At Wits End....SPS dying. NO2 and PO4 Low

InkedReefLady

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I finally received the Hanna ULR PO4 meter yesterday and found out that the PO4 in our reef is 0.05 PPM. NO3 is about 2.5 PPM.

ALK is around 10.5
Mg: 1260
Ca: 415
CON: 34.5

Some of the SPS are severely upset and/or dying.

I feed a huge chunk of Hikari mysis every day soaked over night in Selcon, auto feeder goes off 2x a day feeding NLS pellets, have been dosing Brightwell aminos for almost a week at half the dose (I just gave a full dose last night right before the blue lights went out.

I'm not sure what to do here.

I only change filter socks 1x a week, skimmer runs, but I run it dry (ish), and I have a little bit of Rox carbon in a reactor.

We're not too thrilled about having to dose PO4 or NO3.

Ideas of what to do? I am going to be running an ICP test as soon as the kit gets here (Saturday) to see if it's something else.
 
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InkedReefLady

InkedReefLady

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dKH is too high for such low nutrients. Lower all to like 8 ish. I run 9.5 with 5-10ppm po3 and .06po4. Good luck.
What's odd is everything was running fine over the summer until I turned the skimmer back on and replaced/removed media in the reactors. dKH was always in the range of 8.75-9.9. Then it spiked to the 10 range.

I did a 10% water change a few weeks ago and that did absolutely nothing to bring the dKH down.

Maybe I need to do a much bigger water change? I'm not adding any buffering agents to the tank what so ever. Haven't in months. So that's why I am scratching my head here.
 

paja3

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How big is the tank? What salt are you using? Not sure how to answer, but sometimes my slat depending upon batch is higher or lower. After I wrap this bucket of IO I'm going to start using tropic Marin pro.
 
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InkedReefLady

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How big is the tank? What salt are you using? Not sure how to answer, but sometimes my slat depending upon batch is higher or lower. After I wrap this bucket of IO I'm going to start using tropic Marin pro.
Display is 300 gallons. Have been using ESV salt since the beginning. When I tested the last batch for the 10% water change, it was at 8.8 dKH (Hanna).
 

paja3

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Display is 300 gallons. Have been using ESV salt since the beginning. When I tested the last batch for the 10% water change, it was at 8.8 dKH (Hanna).
ESV is a great salt and hell yeah on the 309 gallon dt. I can dream right? I'd do some minor water changes and try to drop it down or don't dose all if you are. I think above you stated you haven't dosed for a while but not sure. Kinda sucks being on the phone typing away. Good luck, I be following along to see how it turns out.
 

Biglurr54

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Is your tank young? I have a theory that young tanks cycle and build bacteria and they really arent ready to grow corals for a year and a half to 2 years. Are there exceptions? yes.

Currently, your Alk is too high. Test your new salt water and do water changes to lower the alk in the tank. If your new salt water is too high in alk, dose it with muriatic acid. It lowers the alk and ph and is completely safe. (Just be careful of too much because it knocks the ph way down!) Once your alk is down continue to feed like you are and test alk ever other day. Dont change anything including feedings. Pick 1 day a week where you typically have free time. (I picked Tuesday night because my wife works and im stuck home with the kids). Test Alk, Calc, Mag, Nitrate, and Po4 on that day ever week and log the results (Apex has a great section for this and there are mobile apps.). This is does a lot of things. It helps you learn about your tank and it gives you insight where the tank is and where its heading. It also keeps you involved with the tank and forces you to interact with the tank.

You will see alk consumption in relation to different levels of nitrate and Po4. My guess on how the alk rose is that you changed old media with new media. This new media was instantly effective and dropped nutrients. This irritated the corals and they stopped consuming alk. (GFO does this a lot)

Between Alk and PH you can tell how things are reacting to changes in the system. The problem is you have to keep track of everything. When alk and ph have stabel patterns over time and there is a drop in pH or rise in Alk that means something is irritating the system and corals are to using co2 (Less co2 in the water means rising ph and corals are consuming co2 to grow, more co2 in the water means lowering ph and corals are not consuming co2 because they arent growing). This is the same for Alk consumption.

Ive been in the hobby for 17 years. My newest tank that i thought i had all figured out and spared no expense on took 2 years before i got it dialed in and the sps started to grow and color up like I wanted. My previous tank took 1 1/2 years before it had the growth and color I wanted. A lot of frags are out in the compost to get those tanks where they needed to be. Dont get discouraged. Just stay the course and with time you will get there.
 

paja3

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Is your tank young? I have a theory that young tanks cycle and build bacteria and they really arent ready to grow corals for a year and a half to 2 years. Are there exceptions? yes.

