FAQ section

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FAQ section

Postby Fugu » Tue Sep 06, 2005 8:28 pm

Do we have an FAQ section or topic yet?

1. What is Kalkwasser? and how do I dose it?
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By Robert M. Metelsky

EVAPORATION MAKE-UP WATER & KALKWASSER

Because the tank is exposed to air, and strong pumps are circulating the water throughout the filtering system (overflow pipes, drip plate, prefilter, and protein skimmer), you will get a significant amount of evaporation. In fact, the better your skimmer and the stronger your water pump (both desirable features), the more evaporation you will get. You will need to replace the evaporated water regularly. An important reminder for the new hobbyist is that the water evaporates, not the salt. Do not add salt mix with the make-up water. The result will be a higher salinity than is desirable.

Adding make-up water provides a good opportunity to replenish much-needed calcium, which gets depleted rapidly in an enclosed reef system. This vital element is used by virtually all living creatures. Some of it also gets removed by protein skimming. In my opinion the best calcium additive is “Kalkwasser,” which is calcium hydroxide. It is added on a regular basis by mixing it with the purified water being added to compensate for evaporation. These regular additions of calcium hydroxide also keep the pH elevated to the desired 8.2 to 8.4 level.

Kalkwasser is a German word. Literally, it means “lime water.” Kalkwasser is a trade name for calcium hydroxide. The terms “Kalkwasser,” “limewater,” and “calcium hydroxide” all mean the same thing in this hobby.

The water you use to replace what has evaporated will be called “make-up water.” It is extremely important to use purified tap water mixed with calcium hydroxide (a.k.a. Kalkwasser, a.k.a. limewater) for the make-up water! Do not, I repeat, do not, use regular tap water or anything else for make-up water! This is asking for trouble.

As I have stated from the beginning, nothing will ensure your success more than the quality of your water. Once you have made the investment of a water purifying system and have started the reef with purified tap water, the reef will be accustomed to that quality of water. It would be extremely foolish to try to cut corners here. This is the last place to skimp. In fact, it would be inviting disaster by possibly introducing impurities (metals, silicates, phosphates, etc.) that are harmful and troublesome (hard to remove) into the pristine environment that we have tried so hard to create.

When to add make-up water:

Add the Kalkwasser within a day after you mix it; it gradually loses effectiveness after it is mixed Watch the water in the sump! This is where you will see the change in water level. Once you have established the “working water level” in the sump, mark it on the side of the sump box, with magic marker. This will give a quick visual reference as to the height of water that is normally in the system. As evaporation occurs, watch this mark. When the level goes down by 3 to 5 gallons, or gets close to the top of the outlet for the pump, you need to add make-up water. Mix the water no more than one day before you add it to the tank; it starts to lose effectiveness right after it has been mixed. It will have the highest concentration of available calcium just after the sediment settles out of the solution.

On a smaller tank (even a 55-gallon), 5 gallons of high-powered make-up water must be used with caution! Kalkwasser has an extremely high pH. Pay close attention to the drip/dosing flow of water, to be certain that it is administered very slowly. For a 55-gallon tank, you should take a 48-hour period to administer 5 gallons of make-up water. Make sure you test-run your drip method, to be sure that it introduces the desired amount of make-up water over the correct period of time. Adding Kalkwasser too fast will cause pH shock, which can be fatal or, at the least, unnecessarily stressful to the livestock. Take the recommended precautions and do not let this happen!

On larger tanks, 125 gallons and up, 5 gallons of make-up water will not have as much of an effect as it will in smaller tanks. For a 125-gallon tank, the Kalkwasser can be added at the rate of approximately 5 gallons in 8 to 12 hours. In a 200-gallon or larger tank, the 5 gallons can be added without any clamping system, allowing the airline tube to empty the 5-gallon bucket unrestricted. This will take less than 1 hour.

Time of day to add:

Another suggestion is to add the Kalkwasser mix when the tank lights go out, or (ideally) first thing in the morning. While the lights are off, the pH drops, reaching its lowest level the next day just before the lights come back on. If you add the Kalkwasser during this reef “night,” the effect of raising the pH will not be as significant as it would be during lighted hours.

There may be some questions and concerns about adding 5 gallons of Kalkwasser all at once. Yes, some critics may be correct that adding smaller amounts more frequently would be a less risky, less stressful, and more natural approach. However, I have used my method on tanks from 55 to 200 gallons, with no adverse effects, and I have not lost one creature due to pH shock. You do have to be careful on smaller tanks, but once you get familiar with this system, I’m sure you will find it to be very practical: (1) you will add make-up water less frequently, and (2) on larger tanks (125 gallons and up), you can add 5 gallons of make-up water at a time, which is a significant, convenient, easily measurable amount of water to add.

