Evo 13.5 build - starting in the middle

tactical error

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Hi all! A little background to start: Been in the freshwater hobby since high school- many, many moons ago. I had always wanted a saltwater, but was too chicken. ( shout out to Mike at Buffalo Coral Reef for giving me the confidence to take the leap!). Anyways, last April, I picked up a used Evo from the local FB aquarium club buy/sell/ trade page, along with some live rock. Everything was stock, however I did upgrade the light to the AI Blade Grow, and got an Intake basket for chamber one that has been running foam on the bottom with chemi pure blue in the middle and floss on top. Admittedly I feel like I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants since I put it into service last May 1st. Current stock is a pair of pajama cardinals, a watchman goby, cleaner shrimp, a pair of trochus snails - and a couple dozen babies, a nerite, a couple of tiny hermits, and a conch. I have several corals that include half a dozen zoa frags, a couple of small hammers, a candy cane and a decent sized monti that came on the live rock and is a rock star.

About a month ago, I noticed that the pink recordea, and a mushroom were getting smaller, not bigger or even holding their own, and the acid hammer had two of its heads pulled in, the third appeared fine. Over the next couple weeks the third head started to shrivel, but then seems to decide it wasn’t going to completely croak, and while it’s smaller, it’s still hanging in there. Doing regular bi-weekly water changes of three to four gallons, feeding frozen food once a day, and will admit, I probably over feed. Last week I took a water sample to the lfs for testing, and their verdict was that everything looked great, except Ca and kh were low, so they sent me home with B ionic and the Salifert test kits for calcium and alkalinity. I dosed for two days, then started testing daily., I haven’t dosed since last Tuesday. As of this morning the Ca was about 480 and kh was about 14. I know these are both really high, and have a bucket of water warming to do the scheduled water change.

Question for you: when I test for Ca, using the Salifert test, I put the granules in the tube, then add the water from the tank, and it is immediately blue. When I add the reactive agent, it turns pink, then purple, then back to blue. What I’m not sure about is, when initially adding the water to the crystals, and it’s blue before adding any of the reactive agent, is that my actual reading? Has my Ca actually gone that low, and is adding the reactive agent to turn it pink, then purple, then blue giving me a false high calcium reading? Also, any tips you can give me about the lighting cycle would be greatly appreciated! When the lights come on, I’ll post a pic for fish tax!

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