Adjusting the air in your Venturi skimmer
Get a good water flow through your skimmer with the air completely off. Then open your air adjusting valve until a white cloud just begins inside. Tiny bubbles are better than larger bubbles. Remember that dirty/oily skimmers work much better than clean ones so don't do more than rinse your skimmer when it gets super dirty. Skimmers only work when there is something in the tank to skim.
Change that particle filter a lot - every day if needed. Rotting, excess food and waste produces nitrates that you don't need. Most particle filters can be washed in your washing machine with chlorox and water. Wash with towels or other fuzzy things. Do not use fabric softener in the rinse cycle.
If a coral is looking good where it's at, leave it alone. If not, move it to lower light lower flow first until it finds a good spot.
Crabs and shrimp molt - lose their old outer shell - quite often. Usually around a full moon and a new moon. Keep iodide levels high to help them successfully complete this process.
Saving Sick or Injured Corals
Corals get bacterial infections that cause the tissue to decay. Give them a bath in tank water that is very slightly tinted with Betadine - we'll give you a sample - for about 1 minute. Repeat daily if necessary. Dip after fragging or gluing
Acclamation of new creatures
Crabs, hermits and snails & corals
-can directly into your tank if water conditions are similar.
Drip your fish. Place your creature in a small bucket with its shipping water. If the fish, etc. is in too shallow water, you can tilt the bucket sideways by placing something underneath one side. Using a length of airline tubing, start a siphon of tank water into the bucket. Tie a knot in the line and tighten until the water drips. Let drip until 3 times the shipping water is reached. Net and release.
CLICK HERE FOR A DRIP LINE PHOTO .
Shrimp, starfish and urchins
- drip very slowly and add a lot more tank water. 12-24 hours for linkia starfish.
SEE DRIP LINE PAGE FOR DETAILS
Red Slime Algae
First you must know that the red slime algae often seen is really a bacteria and it comes in several colors. Black, dark purple and super bright green are also colors with red being the most common. It is found in tanks with poor water quality, poor lighting, and/or poor circulation. Since any or all of these conditions can cause this soft, colorful coating to grow in your tank, you may have to correct more than one problem. The biggest reason is usually circulation. Re-direct your power heads or add another because cyano bacteria hates moving water.
Filters should be every 2 or 3 days,feed only frozen brine or mysid shrimp
If adjusting circulation, changing to new bulbs and doing 50%+ water changes fail, then do the following. Siphon out as much cyano bacteria as possible. Add new, clean saltwater to replace what was siphoned out. Then because it is a bacteria, one method of removing it is by adding erythromycin. One capsule or pill or packet (200 mg) is enough for 50 gallons with a small outbreak. A 100 gallon tank with a very heavy amount of slime algae may need 4 capsules. Use your judgment. Open capsules and mix with saltwater because the capsule itself will not dissolve. Crush pills and mix with saltwater. Turn off protein skimmer air, and remove carbon and other absorbents, etc. Add erythromycin.Red slime should be dead by morning. If not, repeat the next night. When it is gone, turn on the skimmer, do a 33-90% water change and use fresh carbon.
Carbon can be used for 3 days if you don't have a skimmer. Keep your particle filter clean - everyday or 2.
Angel fish and Bannerfish are not tolerant of copper medications. Cupramine by Sea Chem has worked for us in low doses with no side effects. The most common thing seen in angels is a secondary infection of a virus called lymphocystis. (See Viral Infections)
Copper renders tanks uninhabitable to corals and inverts.
It can be removed using EDTA which is a heavy metal remover. Only in this way can you guarantee complete removal - other absorbents are not 100%. Copper does absorb into your gravel and rock, this is why you need to re-dose during treatment. After many months
Both metal halide and fluorescent lights (including power compacts) have a limited life span. At six months start planning their replacement, by nine months you should have replaced them and at 1 year they are overdue.
Treating Bacterial Infections
Mix antibiotics with frozen food lthat is thawed without water. Let soak about 10 minutes then refreeze. Break off chunks and drop in the tank frozen. Hopefully the sick fish will take a bite and ingest a mouthful of antibiotic. It's OK if the healthy fish eat the same food. Once fish stop eating, they seldom recover.
When do I add my "clean-up crew"?
After about 4 weeks your tank should have gone through the ammonia/nitrite/nitrate cycle and the brown algae/green algae cycles. At this point you hardly have enough to keep a few hermits and snails alive. Add them slowly over time as needed. Dumping in dozens of snails, hermits, etc. will only cause death by starvation. Stay away from arrow crabs. They eat everything- snails, hermits, shrimp, small fish, bristle worms - your clean-up crew.
Treating Bacterial Infections
Mix antibiotics with a minimum of water. With a sheet of Nori (sushi wrapper) lying flat on a glass plate, pour the antibiotic slurry/solution over the seaweed. Let dry. Tear off pieces of seaweed and feed to your sick fish. Hopefully the sick fish will take a bite and ingest a mouthful of antibiotic. It's OK if the healthy fish eat the same food. Once fish stop eating, they seldom recover. Save the unused portion for the future. Start treating immediately if you suspect a bacterial problem. This is a reef safe procedure.
