$400+ Invert losses; what am I doing wrong?

NaturalGothic

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Y’all...I knew saltwater would be a hard but this is just painful. Over the last two months I’ve lost quite a few inverts. I’ll admit, some of it was entirely my fault; a solid 1/3 of the losses are solely ‘learning pains.’ However, some of my inverts have kicked it in less than 12 hours of being in my tank. I have no flipping clue why either. I regularly test my water and it’s perfect; Ph 8.2, ammonia 0.0ppm, Nitrate 0-5ppm, Nitrite 0.0ppm, Salt 1.024. I’ll be getting the reef testing kit today for more answers. But, my gut is telling me that my calcium and phosphate are fine. I don’t have excessive algae build up and I use high quality products.
At this point, I’m out about $400 worth of saltwater livestock and I’m desperate for advice. About 80% of the losses are critters like anemones, various snails, a sea cucumber, and a starfish. When it comes to things with an exoskeleton, I fair MUCH better. I keep mainly shrimps and hermits who all seem to be doing well. In total, I’ve lost three of those guys. Two emerald crabs and one electric blue hermit. One emerald crab is totally on me - I added too much ph buffer too fast and I’m pretty sure it shocked him. The other emerald, however, was doomed before I took him home. I didn’t have him more than two days before he died. As for the electric blue hermit, I think he may have simply been old. He had been at the store for quite some time. He was adult size when I got him and he appeared totally fine. He was shedding, moved shells, was really active...then *bam* went to sleep and never woke up again.
Does anyone have any idea what could be going on? I use instant ocean sea salt and I make sure to keep the salt levels consistent each water change. Could it be something as stupid as not mixing the salt throughly enough? Is there something else I should be testing for?
Being honest, the financial loss isn’t what really bothers me. (Don’t get me wrong, $400 is a week’s worth of pay for me and it sucks) Loosing my pets is what really breaks my heart. I end up trying to save my buddies in the best/safest way I know how, yet, they still die. Is there even a way to save gelatinous inverts? I’m all ears. Inverts are what made me fall in love with saltwater, and, they continue to be my favorite part of the hobby. I’m tired of letting myself and them down.
It’s also worth noting that I had been spotfeeding with Kent micro vert. Today, I started to spotfeed using a homemade mixture I designed. It’s a combination of zoo plankton, photo plankton, micro vert, calcium, and iodine. Is this recipe balanced enough to keep all my inverts happy and fed?
Thanks in advance,
Alison
 
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AnotherFaceInTheCrowd

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Hi, I’m assuming the tank hasn’t been set up for top long?

Anemones, starfish and cucumbers need a fairly established tank to survive imo...

Can you give more of your system details, and maybe we can get to the bottom of it..

Also, why and what are you adding for ph buffer?
 

ScottR

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Invertebrates are a very large group of animals and each have different care. Can you share more info about your system and the exact inverts you’re losing. Anemones for example need stable parameters. I’m not sure what you’re using for pH buffer. Are you checking and maintaining alkalinity? Starfish each have different types of diets. My 2 pieces of advice: know what each invert needs and eats. Must know the exact species. And make sure your tank is ready for said invert. Some are easy to keep and some need very specific care
 
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NaturalGothic

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Hi, I’m assuming the tank hasn’t been set up for top long?

Anemones, starfish and cucumbers need a fairly established tank to survive imo...

Can you give more of your system details, and maybe we can get to the bottom of it..

Also, why and what are you adding for ph buffer?

You’re correct, my system hasn’t been setup all that long. Honestly, I should’ve known better. However, I was told that since my water was great, I could add more advanced inverts (like a sea cucumber) sooner. I have one 10 gallon nano and a 5 gallon nano. Both tanks have been setup around 2 - 3 months. I use my tap water (tap has 0 nitrates and 0 ammonia) to do water changes. The tap’s hardness and KH is great but the ph is too low for saltwater. To keep my ph at an 8.2, I use seachem’s Reef Buffer.
 

AnotherFaceInTheCrowd

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Although your tap water has no nitrates or ammonia, it’s still going to have chlorine or cloramine dependant on your area, along with heavy metals etc etc.... you need to know the TDS of tap water before determining if it’s suitable for use, which in majority of cases it won’t be, at least not long term...did you dechlorinate with anything?
 
