Corals Very Unhappy - Parameters Off? Lighting? Predation?

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Brit’s Fish

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I am just confused about what is going on with my newest tank. This is going to be info heavy but I am at a loss & hoping for good advice.
For reference, I have 4 successful nano tanks with corals that are happy & grow well.
The "new tank" is a ProClear ProStar 150 - 120g DT & 25g-ish sump - 4'x2'x2'. The system was started up on April 4, so the tank is about 3 1/2 months old. I used 120 lbs CaribSea Fiji Pink and Bahamas Oolite mixed (100 lbs FP & 20 lbs BO) and probably 130-140 lbs of CaribSea LifeRock. There are also a few large pieces of real live rock which were added maybe 3 weeks after initial setup. I used two bottles of Bio-Spira bottled bad and IO Reef Crystals to make the first batch of water. I've since switched to the blue bucket Red Sea salt. I would have preferred Tropic Marin Pro-Reef but it was back ordered when I needed it - I have a bucket now but haven't made any water with it yet. The cycle went great & fairly quickly.

Corals were all doing pretty well in the beginning - I still haven't added many. Everything was dipped in CoralRx before adding, even the ones which I moved from my other tanks. I lost a plate coral only a week or so after adding it - the flesh just kind of peeled away. My long tentacle plate coral is seemingly doing fine and extending it's tentacles just fine. All of the can frags I've added have withered away as well. Interestingly, they had sort of gaping mouths and then shrunk away from the inside out, instead of just receding from the skeleton or bailing out.
A 3"x3" orange leptastrea colony that I had in another tank just kind of bleached out also - doing fine for the last 3 months until a few days ago and today, looks terrible. The Euphyllias have been just okay, I have a torch and a frogspawn which have been big & fluffy. The hammers don't extend their polyps as much as my others in other tanks do. They're all in the same general area so I don't think it's a flow issue.
I moved a large yellow finger leather coral into this tank and it did well for a few weeks but now it's a much darker color & it does not puff up or extend polyps as it used to anymore. Most of the zoas are okay, some seem to be closed more than open. I have a few single mushrooms and they don't really seem to be having any trouble. I have a double headed Trachy that seems to be doing fine.
I moved a large, long polyp Goniopora that I've had for more than a year into this tank because it has outgrown the other space I have for it and it's not extending the way it used to either.
I moved a Cynarina that I have had for 1 year from another tank with lower flow so I put it in a lower flow area on the sandbed. It used to extend to 7-8" in the nano and in the big tank, it was looking very unhappy on most days, some days were okay and it would get to maybe 5-6". I left it in the 150 for over a month and finally just moved it back to the original tank since it's my favorite coral and it took a few days, but it's back to looking normal again. It is showing it's skeleton in one small area around the rim of it's feeding tentacles but this bare spot has not grown. I'm hoping it will heal.
Another, new Cynarina just receded until it completely disappeared - within days, basically.

I have a hand-me-down light on the tank right now - JBJ Orion SL-165 that is probably 5 or 6 years old. It only has blue & white channels and I cannot stand the way it functions. The lights essentially never fully turn off - they ramp up and down all day, with it getting no lower than 4% blue, 0% white in the middle of the night before going back up again. White ramps up to 50% during the day & Blue gets up to 80%. There's never full darkness and the custom settings never work for a full 24 hour period. It drives me nuts and the controls are all manual - troubleshooting is a pain.
I'm upgrading that light this weekend to two 90w Zetlight UFOs. I'm not sure how I feel about those lights, but my LFS recommended them & I can't spend $1600 on the Orpheks I really want right now. I will use the acclimation mode once I set them up though.

I have a Bubble Magus z8 protein skimmer that I have not turned on yet because it throws out crazy amounts of micro bubbles. I know I really need to get that going but the bubbles are frustrating. I do 20% water changes every two weeks - due for one tomorrow.
I also know my KH is low. I started dosing Brightwell Alkalin8.3 this week, every other day until it comes up. The low was at 7.1 on Sunday, 1 week after water change.
I have some chaeto in the sump with a refugium light. Wondering if that would be part of the issue... the light is not on a timer and there have been times I either forget to turn it on or forget to turn it off for a day or two.
I had a MarinePure plate in the sump as well but threw it out on Tuesday after noticing how much it was crumbling and kind of making a mess. It was new for this tank, so not an old piece of media transferred over.

