Discussion: Reefing Horror Stories

Discussion in 'Weekly Reef discussions' started by mnmuskyman2011, Aug 19, 2015.

  1. mnmuskyman2011

    mnmuskyman2011 Senior Member
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    TCMAS Weekly Discussion

    We would like to get more reef related discussions going on the forum. We will post a weekly topic to get the discussion started then let you all take it from there. The rules are simple, keep on topic and keep it positive. Ask questions.

    This weeks topic: Tell us your reef horror stories. What did you do wrong that lead to it and what did you do to make sure it won't happen again?

    Also, feel free to post an idea for future topics as well.
     
  2. marty9876

    marty9876 Banned
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    I bought a 20l to make a terrarium... been all down hill since then!

    Worst for me so far was when I moved across town in 1999, took a great 135 mixed (lots of big fish and lots of corals) and moved it into a new 180g. I still don't know exactly what all happened but I killed pretty much everything in that go around. Ich or worse, new tank, lots going on in my life at the time just yielded a really bad result. Still feel bad about that, nothing better than scooping up really big beautiful dead fish... kind that can't get flushed! .

    Biggest takeaway I think was there comes a time when you cross the line between "good food and stable environment" will stave off a parasite outbreak. Once you cross that line it's likely too late for meds too, being able to be ahead of these things is much more important than reactionary.
     
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  3. eschulist

    eschulist That Office Nano Guy
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    How fitting, my disaster just happened last friday.

    I came into work to see our front desk girl pushing a bucket and mop down the hall. It turns out in the middle of the night the piping from the return line popped off my Eheim 1260 and started gushing all the water up into the stand and onto the floor. I came into work with approx 6-7 gallons of water in my cubicle and a few of the neighboring ones. The pumps were running dry, the water in my display was low and the fish were all breathing heavily. In the next hour or two a few coworkers and I cleaned up the water, made sure all of my computer work equipment was unaffected, removed the wood floor trim, turned on giant air blowers, and started the tank back up again. I only lost one fish and a few of the corals that were exposed to air all night have dead tips.

    I still haven't fool proofed a way to make sure it never happens again. At some point I will probably buy/build a new stand to replace this now water logged one and use rigid piping with permanent seals and unions. Using a sump with a lid, and getting a water sensor that automatically kills the pump would be another addition. While the whole thing sucked people at work were still concerned about the wellbeing of the fish and were helpful about it. I'm really glad its only about a 5 gallon jug of water and not 100s of gallons.
     
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  4. OP
    mnmuskyman2011

    mnmuskyman2011 Senior Member
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    Sorry to hear that. Thankfully it wasn't much worse and it's nice to hear that even people not in the hobby were concerned about the fish.
     
  5. jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    I call B.S.
    You kept coral?! Alive?!
    :hismiley:
     
  6. ikserk

    ikserk Administrator
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    jason, next thing you know he'll be telling you that the tank had sand in it.
     
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  7. OP
    mnmuskyman2011

    mnmuskyman2011 Senior Member
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    I would say keep it positive, but you are ripping on Marty. Have fun. lol
     
  8. jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    My horror story was entirely my own fault.

    In February of 2014, I was doing maintenance on my 120gal system and I decided it was a good time to fix a loose module on my Vertex Illumina LED fixture. As I was taking the fixture out of my canopy, I wasn't focused on what I was doing and I dropped the entire fixture into the tank. The fixture was filled with saltwater and you could smell the burnt electronics. Over $2000 of lighting fried up in an instant.
    There's a more detailed account of that event on my build thread; here.
    I learned that I will never take my eyes off of anything I am working on that could possibly fall into water. I ended up switching to Radion LEDs, so I needed to make a new rack to hold the fixtures. I built the rack so that the fixtures cannot fall out by accidental contact, they need to be removed with intent; and I keep my eyes and hands firmly on the fixtures at all times.

    Even though this was an experience for the worst, I also experienced the best from this hobby.
    I was to leave town for a long weekend only a couple of days after the accident, so I needed to find a replacement for my lights in a hurry. I reached out on Facebook and Chris (Kriens) offered to help with some lights he recently took off of his tank. With Chris' lights (and some help from a couple of the Ecotech guys), I had lighting for my tank before I had to leave town.


