Advice needed

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Hi Fellow Reefers,
I have a problem which I am trying to solve and wondered if any of you reading this had come across the same problem. Just a brief overview so I don’t get a squillion questions identifying my system’s parameters, equipment etc;
I own a 600 litre reef system, with sump using a deep sand bed filtration principle including an algae scrubber. The system also has a skimmer, UV, phosphate reactor, auto top up, dosing units, wave makers. The main reef is open top and has no artificial lighting.
Stock including; Regal Tang, Yellow Tang, pair of common clowns, iridis wrasse, bicolour goatfish, lunula butterfly, coral beauty, scarlet hawkfish, lots of hermit crabs, astrea snails, a tuxedo urchin,
2 cleaner shrimps. Acropora corals various, montipora digitate, montipora plating various, variety of soft corals.
Ok, so problem occurred about 12months ago, I bought three fish from a regional dealer with a very good reputation, although through the grape vine there are some disagreements with this. Three days after their introduction into the reef they became diseased and quickly died, unfortunately this also had a devastating effect on the remaining stock, taking out about 40% of the inhabitant. The stock in blue were the remaining survivors. Others did survive but have since died of natural causes. I did contact the regional shop for advice and basically the blamed the entire cause of the situation on my system.
The stock in red (clowns tank bred) and lunula (imported) from different local shop have been purchased in between the wipe out and today and have shown no signs of problems etc.
Up to date – the system has been as near as perfect since then, so I decided to purchase more stock. Two weeks ago I purchased the fish in orange from the local shop however both became diseased but have grown an immunity to this and are doing well. I called in at the regional shop as I was in the area and after much deliberation and discussion, incidentally with new staff, made a purchase of banner fish and iridis wrasse.
Unfortunately the banner fish died after two days but the wrasse is still swimmingly happy. Further investigation has led to the fish purchased which have upset the balance of my reef were all obtained from the same importer which apparently supplies the large proportion of the regional outlets.
Ok so what am I asking for help with? Has anyone had a similar problem and if so what did you do to reduce the occurrence.


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Reply #1

Hi, Welcome to ReefBase @Hydrolife

@HK_Fuey had similar issues, and now quarentines all stock.

I've had fish which seemed healthy at the time, but died a day or two after introduction, but never with catastrophic consequences like yours, sorry to read that.  :'(

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Reply #2

@Hydrolife I did indeed have issues like this.  I had no diseases for about a year and a half, then added a new fish, which died for mysterious reasons (never saw anything wrong with it) after a couple of weeks.  What followed was a white spot (ich) outbreak which killed a lot of my fish.  I quarantined them and used hyposalinity for 9 weeks (leaving the DT fallow to kill the ich there too), then put the survivors back in.  After 3 days, I had another outbreak, and I managed to save just two fish. 

The problem is, the importers have no idea if a fish is carry a parasite or bacterial/viral infection most of the time.  They do what they can to reduce the chances of an outbreak (massively oversized UV filters, and some run trace copper in their fish only systems), but they are simply aiming to stop any outbreaks, rather than try to cure anything and everything that could be there.

The supplier you bought from may well have had no clue something was up with the stock they sold you, and in their system, and the holding system they had been in before that, they didn't show any symptoms.  If they did, they would likely quarantine them themselves to stop an outbreak with their stock.

So, what I learned, very much the hard way, was to quarantine EVERYTHING!  I've been refining my quarantine process, but essentially it's a small 50lt tank, with a massively overrated sponge filter (which also provides the flow), a fluidised sand bed filter to provide a massive surface area for bacteria, a heater, thermometer and an airpump. 

I use two methods:

For fish
I use copper for the first two weeks, then slowly reduce that down and watch for any symptoms.  After 30 days, the fish get added to the DT.

For everything else
No copper!  Just drop them in and wait for 8 weeks.  That's long enough to ensure 90 something % of all parasites that infect fish will have died off.  Any plenty of time to spot any issues with corals, etc. and treat them before you add them.
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