Do not mix with an airstone; this will add carbon dioxide and oxygen, which will reduce the effectiveness of the calcium hydroxide and defeat its purpose!

Benefits of adding Kalkwasser:

You may be interested in why it is so important to add Kalkwasser. Some of the benefits are:

It adds calcium that is needed by most of the creatures in the reef.
It encourages the growth of pink and purple coralline algae.
It keeps the pH elevated. By adding Kalkwasser on a regular basis (make-up water) and doing water changes every 2 to 3 weeks, I have found my pH to be consistently between 8.2 and 8.4. Keeping the pH at this level makes it less likely that micro-algae will become a problem.
The reef just seems to love Kalkwasser.
There are many more scientific and chemical reactions that are beneficial. Take my word for it: adding Kalkwasser on a regular basis is one of the most beneficial procedures for maintaining a healthy reef and desirable water chemistry.

Add na lang to the list. Para sa mga neophytes or newbies.
Last edited by Fugu on Tue Sep 06, 2005 8:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Fugu » Tue Sep 06, 2005 8:35 pm

2. what are copepods?

Copepods are crustaceans. They are found almost everywhere where water is available and they constitute the biggest source of protein in the oceans. Most of the economically important fishes depend on copepods and even the whales in the northern hemisphere feed on them. Trillions of litte copepod guts produce countless fecal pellets contributing greatly to the marine snow and therefore accelerating the flow of nutrients and minerals from surface waters to the bottom of the seas. Taken from: http://www.uni-oldenburg.de/zoomorphology/Biology.html

Please add your own na lang for the newbies.
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Postby Fugu » Thu Sep 29, 2005 3:20 am

3. What salinity level is best for Reefs?

There are a variety of different ways to measure and report salinity, including conductivity probes, refractometers, and hydrometers. They typically report values for specific gravity (which is unitless) or salinity (in units of ppt or parts per thousand, roughly corresponding to the number of grams of dry salt in 1 kg of the water), although conductivity (in units of mS/cm, milliSiemens per centimeter) is sometimes used.

Somewhat surprisingly, aquarists do not always use units that naturally follow from their measurement technique (specific gravity for hydrometers, refractive index for refractometers, and conductivity for conductivity probes) but rather use the units interchangeably.

For reference, natural ocean water has a salinity of about 35 ppt, corresponding to a specific gravity of about 1.0264 and a conductivity of 53 mS/cm.

As far as I know, there is little real evidence that keeping a coral reef aquarium at anything other than natural levels is preferable. It appears to be common practice to keep marine fish, and in many cases reef aquaria, at somewhat lower than natural salinity levels. This practice stems, at least in part, from the belief that fish are less stressed at reduced salinity. Substantial misunderstandings also arise among aquarists as to how specific gravity really relates to salinity, especially considering temperature effects.

Ron Shimek has discussed salinity on natural reefs in a previous article. His recommendation, and mine as well, is to maintain salinity at a natural level. If the organisms in the aquarium are from brackish environments with lower salinity, or from the Red Sea with higher salinity, selecting something other than 35 ppt may make good sense. Otherwise, I suggest targeting a salinity of 35 ppt (specific gravity = 1.0264; conductivity = 53 mS/cm). Taken from : http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2004-05/rhf/index.php
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Postby Fugu » Thu Sep 29, 2005 3:24 am

4. What is Alkalinity?

Like calcium, many corals also use "alkalinity" to form their skeletons, which are composed primarily of calcium carbonate. It is generally believed that corals take up bicarbonate, convert it into carbonate, and then use that carbonate to form calcium carbonate skeletons. That conversion process is shown as:

HCO3- à CO3-- + H+

Bicarbonate à Carbonate + acid

To ensure that corals have an adequate supply of bicarbonate for calcification, aquarists could very well just measure bicarbonate directly. Designing a test kit for bicarbonate, however, is somewhat more complicated than for alkalinity. Consequently, the use of alkalinity as a surrogate measure for bicarbonate is deeply entrenched in the reef aquarium hobby.

So, what is alkalinity? Alkalinity in a marine aquarium is simply a measure of the amount of acid (H+) required to reduce the pH to about 4.5, where all bicarbonate is converted into carbonic acid as follows:

HCO3- + H+ à H2CO3

In normal seawater or marine aquarium water, the bicarbonate greatly dominates all other ions that contribute to alkalinity, so knowing the amount of H+ needed to reduce the pH to 4.5 is akin to knowing how much bicarbonate is present. Aquarists have therefore found it convenient to use alkalinity as a surrogate measure for bicarbonate.

