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Thread: Hyposalinity ATS Hospital Tank

  1. #1

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    Apr 2011
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    Hyposalinity ATS Hospital Tank

    1. Objective: To completely cure fish of marine ich by treating with hypo-salinity range 1.008 to 1.009
    2. Treatment Process: Following Lee Birch's hypo-salinity (google Lee Birch hypo-salinity) treatment process (with the exception of using an ATS rather than sponge filtration)
    3. Reason for using ATS: Maintaining a bacterial based biological filter in hypo-salinity is difficult and in my experience requires frequent and large water changes. Conservatively speaking, the complete process of treating marine ich from acclimating fish to hypo-salinity, treating them in hypo-salinity, acclimating them (while still in the Hospital Tank) back to normal SG and observing them for several weeks prior to returning fish to the display aquarium takes 9 or more weeks. This requires a lot of work, water changes and expense.
    4. Plan of action (thus far 9 days):
    A. 4 Fish have been placed in a 40 Gallon bare bottom aquarium with an established ATS at 1.025 SG
    B. The SG has been lowered over the course of 1 week fro 1.025 to 1.008 - 1.009
    C. The fish have shown no signs of stress
    D. The starting Green Hair Algae seems ok and not affected by the drop in salinity
    E. The screen was cleaned at 7 days
    F. Green Hair Algae is beginning to grow back
    G. On day 2 Ammonia peaked at 0.25. Feeding was suspended for one day. 2 days later Ammonia returned to 0.00
    H. Ammonia has fluctuated between 0.00 to 0.10, Nitrite has remained steady at 0.25, but appears to be on the decline.
    I. PH has been holding steady at approx. 8.0 without need for buffering
    J. Other than removing water to allow for the addition of fresh water to lower SG there have been no water changes.
    It is still early in the process, however I am optimistic that this will work and be a great way to accomplish hypo-salinity treatment.

    More to come..

    Equipment:
    1. 40 Gallon Aquarium (Bare Bottom)
    2. Heater and Thermometer
    3. ATS (Sole source of filtration) sitting over the top of tank
    10 wide x 4.5 high screen
    Approx. 300 GPH flow
    Lighting on both sides of screen with 2-13 watt CFL Spirals on each side totalling 52 watts
    6-12 drops of Kent's Chelated Iron is added each day
    4. Livestock: 4 Fish, a 4 inch Naso Tang, 2.5 inch Keyhole Angelfish, 4 inch Marine Betta, 3 inch Powder Blue Tang. All fish are strong, fat and healthy, although they do contract ich from time to time. I have let my display go fallow (fishless) for 8 weeks and counting and plan to return these fish after this treatment process.

    Any suggestions, comments or questions would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks

    James

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Apr 2011
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    18

    Re: Hyposalinity ATS Hospital Tank

    It has been 12 days since the hospital tank has been running at 1.009 hypo-salinity. The algae transitioned from 1.024 to 1.009 and has been the only source of filtration for the aquarium. I have cleaned half of the screen once and the algae has regrown and well. I will clean the other half screen tomorrow. Ammonia has tested consistently at 0, however Nitrite has consistently been .25 ppm and has risen to .75 ppm. Also Nitrate has been topping the charts of the test. Nitrate is over 100 ppm. In spite of the Nitrite and Nitrate levels the fish all appear to be doing fine and have not shown and ich symptoms since hospitalization began. I will do a partial water change tomorrow in order to lower the Nitrite and Nitrate levels.

    Since the scrubber is the only source of filtration, without any filter pads, bio balls or other Nitrate depositories, I am surprised at the high level of Nitrate in the water column. I also thought the scrubber would consume the Nitrite. It has successfully taken care of the Ammonia so I am thinking that perhaps a larger stronger scrubber is needed for the bio load in order the keep the Nitrite and Nitrate in check. Overall, to date, the scrubber has made the hypo-salinity treatment very easy and I think it may be a very viable way to hospitalize and treat fish with hypo-salinity.

    More to come ...

    Any thoughts or suggestions concerning the Nitrite and Nitrate condition would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks.

  3. #3
    Administrator
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    Santa Monica, CA, USA
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    Re: Hyposalinity ATS Hospital Tank

    With the high concentration of ammonia, and no other ammonia filter, the algae are enjoying their favorite food: ammonia. So they have no need for nitrite/nitrate, which are harder to remove the nitrogen from.

    In a display tank the rocks/sand get the ammonia first.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    Union City, CA, USA
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    Re: Hyposalinity ATS Hospital Tank

    First, it is great to read your detailed account.
    I am planning something similar, albeit slowly. I am sick of the ich, and plan to pull all the fish and treat.

    Some random thoughts:

    You actually have quite a bit of bacteria helping with the filtering.
    Tank sides, etc, will all grow a lot. There is just no getting away from the bacteria.
    The bacteria does go into shock at first when you change salinity, but it recovers.
    If there was no bacteria at all, you would purely see ammonia, so those Nitrite/Nitrate
    levels are proof that there is quite a bit.

