DEATH OF A REEF TANK...

Battlecorals

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Sometimes it's really all about the silver linings. I mean, I'm not the worlds most emboldened optimist - trust me, but in the wake of a devastating circumstance, I think if we can find just one flake of positivity, then at least we can't consider it a 100% failure. I have often considered the “first crash” an essential rite of passage in every reefers journey. Whether by malfunction, equipment failure, direct human error, the result of pests, or some other quirk we never discover, this crash will be a turning point for you, I guarantee. I see it as an almost well earned catharsis to expel all the crap you piled in your tank before you had any idea of what you were doing. For me, it was Flatworms back in about 07. Up till that point, I would put any frag in my system, no matter what it was, without consideration of any sort. Like an empty bellied hobo at a free buffet, I nabbed as many frags I could get, and threw them all in that tank, as fast and recklessly as possible.







Now I’m not poised to have a debate about the quality of life and whether or not we should eradicate any particular species simply because they do not fit into our aesthetic construct anymore. But, the serendipitous beauty of the crash can be, that in one heartbreaking moment, all that “whatever” coral: the "brownesque” monti caps, the green and brown digita, the ugly polyped Millie, those dormant duds your patience ran out on ages ago, the five different tables that all somehow look exactly like the red planet! - quintessential "newbie stuff", all haphazardly placed without any consideration or notion of future development, just filling in space rather than complimenting each other in any way - all that crap is all gone now! What you are left with is a clean slate, which can be a very beautiful thing, and with any luck, a bit more wisdom in your brain than you had the first go round.


A “total loss” brings with it a new found sense of selectivity. Whether, you are aware of it or not, at this point, you have developed some idea of what you like and what you don’t, and probably have a better understanding of simple growth patterns and structures as well. There’s a real good chance that unless you’re nostalgic for it, you wont be re-aquiring the majority of the “whatever” corals you lost. It’s time to move on and stay positive. The worst is definitely over. You may also consider a full re-scape. This is perhaps the best excuse you’ll have for some time to reconfigure your aquascape. Get creative! Build elaborate sprawling pillars, or keep it simple and take a minimalist approach. Whatever you decide to do, now is the time, I promise, your fading memory of the old tank and subsequent crash will become distanced even further as you completely re-envision and recreate, whats in front of you. Your spirit will begin to lift and sadness will soon be replaced with enthusiasm. But, now is really when the fun begins, because as I said, you are a lot more keen on what you like and what you may not be so into. It’s time to put your polished exclusivity to practice, and I promise you, that you will build for yourself a new reef, far beyond the aesthetic potential of the crowded, “wall of coral” like vision of your very first iteration. You will choose and place coral with a more precise concept of what you like and want to see. More importantly, you will most likely know very well what you do not want to see, and this may be the key to enjoying your reef for all its worth. And let’s not forget that starting out a new reef is often the most exhilarating stage of all. You get to experience all of that one more time, and take it from me, It’s pretty awesome.





It's not as bad as it looks I promise



Ultimately, your first, second or even third crash, no matter how extensive and horrible it will feel like in the moment, and may in fact be the worst thing you and your reef ever experience together, in the end, is truly an essential building block to future successes. Whether learning the importance of proper QT protocol or just having a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t, or perhaps being driven to join a forum or two to seek advice. I promise you that there will always be some good that comes from a crash. We just may need to look for it a little harder sometimes.





So whether you’ve already been through it, or that impending crash is on its way, try to remember through the heartache and duress, that loosing a tank is not the end of the world. Heart and potentially wallet breaking indeed, but not a reason to give up on the hobby at all. A good crash puts you in the driver seat of a brand new experience.









 
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Husker

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Plus, crashes are good for business. I have a few BC frags that were not appreciative of my cockiness--> lapsed alkalinity checking --> week of 5.0 dKH. Now I'll have to replace them for the tank upgrade..hah.
 

recess62

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This reminds me of the old motorcycle adage. There are two types of bikers. Those have been down and those who are going to go down. Well there are two types of reefers. Those who have crashed and those who will crash. Lol
 

S&SReef

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My first crash was ridiculous. We had a wasp nest in our outer wall. On night I sprayed a can of wasp killer in it and used expanding foam to close it off.....they found a way out.....in inside wall of the fish room. They died kamikaze style in my tanks covered in wasp killer, this in turn crashed my tanks. When you think youve got it all covered murpheys law is bound to suprise you.
 

