ICP tests appear fine (I think) but still having issues with SPS... Now what?

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240 gal system. Tank is 6 months old. For first 4 months all SPS was doing fantastic especially acros. Showed great polyp extension, growth etc. Since then Ive seen slow die off of most acros and a couple Monti caps. All fish, LPS, etc. are doing great. My lighting hasn't changed. I see no signs of pests. My water parameters have been stable. Run Apex and monitor closely. Test dKH, N03, P04 separately 1-2 times a week.

1.025
PH - 8.2 - 8.4
Temp 78
Alk 8.6
Ca 423
Mg 1272

N03 usually 5-10
Hanna - P04 usually around .02 (occasionally drops to 0)
Hanna dKH confrims Apex.

I dose AB+ and 2 part, Run UV, AWC of 3 gallons per day (1.3%).

Can slightly low Strontium or Iodine be the problem? example Photo of an acro (w/o lights on) below - this was thriving just a couple months ago.

Any thoughts on what to try next would be greatly appreciated!!



Screen Shot 2021-05-04 at 8.36.28 AM.png
IMG_4618.jpg
 
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Unless you feed fish several times per day, the low to 0 PO4 is where I would begin.

That said, a 6 month old biome is a fairly dynamic biome still, unless it was a tank transfer from a mature system.
I feed fish twice a day.
I feed a mix of LRS and chopped up clams that I make and freeze. I also feed pellets soaked in amino and vitamins each morning. In addition to this I add a clip of seaweed /nori every other day.

While I have measured 0 before, last two weeks using Hana ULR ive been at .02 PO4.

This was not a tank transfer - totally new with new rock. Do you think I should be dosing P04?
 

PBar

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Hello,
in my personal opinion, it is very unlikely that zero phosphate would kills the acros.
Next to that, I would be really careful to dose phosphate in a such young tank…

Do you have carbon in your sump? Can be one of the reasons for the low iodine.

It is a bit hard to detect now what could be problem, since you treated for bryopsis.

I would wait a bit and do some water changes...

Another possibility could be dip the sps into Coral RX just in case of bacterial infection…

Cheers!
 
Zoanthids

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I feed fish twice a day.
I feed a mix of LRS and chopped up clams that I make and freeze. I also feed pellets soaked in amino and vitamins each morning. In addition to this I add a clip of seaweed /nori every other day.

While I have measured 0 before, last two weeks using Hana ULR ive been at .02 PO4.

This was not a tank transfer - totally new with new rock. Do you think I should be dosing P04?
It might help to dose PO4. Or you could raise your feedings a bit and add a few more fish. That is more fun to boot.

I feed as often as possible and everything stays happier that way. (Of course covid makes that easier these days.) My nutrients will cumulate a little over time but I will dose a little more carbon and hit the system with lanthanum chloride when PO4 gets closer to .2.

Acropora very easily take in whatever nitrates they need. They are not direct consumers of PO4, instead feeding off of bacteria that consume the PO4. In a "newer" biome, that population is not always in steady supply -- especially when PO4 availability is low or spotty.

At .02 you are within testing error of zero according to Hanna instructions. You can disregard what ICP says your phosphorus is (always low); a careful Hanna test is much more accurate.
 

ScottB

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Hello,
in my personal opinion, it is very unlikely that zero phosphate would kills the acros.
Next to that, I would be really careful to dose phosphate in a such young tank…

Do you have carbon in your sump? Can be one of the reasons for the low iodine.

It is a bit hard to detect now what could be problem, since you treated for bryopsis.

I would wait a bit and do some water changes...

Another possibility could be dip the sps into Coral RX just in case of bacterial infection…

Cheers!
Agree to disagree on PO4 as an essential nutrient. Not that you need to run the concentrations that I do, but some small amount needs to be constantly present. A pic of what ~.14 looks like.

Whoa. Fluconazole? Sometimes that stuff really does a number on SPS. Not terribly common, but it CERTAINLY happens. At least 50 different folks have documented that here. Those are not pretty pictures.

