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Green Chromis are Dying

Discussion in 'Reef Aquarium Discussion' started by ron garnett, Sep 27, 2012.

  1. ron garnett

    ron garnett Member

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    I recently purchased 25 green chromis from an online source. The fish were shipped overnight and came in fine with the exception of one DOA. I acclimated the fish for 3 hrs, netted them and introduced them into my tank. My tank is a 240 reef tank that's been up and running for approximately 4.5 to 5 months. Presently I have no other fish besides the green chromis and I have only 3 corals and some live rock. By the second day of introducing the green chromis into my tank, 7 fish had died. By the third day 5 more had died. I'm now down to 7 fish and it's been 7 days since I received them. The fish were healthy and eating from day 1 but, a few continue to die each day. My water parameters are fine, ph, alkalinity, salinity, temp, calcium, nitrates, phosphates. Can anyone tell me what the problem might be? Did I introduce too many too soon?
     
  2. chort55

    chort55 unregistered

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    Pretty normal, they weed out the weak, and often kill eachother off. Sometimes it works out sometimes u end up with 1-2.
     
  3. Russellaqua

    Russellaqua Coral Junkie Staff Member Team R2R R2R Excellence Award Photo of the Month Award Partner Member

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    The 24 chromis that were added all at the same time may have been too much at once. That is a large bioload even though the fish themselves are small. Did you measure ammonia and nitrites? What is the reading on nitrates? The nitrates are the final product in the nitrogen cycle, so if the bioload was too much too fast for the tank the nitrates would be the last to show any evidence of it.
     
  4. Pkunk35

    Pkunk35 Well-Known Member R2R Excellence Award

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    +1

    I don't know for sure if this is the problem as 18 fish in 7 days is a LOT to lose especially in a big tank like a 240 gal, but yes chromis love to beat each other up. Many times you are left with just one.

    Since they all came from one source, I'm also a bit suspicious of the source. Maybe find a good LFS or perhaps go with a reputable vendor from the sponsors here so you can ensure that the stock is good.

    Other than that you will have to divulge more info on your tank for anyone to help further. Very sorry for your losses thus far.
     
  5. o2manyfish

    o2manyfish Well-Known Member

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    I have tried several times to add a group of chromis to my tank and this same situation always happens. They always seem to just keep weeding themselves down.

    Dave B
     
  6. STL

    STL Well-Known Member

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    +1 This has been my experience too - started with two, they fought. LFS suggested a 3rd, much larger. That one knocked off the other two and is highly aggressive. They're hardy fish, but...
     
  7. ron garnett

    ron garnett Member

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    My nitrates measure 0. I've always wanted 20 to 25 schooling fish in my reef tank and thought that green chromis would be the perfect solution. I didn't know that they were that aggressive toward each other, had always read that they were a peaceful fish and best kept in groups of 5 or more. Is there any schooling fish out there that might work better? I've always liked the color of the green chromis.
     
  8. bct15

    bct15 Well-Known Member

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    I have 8 green chromis, started with 11 two years ago and haven't gotten anymore. They will kill a weak one but that many dieing is something else happening. From my experience they are not very hardy and die from the easiest things, when I got mine and I was unbagging them one fell into the sink and laid there for about 5 seconds...this weakened it and it died about an hour later.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2012
  9. bct15

    bct15 Well-Known Member

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    Another thing I have noticed about my green chromis is there seems to be some sort of hierarchy...one is way more blue with a blue line by his eye that none of the others have, and his tail fins are a lot longer than the rest. This different one seems to be the boss, and he bullies the other ones. He especially picks on one that is also starting to get longer fins. The others all seem to be passive but do fight, the bossiest being the biggest one that has a slightly different shape then some of the other more dull ones. It's chest is more pronounce giving it a tall appearance where most of the others have a smooth transition from the bottom of the head to the stomach, if that makes any sense. The very blue one is very nice looking though, and seems to flash or twinkle as he moves around the tank due to reflecting all different shades of blue.
     
  10. ron garnett

    ron garnett Member

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    I've always read that green chromis were hardy. Not sure what that means based on my experience. I doubt that my tank is that far out of whack. All my parameters are good. How large are your chromis?
     
  11. bct15

    bct15 Well-Known Member

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    I have always read that they are hardy as well, but then the same people that say they are hardy say they started off with a large number and they ended up with one,two, or none. That does not seem hardy at all, I think they may be incorrectly labelled as hardy because they easily take food and do not shown signs of disease ( they just die). Based on my observations, and from what others post all of the time it seems they may not be hardy at all, just somehow interspecies aggression gets the blame. Watching them in my tank they really are not that aggressive, they do exhibit quarreling from time to time, specifically the bright colored one I mentioned earlier, but nothing like a sixline going after another wrasse with intent to kill. I used to breed cichlids, and those fish would fight which makes te occasional quarreling with chromis seem like child's play. I think they have been mislabeled as hardy and it has been erroneously carried on without verification, and mass die-off blamed elsewhere.