Tautog

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Oh thanks Adam, with my No3's running high, this piece, and my BC coming next week, I really didn't need to see this. And now my second guessing starts again! I've never had a total crash, but, and please don't say there's always a first time. Then today, my Mexican Hawk got eaten by a Rock nem and died. I loved that fish!
Now that I paid for my corals, maybe you could keep them, but send pictures as they grow. And, can you tell how nervous I am.........aka.......Acro killer!
 

dodgerblew

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Adam, as a recent victim of a major crash, which you and I chatted about, you're words of wisdom are spot on. Agree with you 100% and couldn't have said it any better. This hobby is about the challenge plain and simple. The challenge of keeping a box of ocean alive under your care and watch. When it's good it's real good but when it goes wrong it's real bad.

The hardest part is when you think of all the [not money] but the sweat equity you invested for years and in a blink of an eye it's all gone. It took 3-4 years to grow that Superman Table I got from you from a frag into a 7/8" colony only to chisel off the dead skeleton and throw it into the trash bucket and it all happened in less then 24 hours. But I recently added back the imperfect pieces that managed to survive that had been recuperating at one of the smartest people I know in this hobby's outdoor system soaking up the sun. I've got pieces with tissue on bases but all branches are dead and brown, some with some encrusting on the plug or parts of some branches and a few that survived intact. We're calling it "the holocaust collection". At the present time it's a coral reef version of a MASH unit. I don't even know what some of them are to be honest but I'm excited to find out in time. I expect as well that in time when this crash is way behind me in my rear view mirror and my tank matures back into a colorful and healthy reef my pride of ownership factor will be even greater then it was before. In the meantime, can you say grab-ba-ba-baggie battlebox!
 

Scott.h

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Thanks to forums like this and helpful aquaculturists, we can certainly learn by reading and from others mistakes. Hopefully avoid the dreaded crash all together! Knock on wood.
On a side note I have some moss growing on my composite deck bleach won't touch. I'm thinking of dumpling my water change water on it. For certain it should kill it.
 
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Battlecorals

Battlecorals

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My first crash was ridiculous. We had a wasp nest in our outer wall. On night I sprayed a can of wasp killer in it and used expanding foam to close it off.....they found a way out.....in inside wall of the fish room. They died kamikaze style in my tanks covered in wasp killer, this in turn crashed my tanks. When you think youve got it all covered murpheys law is bound to suprise you.

Believe it or not that has always been fear of mine. Albeit a great story though, but in a horrible way. I'm sorry to hear about it. That is a hard one to really consider contingency plan for. Really appreciate the post! Please tell me you quickly moved on to better things after the crash at least, hopefully, enforcing the general thrust of this write up.
 
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Battlecorals

Battlecorals

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Oh thanks Adam, with my No3's running high, this piece, and my BC coming next week, I really didn't need to see this. And now my second guessing starts again! I've never had a total crash, but, and please don't say there's always a first time. Then today, my Mexican Hawk got eaten by a Rock nem and died. I loved that fish!
Now that I paid for my corals, maybe you could keep them, but send pictures as they grow. And, can you tell how nervous I am.........aka.......Acro killer!

There are always exceptions my friend, and hopefully you'll be one of them. But, if the day ever comes, I promise your rebound better.
 

buzzword

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Been there, through 3 crashes since 04'. Having a mini crash right now half of my SPS are STNing. Have checked and alleviated high phosphates as a cause, nitrates, Alk swings, pH swings, and last week changed out the R/O membrane that was overdue and am doing water changes. Crossing my fingers that something will stop the chaos.
 

