Bacterial Diversity SPS

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AvastYe

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My 1 year old 180 gallon tank and I have been struggling with SPS. Over 4 months, I've added at least 4 batches of SPS frags and have observed a slow decline each time. I waited to add SPS until I saw significant sponge growth and a coraline algae explosion. This is the first tank I've started with Reef Saver Rock, and I've found it very frustrating to keep SPS in this system and have checked all of the usual issues, stray voltage etc. I've seen many other threads that show issues with dry rock and I can confirm that I also see the same types of issues. For those of you starting new tanks with dry rock, beware, mix in as much live as you can afford or be prepared to wait it out.

On the positive side, I never experienced an ugly algae or dino phase. I did have a few small bacterial blooms within the first few months. I attribute the lack of algae to starting the tank early with a cheato refugium and have having a large tang and Banded trochus population. I believe Dino's never occurred because I kept the phosphate and nitrate up.

I'm curious about the relationship between bacterial diversity and sps. I've read other threads and some academic papers that point to some types of bacteria that are captured by the SPS slime coats. One study pointed to significant changes in bacterial populations based upon the presence or lack of SPS in the system. They postulated that the consumption of these bacteria resulted in a large rebound in their population when the SPS were removed from the system. The slime itself also appeared to limit some bacterial populations to a lesser degree when added to tanks where sps were removed. I believe things are far more complicated and interrelated. SPS thrive on stability, and I think a feedback loop exists. I suspect that a correctly balanced bacterial population not only creates food for the SPS but also allows for stable water parameters. In addition, alkalinity changes can effect the bacteria populations "work" by changing the available CO2. Changes can drive constant battles between different types of bacterial populations. So, for those lucky few who have early success with dry rock and SPS, you somehow achieved just the right mix of bacterial populations? Did extreme attention to stable Alk in these tanks contribute to a faster balance of the bacterial population? Luck due to bacteria stains on frags? When aquarists started to see success with SPS one of the pillars of the filtration was live rock (established bacteria). I'm surprised that so few studies of bacterial diversity and function in SPS reef tanks exist. Tons of variables but not impossible.

My experience so far.

Live Stock
I have 4 tangs, 1 foxface, 1 clown, and 4 anthias.
50 plus banded trochus snails reproduced so that I have hundreds of young snails on the rocks at night.
The low flow side of my peninsula tank supports 3 different types of torch corals, 1 branching hammer, and several types of zooanthids. All are healthy

OG's-Transfer in from old nano tank (everything I transferred in died expect these)
Rainbow monti-Making a come back after initially struggling for months.
Forest Fire Digi-Making a come back after dying to just a few patches on the base of the frag, moved to lowest flow area of tank 150 par.


Try Batch 1-green Birds nest, pink birds nest, green slimer. green monti cap. (2-3 week decline in color until STN)
Added 20lbs KP aquatics live rock, hoping for more bacterial diversity .
Try Batch 2-geen Birds nest, bali green slimer. (2-3 week until slow STN)
ICP Test sent-nothing wrong other than elevated phosphates. Slowly Corrected phosphates .3 by setting up hourly dosing of highly diluted LaCl 200:1 phosphat-e into Skimmer neck. Phosphates now read on Hannah .06-.08 consistent.
New types of coraline have spread to the original reef saver rock. KP Live rocks showing feather dusters, 2-3 types crusty coraline, some small type of rock oysters are open on rocks, New types of sponges on live rocks and in sump.
Try Batch 3- Currently 4 weeks in tank
Bali green slimer 350 Par/med flow-slow decline in color, base and tips now receding
Bali green slimer 200 Par/high flow-slow decline in color, base now receding.
Sunrise milli 360 Par/high flow-Good PE and color so far, lots of PE. Possibly evidence of slow encrusting.
Strawberry fields acro 260 Par/med flow-good PE, skin faded in color to red/grey with green polyps, burnt tips with brown algae, not encrusting.
PC rainbow 250 par/high flow-initially saw mesential filaments, color fading to grey brown, burnt and receding tips with brown algae,
Vivid tricolor acro-Sometime see mesential filaments, small amount of burnt tips with brown algae. Otherwise good PE.
Setosa 200 Par/med flow bottom of tank- Color faded to light orange, developing what appears to be burnt tip.
Green monti cap 200 par/high flow-Color lost on perimeter, the rest faded, small amounts of brown algae on coral.
Bird of paradise Birdsnest 250 par/med flow-retained color so far, no growth tips yet.

