Let me start by saying, awesome tank! Absolutely beautiful!Sorry for the lack of updates, it's been a busy summer! Now for the good and bad...
4 weeks ago we got to watch my cousin become commanding officer of his US Navy FA/18 Fighter Wing. It was a truely awesome weekend with fly by, change of command ceremony and even got to fly a FA/18 flight simulator. I'm not into video games, but I'm pretty sure this was a cool one. Go NAVY!
That was followed with a couple weeks up in Oregon visiting my parents with hiking, biking, swimming, canoeing, paddle boarding, tubing, etc. Just what the doctor ordered for a little family relaxation!
We arrived back last weekend to a reef tank in CRITICAL condition...
I'd been experimenting since last January running a CO2 reactor to raise my pH. It's been working great and my pH was running around 8.1-8.4, raising to 8.2-8.5 once summer hit. Coral growth exploded and was actually a bit rediculous and the media lasted a long time. I changed it out every 1.5 months, but it probably could have gone 2.
What was tricky was the Cal/Alk consumption. With pH swinging so much, I was making adjustments to my dosers almost every day and it was sucking up Cal/Alk like nobody's business. I was having to take saltwater out of the tank every few days to keep the salinity down due to so much dosing. I do not have a Trident or other auto tester so going on vacation takes a bit of finger crossing. This was my first decent length vacation since adding the scrubber.
We arrived back Saturday evening to the following:
I immediately tested Alk/Cal and shut off the return to check the salinity. I use a Tropic Marin Precision Hydrometer which I float in the tank and it requires no water movement. Anyways, I checked the salinity and restarted the return. No bueno! The return pump seized and my impeller broke!
- Alk was down to 6.0
- Salinity was up to 1.027
- Both MP40's had seized and fallen off the wall
- My Cal/Alk dosing containers were empty (They are just over 1G each and this is only an 80G tank!)
- My return pump was making noises.
- Corals were not happy.
This is the point that many reefers might say, "That's it, I'm out. Who wants to buy a tank?"
So I got to work. I pulled my MP40 wet sides and dropped them in some 50/50 vinegar. I was smart enough to have a back up wet side so I popped that on and got some water movement going. I also have a back up return pump although I was too lazy to have it pre-plumbed to the union. A quick trip to Home Depot and a little plumbing and the return was back in business. A couple hours later, both MP40s were as well. I slowly adjusted the Salinity/Alk/Cal back to where they should be.
At this point I have disconnected the CO2 scrubber and I'm taking a break. I might consider running it again this next winter if my pH drops super low, but I have no intention of running it in the summer again.
I've thought a lot about what might have gone wrong and my theory (with absolutely no scientific proof) is that running super high pH (8.5+) causes precipitation. I feel it caused all my pumps to seize up. That coupled with the fact that my tank is so small and that I was dosing massive amounts of Alk/Cal and my tank just couldn't handle it. I'm not sure what a safe level of pH is, but I'm going to try to keep it under around 8.3 going forward.
The good news is nothing in the tank died, and other than my very picky CB Maleficent which browned a little, all my acros look just fine! Even my picky Tyree Pink Lemonade colony is looking good.