Parameters:
Temp: 76.1 Hanna
Salinity: 1.024 Hanna
Nitrate: 25 Nyos
Phosphate: 0.1-0.25 Salifert
Mag: 1320 Salifert
Cal: 430 Salifert
KH/Alk: 7.3 Salifert
pH: 8.0 Red Sea

I have 13 fish (mostly young) & various CUC:
1 - 3" Blue Tang
1 - 2 1/2" Tomini Tang
1 - 3-4" Black Capped Jawfish
1 - 4" Purple Scale Fairy Wrasse
1 - Yellow Tail Cleaner Wrasse
1 - 2" White Belly Yellow Coris Wrasse (H. leucoxanthus)
1 - 1 1/2" Long Nose Hawkfish
2 - Mocha Storm Clowns
2 - Blue Green Chromis
1 - 3/4" Royal Gramma
1 - Yellow Watchman Goby - I forget him a lot because he hides with the Pistol Shrimp most of the time.
2 - Skunk Cleaner Shrimp
1 - Sand Sifting Starfish
2 - Tiger Conch
2 very large Babylonian snails - had them for a year or so, always well behaved, I never see them
1 - Pencil Urchin
12 or so Keys Red Leg hermit crabs
Nassarius Snails, Banded Trochus snails, Astrea snails, Orange Chestnut Turbo snails

A couple of the fish look like their fins are a little picked at but I have not witnessed any agression between them. Actually, my husband & I often comment about how much they all seem to like each other. They all love food & eat like crazy.

TL;DR: My fish are very happy, eating like pigs. Corals are looking awful and dying left and right. What do I do?
 
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Brit’s Fish

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Pictures of tank & corals…
 

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vetteguy53081

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Not sure what test kits youre using but focus on nitrate and ammonia to assure you havent gotten spikes.
Moderate light and water flow as well as nitrate < .6, alk 8-10, salinity 1.205 @ 77-79 deg
Im guessing the light has affected them in a fashion that they are not producing the amount of zooxanthele needed for overall color and health.
Hopefully copper was Not used in that tank previously but also focus on Large swings in tank parameters, like salinity, alkalinity and pH.
 

mermaid_life

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You clearly understand the fundamentals of reefing since you have 4 thriving nanos. I'm inclined to think that something else is going on. Based on what you wrote, I feel like the lighting difference could have triggered something and the decomposition or degradation of some of the corals may be to causing imbalance in a "newer" tank? I personally don't own any leathers because I have been scared about the potential toxicity that it can release. Do you think that is something that may be happening?
 
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Not sure what test kits youre using but focus on nitrate and ammonia to assure you havent gotten spikes.
Moderate light and water flow as well as nitrate < .6, alk 8-10, salinity 1.205 @ 77-79 deg
Im guessing the light has affected them in a fashion that they are not producing the amount of zooxanthele needed for overall color and health.
Hopefully copper was Not used in that tank previously but also focus on Large swings in tank parameters, like salinity, alkalinity and pH.
Thank you! I listed the brands next to each of my parameters but for Nitrate, I have the Nyos kit. I still have the Red Sea test kit but nyos is easier to read. I’ll test for ammonia as well.
There was definitely no copper ever used in this tank as it was new when I bought it but I did throw some Cuprisorb into the sump at the suggestion of my LFS. They thought there could be some metals either in my RODI or leaching from the MarinePure plate. The filters on my RODI are new though and the MP plate was only a couple months old. I do also have two bags of ChemiPure Blue in the sump.

I think you are right about the lights. It has really been bothering me that they don’t work very well and never fully turn off. I hope that switching them up will help!
 
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You clearly understand the fundamentals of reefing since you have 4 thriving nanos. I'm inclined to think that something else is going on. Based on what you wrote, I feel like the lighting difference could have triggered something and the decomposition or degradation of some of the corals may be to causing imbalance in a "newer" tank? I personally don't own any leathers because I have been scared about the potential toxicity that it can release. Do you think that is something that may be happening?
I think the concern about the lights plays a big part in this. I have also heard and read about leather toxicity and funny enough, a video from Tom Reefer on YouTube popped up yesterday about that specific topic. This is a pretty big leather too. It looks smaller in the pictures because it’s so unhappy but normally, it’s about 3 times that size. I have no special affinity towards it so I’m tempted to bring it to my LFS. It was given to me by my nephew who has an even larger one in his 210g. It’s a cool coral which has made the rounds between several of our friends with tanks for at least 15 years now. Usually grows like a weed so I won’t feel bad giving this away since I know there’s plenty more if I ever want some.
 

homer1475

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I honestly think the tank is just way to young to REALLY support corals. They will live, but until the tank matures, they will not thrive in those nutrient numbers.