One important caveat to this surrogate measure is that some artificial seawater mixes, such as Seachem salt, contain elevated concentrations of borate. While borate is natural at low levels, and does contribute to pH stability, too much interferes with the normal relationship between bicarbonate and alkalinity, and aquaria using those mixes must take this difference into account when determining the appropriate alkalinity level.

Unlike the calcium concentration, it is widely believed that certain organisms calcify more quickly at alkalinity levels higher than those in normal seawater. This result has also been demonstrated in the scientific literature, which has shown that adding bicarbonate to seawater increases the rate of calcification in Porites porites.4 In this case, doubling the bicarbonate concentration resulted in a doubling of the calcification rate. Uptake of bicarbonate can apparently become rate limiting in many corals.5 This may be partly due to the fact that both photosynthesis and calcification are competing for bicarbonate, and that the external bicarbonate concentration is not large to begin with (relative to, for example, the calcium concentration).

For these reasons, alkalinity maintenance is a critical aspect of coral reef aquarium husbandry. In the absence of supplementation, alkalinity will rapidly drop as corals use up much of what is present in seawater. Most reef aquarists try to maintain alkalinity at levels at or slightly above those of normal seawater, although exactly what levels different aquarists target depend a bit on the goals of their aquaria. Those wanting the most rapid skeletal growth, for example, often push alkalinity to higher levels. I suggest that aquarists maintain alkalinity between about 2.5 and 4 meq/L (7-11 dKH, 125-200 ppm CaCO3 equivalents), although higher levels are acceptable as long as they do not depress the calcium level.

Alkalinity levels above those in natural seawater increase the abiotic (nonbiological) precipitation of calcium carbonate on objects such as heaters and pump impellers. This precipitation not only wastes calcium and alkalinity that aquarists are carefully adding, but it also increases equipment maintenance requirements. When elevated alkalinity is driving this precipitation, it can also depress the calcium level. A raised alkalinity level can therefore create undesirable consequences.

I suggest that aquarists use a balanced calcium and alkalinity additive system of some sort for routine maintenance. The most popular of these balanced methods include limewater (kalkwasser), calcium carbonate/carbon dioxide reactors, and the two-part additive systems.

For rapid alkalinity corrections, aquarists can simply use baking soda or washing soda to good effect.
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Postby Fugu » Thu Sep 29, 2005 3:27 am

5. What is Calcium used for in reef systems?

Many corals use calcium to form their skeletons, which are composed primarily of calcium carbonate. The corals get most of the calcium for this process from the water surrounding them. Consequently, calcium often becomes depleted in aquaria housing rapidly growing corals, calcareous red algae, Tridacnids and Halimeda. As the calcium level drops below 360 ppm, it becomes progressively more difficult for the corals to collect enough calcium, thus stunting their growth.

Maintaining the calcium level is one of the most important aspects of coral reef aquarium husbandry. Most reef aquarists try to maintain approximately natural levels of calcium in their aquaria (~420 ppm). It does not appear that boosting the calcium concentration above natural levels enhances calcification (i.e., skeletal growth) in most corals. Experiments on Stylophora pistillata, for example, show that low calcium levels limit calcification, but that levels above about 360 ppm do not increase calcification.3 Exactly why this happens was detailed in a previous article on the molecular mechanisms of calcification in corals.

For these reasons, I suggest that aquarists maintain a calcium level between about 380 and 450 ppm. I also suggest using a balanced calcium and alkalinity additive system for routine maintenance. The most popular of these balanced methods include limewater (kalkwasser), calcium carbonate/carbon dioxide reactors, and the two-part additive systems.

If calcium is depleted and needs to be raised significantly, however, such a balanced additive is not a good choice since it will raise alkalinity too much. In that case, adding calcium chloride is a good method for raising calcium.
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Postby Fugu » Sat Nov 19, 2005 10:01 pm

6. What is marine ich and how to treat ich, part 1.

By Steven Pro. Part 2 can be found here: http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-10/s ... /index.php

Marine Ich, an infestation of Cryptocaryon irritans, is one of the two most common afflictions of saltwater fish; the other being Marine Velvet caused by Amyloodinium sp. (Michael, 2002 and Joshi, 2003). In this two-part series, I will explain some of the biology of this ciliated parasite and discuss the multitude of treatments, remedies, cures, and elixirs that have been put forth to save your fish and sometimes empty your wallet. My hope is to help you wade through the copious and often erroneous anecdote to find an effective treatment that best suits your particular needs and that of your fishes.

