Adventures in keeping a sps reef

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Llorgon

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If you look closely at the picture, I do have this almost slime like stuff on the rocks. Not sure if that is contributing to anything. I haven't seen it in any of my other tanks.
 

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If you look closely at the picture, I do have this almost slime like stuff on the rocks. Not sure if that is contributing to anything. I haven't seen it in any of my other tanks.
Could be the start of some "golden algae" or chrysophytes.

Do you have any coralline starting up?
 
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Could be the start of some "golden algae" or chrysophytes.

Do you have any coralline starting up?

It looks very similar to chrysophytes, that is probably what it is. Doesn't seem to be harming anything and isn't really out of control. I will just keep trying to manually remove it during water changes.

I have some coralline starting on the glass, but I don't see anything on the rocks. I always seem to have an issue growing coralline in my tanks.
 
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Here is the monti on the back wall. Not as nice looking without the frag plug, but hopefully it stays.

The other SPS that I got are coming along and starting to colour up. I'm really just having issues with that pacman frag.
 

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A few new things to report here.

The monti on the back wall fell off again. I used the last of my coral glue to stick it back on there. Maybe it's just not destined to be on the wall.

Fish are doing well and the long nose hawk is slowly starting to fatten up. Corals are good for the most part. Seeing a bit of growth on most. Some colours have faded a bit on a few, but I'm seeing some green on the forest fire Digi!

I also picked up some euphyllia fr a fellow reefer who was getting rid of all his euphyllia. The biggest of them is about softball size.

I finally finished off the box of rpm salt and I am now switching over to red sea coral program.

I did my first water change with the red sea salt and mixed up the calcium, alkalinity and magnesium. When I poured everything into the dosing containers, the alkalinity and magnesium had a lot of sediment at the bottom. I must not have mixed it enough.

I'm hoping that the red sea program will help with some trace elements I've been low on and improve colours.
 

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Thanks! I thought so too. I did miss out on a couple of nice wall hammer colonies the guy had. Someone got to them the day before me!

I'm happy with the pulse 2. I wasn't sure at the beginning, but now that I have some corals it seems like it's more than enough. I do find I really have to make sure they don't get too dirty. More so than the mp10 I have on my smaller tank.
 
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Been quite awhile since I updated. It's been a bit of a crazy last couple months. Near the end of March I got laid off in a mass layoff. Luckily the tech market is hot right now so I was able to find a job in a week and took 3 weeks off.

As for the tank, it's been a bit neglected the last couple weeks. Been on a couple camping trips and ran out of salt so this weekend was the first water change in a few weeks.

Overall the tank is doing pretty well. I'm seeing some growth on the SPS, but I'm not getting good colour. Maybe it just takes time?

I did pick up a reef dose doser. So far, no complaints. It was easy to setup and pretty accurate. I'm dosing 12ml ALK, 3ml cal and no mag right now. I tested my water yesterday for the first time in a couple weeks. I had no movement in cal and mag, ALK had dropped so I bumped it up from 9 to 12ml a day.

I feel I'm not utilizing my refugium to it's full potential. I added some macro algae about a month and a half ago and I haven't seen much growth at all. I also get a bit of a film on top of the algae. I have my refugium lights go on opposite of the display tank. Any advice on improving the refugium area is welcome.
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Got a few new additions to the tank. Couple nice coral pieces and a blue eye kole tang.

I was hesitant about the tang since I already have a yellow tang, but I got it from a friend who was shutting his tank down and it was the last fish. So far it seems to be doing well and has buddied up with the yellow tang. I'll keep an eye on them and see how it goes. It probably should have a bigger tank...

Corals are doing alright, noticed my elkhorn and forest fire haven't been happy the last 2 days. I tested the water and everything is in normal parameters. So I'm not sure what is going on. The Elkhorn is usually the first to show signs something is off so I'm going to keep an eye on it.

My nitrates were low the last time I tested my water for the last week I've been dosing a couple caps of nitrate to slowly bring it up. I've noticed colours in the corals improving since I started the dosing.

