Corals closed up for the past 1-2 weeks! Photos attached!

DesignNerd

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My corals have been looking rather sad for the past 1-2 weeks.

Tank: 6-7 months old, 35 gals

May 1: Bacterial Bloom. Cleared up and dropped nitrates to 1. They are typically around 10-12 since I mainly have LPS corals.
May 12: 5 gal water change and cleaned all the algae off the back wall for the first time. Corals were fine at this time.
May 19: 5 gal water change because hammers started closing up and my sand bed started turning red; which I believe to be algae and no cyano but unsure. Nitrates are at 4. With everything else within normal levels. Maybe a slight spike in ph but after a water change that's not uncommon. Acans have also started to close up. My watchman goby also became stressed and started acting crazy. Jumping and swimming all over the tank when he usually chills on the sandbed in the same area. Unsure if it's related. Other fish are acting normal.
May 24: Did another 5gal water change in case something got into the tank that wasn't supposed to be there. Next morning (today) things are looking the same. Also, switch out my carbon.

Last Parameters:
Cal:
410 (a little low but not way off)
Mag: 1500 (tad higher than usually but not by much and I have LPS)
Alk: 7.7
Nitrates: 4
Temp: 79
Salinity: 1.25
PH: 8
Phosphates: I always get the 0.0 reading on the hanna checker
Ammonia: 0
Nitrites: 0

I do make sure my salinity and temp of water changes match the tank for water changes.

Theories:
Nitrates are just lower than normal?
Removing large amounts of algae off the back wall threw things off?
Something I'm unaware of got into the tank?

IMG_9113.JPG IMG_9114.JPG IMG_9115.JPG IMG_9116.JPG IMG_9117.JPG
 
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DesignNerd

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If the sand was turning red and you cleaned it up easily it was definitely cyano. But im sure cyano is not the cause of these issues.
It looks a tad cleaner because I had just vacuumed the sand bed with a large siphon and stirred it up. It didn't really suck up well just kind of tossed it around and now it's coming back.
 

Bucs20fan

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Cyano will grow back daily. The cyano is growing generally for one of two reasons, elevated nutrients, I know your tests say 0 but this is the same for an algae bloom, they nutrients are being sapped up as they are created. Reason two is a bacterial imbalance and the cyano is not competing with anything for what nutrients are in your tank, and cyano is incredibly effective at growing very quickly when this imbalance is present and its got plenty of light.
 
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DesignNerd

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Cyano will grow back daily. The cyano is growing generally for one of two reasons, elevated nutrients, I know your tests say 0 but this is the same for an algae bloom, they nutrients are being sapped up as they are created. Reason two is a bacterial imbalance and the cyano is not competing with anything for what nutrients are in your tank, and cyano is incredibly effective at growing very quickly when this imbalance is present and its got plenty of light.
Ohhh so that's maybe why my nitrates are suddenly low because cyano is sucking them up. All the photos I see of it are just thick and denser than what mine looks like but I guess it could be early stages. Could also maybe explain my by goby when nuts if he was munching off the sand. But all my hermit and inverts are kicking. My tiger conch does seem a little less productive but still alive.

Just not sure that would cause the corals to close up.
 

Bucs20fan

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Cyano is toxic, even to humans when ingested. Usually our fishes know not to eat the stuff but I can imagine your goby not being happy if he ingested some. Im not entirely sure cyano is to blame for your gobies behavior though.
 
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DesignNerd

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If your phosphate is actually zero, your starving both corals and those things that keep our sand white.
If 0, dose that up
I feed my corals about every 1-2 weeks. The hanna checker guide makes it seems like 0.0 is an error or maybe it really is 0. I find that hard to believe but maybe.
 

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What does sg mean?
Specific gravity = 35ppm or
1.026 salanity.
You can make your own calibration fluid per Randy Holmes-Farley.

I was asking cuz mine was off and things started to close up. I had calibration fluid but it was bad. Once I got a new one and fixed my sg, things went back to normal.
 
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DesignNerd

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Specific gravity = 35ppm or
1.026 salanity.
You can make your own calibration fluid per Randy Holmes-Farley.

I was asking cuz mine was off and things started to close up. I had calibration fluid but it was bad. Once I got a new one and fixed my sg, things went back to normal.
Doesn't hurt to recheck it!
 
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If your phosphate is actually zero, your starving both corals and those things that keep our sand white.
If 0, dose that up
I agree that phosphates at zero is certainly a problem. But I'm not sure if it's causing your problems now. If you've been seeing a zero reading on the Hanna Checker for a while, then it's not likely the coral behavior is suddenly triggered by a phosphate issue. But if there were errors in past tests and it was actually higher and now dropped to zero, that could be a problem. I'm always shocked at how ticked off things get with drastic phosphate changes.

And regarding cyano / dinos, a dino problem is often more associated with both NO3 and PO4 bottoming out, but PO4 plays a big role in keeping them away after they're gone. Cyano is often more associated with a NO3 reading of zero while PO4 can be present. Considering your params, I would think dinos rather than cyano. But there are so many variables that it's hard to say.

Also regarding cyano / dinos, corals can usually tolerate the level you seem to have. Especially if you haven't had losses with the inverts at this point.

My best guess is that the cause hasn't been mentioned yet.

Oh, with the bacterial bloom on May 1, did that clear up by itself?
 
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I agree that phosphates at zero is certainly a problem. But I'm not sure if it's causing your problems now. If you've been seeing a zero reading on the Hanna Checker for a while, then it's not likely the coral behavior is suddenly triggered by a phosphate issue. But if there were errors in past tests and it was actually higher and now dropped to zero, that could be a problem. I'm always shocked at how ticked off things get with drastic phosphate changes.

