My Clownfish and Firefish died

Discussion in 'Fish Discussion' started by Ashlee & Ricky, Jan 3, 2018.

  1. Ashlee & Ricky

    Ashlee & Ricky Member

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    Hi everyone,
    This is our first post on any forum ever, and we are new to the hobby (3 months), so please bare with me and forgive my lack of proper terminology and general knowledge on certain things tank related.

    I got my boyfriend a 13.5 gallon fluval evo salt water tank back in September, so it is really his tank, but I help with certain things and I love it just as much as he does (I look forward to getting a tank of my own in the near-future, but I want us to first learn with the one we have).

    So at the time of our two fish's deaths, we had a misbar black ocellaris clown, a misbar ocellaris clown, a purple firefish, a yellow watchman, some corals, a peppermint shrimp, pistol shrimp, porcelain crab, and some other crabs and snails (cleaner crew).
    The two clowns seemed to be pairing already the day after we introduced our black clown into the tank. Then our orange clown began getting hosted by our open brain coral, and he didn't leave it alone for three days- not even to eat. About a week later, he left the coral and was swimming around again, but he wasn't the same as he used to be. He would swim around very slow, and would float onto his side a lot. A week went by and then he went back to the coral.
    A few days later, we noticed that our purple firefish had wounds on him (pictures attached) and he was staying close to the substrate. The orange clown began to hover over him (picture attached, because I couldn't figure out how to attach a video). We put him in a little breeding compartment on the side of the tank, (inside of the tank- isolated from everyone else) and the next morning, the firefish was dead.

    Two days later, our orange clown was laying on the substrate on his side, barely moving. He had no wounds that I could see, but the next morning he was gone.

    My boyfriend thinks that maybe the black clown was bullying these two fish, but I have never seen him show aggression towards any of our fish, not to mention that the two clowns seemed to really like each other.
    I feel like the open brain coral has something to do with our orange clown's death, because he was never the same after the hosting.

    Any ideas on what could have happened??
    Please let me know what other information you need about the tank!
    Thank you in advance!

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
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  2. Tahoe61

    Tahoe61 Moderator Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Showcase Editor Build Thread Contributor Partner Member Partner Member 2018

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    Hi and welcome to R2R.

    A couple things of note is the size of the tank, honestly that is too many fish for that size of tank. There is no where for more passive fish (fire fish) to hide or get away from more aggressive fish such as clowns or aggressive crabs and shrimp.
    Another consideration is diseases, fish housed in too small of a tank and in a newer tank may become stressed and that allows some of the more common diseases to set in.
    The open brain played no part in the fishes demise, it was just coincidental.
    Generally the majority of clowns will show some aggression even if it's just posturing. Fire Fish/Dart Fish are shy and initially reclusive, they would not put much of fight against a dominate clown.
    For future reference, members are going to want to know tank chemistry, Ammonia, Nitrites and Nitrates, so it would behoove you to test for those.

    The learning curve is a large one in this hobby. We want everyone to succeed and enjoy the hobby. Please feel free to seek any kind of assistance you need on R2R.

    :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2018
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  3. Ashlee & Ricky

    Ashlee & Ricky Member

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    Thank you for your response!

    My boyfriend takes a sample of the water to our LFS frequently to have it tested, and it has always been fine. But we will definitely get a tester kit so that we can do that on our own.
    I still don't know how the orange clown could have died though... I don't think it's unlikely that the firefish was bullied, but I don't think the clown could have been because the watchman never bothers anybody, and the black clown was actually very protective of our orange clown. He was very gentle with him and they even showed signs of pairing. At least until he started hosting the coral... maybe the black clown felt like the orange clown didn't care about him anymore, so he began to bully him?? I'm not sure if that's far-fetched, but even then I feel like we would have seen some sort of sign of aggression...
     
  4. eatbreakfast

    eatbreakfast Fish Nerd Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Showcase Editor Expert Contributor Partner Member Partner Member 2018

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    Agreed, there is definitely a learning curve in saltwater.

    Clowns host in brain corals all the time, so it is highly unlikely that this had any affect on the clown.

    Knowing the parameters will help narrow down what happened, but I would strongly lean toward a disease/ parasite.
     
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  5. Ashlee & Ricky

    Ashlee & Ricky Member

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    I will get a tester kit for our water this week for sure.
    I do know that he uses "Stability" which they recommended at our LFS. But I'm sure that isn't going to prevent everything.
    If it were to be a disease/ parasite, could our other two fish, the watchman and black clown, be at risk? They both seem to be acting fine as of now.
     