20 nitrates, and .2 phosphates isn't bad per se, but in a young tank without the biome to support those higher numbers, corals often times suffer in those higher nutrient levels.

FYI, I often times suck at trying to articulate what I mean and know. lol
 
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I honestly think the tank is just way to young to REALLY support corals. They will live, but until the tank matures, they will not thrive in those nutrient numbers.

20 nitrates, and .2 phosphates isn't bad per se, but in a young tank without the biome to support those higher numbers, corals often times suffer in those higher nutrient levels.

FYI, I often times suck at trying to articulate what I mean and know. lol
No worries! I completely understood what you meant. I kind of knew the answers particularly pertaining to lighting before I posted but I needed confirmation from others who are much smarter than I am.
Also, I know the tank is young so I haven't thrown too much in there. I'm glad that I like the aquascape since I know I'm still going to be looking at it for a LONG time before anything fills in. :) I know there's an argument either way for whether a tank needs to be cycled or aged before adding corals, but I don't want to lose anything else.

I do have a feeling that part of the high nitrates were maybe being caused by some die off in my chaeto. I just pulled some of it out to find that the lower half where the light doesn't reach it was almost completely dead & was also just trapping a bunch of gunk. Any thoughts on whether dying macro algae will release nitrates back into the water if it dies off?
 
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So I've decided to scrap the idea of upgrading my lights to the 90w UFOs since I realize that I'm thinking of them as temporary... I have the 55w version on one of my nanos and I was conveniently ignoring how much I dislike it because the lights were less expensive.
So I might as well just upgrade one time instead of twice or more.
What would ya'll recommend?
I'm looking at AI Hydra 64HDs, Orphek Alantik V4s (they have a little bigger footprint than I'd like but I like the lights), or do I just go full bore and get the Ecotech Radion G5 Pros? The G5s are my preferred but they're new and shiny so I always gravitate towards those things.
The tank is 4'x2'x2'.
I want something controllable via app & that will look nice over the tank because this tank is in our office showroom. Maybe this can be a write off? LOL

@vetteguy53081 you always seem to be nice enough to swoop in and give me great advice. What do you think?
 

vetteguy53081

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So I've decided to scrap the idea of upgrading my lights to the 90w UFOs since I realize that I'm thinking of them as temporary... I have the 55w version on one of my nanos and I was conveniently ignoring how much I dislike it because the lights were less expensive.
So I might as well just upgrade one time instead of twice or more.
What would ya'll recommend?
I'm looking at AI Hydra 64HDs, Orphek Alantik V4s (they have a little bigger footprint than I'd like but I like the lights), or do I just go full bore and get the Ecotech Radion G5 Pros? The G5s are my preferred but they're new and shiny so I always gravitate towards those things.
The tank is 4'x2'x2'.
I want something controllable via app & that will look nice over the tank because this tank is in our office showroom. Maybe this can be a write off? LOL

@vetteguy53081 you always seem to be nice enough to swoop in and give me great advice. What do you think?
The hydra 64s and Orphek atlantiks are no dissapointment. Im an Orphek person of course and would say orphek. Weight and footprint are a little higher.
Do consider Orphek Atlantik Compacts and also for your tank - You will love the new OR3-120 strips. No fans, low heat and I recommend 2 of the sky blues and one Blue Plus which will make your tank glow and corals explode with color. three will be under $580 shipped and if on sale Under $540 shipped
Always great conversing with you !!
 
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Gqch

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think the unqualified light cause it, it happen to my other 45G mainly rbta tank, leds bulbs get burn out constantly, and i replaced it with ebay led bulbs, rbta start shrinking up when 50%og original led bulbs has been changed, so patently the ebay led bulbs are cheap in quality and cause the problm
 
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Five to six year old LEDs that never turn off are likely not close to the original output. When you see an hour lifespan for LEDs it's to an L70 or L50 output, that's 70% to 50% of the original light and spectrum. That means that just because they turn on doesn't mean you're getting what you need, just like with halides and T5s, we replace them before they actually burn out. You should test that light.
 

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As others have mentioned I think its your nutrients are too high and tank too young for that level. The lighting is insufficient but I doubt that is the main cause, low light typically doesnt make zoas close, generally the reverse, same with most corals. They will expand more to get more light if they arent getting enough
 
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