For this batch I added more pods to the refugium and started dosing a small amount (30mL) daily of algea barn phyto. Also tried live PNS bacterial dosing over a week. I'm Starting to see a little more frequent dirty glass and visible pods. Before dosing I would need to clean the glass one a week. I also stopped filter socks and transitioned to filter cups with a small amount for floss, changed only once per week. I suspected I had too clean of a tank.


Water Parameters
I have an Alk controller set and 8.5 and it doses 2 part hourly to keep pace with consumption. It tests 6 times per 24hrs. I also periodically check its readings with a Hannah tester (So far within .1 dKH.) For each batch I had an initial small alk swing of around .5dKH while I dialed in the base dose amount.
Nitrate-Consistent at 10ppm. Cheato grows like crazy in refugium
Salinity-Tested daily with digital meter. Test incoming coral water and see consistent readings 1.025-1.026.
Test phosphates weekly now, and daily when I was dialing in LaCl dose.

Given the tank parameters the burnt tips really puzzle me.

Light
4xGen 5 Blue Radions at 40% 9 hrs
Aquatic Life 6' TI fixture mix of blue plus and coral plus 8hrs.
Par is amazing consistent top to bottom with this setup. I have enough par the bottom of the tank to support SPS.

Flow
2xMP60
2xGyre 350's
Synched sine wave 15 second period, water boils

Husbandry/Filtration
Auto water change 20 gallon per week continuous.
0tds RO water to auto top off
Clean Skimmer Cup and Neck-1x week Octo regal 250
Rotate/Clean Chateo (Shake in refugium)-1-2/week
Harvest Chaeto-1xweek
Change Filter Floss 1xweek
Change Carbon-1x month.
Feed frozen mixture daily x2
Target feed reef roids to LPS 1x week
 
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AvastYe

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My "Burnt tips" examples...

PC rainbow stated with small areas of white tips showing mensential filaments, then grew brown algae, further tissue recession has occurred from the original areas.
PXL_20201231_010842304.jpg


Tricolor-Seems to have the same issues, but less so and at a different stage. Tips whitened first. This shows slight algae growth at tips were mesenterial filaments were previously observed.

PXL_20201231_011228425.jpg
 

ReefPig_UK

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After a year your tank should pretty much be as mature as it ever needs to be to keep SPS.
I doubt bacterial issues are to play here.

Your rock looks mature, which is the tell tale sign the tank is matured.

That Tricolor looks completely the wrong color, very very pale and brown, it should be dark/deep blue/purple and nicely extended green polyps.

In order of importance (IMO): Flow, Light, Nutrients, Elements.

Easy things to eliminate are:
  • Calculate the flow in the tank, if it's >30x then you'll have no major issues, but the higher to the better, ideally in the range of 50-80x is always my goal
  • Do an ICP and figure out where your elements are at
  • Double check your nitrate results with a different test kit, the RedSea Nitrate is pretty good.
  • You didn't mention where your phosphates are at, but assuming in the 0.02-0.08 range you should be fine, I target around 0.04 to give me some wiggle room
  • Can you access a PAR meter, or rent one from BRS?

Whilst your colours look pale, to my eyes they also look browned out, my money is on that your lighting is not bright enough.
Have you tried with a real PAR meter and not just a Seneye?
I bought an Apogee MQ510 (as in the UK I couldn't rent one), and this found that the Seneye was over reporting the light value about around 40%. I turned up my lights and now have far more success.

The other option is that your nutrients aren't where you think they are, maybe a bad tester.
 
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AvastYe

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After a year your tank should pretty much be as mature as it ever needs to be to keep SPS.
I doubt bacterial issues are to play here.

Your rock looks mature, which is the tell tale sign the tank is matured.

That Tricolor looks completely the wrong color, very very pale and brown, it should be dark/deep blue/purple and nicely extended green polyps.

In order of importance (IMO): Flow, Light, Nutrients, Elements.

Easy things to eliminate are:
  • Calculate the flow in the tank, if it's >30x then you'll have no major issues, but the higher to the better, ideally in the range of 50-80x is always my goal
  • Do an ICP and figure out where your elements are at
  • Double check your nitrate results with a different test kit, the RedSea Nitrate is pretty good.
  • You didn't mention where your phosphates are at, but assuming in the 0.02-0.08 range you should be fine, I target around 0.04 to give me some wiggle room
  • Can you access a PAR meter, or rent one from BRS?

Whilst your colours look pale, to my eyes they also look browned out, my money is on that your lighting is not bright enough.
Have you tried with a real PAR meter and not just a Seneye?
I bought an Apogee MQ510 (as in the UK I couldn't rent one), and this found that the Seneye was over reporting the light value about around 40%. I turned up my lights and now have far more success.

