BIG MISTAKE.

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Lynnzer

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I have a 60ltr tank with 4 small fish, or at least had 4 small fish.
The tank was pretty sparse with rocks but I had some bristleworms in there that I didn't want so I needed to clear them before adding new rocks.
I eventually got them out, all 7 of them, and in the meantime made up a new reef formation from LFS bought rocks. Not live rocks, but as I was leaving the old live ones in the tank and adding a good dose of beneficial bacteria, I presumed that wouldn't matter.
So, I got on with the construction of a new reef. I used the old superglue on cigarette filters trick to glue them together but that didn't go too well. The strength wasn't there to hold it all together. I then tried drilling a hole through the rocks to insert a plastic tube but that too didn't work out as the rocks didn't line up well and stay that way while drilling was underway.
Now this is where things went bad. I had read that epoxy resin was the way to go. I bought some from Wilko and made up a delightfully looking construction. It sat in my kitchen for 4 days until I had time to add it to the tank. I did that yesterday afternoon along with a 50% water change as it was due anyway.
Wen to switch the lights on today and the fish were all dead. Damn it. I was near to tears. Apart from the cost of the lost fish, it just saddens me that I lacked the knowledge to care for them.
I don't know which article I read about using resin but I'm sure it said nothing about it being toxic. I know now though.
I had a small Clarkii clownfish, a sulphur goby awaiting a matching pistol shrimp, a Coral Beauty and a small Court Jester Goby. I intended to move them to another tank as they grew larger, or trade them for other smaller fish to avoid overstocking.
Anyway, at present I'm considering giving this whole thing up. I suppose it depends on answers to these questions - given that the toxins must have encroached onto/into all the coral sand, the rocks etc, is there any way to clean them so that they can be used again? Having read more about resins it seems that the toxins do dissipate over time. How much time, and will this be best done by removing the rocks out of the tank and letting them sit for some time. Should I also do this for the sand?
Oh, woe is me......... I just remembered the frags I had in there too. They seem to be alive so I've put them in a small container for now
 
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Donya

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Net knowing exactly what the toxin was, it's hard to advise anything except running a bunch of activated carbon and letting the tank sit coral-only for some time to see if those are affected too (reactions can be slower). Do you have a link to the particular glue? Did it say anything about being antimicrobial or antifungal, etc? Those kinds of things can at least allow a better guess at what leached in.

Perhaps with the exception of basic cyanoacrylate super glue, glues/sealants/etc that are just for home usage aren't necessarily safe even if they don't have warning labels. I have some UV resin that's extremely toxic to aquatic life, but it doesn't have a single warning on it - not even relating to people. Sometimes it's explicitly listed, sometimes not. Although I'm sure there are also some safe ones to be found in hardware aisles, it's safer to just pay the extra few bucks for the assurance of an aquarium-safe and marine-safe label to avoid this situation.
 

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Looking on Wilko's website they sell 3 epoxy glues -
Loctite; the safety data sheet says
Toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects.

Gorilla, which says in the text on Wilko's website
Toxic to aquatic life with long-lasting effects.

and their own brand, a two-tube product.
WARNINGS Hardener Causes skin irritation. Causes serious eye irritation. Resin Causes skin irritation. May produce an allergic reaction. Causes serious eye irritation. Toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effect.


If Lynnzer bought one of those three........
 

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Looking on Wilko's website they sell 3 epoxy glues -
Loctite; the safety data sheet says


Gorilla, which says in the text on Wilko's website


and their own brand, a two-tube product.



If Lynnzer bought one of those three........

Just looked up one of these. Was on my phone earlier where it was harder; on a PC now.

What I am seeing is the 2-part squeeze tube ones with a plunger. Those are a biiiig nope for aquatic usage much more broadly than just those three types. I don't know of any safe varieties of that category of epoxy.

There are multiple types of glue called "epoxy." That may be the root issue here so I'm going to elaborate a bit for anyone else who comes across this thread (so not really a reply at this point so much as a statement of general info). The ONLY safe type of epoxy to use in aquariums, whether fresh or salt, is in the form of a malleable PUTTY. It comes as a cylinder and is usually white in the middle and either gray or green on the outside. More recently there are also some varieties by well known marine brands that have a purple color to mimic coralline algae. There are also 2-part putties that are NOT safe for aquarium usage, but if you get one from a trustworthy aquarium-related brand that advertises it for aquarium usage, then it's safe and can be placed uncured into the tank (although I usually try to wait until its cured so crabs and things don't stick feet in it while it's soft). An example of a safe epoxy that I have used:

81Ie2BwBgAL._AC_SX679_.jpg


As for whether the contaminated materials can be made safe again, I'm still looking into that.
 