Justfbilly

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I just experienced a crash and I am now starting over. I now realize that everything must go through QT and dont take any short cuts! You can only get lucky for so long then your luck runs out and Mother Nature takes over.
 

sbash

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Yup, I just crashed my 5 Gallon tank last week due to an ATO malfunction (the bracket holding it onto the rim broke, thus leaving it 'open'). The salinity dropped down to the point where it barely registered on my refractometer, which makes sense as it would have dumped about 15 gallons of fresh water into it.

The tank itself was only about a year old, but it was starting to mature and nicely house the corals I put in it (two or three of which I do not have backup frags, so I need to re-aquire).

One thing did survive though... The single blue hermit I put in there. Those little dudes are super hardy...
 

Flippers4pups

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I'm not bragging what so ever, but ever since the summer of 1993 till now, I've never had a tank crash. Murphy's law has eluded me all these years I guess.

Sure, I've lost fish due to being stupid, not listening to advice and not acting on that advice, but not a total catastrophic loss of fish life. I was able to save the rest by removing them and treating them to save them.
Coral mistakes have been made by me, but they haven't been a nuclear meltdown either. Been lucky in the past with them, but then again back many moons ago it was softies and LPS.

Having to respond quickly to ones mistakes, to correct your bone headed moves, makes you learn your lesson just that much faster. The added plus to that is it hits your wallet in a big way. This really gets my attention and has a way of sticking deep in that file in my head that reads "don't do that again".

So, that's it on me making mistakes. What about things out of my control? Equipment failures come to mind. Sure have had those too, but one thing I've always done is plan accordingly and read up on what equipment I needed and when it goes wrong, what to do. So I've kept on top of the equipment issues all these years.

Tank failure has never happen to me, knock on wood! Have had 6 tanks all those years. Not saying it couldn't happen right now or 6 years from now. Hopefully never.

The only thing that you can do to keep the chances of a crash from happening is, everything you can control, control it and inform yourself to no end before buying anything and how it will effect everything else if the worst happens.

Aside from that, Murphy's law applies to me and you.

Happy reefing!:)
 

Flippers4pups

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Yup, I just crashed my 5 Gallon tank last week due to an ATO malfunction (the bracket holding it onto the rim broke, thus leaving it 'open'). The salinity dropped down to the point where it barely registered on my refractometer, which makes sense as it would have dumped about 15 gallons of fresh water into it.

The tank itself was only about a year old, but it was starting to mature and nicely house the corals I put in it (two or three of which I do not have backup frags, so I need to re-aquire).

One thing did survive though... The single blue hermit I put in there. Those little dudes are super hardy...

Sorry that happened to you. I've had ATO's go wrong in the past, but not leading to a crash. I've always followed the ATO container rule, never at one time have more than 10% of a systems volume in it. That way if it fails, it can't crash the tank.

Hang in there and hope you recover quickly.
 

reef80

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Three crashes...Adam have provide feedback and support with all 3x.

Flatworms/Black Bugs (not from BC of coarse)
UV rusted over the coarse of 4month
Eggs and cheese

Lots of Battle frags gone but never forgotten.!!!

Now I've got a Battle Tank to itself and 2 other quarantine tank and every piece of housing gets inspected every 3 months or so...

Live and Learn and Trial by Fire...but the reward is starting to pay off. Knock on wood. Lol

IMG_2685.PNG


IMG_1151.PNG
 

PedroYoung

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Flippers4pups

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Tennsquire

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Knoxville blizzard in 1993 took out the power to my apartment for a week. I put sleeping bags over the tank to insulate it and heated tank water over a camp stove for several days until the propane ran out. I went down swinging, but it was too cold for too long.
 

Fugs

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One of my Nano tanks had a chiller failure in the height of this year's Australian summer, while I was on holiday in Japan.
35 deg C... it was like returning to a miniature climate change model. The one day my friend didn't visit to check the tank, the chiller died.
Lost a nice fluro tipped sinularia that had grown 10 times its original size and one of my favourite acros that had grown in a really cool shape. BTA that withered to almost nothing.
The Leptoseris and fish survived but there was definitely a massive water change regimen that followed for a few weeks.
Good news is, it's been running since and everything that survived has bounced back, including the nem.

I've had other errors but this is probably my worst encounter so far.
 

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