Am I making Rookie mistakes? Long query from me so looking for some wisdom

canisterreef

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
Jun 11, 2023
Messages
32
Reaction score
13
Location
england
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
Hi, if anyone has seen my previous posts you will know that I am new to the salt water hobby after many years experience in high tech planted tropical.

I have set up one of my ex-trop tanks (140 litre or 35 gallon) for salt water using a huge canister filter (unable to accommodate a sump). Its a beast and holds 4kg of sintered glass marine media with a 1250l/h flow rate. Its rated for tanks up to 600 litre (130 gallon) so it is massively oversized. I approached it this way from my freshwater experience of oversized/ huge media amount equals nitrate to nitrogen exchange (which has worked for years in freshwater filtration). It has prefilters so it makes it easy to maintain and keeps the bio-media free of any debris that could start to rot off inside the canister. I have a dedicated space at the final stage of the canister with Red Sea Reef activated carbon, in a carbon media bag, measured at 25g per their guide/ instructions for my total water amount.

I added a HOB bubble-magnus qq1 protein skimmer so the proteins are dealt with which I understand can be an issue with canisters on salt water set ups. It is working great and I have been able to get it to wet skim and dry skim but adjusting the height of the collection cup, so I am happy with this. Its been running 24/7 since set up and pulls out the expected waste.

I also have an auto-dosing unit pumping in 1ml of Zlements "Inone" 3 times a week so total 3ml weekly.

The set up has been running for 3 month now and I used dry rock and live rock. It has completed its cycle some time back and I have invested in the range of Hanna checkers to ensure I test weekly.

I have live stock as follows, which are all doing well, feeding, active and appear settled:

2 x young clowns
1 x midas blenny
1 x fire fish
1 x royal gramma
A mixed CUC of hermits, snails and 5 cleaner shrimp

I recently added the following:

Small frag of GSP
5 small zoas (between 4-10 polyps each)
1 larger colony of paylthoa (aboyut 25 polyps)
a small kenya tree
a medium toadstool
a small sympodium
3 mushrooms
a small papya clove polyp

All of these appear settled and open. The Kenya tree is still sulking a bit but its only been in 5 days, however it has gone from deflated and limped over to straight and upright and its (unfurled top) is glowing neon green. The toadstool opens up as soon as lights come on and has super long tentacles and appears very happy.

I also added (at the beginning) two macro-algae - a small Botryocladia and a small Hypnea Pannosa (blue). These have grown and the Hypnea has tripled in size if not more.

Tests come back stable each time as follows:
Salinity 35ppm
Alk 9dkh
Calcium 430
Mag 1500 (not sure why this is high)
Phosphate 0.015ppm
Nitrate 0.08ppm

I know that the nitrate and phosphate are low and I think it may be down to the over filtration I have. I cant switch the canister off as it contains my heater. I have not had the confidence to switch the skimmer off because I am worried it could do more harm that good. I have upped feeding to try and increase nitrate and phosphate over the past week and the phosphate is now at 0.028ppm and nitrate at 0.12ppm, but its not really moving up very fast. I have considered dosing but have read so many conflicting views I haven't yet gone down that path.

I experienced what I thought was diatoms but haven't worried about it because I appreciate this is a normal stage but recently I discovered this doesn't appear to be diatom but instead Dinos!

The yellow/rust coloured "algae" on the sand bed is attached to the aragonite sand in a sticky type of mess which is impossible to remove without pulling up sand with it and the growth on the rocks has spread in a lighter coloured 1cm height mat with lots of air bubbles. I did some reading and I can confirm that it doesn't disappear at night.

I think this is down to my low nutrients from what I have read online. I have also been a bit heavy handed with adding phytoplankton and Zooplankton. I didn't know if these were needed and read conflicting views online. Now I think I have caused the perfect storm for Dino's by having low nutrients and over using phytoplankton and Zooplankton.

It has started to get too close to my zoas so I freaked a bit after reading how toxic it is and how it can kill inverts and coral so I did a scrub off last night whilst siphoning the stuff out. I didn't want to lose water and replace with new (because I also read this causes Dino's to grow more) so I filtered the siphoned water through layers of floss and returned the water, as suggested on a previous R2R post.