  6. eatbreakfast

    eatbreakfast Fish Nerd Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Showcase Editor Expert Contributor Partner Member Partner Member 2018

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    The other fish may or may not be affected. The firefish being a more timid fish may have been intimidated by the other fish, that sort of stress can affect his immune system. Depending on the order of introduction and social dynamics between the clowns, the orange clown's immune system wasn't as strong as the other's

    What was the timeline from tank setup and any of the livestock added?
     
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  7. Ashlee & Ricky

    Ashlee & Ricky Member

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    Oh okay yeah that makes sense...
    We started the tank on October 13th, and then introduced the orange clown and watchman around November 10th. So about a month. And then the firefish was introduced like a week later maybe, and then the black clown another couple of weeks later.
     
  8. ThunderGoose

    ThunderGoose Active Member R2R Supporter

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    I keep an Excel spreadsheet with my water parameters, not only do the current parameters tell you something but so do any trends. Very useful in a new tank.

    Also- slow down! You added a lot of fish very quickly. Every time you add a new fish to a small, new tank you can change the amount of ammonia being produced and your bacteria need a chance to catch up and reach a new equilibrium to help manage the waste. I have a 14 gallon system where none of my fish are going to be over 1 inch in length and I have four fish. Your choices are all much bigger than mine. For that size system and the size fish you've chosen I'd recommend keeping the number down to 2.

    What kind of filtration and maintenance schedule do you have? On a tank that size you need to do regular water changes. My schedule includes a weekly 1/3 water change OR 1 gallon/ day every day (when my schedule allows for that).

    Don't get discouraged. The first year of reefing is very challenging and you'll be learning a lot! Even so, it's a very rewarding hobby. R2R is a great place to learn and a very welcoming community.
     
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  9. eatbreakfast

    eatbreakfast Fish Nerd Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Showcase Editor Expert Contributor Partner Member Partner Member 2018

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    With that time table I would highly suspect issues with the two clowns. Although social, clowns are strongly ingrained to setup a hierarchy. There is a lot of competition and energy directed to being the dominant female. Anytime a clown is left as the only clown its energy is going to be directed toward that goal. Being the only clown for a month, the orange clown, whether it fully made it to female or not, was at least on its way. Then another clown got added, and unless there was a significant size difference, both would vy to be the dominant female. This can be very stressful, even to the victor, leaving it more susceptible to disease.

    Couple that with a smaller setup that is more likely to have temperature and water chemistry swings and is heavily stocked, and that is a razors edge for staving off problems.
     
  10. Ashlee & Ricky

    Ashlee & Ricky Member

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    The excel spreadsheet is a great idea! I'm assuming you also make note of any strange things that happen on that spreadsheet so that you can refer back to it for patterns?

    And yes now we know we went too fast with bringing fish in... we knew that four was too many for our small tank, but I was thinking that since the watchman hangs out in a tunnel under the sand with our pistol shrimp, that four fish would be fine. But I was only thinking of territories for the fish, not about the ammonia. My boyfriend mentioned that four was too much because of the waste, but I think we were just really excited and wanted our clown to have another clown friend. But now we know :(

    We do really want another clown though... Do you think two clowns and a watchman is too much? The watchman is pretty small imo.

    As for our filtration schedule, I'm not sure what you mean... Are you asking how often we change the filter? If so, we were told to replace it once every two or three months. My boyfriend changed it at exactly two months after we set up the tank. And as for our maintenance schedule, we do about a 1/3 water change once a week, similar to you. We used to only do it like once every two weeks but now it's once a week.

    By the way thank you so much for all of the information! I am so excited to be apart of the R2R community... I look forward to learning!
     
  11. smiley28

    smiley28 Hectorj R2R Supporter

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    How big were the clowns in comparison to each other?
     
  12. K. Steven

    K. Steven Active Member R2R Supporter

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    What filter are you replacing? If this tank is the one I'm familiar with, there should be a black sponge in the middle compartment. Are you replacing this sponge entirely or squeezing out the detritus in a bucket of used tank water?
     
  13. Ashlee & Ricky

    Ashlee & Ricky Member

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    Very interesting... I did not realize it was that stressful for them.
    So I guess that means that since the black clown has been the only clown in our tank for the past two weeks, it will become female? I need to do some reading on this to educate myself lol because I clearly don't know how it works completely.
    So if we decide to bring another clown into the tank (which we want to), how should we do that? Do they need to be significantly different in size in order to avoid that stress?

    Thanks again for all of the help everyone!
     
