Toxin in tank, corals dying, fish dead

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javisaman

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Hi All,

Sorry for a second thread. I've been posting regularly to my other thread about struggles with what I suspect are dinoflagelletes here. Since the beginning of that post I've lost all of my SPS, many of my LPS and zoas. After a disaster last night, I thought I should post a more recent thread.

I've tried numerous things (not at the same time):
  1. Small water changes
  2. Large water changes with siphoning out as much as possible
  3. No water changes. Measuring phosphate and nitrate every day and dosing Microbacter7 (daily) and/or Dr.Tim's Refresh (weekly)
Yesterday after a couple of weeks with the third one I thought I would try and do a large waterchange since hair algae had taken over. This was approximately 40% (I did the math wrong in my original thread). I made sure that the salinity (1.026) and temp were exactly the same betwwen the tank and the brute trashcan (I use this from the beginning to hold RO/DI). I even tested the salinity and temp of the tank after doing the water change.

Parameters so far:
Alk 7.0 (Hanna)
Phosphate 0.06 (Hanna)
Nitrate 4ppm to 8ppm (Red Sea Pro)
Salinity 1.026 (Milwaukee and Refractometer, both calibrated)
Ammonia 0 (Salifert)

My corals do not look better or worse from the water change. My inverts like cleaner shrimp, hermits, and snails unchanged.
However, 3 of 5 my fish have died overnight. I've had them for over 8 months all have been fully quarantined with copper and prazipro.

I suspect two things might have caused the issue and I'm hoping someone can give me some insight on how to proceed.
  1. Part of the procedure for my water change. Use waterproof handheld waterpik to blast the rocks clean of dinos, scrub and pull hair algae. All of this was done with the pumps on and with a water stone. I kept my skimmer, carbon reactor, and filter socks (10u) in the sump. This may have caused a large die-off causing gill damage to fish. However, I would expect there to be ammonia in the tank.
  2. There is a contaminant in my RO/DI water. I replaced all filters last month and bought the BRS 5-stage kit for chloramines. I've never registered more than 0TDS from my water. However, is there a chance something like chlorine can still make it? Or some other contaminent?
Pretty heartbroken that this has gone on for months and everything is basically dead. I would like to try again, but I'm not sure if I'm going to be successful.

I am a scientist and am willing to try anything and everything to figure this out, so all suggestions are welcome.
 
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vetteguy53081

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Hi All,

Sorry for a second thread. I've been posting regularly to my other thread about struggles with what I suspect are dinoflagelletes here. Since the beginning of that post I've lost all of my SPS, many of my LPS and zoas. After a disaster last night, I thought I should post a more recent thread.

I've tried numerous things (not at the same time):
  1. Small water changes
  2. Large water changes with siphoning out as much as possible
  3. No water changes. Measuring phosphate and nitrate every day and dosing Microbacter7 (daily) and/or Dr.Tim's Refresh (weekly)
Yesterday after a couple of weeks with the third one I thought I would try and do a large waterchange since hair algae had taken over. This was approximately 40% (I did the math wrong in my original thread). I made sure that the salinity (1.026) and temp were exactly the same betwwen the tank and the brute trashcan (I use this from the beginning to hold RO/DI). I even tested the salinity and temp of the tank after doing the water change.

Parameters so far:
Alk 7.0 (Hanna)
Phosphate 0.06 (Hanna)
Nitrate 4ppm to 8ppm (Red Sea Pro)
Salinity 1.026 (Milwaukee and Refractometer, both calibrated)
Ammonia 0 (Salifert)

My corals do not look better or worse from the water change. My inverts like cleaner shrimp, hermits, and snails unchanged.
However, 3 of 5 my fish have died overnight. I've had them for over 8 months all have been fully quarantined with copper and prazipro.