Getting lion fish to eat frozen food
Volitan lions (and others) can be trained to eat frozen food. Initially start with feeder goldfish, preferably orange/yellow ones. Only feed 1-4 depending on the size of the lion every 3-5 days. After two or three feedings, kill a feeder and feed it using a wooden skewer. If you can get them to eat dead food, move to krill next. Krill is colored like feeders and they can be fooled. The secret is not to overfeed and to keep them hungry. Try silversides too
Checking your pH
pH varies in your aquarium (unless you have a well balanced refugium) over a 24 hour period. It is lowest in the morning when the lights turn on because of Carbon Dioxide (which forms carbonic acid) absorption overnight and no photosynthesis. When the lights turn on, photosynthesis begins, carbon dioxide is used up and pH is at its highest when the lights turn off.
Check your pH at the same time each day to accurately monitor fluctuations.
Keeping starfish alive
Sensitive starfish like linkias are reported to like salt levels at 1.024 +/- 0.001. Also a very slow drip method of acclimation (12-24 hrs) is recommended. Check the salt level of the tank you are buying the starfish from (using your hydrometer you brought to the store with you as to avoid variations in accuracy) and compare it to your tank. If there is more than +/- 0.002 difference, I recommend not buying the star. Alkalinity and pH should also match. We'll calibrate plastic hydrometers free.
Saving stony corals
When plate, brain, bubble corals, etc. have tissue degeneration, use a small syringe or pipet to squirt water at the bare skeleton while it is in a Betadine dip. This will help remove algae and/or dead tissue.
New hydrometers need to be "broken in". At first, small bubbles will attach to the float and give you a false "high" reading. Tap the hydrometer to release these bubbles. Let your hydrometer soak in saltwater 18-20 days and the bubble problem will go away. Always tap it if in doubt of your reading.
Rinse your hydrometer with fresh water to minimize calcium build up. Rinse with full strength white vinegar to remove excess calcium. we'll calibrate them for you
Hatching brine eggs
Simply add 1/8 teaspoon brine eggs to a quart or 2 liter bottle. Fill almost full (2 inches from top) with regular tank water. Add an air bubbler without any "stone" on the end - just an open airline - into the bottom. Bubble 3-5 days.
At first you need to shake the bottle 3-4 times a day until the eggs become wet and stay in the saltwater. Then as they hatch, the egg shells collect at the top of the bottle.
When hatched, remove the air line. Point a flashlight shining sideways at the bottom of the bottle. The baby brine will swim toward the light. You then can siphon them off and feed your corals, seahorses, fry, etc.
Is your aquarium grounded?
Alternating magnetic fields are used to spin impellers in your pumps/powerheads. This will also produce low amounts of AC voltage (4V-10V) in your tank because saltwater is such a good conductor. You may not feel this but it does affect your inhabitants. Anemones and corals will not open fully, fish and inverts may display eratic behavior and it is attributed to "hole in the head" and lateral-line disease. Titanium rod is used in saltwater because it will not dissolve - copper and stainless steel will. They will also save your butt if a pump shorts out too.
Acclimating Sea Cucumbers
Acclimating sea cucumbers breaks all rules. Take a bowl of water from your tank and drop the cucumber directly into it from the shipping bag. Once he starts moving, then dump him into the aquarium. Tiger tails and hotdog cucumbers do not poison your tank if they die. ( I tested this the hard way). If you have several cucumbers, acclimate each in his own bowl. Acclimating together may cause them to literally expel their guts.
Feeding Moray Eels
Moray eels can be stubborn when it comes to eating in captivity or after being moved from one tank to another. Raw peeled prawns from the seafood counter or squid or octopus are their favorites. Place a bite size piece on a long bamboo skewer an put it in his face. I had a large zebra eel go 3 months before eating. Try everyday and switch foods. A few drops Kent's Garlic Extreme helps stimuluate appetites too.
Calibrate your hydrometer and test kits
Bring in a 2 cup water sample and check your hydrometer against a glass, laboratory quality hydrometer. You can check your test kit against newly mixed saltwater. Ammonia and nitrite should be zero, pH about 8.4 and alkalinity - depending on the salt mix - should be very good.
Low light corals you can kill with too much light
Elegance coral (several spellings)
Sun (black & yellow/orange)
Catching unwanted creatures like mantis shrimp.
Use an empty, clear, narrow neck bottle and tie a string around the neck to easily pull if from the tank. Place some stinky food in the bottom and freeze the food to the bottom. This only takes a few minutes in the freezer and keeps the food in place when you put it underwater. Set the opening of the bottle near the suspected hole an wait. During the times with the lights out, use red cellophane over a flashlight for night vision.
Skimmer Collection Cups
Skimmers that have the drain tubes on the side of the collection are disasters waiting to happen. Should your skimmer over-skim due to a dead animal, over feeding or certain water conditioners, the collection jug will fill and then run all over the floor. It is possible to loose several gallons of water this way. A collection cup without the drain can only fill to the height of its inner tube. Then the skimmer will let the foam fall back and not overflow.