Today my fish and inverts are all fine but all my soft coral are clamped shut! I swopped out the carbon just in case any toxins have been released and there does seem to be some slight coral opening an hour later. The large colony of Paly's never closes even at night, it just sits there glowing nuclear green but today it is closed shut for the first time, which makes me concerned.

Sorry for the long intro and context so here are my questions:

1) What do I do about the low nitrate and phosphate? Should I keep feeding more and wait it out or start dosing to raise them both? I don't want to make myself another issue by adding chemicals if I can approach it in a more natural way.
2) Am I over-reacting with the Dino issue? Is there a calmer, more coral friendly way of dealing with it? Would last nights scrub off and re-use of siphoned water damage my tank?
3) Are the Macro- algae pulling all my nitrate and phosphate? I can loose the Botryocladia if so but I would like to keep the Hypnea Pannosa because it looks awesome.
4) Should I stop the dosing? Is it a waste of money with soft coral?
5) What (if any) water changes should I be doing? I started with 10% weekly but I think I could be making a Dino paradise by removing the tiny amount of nitrate and phosphate I have in the water.
6) I also have some greener tufts of hair grass (but not very much) should I leave this to let it out compete the Dino's?

I know this may not be the ideal set up and I appreciate sumps and associated kit are the way to go but this is my first attempt at salt water and I have tried to be as careful and dedicated as I can be to get it right.

Sorry for the very long post but I thought asking everything in one go would help me.

Hopefully someone has the patience to read it through and some knowledge and suggestions for a newbie.

Thanks
 
OP
OP
C

canisterreef

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
Jun 11, 2023
Messages
32
Reaction score
13
Location
england
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
Photos attached
 

Attachments

  • dino1.jpg
    dino1.jpg
    103.2 KB · Views: 50
  • dino2.jpg
    dino2.jpg
    100.7 KB · Views: 48
  • dino3.jpg
    dino3.jpg
    95.8 KB · Views: 50
  • dino4.jpg
    dino4.jpg
    82 KB · Views: 50
  • dino5.jpg
    dino5.jpg
    37.5 KB · Views: 50
  • dino6.jpg
    dino6.jpg
    90.6 KB · Views: 46
  • dino7.jpg
    dino7.jpg
    119.5 KB · Views: 50

Mr. Mojo Rising

5000 Club Member
View Badges
Joined
Feb 14, 2021
Messages
6,603
Reaction score
7,349
Location
Toronto
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
It looks like you have all soft corals. In comparison to you, my softie tank has no filtration at all, just weekly water changes. i don't even test on that tank.

I would definately remove the macro algae to start, see if that has any impact, macro algae rarely needed on a brand new tank.

I also don't see any powerheads in your description, a return line is rarely sufficient IMO. Leathers like at least medium flow, lack of flow makes them slump over and have trouble to shed.
 

billyocean

10K Club member
View Badges
Joined
Feb 10, 2018
Messages
29,565
Reaction score
49,745
Location
Atlanta
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
It wouldn't hurt to dose some phosphate. Reed roids is high in phosphate if your wanting the feeding route. Personally, I would rather dose than overfeed because it's a cleaner way to do it..but that's what works for me and is a matter of personal preference. As mentioned before the flow could be an issue if it's lacking. You seem to have a ton of filtration which may be overkill. The carbon is definately good for the leathers though. FWIW I don't even run a skimmer with acros but my tank doesnt require one.
 
OP
OP
C

canisterreef

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
Jun 11, 2023
Messages
32
Reaction score
13
Location
england
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
It looks like you have all soft corals. In comparison to you, my softie tank has no filtration at all, just weekly water changes. i don't even test on that tank.

I would definately remove the macro algae to start, see if that has any impact, macro algae rarely needed on a brand new tank.

I also don't see any powerheads in your description, a return line is rarely sufficient IMO. Leathers like at least medium flow, lack of flow makes them slump over and have trouble to shed.
Thanks for the reply I have two AI Nero 3 wave makers, the outlet from canister and lights x 2 Red Sea reefer led 50s
 

HAVE YOU EVER EXPERIENCED AGGRESSIVE CLOWNFISH? (TELL US YOU'RE EXPERIENCE IN THE COMMENTS!)

  • Yes, my Clownfish have attacked me/other members of the tank.

    Votes: 29 61.7%
  • No, my Clownfish have been peaceful.

    Votes: 18 38.3%
  • Other (please explain!)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
Back
Top