I suspect two things might have caused the issue and I'm hoping someone can give me some insight on how to proceed.
  1. Part of the procedure for my water change. Use waterproof handheld waterpik to blast the rocks clean of dinos, scrub and pull hair algae. All of this was done with the pumps on and with a water stone. I kept my skimmer, carbon reactor, and filter socks (10u) in the sump. This may have caused a large die-off causing gill damage to fish. However, I would expect there to be ammonia in the tank.
  2. There is a contaminant in my RO/DI water. I replaced all filters last month and bought the BRS 5-stage kit for chloramines. I've never registered more than 0TDS from my water. However, is there a chance something like chlorine can still make it? Or some other contaminent?
Pretty heartbroken that this has gone on for months and everything is basically dead. I would like to try again, but I'm not sure if I'm going to be successful.

I am a scientist and am willing to try anything and everything to figure this out, so all suggestions are welcome.
Any pics under white to confirm what it is ?
 
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javisaman

javisaman

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Thanks for the reply. There are some pictures of it in my original thread (linked to the post with the pictures). It basically looked like that but about 5x coverage yesterday. Unfortunately, today, since I siphoned out everything (and the lights haven't turned on) there isn't any more left.


I was "semi-able" to identify using a hobby-grade microscope. But to be honest it was hard to do because focusing at 400X was difficult. A lot of my assessment was based on the experiences of this post: https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/something-isnt-right-need-some-help.587876/. I am/was having identical symptoms. However, maybe it's confirmation bias.
 
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javisaman

javisaman

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Does the hypothesis that my scrubbing/waterpiking the rocks clearing all of that dino killed the fish? The one anthias that survived probably won't live much longer--it is breathing very heavy.
 

hhaase

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I'd stop scrubbing and waterpicking the rocks in the tank. A better method is to have a bucket and old tank water, clean a couple rocks at a time in there, and then rinse in a separate bucket of clean water before it goes back into the tank. This removes all that detritus and contamination from the tank rather than redistributing it. And are you sure the tools you're using are clear of contaminants and are reef safe?

I'm also starting to have some concerns that your water changes may be introducing some kind of contaminant. I'd inspect every item that comes in contact with water you're putting into the tank. With as aggressive of a change schedule as you've been using, your tank shouldn't be regressing like this.
 
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javisaman

javisaman

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Thank you for the reply. I believe the brush, turkey baster, and waterpik are safe. The waterpik was something that I don't use that often. I saw that someone else on R2R was using the exact same model I was with success. I believe the original idea comes from reefbuilders. And even blowing the rocks with a turkey baster irritates the corals.

I worry about the water too. I've done everything I can think of. My TDS is zero, I've replaced the filters with the BRS chloramine filters, and I've done an ICP test on the RO/DI (the first page of my main thread). I've ordered some total chlorine strips in an effort to see if there is anything making it through.

In terms of the tank's ICP, the main issues were very high lithium, very high aluminum, and low iodine.
 

Ghost25

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Aluminum is probably from your Marinepure block, I haven't heard of that killing fish and coral in this way but you might want to think about it.

It is pretty strange to me that given the amount of live rock, Marine pure, macro algae that you still have detectable nitrate. Counterintuitively dinos and hair algae can sometimes be caused by excessively low nutrients. Ultralow nutrients can also contribute to coral death and bleaching especially if you're not feeding much. I would consider the possibility that your nitrate test is off.

But none of that really explains the sudden fish death. Giving your quarantine and new DI/RO it is puzzling. Perhaps a bad batch of salt? The other possibility would be some outside contaminant, cleaning chemicals or other household chemicals that might have gotten into the air or into the tank.
 

Lowell Lemon

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Check all your pumps and heaters for voltage leaks and look for source of lithium and aluminum and eliminate it. Is your water grounded with a ground probe? If not you may have induced voltage causing some problems as well.

Did you bleed your RODI unit before using the water to mix your salts?
 
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javisaman

javisaman

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Aluminum is probably from your Marinepure block, I haven't heard of that killing fish and coral in this way but you might want to think about it.

It is pretty strange to me that given the amount of live rock, Marine pure, macro algae that you still have detectable nitrate. Counterintuitively dinos and hair algae can sometimes be caused by excessively low nutrients. Ultralow nutrients can also contribute to coral death and bleaching especially if you're not feeding much. I would consider the possibility that your nitrate test is off.

But none of that really explains the sudden fish death. Giving your quarantine and new DI/RO it is puzzling. Perhaps a bad batch of salt? The other possibility would be some outside contaminant, cleaning chemicals or other household chemicals that might have gotten into the air or into the tank.

