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Old 12/05/2017, 09:51 AM   #1
Moeshi
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Unhappy Sudden poisoning of tank. Inverts dead. Need suggestions.

Four days ago I lost every single invert overnight, in my 120 main display reef.
Everything from zoas and mushrooms to acros and montis. I lost all snails, worms, brittle stars and hermits as well. Pods included. All amounting to a small fortune.

I have tested my water and immediately ran large amounts of fresh carbon and GFO, and still is, when I noticed that something was wrong.

My results were:

Ca: 450
Mg: 1350
Kh: 9.0
Po4: 0
NO3: 0
NH3: 0 (I expect a large increase the coming days)
Salinity: 0.26
PH: 8.0
Copper: Undetectable with salifert

No stray voltage or broken heaters either. Temperature is a steady 77F on all three thermometers.

Skimmer is running normal without unusual skimmate or smell.

All fish are completely unaffected. My two blue-line pipe fish spawned on time as usual, and the male is already expecting again. Mandarin is very bothered because it's obvious that there aren't any pods left. Luckily she eats frozen food with gusto. Macro algae in the sump is fine too.

I have evacuated as many frags as possible to my other tanks. Most have since then died as well, but without causing harm to the tanks.

Currently I'm planning a 100 percent water change in the hopes that I can remove whatever poisoned the tank, but I'm desperate to know what could have caused such a quick decline. LPS seemed affected before any other invert, and my millis even had excellent polyp extension by the time my hammers, calustrea and duncas were throwing heads around the water column. Within 36 hours everything died from there.


I'm trying to root out everything I can, and I would like to hear opinions on the following:

1)I opened a new pack of frozen mysis on the night before the incident. Feeding response from the fish was normal, but is it possible there was a contamination?

2)My room mate is a heavy smoker and she uses ozone-degrading amounts of perfume and hair spray everyday, but only in her room. I can definitely smell it in my own room in the other end of the apartment, but it doesn't appear to have caused a problem in the past 4 months since she moved in. Could this be the culprit?

3)I am very careful when I do tank maintenance and wash my hands without soap before I put them in the tank. Are theoretical deodorant particles or similar enough to cause such a sudden crash?

4)I have raked my entire sandbed several times to see if there could be a coin, a nail, a wire or anything metal that have fallen into the tank. I haven't been able to find anything and the copper test is zero, but would such a thing be able to nuke inverts overnight?

5)My calcium two part container was running low and I noticed the dosing pump taking up small residual particles from the bottom of the container, a few days before. Am I right to assume that this shouldn't be a concern?

6)A month ago I treated the tank with flatworm exit and did the necessary water changed and used carbon as suggested. Only brittle stars seemed bothered, but it didn't last more than a day. The small infestation of planaria was removed without trace and everybody resumed their daily lives.



I really hope people can chime in with something I might have overlooked, so I can avoid this happening ever again.

Thank you very much for your time,
M


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Old 12/05/2017, 10:06 AM   #2
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Sorry...
You will likely never positively know..

Seeing as you stated you opened a fresh pack the night before I would lean heavily in that direction but unless you setup some tests with that/fresh tank/inverts,etc... thats all just assumptions..

Maybe run a polyfilter and see if you get any color change too..

again.. sorry..


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Old 12/05/2017, 10:27 AM   #3
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Polyfilter asap, it's a good diagnostic even if the loss is already lost.

You could even dissolve some of the suspect food in a gallon of fresh SW and put Polyfilter in it, do a copper test, etc to see if it's suspect.

How well do you know/trust your room mate? I've seen stories on here of all sorts of airborne pollution causing issues, even things like scented candles. A lot of that is anecdotal but...


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Old 12/05/2017, 10:59 AM   #4
Moeshi
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Originally Posted by mcgyvr View Post
Sorry...
You will likely never positively know..

Seeing as you stated you opened a fresh pack the night before I would lean heavily in that direction but unless you setup some tests with that/fresh tank/inverts,etc... thats all just assumptions..

Maybe run a polyfilter and see if you get any color change too..

again.. sorry..
Thank you for your condolences.
I haven't tossed it out yet. That's a great idea. I will take a few hermits and feed them a cube in a separate bucket and monitor their behavior.

Quote:
Originally Posted by der_wille_zur_macht View Post
Polyfilter asap, it's a good diagnostic even if the loss is already lost.

