Trouble with Inverts - Shrimp, Clams, Slugs...you name it

mdbronco

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Hi,

I am having a heck of a time with inverts and it's only getting worse.

Tank: 70 gallon mixed reef. Kole tang, 2 anthias, bi-colored blenny, and 2 clowns. Several SPS and LPS (SPS grow well in the tank but LPS is hit and miss) and softies (grow really well).

I lose cleaner shrimp every 4-16 weeks. I'll buy a pair, wake up and one is dead. Then almost guaranteed, the other is dead the next day. I've lost about 8 in the one year I've been running. No fish losses except from the very start when a piece of equipment failed. But above stock list has been with me at least 8 months.

Tried two Sea Hares - died. The first died within a week and then the second died within two days

I also tried my first clam two weeks ago after months of research and looking for a nice specimen. Then I woke up and it was gone within a week.

Acclimation process is the same for inverts - float for about 25 mins, then slowly add water over the course of another 40 mins or so.

Healthy snail population, though every morning I see empty shells. But I seem to have dozens and they do breed on occasion. Very healthy pod population with macro display algae for them to breed as well. Blue tuxedo urchin seems to do fine (been with me for about 3 months) and fighting conch also a few months and seems ok.

Latest water test (I test every week) and do weekly 10% water changes religiously.

Phosphate- 0.25
Calcium - 440
Magnesium - 1320
PH 8.2
Alk 11 (this has been creeping up from 8/9. I drip kalk via ATO)
Nitrate - 5
Ammonia - 0
Nitrite 0.2 (this has never come down since the start so I've been slowly adding more live rock to sump and display every couple of weeks)
Salinity - 1,026
Temp - 27.0 C (I have a heater in sump and a chiller with a heating element. Temp will swing between 26.8 and 27.4 depending on time of day but chiller is set within a sensitivity of .5)

Recent Triton report (post clam death but pre shrimp pair death):

https://www.triton-lab.de/en/showroom/aquarium/auswertung-b/icp-oes/86987/

I'm at the point where I really, really don't want to buy anymore shrimp or clams but A) my son loves the shrimp and B) I like their function in the aquarium. And clams to me are the coolest but I won't dare try again until I can figure out what is going on.

Thoughts?? What should I try and change and improve??
 
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Lazys Coral House

Coralreefer1

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That stinks! I know how you feel!
Have you checked the dates on your test kits?
What kind of Clam?
What kind of lights?
Are you dosing anything that might be too quick to alter your water parameters?
I’m having a hard time coming up with one solution to your loss!
 
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mdbronco

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Thanks - I posted the Triton results and 0 copper in the system. Test kits are within about 6 months (Red Sea). Not really dosing except once a week of amino acids after water changes and kalk in my ATO plus 2x week coral feedings. The clam was a maxima and about 5 inches so not too small (which I was trying to avoid) and I was dosing phyto when I had it a couple of times. Lights are AI Hydra 26s set at "David Saxby" settings essentially.

It's getting to the point of not quite giving up but thinking about it. It's odd that my SPSs can grow apparently well and my anthias' are happy (knock on wood), but the "easier" livestock I am becoming the stuff of legend in terms of my kill rate. For example - cloves and rhodactis hate my system as do hammer coral. I even managed to kill a toadstool, which 2 different LFS's said they have never heard of that really happening before without something absolutely crazy happening. But I've never lost a SPS frag for the past year (knock again on wood) and they all show signs of great growth. Not a lot of fun lately.
 

Coralreefer1

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Again, I feel your pain as I have lived it like your describing it.
Having said this, I think you should give the inverts a break for now, let your tank mature longer. This serves two purposes... for one, I can not understand what is going on and why your are experiencing all the die off, so maybe by letting your tank age and stabilize itself , your luck just might change. The second purpose being you need a break instead of basically playing Russian Roulette where you know something is going to die, just not what and when in the next day or days...
Give yourself a chance to regroup, relax and enjoy what you do have in your tank as the hobby is supposed to be fun, educational, beautiful and let’s us know just how delicate an ecosystem our reefs of the world are and that they need protection, awareness and conservation or we won’t nor will our kids and their kids be able to experience what reefs we have left.

Sorry for going off on a tangent. It seems like you are doing everything right, which is a credit to you! So, again, my advice to you so that you can break the cycle and change your living out the scenes of the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day” with Bill Murray when it comes to your inverts, is hold off on adding anything for awhile.
Then after a month or so, maybe your tank will have corrected itself or have the chance to reestablish itself and give you better odds of getting those inverts you desire and having them grow and live.
Good luck...
 
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MnFish1

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A couple things - could one of your fish be attacking them? Could there be another 'predator' in your tank thats killing them?

Also - you do have some things that are off on your triton test - Iodine, PO4 and a couple others. Again - I find it difficult to interpret these tests but FWIW - from another site:

For a long time people were encouraged to add iodine to the tank because they noticed their shrimp/crabs molting more often and "easier" and throught this was a good thing. However, more recent information and research is questioning this old practise and it's believed that they are molting prematurely which creates a lot of stress on the animals and can be potentially fatal. Even corals and fish will produce heavier slime coats in the presense of very high iodine levels (which can lead to corals suffercating should the current in the tank be weak).

To make maters worse, iodiNe (I2)doesn't benefit the animals in any way, in fact it is a powerful antibacterial agent (used for a long time to disinfect things) so in large doses it can kill the fitler bacteria in the tank, however it does break down fairly quickly in solution into iodiDe (I-) and iodate (IO3-) (Both of which can be used in a tank mostly by different types of algae) but it's unknown how it can affect the tank during that short period of time.

