Mr. Saltwater Tank

Terrible Advice Tuesdays: If you do this, a tank crash is inevitable

Terrible Advice Tuesdays: The easiest way to crash your tank is to feed your fish.

The rest of the story: The term “tank crash”, refers to a large die-off of coral or fish life. These tank crashes are usually caused by ammonia spikes due to the biofilter getting overwhelmed and/or dying.

Can you instigate a tank crash by feeding your fish? Yes, if you dump in lots of food such that the food isn’t consumed, sits in your tank for days and rots. Feeding this much food would be done intentionally, likely with the purpose of crashing the tank. (Think rebellious teenager or divorcing spouse)

Feeding your fish only enough food so that all the food is consumed in 1-2 minutes won’t crash your tank. Your fish need food and feeding them shouldn’t be done in fear that your whole system is about to come crashing down.

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Comments for this article (6)

  • JasPR says:

    IMHO tanks ‘crash’ for a simpler big picture reason– the ‘things’ in clean/pure saltwater become ‘used up’ and the purity of the fresh mix becomes polluted with ‘those things’ that tend to build up. protein skimming helps, socks help ( only slightly as the yuck is still in the system ( just trapped) and stocking care and feeding care prolongs the inevitable. But that the end of the day, the parameters of pure water must be reset. The answer? water changes or even better— targeted water changes ( substrate churning and removal, vacuuming of live rock, cleaning of trapping materials in the sump and cleaning of macro algae in sump as well as the traditional exchange of 20% water as you go about these chores. returning to a base line of readings and restoring things like buffer capacity and micro nutrient is key.

  • Dee says:

    We have definitely learn more about the substantial affects that food, substrate, and live rock have on water parameters than we’ve ever had in the past. It all comes back to balance of nutrient management. I don’t say export because nutrients do have a place in aquarium ecology. One prove of the puzzle out of sync and crashed ate inevitable. As mentioned above, water changes are still king and those that make that process easier tend to have the gift of crashless Tanks

  • Helen says:

    In my experience, tank crash has been quite literal…265 gallons of water trying to escape into my floor with my tank inhabitants. Lesson learned: NEVER allow two reef store “professionals” to move your tank when they show up without a truck, trailer, lift, or extra manpower.

  • Marc says:

    Thread hijack!

    Re: moving comment above.

    1. So sorry about your tank and inhabitants! Its heartbreaking just to hear stories like this.

    2. Given the amount of time, effort, money and love of our aquatic friends I would recommend that you always go with a licensed and bonded moving company. If for no other reason than a scenario like yours that might include the mover getting hurt or cut by glass…and then suing you. It sucks but it happens.

    3. If you’re in an area that has a moving company that specializes in tank moves, even better. If they don’t (and possibly even if they do) specialize in tank moves, asking for a reference customer you can contact is a good litmus test of a company that claims they know how to handle it.

    4. Many (all?) state websites provide the ability to look up companies and make sure their license is in good standing. Its suprising how many companies are not and yet so few people bother to check.

    Hope this helps for the future!

    /end hijack

  • Matt says:

    Sounds like they tried to move it filled! Never a good idea!

  • Duke Sweden says:

    I’ve read dozens of feeding advice tips that say the same thing, never feed more than your fish can eat in 1 to 2 minutes. But what you all never mention is, how many times per day do you feed them? I feed my fish their 2 minute allotment of mysis, or other healthy, locally prepared food mixes of shrimp, mollusk, etc, twice a day, plus I throw in a pinch of pellets twice a day, sometimes a cube of bloodworms and/or Formula One, plus a few 1″ squares of seaweed.

    It seems like too much, but they clean everything up and I have no algae blooms, no fish problems, and only elevated nitrates (which is the only thing that leads me to believe I may be overfeeding).

    I have 18 fish in my 180 FOWLR (6 large fish and the rest chromis/damsel sized) plus a green carpet anemone that I feed individually twice a week.

    So, what do you say? Too much, too little, or just right?

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