Before you can decide on a treatment, you need to be fairly certain what is the infectious agent of the fish. Some of the signs of infection with Cryptocaryon irritans are rubbing or scratching against decorations or substrate (this behavior is also known as glancing or flashing), breathing problems, an increased mucous layer, loss of appetite, abnormal swimming behavior, frayed fins, cloudy eyes, and, of course, the telltale white spots. These characteristic spots are usually described as appearing like small grains of salt stuck to the body of the fish. Even in the presence of all of these external signs, the best diagnostic tool is microscopic examination of fresh fin or gill clippings or skin scrapings. But, realistically, an extremely small number of us are ever going to perform this kind of differential diagnosis, myself included.

This disease is usually associated with several environmental triggers. Changes in water temperature, exposure to high levels of ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate, low pH levels, low dissolved oxygen, and overcrowding are all factors contributing to the onset of the disease. You could lump all of these in a general category of stress, but I find it more appropriate to think of all of these as wholly unnatural conditions. In fact, Cryptocaryon irritans is rare in the wild, and even more unlikely to be lethal (Bunkley-Williams & Williams, 1994). Ich is truly a disease that exploits the conditions of captivity to reproduce and easily find suitable hosts.

Host Susceptibility:
Cryptocaryon irritans has demonstrated a very low level of host specificity, meaning it will infect just about any teleost fish in a tropical marine environment. Cartilaginous fishes (sharks and rays) appear resistant, but everything else is susceptible to infection (Colorni & Burgess, 1997). It has even been proven to infect various species of freshwater fish that were acclimated to saltwater, as well as temperate marine fish that were kept at the upper limit of their thermal range (Yoshinaga & Dickerson, 1994; Burgess & Matthews, 1995).

Even though they are all possible hosts, experience has shown that there are definitely certain fish groups with higher and lower degrees of susceptibility. At one end of the spectrum are the eels that have shown a general resistance to Cryptocaryon irritans. On the opposite side are the surgeonfishes, with the Blue Regal/Hippo Tang (Paracanthurus hepatus) the "crowned king of Ich." I have dealt with literally hundreds of these fish, and I could probably count on one hand the number of Blue Regal Tangs that appeared to be completely free of infection. I would also place the cowfish, boxfish, and pufferfish fairly high on the susceptibility list. Generally, everything else falls somewhere in the middle.

Biology:

The lifecycle of the parasite is interesting and important to understand when evaluating a treatment. The stage where the parasite is attached to a fish is called a trophont. The trophont will spend three to seven days (depending on temperature) feeding on the fish. After that, the trophont leaves the fish and becomes what is called a protomont. This protomont travels to the substrate and begins to crawl around for usually two to eight hours, but it could go for as long as eighteen hours after it leaves it's fish host. Once the protomont attaches to a surface, it begins to encyst and is now called a tomont. Division inside the cyst into hundreds of daughter parasites, called tomites, begins shortly thereafter. This noninfectious stage can last anywhere from three to twenty-eight days. During this extended period, the parasite cyst is lying in wait for a host. After this period, the tomites hatch and begin swimming around, looking for a fish host. At this point, they are called theronts, and they must find a host within twenty-four hours or die. They prefer to seek out the skin and gill tissue, then transform into trophonts, and begin the process all over again (Colorni & Burgess, 1997).

Many hobbyists are fooled into believing they have cured their fish of the parasites, only to find Ich present again on fish a few weeks later; a reason why following through with a full treatment protocol is so important. Don't make this mistake and be lulled into a false sense of security. The parasites may be in a stage where they are merely regrouping and multiplying for their "next offensive." In the wild, this sort of massive reproductive phase ensures that a few will find a suitable host to continue on the cycle. In the close confines of our aquariums, though, it means comparatively massive infection rates.

There is another interesting observation I found in my investigations concerning the biology of Cryptocaryon irritans. Mature trophonts leave the host and tomites exit the theront/cyst in the dark (Yoshinaga & Dickerson, 1994). Imagine if you will, a fish that randomly acquires a single Ich parasite. After a couple of days when the trophont is well fed, it prepares to drop off its host but waits for the environmental trigger of darkness. Meanwhile, the fish prepares to "bed down" in its favorite hiding spot in the aquarium; the same fish occupy the same spot practically every night. Now, the trophont leaves the fish, encysts, and begins to multiply. Several days to weeks go by and that same fish returns to its same spot at night, only this time there are hundreds of infectious theronts seeking out a host/victim in the same area. I am sure some of you are thinking that this is absolutely diabolical. Others can appreciate the simple beauty of this plan. To me, it is just another reminder of how remarkable evolution and adaptation is.