Right side.JPG
 

PBar

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Hi ScottB,
agree and disagree as well :)
I run zero phosphate and nitrate a full sps tank… again, I’m under Zeovit, which is another ball game…
In my opinion, hitting zero phosphate from time to time is very unlikely that will kill acros…

See that our colleague treated for bryopsis… which complicate things a bit.

Cheers

A5BBB2D9-3A1B-4112-81A9-EA3C8B3DAEF1.jpeg
 

ScottB

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Hi ScottB,
agree and disagree as well :)
I run zero phosphate and nitrate a full sps tank… again, I’m under Zeovit, which is another ball game…
In my opinion, hitting zero phosphate from time to time is very unlikely that will kill acros…

See that our colleague treated for bryopsis… which complicate things a bit.

Cheers

A5BBB2D9-3A1B-4112-81A9-EA3C8B3DAEF1.jpeg
Aha! Zeovit huh? You've got PO4 in there, but it is hidden inside the belly of all those fancy bacteria you keep releasing!

Beautiful reef you have going there.
 
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Hello,
in my personal opinion, it is very unlikely that zero phosphate would kills the acros.
Next to that, I would be really careful to dose phosphate in a such young tank…

Do you have carbon in your sump? Can be one of the reasons for the low iodine.

It is a bit hard to detect now what could be problem, since you treated for bryopsis.

I would wait a bit and do some water changes...

Another possibility could be dip the sps into Coral RX just in case of bacterial infection…

Cheers!
Thanks for the input. I did just treat for Bryopsis however I was noticing a problem with acros prior to that.

I don't run carbon - I did for a few days after the Flux Rx treatment just to try to clean the water from anything the flux rx killed off but in general I never run carbon.


Ive also added a few more fish to the system recently so Id assume that will increase nutrients and P04 and coral food in general. Will see its just painful to see my acros slowly deteriorate. Its very slow... like it takes a couple weeks. Just a small white tip or base that slowly grows. Other SPS (some Monties, digi, Stylophora etc. look great).
 
Zoanthids

IslandLifeReef

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I feed fish twice a day.
I feed a mix of LRS and chopped up clams that I make and freeze. I also feed pellets soaked in amino and vitamins each morning. In addition to this I add a clip of seaweed /nori every other day.

While I have measured 0 before, last two weeks using Hana ULR ive been at .02 PO4.

This was not a tank transfer - totally new with new rock. Do you think I should be dosing P04?
You mention that your light hasn’t changed, but what light are you using? Have you tested PAR? I had a similar problem when I first started out. SPS would look fine for a few weeks to months and then slowly lose flesh from the tips to the base. Once I increased my light by adding T5’s, the problem stopped. After renting a PAR meter, I discovered my SPS were in about 100-150 PAR. Now they are in 250-390 PAR. Hope this helps! :)
 
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You mention that your light hasn’t changed, but what light are you using? Have you tested PAR? I had a similar problem when I first started out. SPS would look fine for a few weeks to months and then slowly lose flesh from the tips to the base. Once I increased my light by adding T5’s, the problem stopped. After renting a PAR meter, I discovered my SPS were in about 100-150 PAR. Now they are in 250-390 PAR. Hope this helps! :)
One thing I havne't tested is my PAR. I am running G5 Radion XR30s. I have them at about 50%. Because I saw such good growth for the first few months I assumed lighting was adequate. I hesitate to turn up as Ive seen some of my trachyphllias start to fade out on the bottom when fully exposed and when I moved back into shade they colored back up. But I suppose getting a PAR meter is something I need to do.
 

PBar

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Hello,
I read all your build thread… this is a tricky one.
Indeed, your ORP probably fluctuates like that due the the daily AWC.

Normally, it should be a combination of factors to trigger such situation.

In such scenario, I would do:
-big water changes in the course of the next months. Like 20% every two weeks.
-since your running rather low nutrients… maybe drop very slowly the alk to 8 (maybe later to 7.5).
-check if there is any soft coral close to the sps (potential chemical war)
-increase very slowly the iodine level (be really careful when dosing it). It is tempting to put one more drop…
-increase your salt level to 34.5 - 35.0 and keep it there.

