Posted: 2009.06.03(Wed)11:03 Post subject: LFS system questions
Here is something to get the creative juices flowing. I work part time in the fish department at a LFS. I don't think our saltwater system is condusive to turning over fish. We lose a lot to ich. But being part time it's hard for me to have a strong influence on "rearranging" the system. Currently ALL of the tanks in the system have live sand and live rock. We don't have the room nor the resourses for a quarantine system. So you guessed it. Next to impossible to treat for ANYTHING when the fish come in. The wall is set up as basically 3 separate systems. All run the same. A sump with live rock, bio wheels, commercial grade skimmer. Run about 1.22 - 1.25sg. about 78f temp. RO salt water buffered to 8.3 pH.
My thinking is that the tanks should be set up basically like a QT. No live rock in 2 of the three systems. Live rock/sand and inverts in 1 system. Leaving room to treat the fish if/when needed.
My questions are, what experience with big commercial systems do you all have with a similiar situation? Do any of you have experience running copper in systems? Is there other ways to be more proactive in nipping off ich or at least keeping it to bare minimum. I can tell you we aclimate the fish for the better part of an hour, test daily, and really do take the well being of the fish seriously. I would just like to help improve the system we currently run.
I salute you for asking these questions and seeking a solution for your problem. Your livestock deserves the best of care.
Yes I have experience in both the retail and wholesale sides, and I can tell you that large losses are very common in the industry but it doesn't have to be that way, if you focus on several areas...
1. Your Supplier
No matter how good you are, your job will be much more difficult if your wholesaler is doing a sloppy job on his end. His divers and suppliers also come into play, but he should not be shipping you pathogen infected specimens. If he does this often, change suppliers. Your supplier should be quarantining his livestock for weeks in advance of shipping.
2. Your Shipper
No matter how good your supplier is, your job will be much more difficult if your shipper is doing a sloppy job on his end. I can tell you from experience it is a sad thing to open a shipment that has been left out in the cold or heat, handling is critical.
3. Your Reception of New Arrivals
Over the years I have seen successful shops employ freshwater dips to kill pathogens on new fish, I have been side by side assisting these owners and observed firsthand this method having a HUGE impact on reducing losses. I would not hesistate to use the FW dip simply because based on my experience it will work at least to a degree, and others in the industry feel this way as you can see from the links below. If you think a FW dip is stressful, imagine the stress of being coated with hundreds of parasites sucking the life out of your body. FW dips will kill more than just cryptocaryon too; including Amyloodinium and Turbellarian worms, flukes, etc. Are you 100% guaranteed that a FW dip will kill ALL the crypto and parasites on your fish? Probably not, but I know it helps. FW dips cannot be considered as a complete "cure" for ich because they do nothing to halt the many parasites lurking in the aquarium. And that leads us to your REAL problem...
4. Your System
In my opinion, you will never have success with your setup, because your system is no doubt LOADED with cryptocaryon, and no matter how good you are, your job will be much more difficult if you are infecting your new arrivals as soon as they are added. Let me be clear; no matter how good your supplier and shipper are, you are doomed to fail if you are infecting your new arrivals as soon as they are added. Chances are, this is exactly what is happening, you are getting good fish from your supplier, but you are infecting them upon arrival with wave after wave of free-swimming tomites which are exploding out of your substrate and live rock.
You are also infecting your customer's systems, and that is going to eventually destroy your clientele. Your management MUST rethink the way they are doing business, and I agree 100% with your proposal of no live rock in 2 of the three systems, and NO SUBSTRATE in those two, other than perhaps your wrasse tanks which require soft sand for burrowing (live sand is not required).
Maintaining constant copper levels can be highly effective, and many shops have employed it with success, but some fish like puffers and eels are harmed by it so be sure and research your fish and sort accordingly. Sadly, as you know copper can't be used in your current system _________________ Keepin' marines happy for 25 years
Last edited by FloridaBoy on 2009.06.04(Thu)18:37; edited 4 times in total
Thanks for the reply. This is exactly what I was looking for. As a part time employee, there to suppliment my obsession, and try to give good responsible advise to those that just don't know any better, I have to be able to really make a good case. I don't think it will cost too much to make the systems better, just a lot of sweat. I just have to convince the rest of the department/manager that the work will be worth it both fish well being wise, and financially for the store.