    As far as the size of mine I couldn't quite put a number on it but some are about the same size as my full grown coral beauty angel maybe a little bigger. Chromis are an awesome fish to watch and will draw even the most shy fish out into the open.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2012
  12. STL

    STL Well-Known Member

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    Interesting observation - my surviving chromis also has the blue line by his eye.
     
  13. fraggingfish

    fraggingfish Well-Known Member

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    Funny thing about Chromis is each time you buy them, you should buy double the amount you actually want.
    They're always killing eachother off, usually 1 that is the alpha male. Once that goes away, the remaining ones will get along.
    My lucky numbers are usually a 3 or a 5.
     
  14. steamer51

    steamer51 Well-Known Member

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    Everything I have read (from the people selling them) agrees that they are hardy, small schooling fish that people want to have a group of. Experience of my club members says they are pretty much disposable, most die or are killed soon and need to be replaced. I won't keep fish that die easy and then buy more to die so I only have one blue/green chromis. Before I knew they die so easily I bought six wanting a hardy school of fish but soon I only had one. That was two years ago and I still have the one survivor who fought off a fungus by his lip after about a year without medication. Never saw any aggression when I first got them but it probably happened when I wasn't looking. My tank is in the basement and the only time I watch is during feeding. They seemed to be busy eating rather than picking on each other but other fish will show aggression to keep the less dominant ones from feeding. I don't think anything is wrong with your tank and believe they result would have been the same if bought from another source.
     
  15. ron garnett

    ron garnett Member

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    I'd like to thank everyone for their input. It seems that several have had the same experience with green chromis as I have. Based on the feedback it doesn't seem like I've done anything wrong. As much as I would like to keep a nice school of chromis in my tank, buying fish just to see them all die off in a matter of a week is neither humane or financially savvy in my book. I guess I'll have to try another species. Damsels tend to be too aggressive and they don't school. I don't know if there is a hardier chromis or not. I like anthias but when they die that really hurts the wallet. For now I think I'll build up my coral and add fish later. My corals are doing fine.
     
  16. robert

    robert Well-Known Member

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    Green chromis will pick on each other - but I disagree that this is the cause of your losses. Usually in numbers the fighting is spread out - no one fish takes the brunt of it all unless its sick and unable to get away. Usually with chromis its a slow attrition - one loss, possibly two every few months. At least that is my experience.

    I started with five in a 115 four years ago. One vanished - two jumped - found them dried out later. I was down to 2 for a couple of years. Recently I added six small chromis to an attached frag system. Almost immediately they stated dying. One the first day, three more a couple of days later. Since the frag tank shares its water with the main - it wasn't the water - or the parameters. I believe it was a communicable disease. I later found out they were a fresh shipment into the LFS - they had them for only a day before I bought them.

    The reason I believe this is that one of the chromis in the main also died shortly after the three died in the frag system. I haven't lost a fish in my main system for years - apart from jumpers.

    I didn't see any obvious signs - the fish looked healthy, then looked pale, quit swimming - dropped to the bottom - where they quickly expired - no nipped fins - no hiding fish - a chromis that's being picked on will split off from the rest and find a place to hide.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2012
  17. mcarroll

    mcarroll Well-Known Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    Chromies are very often peaceful to "others" but this kind of "aggression among the pack" is a common, if not universal, trait among the schooling fish that we all try to keep - Anthias, Tangs and Chromies included. You will probably have better luck in the long run maintaining one, than a school (depending on what you're trying to acheive, of course.) Five or more (and odd better than even beyond five) is always a good bet as Robert already mentioned, as that makes multiple "targets" more likely at the "low end of the pack" to disperse the assault from the "alphas". This is a very good theory which you will see play out in the tank to varying extents, and I'm sure if fish could read the Chromies would be 100% "with us" on the plan and never actually kill the "little guys"....but their reading skillz are not great, so often you'll still end up with only one in the long run. ;) The reality that we're up against with our rules of thumb like "five or more" is that in nature, these fish typically (but not always) school in the thousands - maybe even high in the thousands. We're never going to fully duplicate that kind of social system.