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NaturalGothic

NaturalGothic

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Invertebrates are a very large group of animals and each have different care. Can you share more info about your system and the exact inverts you’re losing. Anemones for example need stable parameters. I’m not sure what you’re using for pH buffer. Are you checking and maintaining alkalinity? Starfish each have different types of diets. My 2 pieces of advice: know what each invert needs and eats. Must know the exact species. And make sure your tank is ready for said invert. Some are easy to keep and some need very specific care

My water very stable (I test every few days) and I keep up on all my water changes. When it comes to the starfish and cucumber, I underestimated just how much they could eat in a short amount of time. By the time their supplemental food arrived, they were gone.
What really bothers me though, are my anemones and snails. I’ve had two bubble tip anemones and I made sure everything was perfect before adding the first one to my tank. I was spot feeding once a week with micro vert & frozen mysis shrimp. The of one lasted a while then died about a month and a half later.
The second anemone, I suspect may have been sick when I bought it. It wasn’t even in my tank for twenty four hours before it crapped out on me.
As for my snails, same thing. I’ll add them in, they’ll do good for a few days/weeks then keel over. This last round of red stripe snails however died in about 12 hours (maybe less) of being added to my 10 gallon tank. They had plenty of food and I made sure to take my time acclimating everything so what am I missing? It’s worth noting they came from the same system as the seconded anemone.
 
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NaturalGothic

NaturalGothic

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Although your tap water has no nitrates or ammonia, it’s still going to have chlorine or cloramine dependant on your area, along with heavy metals etc etc.... you need to know the TDS of tap water before determining if it’s suitable for use, which in majority of cases it won’t be, at least not long term...did you dechlorinate with anything?

Yes, I use Seachem Prime and I also add in a little API Marine Stress Coat.
 

MichaelE

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I’m going to guess that it’s a combination of that the tanks are to small to sustain some of them in terms of available food and the fact that you’re using tap water, that’s just never a good idea. For all you know it could contain chlorine, copper from the pipes or any other of a myriad of contaminants. The concentration of pollutants will also change over time.
I would advice you to get your own RODI system, that way you can control what’s going in to your tank.
The water is by far the most crucial component to a successful tank, why leave it up to chance?
 

AnotherFaceInTheCrowd

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do You have access to a TDS meter? We need to know your tap wate tds

I would stop adding buffer, agitate your water surface well with a powerhead, and see where your ph settles at, it will naturally rise and fall during a 24 hour period anyway... a buffer from my understanding only temporarily raises ph anyway which I am assume You have be trying to correct (which ended with you’re accidental overdose..Im guessing).
I don’t know your water as I’m in UK but I can say I have never needed to add ph buffer in my 12 years of reefing.
 

UnderseaOddities

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Yes, I use Seachem Prime and I also add in a little API Marine Stress Coat.
@NaturalGothic while these are good products theyre are not a end all be all for saltwater... a smaler tank is a good way to dip youe toes in the the water but you cant get away with using municiple water with sucsess for very long.understanding basic chemistry will also help you maintain proper water parameters,for you i would suggest buying waterpremixed at first... then when you feel comfortable u can start buying gallons of ro from store or rodi machine and mix with salt mix of your choosing with heatrr and power headin a tote or bin .also are you running heater powerhead hob filter and hob protein skimmer ? Its like anything consistency is the key this is a living organism...i would also recomend stability as a buffer and zeolite as a carbon suppliment top off daily with fresh ro water 0tds and do 15%water change weekly you can also aquacultured live rock as an active biofilter
 

UnderseaOddities

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@NaturalGothic while these are good products theyre are not a end all be all for saltwater... a smaler tank is a good way to dip youe toes in the the water but you cant get away with using municiple water with sucsess for very long.understanding basic chemistry will also help you maintain proper water parameters,for you i would suggest buying waterpremixed at first... then when you feel comfortable u can start buying gallons of ro from store or rodi machine and mix with salt mix of your choosing with heatrr and power headin a tote or bin .also are you running heater powerhead hob filter and hob protein skimmer ? Its like anything consistency is the key this is a living organism...i would also recomend stability as a buffer and zeolite as a carbon suppliment top off daily with fresh ro water 0tds and do 15%water change weekly you can also aquacultured live rock as an active biofilter
I would also wait until pet supply has a 1$ a gallon sale and upgrade to a 20g or 29 long these are good beginer tanks
 