    I really think you need two screens, or clean one half every 3 days.
    The problem being that over that week, from cleaning to full, filtration ability changes a LOT.
    And with the ATS being the dominant filter, that can be an issue.

    Random idea: With those tangs, can you put the bottom of the ATS in the tank?
    I bet they would love to munch on it a bit.

  5. #5

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    Apr 2011
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    Re: Hyposalinity ATS Hospital Tank

    Thank you Santa Monica. That makes sense. Would a stronger, larger scrubber take up the Nitrite and Nitrate after exhausting all available ammonia?

  6. #6

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    Apr 2011
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    18

    Re: Hyposalinity ATS Hospital Tank

    ... Also Santa Monica I would appreciate your thoughts on this

    My understanding of the nitrogen cycle is that bacteria converts food/waste into Ammonia which is then converted by a different type of bacteria into Nitrite and finally a third bacteria converts the Nitrite into Nitrate. Nitrate is converted into Nitrogen gas via denitrifying bacteria (given appropriate low oxygen conditions)

    With the absence of live rock and sand and other areas to populate, I would think that denitrifying bacteria populations would be limited, thereby limiting the denitrification process. The scrubber is consuming Ammonia and keeping the tank a 0 ppm levels. Do you think there is sufficient bacteria on the glass and in the water column in order to denitrify residual Ammonia and convert it to Nitrite and from Nitrite to Nitrate? Also, do you think this conversion (denitrification) would occur at hypo-salinity or would denitrifying bacteria suspend and be dormant? It seems that denitrification is occurring due to the presence of Nitrite and Nitrate, although perhaps slowly. If this is the case, over time do you think the aquarium would naturally go through the cycling process and ultimately reach a equilibrium state at hypo-salinity? Because I have fish in this system, my thought is to do a partial water change primarily to reduce the Nitrite levels, although I do not think it has been a problem to the fish to date. Do you think a water change would help or would it be better to ride out the storm?

    Many thanks for your thoughts!

  7. #7
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    Re: Hyposalinity ATS Hospital Tank

    You mean nitrification, not denitrification.

    The fact that algae is growing tells you that it is consuming something. Since algae prefers ammonia, and since nitrite and nitrate are still high, and since you have limited bacterial surfaces, you must assume it mostly the algae consuming the ammonia.

    Yes, a larger more powerful scrubber would probably also consume the nitrate and nitrite. You could also be phosphorus limited, so you might check the phosphate levels and make sure they are at least detectable.

  8. #8

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    Apr 2011
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    Re: Hyposalinity ATS Hospital Tank

    rygh, thank you for your input. I think you are right, that there is a sufficient amount of bacteria on the glass surfaces and that the bacteria has recovered from the drop in salinity and is reestablishing the nitrogen cycle. I agree that two screens would be preferable. Currently, I am using one screen and cleaning one side at a time (left side v right sight determined by a vertical line a centerline). And yes the tangs do eat the algae that falls back into the tank (and love it).

    I am about midway through the hypo-salinity treatment process. In my opinion, the scrubber has to date made hypo-salinity a very viable and easy way to treat the fish. Although the Nitrites are somewhat high, I do not think it is much of a concern as it does not appear to be bothering the fish. Nitrate, I don't believe is a concern at all in this situation. I do think, perhaps that a larger and stronger scrubber may be better and once this project is complete, I plan to build one for a Quarantine tank. My goal to to completely eradicate ich from my systems and to quarantine all incoming fish, live rock, inverts, corals, etc. so as not to introduce problems into the systems. I think that it is not only feasible, but rather easy to do, although it does require patience.

    I will continue to document my experience here and when you decide to attack your ich problem, let me know and if I can offer you any assistance, I will be happy to oblige.

    Thanks,

    James

  9. #9

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    Apr 2011
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    Re: Hyposalinity ATS Hospital Tank

    Once again, thanks for your reply Santa Monica.

    I am continuing the process. Your input is very helpful. My thought is to complete this hypo-salinity treatment and then set up a quarantine tank with a larger more powerful scrubber as the sole source of filtration. I will continue to update, ask questions and document along the way. My hope is with the treatment of these fish and through careful selection of new fish and proper quarantine procedures, Ich will no longer be a problem.

    I cleaned the scrubber today, which took about 10 minutes. Having had several protein skimmers in the past, I have to say that from a maintenance standpoint the scrubber is much, much easier to maintain.

    Thanks again for your continuing support. The work you have done on this site has advanced scrubber technology and implementation tremendously. While I have no dog in the fight for/or against scrubbers, it is clear to me that this not only is viable but perhaps the best way for many aquarium setups. You along with the many other smart, creative and inventive people experimenting, testing and pushing this technology forward (and posting here on this site) should be commended.

    Thanks,

    James

  10. #10

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    Sep 2011
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    Re: Hyposalinity ATS Hospital Tank

    I was very interested in this concept every since i have read on ats. The issue I was concerned about was the evaporation. Since the water evaporates more on a scrubber the salinity would be harder to maintain and since you have little room for error it concerned me. But other than that it makes since. I will continue to tag along and i think i might do this as well.

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