Essjay

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Just for completion, Wilko's website finds just 3 items using the word 'epoxy' in their search box.



 

Donya

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Assuming the toxic components of those three epoxy resins are the same, I'm using Loctite as reference. It has the following listed as aquatic toxic.

bisphenol-A- (epichlorhydrin)
Pentaerythritol-POmercaptoglycerol
1,3-bis[3- (dimethylamino)propyl]urea
possibly also 1,8-Diazabicyclo[5.4.0]undec-7- ene

The first one, which I believe is usually just listed as "BPA" might be removable with carbon, but according to an abstract I just looked at it is affected by mineral content and pH - didn't say how and I can't access the full article.

As for the others...I am not finding good info. Sadly my personal inclination would be to ditch everything that has been in contact with the contaminated water - basically everything except the tank stand and light. That may be overkill though. Some things may be reusable but the only way to know for sure in the absence of clear info on it would be to let the tank lie fallow for a few weeks while running a ton of carbon and then test a sacrificial animal of a category that was killed the first time around (not a great option IMO).
 
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Lynnzer

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I really have no excuse to not reading the Epoxy pack. I just took it as read from various online topics that they were safe. As the topic title says: BIG MISTAKE.
It was Wilko's own brand and it does say, in very small text, that it's toxic to aquatic life.
I need a good kick up the backside, but I have suffered a hefty kick in the wallet.
Anyway last evening I checked into the tank again to remove the new rocks, and lo and behold, the Sulphur Goby was still alive though desperately gasping for air at the tip of the tank. I removed him and put him into my downstairs 120Ltr tank in a net so I can get him out when I get around to resuscitating the poisoned tank. Otherwise I'd never find him in a larger rock filled tank.
So my thoughts turned to why a goby didn't succumb to any toxicity from the epoxy glued rocks.
When I placed the rocks into the tank, I did a 50% water change at the same time as there was a hint of bad colour to the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate test. Not much though, but better none at all.
I did a water check this morning and the colours are vivid. I mean really bad to the extent that it would be a good substitute for strychnine.
Whether the actual rocks were the problem I'll never know. It may be that they were made from materials that had large toxin amounts in them to cause ammonia, nitrite and nitrite, though my mind can't put any such logical connection to it. As far as I know, any of those 3 things are brought on from the breakdown of vegetative or animal matter. Maybe someone can see potential for the high levels from just placing rocks in the tank. Would epoxy even bring that about, instead of the leeching of true chemical toxins to affect the water?

As it stands, and as I still have the Sulphur Goby, I'm sort of in no mans land. I did say I'd probably keep just my larger tank downstairs and give up on the affected one. I really don't want to add the goby to that tank. I am definitely not keen on a population that exceeds the tank limits so the affected tank looks like it'll be sorted out.
I'm going to remove all the rock, and sand, boil them and do daily water changes for a week to eliminate any toxicity that may still be present.
Then I'll be emptying the canister filter and do a daily water change on that too for a week but in freshwater as I know I'll have to condition everything again anyway.
The rocks; well I think the best thing apart from the boiling and water changes, I will clip off the epoxy before using them again.

The suggestion of putting in a sacrificial fish isn't as daft as it may appear. When I first set up the tank I bought a couple of black mollies. did a drip change from freshwater to marine and used those. They were amazing. No problems at all. I really didn't have a need for them beyond that so I swapped them at my LFS a good 4 or 5 months ago. He now has them in his frag tanks where they appear as happy as well fed chickens.
 