Currently, your Alk is too high. Test your new salt water and do water changes to lower the alk in the tank. If your new salt water is too high in alk, dose it with muriatic acid. It lowers the alk and ph and is completely safe. (Just be careful of too much because it knocks the ph way down!) Once your alk is down continue to feed like you are and test alk ever other day. Dont change anything including feedings. Pick 1 day a week where you typically have free time. (I picked Tuesday night because my wife works and im stuck home with the kids). Test Alk, Calc, Mag, Nitrate, and Po4 on that day ever week and log the results (Apex has a great section for this and there are mobile apps.). This is does a lot of things. It helps you learn about your tank and it gives you insight where the tank is and where its heading. It also keeps you involved with the tank and forces you to interact with the tank.

You will see alk consumption in relation to different levels of nitrate and Po4. My guess on how the alk rose is that you changed old media with new media. This new media was instantly effective and dropped nutrients. This irritated the corals and they stopped consuming alk. (GFO does this a lot)

Between Alk and PH you can tell how things are reacting to changes in the system. The problem is you have to keep track of everything. When alk and ph have stabel patterns over time and there is a drop in pH or rise in Alk that means something is irritating the system and corals are to using co2 (Less co2 in the water means rising ph and corals are consuming co2 to grow, more co2 in the water means lowering ph and corals are not consuming co2 because they arent growing). This is the same for Alk consumption.

Ive been in the hobby for 17 years. My newest tank that i thought i had all figured out and spared no expense on took 2 years before i got it dialed in and the sps started to grow and color up like I wanted. My previous tank took 1 1/2 years before it had the growth and color I wanted. A lot of frags are out in the compost to get those tanks where they needed to be. Dont get discouraged. Just stay the course and with time you will get there.
Well said.
 
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mtdaly85

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Is your tank young? I have a theory that young tanks cycle and build bacteria and they really arent ready to grow corals for a year and a half to 2 years. Are there exceptions? yes.

Currently, your Alk is too high. Test your new salt water and do water changes to lower the alk in the tank. If your new salt water is too high in alk, dose it with muriatic acid. It lowers the alk and ph and is completely safe. (Just be careful of too much because it knocks the ph way down!) Once your alk is down continue to feed like you are and test alk ever other day. Dont change anything including feedings. Pick 1 day a week where you typically have free time. (I picked Tuesday night because my wife works and im stuck home with the kids). Test Alk, Calc, Mag, Nitrate, and Po4 on that day ever week and log the results (Apex has a great section for this and there are mobile apps.). This is does a lot of things. It helps you learn about your tank and it gives you insight where the tank is and where its heading. It also keeps you involved with the tank and forces you to interact with the tank.

You will see alk consumption in relation to different levels of nitrate and Po4. My guess on how the alk rose is that you changed old media with new media. This new media was instantly effective and dropped nutrients. This irritated the corals and they stopped consuming alk. (GFO does this a lot)

Between Alk and PH you can tell how things are reacting to changes in the system. The problem is you have to keep track of everything. When alk and ph have stabel patterns over time and there is a drop in pH or rise in Alk that means something is irritating the system and corals are to using co2 (Less co2 in the water means rising ph and corals are consuming co2 to grow, more co2 in the water means lowering ph and corals are not consuming co2 because they arent growing). This is the same for Alk consumption.

Ive been in the hobby for 17 years. My newest tank that i thought i had all figured out and spared no expense on took 2 years before i got it dialed in and the sps started to grow and color up like I wanted. My previous tank took 1 1/2 years before it had the growth and color I wanted. A lot of frags are out in the compost to get those tanks where they needed to be. Dont get discouraged. Just stay the course and with time you will get there.
I second this. I firmly believe that an established reef is required for growing healthy coral.
 
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InkedReefLady

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Is your tank young? I have a theory that young tanks cycle and build bacteria and they really arent ready to grow corals for a year and a half to 2 years. Are there exceptions? yes.

Currently, your Alk is too high. Test your new salt water and do water changes to lower the alk in the tank. If your new salt water is too high in alk, dose it with muriatic acid. It lowers the alk and ph and is completely safe. (Just be careful of too much because it knocks the ph way down!) Once your alk is down continue to feed like you are and test alk ever other day. Dont change anything including feedings. Pick 1 day a week where you typically have free time. (I picked Tuesday night because my wife works and im stuck home with the kids). Test Alk, Calc, Mag, Nitrate, and Po4 on that day ever week and log the results (Apex has a great section for this and there are mobile apps.). This is does a lot of things. It helps you learn about your tank and it gives you insight where the tank is and where its heading. It also keeps you involved with the tank and forces you to interact with the tank.

You will see alk consumption in relation to different levels of nitrate and Po4. My guess on how the alk rose is that you changed old media with new media. This new media was instantly effective and dropped nutrients. This irritated the corals and they stopped consuming alk. (GFO does this a lot)

Between Alk and PH you can tell how things are reacting to changes in the system. The problem is you have to keep track of everything. When alk and ph have stabel patterns over time and there is a drop in pH or rise in Alk that means something is irritating the system and corals are to using co2 (Less co2 in the water means rising ph and corals are consuming co2 to grow, more co2 in the water means lowering ph and corals are not consuming co2 because they arent growing). This is the same for Alk consumption.