I've been having some trouble getting my magnesium supplement to mix up well. I'm using red sea magnesium powder and it always seems to have half an inch of unmixed powder at the bottom. I heated my water before mixing and used the kitchen aid to mix it for a good 15 mins and still didn't all mix in...

Overall the tank is looking a bit ugly at the moment. Dealing with cyano and mystery gold/yellow algae type stuff on the rocks.
 

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I did my regular 15g water change on Saturday. I also cleaned the skimmer cup, replaced filter floss and got a new ATO reservoir. The ATO reservoir is a food safe/grade dog food container that I washed out with vinegar and water.

Sunday: All the corals looking the same, but a bit less cyano so I was happy.

Sunday night comes around and in the span of an hour my pacman frag completely RTN and a few other frags have gone white at the base. Literally looked at the tank after dinner, walked the dog and came back to this! I added some carbon, but really not sure what else to do or the cause.

I checked the temp, salinity and all the basic params and no change from when I tested them before the water change on Saturday.

On the plus side, there doesn't seem to be any more coral tissue lost this morning.
 

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I did my regular 15g water change on Saturday. I also cleaned the skimmer cup, replaced filter floss and got a new ATO reservoir. The ATO reservoir is a food safe/grade dog food container that I washed out with vinegar and water.

Sunday: All the corals looking the same, but a bit less cyano so I was happy.

Sunday night comes around and in the span of an hour my pacman frag completely RTN and a few other frags have gone white at the base. Literally looked at the tank after dinner, walked the dog and came back to this! I added some carbon, but really not sure what else to do or the cause.

I checked the temp, salinity and all the basic params and no change from when I tested them before the water change on Saturday.

On the plus side, there doesn't seem to be any more coral tissue lost this morning.
What salt brand are you using? And what parameters do you typically keep in the tank?
 
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What salt brand are you using? And what parameters do you typically keep in the tank?
I'm currently using red sea blue bucket.

current params are:
Temp: 78
Salinity: 1.026
Alk: 7.5(slowly getting it up to 8)
Cal: 450
Mag: 1290(also trying to raise this a bit)
Nitrate: 4
Phosphate: 0.07
 

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I'm currently using red sea blue bucket.

current params are:
Temp: 78
Salinity: 1.026
Alk: 7.5(slowly getting it up to 8)
Cal: 450
Mag: 1290(also trying to raise this a bit)
Nitrate: 4
Phosphate: 0.07
Hmm okay. Only thing I can think of typically for your recently bleaching issue is an alk swing thats why I was asking
 
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Well I think I found my issue. I had 0 nitrates for the last week and a bit I was dosing nitrates to help bring them up. Got them up a bit higher than I wanted, but then phosphate bottomed out. Which is probably what caused the RTN of the pacman. During my quick panic testing on Sunday night I have now figure out if you don't hold down the button on the hanna phosphate checker it gives you the reading right away instead of after 3 mins. Which gives you very inaccurate results...

After doing more thorough and less rushed/panic testing I know have detectable nitrates and phosphates.

Params as of last night:

Temp: 78
Salinity: 1.026
Alk: 8.1
Cal: 420
Mag: 1230
Nitrate: 20
Phosphate: 0.22

I had a big jump in Alk from Sunday to Monday. I'm guessing growth has stopped/significantly slowed down. When I test tonight, if it's gone up by another 1dkh I will cut my dosing in half.

Currently my forest fire isn't looking great, elkhorn might not make it, montipora has significant bleaching and one other sps that I can't remember the name of has lost tissue at the base. Things don't seem to be getting worse though so that's good I guess.

My slight cyano problem has become much worse and is taking over most of the rocks and a bunch of the sandbed.

Of course I leave for vacation on thursday and will be gone a bit over a week. No idea what the tank will look like when I get back, but if cyano takes over I'm bracing for the worst.

Should I do another water change before leaving or just let things be and see if they even themselves out?
 
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Well I think I found my issue. I had 0 nitrates for the last week and a bit I was dosing nitrates to help bring them up. Got them up a bit higher than I wanted, but then phosphate bottomed out. Which is probably what caused the RTN of the pacman. During my quick panic testing on Sunday night I have now figure out if you don't hold down the button on the hanna phosphate checker it gives you the reading right away instead of after 3 mins. Which gives you very inaccurate results...