Given all of this "planning," it seemed strange to me to read that not all the theronts will be able to find a host. Actually, given ideal laboratory conditions, only between five and twenty percent succeed, but that still adds up to an awful lot of parasites. Given this kind of infection rate and the rate of reproduction, the total number of parasites can increase approximately ten times every week (Colorni & Burgess, 1997).

Concerning taxonomy, Cryptocaryon is currently still a monotypic genus (meaning there is only one species in this genus). Although, there is research to suggest that there may actually be several distinct species. There are at least various isolates from different geographic regions; even if their differences are not substantial enough to warrant designating separate species (Colorni & Burgess, 1997). I, and several of my friends in the business, can testify that there are marked increases in Cryptocaryon irritans outbreaks and mortalities when mixing fish from the Caribbean with those of the Indo-Pacific. It is possible that this higher incidence in problems could be the result of fish that have evolved a limited immunity against their native variety coming into contact with an unfamiliar strain of parasite.

Preventative Medicine:

The best course of treatment is prevention. All new fish should be quarantined for at least one full month. This helps ensure that the fish are healthy, but it also gives them time to get over any shipping trauma, to get used to a new diet, and to put on weight after withstanding often insubstantial feedings at retailers, wholesalers, and collecting stations. Best of all, this will occur in a competition-free environment.

I have found the best quarantine/hospital tanks to be bare bottomed (no crushed coral or sand) and decorated with inert, nonporous, and "easy-to-clean-and-sanitize" items. Short sections of various diameter PVC pipe work very well for shelter. Live rock does not meet these criteria and therefore I do not recommended its use. It is best to not use any calcareous materials as they will absorb and interfere with some medications.

There is also another possible benefit to using all of these smooth, artificial materials in your quarantine tank. In studying outbreaks of Cryptocaryon irritans in Brown Spotted Grouper (Epinephelus tauvina) at an aquaculture station, Rasheed (1989) found that fish kept in concrete vessels routinely fell victim to Ich while those kept at the same facility with identical care, but in fiberglass containers suffered absolutely no infestations. She theorized that the cyst stage of the parasite found the smooth sides of the fiberglass tanks inhospitable. While not proven, it is very interesting and definitely something to keep in mind. At the very least, this type of setup is extremely easy to clean and disinfect if necessary.

I prefer to filter the tank with sponge filters. I usually have one running but tucked away in the sump of my display tank. This way, I can keep the quarantine tank empty and packed away in the garage when it is not needed. Some people may be concerned about the sponge filter acting as a so-called "nitrate factory", but the amount of nitrate produced from a comparatively small sponge filter should be negligible. When I do need to use the quarantine tank, I merely drain some water out of the display tank into the quarantine tank, add the sponge filter and a heater (I generally target 80°- 82°F to speed up the life cycle of any parasites), and it is ready. You may also want to include a powerhead into the quarantine setup for fish that require brisk water movement. The entire setup process should take less than an hour and save the electricity and space of maintaining the quarantine tank continuously. Also, keeping the quarantine tank empty spares the temptation of turning it into a full-blown reef or fish tank!

If you do not have a sump on your display tank, a hang-on type filter, such as those with "bio-wheels," work well. Keep the bio-wheel running on the display tank and move it to the quarantine tank when needed. The only precaution is to remove the activated carbon filter cartridge when using any medications.

It is my strong preference and my general recommendation to never add any medications to a display tank. In my experience, it is always better to remove all the affected fish to a separate quarantine/hospital tank for treatment. This ensures that none of the display tank's other inhabitants such as corals, bacteria, worms, amphipods, copepods, or mysid shrimp are affected. Also, if you keep the fish in quarantine for one month without infection, you can be sure that any Ich parasites and their eggs have hatched and died without a host. Note that Cryptocaryon irritans requires a fish host. They cannot complete their life cycle with the rock, sand, or any invertebrates.

Some people draw a distinction between quarantine tanks and hospital tanks, with hospital tanks being designed like I have described above, and quarantine tanks much more like displays lacking other fish. I don't draw this distinction and choose to quarantine all my fish using the means described above. The theory is that fish kept in a more natural setting will be under less stress, and therefore more likely to resist disease. In the event a fish does come down with a disease, it is transferred to a bare-bottom tank for treatment. While this may have some merit, I cannot be bothered running two tanks just for temporarily holding fish.