Very general strategy that might help solve this hidden issue.

By the way, dip one sps into Coral RX as a test…
 

JCOLE

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Sorry for your issues and losses. They happen from time to time and it's always a bummer.

I recently went through a crash 4 months ago. Mine was a little tricky though. I did a bunch of things that could have made an impact and it is hard to determine what exactly caused the crash. I dosed Vibrant for two months, then right into Chemiclean, then right into Fluconazole. A month before starting Vibrant I switched from Instant Ocean Reef Crystals Salt to Tropic Marin Pro Reef. I also started dosing Acropower daily on a doser. Towards the end of the treatment, I changed out my lighting from black box LED's to all T5's with a more intense whiter spectrum.

I sent out an ICP test towards the end of December and it came back with high levels of Potassium and very low levels of Iodine. My RODI water also had high levels of Tin.

I personally think it was a combination of these things. I think I had Tin in my water but I never noticed it when using Reef Crystals because of the Metal Chelators in the mix that neutralizes the heavy metals. I think when I switched to TMPR the Tin started to show itself. Vibrant, Chemiclean, then Fluconazole wreaked havoc on my system and personally, I don't think I will ever use these again. Then when the corals were very stressed I switched my lighting to a more intense light with a completely different spectrum and this just caused them to crash. On top of that my Iodine was very low while the corals were crashing. I believe Iodine is very essential for coral health and helps them to recover from damage and stress.

I lost 40 Acro's during all of this. The ones that didn't RTN eventually stopped growing, lost color and had STN. I have around 10 corals existing from the crash that seem to be doing ok. Since then I have switched back to Reef Crystals, stopped dosing the acropower, feed heavy, and dose healthy bacteria and probiotics. Knock on wood but all new corals are doing great with good growth and color.

With your tank. This is just my speculation and it might not be what you want to hear but I think your issue is because your tank is still too young especially starting with dry rock. I am not saying that you cannot grow corals, etc because I did early as well with dry rock. However, with a young tank, your biome and parameters are rapidly fluctuating and changing daily. SPS especially Acro's thrive when the tank is stable and mature. When you introduced Fluconazole to your tank which is a Fungicide, it more than likely killed off all microfauna you had established along with bacteria. In return, your nutrients probably plummeted and the corals starved with no beneficial bacteria. This more than likely stressed the corals out and then top it off with low iodine didn't give them a lot of room for healing. Fluconazole is deadly to young tanks for this reason.

I would do some water changes and start on a weekly water change schedule if not already, dose small amounts of Iodine daily for a couple of weeks to a month and send another ICP test in to see where you are at. Also, get some probiotics and bacteria such as DR. Tims Ecobalance and start dosing weekly with your water changes. This might not be what you want to hear but the next thing is STOP any changes and just wait it out for the next 3-4 months or so without making any major changes. The damage has already been done and all you can do is let time and nature run their course and heal the system. If you are lucky then you will have no more losses but I can almost guarantee you that you will still have some pieces die on you especially the ones that have lost all their color. Not saying that there isn't a chance they will bounce back though which is the goal. I would just go at it with a mindset that if they die then just move on and don't get too discouraged. The tank should bounce back within a couple of months and then you can start to introduce new pieces to the tank and they should be fine. I just wouldn't dose or change anything for a while though.

It's tough man. Trust me I know. We all learn in this hobby and you will bounce back even stronger.

This was my result 4 months ago. Even after this, I still removed 2 existing big colonies that RTN'd a week ago. They lost their color and didn't look the same after the crash so in the back of my mind I expected them to go. Just sucks to see them go 4 months later.

20210122_001551.jpg
 
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@JCOLE Thanks for the feedback. Sorry to hear about your loss and see the results.. that looks devastating. Ive just tossed my skeletons right away - laying it all out like that really shows the carnage. You obviously had some nice colonies going.

