REEF2REEF Saltwater and Reef Aquarium Forum
2/22/17 - Day 290 - It's all a numbers game
Ha! Under a month this time. #winning :-\
I decided a while back that I wouldn't "chase a number" with my tank, but I still like to know where I'm at, of course. One of these days, I'll put out the money to get a Triton test done (it's not like it's all that expensive, relatively speaking). But until then (or in addition to that, I suppose), I've been building up quite the stock of test kits. My latest addition is the Red Sea Reef Colors Pro kit. This added iodine, iron, and potassium to my test suite. I sometimes run individual tests on a rotating basis, but last night I ran the full gambit. Here's where it's all at, along with the source of the data:
Salinity - 1.026SG (Refractometer)
Salt - 34ppt (Apex)
pH - 7.81 (Apex)
Temp (sump) - 79F (Apex)
Alkalinity - 7.7dKH (Hanna)
Calcium - 490ppm (Red Sea)
Magnesium - 1300ppm (Red Sea)
Ammonia - 0.012ppm (SenEye)
Nitrite - 0ppm (API)
Nitrate - 8.00ppm (Red Sea)
Phosphate - 0.05ppm (Hanna)
Phosphorus - 13ppb (Hanna)
ORP - 467mv (Apex)
Iron - 0ppm (Red Sea)
Iodine - 0.06ppm (Red Sea)
Potassium - 395ppm (Red Sea)
The bolded numbers are ones that show up outside my desired tolerance levels (I use Aquarimate, which allows you to enter and track desired ranges). Yet while those show up in my app as "alarm red", none of them are really anything that I'm concerned about. If anything, the ones that I'd like to change the most are temperature (down to ~78F) and Alk (up to 8-9+dKH).
I've been logging my heaters on the Apex and they've not come on in weeks, so the current temp is a result of ambient air temp and heat generated by gear. We keep our house at 74F. I've tried to drop us to 72F and was able to get the tank temps down by a degree as a result, but the wife (and myself, to be honest) was a bit more cold than desired. I'm on the receiving end of The Look enough as it is with this tank; telling her she has to be a bit cold because of the tank just isn't possible. I've got a fan blowing onto the refugium (which is the only place I could mount it) and that's helped drop it from ~79.5F to ~79F. (These temps are all daily averages; it's got some swing as the room temp raises and falls around it.) I'm not really sure what else I can do to get that extra point that wouldn't impact something else (eg; turning off pumps, etc.), so I think I'm just going to settle with the ~79F. It's not like 79F is a bad temperature, after all...
The Alk I could raise up by increasing my dosing, I suppose. I've been slow to go that route, however, as I think another source of my "problem" is the salt that I use - which is currently the Kent Marine Reef Salt brand. In testing the salt water used in my water change last night, the dKH was a paltry 5.0. Perhaps because the water had been mixing for a few weeks? I'm not sure, but this is not the first time I've run into this with Kent. I've got about half a bucket left, after which I'll be switching. I'm looking at the HW-Marinemix as a replacement, though I've also considered the Read Sea Coral Pro. Both are about the same price per-gallon, I'm just not sure that I want to use a salt mix that gets around 12dKH when mixed. The 9dKH of HW seems like a more forgiving number. Not to mention; the boxes that HW comes in will be easier to dispose of than the buckets of the Coral Pro (I already have a half dozen Kent buckets around the garage; no need for more).
I've tested iron twice now (the kit is fairly new), but both tests were clearly at the 0ppm level. I'm not totally convinced that I'm not just messing up the test procedure yet, but I'm getting pretty good at the complexities of those tests. I figure one more test and if that comes up 0ppm, then I'm pretty sure that I'm getting a true reading. I'm dosing in the KZ Coral System, but none of those seem to include iron that I can find? So it looks like this is a gap that they expect you to fill with a specific additive - their Iron Concentrate, I would presume... **sigh** I think I'm beginning to understand a bit more about this "tiny blue bottles" schtick. There's also the "automatic elements" option, but I would have to put 10 of those cubes into my sump. That may be easier than daily doses of the concentrate, however... Anyone have any thoughts on dosing iron? Is that something I should even bother doing, or just leave it as-is until I switch salt and then see where I'm at? Increasing coloration - especially in SPS - is my current focus. The recently added T5's (or else the LED profile changes) have helped, but more needs doing, I feel.
Numbers aside, the tank seems to be doing well enough. In terms of fish, there are only two of concern;
The smaller Bangaii Cardinalfish (we ended up with 2 males, sadly) has gotten chased about so much by the larger than it's now pretty much taken up residence in the back corner under a rock. I have to target feed the area just to be sure he gets adequate food. Does not seem happy at all. I tried to catch him the other day using a net with the intent to take him to an LFS for rehoming, but was not able to. Which worked out okay; we didn't have time to go to the LFS anyways. Once of these days soon, I'll actually get out the trap I've got and get him that way.
The other fish that seems under duress is the smallest of the three Bartlett's Anthias. The largest is a clear male, of course, and is the aggressor between the three. He'll stay close to the larger female, though he pushes her around a bit as well. The smaller female, however, gets chased off by either - and sometimes both - if she gets close. The larger two swim about the tank while the small female pretty much just hangs out under the arch (rather like the hawkfish). I don't think she's as bad off as the Cardinal - she still eats with everyone else when I broadcast feed the middle of the tank - but I am looking to re-home her as well if I can catch her using the trap (I won't even bother trying the net with her).
If I can catch them both, I'll do so. The wife enjoys wrasse in the tank, so I'll likely look to swap the two of them for something she enjoys. I like wrasses as well, but I like all fishes.
Equipment-wise, only minor changes so far. I ordered a custom lid, but it doesn't fit right, so I've asked the vendor to send me some replacement mesh and spline. I'll try and self-repair (hoping that some looser mesh will allow it to fit), but if that doesn't work I'll ship the lid back and have them fix the issue.
I swapped out the "white" LED I had over the fuge with an LED grow-light last night. I'm hoping that the grow light will help the chaeto stay around; it seems to be struggling again. It's helped to bring my nitrates down (from 16ppm to the 8ppm above), so I'm pretty sure it's worth having. The grow light should also, I hope, help the mangroves - three of which have settled in and are doing okay, but the fourth seems to be dying. Other than those two, not much has changed. I've cleaned one of my gyres (removed, soaked in vinegar, dried, replaced) and am looking to do the other one soon. I've swapped out the CO2 scrubbing material that is inline for my skimmer (I think I mentioned that I added that, didn't I?); seems like it lasted a few weeks. It's the color-changing variety and I found that mixing it up a bit helped to expose new (uncolored) surfaces, which seemed to extend it's life a bit. I'm curious what an inline CO2 meter would tell me about the pre- and post-scrubbed air... A (very) quick search didn't turn anything up on the market; odd that - I'll have to see what I could cobble together if, indeed, nothing actually exists...
I did get the water level fixed! Check post #194: https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/daniels-reef-savvy-50g-cube.266709/page-10#post-3352600