You are right. I usually do not have detectable nitrate. When I was dosing microbacter7, I also dosed sodium nitrate and neophos to maintain 0.04-0.09 phosphate and 4-8ppm nitrate.

Check all your pumps and heaters for voltage leaks and look for source of lithium and aluminum and eliminate it. Is your water grounded with a ground probe? If not you may have induced voltage causing some problems as well.

Did you bleed your RODI unit before using the water to mix your salts?

My source of aluminum is likely the marine pure block as @Ghost25 said it hasn't shown to kill fish/corals. The lithium I believe comes from salt mixes. I don't know if it's from my current mix of tropic marine pro or if it's from a long time ago when I was using Red Sea Pro.

I do have a grounding probe in the sump. I just measured the voltage 0: AC voltage 0.5V: DC. When I do the water change all of the equipment in the display is turned off.

I did flush the RO/DI when I'm making water. I usually flush for about 30min. The water measured 0ppm TDS.
 
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javisaman

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Any recommendations on how to remove the marine pure block without causing a massive cycle?
 
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javisaman

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The last two fish, one anthias and the clown are still alive. They seem to be close to normal again. The dinos however have come back. I got my UV sterilizer. Is there anything else that I can do?
 

hhaase

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What are your nitrates and phosphates currently?

If you did pull the marinepure block, I'd say just let it stabilize for a couple more days if the livestock seem semi-normal and the dinos don't get too bad. Just keep the same routine you've been doing since Friday.
 

Glenner’sreef

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I’m guessing you’re right with the first of your two possible causes. “Waterpic to blast rocks clean” too much all at once upsetting the natural balance. One of the responses were to take it slow. Good advice I think. Sorry you’re going through this, I never have but I still feel your pain. Good luck.
 
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brandon429

why did you put a reef in that
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this is my eval:

-at no time was free ammonia a culprit

-having not listed fallow and qt preps for fish, I attribute solely that to losses.

-not only can you remove marine pure blocks from a running reef tank with no issue, we could have removed his entire sandbed, the marine pure, any bioballs he may have leaving solely the live rock for the current bioload, and ammonia still wouldn't be an issue (source: fifty page sand removal thread we do lots of combined jobs on tanks with ammonia measures thereafter and by update for months)

-I would have recommended to drop white light intensity and sustain until problem is found, this is a bleach prevention mode. if someone can find a fish preservation mode other than fallow and quarantine, they're missing that option in our fish disease forum...fallow and qt are what's being used there we can plainly see in the stickies.

hope everything works out. pls update
 
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javisaman

javisaman

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What are your nitrates and phosphates currently?

If you did pull the marinepure block, I'd say just let it stabilize for a couple more days if the livestock seem semi-normal and the dinos don't get too bad. Just keep the same routine you've been doing since Friday.


Haven't tested them in a few days. Actually not since the day after 3 of the fish died.
I haven't moved the marine pure block yet, but plan to. I've done two 25% waterchanges in the past week WITHOUT disturbing the surface of the rocks too much. They seem more successful, but even when I slightly brush the rock with a tooth brush corals retract and the fish hide/breath fast.
I’m guessing you’re right with the first of your two possible causes. “Waterpic to blast rocks clean” too much all at once upsetting the natural balance. One of the responses were to take it slow. Good advice I think. Sorry you’re going through this, I never have but I still feel your pain. Good luck.
Waterpick is too aggressive, it throws a lot of particulates into the water column. Recall before, hours before the fish died I used a waterpick on all surfaces in the tank. Probably irritates everything.
Run carbon and possibly a poly filter.
Done and done. I mentioned earlier that I'm using a carbon reactor (likely in the original thread). However the carbon (rox) was in a media bag inside the reactor because the sponges were too porous.
Any updates? Hopefully it's a good sign that this thread has slowed down.
Last anthias has recovered. Eating the same as before. Whatever is in the tank is still irritating corals. Losing heads of LPS. I've done two 25% water changes in the past week. I do greenbelt l gently brush what I think are dinos and use the siphon to suck them up. Corals/fish still get very irritated.

this is my eval:

-at no time was free ammonia a culprit

-having not listed fallow and qt preps for fish, I attribute solely that to losses.