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I really have no excuse to not reading the Epoxy pack. I just took it as read from various online topics that they were safe. As the topic title says: BIG MISTAKE.
It was Wilko's own brand and it does say, in very small text, that it's toxic to aquatic life.
I need a good kick up the backside, but I have suffered a hefty kick in the wallet.
Anyway last evening I checked into the tank again to remove the new rocks, and lo and behold, the Sulphur Goby was still alive though desperately gasping for air at the tip of the tank. I removed him and put him into my downstairs 120Ltr tank in a net so I can get him out when I get around to resuscitating the poisoned tank. Otherwise I'd never find him in a larger rock filled tank.
So my thoughts turned to why a goby didn't succumb to any toxicity from the epoxy glued rocks.
When I placed the rocks into the tank, I did a 50% water change at the same time as there was a hint of bad colour to the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate test. Not much though, but better none at all.
I did a water check this morning and the colours are vivid. I mean really bad to the extent that it would be a good substitute for strychnine.
Whether the actual rocks were the problem I'll never know. It may be that they were made from materials that had large toxin amounts in them to cause ammonia, nitrite and nitrite, though my mind can't put any such logical connection to it. As far as I know, any of those 3 things are brought on from the breakdown of vegetative or animal matter. Maybe someone can see potential for the high levels from just placing rocks in the tank. Would epoxy even bring that about, instead of the leeching of true chemical toxins to affect the water?

As it stands, and as I still have the Sulphur Goby, I'm sort of in no mans land. I did say I'd probably keep just my larger tank downstairs and give up on the affected one. I really don't want to add the goby to that tank. I am definitely not keen on a population that exceeds the tank limits so the affected tank looks like it'll be sorted out.
I'm going to remove all the rock, and sand, boil them and do daily water changes for a week to eliminate any toxicity that may still be present.
Then I'll be emptying the canister filter and do a daily water change on that too for a week but in freshwater as I know I'll have to condition everything again anyway.
The rocks; well I think the best thing apart from the boiling and water changes, I will clip off the epoxy before using them again.

The suggestion of putting in a sacrificial fish isn't as daft as it may appear. When I first set up the tank I bought a couple of black mollies. did a drip change from freshwater to marine and used those. They were amazing. No problems at all. I really didn't have a need for them beyond that so I swapped them at my LFS a good 4 or 5 months ago. He now has them in his frag tanks where they appear as happy as well fed chickens.
It's a hard lesson, but I think all aquarists go through this in one form or another at some point, where we lose everything due to some disaster whether it's our own doing, power outages, or whatever. My first, and only attempt, at a reef tank, went beautifully until I had to move across country and tried to break it down and transport it all in buckets and such - everything died. All my corals, all my fish. It was a smelly sad mess by the time I arrived. I haven't attempted saltwater again since then, though I'm sure I will at some point. For now I'm loving freshwater tanks with lots of plants, etc.
 

Donya

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The ammonia and such is most likely from dieoff in response to the toxin since you had animals in there that died. A lot of small organisms may have died too, like plankton, which can cause readings pretty fast upon death. The toxin may have not nuked all the beneficial bacteria though, perhaps moderating the readings you got.

One of those toxic compounds also ends in "urea" - it's a bunch of stuff tacked onto that from what I just looked up. Urea alone converts to ammonia, although I don't know whether it would be able to convert to that given the rest of the structure it's attached to.

I'm going to remove all the rock, and sand, boil them and do daily water changes for a week to eliminate any toxicity that may still be present.
Please just throw out any rocks that had contact with the glue to avoid a repeat. Boiling it is not going to do anything except nuke biological stuff, which is hardly the issue. Don't just clip off the bits where you see glue; if it penetrated into porous surfaces it will be very hard to tell if you got it all out and if it wasn't cured all the way there could be compounds soaked in elsewhere in the rock that would be near impossible to remove. Just throw it out.

You may already be planning this but the WCs need to be 100% repeatedly to have a significant impact. Even then, be aware that it may not rid you of everything if any of those compounds can interact with silicone, etc.

So my thoughts turned to why a goby didn't succumb to any toxicity from the epoxy glued rocks.
Dumb luck. Some species and individuals have higher tolerance than others to toxins. It may yet die; sometimes animals exposed to toxins have internal complications that take a while to become evident.
 

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Net knowing exactly what the toxin was, it's hard to advise anything except running a bunch of activated carbon and letting the tank sit coral-only for some time to see if those are affected too (reactions can be slower). Do you have a link to the particular glue? Did it say anything about being antimicrobial or antifungal, etc? Those kinds of things can at least allow a better guess at what leached in.

