Calling all SPS experts! Cracking the case of the missing polyp extension and stalled growth!

Discussion in 'General SPS Discussion' started by WDKegge, Jan 13, 2017.

  1. WDKegge

    WDKegge Active Member

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    Hello Reef2Reef! I have had quite the conundrum lately and I am hoping to possibly find my answer here.

    LONG READ, PICTURE HEAVY!

    A little about my system:

    [​IMG]

    Tank: Elos 70, 55 gallon display, roughly 70 gallon total water volume
    Flow: Mp40 (reefcrest 60%) and RW-8 (50% random mode) Ehime 1260 return pump
    Lighting: two xr15 pros with wide angle lenses running coral labs SPS AB+ schedule at 70%
    Filtration: SWC 160 cone skimmer, refugium with chaeto

    Tank paramaters
    ALK: 9.0 DKH
    CALC: 450
    MAG: 1360
    Temp: 78

    Dosing is done automatically VIA BRS dosing pumps through my apex with ESV 2 part. Alk and calc are checked weekly, mag once a month.

    Salinity: 1.025 (calibrated refractometer) Never fluctuates via auto top off
    Phosphate: 0.02 (Hannah)
    Nitrate: not tested

    Tank inhabitants
    Pair of clownfish
    Kole Tang
    One spot foxface
    Mystery wrasse
    Starry Blenny
    Misc snails and hermits

    Weekly maintenance
    10% water change (Red sea coral pro)
    Weekly dosing of Acro power

    The Problem

    The tank has been up for close to a year now an up untill about 3 months ago everything was doing stellar, I was having excellent growth, polyp extension and color on all my SPS, I would get a frag from a friend, dip it, and throw it in my tank and I would start to see growth within a few days. Coraline was a borderline nuisance and I was scraping it off the glass DAILY.

    Over the course of the past 3 months things have begun to show some issues, SPS that were previously beyond fuzzy with PE started to recede and lose color. They wouldn't quite die, and would very slowly keep encrusting, but never seemed to bounce back.

    For instance:

    Red planet, previously a giant fuzzball:
    [​IMG]

    No namer Before picture:

    [​IMG]

    After:

    [​IMG]

    Here are closeup pictures I took of this coral to check for bugs: http://imgur.com/a/fi4M4

    Other things losing skin/ no PE:

    Pac Man:
    [​IMG]

    Myagi tort, losing skin from base up, no PE:



    [​IMG]

    Before:

    [​IMG]

    Pearlberry, no PE lost the main part of it, cut it off to stop STN, base still alive:
    [​IMG]

    Purple Stylo: no growth in months, STN on bottom:
    [​IMG]

    In this time frame I also lost a very large colony of bird of paradise, it seemed to begin to lose its polyps and turned into a skeleton slowly over the course of a month. I also lost several other nice reef raft pieces that were given to me from a friend within a week of getting them, when I received them they had crazy PE while even in the container, and had great PE for about a day in my tank before losing all PE and then slowly melting over the course of a week.

    All these pieces are scattered across my tank and not located in one spot either.

    I still have other acros and SPS in my tank that seem to be doing just fine with fantastic PE and color but I have noticed their growth has slowed to a crawl. Coraline has also come to a standstill, and am noticing it actually receding in some places, as if it's being eaten away by something.

    Things that have changed in the tank since this all has started:

    Removal of sandbed, I had a VERY shallow sand bed of a heavy grain that I slowly removed over the course of 2 months during water changes.

    Switched the radion lenses from narrow to wide angle, I upped my lights output by 10% to compensate for the loss of power, I got an overall better spread with the lights, so I cant imagine it was a huge shock.

    If there is any other information I can provide please let me know, my friends in the hobby and local reef club seem to be at a loss so I am hoping the experts here on R2R can possibly shed some light on this mystery!
     
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  2. Joeganja

    Joeganja Valuable Member R2R Supporter

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    It can always be a possible number of things. I would start from the beginning. 1. How old are your test kits, have you double checked by testing with other different brand test kits. 2. Is there anything disease or pest that may be bothering or killing them such as acropora eating flat worms or red bugs. It doesn't matter if you dip, eggs won't be killed. So that can also be the case. 3. You said you removed the sandbed, even at slow States you may still result in an ammonia spike which obviously most of us don't bother testing. You said that was after but maybe that may have also contributed to the problem. But for now I would do some good close up observations on the coral and see if there are any pests on them. That can be a big one if that is it. Check if there are any bite marks on the acros that are dying, any red little spots almost invisible to the human eye at until a couple of inches away. Just kind of go through and make sure your up to date.
     