-not only can you remove marine pure blocks from a running reef tank with no issue, we could have removed his entire sandbed, the marine pure, any bioballs he may have leaving solely the live rock for the current bioload, and ammonia still wouldn't be an issue (source: fifty page sand removal thread we do lots of combined jobs on tanks with ammonia measures thereafter and by update for months)

-I would have recommended to drop white light intensity and sustain until problem is found, this is a bleach prevention mode. if someone can find a fish preservation mode other than fallow and quarantine, they're missing that option in our fish disease forum...fallow and qt are what's being used there we can plainly see in the stickies.

hope everything works out. pls update

I might have mentioned in the original thread. Fish have been fully quarantined either my me or TSM aquatics.

My procedure is as follows:

Salinity match QT to incoming water in bag of fish. Usually between 1.020-1.023. Anthias have 2 powerheads and sponge filter in tank. Clown had one powerhead and sponge filter. In both cases sponge was in my sump for at least 3 weeks.

Observed for 1 week. Find what fish like to eat.

Raise copper using Copper Power and Hana Copper tester to 2.00 over the course of a week. Every five days to waterchange with predosed copper power.

30 days of copper at 2.00. Do 100% waterchange, dose general cure. Leave that for 10 days.

Transfer fish to DT.

I bought more Anthias from TSM aquatics because I was annoyed with the process.

Even then I believe I might have had flukes 8 months ago. Two fish flashed about once or twice a week infront of my. So I dosed prazipro into DT, twice a week apart. Flashing seen to have storm. I also fresh water dipped the fish that died Friday to see if any flukes came out-none did.

The fish had been with me for almost a year.

The fish died very soon after a large water change after I blasted all the rocks with a water pick. I'm certain that's what did them in.


Thanks for the replies. I'm doing a aquabiome test in hopes of getting some clarity on what's going on.
 

brandon429

why did you put a reef in that
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Id call those fish mighty prepped, that's ten times the avg prep


wanted to show you something, knowing your updates. for musings and for similarities


can you ignore the eight pages of flame here as we vied for causatives but check out his presentation reason, same as yours

all he did was cast a handful of old sand once, into his new tank, doing fine just before, and all his fish died


fine before handful old sand

all dead after. simple as that

what you are cleaning out of live rock is indeed found compacted in layers in old tank sand, no?

your assessment seems very linked to that loss as well. good call

even though these losses are devastating the patterns alone help the hobby, in prevention. in our whole sand rinse/replacement thread the #1 rule above all is cast about no waste. your assessment sounds spot on. for eight pages the refs simply would not have it: cannot be the casted sand.


but we think varying states of bacterial rot can matter, can irritate and kill.

*they did sway me originally from thinking it was nh3 raw ammonia though. the little he could transmit in that handful would be quickly eaten up per my own prior proofing.

has to be something more concentrated in the detritus than basic ammonia. your thread is really good.
 
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BRS

What have you found to be the best things/methods to beat hair algae? (choose all that apply)

  • Hydrogen peroxide

    Votes: 6 14.3%
  • Lawn Mower Blenny (or other fish)

    Votes: 13 31.0%
  • Manual Removal

    Votes: 22 52.4%
  • Rock Scrubbing

    Votes: 7 16.7%
  • Lowered Phosphates

    Votes: 10 23.8%
  • Tank Blackouts

    Votes: 5 11.9%
  • Urchins

    Votes: 12 28.6%
  • Fluconazole

    Votes: 2 4.8%
  • Granular Ferric Oxide (GFO)

    Votes: 2 4.8%
  • UV Sterilizer

    Votes: 6 14.3%
  • Refugium

    Votes: 11 26.2%
  • Algae Scrubber

    Votes: 3 7.1%
  • Clean Up Crew

    Votes: 22 52.4%
  • Lighting Change

    Votes: 5 11.9%
  • Sea Hare

    Votes: 2 4.8%
  • Vibrant

    Votes: 4 9.5%
  • Other (please explain in thread)

    Votes: 3 7.1%

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