wanted: tank cleaner

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Jan 23, 2008
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hi again all! i'm not sure if this is where i should post this question, or if it should be in tank set up, being that it is not a mechanical issue, i thought this would be best. i have a tank with 4 bobtail squids. i lost 3 in the past 36 hours due to bad water. i do alot of water changes (25% 5-7 times a week) with filtered water and have a pretty good filter/protien skimmer. so this morning i did a full water change and found that the problem is with my sand. it stunk, so i took the tank apart, scrubbed it with fresh water, and washed the sand. while i was sifting through the sand i found about 100 peices of shrimp. aparently the bobs aren't eating the heads and in some cases just killing the shrimp an burrying them. i use super fine powder like sand for the bobs to burrow in. what can i do about all these shrimp fragments? i would think that going in there every day and sifting through the sand would be very stressful to the bobs, and any filter that can pull shrimp parts out of the sand will also suck up the sand. i was thinking some sort of non-aggressive tankmate? something that would only eat the dead shrimp peices and not the live shrimp or my 2 baby pea sized bobs. something that would "dig" through the sand would be a plus, because the bobs seem to like to burry their uneaten peices. anyone have any ideas? your time and wisdom are much appreciated!
 

monty

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What's your tank history? I'm a worried that if you washed your sand and did too many water changes that your tank is likely to cycle again... do you have live rock? Did you have the tank cycled and stable before you put the bobs in originally?

I don't have time to look right now, but maybe there's information on the web or published in journals about keeping Euprymna scolopes in lab conditions, since they're frequently used as experimental animals (although often at places that are likely to have flow-through systems that use seawater directly), that would describe the best type of sand and ways to deal with habits of burying their garbage... I know they prefer to spend a lot of time buried, so it's not too shocking that they'd want to eat their shrimp under the sand and just leave the dishes there for someone else to deal with.

This might mention something about it: http://www.cephbase.utmb.edu/refdb/pdf/7724.pdf but I don't have time to read it now, and Woods Hole has flow-through systems, so they may not need to worry about cycling and other closed-system issues so much.
 
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As monty mentioned, please describe how long the tank has been setup and what is in it that can function as biological filtration such as live rock or bio media like bio balls or bale.

In terms of scavengers that may eat the left overs, small serpent stars may help. If they get too large, I may switch them out to smaller ones for they have been known to eat small fish. I know some people dont like brittle worms, but I have many in my system. They have been there for a long time and are actually very large. Any left over pieces of food will soon have a few of these worms on them in no time. Im unsure about bobtails, but if they are like cuttlefish, you can also have hermit crabs which are also good scavengers.

That being said, large shrimp pieces that accumulate daily may be beyond processable by basic filtration systems and feeders and may actually require physical removal. Perhaps you can feed less and they will eat them more to completion. Cuttlefish seem to leave tails and heads of shrimps lying around as well.
 
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I think the problem may actually be your substrate. Did it smell like rotten eggs? I know the Waikiki Aquarium has a flow through system with fresh filtered sea water in most of its exhibits.
 

gjbarord

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If you are having to do that many water changes then something is wrong with you filtration, whether it be biological or mechanical. I cannot imagine that the tank is able to hold much of the nitrifying bacteria necessary to keep water quality in check, performing that many water changes.

Why so many?

Greg
 
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i feed live shrimp which we go out and catch once a week. the shrimp water clouds almost as soon as i change it. (like i changed it last night at around 7:20 and this morning at 9:00 it's already cloudy.) since i don't see the point of giving clean water to my shrimp, i use the water from the bob's tank and give it to the shrimp, and then give the bobs the clean water. wedon't use any other type of filter because we do so many water changes. (overkill) i don't use live rock because we're afraid of hich-hikers. (with one of our previous tanks we ended up with something that kept hitting the tank at night, but never found out what it was. even after we took the tank apart. and my husband is afraid that we'll end up accidentally introducung a fire worm.) in regards to the tank history, we used real sand, washed in salt water, and filtered sea water from the DLNR. the tank sat for 1 week with the protien skimmer running. no chemicals were added. when we went tidepooling we had anticipated getting fish, but when we caught the bobs, we couldn't turn them down. (although we did catch a red lion fish, 2 flying gurnards and a baby flounder) they were doing fine for the first week and since i've cleaned the tank, the remaining bobs still look good. i think that if i solve this problem with the "leftovers" we'll be ok.
 
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what if i place a clear container (with sand and shrimp) into the tank to feed them in, and remove the container to clean it. would they be able to figure out to go in to the container to eat? would it stress them out too much when i kick them out to clean it? would they stay in the container to eat? does the process sound too stressful? we're going to the petshop either today or tomorrow, i'll ask the guy for tips on scavengers.
 

DWhatley

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LittleMarley,
Your aquarium setup is significantly different from the way many of us approach creating a saltwater environment. Most of us do not have the water access you use and have not tried to keep squid so suggestions are difficult and second guessing.

Without biological filtration, your water changes are probably not excessive or overkill and may not be enough to keep the water healthy since you must have a substrate for your wards (with fish you could keep a bare bottom tank that would not collect debris or contain live elements that will die off in a tank - rinsing the sand will not remove this concern, boiling it first might). I am not sure that a clean-up crew will resolve the substrate problems even without the natural biologics since they will digest the leftover shrimp but still eliminate it as waste (it will be processed some but it is still waste product that will build up toxins). A large cannister filter should help IF you stir the substrate regularly (so that the waste and toxins are available to the filtration unit AND your change out the filter regularly). Some aquarists supplement the biological process with hang-on filters and bio-wheels (I am not a fan of this type of filtration but others have had better experiences). An advantage to the overflow type filter is that it also promotes gas exchange and helps keep a higher oxygen content to your water (also a reason I suggest that you cannot over change the amount of water for this particular setup).

As an asside, the critter you heard banging on your tank at night was likely to have been a mantis shrimp, a critter that is considered highly undesireable in a reef tank but often kept as a pet in a species only tank.
 

Jean

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HOw long was the tank up and running before you added the sand etc (I may have missed this sorry) but as I read your message you had the tank running for 1 week to cycle it needds a minimum of 3 months! Cephs need super stable water chemistry as they produce way more waste than a similar sized fish! If I missed the info sorry......but tis better to be safe!!

Cheers

J
 

monty

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Jean;109835 said:
HOw long was the tank up and running before you added the sand etc (I may have missed this sorry) but as I read your message you had the tank running for 1 week to cycle it needds a minimum of 3 months! Cephs need super stable water chemistry as they produce way more waste than a similar sized fish! If I missed the info sorry......but tis better to be safe!!

Cheers

J

Actually, Jean (and other lucky people with pipes to the ocean!), I'd love to hear how things are different (and similar) in your flow-through open seawater systems from the closed, recirculating systems. Presumably, the cycling is rather different, because there's not a buildup of waste, as it's flushed, but I assume various bacteria and other "live filtration" organisms to colonize, and go through blooms and die-offs. You seem to imply that even if LittleMarley does very frequent water changes that there will be a "traditional" 3-month cycle (and I wonder if the frequent water changes are likely to slow the cycling, reduce the "swings" of cycling, induce mini-cycles, or what?)

Maybe all the serious reefers already know this stuff, but I have the impression that most of the stuff I've seen on the web is from closed-system tank-keepers, so it would certainly be interesting for me... maybe to complement the excellent descriptions of cycling closed systems that are around. I remember someone (I think DHyslop) put together a great description of cycling closed systems with graphs, but I can't find it right now... I'd love to see a comparison of what the differences are with flow-through systems, and how frequent water changes might impact this...
 

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