As a rule you shouldn't add anything to the tank unless you can test for it. Although there are some Iodine test kits these should be used with some caution. Some test kits only test for iodine and some test for iodine and iodide. If it doesn't test for iodine, iodide, and iodates then you can still run the risk of overdosing the tank.
 
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mdbronco

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Is your phosphate reading at 0.25 or 0.025? If it’s 0.25, then that’s too high.
Not sure that phosphates matter other than in terms of potential algae blooms. I agree it’s high but I’ve found my macro algae and sps do better.

But am I wrong in thinking that phosphates are “harmless” other than in terms of potential algae blooms (which I don’t have and only need to scrape glass once a week)?
 
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mdbronco

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A couple things - could one of your fish be attacking them? Could there be another 'predator' in your tank thats killing them?

Also - you do have some things that are off on your triton test - Iodine, PO4 and a couple others. Again - I find it difficult to interpret these tests but FWIW - from another site:

For a long time people were encouraged to add iodine to the tank because they noticed their shrimp/crabs molting more often and "easier" and throught this was a good thing. However, more recent information and research is questioning this old practise and it's believed that they are molting prematurely which creates a lot of stress on the animals and can be potentially fatal. Even corals and fish will produce heavier slime coats in the presense of very high iodine levels (which can lead to corals suffercating should the current in the tank be weak).

To make maters worse, iodiNe (I2)doesn't benefit the animals in any way, in fact it is a powerful antibacterial agent (used for a long time to disinfect things) so in large doses it can kill the fitler bacteria in the tank, however it does break down fairly quickly in solution into iodiDe (I-) and iodate (IO3-) (Both of which can be used in a tank mostly by different types of algae) but it's unknown how it can affect the tank during that short period of time.

As a rule you shouldn't add anything to the tank unless you can test for it. Although there are some Iodine test kits these should be used with some caution. Some test kits only test for iodine and some test for iodine and iodide. If it doesn't test for iodine, iodide, and iodates then you can still run the risk of overdosing the tank.
I agree re iodine. I used to dose but have stopped for the past couple of weeks. What you say could be true about premature molting so I will at least wait until the iodine levels come down before trying another shrimp.

The predator theory has made me wonder but I’m just not sure what it could be. I don’t have a ton of rock work but I do see empty snail shells every morning in one particular spot. But what could it be? I have a lot of bristleworms but other than being creepy I’ve understood they only really eat dead/dying things anyways.
 
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mdbronco

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Again, I feel your pain as I have lived it like your describing it.
Having said this, I think you should give the inverts a break for now, let your tank mature longer. This serves two purposes... for one, I can not understand what is going on and why your are experiencing all the die off, so maybe by letting your tank age and stabilize itself , your luck just might change. The second purpose being you need a break instead of basically playing Russian Roulette where you know something is going to die, just not what and when in the next day or days...
Give yourself a chance to regroup, relax and enjoy what you do have in your tank as the hobby is supposed to be fun, educational, beautiful and let’s us know just how delicate an ecosystem our reefs of the world are and that they need protection, awareness and conservation or we won’t nor will our kids and their kids be able to experience what reefs we have left.

Sorry for going off on a tangent. It seems like you are doing everything right, which is a credit to you! So, again, my advice to you so that you can break the cycle and change your living out the scenes of the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day” with Bill Murray when it comes to your inverts, is hold off on adding anything for awhile.
Then after a month or so, maybe your tank will have corrected itself or have the chance to reestablish itself and give you better odds of getting those inverts you desire and having them grow and live.
Good luck...
Thanks for this!
 
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Coralreefer1

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Do you have Blue-Leg Hermits? Reason I’m asking is they will kill snails for their shell as they grow. They tend to do this more so than any other snails with the exception of the Electric Blue and Halloween hermits.
 
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mdbronco

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Do you have Blue-Leg Hermits? Reason I’m asking is they will kill snails for their shell as they grow. They tend to do this more so than any other snails with the exception of the Electric Blue and Halloween hermits.
I had two hermits that would do that yes and at first I didn’t mind. But then they both started perching in sps branches and leaving their marks, so I banished them to the sump a couple months ago.
 

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Thanks - I posted the Triton results and 0 copper in the system. Test kits are within about 6 months (Red Sea). Not really dosing except once a week of amino acids after water changes and kalk in my ATO plus 2x week coral feedings. The clam was a maxima and about 5 inches so not too small (which I was trying to avoid) and I was dosing phyto when I had it a couple of times. Lights are AI Hydra 26s set at "David Saxby" settings essentially.

It's getting to the point of not quite giving up but thinking about it. It's odd that my SPSs can grow apparently well and my anthias' are happy (knock on wood), but the "easier" livestock I am becoming the stuff of legend in terms of my kill rate. For example - cloves and rhodactis hate my system as do hammer coral. I even managed to kill a toadstool, which 2 different LFS's said they have never heard of that really happening before without something absolutely crazy happening. But I've never lost a SPS frag for the past year (knock again on wood) and they all show signs of great growth. Not a lot of fun lately.

Shrimp is a total mystery, but if SPS does great and softies do poorly, is it possible you're running your light, flow, and nutrients a little too aggressively... more towards the SPS side of things?
 
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mdbronco

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Real live rock? Could you have a hidden predetor?
My rock was dry and been in the tank for about a year so probably not really “real” yet. So this also probably limits the potential for hitchhikers but then again how do worms and such suddenly show up...?
 
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mdbronco

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Shrimp is a total mystery, but if SPS does great and softies do poorly, is it possible you're running your light, flow, and nutrients a little too aggressively... more towards the SPS side of things?
My flow has been a total pain tbh. Too much, too little. It’s by far my least favorite element of this hobby including water changes. The lighting is a possibility however for sure.
 

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