Perhaps with the exception of basic cyanoacrylate super glue, glues/sealants/etc that are just for home usage aren't necessarily safe even if they don't have warning labels. I have some UV resin that's extremely toxic to aquatic life, but it doesn't have a single warning on it - not even relating to people. Sometimes it's explicitly listed, sometimes not. Although I'm sure there are also some safe ones to be found in hardware aisles, it's safer to just pay the extra few bucks for the assurance of an aquarium-safe and marine-safe label to avoid this situation.
I use cyanoacrylate super glue that I buy at a hardware store to attach plants to wood or rocks. It's safe. Just make sure to use the gel kind so that you can control where the glue goes.
 

Donya

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I use cyanoacrylate super glue that I buy at a hardware store to attach plants to wood or rocks. It's safe. Just make sure to use the gel kind so that you can control where the glue goes.
That's why I qualified my statement with "perhaps with the exception of basic cyanoacrylate super glue." However, I would not go as far as to simply say "it's safe" because there are multiple factors in what "safe" means from a reef standpoint, not just the chemicals themselves. Frequently what's at the hardware store, even the gels, do not have the same consistency as the stuff intended for reefs. Some of the reef glues are practically sculptable if you douse it with a bit of water first to form a cured layer. A superglue that doesn't behave as expected and goes all over the place or lets the frag slip can really stress out or even injure the frag.
 
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Lynnzer

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I use cyanoacrylate super glue that I buy at a hardware store to attach plants to wood or rocks. It's safe. Just make sure to use the gel kind so that you can control where the glue goes.
Sticking rocks together isn't easy with superglue though. I used the method of plugging gaps with cigarette filters and dripping the glue onto them which worked well on my freshwater tank wooden architecture. The problem with rocks though is that they are just too heavy and they really aren't able to be picked up and moved without them falling apart. The last thing I want is to glue the rocks together, placing them over the top of the tank and seeing them split apart and break the bottom glass.
I did what I said I'd do yesterday. ie removed the rock and clipped off all the epoxy and superglue and along with the sand I boiled them and rinsed them. Same with the external filter. I thoroughly cleaned it out in really hot tapwater; yeah I know....not worried about killing the good bacteria at present as it'll all have to be re-established again anyway. refilled the filter with fresh marine-water, added the sand and rocks back into the tank without sticking them together again, and filled with water.
I'll be doing water checks daily to see if there's a build up of ammonia etc. I added a hermit crab and a snail with a couple of frags to see if they manage OK. So far they appear alright and the frags have regained the sparkle.
It's a waiting game now.
 
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Lynnzer

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I did a water check yesterday and found a trace of ammonia - somewhere between 0.2 & 0.5.
Nitrite showed as 0.5 to 1.0 and nitrate showed as about 0.5.
Quite where those build ups came from I have no idea as the water was changed 100% and I haven't put anything in there apart from copepods to see if they survive, which they seem to have done.
Anyway, as brought out in another topic I posted asking about using Seachem Prime for ammonia detoxification, I added the appropriate amount as recommended by Seachem, added more liquid live bacteria and left it to stand for the day.

This morning the ammonia colour was a lighter yellow than the one shown on the test kit sleeve, the nitrite was slightly down, as was the nitrate. I don't know if it's a good thing that the yellow of the ammonia is OK being lighter than it shows on the test kit. Perhaps someone knows if this fine or not, bearing in mind that this is a marine tank.
As for toxicity of the resin, I think this isn't a problem. I used so little of it, have chiselled all of it off, boiled and soaked the rocks and the frags that were in the tank when the fish died are blooming prettily. They are back in the tank too so any toxic chemicals haven't affected them, if any were present.
I'll wait another day and see if there are any changes, and if there are any that are poorer I'll change an appropriate amount of water.
 
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Lynnzer

Lynnzer

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The only change is positive. The ammonia is still fine and the levels have dropped to almost zero on nitrite and nitrate.
I put the sulphur goby in the tank yesterday and it's settled fine, feeding and chasing copepods. I also put the crab I found in the tank too until I got confirmation what is is, and I removed it this morning for a nice crab sandwich for my anemones.
It seems to confirm that if toxins were the initial problem, it's all sorted now. Happy days again but I'll add more Colony Marine Bacteria to give a further boost.
 

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