Treatment Option 1 - Copper:

Copper is a highly effective medication against Cryptocaryon irritans when dosed and maintained in the proper concentration. The references I found varied in their recommended dosage:

Andrews et al, 1988: 0.15-0.30 mg/l
Bassleer, 1996: 0.25-0.30 mg/l
Gratzek et al, 1992: 0.115-0.18 mg/l
Noga, 2000: 0.15-0.20 mg/l
Untergasser, 1989: 0.15-0.20 mg/l*
*(recommends to be used with Methylene Blue)


I am going to abbreviate my advice and simply suggest to: "Always follow the directions of the manufacturer of whichever brand of copper medication you employ, and always use a test kit to verify the dosages." Copper has a narrow range of effectiveness and levels must be monitored at least daily.

Copper has several disadvantages in treating Ich. First, at too low a dosage, it is ineffective. Secondly, at too high a dosage, it could kill all your fish. Daily, or better yet twice daily, testing is required to maintain an appropriate and consistent level of copper. Even when within the appropriate ranges, some fish cannot tolerate copper. Some of the fish more sensitive to copper are lionfish, pufferfish, mandarins, blennies, and any other scaleless fish. Copper is also a known immunosuppressive, making fish more susceptible to secondary infections. Invertebrates are extremely sensitive to copper and cannot be housed in a tank undergoing this treatment. Lastly, copper cannot be used in the presence of any calcareous media. Live rock, sand, crushed coral, and dead coral skeletons will all adsorb copper, rendering it useless a treatment.

Copper specifically targets the infectious, free-swimming theront stage of this disease, as being buried deep in the skin of the host protects the trophonts; the cyst walls of the tomonts are similarly impervious (Colorni & Burgess, 1997). Knowing this and the life cycle of Cryptocaryon irritans, monitoring and dosing as needed in the evening right before the lights go out is going to be the most effective method. This should ensure optimal treatment concentrations at the most beneficial time.

Copper is probably the most popular method of treating Cryptocaryon irritans, but is not my first choice. It is far too labor intensive for me to recommend to the general public, has a large risk of overdose, lowers the fish's resistance to other diseases, and can cause serious damage to the kidney, liver, and beneficial intestinal flora of the fish being treated. Damage to intestinal flora is what many hobbyists point to as a possible contributing cause for Head and Lateral Line Erosion (HLLE), although there is currently no definitive cause of HLLE.

Treatment Option 2 - Formalin:

Formalin can be administered one of two ways; either in short dips with saltwater or used continually in a hospital tank. The dosage for the continuous use is 1 ml of the 37% stock solution for every 25 gallons of quarantine tank water (Bassleer, 1996). I prefer the formalin dip to continuous use because formalin is a fairly toxic compound. Also, with no commercially available test kits to monitor the concentration, it would be difficult to dose an entire tank and account for evaporation, absorption, etc.

To prepare the dip, I take 5 gallons of tank water and add to it 3.75 ml of 37% formalin. I also aerate the water vigorously to ensure there is maximum dissolved oxygen. The dip should last 30 to 60 minutes. As when using any medication, it is best to monitor the fish's reaction and be prepared to act if it appears in distress. When the dip is complete, net the fish, place it back into the hospital tank, and discard the dip water. This protocol should be repeated every other day for two weeks.

I would like to remind readers of a few precautions regarding the use of formalin. First, it is a carcinogen. Formalin is an aqueous solution of carcinogenic formaldehyde gas, so gloves should be worn and the area should be well ventilated when using it. Secondly, formalin should not be used if fish have open sores, wounds, or lesions. It is likely to cause tissue damage to these open wounds. And lastly, formalin can rob the water of dissolved oxygen. That is why proper aeration is so crucial. For that reason, do not use formalin if the water temperature is 82*F or higher (Noga, 2000 and Michael, 2002).

Treatment Option 3 - Copper & Formalin:

It is possible and sometimes preferable, like in the case of heavy infestations of Cryptocaryon irritans and Amyloodinium sp., to use copper in conjunction with Formalin in a quarantine/hospital tank. The same warnings about sensitive fish still apply. If a fish is sensitive to either copper or Formalin, they are not safely exposed to the combined protocol. At this point, it is "cure or kill." You will either cure your fish or kill it from poisoning. It is the most aggressive and dangerous treatment described in this article.

Treatment Option 4 - Hyposalinity:
Low salinity has been demonstrated to be an effective treatment against Cryptocaryon irritans (Noga, 2000). A salt level of 16 ppt or approximately 1.009-1.010 specific gravity at 78-80*F for 14 days was reported to kill the parasite. I have never experienced problems when placing fish into a hyposalinity treatment, but have routinely witnessed fish showing obvious signs of distress when brought back to normal salinity levels too quickly. For that reason, I try to limit the specific gravity increase 0.001-0.002 points per day.