    Future topics???
    Other than TCMAS, what other resources do you utilize for information, inspiration or relaxation; online websites, forums, podcasts, books, ...?
    What are you feeding your fish, inverts and corals; types of foods, frequency, supplements, ...?
    What do you think is your weak point in this hobby? What could you use help with?
    Do you think Angie is reading this post?
    Are you running a frag tank? Describe the set up and discuss any plans you have with the frags.
    Are your corals showing better color or growth? Discuss what you are doing to achieve those results.
     
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  9. OP
    mnmuskyman2011

    mnmuskyman2011 Senior Member
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    Thanks for the good topic ideas.
     
  10. cypho

    cypho I contributed!
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    I have way too many horror stories to tell them all. But here are a few of my most memorable.




    I refilled my kalk ATO bucket after it had been dry for a bit. To catch up, I flipped the manual override switch on the dosing pump. I should have turned it back off 20 minutes later. Instead I went to work. By the time I got home, the entire 10 gallons of kalkwasser had been pumped into a 75 gallon aquarium. It was not a total loss, many of the fish were fine, but several large corals were beginning to rot and I did not have any salt on hand to do a water change. So everyone had to stay in the nasty water until the fish stores opened the next day. Not a total loss, but I lost a lot. Also lesson learned: have enough salt on hand to do an emergency water change. Lesson learned I need a failsafe ATO. Or learned not learned, read on.

    __________________________________



    One evening I was topping off evaporation on my multi-tank system with a garden hose. I ran upstairs to get something, got distracted, and forgot to come back down to turn off the water for over an hour. I came downstairs to find 3+ inches of water on the floor and a bunch of freshwater aquariums filled with saltwater fish/coral in them. Big mess, total loss. Lesson learned: I really need a failsafe ATO.


    _________________________________


    I had a 20G reef tank in my college dorm room, I didn't have a car, so water changes were usually accomplished by walking a mile or so to the grocery store to buy as many 1-gallon jugs of distilled water as I could carry back. Another alternative was to transport 5-gallon bucket of water from the LFS back via public transportation. Neither option was a pleasant experience so one day I decided to give dorm-tap-water a shot. Big mistake. I'm not sure what was in the water but 100% death within 5 minutes of doing a 10% water change. Lesson learned - don't use tap water unless you know it is safe.

    __________________________________

    My first disaster came about 15 minutes after I decided that I was going to have a saltwater aquarium. I was 10 years old and had recently returned from a vacation in Hawaii. Inspired by all of the cool fish I saw, I decided I was going to have a saltwater aquarium. I knew my parents had an aquarium in the attic; my parents did not know what I was up to; and I did not appreciate how difficult it would be to get the tank out of the attic. I bet you can guess what happened next.

    I survived - the tank, not so much. Lesson learned - 10 year olds are not very smart (or strong).

    ___________________________________

    And I'll finish it off with a disaster that had a happy ending.

    When I started reefkeeping, there were no local fish/pet stores in the area that carried (or had really even heard of) saltwater fish. All of my fish (and water) I had to collect myself on the annual family vacation to the beach. We usually drove (12-24 hours (usually over 2 days) by car depending on which beach), so getting the fish and water home required a bit of creativity, but was normally not too bad.

    I can't remember why, but one year for whatever reason my father was driving back, while me, my mother, and my 2 younger siblings were flying home. I thought I was being clever and packed the fish into my backpack(carry-on) instead of sending them in the car with dad. My dad dropped us off at the Miami airport and started the long drive home. Shortly after arriving at the airport, we were told that our flight was canceled. There was a flight headed in the right direction leaving in a few minutes, with an 1 empty seat, no word on how long the wait would be for the next opportunity. I was the oldest (but still only 13 or 14) and had a backpack full of live fish so my mom told the rep to put me on the first flight and the rest of them would wait for something else to open up. They printed out a ticket for the first leg of the flight and told me could pick up the 2nd half of the ticket from an agent when I landed in Atlanta. And told me to run to security because the flight was leaving soon.

    Off I went - alone, under age, and with a backpack full of fish.

    I got to security and the X-Ray tech noticed my unusual cargo. They had no idea if fish were allowed on a plane, and of course in miami none of them spoke english so it was not so easy to explain myself. I remember lots of excited (not angry) voices yelling at each other in spanish trying to figure out what to do. I have no idea how/why, but eventually they let me through. I caught the plane and made it to Atlanta. I found an agent, who gave me my ticket and told me the flight was boarding and I had 10 minutes to make it to terminal <letter near Z> and I was at terminal <letter near A>. Off I go running not really sure where I was going, with no idea how I would contact any of my family if I missed the flight (this was long before anyone in my family had a cell phone).