UnderseaOddities

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I would also wait until pet supply has a 1$ a gallon sale and upgrade to a 20g or 29 long these are good beginer tanks
Also on another note some species of cucumbers will expand if stressed and secrete a venomous mucus which can potentialy damage livestock and or corals
 

UnderseaOddities

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Also on another note some species of cucumbers will expand if stressed and secrete a venomous mucus which can potentialy damage livestock and or corals
If u want to learn about water chemistry you can watch this youtube playlist i made to kiss for reefers dont pull a nick bingo or a barbs buzzin and get something because you think its cool really take the time and do the research...if i wre you id start fresh get a siphon tommorow put livestock in 5 gal bucket with heater get premixed water 5 gals of imaginariun premixed for like 12$ do 75%tank full and run a drip line from the box water comes in to bucket with livestock to drip acclimate then add a bottle of biospira or some other form of nitrifying bacteria(add a capful of seachem stability)boom 20$ fix
 

UnderseaOddities

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My water very stable (I test every few days) and I keep up on all my water changes. When it comes to the starfish and cucumber, I underestimated just how much they could eat in a short amount of time. By the time their supplemental food arrived, they were gone.
What really bothers me though, are my anemones and snails. I’ve had two bubble tip anemones and I made sure everything was perfect before adding the first one to my tank. I was spot feeding once a week with micro vert & frozen mysis shrimp. The of one lasted a while then died about a month and a half later.
The second anemone, I suspect may have been sick when I bought it. It wasn’t even in my tank for twenty four hours before it crapped out on me.
As for my snails, same thing. I’ll add them in, they’ll do good for a few days/weeks then keel over. This last round of red stripe snails however died in about 12 hours (maybe less) of being added to my 10 gallon tank. They had plenty of food and I made sure to take my time acclimating everything so what am I missing? It’s worth noting they came from the same system as the seconded anemone.
When you get the nems make sure theyre thermo regulated(put bag or deli container to float in tank then put them in 5gal bucket with heater drip aclimate blast with turkey baster to expose hitchickers then after a couple of hour dim your lights then turn them off,now slowy add nem it should retract and find a place let it set over night,if your on a timer turn off timer abd give anenome 24 to 36 hours of darkness to aclimmate then you may turn on the lights proceed as normal i wpuld also highly recomend dosing reefroid
 

Dbichler

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Your going too fast like all of us do on our first saltwater tank. The tank isn’t ready for Btas you need to use RODI and most importantly patience. You’ve got this just don’t add anything for a while and let the tanks mature.
 
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802ScubaFish

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I agree with above, inverts like cucumbers, anemones, and starfish have higher level of needs (food, stability, tank size). If I had to guess it’s a mixture of tank being too new stabilty wise and them starving to death. I saw your anemone post in September where people recommended the same things. I would slow down.
A follow up question I hve is you have a nano tank, any idea how many gallons the display of the tank is? At this early stage you really don’t need a large clean up crew at all. Knowing tank size would help is give you a recommendation on type and amount of CUC.
 
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Cell

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10g and 5g tanks are probably a bit small for starfish and sea cucumbers.

Ate you ordering this stuff online? What's your acclimation procedure? If you are doing a long drip acclimation on inverts after shipping, this may be your problem.
 

j.falk

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There are several things I see wrong here:

- Tanks are too small.

- Tanks aren't well established yet.

- Water quality is questionable. Tap water is not recommended for saltwater aquariums.

- Building possibly has copper piping thus adding trace amounts of copper to the tanks. Copper is lethal to inverts.

- Acclimation methods could be a significant issue. Especially when considering how quickly things are dying.

- Person is tinkering with the tank too much...adding too many chemicals. (Calcium and iodine shouldn't be added unless you know exactly what your levels and specific needs are.)
 

StlSalt

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Another thing if you treated your dt with copper all inverts will always have issues or flat out die.

Using tap water, most of the time means the water is traveling through copper pipes so I'm guessing there is some copper in the tank which is bad for inverts.

You have nano tanks, have you read through any of the nano build threads to see what they're stocking their tanks with. Might help you get a better idea of what yours is capable of.
 
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