Ive been in the hobby for 20 years so Ive lost my fair share of coral but usually I can figure out what I did wrong. Thats what is bothering me this time.

Because I don't know the answer and my water tests all seem fine and have been stable I can't rule out any theories and my tank being young at 6 months is not with out merit and likely the root cause. I might of had false confidence since so many of my acros were encrusting, branching and growing. Oddly I have some acros like one called Mercury rising which hasn't grown much at all yet is still alive and well. While others like a Green Slimer which is supposed to be hardy was growing like crazy and was the first to go. Ill hold off buying any new SPS for a while. All my LPS are doing great. Torches splitting, hammers with new heads, Gonis looking great, Acans with new heads etc. so Ill keep my fingers crossed that they don't suddenly take a turn. I wish this "event" would have taken out my BTAs. They are splitting like crazy and I can't get them out so that's my next challenge - getting them out somehow when they are on rocks I can't move and in crevices I can't reach.

Anyway thanks again for your input.
 

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Everyone gets so concerned with nutrients when they are having problems with sps they forget about bacteria. Acros consume bacteria to absorb the nutrients so without the bacteria they cannot access the nutrients. I’m a big fan of af pro bio s and feed with tm bacto balance or plus np and every few days change it up with microbacter and eco balance. How’s your skim mate look?
 

ScottB

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Everyone gets so concerned with nutrients when they are having problems with sps they forget about bacteria. Acros consume bacteria to absorb the nutrients so without the bacteria they cannot access the nutrients. I’m a big fan of af pro bio s and feed with tm bacto balance or plus np and every few days change it up with microbacter and eco balance. How’s your skim mate look?
I think I affirmed earlier in this thread the same thinking: system maturity/bacteria/phosphorus consumption via the bacteria.

Dosed or available nutrient alone is not enough for some acropora.
 

JCOLE

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@JCOLE Thanks for the feedback. Sorry to hear about your loss and see the results.. that looks devastating. Ive just tossed my skeletons right away - laying it all out like that really shows the carnage. You obviously had some nice colonies going.

Ive been in the hobby for 20 years so Ive lost my fair share of coral but usually I can figure out what I did wrong. Thats what is bothering me this time.

Because I don't know the answer and my water tests all seem fine and have been stable I can't rule out any theories and my tank being young at 6 months is not with out merit and likely the root cause. I might of had false confidence since so many of my acros were encrusting, branching and growing. Oddly I have some acros like one called Mercury rising which hasn't grown much at all yet is still alive and well. While others like a Green Slimer which is supposed to be hardy was growing like crazy and was the first to go. Ill hold off buying any new SPS for a while. All my LPS are doing great. Torches splitting, hammers with new heads, Gonis looking great, Acans with new heads etc. so Ill keep my fingers crossed that they don't suddenly take a turn. I wish this "event" would have taken out my BTAs. They are splitting like crazy and I can't get them out so that's my next challenge - getting them out somehow when they are on rocks I can't move and in crevices I can't reach.

Anyway thanks again for your input.

No problem at all! I don't think it was the age of your tank that caused this. I had Acros growing at 2 months with all dry rock. I think it was Fluconazole with a younger tank. Fluconazole is great at removing Bryopsis and GHA but it definitely knocks out sponges, microfauna, bacteria, etc as well. With a younger tank I feel it can almost give it a reset.

I think leaving it alone besides dosing Iodine to bring levels back up and throwing some Probiotic bacteria like Ecobalance will help give it a jump start back to its glory.

I was going to toss the skeletons then decided to make a reminder in my fish room to keep it natural as much as possible.

20210505_195131.jpg
 

Are your corals ever subjected to the open air with no water for water changes or tank maintenance?

  • Yes and I wish I had planned my aquascape better

    Votes: 28 11.7%
  • Yes even though I planned my aquascape for the possibilty

    Votes: 68 28.5%
  • No as I planned for this not to happen

    Votes: 60 25.1%
  • No not yet and I haven't planned for it

    Votes: 65 27.2%
  • Other (please explain in the thread)

    Votes: 18 7.5%
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