Am I really this bad at water chemistry?

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zromano

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Hey everyone. I have a Red Sea Reefer 250 with a Triton sump (+/- 64ish gallons in total?) that I've recently started. Tank is about two months old now. I previously had a biocube 32 that I've broken down (pretty much) and have transferred corals over to the new tank. My hammer coral is doing horrendous and I'm about to lose it while the zoanthids have done subpar but are still "open for business" per se.

I run a Tunze ATO, get RO/DI water from my LFS, run a Bubble Magnus Curve 5 skimmer, have filter socks, and have a ton of bio balls and porous rocks in my sump for biological filtration. My tank cycle took about two weeks and I was off to the races thinking everything was going well but I have constantly had issues with my water parameters (to which I cannot tell what the issues are).

So I bought an Apex to add consistency - ultimately my goal is to automate dosing and to get a Trident. When I first added the new probes my salinity was ultra low so I brought it up over the course of 3-4 days. I had previously been using a refractometer. With salinity now (closer) in line I'm still having issues with pH and ORP. I'm less worried about ORP and more about my PH. Is it possible that my PH probe is just that grossly messed up even though it's brand new?

Also would like your opinions on the my alkalinity and CA. My Alk has been hoving from 8.5 - 8.8 and my Calcium has been from 394 - 432. I check both of these with my Hanna Checker. Here's my other readings below:

Screen Shot 2020-01-14 at 8.10.16 PM.png
 

The Aquatic Arsenal

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Your alkalinity and calcium are ok. I am guessing that if you get alkalinity in line and stable, then you PH will follow. Your salinity is probably what stressed your corals out. It is still a little low. Your temperature seems a little unstable. What are you using to heat your water and is it controlled by tour APEX?
 
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zromano

zromano

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Your alkalinity and calcium are ok. I am guessing that if you get alkalinity in line and stable, then you PH will follow. Your salinity is probably what stressed your corals out. It is still a little low. Your temperature seems a little unstable. What are you using to heat your water and is it controlled by tour APEX?
Thanks for the feedback. As always with reefing, I’ll take my time and be a little patient with the pH.

To heat my tank I’m using a 300W Aquatop titanium heater. I’m using the Apex to control the shutoff only if temperature swings pretty big. I’m not really getting a lot of temperature variance right now from what I can tell? Here’s a screenshot of the day - only 0.40 degree swings.

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Shirak

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Have you tried checking pH with another method to determine if the probe is reading correctly or not? You could also double check the probe by dropping it into calibration solution and checking the reading on your Apex.
 
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zromano

zromano

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Nitrates? Phosphates? with all the new biological filtration maybe you have bottomed out nutrients?
Good question and good feedback. I had chaeto in at one point (removed that a few weeks back). Appreciate the comments because it's a lot to think on. I don't regularly test Phosphate (I know, I should). And I'm only testing Nitrate about once a week. It's generally hovered around that 5-10 range but with the holidays I'll need to do another test here tomorrow and see where it's at. I historically overfeed so not sure that my nitrates would be too low. Definitely could be possible though with the bigger tank as I'm more used to the Biocube. I'll do some looking into it.

Basically, what I'm concerned about is adding additional SPS corals. At this point, I don't think it's worthwhile but want to get my nutrients to a point (and consistency) that I'm not having these issues to worry about.
 
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zromano

zromano

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Why did you remove the chaeto? Chaeto will help keep nutrients in check.
I have a triton sump and added in my slimmer to the middle section. Little pieces of chaeto flew around the tank and restricted air flow in the skimmer by clogging the pump. Until I get a cover for my return pump and find a way to efficiently house the chaeto in the same chamber as my return pump (or my filter socks) then I’m going to hold off on the chaeto. Just created a little too much chaos in the midst of everything and I needed to get operational first before taking that next step if that makes sense.
 
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zromano

zromano

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To provide an update, I think my nitrates have bottomed out. Somehow my tank is operating a little too efficiently, I have two clown fish, a baby yellow tang, and a purple fire fish as well as a few corals. I figured this would produce enough nitrate but obviously not.

My questions relate to nitrate dosing - who does it and what levels do you dose to? Here’s my most recent Red Sea test that’s almost transparent:

053FAD5B-4F3D-4E19-A043-2CAD0A17CF97.jpeg
 

Shirak

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To provide an update, I think my nitrates have bottomed out. Somehow my tank is operating a little too efficiently, I have two clown fish, a baby yellow tang, and a purple fire fish as well as a few corals. I figured this would produce enough nitrate but obviously not.

My questions relate to nitrate dosing - who does it and what levels do you dose to? Here’s my most recent Red Sea test that’s almost transparent:
I was manually dosing nitrates in the morning and bringing it to 3ppm for when the lights kick on. It seemed pretty consistent how much I needed to add each day. I have Chaeto in the refuge so I have to keep that in check or it will get out of balance again. Lights on the fuge are opposite the DT. Currently I am using a micro dose pump and have nitrates phosphates and aminos going in 6 times a day. Tank is fed a couple times a day with the autofeeder and I do some target feeding on corals every 2 or 3 days at night. I am still getting a feel for balancing everything.. I shoot for nitrates around 3-4 ppm and phosphates .03 ppm or so.

Lots of ways to get your nutrients up. Could try increasing feeding frequency or amount and see where things test after a few days.
 

dadnjesse

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Don't rely on the Apex Salinity probe for your Salinity, use a calibrated Refractometer.
 
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