The other option is that your nutrients aren't where you think they are, maybe a bad tester.

Thanks for suggestions. The tricolor hasn't changed color since it arrived. I took the photos using a filter. Under blue plus it's a deep purple.
  • Calculate the flow in the tank, if it's >30x then you'll have no major issues, but the higher to the better, ideally in the range of 50-80x is always my goal.
If all pumps were running together circ is 102/hr. With current pump flow pattern more likely close to 60-70 times/hr.
  • Do an ICP and figure out where your elements are at
Ran ICP after batch 2. Corrected phosphate and adjusted Mg slightly to 350 prior to batch 3. No issues I can see in the ICP results. Haven't changes salts since. Tropic Marin Pro.
  • Double check your nitrate results with a different test kit, the RedSea Nitrate is pretty good.
I haven't tried yet. I will test with another kit to verify. I currently use Salifert.
  • You didn't mention where your phosphates are at, but assuming in the 0.02-0.08 range you should be fine, I target around 0.04 to give me some wiggle room
Phosphates have stabilized at .-08ppm. I can easily test dropping that by feeding a bit less, or upping the LaCl dose.
  • Can you access a PAR meter, or rent one from BRS?
I own a new model Apogee Par meter and tested each location prior to placement. Placements in 250-360 Par.
 
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AvastYe

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It's definitely not growth. After fading, The entire perimeter is now turned brown with algae. The remaining colored has started to fade and I'm starting to see small areas of brown algae there as well.
 

Rmckoy

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It's definitely not growth. After fading, The entire perimeter is now turned brown with algae. The remaining colored has started to fade and I'm starting to see small areas of brown algae there as well.
There is hope !!!
I had a huge green monti cap .
the whole colony went grown after a alk swing .
I found a little piece still showing a little green tint.
I cut it out and glued it to a plug .
It’s taken almost 6 months but it’s now encrusted my rack
 

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ReefPig_UK

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Thanks for suggestions. The tricolor hasn't changed color since it arrived. I took the photos using a filter. Under blue plus it's a deep purple.
  • Calculate the flow in the tank, if it's >30x then you'll have no major issues, but the higher to the better, ideally in the range of 50-80x is always my goal.
If all pumps were running together circ is 102/hr. With current pump flow pattern more likely close to 60-70 times/hr.
  • Do an ICP and figure out where your elements are at
Ran ICP after batch 2. Corrected phosphate and adjusted Mg slightly to 350 prior to batch 3. No issues I can see in the ICP results. Haven't changes salts since. Tropic Marin Pro.
  • Double check your nitrate results with a different test kit, the RedSea Nitrate is pretty good.
I haven't tried yet. I will test with another kit to verify. I currently use Salifert.
  • You didn't mention where your phosphates are at, but assuming in the 0.02-0.08 range you should be fine, I target around 0.04 to give me some wiggle room
Phosphates have stabilized at .-08ppm. I can easily test dropping that by feeding a bit less, or upping the LaCl dose.
  • Can you access a PAR meter, or rent one from BRS?
I own a new model Apogee Par meter and tested each location prior to placement. Placements in 250-360 Par.

Assuming you have “enough” fish for your tank size, SPS in particular seem to like it a little dirty, fish poo is a winner. Along with ample feeding?
The lack of polyp extension on the tricolor makes me wonder.

You could also try bumping the lights a little and see where that take you, go slowly a couple of percent a week for a couple of weeks, if you see no improvement after a few weeks and moving the bottom end closer to 300, then it’s not light.

Everything else sounds spot on, and I simply do not believe that a year old tank is lacking bacteria.
 

Dkmoo

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Continuing my PH hype train - can I ask where your PH is at right now and how much it swings daily?

Also whats cal and mag?

I noticed significant sps growth and better success when I raised most of the main parameters. Its currently at 8.3ph, 10dkh, 475 calc and 1400 mag.
 
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AvastYe

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Continuing my PH hype train - can I ask where your PH is at right now and how much it swings daily?

Also whats cal and mag?

I noticed significant sps growth and better success when I raised most of the main parameters. Its currently at 8.3ph, 10dkh, 475 calc and 1400 mag.

Todays numbers below:

pH 8.15-8.35 daily, refugium on opposite cycle stretches the peak out
Ca 475
Mg 1350
P04 .16
dKH 8.3

Capture.JPG
 

Brent Bohannon

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Your alk is terribly low. It needs to be 12.5 to balance with your calcium. The nitrates are also on the higher end but not inhibitive yet. Checking your lighting is another good suggestion.
 
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