Am I ready for acros?

killergoby

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I'm sure a lot of these get posted, but here goes.

My newest tank was set up July 2020. I used primarily marco and RealReef rock for the aquascape, which is all dry. Its a barebottom with a ~50% display water volume refugium with a sand bed in the fuge. The refugium has xenia and caulerpa in it. I converted a previous tank with much less rock work to provide the rock work in the refugium and ~10% of the rock work in the display, along with all the sand in the refugium. The converted tank was up for 1 year but was neglected during 4 months of quarantine away prior to setting up the new system. Everyone always says that the mark for acropora readiness is that you're growing coralline algae (and I am), but I don't necessarily buy that as a useful metric for Acros. In the previous tank I had coralline growth since the first month, but I would not have had any reasonable expectation of success with acropora. I have a significant growth in this tank of filter feeding hitchhikers including sea squirts, mussels, and pineapple sponges. I've seen reasonable growth out of montipora and porites frags since August. I put in one birdsnest as a tester but natural sunlight fried it in a day or two when the seasons changed and the direct sunlight angled through the window onto its lower position in the tank. I have had significant use of calcium and carbonate (mostly from calciferous filter feeders and coralline, given the quantity of uptake) and I replenish right now with kalkwasser in the ATO reservoir and supplemental carbonate/bicarbonate addition to balance out greater uptake of carbonate than calcium. I add the CO3/HCO3 when the buffering capacity of the tank decreases given the pH swings daily. I've attached a graph of typical pH over a week and pictures of coralline/filter feeders. I haven't kept acropora since 2014, and the current system has nothing older than 1.5yrs old after a break from the hobby. Last time I kept acropora my tank was several years old and I only kept them for a year or so before leaving the hobby.

My big question is: short of buying a tester acropora which I may not like, how will I know that the tank will support acropora without buying some desirable frags and risking it? I don't like paying significant money for shipping, and so when I buy a pack of acropora I want them to be of sufficient number and quality to rationalize the shipping costs.

Tank details in bullet form:
-July Marco and RealReef rock dry for main aquascape
-1YO rock and sand from previous reef, mostly in refugium
-Barebottom display
-Xenia & Caulerpa refugium, 50% volume of display
-ATO Kalk and supplemental CO3/HCO3 to steady pH buffering
-COR15 return pump with VCA random flow eductors
-Dual gyre pumps, one opposite to return, one in back left oriented vertically (Currently running 30% except in surge)
-Coralline covering 50% of marco rocks now
-Mussels, sea squirts, pineapple sponges since mid-August
-Oversized skimmer running overnight
-LED's running at 23% white and 45% blue, 6.3 Watts per gallon
-Supplemental T5's Blue+ running 4hrs a day, 0.75 Watts per gallon

Fish:
-Yellow Tang
-4 Lyretail anthias
-2 Dispar Anthias
-1 Carberryi Anthias
-Banggai Cardinal
-2 Percula clownfish
-Bicolor Blenny
-Orchid Dottyback

Corals:
-Favia
-Goniastrea
-Porites (Sanddollar and more traditional varieties)
-Montipora (Encrusting, plating, aequituberculata)
-Turbinaria
-Sun coral (Tubastrea)
-Button Scolymia
-Acan Echinata
-Lords
-Bowerbanki
-GSP
-Zoas/Palys
-Ricordea
-St Thomas Coral
-Chalice
-Cyphastrea (Only ones not doing well, I suspect too much light)
-Duncans
-Gorgonians (Real + Corky Sea Fingers)
-Goniopora

None of these corals pass the 50% height of the tank except for the tyree aequituberculata and the tips of the corky sea fingers

IMG_7508.jpg Screen Shot 2020-11-13 at 11.37.15 AM.png IMG_7675.jpg
 
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vetteguy53081

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You can start with the easier and forgiving acros and progressively graduate to others.

birdnest
Cliffs
Stylo
Monti
Bonsai
 
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killergoby

killergoby

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You can start with the easier and forgiving acros and progressively graduate to others.

birdnest
Cliffs
Stylo
Monti
Bonsai

So given that I've had consistent montipora growth, you would suggest trial corals? Is there any other way to determine acropora readiness?
 

vetteguy53081

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So given that I've had consistent montipora growth, you would suggest trial corals? Is there any other way to determine acropora readiness?
Your parameters
Many share common parameter requirements

alk. 8/9
Mag. 1300
Ca. 450
Salinity 1.025
Temp 77-79
 

HB AL

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I would try some at this point since a little of the rock was live and if your current corals are doing good. Any acropora you put in there now or say a few months later in reality is gonna be a "tester", I would buy a few different types and see how it goes. Other option is to wait atleast a few more months. If you get some just get a few $20 to $30 frags from your lfs and don't get tempted by the nice expensive frags. If they do good for say a couple months then I would start slowly adding ones you want.
 
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killergoby

killergoby

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Your parameters
Many share common parameter requirements

alk. 8/9
Mag. 1300
Ca. 450
Salinity 1.025
Temp 77-79

Salinity 1.026
Temp 76.8-78.0

I haven't done any recent testing outside of Apex pH and other probe measurements as I haven't replaced any kits recently. I do a 10% weekly water change (total volume) with red sea coral pro salt. If I were to start Acros I would begin testing again but for the LPS and easy SPS I have it isn't really necessary. Nitrate and Phosphate were at 0 for the first 3 months of the tank (the new dry rock absorbs ions at a shocking rate) and now NO3 and PO4 are quite low thanks to the caulerpa growth. Little/no algae growth in the display in the last few months since the initial burst on new dry rock.
 

vetteguy53081

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chris_pull

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I am in a similar position with my tank. My buddy, who sells corals as a sideline, had an SPS sale a few weeks back. I picked up a few $5 acro frags just to see how they'd do. I had a little bit of tissue loss, and I mean really tiny. They already grew back and one has even managed to start growing over the rock. I went for cheap species so it's not a huge loss if they don't make it!
 
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