One of the alleged benefits of this treatment is the resulting conservation of energy for the affected fish. Reef fish have to constantly drink saltwater and excrete the salt to maintain the proper osmotic balance. Lowering the salinity of the surrounding environment eases this energy demand on the sick fish, thereby allowing them to expend more energy towards fighting the infection (Kollman, 1998 and Bartelme, 2001). On the contrary, keeping fish in low salinity means that they don't "flush" their kidneys sufficiently. After long-term exposure, this can cause kidney failure and kill the fish (Shimek, pers. comm..)

The drawbacks to this treatment are the same as for many of the treatment options discussed above. Invertebrates and certain fish will not be able to tolerate it, so you should not apply a hyposalinity treatment in a display tank. Sharks and rays are two fish groups that do not tolerate this procedure. I would also not recommend this approach in the presence of live rock or live sand. The hyposalinity treatment will likely kill the worms, crustaceans, mollusks, and other life in and on the substrate, causing a severe drop in overall water quality.

I have another word of caution when using this treatment. I would strongly suggest the use of a refractometer or perhaps a salinity monitor. Swing arm style box hydrometers are notoriously inaccurate. The glass, floating style hydrometers are better, but easily broken. An accurate measure of the salinity could mean the difference between being inside the effective treatment range or being too high and ineffective or too low and jeopardizing your fish.

Even given its few drawbacks, hyposalinity is a great method of curing infected fish of ich in a proper hospital tank. Of the treatment options discussed this far, in my opinion, it is by far the safest. While none of these options is appropriate for use in a display tank, and all have their drawbacks, weighing the pros and cons of each leads me to recommend hyposalinity above the others.

Treatment Option 5 - Daily Water Changes:

John Walsh related this method in a presentation given to the Pittsburgh Marine Aquarium Society, Inc. It is safe and effective for all marine fish (Colorni, 1985) and is my preferred first course of action. Fish are put into a quarantine/hospital tank and then everyday for two weeks the tank is completely cleaned and a 50% water change is performed. While the size of this water change may concern some aquarists who are not accustomed to water changes of this magnitude, as long as you are careful about matching the temperature and salinity, you should not experience any problems. This method helps to remove the tomites, tomonts, and theronts from the tank and lessens the chance of reinfection. The fish should remain in quarantine for an additional month to ensure the treatment has worked and to allow them time to gain strength.

This method is best used as a preventative when a fish is first acquired. It is also useful for mild infestations or when other more aggressive treatments cannot be used due to species sensitivity. The best thing about this kind of treatment is it is safe for all fishes and invertebrates. One of the other benefits is the daily water changes should help you maintain optimum water quality and therefore should stimulate the fish's immune system to combat any secondary bacterial infections that might be attacking the vulnerable areas where the Cryptocaryon irritans parasites have burrowed into the skin. This is in contrast to copper or Formalin, which are both immunosuppressive, and may actually promote secondary infection.

Variations of this method (and the likely source for the original idea for the treatment) have been suggested and used successfully by Colorni (Colorni, 1987 and Colorni & Burgess, 1997). They involve moving the infected fish between two tanks with the tanks being cleaned and dried in between uses or removing a sand substrate and replacing with new sand every three days. I don't like the idea of handling a sick fish that much using the tank transfer method. While fishnets are designed to be soft and supple, it can still be dragged across the fish's eye. I have found the more you have to manipulate a fish, the more likely it is to contract a secondary bacterial infection like pop-eye or cloudy eyes. The substrate removal method is interesting. The sand is supposed to be an ideal media for attracting the encysting parasites. Removing the sand every three days removes the tomonts with it. Utilizing aragonite sand for this purpose is expensive (unless you happen to live somewhere that Southdown sand is readily available) and very messy. Silica sand is widely available, cheap, and will create slightly less cloudy water, but it is still not as clean and easy as the water change method. I have found the water change protocol to be just as effective and considerably more practical than either of Colorni's methods.

Hopefully, I have provided information about some of the biological characteristics of this parasite and clear instructions on the most common cures. In the second part of this series, I hope to discuss some of the newer and/or more experimental treatments that have been proposed or recently appeared in the aquarium marketplace. Please keep in mind the life cycle and accepted cures for this disease in the context of discussing the second group of treatments in part two of this series. In many cases it is difficult to separate an allegedly observed "cure" from simple variations in individuals' natural immunity.


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Re:

Postby e_donsan3 » Thu Nov 22, 2012 11:55 am

Fugu wrote:2. what are copepods?