    I did catch the 2nd flight, made it home, and all of the fish survived. Lesson learned - don't fly with fish.
     
    #10 cypho, Aug 19, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2015
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  11. infinityends

    infinityends Senior Member
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    Oh man, I suppose I may as well put them in chronological order.

    1.
    When I was first getting into the hobby I started with a pair of 30G tanks on a dual tank stand. FWIW, never do that, it is almost impossible to work not he bottom tank.
    Long story short, my father in law had some tanks in the garage for years from when he used to keep cichlids. And my wife and I decided it would be fun.

    I figured if we were going to have more than one tank. I wanted to try keeping saltwater fish, the addiction continues...
    One day a few months in I was doing some cleaning in the bottom (freshwater) tank. Because of this the light was moved from the top to just sitting next to the tank. In the process I looked up at one point and thought I saw a hair stuck to the glass. Upon closer inspection I realized that the bottom pane of glass had hairline cracks in 3/4 corners. No leaks, but cracks none the less.

    I had to go to my nieces birthday party in a few hours. I got all of the fish and rock into a bucket with the canister filter as fast as I could and made a quick run to PetCo (lucked out with $1/g sale) and upgraded to a 55.

    Fish all survived without issue during the birthday party and I was only up until about 4AM afterwards getting the freshwater tank torn down, putting the 55G in place where the dual tank stand had been. Getting all the livestock back into the tank, and getting enough RO water made and mixed with salt to fill the 55 enough to run the canister filter.

    All in all, no losses, not too bad, just some panic.

    2.
    Not sure how much further down the road this occurred, few months I think.
    I added a lot of liverock to the tank all at one, I never really thought twice about it because it was liverock.

    Everyone was happy, checking out the new rock. Picking things off the rock to eat.

    Went to bed later that night, I had noticed the clowns looked like they were breathing a little hard. But I didn't really think anything of it at the time and just went to bed.

    Woke up the next morning to a completely crashed tank. Assuming die off on the rock. Only 2 of the fish were still alive. And even with a water change, which may have just shocked them more, not sure. I lost everything in the tank.

    Probably about $200-250 in livestock lost between fish and inverts.

    3.
    Last September (I think)

    I upgraded from a 55g to a 90g RR last July, few months without any major issues after the tank swap, only lost a couple pieces of coral in the transition between tanks.
    I never pegged down the cause of this occurrence.

    Similar to the last crash. I noticed my birds nest looked kind of white before going to bed.

    Next morning when I got up, all of my SPS had bleached.

    I fought brown jelly disease for 3 weeks, but ultimately lost all of my corals.

    I let the tank sit as a fish only system for a little over a month, and then slowly started restocking corals starting with the fall frag swap last year.
     
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  12. acharpenter

    acharpenter Senior Member
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  13. David Grigor

    David Grigor TCMAS Old Timer
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    Which is the perfect lead into my horror story.


    Headine Reads: What goes down........ must come up...... or something like that.

    It was 2003-2004 time frame, 375g in-wall tank 96" L X 32" W X 28" Tall. Was going deep sand bed which was pretty typical. 800lbs of it. Roughly 16 50#bags.


    Life was good until decided to take the tank down.


    I don't think I ever did any more swearing and cursing as I did carry stinky water logged sand , 5g pail at a time back up the basement stairs. For this reason alone, I will never do a deep sand bed tank again.
     
    #13 David Grigor, Aug 19, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2015
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  14. eyeguy

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    First thought that comes to mind was my first start in the saltwater hobby about 10 years ago. My first tank was a 24g nano cube, the old standard one with the compact flor. lighting. My roomate at the time was into saltwater tanks and got me interested. I set up the tank, let it cycle, waited the proper time to add fish. Added a pair of clowns, I forget - probably 4 months later. Didn't realize the danger of using even treated tapwater at the time. Couple of days later I come home from school to see the tank entirely pea soup green. Not just the glass, the entire water column was one giant algae bloom. So bad you could only see the clowns if their face was pressed up against the glass. Tried everything to fix the problem: huge water changes, carbon, bought a skimmer, went dark for 72 hours etc.. etc.. With absolutely no results. Finally bought a nano sized uv sterilizer and it was fixed in about 36 hours. Not a great start to the hobby though!
     
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