Ive been in the hobby for 17 years. My newest tank that i thought i had all figured out and spared no expense on took 2 years before i got it dialed in and the sps started to grow and color up like I wanted. My previous tank took 1 1/2 years before it had the growth and color I wanted. A lot of frags are out in the compost to get those tanks where they needed to be. Dont get discouraged. Just stay the course and with time you will get there.

The tank has been up for over a year and a half now. I guess you can consider this young still.

I was testing 1x a week (weekends mostly) and I log everything in the Apex. The only difference now is that I finally got the Hanna ULR PO4 checker since I didn't find the SeaChem kit of any help (it would always show zero).

I've heard about the muriatic acid to lower it, but my husband wasn't too thrilled with that idea. It's either that, or a giant water change since the 10% at 8.8 dKH didn't really do anything.

Do you have a suggestion on how much muriatic acid to dose and where (sump, filter socks, etc)?

I've also been in this hobby since the early 90's and things have changed a TON! ;Bookworm We were always fighting for ULN since our test kits were so crummy, but now a days with them being better, it's amazing how much you do want to see some kind of a number in there. LOL!
 
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InkedReefLady

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ESV is a great salt and hell yeah on the 309 gallon dt. I can dream right? I'd do some minor water changes and try to drop it down or don't dose all if you are. I think above you stated you haven't dosed for a while but not sure. Kinda sucks being on the phone typing away. Good luck, I be following along to see how it turns out.
Thanks! I had to convince my husband do upgrade (we had a 180 gallon for 10 years). The deal was if we ever had to replace the flooring in that livingroom, we would upgrade at the same time.

I haven't dosed Ca or Alk in months (via Apex). That's why I was so shocked at the numbers I was seeing.
 
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InkedReefLady

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You'll see here that dKH has been pretty high for a while (in the 9s.) but that shift to the 10s coupled with low nutrients is what is doing them in. I'd say I had my best growth in June and July. Thoughts?

Alk.png
 

Biglurr54

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Someone in the hobby once said that we worry about things we can test. Before we can test for it, we never worried about it, but now that we can test for it, we chase numbers and stress over it. I think the testing and info we have available now is a tool that can be helpful if used properly. Dont get hung up on the numbers. I had crazy hair algae with 0 nitrate 0 po4 and at 100 nitrate and 0.20 po4. I am currently at 25 nitrate and 0.13 po4. I have no algae at all. These numbers are just a piece of the puzzle.

As for lowering Alk, i wouldn't dose muriatic acid into the tank. It will bottom out your ph and cause more stress. I would stop any dosing, and I would do as large of a water change as possible. Does you new salt water with Muriatic acid if you want and then add a bubbler to the new salt water for 24 hours before doing the change. (this will bring the ph back up to an acceptable range)) That will help with the ph. I make 60 gallons at a time and I dose around 15 mls of acid to bring the alk from 11 to 8.5.


The math is tougher to calculate and not exact. Does less and test. you can always add more.
 
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InkedReefLady

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Someone in the hobby once said that we worry about things we can test. Before we can test for it, we never worried about it, but now that we can test for it, we chase numbers and stress over it. I think the testing and info we have available now is a tool that can be helpful if used properly. Dont get hung up on the numbers. I had crazy hair algae with 0 nitrate 0 po4 and at 100 nitrate and 0.20 po4. I am currently at 25 nitrate and 0.13 po4. I have no algae at all. These numbers are just a piece of the puzzle.

As for lowering Alk, i wouldn't dose muriatic acid into the tank. It will bottom out your ph and cause more stress. I would stop any dosing, and I would do as large of a water change as possible. Does you new salt water with Muriatic acid if you want and then add a bubbler to the new salt water for 24 hours before doing the change. (this will bring the ph back up to an acceptable range)) That will help with the ph. I make 60 gallons at a time and I dose around 15 mls of acid to bring the alk from 11 to 8.5.


The math is tougher to calculate and not exact. Does less and test. you can always add more.
I am a firm believer to not chase numbers. That said, if something is out of whack, I will test often until I can figure out why.

Looks like I need to pick up more ESV salt. We're pretty low as it is. I still need to convince hubs to get a couple of storage drums in the basement for extra water on hand. :) I love the ESV as everything dissolves so quickly and I can measure everything I'm putting in. The dKH has been coming in around 8.8 for me, so unless I'm getting a really high reading, I won't bother with the acid. I've used the acid before to clean up old live rock and it's not a real science (other than adding baking soda to change to the pH to something more dump-able) but never with it going directly into the tank.

Thanks for sharing the article, too!!
 

Biglurr54

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Don't you add the Alk separately with ESV? Just mix up a batch with low alk (around 6-7).

I use IO so im not familiar with all the fancy new salt. I ventured out of my comfort zone with a box of Fritz and had a bad experience. Ive heard great things about ESV though. I used to get it from a local fish store premixed back in the day when i had a pico on my desk at work.
 
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