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If you think you're an expert, then chew on this one and tell me what's up....

I'm newer to saltwater tanks. So any fails you recognize, tell me. I'm committed to getting this tank up and thriving again, but I need an experts help at this point. No one at the tropical fish stores have been able to help.

I have a 75 gallon Salt tank. Got it from my brother over 2 months ago. He had it for 2 years and had some established live rock in it with algae, live sand, and 2 clown fish when he gave it to me. He had no prior issues.

<one powerhead on each side. general filter with bio balls, protein skimmer, T5 florescent light>

Month 1: After setting it up, I added new animals right away. a Yellow Tang, firefish, coral beauty, 2 sea urchin, a sea enemenie, and 10 various cleaning crew, (cause the algae was thick). I drip acclimated everything 3 times before introducing to the tank. And It was awesome. For a whole month, other than losing one of the sea urchins, the tank was thriving. Feeding Spirulina Brine Shrimp 1 cube twice a day. Levels were good (Note: During that month, I threw in some dried up sea shells I had picked up months ago while surf fishing.)

Month 2: Since things were good, I added more animals. African red starfish, pink square anthius, horseshoe crab, emerald crab, 2 green chromis, another sea enemenie. Week went by, no problems. Other than natural new fish adapting to the cliques of the tanks. Temp 73. Salinity 1.023. PH 8.2, Ammonia 0. Nitrate 0. Nitrite 0. Sweet.

Then it was like the plague arrived.

In the last 3 weeks, every fish has died. One after the other. Looks like Ich. white spots, heavy breathing, low appetite, then dead within 3 days after symptoms. After the first week I started taking notes, and I introduced garlic and Ich Attack. No difference. Did a 20% water change... No difference. I read that clowns were not prone to catching ich... they both died. Emerald crab... dead. Horseshoe Crab...dead. When it got down to the last few fish, they all seemed to go from great to bait in a matter of 2 days, while the others took a week, so whatever it is, its seemed to take over. Tank levels are all still great. But I haven't had any fish in the tank for a week now, so here I am.

THINGS I NOTED:

1. Animals not affected at all: Anything w/o a spine. 3 sea enemenies, a cleaning shrimp, all cortez snails, black spiky sea urchin, red african star, octopus looking star, conche snail.

2. while picking up a dead fish I scooped up some sand with it and put it in a bowl. The smell was awful. So after getting rid of the fish I grabbed another scoop of as much sand as I could get and it smelled like decay and rotten fish. The sand has been in the tank for 2 years. I'm wondering if the sand is bad and poisoned all the fish.

3. There were a few fish that I know have died but they disappeared and I never found them and didn't want to disturb the habitat to find them. That did increase the ammonia levels I think, but not enough to cause the plague.

Anyway, please help.
Branden
 

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Normally my answer to "is it the sand?" is NO, it's not.
However, in this case I think YES, it is. In this case I feel the sand needs to go NOW. ;)

Sand is find to have in my experience but not if a tank has not been well taken care of. That you have thick algae is a sign of nutrients in excess. This can be phosphates or if it's hair algae nitrates.

All this is exacerbated by adding livestock to the tank and by moving the tank from one location to the other.

My recommendation is to remove the sand completely. You can put fresh sand in later if you like (I personally like). But don't do it until you get all the algae gone and the tank in a stable state.
 
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