After doing more thorough and less rushed/panic testing I know have detectable nitrates and phosphates.

Params as of last night:

Temp: 78
Salinity: 1.026
Alk: 8.1
Cal: 420
Mag: 1230
Nitrate: 20
Phosphate: 0.22

I had a big jump in Alk from Sunday to Monday. I'm guessing growth has stopped/significantly slowed down. When I test tonight, if it's gone up by another 1dkh I will cut my dosing in half.

Currently my forest fire isn't looking great, elkhorn might not make it, montipora has significant bleaching and one other sps that I can't remember the name of has lost tissue at the base. Things don't seem to be getting worse though so that's good I guess.

My slight cyano problem has become much worse and is taking over most of the rocks and a bunch of the sandbed.

Of course I leave for vacation on thursday and will be gone a bit over a week. No idea what the tank will look like when I get back, but if cyano takes over I'm bracing for the worst.

Should I do another water change before leaving or just let things be and see if they even themselves out?
Man vacations always seem to strike right when the tank is having issues :/

My advice would be to do one more water change to get the nitrates down a little bit. Do you have someone coming over to watch the tank while you are gone? Feeding will play a role in how your nutrients progress while you are gone. Additionally, the spike in phos can cause growth to slow, which will cause the alk spike (ironically, the same thing happened to me last month while I was away on my honeymoon). The main task for now is to drop nitrates a bit and to get phos back under 0.1. The high phos is whats fueling the cyano for sure.

Normally I'd say add some GFO (start SMALL in quantity; dropping phos too fast is worse than it climbing) but since you are going out of town, I'd be hesitant to add something you can monitor. I guess if it were me in this situation, I'd add a small amount of GFO (maybe half of the prescribed amount) so it could help bring it down, but without crashing it. Even then I'd be nervous to since I won't be there to keep an eye on it.

Sorry I can't give any hard advice! That is what I can offer based on my experiences and knowledge though! Also, as a note, if the phos proves to be stubborn like mine was (came home to phos of .59) the combined effort of GFO and lanthanum chloride works well to fight it back down (I use brightwell phosphat-e and can't speak highly enough of it)
 
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Man vacations always seem to strike right when the tank is having issues :/

My advice would be to do one more water change to get the nitrates down a little bit. Do you have someone coming over to watch the tank while you are gone? Feeding will play a role in how your nutrients progress while you are gone. Additionally, the spike in phos can cause growth to slow, which will cause the alk spike (ironically, the same thing happened to me last month while I was away on my honeymoon). The main task for now is to drop nitrates a bit and to get phos back under 0.1. The high phos is whats fueling the cyano for sure.

Normally I'd say add some GFO (start SMALL in quantity; dropping phos too fast is worse than it climbing) but since you are going out of town, I'd be hesitant to add something you can monitor. I guess if it were me in this situation, I'd add a small amount of GFO (maybe half of the prescribed amount) so it could help bring it down, but without crashing it. Even then I'd be nervous to since I won't be there to keep an eye on it.

Sorry I can't give any hard advice! That is what I can offer based on my experiences and knowledge though! Also, as a note, if the phos proves to be stubborn like mine was (came home to phos of .59) the combined effort of GFO and lanthanum chloride works well to fight it back down (I use brightwell phosphat-e and can't speak highly enough of it)

Vacations always come when the tank is having issues. Just a law of nature it seems.

We have people coming in to check on the cats. They will also feed fish and fill ATO if needed. I also have an auto feeder to setup so that should help as well.

I was thinking of the water change as well mainly due to nitrates being 25+ppm or I can monitor for one more day and see if they start coming down. If they start coming down it gives them the week I'm away for them to safely drop without having to worry about them bottoming out again.

I tested my water tonight. Alk went from 8.1-8.2 so no need to change dosing setting which is good.

Mag stayed pretty much the same. I'm trying to being it up to the 1350 range from 1260 it is now.

Nitrates are still really high. 25+ppm

Phosphates dropped significantly! 0.22 last night to 0.009 tonight. I've dose 3 more capful of phosphate tonight.
 
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