And regarding cyano / dinos, a dino problem is often more associated with both NO3 and PO4 bottoming out, but PO4 plays a big role in keeping them away after they're gone. Cyano is often more associated with a NO3 reading of zero while PO4 can be present. Considering your params, I would think dinos rather than cyano. But there are so many variables that it's hard to say.

Also regarding cyano / dinos, corals can usually tolerate the level you seem to have. Especially if you haven't had losses with the inverts at this point.

My best guess is that the cause hasn't been mentioned yet.

Oh, with the bacterial bloom on May 1, did that clear up by itself?
I'll retest Phosphates again to make sure. It just has always read 0.0 and I follow the instructions. I'm just so surprised it hasn't read any higher.

The bacterial bloom cleared up on its own!
 

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I am hearty +1 for phosphate being the issue.

Just bc they were reading 0 for weeks doesn’t mean that he couldn’t show problems now.

plain and simple phosphate at 0.0 is bad and will kill coral in our tanks. I say this bc I have been through this and killed coral from what I believe was phosphate deficiency. There are caveats to this statement for sure, but in my belief this statement taken literally is very true.

IMO, begin dosing phosphate lightly, daily, until you get a very very low reading. This may take some time, for some of us this takes weeks (research phosphate dosing here on R2R), but once you are at that 0.01-0.05 mark this means that your system has just enough phosphate to show some in the water, this is perfect. You can now keep this level up thru feeding (fish or coral) and/or additional phosphate dosing. IMO this will also help with the cyano eventually (as microbe population which is bolstered by the now available phosphate begins to compete with cyano). Please watch nitrate as it will go down as phosphate increases so must monitor and not let hit 0.

What levels you want to keep your nitrate and phosphate levels is a whole nother conversation however…

hope it helps!
 
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I am hearty +1 for phosphate being the issue.

Just bc they were reading 0 for weeks doesn’t mean that he couldn’t show problems now.

plain and simple phosphate at 0.0 is bad and will kill coral in our tanks. I say this bc I have been through this and killed coral from what I believe was phosphate deficiency. There are caveats to this statement for sure, but in my belief this statement taken literally is very true.

IMO, begin dosing phosphate lightly, daily, until you get a very very low reading. This may take some time, for some of us this takes weeks (research phosphate dosing here on R2R), but once you are at that 0.01-0.05 mark this means that your system has just enough phosphate to show some in the water, this is perfect. You can now keep this level up thru feeding (fish or coral) and/or additional phosphate dosing. IMO this will also help with the cyano eventually (as microbe population which is bolstered by the now available phosphate begins to compete with cyano). Please watch nitrate as it will go down as phosphate increases so I must monitor and not let hit 0.

What levels you want to keep your nitrate and phosphate levels is a whole nother conversation however…

hope it helps!
Thank you so much. I feed my corals poly lab reef roids. Would increasing those feedings help bring it up some as well?
 

Pkunk35

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Thank you so much. I feed my corals poly lab reef roids. Would increasing those feedings help bring it up some as well?

reef roids will def add phosphate. It is strong stuff for sure and can increase phosphate significantly.

benepets supposedly reduces phos so do NOT use that unless you need to reduce

I currently dose liquid phosphate and nitrate on a doser as I find it reliable and clean. I find as coral populations begin to get huge , adding phosphate through feeding becomes very difficult without lots and/or big fish.
 
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DesignNerd

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reef roids will def add phosphate. It is strong stuff for sure and can increase phosphate significantly.

benepets supposedly reduces phos so do NOT use that unless you need to reduce

I currently dose liquid phosphate and nitrate on a doser as I find it reliable and clean. I find as coral populations begin to get huge , adding phosphate through feeding becomes very difficult without lots and/or big fish.
Good info.

So I was thinking if it's cyano and my nitrates are reading low it's because the cyano is feeding off of it so I need to actually still decrease my nitrates? But it sounds like I should increase phosphates and let my take a get a little dirtier. Should I be worried about my nitrates spiking or making the cyano worse or am I misunderstanding? Possibly continue filtration as normal but just dose phosphates?
 
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The issue is the zero phosphates as mentioned before, without phosphates the heterotrophic bacteria becomes week and can’t reduce the amount of organic carbon in a tank. Normally as this happens other species like dinoflagellates and Cyanobacteria that rely on Carbon to thrive tend to bloom
 

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Good info.

So I was thinking if it's cyano and my nitrates are reading low it's because the cyano is feeding off of it so I need to actually still decrease my nitrates? But it sounds like I should increase phosphates and let my take a get a little dirtier. Should I be worried about my nitrates spiking or making the cyano worse or am I misunderstanding? Possibly continue filtration as normal but just dose phosphates?

so I’ll try to answer, there are others who know more to these questions but I’ll try from my point of view:

everything using nitrate including coral and cyano, just need it

nitrate may rise a little if you choose to increase phos via feeding. I think the rise will be small or might even reduce if you increase phos significantly (which consistent roid feeding will do). Eventually both nitrate and phos should increase with “over feeding” your system.

I wouldn’t worry about the cyano. Siphon what you can out off the sand bed, make sure it’s not on any coral. Get your phosphate and nitrate at levels you want/coral like, eventually i bet that cyano dies out or moves to the sump. Microbial-ly I think the cyano is occupying a niche left by bacteria or others that aren’t getting their populations up bc of phosphate limitation. Cyano can use other sources of food (light, nitrate, etc) so will outcompete the starved bacs. Just give those bacteria the food they need and they should repopulate. Help them out by siphoning the cyano when you can.

don’t water change too much. It lowers nutrient (phos and nitrate). Water change after you get your tank “dirtier” :)
 

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