Can't keep acros, what am I doing wrong?

Discussion in 'General SPS Discussion' started by mstockmaster, Nov 1, 2017.

  1. mstockmaster

    mstockmaster Well-Known Member

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  2. g5flier

    g5flier Well-Known Member

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    Slowly get you Calcium down to about 440-450, nitrates to about 4-5ppm and phosphate up to 0.02 - 0.04. Wouldn’t touch the trace elements quite yet. Good housekeeping though, just a bit too clean!
     
  3. Axifuga

    Axifuga Member

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    My .02
    My tank at the beginning just would not deal with Acropora and other sticks. Frag after frag was put in carefully and all ended up dying. Fast forward about a year one of my frags is encrusting and growing rapidly.
    At the beginning only sps that worked were montipora and pocillopora.
    Another thing is that the subsequent frag I bought was fully encrusted on the plug, I've seen many others point an encrusted frag as a potential issue as the coral hasn't had time to heal completely, this is especially true for freshly cut frags from the LFS.
    Best of luck!
     
  4. Richards_reef

    Richards_reef Well-Known Member Partner Member 2018

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    They suggested water changes to bring lithium down and carbon to bring iodine down and lowering calcium and discontinuing p04 absorbers. Aside from that I agree that your water looks good per the test.
     
  5. mstockmaster

    mstockmaster Well-Known Member

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    I'm not actually running any PO4 absorbants. The only thing I have in there is a bag of chemipure elite that's been sitting in my sump for about two months now(can't reach it without taking some stuff apart so it's staying there so far. I've greatly reduced my dosing but have yet to really see ca & alk come down. As of Monday I am at 8.9/460/1340. I've been focusing on feeding more heavily and I think I'm seeing some positive changes in the one acro that's been doing decently. Base is starting to color up a bit (green for now) and looks like it's beginning to spread out over the epoxy I used to mount it. My green slimer though still looks very unhappy. Further tissue recession and some browning. [​IMG][​IMG]
     
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  6. mstockmaster

    mstockmaster Well-Known Member

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    I've done a few water changes and have switched to regular instant ocean rather than Reef crystals to try to avoid the spikes.
     
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  7. Richards_reef

    Richards_reef Well-Known Member Partner Member 2018

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    Your doing a great job man :)
     
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  8. mstockmaster

    mstockmaster Well-Known Member

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    Here's a bit better picture [​IMG]
     
  9. Mattrg02

    Mattrg02 Well-Known Member

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    That last one looks to be a goner. That's how all of my acros looked before they rtn one night. The last theory was a 1dKH spike in alkalinity with low nutrients being the cause.
     
  10. aarbutina

    aarbutina Well-Known Member Partner Member 2018

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    g5flier, I think you hit the nail on the head. I can't tell you how many times in the past couple of months I have seen posts almost identical to the OP. And the running theme through out most of them is the use of some amount of dead rock in the system. I myself am experiencing very similar issues, fish and nems happy, sps sad even the couple zoas I have in my tank aren't super thrilled (open but not extended, and certainly not reproducing). While I didn't used live rock, I used from from an existing tank of mine that had been essentially left to die (the rock that is) when it became completely invested with grape caulerpa. When the caulerpa was finally gone the rock was stark white, no sign of coralline, no spones, no other macro, nothing. For all intents and purpose it was dead When i started up my new tank, I just transferred the old now clean rock over and started up (See picture below for rock right after the transfer). At this point the tank has been running for 9 months. Any SPS i have ever tried to put in this tank will look good of a couple of days, then the polpys will close up, and the tissue will start peeling from the skeleton. I have been scratching my head and trying to figure out what is going on for months. Mind you I am not a novice. I have been keeping salt fish and corals for probably close to 15 years. I am totally on board with you this is a biodiversity thing. Reefs are very complex ecosystems.

