Ammonia in INSTANT OCEAN REEF CRYSTALS

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First off, I'll just say I'm one sad fish dad. One by one my fish and corals are dying. It's my first reef and my 5 fish were buddies for 2 years. Not a single death until this week.

INSTANT OCEAN REEF CRYSTALS crashed my reef with ammonia. I didn't believe it at first but the tests feel conclusive.

The picture with 2 tubes:
Left: RODI+salt mix (from a pitcher of water with a drop of AmmoLock)
Right: RODI+salt mix

The picture with 1 tube:
Just RODI

Is it in my bucket? Nope, I tested it with a clean pitcher, exact same result. Nothing else touches the water prior to testing.

I have 2 boxes of mix that were ordered several months apart. One brand new, the other about 4 months old. They BOTH produced the same result (as seen in the pic).

All of the tests were done to water that was tank-ready, salinity and temp on par. I'm happy I didn't dump it into the tank but that also mean I'm just letting it die until I get new salt first thing tomorrow. I really hope AmmoLock and bacteria additives can save what little is left (1 clown and a few frags).

My tank is currently testing better than the right tube and worse than the left (forgot to take a photo but it's somewhat irrelevant in this thread).

My question is, how is it possible INSTANT OCEAN REEF CRYSTALS could produce 0.7ppm ammonia seawater? They're just selling poison? Is that not the point when doing a water change, to remove bad stuff while introducing good stuff?

It was traumatic to watch it crash after enjoying it to the max, stuck in a small apartment downtown during a pandemic. However I realize other reefers have incurred much bigger losses and my heart goes out to anyone who has to go through it.

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ApoIsland

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Update: Today I tested RedSea Coral Pro salt for ammonia. 100% yellow (not at all green) reading. This is the first of such clear readings I've measured since the beginning of this thread. Instant Ocean fresh mix reads about 0.4ppm. It's clear which salt I'll be using going forward.
This was an interesting read and appreciate you doing the updates.

Also very sorry to hear about your issue but there is nothing wrong with I/O Reef Crystals. Thinking anything that happened had to do with the salt mix is doing yourself a disservice with respect to learning and growing from the experience. For the sake of the company who puts out a good product I wish the title of the thread could be changed.

Maybe the photos are not picking up the maturity of the rocks but if they are accurate I would imagine the issue lies somewhere with regard to an almost completely sterile looking 2 year old tank.
 
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This was an interesting read and appreciate you doing the updates.

Also very sorry to hear about your issue but there is nothing wrong with I/O Reef Crystals. Thinking anything that happened had to do with the salt mix is doing yourself a disservice with respect to learning and growing from the experience. For the sake of the company who puts out a good product I wish the title of the thread could be changed.

Maybe the photos are not picking up the maturity of the rocks but if they are accurate I would imagine the issue lies somewhere with regard to an almost completely sterile looking 2 year old tank.
I agree there probably isn't anything wrong with I/O crystals. It's been confirmed in this thread (not by me) that they have slightly more ammonia than other brands tested, but that doesn't mean it's a problem. Ammonia probably wasn't the killer here, nor did anything bad happen for many months of using the same I/O batch. I'd change the title if I could figure out how.

The rocks got moved throughout this debacle. If I turned them over to the correct sides I think you'd see they're indeed very "live". The sand got gently turned as I sifted with my hands for any rotting specimens. Combine all that with the fact I scrape the glass, lack coralline and run a very clean tank (I pick up the poop like I'm at a dog park), yes it's somewhat sterile looking in comparison to many others. The biofilter however is well established, oversized canister packed with good stuff. It could have been disease followed by bad intervention steps, bad mixing technique/measurement, electrical issue, the list goes on. It looks like only the clown is going to make it but I'm feeling good about the whole thing, knowing I got a ton of help uprooting problems. Gives me the feels :)

Anyhow, thanks for the kind words.
 
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I agree there probably isn't anything wrong with I/O crystals. It's been confirmed in this thread (not by me) that they have slightly more ammonia than other brands tested, but that doesn't mean it's a problem. Ammonia probably wasn't the killer here, nor did anything bad happen for many months of using the same I/O batch. I'd change the title if I could figure out how.

The rocks got moved throughout this debacle. If I turned them over to the correct sides I think you'd see they're indeed very "live". The sand got gently turned as I sifted with my hands for any rotting specimens. Combine all that with the fact I scrape the glass, lack coralline and run a very clean tank (I pick up the poop like I'm at a dog park), yes it's somewhat sterile looking in comparison to many others. The biofilter however is well established, oversized canister packed with good stuff. It could have been disease followed by bad intervention steps, bad mixing technique/measurement, electrical issue, the list goes on. It looks like only the clown is going to make it but I'm feeling good about the whole thing, knowing I got a ton of help uprooting problems. Gives me the feels :)

Anyhow, thanks for the kind words.
I admire your determination. This hobby can sometimes (maybe even a lot of the times) throw you a curve ball and it can be heartbreaking and difficult to continue. Sounds like you’re turning a corner with this tank, which is great to see.
 
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iMi

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Lots of Marine Pure, floss, ceramic rings, carbon and purigen. You’ve joined the club of people that don’t think the tank looks 2 years old. Lack of colalline and overall cleanliness likely gives that impression.

Hard to say what the problem is/was, but my process for maintaining SG was way off. I now have a floating high precision hydrometer installed into plastic rings/suction cups, what a life saver. I’m dialing it in using a tea cup, night and day difference.

I’ve also started curing more rock but it’s going to be a while.
To clarify what I mean, I don’t doubt you have been running the tank for two years. I meant that the fact it looks newer is a symptom of something being wrong.

I would also recommend you pick up a refractometer along with a calibration fluid. Are you using ATO?
 
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To clarify what I mean, I don’t doubt you have been running the tank for two years. I meant that the fact it looks newer is a symptom of something being wrong.

I would also recommend you pick up a refractometer along with a calibration fluid. Are you using ATO?
Got a refractometer, fluid and the installed scientific floating hydrometer. I suspect the swing arm hydrometer, which is now in a landfill, was resulting in high salinity.

Yes, I installed ATO and in tank skimmer about 2 months ago after I added my first corals to address surface film. The film wasn’t extreme, was mitigated with powerheads and is now gone via the skimmer. ATO is actually offline right now but I have rodi lines running straight to the tank, so it’s easy to get by. I need to flush out my ATO reservoir after dropping my inline heater into it. It was smoking plastic but the contaminated water never reached the tank. Amazing how the mistakes can just compound when you’re in panic mode. Painful in the moment, humorous in reflection.

My surviving snail seems back to business after being parked for almost a week. It was out of the water, clinging to tank rim. Now he’s back on the rocks, getting busy doing snail things. One of the best lessons here is to put down your test kit and let your pets tell you what’s happening.
 
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Update, the anemone and half the corals were removed today after concluding their fate was grim. Maybe some zoas will pull through but it’s doubtful. In any case, they were just tiny seeds of corals. I’ll survive the loss. New coral 12 gallon long tank begins cycling today.
 
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