You could even dissolve some of the suspect food in a gallon of fresh SW and put Polyfilter in it, do a copper test, etc to see if it's suspect.

How well do you know/trust your room mate? I've seen stories on here of all sorts of airborne pollution causing issues, even things like scented candles. A lot of that is anecdotal but...
I don't trust her at all that she would respect my tank, and I have found her in my room looking at my tank many times, when I'm just outside to get mail or do grocery shopping. She goes through at least one scented candle a day, too.
I will try and ask her if she has been in contact with the tank lately.



Good point about the poly filter both of you! I called the LFS when things still looked salvageable to hear if he had any, but he is fresh out. A new shipment wont be here before next week, so I will have to look around. My first reaction was to remove whatever contaminants I had, but it obviously serve as a diagnostics tool as well.
Thank you.


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Old 12/05/2017, 11:12 AM   #5
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Also wanted to express condolences on your loss.

You may not want to hear this right now, but a crash can be a great time to reset the hobbyist as well as the tank. Take your time and think about what you really want from your tank and use this as a blank slate to build something exciting, instead of just seeing it as a loss.


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Old 12/05/2017, 11:35 AM   #6
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Either you had a Ammonia spike or someone put something in your tank.....tanks dont just die like that overnight unless they get poisoned or they dont have adequate Oxygen. All typical salt params except for Salinity wont do anything to that magnitude that fast either. Given you didnt have a power outage from what you have said, I would say the most likely is that something died and spiked the ammonia.....

But certainly people have been known to do shenanigans and poison tanks too....

Unfortunate either way.... sorry man


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Old 12/05/2017, 11:59 AM   #7
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Sounds a lot like copper, but there is none present per the test. Any other metals possibilities?


A long time ago my (now) ex wife accidentally dropped a bunch of loose change in my tank while I was traveling. Wiped out most of my tank. Very sad.


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Old 12/05/2017, 01:54 PM   #8
Moeshi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by der_wille_zur_macht View Post
Also wanted to express condolences on your loss.

You may not want to hear this right now, but a crash can be a great time to reset the hobbyist as well as the tank. Take your time and think about what you really want from your tank and use this as a blank slate to build something exciting, instead of just seeing it as a loss.
You are right. Thank you.

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Either you had a Ammonia spike or someone put something in your tank.....tanks dont just die like that overnight unless they get poisoned or they dont have adequate Oxygen. All typical salt params except for Salinity wont do anything to that magnitude that fast either. Given you didnt have a power outage from what you have said, I would say the most likely is that something died and spiked the ammonia.....

But certainly people have been known to do shenanigans and poison tanks too....

Unfortunate either way.... sorry man
Can a single death cause an ammonia spike that significant in 120 gallons? It seems out of the ordinary in my experience.

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Sounds a lot like copper, but there is none present per the test. Any other metals possibilities?


A long time ago my (now) ex wife accidentally dropped a bunch of loose change in my tank while I was traveling. Wiped out most of my tank. Very sad.
Your story strongly suggests that I should make metals my primary suspect. I managed to get hold on a smaller piece of poly-filter. I will use pieces in a series of tests of both the food, dosing mixes, skim and tank water as soon as I am home. Fingers crossed.


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Old 12/05/2017, 02:19 PM   #9
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Consider oxygen deprivation. I had a 1500G extended system in which power was lost for a few hours during the night while I was away from home. My UPS system failed during utility power outage. Sandbeds & live rocks house large populations of bacteria that consume oxygen 24/7. All photosynthetic life forms including coral consume oxygen and give off co2, when lights are off.


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Old 12/05/2017, 02:28 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moeshi View Post
Can a single death cause an ammonia spike that significant in 120 gallons? It seems out of the ordinary in my experience.
I would not expect an ammonia issue to be as selective as you're describing. I would also not expect an ammonia issue to result in no nitrogen spike (per your test results there was none).

I respect subsea's suggestion of oxygen depletion but I would also be surprised if that was so selective in terms of killing every invert but leaving all fish alive and well.

Metal is a likely cause. Or any other chemical that selectively targets inverts, ie medications, etc. Do you have any pets with flea collars? Any chance there could have been any pesticide in the house? Feeding of something that had medication or pesticide? Anything sprayed near the tank?


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Old 12/05/2017, 02:55 PM   #11
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Consider oxygen deprivation. I had a 1500G extended system in which power was lost for a few hours during the night while I was away from home. My UPS system failed during utility power outage. Sandbeds & live rocks house large populations of bacteria that consume oxygen 24/7. All photosynthetic life forms including coral consume oxygen and give off co2, when lights are off.
Wouldn't vertebrates also be effected in that case?