    Now I will add a small wrinkle to the story.... I have actually been able to save sps frags that have initially been placed in my main system and took a turn down hill to the point of some serious tissue loss. And how did I do this..... I transferred them to my small 15 gallon bare bottom frag tank that contains zero rock beyond the couple pieces that frags are mounted to. This system is completely isolated, just 15 gallons of water. What is interesting is that I can take a frag that is looking not so good and place it in there and with hours the polys are back out the coral is happy. SPS actually thrive in this tank, new frags are encrusting within days and so far I am getting excellent growth. Why it works so well i don't know. And it certainly doesn't support the biodiversity argument.

    But what if we think about it as a numbers game..... the ratio of mirco fauna to inhabitable surfaces. Is it possible that if you have a low level of mico fauna and a high "inhabitable" surface area of substrate (rock, stand, etc) there is some period of "colonization" that occurs that creates an unstable environment. Now I am not talking bacterial necessarily, I am talking about all the of other things. Bacteria should spread to every surface in an aquarium very quickly. In this theory it wouldn't be the lack of creatures, it would be the actual expansion of these creatures that is actually causing the issue, and once you reach some critical mass where the actual colonization has leveled off or isn't expanding things start working. Which bring us back to the barren frag tank.... and why it works.... there is no other creatures trying to colonize the tank, so the "balance" has been reached. Could this all be complete BS.... sure, but it does seem to explain why one of my systems works and one of my systems doesn't and why using dead rock that has been seeded seems to take much longer time to support SPS than a tank that is filled with true live from with its surfaces covered with critters.

    Would love to hear peoples thoughts.....

    [​IMG]
     
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  11. Mattrg02

    Mattrg02 Well-Known Member

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    My acroporas have been following a similar fate, just took a few months this time to die.

    They start out looking happy, then the polyps close up. Next they fade badly, losing all shine before stn starts. Eventually a night of rtn finishes them off. This time around, my montiporas didn't succumb to the same fate. Zoas and Palys aren't effected.
     
  12. XNavyDiver

    XNavyDiver Insightful answer loading... please wait. R2R Supporter

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    This is a very interesting statement. Can you expand on your frag system? i.e.- how long it's been up, filtration method, etc.
     
  13. mstockmaster

    mstockmaster Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I'd also love some details. I have an empty tank, extra lights, and some powerheads. If I can fill this tank up with nsw and throw the struggling frags in there it would be awesome of I could get them to recover.
     
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  14. aarbutina

    aarbutina Well-Known Member Partner Member 2018

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    Sure thing.... I knew I was going to get asked that question, so I probably should have taken the time up front to fill in those details.

    15 gallon bare bottom tank (No rockwork, egg crate frag rack and some PVC pipe for the fish (1 clarkii 1 damsel to hide in)
    No sump
    Water Movement
    2 Jebao PP-4
    Lighting
    OceanRevive 120W Chinese Black Box LED (http://oceanrevivellc.com/goods.php?id=21)
    Protein Skimmer
    HOB AquaC Remora
    Filtration
    Marineland Penguin Power Filter with Biowheel

    As a contrast my main tank set up is as follows:

    90 gallon Marineland RR glass display tank
    30 gallon sump divided into 3 section (Skimmer, return, and fuge)

    Water Movement:
    Ecotech Vectra M1 return pump
    2x Ecotech Vortech MP40 QuiteDrives
    Lighting:
    4x Exotech XR15Pro Gen 4
    Protein Skimmer:
    Skimx Monzter SM161
    Extras:
    Digital Aquatics Reef Keeper Lite
    Digital Aquatics ATO (with Bulk Reef Supply 50 mL/min top off doser)
    Trigger Systems ATO 10 Gallon Reservoir
    Bulk Reef Supply 1.1 ml/min dosing pumps (for BRS Two Part)
    500 watt Finnex TH Deluxe Titanium Heating Element (controlled by Reef Keeper)
    BRS Biopellet Reactor
    BRS Mini Carbon Reactor


    The frag tank has been since around August or Sept I don't know exactly (so maybe three months at the most). I have a variety of different SPS in there, including Disney (which is growing like a weed), WWC Pink Passion, Starburst Monti to name a few. I also have some zoas, chalices, euphilia. All of which are growing and happy. I will occasionally broadcast feed the tank with some Phyto that I culture and drop in some reefroids every once and a while (but I do that on the main tank too).