  14. Ashlee & Ricky

    Ashlee & Ricky Member

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    We replace the carbon insert, which is inside of the foam filter block (the black sponge) once every 2-3 months, although we've only done it once so far since our tank is only 3 months old. But the black sponge aka the foam filter block gets rung out in RO water once a week when we do the water change. Is that the proper way of doing it?
     
  15. Ashlee & Ricky

    Ashlee & Ricky Member

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    Pretty close... I think the black clown was slightly bigger than the orange one though. Pictures attached.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  16. Ashlee & Ricky

    Ashlee & Ricky Member

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    Here is a picture of our tank currently
    Just so you guys can see our setup and what all we have so far.
    (Ignore the dirty wave maker- cleaning it soon)

    [​IMG]
     
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  17. ThunderGoose

    ThunderGoose Active Member R2R Supporter

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    It sounds like you're gonna be ok, you just got impatient. You're tank is still very young so it's still somewhat unstable and stability is what make a reef tank successful. A few suggestions...

    If you want a second clown get one noticeably smaller than the one you currently have. You may also need to put it in a clear plastic box (I forget what these are called) for a while to let them get to know each other while still protecting the new one. I'd also recommend waiting at least a month or two to make sure you have everything else under control (water parameters, cleaning schedule). You'll have to make sure to stay on top of tank cleaning with 3 good sized fish (remember all of these fish will grow! Your watchman may be small now but that won't last).

    You may want to switch from just carbon to something like chemipure and change it once a month. It includes both carbon and GFO (for phosphates).

    Looking at your picture - take a good look at the green and red coral to the right. There might be a pest anemone right in front. You'll want to nip that in the bud ASAP (go to the hitchhiker thread and search for aptasia for ideas on how to ID and deal with it).

    I like your scape. Nice arches.
     
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  18. Tahoe61

    Tahoe61 Moderator Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Showcase Editor Build Thread Contributor Partner Member Partner Member 2018

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    Looks pretty dang nice! You could add a small non dominate clown in a week or two after the tank settles down but I would definitely not add any more fish. You're maxed out at the pair of clowns and the yellow watchman goby. I see a bigger tank in your future just so you ya know. :p
     
  19. K. Steven

    K. Steven Active Member R2R Supporter

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    No, if you put the sponge in RO water, you are killing your nitrifying bacteria that live in the sponge. Squeeze it out in used tank water (i.e., saltwater) so you don't kill these bacteria and to get the detritus out. You may have a sufficient amount of rock to support enough bacteria to biologically filter the tank, but the sponge likely contains a sizable population of bacteria that, if killed, would affect the biological stability of the tank.
     
  20. Sistawolf

    Sistawolf Valuable Member R2R Supporter

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    I think your tank is just to small for all of the fish and coral.. as stated above.. I would definitely do at least a 50 percent water change to rule out ammonia.. and only squeeze out the sponge.. do not rinse the sponge. As K. Steven said your rinsing out your bacteria (that your more than likely just getting it started good) in your tank.. also.. I wouldn’t wait to long to add another clown. Making sure it’s a good bit smaller than the one in the tank. Black and white clowns most of the time are MEAN! At least everyone I have owned.. even attack me! Anyway.. since your wanting to start up one soon.. maybe you could look online for a used tank to kind of get your feel a little better.. I’m sure you will eventually want even bigger.. I had a 30 gallon.. moved to a 40 breeder to a 75 gallon now have a custom 130 gallon that I’m in love with.. sometimes things die with no reason.. but two fish so close together.. their is obviously a problem somewhere.. please get test kits.. ASAP! Never trust anyone’s testing.. only yours.. a refractometer is a must and yes.. READ READ READ!! I learned the hard way that you never rush in this hobby.. before adding fish to your main.. you should always put in a qt tank so you don’t wipe out all of your fish by adding a sick fish. This forum is AMAZING.. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it were not me doing things the wrong way.. finding this forum by googling my problem... and I have never looked back.. SO WELCOME TO R2R!! You will love it.. here you will find lots of help and answers to questions and hopefully you will never need them but Fish Drs:).. Google and read questions you may have on here before buying a fish.. changing anything.. such as salt or additives.. how much to feed.. lights.. fish behavior.. any question you could possibly think of is right here.. i agree also with another post about not adding anything else after you add the one clown.. read up on clowns and types that will and won’t get along before making your decision on which clown to purchase to pair with your existing clown.. don’t give up and never feel like it’s your fault.. always know we all had to start somewhere and we all make decisions that may not always work.. so you learn from it and move on.. let us know if you have any other questions if you can’t find your answer here.. so sorry for your loss by the way... have a great day!

    PS sorry I’m all over the place with this post.. I got pretty bust in the middle and forgot what I was trying to say.. lol good luck
     
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