxygenate. It sounds as if you're trying to run a system much like a freshwater system, but you may need to barrier off a corner with eggcrate lighting grid (hardware) and put a bubblestone behind it, or get a strong skimmer that can really hammer some oxygen into that water. I think your fish are suffocating, and the more fish you add, the worse it gets. Second danger is overfeeding: each fish only needs enough to fill its mouth ONCE every 24 hours. More than that will try a sandbed and rock that is already too short, and possibly you have ammonia as part of your problem. A fish exposed to ammonia dies usually a few days later of organ damage. (you aren't drip acclimating? You shouldn't acclimate over 30 minutes, max, or they can die of that, too)

Sugar Magnolia

Mother of Dachshunds
Staff member
RC Mod
You definitely need more live rock. From what I am gathering is you put all three of those fish in at the same time? 30 gallon tank? If that is the case you would have seriously overloaded the tank's capability to break down the ammonia. Nitrifying bacteria that populates the live rock needs time to adjust to new bioload. It can take a couple of weeks for the bacteria to populate enough to handle the new bioload of just a single fish. You need to step back and slow down a bit. I'd suggest getting about 10 more pounds of live rock and let that cycle over again.


New member
Not to be rude but your last post was about bad advice from the LFS and was not your fault. This one is. You completely ignored the advice given in the last thread, yet come back asking for more advice? You were told by many to slow down, return the fish and let the tank cycle. But you let the fish die and then in less than 3 days you brought 2 more fish home? I apologize if I sound aggressive, but you are needlessly harming animals.

If you dont have a skimmer you need to point your powerheads toward the surface to agitate the water and promote gas exchange. It is likely the ammonia that is the problem, but this could be contributing.