    I used the same source RO and salt mix for this tank and keep the parameters between the two as aligned as possible. The only major difference in the maintenance is that I do a 67% (10 gallon) water change on the frag tank once a week, though i don't know if it is totally needed. I was originally doing this because i wasn't dosing any supplements on a daily basis. I am now trying to stay a little more on top of my Big 3 (Alk, CA, Mg) which I am hand dosing at this time but am going to be moving to a dosing pump in the next couple of days.

    One last thought, I also recently switched up my lighting schedule on the frag tank and have seen significant coloration improvement. The LED that I have has two channels (blues and everthing else). Using my PAR meter I boosted my PAR to around 250 with only the blue light and then just barely turned on the other channel (par went to around 280. I run the blue channel for about 10 hours a day and the "white" channel for around 4 hours a day. While this hasn't seemed to effect the growth, it has certainly effected the coloration.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2017
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  15. aarbutina

    aarbutina Well-Known Member Partner Member 2018

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  16. mstockmaster

    mstockmaster Well-Known Member

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    What's your water change regiment on that? I'd consider setting up my old tank similarly but I don't really want to put any fish in. Other than that I have almost literally the exact same pieces of equipment hanging around. 20L, black box led, hob skimmer, aquaclear 70. Do you consider having a bioload via the fish to be essential to this?
     
  17. aarbutina

    aarbutina Well-Known Member Partner Member 2018

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    I must have added that detail in an edit after you read my post (which I keep updating as I remember things. I do a 67% water change once a week. Though it was originally done to maintain ALK and CA levels. My nitrates have always tested at zero (or at least below detection) using the Red Sea Pro kit. I like having a fish or two because they do provide the nutrients to the tank, even if they aren't detectable. Ideally you would go with fish that could serve a purpose, a blenny to keep the algae down or a wrasse to pick at hitchhiking pests. But I ended up with the damsel because it was cheap and i thought the clarkii looked cool and I like clowns.

    In my opinion you can probably do it without fish but you would have to be more strict in your feeling of the coral. The other issue could be that you may now have enough going on biologically to keep the bacteria population stable and the tank "cycled". Coral do produce some waste but not a whole lot I wouldn't think.
     
  18. mstockmaster

    mstockmaster Well-Known Member

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    Yea, I also have a mature chunk of live rock in my sump I could try throwing in as well. I may just do this in an effort to have something I can mess around with without screwing with my main system. If I can get some acros to recover while I'm at it then that's just an extra benefit.
     
  19. XNavyDiver

    XNavyDiver Insightful answer loading... please wait. R2R Supporter

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    Thank you for that. That's very interesting how sps and acros thrive in your frag tank. I would think such large volume water changes would swing nutrient and alk levels so much that it would cause instability. But in your case, no, your corals love it. And it's also a very young tank. Almost everything goes against prevailing theory as to keeping acros thriving and growing (small water volume, young, sparse biodiversity). It's things like this when I read them that cause me the "what the...?" moments. There is something happening (or not happening) in your frag tank that sps like. I'm dying to know WHAT that something is!
     
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  20. aarbutina

    aarbutina Well-Known Member Partner Member 2018

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    In my opinion if the corals aren’t surviving in the main tank and you have the space it can’t hurt. Odds are they are going to die if left where they are. They manage to rebound in the second tank you will at least have a starting point to start figuring out what is going on.

    I look at it this way, right now my main tank is a fish only with some very expensive lighting. If things grow in my frag tank I can still go to the store and if I see something cool that i don’t want to pass up I can throw it in that and know that went my main is ready i will have some sweet corals for it. For now I just have to spend a bit of time down in the basement staring at them.
     
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