• Looking to buy a cephalopod? Check out Tomh's Cephs Forum, and this post in particular shares important info about our policies as it relates to responsible ceph-keeping.



Aug 24, 2004
Hi everyone, I hope that someone here can help me with my problem.
I have a small 39Gal saltwater tank with and under gravel filtration system being powered by 2 802 power heads and a hot filter that I have modified to use both a sponge and a carbon filter media bag. I made the modification because after one of my maintenance 20% water changes disaster struck. The first to die was my Cleaner shrimp, then my fire angel; raccoon butterfly 3rd and bicolor 4th. I had noticed a few days after the maintenance cleaning (before everything started to die) that the water began to get cloudy. It was like a very fine mist almost like a white fog, began to form in the tank and an ick outbreak attacked my poor hippo tang. I began treating the water for ick, and added a copper remover to try and save my feather dusters. About a week later my feather dusters had dusted their last and the hippo tang had one fin in the toilet. My SW aquarium had been thoroughly established because it had belonged to a friend of mine that had it for about a year. I did not clean out the tank upon getting it, we left all the old rock and everything the way it was and just partially emptied it out and hand carried it into my house from his. I have done allot of research and have read quite a few articles that suggest that I should get a protein skimmer. I have since purchased some more hardy fish by way of a tomato clown and Ocellaris Clownfish that grew up together in another friends tank and get along rather well and accept the hippo tang that has come back from the dead and a teardrop butterfly all are relatively young so there is plenty of room and they do not pick at each other actually they all sleep or what I guess would be sleep for fish in the same part of the tank between two ocean rocks that are in the tank. Now that I have told my fish story I will get down to brass tax. Do I need to get a skimmer and if so are there any suggestions for someone on a limited budget and can anyone tell me what this fog is? I have checked all my copper, and ammonia levels and they are great any ideas? Thank you all for sticking with me.

:bugout: :bonk: :bugout: :bonk: :bugout: :bonk: :bugout: :bonk:
Well, welcome to the "crash" club! that little white mist that overtook your tank is usually do to a major instability in calcium and silicates...it can happen overnight...(I watched it happen once in a lfs...it took less than thirty minutes, every tank turned white)...this is what is generally referred to as a "crash"...
You are lucky anything at all lived...most people lose all of their stock. You just have to start over, and remember to age your water that you use for a water change...let it sit for at least two days prior to a water change...gives it a chance to boil off any nast chems in there!
Hopefully, it'll never happen again!
Thank you for your quick reply, can you please explain in a little more detail for me. I am new to SW tanks so I am not clear on what you mean by let sit so it can boil off and the stuff that has it turning white and please tell me I can do something about it because it is still happening. thank you very much

If you can, get everything you want alive out of the tank...get rid of the water...call a lfs or a friend with a tank and see if they can take care of your stock for a few days while you get it all sorted out...you want to do that first of all...
You are going to need to do a complete water change, and monitor the tank for a while prior to reintroducing the animals...but the priority is to get everything out and into another cycled tank (s)....
Whoops ! Delete that bit! I read your post too fast...sorry...I thought you meant that the water was still white...if it is clear now, don't worry about moving stuff....
The water is still turning white. As for a friend with a salt water tank, there are none. The guy I got my tank from was the last person I knew with a tank. Is there anything I can do with my fish in it that will help clear up this problem and what did I do to make this happen? I am so lost and confused.... :bugout: :bugout: Please please please help me figure this out.

It isn't a question of "doing " anything wrong...your best bet is to contact a local salt store, and ask if you can store your fish there for a while...if they say no, you might want to consider putting the animals into a bucket (s) , draining the tank, and refilling it with aged (cylced) water from the lfs...most stores will sell water.
This is one of the biggest reasons to have a quarantine tank...even if it is a 15 or 20 gallon thing...someplace for emergencies!
Most likely, when you did your 20 percent water change, you added something to the system that caused a collapse of the waters integrity...calcium is the most common cause of a crash, but silicates, formaldehyde, chlorine, and organic matter can do the same thing...safest bet is to let your new water stand for a couple of days, or just buy water from a lfs...
I know you are probably somewhat panicked right now, but the only thing to do is to change out the water if it is still white...if it is just "kind of" cloudy , and the fish seem to be breathing normally, you might want to just overfilter (put on another with some fresh carbon or chemi-pure) and see what develops...a truly "crashed" tank looks like it is filled with seltzer water, or skim milk...hope that isn't the case!
Out here, they put in different chemicals in the tap water several times a month, to disinfect lines, etc...probably would be a good idea to use r.o. water or bottled for water changes, so as to avoid the scenario that you have gone through...I know it is no fun...been there, done that. :cry:

Shop Amazon

Shop Amazon
Shop Amazon; support TONMO!
Shop Amazon
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites.