Corals not opening! Nitrite spike! Help!

The_Phoenix

New Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 27, 2021
Messages
19
Reaction score
7
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Columbus
Hello everyone, another newbie is in a pickle:
I have a 12g reef tank with a few new corals (1 Zoa, 1 Hammer, 1 leather, and 1 green star), 2 hermits, a ninja star snail, and a pair of tiny clownfish. I started my tank about 2 months ago and let it fully cycle (meaning ammonia to nitrite to nitrate spikes) and did a 50% WC before I added anything. I used seachem stability to promote bacteria growth at the start and I used seachem prime after my WC. All of my levels were “good” according to my LFS and my own testing at that point.

I added the leather and the clownfish pair about a week ago and tested my water all last week and my levels were still “good”. I noticed though that my leather was not fully open like it was at the store. I did some research and came to the conclusion that it was just “getting used to the tank” and that it was no reason to panic. The fish were completely fine.

Yesterday I went out and got the rest of the things in the tank (Zoa, Crabs, green star, Hammer, Snail). Those corals did the same thing as the leather coral; closed up and haven’t showed their colors since (I’m writing this 23 hours from when I put them into the tank). I floated then drip acclimated everything I got for about a half hour then put them into the tank.

Today, I check my tank and all of the corals are closed so I decide to test my water again. All is good but my Nitrite levels are nearly off the charts. Could this be what’s wrong/what should I do/are my corals going to die?
Thank you for any help!
 
Aquarium Specialty - dry goods & marine livestock
OP
The_Phoenix

The_Phoenix

New Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 27, 2021
Messages
19
Reaction score
7
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Columbus
First id advise to test your nitrites again. What sort of test kit? Are both of your tests identical reading?

I'd ask also for a full tank shot. Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.
Did a second nitrite test and it reads off the chart. Also, here are the pictures.
 

Attachments

  • 40B4009F-1F05-43E4-9CF9-63CF2A418567.jpeg
    40B4009F-1F05-43E4-9CF9-63CF2A418567.jpeg
    270 KB · Views: 48
  • 9F6ABC27-C95B-44CD-B959-3B40B3A1DF97.jpeg
    9F6ABC27-C95B-44CD-B959-3B40B3A1DF97.jpeg
    235.9 KB · Views: 42
  • 07FE19DC-E74D-4DDF-B0DA-8731DC18A85C.jpeg
    07FE19DC-E74D-4DDF-B0DA-8731DC18A85C.jpeg
    245.6 KB · Views: 50

vetteguy53081

Well known Member and monster tank lover
View Badges
Joined
Aug 11, 2013
Messages
48,478
Reaction score
110,030
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Wisconsin - Florida in several months
Take a water sample to a trusted LFS that does NOT use API test kits. See what results they come with and to compare with yours. I suspect false readings but I will also say that Phos is more critical than nitrate. If Phos is high, nitrate is affected.
Additionally, what test kits are you using?

I just met an hour ago with LOU from Tropic Marin and they have a product called Elimni-NP. This will bring it down safely and add polymers which will bind Phos and nitrate to safe levels. NP stands for Nitrate/phos
Another would be Chemipure Elite which will do the same and polish water.
 

littlebeard

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Feb 7, 2015
Messages
278
Reaction score
356
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Madison, WI
Couple of questions that may help.
What test kit are you using to test nitrites? Have you compared results with another test kit? Like mentioned above bring it to a LFS to compare.
What type of water are you using to top off/mix new salt?


Honestly with that little amount of water 12 gallon tank, I would just do water changes to bring down the nitrites. That being said, I'm not convinced that nitrites are the root of your problem. I would suspect fluctuation in water quality (such as changes in salinity or alkalinity) to be possible suspects. Have you done large water changes with a new salt brand? What's your salinity at? What was the salinity of the tank where the corals were bought? Did you acclimate the corals to the light over a few days?

The more data points we have the easier it is to troubleshoot.
 
OP
The_Phoenix

The_Phoenix

New Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 27, 2021
Messages
19
Reaction score
7
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Columbus
Couple of questions that may help.
What test kit are you using to test nitrites? Have you compared results with another test kit? Like mentioned above bring it to a LFS to compare.
What type of water are you using to top off/mix new salt?


Honestly with that little amount of water 12 gallon tank, I would just do water changes to bring down the nitrites. That being said, I'm not convinced that nitrites are the root of your problem. I would suspect fluctuation in water quality (such as changes in salinity or alkalinity) to be possible suspects. Have you done large water changes with a new salt brand? What's your salinity at? What was the salinity of the tank where the corals were bought? Did you acclimate the corals to the light over a few days?

The more data points we have the easier it is to troubleshoot.
I’ve been using the same salt since I’ve had the tank. The salinity of the water for the leather was pretty low (below 1.020) but I acclimated it for almost an hour with my water that was at 1.025. The fish didn’t seem to mind the jump. The other corals came from 1.025 (the same as mine) and reacted the same way as the leather. My test kit is API but I got the same results as my LFS that used some sort of dipstick test. What do you mean about the light?
 
Orphek OR3 reef aquarium LED lighting

littlebeard

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Feb 7, 2015
Messages
278
Reaction score
356
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Madison, WI
So a couple observations.
a) api and dipstick probably aren't the best test kits in the world. What is the exact range of nitrites we're talking about?
b) what are your other parameters. Alk, Ca, Mg?

I'm not a soft coral keeper, but I have read that leathers in particular can give off a pretty strong toxic slime coat when aggravated. In a small space like that, that may be an issue. Do you run carbon?

As for coral light acclimation corals can get stressed when moving to a new tank/new lighting system. It's often advised to acclimate your corals to the new light. https://www.liveaquaria.com/article/304/?aid=304 The corals you mentioned probably will be fine but I wouldn't be surprised if they stayed closed for a few days.

My advice is some small water changes and run some carbon.
 

brandon429

why did you put a reef in that
View Badges
Joined
Dec 9, 2014
Messages
20,373
Reaction score
16,775
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
tejas
There’s not anytime nitrite matters in reefing regarding animal health, and your tank is normal, your fish normal, closed corals means nothing about nitrite and one reason we no longer factor it in any cycle analysis (if using updated cycle science) is because common additives like prime cause misreads, actual test procedures cause misreads, and it doesn’t matter if you have nitrite anyway it’s neutral. Non burning, not a cause of anything in your normal - looking tank. Toss the nitrite kit permanently, verify temp and salinity like Garf mentioned and just do a large common water change and proceed on reefing.

that a totally brand new reef doesnt keep corals perfectly is common, being not open has nothing to do with nitrite, it can’t burn anything in the tank.
 

brandon429

why did you put a reef in that
View Badges
Joined
Dec 9, 2014
Messages
20,373
Reaction score
16,775
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
tejas
Yep just saw you used prime, this is now added to our massive collection of false nitrite posts. We only got lucky you mentioned that, but we didn’t need to know the detail to know your tank is safe and doesn’t need to know it’s nitrite levels. Since you did disclose it’s use, you now have a reason for the false test. Quit testing for it, throw out the kit it’s an unneeded to know parameter


regarding nitrite causing false positives on nitrate kits: you were thinking nitrate testing is accurate using the kits above, even when nitrite is zero? Gosh no. If they were right, nobody would pay for Hanna digital.
 

MaxTremors

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Mar 20, 2021
Messages
1,339
Reaction score
2,043
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Boise
As others have said, I don’t think nitrite is your issue. It’s hard to determine whether or not it’s a water quality issue without knowing your parameters, and without getting those parameters using quality test kits. API test kits aren’t the most reliable, but I don’t think they’re all garbage (though I agree that there’s no reason to even test for nitrite). Some of them are okay to get a general, ballpark idea of where your parameters are at, but they’re not very useful for troubleshooting problems where you need reliable, specific numbers. The resolution of API tests are awful, for example the phosphate test goes in 0.25 steps, there should be multiple levels between 0 and 0.25, most reefers aim to keep their phosphates well below 0.25. So we need your actual parameters from accurate test kits to be able to tell you if it’s a water quality issue.

In the meantime, as others have said, do a water change and run some carbon. The great thing about nanos is that big water changes are easy to do. Without a specific parameter you’re trying to adjust for, I would recommend starting with a 25% water change once a week. Also, are you using RODI water?

The other thing I want to point out is that the light you’re using is nowhere near adequate for growing corals (not even soft corals). It’s not a reef ready light, it’s made for freshwater and fish-only saltwater tanks. There are plenty of affordable options for a nanos, if you want some suggestions, just ask (though you really should try to get something adequate sooner rather than later).
 

PICK the Most Tested & Least Tested Parameters of your Tank (Pick 2)

  • Calcium (most)

    Votes: 24 6.3%
  • Alkalinity (most)

    Votes: 274 71.4%
  • Magnesium (most)

    Votes: 3 0.8%
  • Phosphate (most)

    Votes: 24 6.3%
  • PH (most)

    Votes: 41 10.7%
  • Nitrate (most)

    Votes: 36 9.4%
  • Nitrite (most)

    Votes: 2 0.5%
  • Ammonia (most)

    Votes: 8 2.1%
  • (least) Calcium

    Votes: 6 1.6%
  • (least) Alkalinity

    Votes: 2 0.5%
  • (least) Magnesium

    Votes: 29 7.6%
  • (least) Phosphate

    Votes: 5 1.3%
  • (least) PH

    Votes: 14 3.6%
  • (least) Nitrate

    Votes: 3 0.8%
  • (least) Nitrite

    Votes: 119 31.0%
  • (least) Ammonia

    Votes: 157 40.9%
Queen City Corals
Top