Poisoning specific to invertebrates seems likely here.


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Old 12/05/2017, 03:13 PM   #12
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Wouldn't vertebrates also be effected in that case?

Poisoning specific to invertebrates seems likely here.
OP said all fish and shrimp died. Some corals died and some lived. As I have already discribed, fish consume much more oxygen than corals.


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Old 12/05/2017, 03:17 PM   #13
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Are we reading the same thread? I see "I lost every single invert" and "all fish unaffected"


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Old 12/05/2017, 03:18 PM   #14
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Wouldn't vertebrates also be effected in that case?

Poisoning specific to invertebrates seems likely here.
Yes, you are right. I speed read thru that detail.

The invertebrate that op named included everything below fish in the food chain. He said nothing about bacteria. I would expect bacteria populations to be decimated as well. Also, depending on when he took his sample, it would not reflect the progression of change in tank due to dieoff. His next reading should reflect the dieoff, with ammonia spiking.

When I hear hobbiest say zero nitrate or zero phosphate, I cringe, because that is impossible. In addition to being impossible, there is an underlying belief that nutrients are bad in a reef tank. That could not be further from the truth.


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Old 12/05/2017, 03:31 PM   #15
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A heavy metal chance contaminant would likely cause a slow degradation in the tank as opposed to a sudden massive die off, this would include a small mass copper contaminant. A bacterial bloom causing hypoxia would leave its telltale cloudy water and slimy residue, as well as killing the more biologically active fish. It really sounds like some sort of poisoning affecting the invertebrates but fish sparing. What about some sort of pesticide, insecticide, that came in with the frozen food as a collection area contaminant?


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Old 12/05/2017, 04:33 PM   #16
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Yes, you are right. I speed read thru that detail.

The invertebrate that op named included everything below fish in the food chain. He said nothing about bacteria. I would expect bacteria populations to be decimated as well. Also, depending on when he took his sample, it would not reflect the progression of change in tank due to dieoff. His next reading should reflect the dieoff, with ammonia spiking.

When I hear hobbiest say zero nitrate or zero phosphate, I cringe, because that is impossible. In addition to being impossible, there is an underlying belief that nutrients are bad in a reef tank. That could not be further from the truth.
Agreed, an invertebrate crash is the worst thing I can imagine for a reef tank. What you can see is only the tip of the iceberg. Condolences OP.

And yeah, I wish people could see the rates (and how) nutrients are being imported/exported in their systems to better understand how dynamic it is, and not try go overboard with removal. A "measured" value of close to 0 is just the perception of balance, and does not indicate health of a system (starving versus thriving), and I swear many end up on the starving side of things.


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Old 12/06/2017, 07:20 AM   #17
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Two things that I can think of, do you keep your magnet scraper in the water? As for your roommate, maybe she was spraying her hair while viewing your tank.


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Old 12/06/2017, 09:18 AM   #18
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Is it bad to keep the magnet scrapper in the water? That is what I have been doing. I also have one of those clips for alge


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Old 12/06/2017, 09:32 AM   #19
Moeshi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Subsea View Post
Consider oxygen deprivation. I had a 1500G extended system in which power was lost for a few hours during the night while I was away from home. My UPS system failed during utility power outage. Sandbeds & live rocks house large populations of bacteria that consume oxygen 24/7. All photosynthetic life forms including coral consume oxygen and give off co2, when lights are off.
There have been no power outages in the area, and both gyres and return pumps are on battery backup. It's my impression that the fish would have been affected too, if that was the case.

Quote:
Originally Posted by der_wille_zur_macht View Post
I would not expect an ammonia issue to be as selective as you're describing. I would also not expect an ammonia issue to result in no nitrogen spike (per your test results there was none).

I respect subsea's suggestion of oxygen depletion but I would also be surprised if that was so selective in terms of killing every invert but leaving all fish alive and well.

Metal is a likely cause. Or any other chemical that selectively targets inverts, ie medications, etc. Do you have any pets with flea collars? Any chance there could have been any pesticide in the house? Feeding of something that had medication or pesticide? Anything sprayed near the tank?
I keep no other pets in the apartment and neither does my room mate. Personally I don't use sprays and I generally try to live an existence free of chemicals, especially in my room. Both windows are always slightly open too, to keep the pH up and general air environment in my room fresh.

