Hannarrlouise

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Okay, here goes nothing, I'm so new to this and I ask that you be kind because I'm frustrated and confused.
I read somewhere that everyone needs to know absolutely everything about the tank and the way I'm running it, so I'll try my best.
So, about 2 weeks ago now I noticed my torch coral in my 55L (14.53 gallon) nano reef wasn't fully extending and was concerned, I tested my levels (by levels I mean nitrate, nitrite and ammonia, rookie move that after 8 months of having the tank up and running I had no idea about KH, magnesium and calcium. will go further into detail about that later.)
Levels all came back fine, except nitrate which always tested as 4mg/l (it's a colombo test kit that I got the same day we set up the tank.) and could not seem to bring down the levels no matter the amount of water changes I did (little did I know about no pox.)
So anyway, I make my way to my local fish store armed with photos and a million questions, only to be met with the inevitable question about my calcium and magnesium levels. We already knew our KH. However, after a million times I also explain our nitrate problem, I told the lady the test kit I used, she was confused and said she had never heard of colombo, sold us a red sea nitrate test kit, and a no pox after we had tested the levels.
The same day we went back with a bottle of our tank water for the calcium and magnesium levels to be tested and the results were as follows, including my normal tests from today.
Ammonia: 0.25mg
Nitrite: 0.25 if not less
Both of those done with colombo test kits.
Nitrate: somewhere between 0.25-0.50, which shocked me because my colombo kit ALWAYS showed it as 4mg/l, which begs me to ask the question as to whether or not my colombo test kits are reliable. Have checked the usage date on all of them and they are all in date.
KH: 8.4
MG: 13.60
Cal :4.30
Salinity: 1:025
We are also picking up the supplements and tests for the calcium and magnesium this coming Saturday.
So here's my problem.. They said my torch could be in the state it's in because of the calcium levels, however, although it is opening now, my goniopora seems to be struggling now.
I was inspecting my tank this morning and also noticed maybe a penny-sized insect in there, and then when it ran out, had some sort of fluffy tail. I have no idea what this creature is and I also apologise for how long this thread is, and I am nowhere near done explaining.
I'm also having a huge green hair algae problem, along with the fact that I've seen a huge bristle worm in the tank that I can't seem to get out.
Sorry, I'm all over the shop, let me get to the important part.
It's a 55L (14.53 gallon) nano reef. I run the Fluval U2 with biomax, biofoam, polycarb and aquamanta's PhosNitra Reducer and 3 huge pieces of live rock (Idk the weight.) One of (I'm not sure which) the Fluval sea wave makers.
So livestock wise, I have a torch coral, a goniopora, what I think are star polyps, and a pulsing xenia, and an ocellaris clownfish pair.
I'm sure I'm supposed to tell my phosphate level, but I don't have a kit for that.
Also I've had a huge spike of diatoms recently and some pinky/red spots on my live rock.
I'm also confused about the 'don't touch your sandbed rule' however, have read that other people say it's a myth.
I'm not running a skimmer or anything, questions are welcome, and please look at the photos below so you can understand what's going on.
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BeejReef

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Wow! A lot going on.

For what it's worth, your levels look good. All the major parameters are solid.
Guessing this is a new tank?

How long has it been cycled for? Ammonia is a real concern (if it's real). I'd test it daily for a few days just to be sure.
Have you changed anything else recently... adjusted the lights or flow, added anything to the sump?

You do need to be able to test for phosphate. I wouldn't hazard a diagnosis, but running extremely low nitrate and phosphate is a potential reason your corals might not appear as happy as they once did.

Sounds like you're doing a fine job. I might do a little less, particularly in regards to nitrate and phosphate removal, and just keep on on water changes for 3-4 months. Then, if the tank shows me that it's struggling to hold down nitrate or phosphate (or both), then re-implement your advanced filtration.

No idea on your insect. Unlikely it would cause all corals to be unhappy. Likewise with bristleworm. Most varieties are pretty benign.
 
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Hannarrlouise

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Wow! A lot going on.

For what it's worth, your levels look good. All the major parameters are solid.
Guessing this is a new tank?

How long has it been cycled for? Ammonia is a real concern (if it's real). I'd test it daily for a few days just to be sure.
Have you changed anything else recently... adjusted the lights or flow, added anything to the sump?

You do need to be able to test for phosphate. I wouldn't hazard a diagnosis, but running extremely low nitrate and phosphate is a potential reason your corals might not appear as happy as they once did.

Sounds like you're doing a fine job. I might do a little less, particularly in regards to nitrate and phosphate removal, and just keep on on water changes for 3-4 months. Then, if the tank shows me that it's struggling to hold down nitrate or phosphate (or both), then re-implement your advanced filtration.

No idea on your insect. Unlikely it would cause all corals to be unhappy. Likewise with bristleworm. Most varieties are pretty benign.
Thank you! It’s been up and running for 8 months now and I always thought I was struggling with high nitrates according to my Colombo test kit but did a Red Sea one and they’re low so I’m confused haha! Think I’m going to get rid of the Colombo ammonia and nitrite test kits and get Red Sea ones this weekend just to be sure!
I don’t have a sump! And haven’t changed the lights or flow at all
Thank you for your reply!
 

Super Fly

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Your rocks look very healthy. When people say dont touch the sandbed, they r referring to Deep Sand Bed (DSB) which is 4"+ of fine sand used as a filter bed, and when an established DSB is disturbed it will nuke the tank. In shallow substrate, just keep the sand clean by vacuuming it frequently during water change so detritus does not build up and you'll be fine.

Also noticed few green bubble algae and you mentioned GHA, these r signs phosphate is a bit high. Frequent water changes will help & if/when needed a GFO reactor (only run this as needed and not 24/7/365 or else ur water will be too clean whcih can result in other issues). I'd suggest getting a PO4 test kit and try to maintain levels 0.03-0.05

BTW - please keep in mind that the smaller the water volume, i.e. nano tank, the less forgiving it is when it comes to tank husbandry.

GL w the tank.
 

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