  3. ctsps

    ctsps Active Member

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    9 is a little high for alk,i keep mine about 7.7-7.8 for low nutrient,please check nitrates to make sure ther not 0,if so problem solved (starving acros)also i always have 2 different alk kits to back up my testing for accuracy, safety first
     
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  4. WDKegge

    WDKegge Active Member

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    I have checked alk with 2 separate salifert kits, and one red sea coral pro kit, all new. I know I have to have some bioload and nitrates because the chaeto in my fuge grows ridiculously fast. I feed a mix of rods food and coral frenzy once to twice a week.
     
  5. WDKegge

    WDKegge Active Member

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    All test kits used are new.

    I have provided closeup pictures of corals that are dieing in my original post Here: http://imgur.com/a/fi4M4

    The "sandbed" was less than a half an inch deep all the way around the tank and was constantly kept stirred, removing it over the course of two months to be sure I didn't upset anything too badly.
     
  6. ctsps

    ctsps Active Member

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    Ok,any time my alk would approach 9 i would find trouble with low nutrients, i would lower alk slowly
     
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  7. maroun.c

    maroun.c Moderator Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Article Contributor

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    What is your nitrate and phosphate?
    Might be worth sending a sample to Triton for testing is that could reveal some elements that are very low or high for some reason.
    A larger water change repeated twice in a week might offset some accumulation of drop of something.
    Also try to make sure your salinity reading is OK?
     
  8. maroun.c

    maroun.c Moderator Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Article Contributor

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    Would also check your RODI and also that ur skimmer is well tuned.
     
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  9. reefwiser

    reefwiser LMAS R2R Supporter Reef Squad R2R Excellence Award Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    I use to have this problem when I was using Radions. You are getting shading from the LED lighting. Add some T5's so that the corals are getting better lighting in the tank from all directions. Alk at 9 can be an issue with some corals I try to keep mine at 7 to 8. But this does require a daily testing of Alk for me as I am watching and working on coral growth. An once you reach the proper balance you can see and uptake in the alk consumed by the corals so you have to watch it daily so as to keep up with the corals growth. Weekly alk testing is just not possible when you have healthy growing SPS.
    That's why I am so happy to see auto Alk monitoring systems coming on the market this year.:)
     
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  10. WDKegge

    WDKegge Active Member

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    I normally don't test for nitrate and phos is at 0.02 with hanna
    I use a calibrated refractomotr with calibration fluid before every use.

    I have never used triton, might be worth checking out
     
  11. WDKegge

    WDKegge Active Member

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    Skimmer pulls good junk and RODI is tested before each use coming out at 0 TDS
     
  12. WDKegge

    WDKegge Active Member

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    I highly doubt it's a issue with shading, most of these corals were getting hit from all sides with light and were in all different parts of the tank.

    I only test weekly now because of dosing, I do usually have to up the ML amount I am dosing every 2-3 weeks, to where it is being absorbed at the moment I am unsure haha
     
  13. bubbaque

    bubbaque Valuable Member

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    With you having issues with your sps it might be worth you testing nitrate, even if you normally don't.
     
  14. Pife

    Pife Active Member

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    Throw a poly pad in and see if it changes color. Check your magnets to see if they're rusting. I'd do some large water changes with matched parameters and see if it helps.
     
  15. spidercrab

    spidercrab Active Member

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    Never heard of 9 being high.. especially not enough to significantly impact SPS.
     
  16. spidercrab

    spidercrab Active Member

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    What is your pH?
     
  17. Pife

    Pife Active Member

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    It is while having low nutrients.


     
  18. Flippers4pups

    Flippers4pups Fins up since 1993 R2R Supporter Reef Squad R2R Excellence Award Build Thread Contributor

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    Test your nitrates.
     
  19. mache62

    mache62 Member

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    yea, I don't think your alk is too high...especially if it has been stable all along and this suddenly started happening.

    Things I would check...
    1. pH (could indicate a swing in available o2)
    2. possible fish suddenly deciding he likes the taste of sps
    3. borrow a par meter.....switching out those lenses might have taken away more intensity than you thought
     
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  20. diablomaster9045

    diablomaster9045 Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Showcase Editor

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    With an alk of 9 and 0.02ppm phosphates, I would personally shoot for 5 ppm Nitrates.

    But with the sudden loss of flesh, makes me think either starving corals, LED burns, or a pest. One of your coral pics seems like it has bite marks on it( http://i.imgur.com/3noglzqr.jpg ).

    So first step test nitrates. and keep an eye out for red bugs/ AEFW.
     
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