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Detective work: chain of events you won't believe

Posted 03/03/2014 at 11:04 AM by Sk8r

DETECTIVE WORK: chain reactions you'd never believe...
1. case one: fish turns up with red mark on side. Disease suspected.
A: possibly so, but in one case of this, the red mark was from a pistol shrimp. How detected? The wounded fish dens in burrows and low in the rocks at night. More than one fish turned up like this. Fatally so. Removing the pistol shrimp prevented further cases.

2. case two: another red mark, but no pistol present.
A: The offender turned out to be a rabbit in too small a tank. Ordinarily the rabbit is not aggressive, but when too small a tank---they start eliminating their tankmates, who manage to tick them off and corner them. Freaked-out rabbit = dead tankmate.

3. case three: red spot with hole in side.
A: Culprit: a tang, again, too small a tank. When fish are too crowded, they freak. The position of these wounds is usually dictated by a combination of the victim's usual posture in dodging, and the sidelong tail-swipe of the killer.

4. case four: everybody in the tank showing sudden irritability---water test reveals plummeting alkalinity. [This affects fish's skin and gills---as you would feel if you were swimming in water of a burning ph.]
A: What caused the alk to plummet? New addition to the tank was a very healthy 3-head stony coral. Prognosis: unchecked, fish would be susceptible to disease and the coral would close up and die. Cure: rebalance the water. When the coral hit the water, it started feeding---and that means it was sucking up all the calcium it could get. When calcium depletes, it affects two other situations: your magnesium level, and your alkalinity. These three exist in a balanced 'lock' in which, if you supplement calcium either with a calcium additive or kalk, the coral gets what it needs and does not take the water out of balance.

5. case five: related to case 4. Mostly fish, none doing well.
A: Alkalinity is the answer. The owner was concerned about ph, but not testing alk. This becomes very important in a marine tank. Ph shifts all the time, hour to hour, and you can go nuts trying to 'fix' it. Use it as an indicator of when to look at your alk, but alk is the Big Deal: test that at least weekly, and have a supplement to correct it. Hint, from case 4: no matter what kind of tank you have, fish-only, FOWLR or reef, learn that cal-alk-mg balance [420 cal, 8.3 alk, 1200 mg] balance and keep it---your fish will be happier.
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