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First Aid (Part 2): Sign & Procedures

Drs. Foster & Smith Educational Staff
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Part I of this article outlined the equipment needed to correct problems that could potentially lead to livestock losses in the aquarium. This part of the article explains some of the typical warning signs of problems, and includes steps for correcting these problems.

Warning Signs

Fish Behavior - This is your first indication of problems within the aquarium. Some of the signs to watch for include: individual fish death, rapid breathing, irregular movements, color loss, unusual markings or growths, and loss of appetite/change in feeding patterns.

Environmental Changes - Changes with the general appearance of the aquarium can also be an indication of problems. Some of the typical signs related to imbalances in water chemistry include: poor expansion in corals and invertebrates, poor growth or death of plants, cloudy or odiferous water, and increased algae growth.

Determining and Correcting Water Quality Problems

The following general guidelines may help you identify the signs of water chemistry abnormalities and provide correct steps which may help solve the problem. Compare the warning signs that your aquarium exhibits to the following, and test those parameters to determine if they are the culprit.

Warning Signs Water Chemistry Abnormality Correction Steps
Any of the
warning signs
listed above
Excess levels of
ammonia and nitrite
Perform test for these nutrients. If toxic levels of either are present:
  1. Perform 25% water changes daily.
  2. Incorporate a chemical ammonia-neutralizing media into the filtration.
Any of the
warning signs
listed above
Incorrect pH Perform pH test. If the pH level is abnormal:
  1. Perform a 25% water change.
  2. Add necessary pH buffers.
Algae growth
Excess Nitrate Test for nitrate. If excessive levels are found:
  1. Perform 25% water changes with nitrate-free water weekly.
  2. Incorporate a nitrate-reducing chemical media into the filtration.
Algae growth,
in saltwater,
inhibited calcification
in corals and
coralline algae
Excess Phosphates Test for phosphates. If excessive levels are found:
  1. Perform 25% water changes with phosphate free water weekly.
  2. Incorporate a phosphate-absorbing media into the filtration.

Medicating Ill Fish
If any of the fish in the aquarium show the signs of disease, it is important to remove it from the community aquarium immediately and place it in your hospital aquarium. Research the symptoms in order to make an accurate diagnosis, and follow the manufacturer's directions of the appropriate medication.

By following these first aid procedures, you can greatly reduce the amount of livestock losses due to problems in your aquarium.

Part 2 of 2. Continue reading:

Part 1
Necessary Equipment
Part 2


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