Copepods are crustaceans. They are found almost everywhere where water is available and they constitute the biggest source of protein in the oceans. Most of the economically important fishes depend on copepods and even the whales in the northern hemisphere feed on them. Trillions of litte copepod guts produce countless fecal pellets contributing greatly to the marine snow and therefore accelerating the flow of nutrients and minerals from surface waters to the bottom of the seas. Taken from: http://www.uni-oldenburg.de/zoomorphology/Biology.html

Please add your own na lang for the newbies.


Sir correct me if im wrong.. Newbie ako dito and just recently i started mag open to FOWLR and just yesterday when all my livestock excluding my corrals ... died. ang buhay na lang is yung aking gonosporia something ( im not sure of the corral's name) anyway after pulling out all the dead fishes i noticed a growith of very very tiny things that swims like a baby shrimp. Most of them clings on the walls of the tank and sponges... actually parang kinakain nila yung sponges ko.. is this what you call the Copepods ? if so, are they harmful to fishes and corals ? what medication should i use. thanks
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Re: Re:

Postby kenn » Sun Nov 25, 2012 12:25 am

e_donsan3 wrote:
Fugu wrote:2. what are copepods?

Copepods are crustaceans. They are found almost everywhere where water is available and they constitute the biggest source of protein in the oceans. Most of the economically important fishes depend on copepods and even the whales in the northern hemisphere feed on them. Trillions of litte copepod guts produce countless fecal pellets contributing greatly to the marine snow and therefore accelerating the flow of nutrients and minerals from surface waters to the bottom of the seas. Taken from: http://www.uni-oldenburg.de/zoomorphology/Biology.html

Please add your own na lang for the newbies.


Sir correct me if im wrong.. Newbie ako dito and just recently i started mag open to FOWLR and just yesterday when all my livestock excluding my corrals ... died. ang buhay na lang is yung aking gonosporia something ( im not sure of the corral's name) anyway after pulling out all the dead fishes i noticed a growith of very very tiny things that swims like a baby shrimp. Most of them clings on the walls of the tank and sponges... actually parang kinakain nila yung sponges ko.. is this what you call the Copepods ? if so, are they harmful to fishes and corals ? what medication should i use. thanks


copepods are beneficial for your tank bro. tehy serve as foods for the fishes. no need to eliminate them
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Re: FAQ section

Postby engrchun » Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:00 pm

additives:

I have FOWLR tank and an anemone.
i dont know what category does anemone belong.
but what additives do i have to put in my tank for the anemone to bloom well?
so with my fish in my tank, they dont seem as colorful as those in natural sea.
according to the local fish store, i have to put calcium iodine and strontium?
what else do i need to put?
Thank you.
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Re: FAQ section

Postby thurrmac » Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:15 pm

engrchun wrote:additives:

I have FOWLR tank and an anemone.
i dont know what category does anemone belong.
but what additives do i have to put in my tank for the anemone to bloom well?
so with my fish in my tank, they dont seem as colorful as those in natural sea.
according to the local fish store, i have to put calcium iodine and strontium?
what else do i need to put?
Thank you.


for anemones upgrade your lighting to leds and target feed...
what kind of fishes do you have???
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Re: FAQ section

Postby engrchun » Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:44 pm

whats target feed sir?
i have clown nemo, skunk, maroon, african. i have regal, domino damsel, yellow belly.
will calcium, strontium and iodide enhance their color as well?
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Re: FAQ section

Postby thurrmac » Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:57 pm

engrchun wrote:whats target feed sir?
i have clown nemo, skunk, maroon, african. i have regal, domino damsel, yellow belly.
will calcium, strontium and iodide enhance their color as well?

feed vitamin enriched flakes/pellets inquire with aquariatech or ritchie...
target feed meaning direkta mong pakainin with shrimps or bits
of fish meat... strontium is for LPS, calcium is for corallites building
corals and coralline algaes... iodine is for soft corals...
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Re: FAQ section

Postby engrchun » Tue Feb 26, 2013 2:01 pm

im feeding them sera marine granules and shrimps for anemone target feeding atleast once a week but poor performance.
so its advisable to add calcium strontium and iodine also even FOWLR only?
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Re: FAQ section

Postby thurrmac » Tue Feb 26, 2013 2:12 pm

engrchun wrote:im feeding them sera marine granules and shrimps for anemone target feeding atleast once a week but poor performance.
so its advisable to add calcium strontium and iodine also even FOWLR only?


i dont see point of dosing these in fowlr... if you want to grow
coralline algae you may dose calcium... as for stro and iod i doubt
if there a need to dose... ano ilaw mo???
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Re: FAQ section

Postby engrchun » Tue Mar 12, 2013 8:30 pm

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