“Old Tank Syndrome”; Experienced; and Resolved?

Old Tank Syndrome Pt. 1

This blog is obviously about old tank syndrome, but more importantly, it is about a fish.



A while back I posted a query about “old tank syndrome”. Something I had heard of, but never really understood why it occurred, or when.  I have heard that 20 years is about the “life span of a reef tank”. I never really have heard an explanation why.  It has also been overhead by an acquaintance of mine at Saltfinity.com, at his lfs that, the life of a reef tank is around 5 years. This I know from experience to be wrong. I don’t think a reef tank is really even considered “established and seasoned” for about 3 years.

My tank is about 15 years old, and I anticipated the “syndrome” to manifest itself at any time, which is why I posed the query in the first place. I had been having a problem with Cyanobacteria, or red slime algae, after all these years beginning to form on the substrate. I did some extensive testing and things were a bit off, not bad though. Certainly no phosphates or nitrates present anyway. The filter socks were not overloaded or anything, skimmer skimming.  So it was confusing; why the Cyano?

I did several water changes, got my specs all back to normal: pH 8.025, Ca 460, Alkalinity dKH 10 and Mg ~  1400. The red slime persisted. I had it once in my fuge and used some Boyd’s Chemi-Clean, which actually did a good job at clearing it up, but still a band-aid none the less. I wanted to fix the problem, not just make it’s resulting manifestations go away.

It wasn’t a bad outbreak or anything, but it sure was ugly, and pointed to a problem somewhere. After ruling out the live rock or the animals themselves as the problem, and the lights being fairly new…it must be “in” the substrate I though. I could think of only one way good to attack this problem without chemicals:

Enter the Dragon

I tackled the problem by increasing the overall bio-load…by one fish. A Dragon Gobi or Bullet Gobi. Here is a picture of the rather innocuous looking fish. This guy is the smallest one the store had, they can grow to 6″. This one is maybe 3″ or so (obviously I haven’t scraped the glass since I got him):


 What this crazy little fish did was amazing, and I’ll talk about it and the results in the next blog installment here in a day or so. BTW, he just looks mean, but is totally non-aggressive and melded with the crew with not one incident.

Thanks for reading today!


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