    Schooling Fish
    As noted already, "schooling" is actually sort of a tough category in saltwater. Especially if you're used to the hundreds of great options on the freshwater side of the hobby. You might look into a school of Cardinals...there are a few to consider: threadfin (aka blue-eye), Banggai and Pajama are a few of the more common ones. The Cardinals have their own issues though - extremely shy and not very active are typical traits. Not really what most "schooling fish fans" are after.

    Schooling dartfish (also with their issue - jumpers!) might be another possibility. A large colony of Barnacle Blennies would be a really fun way to think outside of the box on this! I've got three of them in my 50 gallon....great, sociable, cryptic-but-not-shy, and a real hoot during feeding time.....they strike to the food and back to their hole like a tiny bolt of lightning! Not schoolers in the traditional sense at all though.

    Honestly, the best schooling fish I've every seen in a tank in person is the Klein's Butterflyfish. They are extremely strong schoolers - much more inline with the peacefulness and "togetherness" a veteran of freshwater might expect - and I've never heard of them bothering another fish (aside from other butterflies.....Klein's will be your only Butterfly specie.) In your tank - 240 is a great size! - I would do a school of at least five - more would be very beautiful. I've kept them in reefs (and known several others who did as well) and if you don't let them starve they will most likely leave your corals alone or only nip and do no great damage. I've known only one story personally of them eating coral and it was while the owner was away and they were going unfed....a few zoos and a head of two of acan were gone when he got back. This was an isolated case in my experience, and clearly not a mystery....so I consider these reef-safe fish with the caveats explained. And if you're after a great schooling fish, I think these caveats would be well worth "living with". :) (As a "cherry on top" these fish are also usually fairly inexpensive!)

    Shipping/Disease Issue
    A few other thoughts on the good possibility of communicable disease that Robert brought up. Anytime a very high-metabolism fish like these guys ship with more than one or so per bag (maybe even with only one!), ammonia and O2 are going to be potential issues. Lack of O2 will weaken or kill a fish, of course. Any ammonia issue is going to lead to (at minimum) gill burning, worse can be impact to other organs. This damage leads to infection quite often IMO (technically impossible to detect AFAIK...and not instantly fatal). The more fish per bag, the more likely. A trip from the LFS to home is a different story....temperature is typically more favorably controlled, and of course the trip home is extremely short by comparison. This is the way to go for fish purchasing if you were to ask me - the LFS. You always see what you get beforehand (and the tank it came from), so you can always opt to wait on the next shipment - or even to build your school slowly from multiple LFS shipments over the course of a week (or few weeks).

    Acclimation
    Beyond the shipping issues, I would rarely if ever suggest acclimating fish for as long a period as you indicate you did. (3hrs, I think?) It's overkill and needlessly opens your fish up to more possibilities of harm - mostly general stress and ammonia buildup in the acclimation water. (Smaller fish are more susceptible and as already noted, high metabolism fish generate more, faster.)

    First, for my suggestion, decent "normal" water in the tank is a prerequisite. Assuming the bag water the new fish come in isn't excessively fouled and pH isn't wildly different from the tank's, I would do a simple drip acclimation for about 10 minutes or so....and try to get a mix of 50:50 tank water to bag water before you transfer them (but none of the acclimation water!) to the tank. I'm sure there are sensible exceptions for this procedure, but they should be exceedingly rare. One exception is if the bag water is excessively fouled. This would mean any noticeable smell (our noses are acutely tuned for ammonia, so trust your nose!) or yellowing of the water. Depending on the apparent stress level of the animal, I would either rush the 50:50 mixing by doing water changes every minute or so in place of the dripping....or simply remove the animal directly from the bag water to your tank via net. In reality, almost all common fish will do just fine though this "non-acclimation" if the tank water is healthy and "well seasoned" (i.e. a well cared for, mature system)...especially if remaining in polluted bag water is the option. In nearly all cases, shorter acclimations are better than long.

    Good luck!

    -Matt

    P.S. Ammonia neutralizer (often in the form of a dechlorinator) isn't a bad thing to have on hand for those emergency situations when a new bag of fish comes in very nasty, but for some reason you are afraid just to remove him to the tank directly. (Suspicion of disease, for example....some shipments are just rough!) I would use the neutralizer and the rapid 50:50 acclimation together in this scenario if possible.
     
  18. ron garnett

    ron garnett Member

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    Thanks, Matt. Good info. I will bear all of this in mind. I think I will still build my coral population up before I purchase anymore fish. This too will mean that my tank will be even more established when introducing new fish.
    Thanks again and will definitely look into the klein butterfly as my schooling fish. I had purposely stayed away from any butterfly fish for the very reason you had mentioned. However, on a number of occasions I've seen butterflies in other reef tanks.
     

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