Ammonia is indeed starting to show on the tests, as a result of the die off.

Currently there has been no colour change on the poly-filter, but I will give it 24 hours and check back.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Subsea View Post
Yes, you are right. I speed read thru that detail.

The invertebrate that op named included everything below fish in the food chain. He said nothing about bacteria. I would expect bacteria populations to be decimated as well. Also, depending on when he took his sample, it would not reflect the progression of change in tank due to dieoff. His next reading should reflect the dieoff, with ammonia spiking.

When I hear hobbiest say zero nitrate or zero phosphate, I cringe, because that is impossible. In addition to being impossible, there is an underlying belief that nutrients are bad in a reef tank. That could not be further from the truth.
I expect bacteria to be wiped out as well, and the skimmer is definitely taking out more and more organics as the break down ramps.

To elaborate on nutrients in the system I can say that I feed (fed) 1-2 times everyday, consisting of micro-plankton, mysis and flake food. I have no doubt that there are tonnes of nutrients going about especially with the spawning of fish and inverts, a happy tang and sailfin blenny, and the now laid snails and crabs.
My salifert kits reads undetectable levels of NO3 and PO4. I try and keep nutrients readily available in the form of food, and remove it as it dissolves.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dendrite View Post
A heavy metal chance contaminant would likely cause a slow degradation in the tank as opposed to a sudden massive die off, this would include a small mass copper contaminant. A bacterial bloom causing hypoxia would leave its telltale cloudy water and slimy residue, as well as killing the more biologically active fish. It really sounds like some sort of poisoning affecting the invertebrates but fish sparing. What about some sort of pesticide, insecticide, that came in with the frozen food as a collection area contaminant?
As explained I don't use pesticides or insecticides myself. I don't know if the food is contaminated, but I will throw it out regardless. Considering pesticides in general however, I do live in a rural area with a lot of farmland, but those are all organic. Also that haven't been an issue in the past.

Quote:
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Agreed, an invertebrate crash is the worst thing I can imagine for a reef tank. What you can see is only the tip of the iceberg. Condolences OP.
Thank you.

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Originally Posted by oldhead View Post
Two things that I can think of, do you keep your magnet scraper in the water? As for your roommate, maybe she was spraying her hair while viewing your tank.
I use razor blades for scraping which I replace after use. I then use them for general construction.




Thank you all for your suggestions and ideas. I'm still waiting to see if the poly-filter will change colour. Does anyone know how long it usually takes?
There is no change in tank water, food items, or the blank negative control with RO/DI water.

My room mate denies being in contact with the tank lately.



Last edited by Moeshi; 12/06/2017 at 09:39 AM. Reason: Typos
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Old 12/06/2017, 01:29 PM   #20
der_wille_zur_macht
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Pet any cats or dogs lately?

Flea medication can wipe out inverts exactly as you've described.

I wouldn't rule out something being sprayed outside and coming in through the window, either. What about your apartment management? Would they be applying pesticide around the building?

Jekerry, the danger with keeping a magnet in the tank is if the magnet seal is damaged and the metal is exposed to rank water. That said, there have been lots of cases of people finding old rusty magnets in their system and no damage done. It probably depends on the type of magnet and any plating on it. Iron itself is definitely not dangerous in reasonable concentrations.


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Old 12/06/2017, 04:46 PM   #21
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Is it bad to keep the magnet scrapper in the water? That is what I have been doing. I also have one of those clips for alge


Yes, the magnet can rust and the clip may be ok if it doesn’t have a metal spring


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Old 12/07/2017, 07:00 AM   #22
Moeshi
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The results are in. After 24 hours, this is how the poly-filter looks:

25105440_10212362544312712_1129848120_n.jpg

The list goes: TANK, MYSIS, PANKTON, CONTROL (RO/DI)

Nothing is out of the ordinary it seems...


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Old 12/07/2017, 07:45 AM   #23
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I'd put a nanny cam on the tank. Any chance the apartment complex sprayed for bugs?


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Old 12/07/2017, 08:52 AM   #24
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Anybody use any form of insecticide in the house lately? Dusting for ants/ticks/bed buds? Spot spraying for roaches/ants in the kitchen? The sudden impact to inverts only makes me suspect this.


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Old 12/07/2017, 08:55 AM   #25
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Or you could classify that as a roommate cam.


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