I am curious about the copper though. There is one employee that is just dead set against copper. I have never had a need to use it personally nor do I have any personal acquiantances that have used it. So I'm going to have to do my homework there. I'll probably end up doing some kind of "report" to present to them to make my case. It's just very frustrating on my end to go into work one night and look at the beautiful fish we have and come in the next time and see them in horrible condition just waiting to die. Thanks for the great info and back up on my thoughts.
I agree with your assessment of your systems, which is why I would never make a purchase from such an environment without a proper quarantine tank in place at home.
In the case of your employer, you will need to speak in terms of $$$. You have many short term customers, but I find it unlikely that the real long term customers, such as myself, are doing much business with your LFS, as compared to the other big players in town. The other LFS run similar systems, but they use different handling techniques upon the arrival of the fish.
First, you have to accept that the fish will arrive stressed. The idea of a 1 hour acclimation process, in my opinion, is a complete joke. The fish are in a shipping bag which is full of ammonia and waste. When you open the bag for acclimation, carbon dioxide is quickly released and the pH rises, making the ammonia even more toxic. If you add water from your existing systems to the bag, then the pH rises even faster. This is a huge stress on the fish, weakening the immunity of the fish and making them prone to infection. I strongly advice, in the retail environment, not to acclimate fish at all. Zip. None. Just open the bags and throw the fish into the tanks. They will experience a very short term temperature and pH adjustment, but this is much better than a long drawn out poorly organized acclimation period. The only exception should be for the very sensitive fish, which should be part of a drip acclimation, with no floating of bags. This applies to very few fish that you guys receive.
Next, it is very important to get these fish eating vitamin enhanced foods quickly. You need to boost their immunity. As you know, I am a proponent of garlic enhanced flakes and pellets. These should be fed several times per day at the LFS. The fish need the energy provided by frequent feedings to fight off the parasites that they are exposed to. Garlic is excellent for this purpose.
Next, retail environments need to use UV Sterlizers to reduce the spreading of disease from one fish to the next. You have seen first hand how effective this is at one local LFS that runs a central system but almost never has an infected fish.
Finally, you need to get off to the proper start. I advice emptying one of your systems of fish and immediately lowering the salinity to 1.010. Then syphon out all substrate. Leave it this way for a full week and then raise salinity back to the normal level. Order a 1/3 shipment of fish for that system the fish week, monitor the water, and then go back to your normal fish load. This will help clear the systems. Only use substrate in your reef system, which should be the far left system in your store, located closest to the coral display.
Everybody will be happy to know that the LFS I work at did transform one system removing all "live" substrate and rocks from the system AND they have started treating with copper. Currently we have a foxface and yellew tank along with a few blennies and chromis in the system and for the two weeks they have been doing it, no signs of ich and all fish are well. no lost fish. Now these were fish already in the store, we have not put an order of fish in yet so that is yet to be seen. I am also having regular conversations discussing why we should be running UV sterilizers as well. I think I made a light bulb come on when I said that if light bulbs for the UV sterilizers are $60-$80 if it helped keep an additional 4-5 fish alive in that period it was worth while. The tanks in this system just look SO much better that what they did before. Hopefully they will turn the second system after a few successful fish orders.
Can anybody give me a reference to find what fish are not copper tolerant? We have been testing copper daily keeping it at .05 by the way. Thanks for everybody's opion on this matter.
Can anybody give me a reference to find what fish are not copper tolerant?
Sorry somehow I missed that question, let me give you some more information on the use of copper because although it is highly effective at killing cryptocaryon there are some cautions that need to be observed...
Basically you want to avoid using copper on
any fish without scales such as:
Depending on which author or expert you consult, there are some other species that have proven to be more or less "copper sensitive," that list includes but is not limited to:
Heniochus and Butterflyfishes
Keep in mind, copper can be easily overdosed, and long term exposure to copper can be harmful to tangs and many other fish. It can damage their beneficial intestinal bacteria, especially in higher concentrations. In my opinion, since most retailers are going to have a 100% turn over with their livestock in a few days or weeks, it is logical to conclude that the risk of long term copper damage is greatly reduced or eliminated. In theory, this allows a constant level of copper to be maintained in the system at all times, to counter the constant influx of infected fish that may be arriving on a regular basis. However, if you are finding that your livestock is not selling that fast, I think it is advisable to have a copper-free system available to move those parasite-free fish which are lingering for more than 3 or 4 weeks in your shop. You can rotate livestock in and out of the copper treated system as needed. In this way you are effectively providing an excellent quarantine service for your customers and at the same time reducing the risk of copper poisoning. More on the benefits and risks here:
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