Is anyone else just... failing?

Discussion in 'Reef Aquarium Discussion' started by LivinTheSwreefLife, Feb 13, 2018.

  1. LivinTheSwreefLife

    LivinTheSwreefLife Active Member Build Thread Contributor

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    I feel like all I see on here all day are either people who are brand new to the hobby or people who have awesome thriving tanks. Is anyone else like me doing tons of reading and research and work on their tank and just... failing?

    As some background, I kept a successful tank with SPS for a few years and then took a break from the hobby for about 2 years. When I started up again, I had nothing but trouble. My newest tank is a year old in March and every coral I put in there dies. And I've tried everything I can think of short of tossing all my rock and completely starting over (which I may do eventually). My fish at least have lived, for now.

    I'm beyond frustrated because I love this hobby and I want to succeed with this tank so badly. I'm not even in it for the fish, it's the corals-- specifically SPS-- that I love. But I'm failing. And I guess this is just me wondering out loud... am I the only one struggling this much?
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
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  2. Ocean Lotion

    Ocean Lotion Well-Known Member

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    My struggle was a 4 year battle with HA. Was ready to throw in the towel. Along came fluconazole and I love my tank again. So what is different from when you were successful?
     
  3. Waters

    Waters "...in perfect isolation, here behind my wall." R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    There will be ups and downs with every tank.....even the people that you see that have thriving tanks, chances are they suffered at one point or another. At some point, things will click, and everything will start thriving and growing. Just keep everything stable and things will eventually straighten out.
     
  4. LivinTheSwreefLife

    LivinTheSwreefLife Active Member Build Thread Contributor

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    I started out with a much different system (nano, different lighting, dry rock), and have gradually moved closer and closer to my old setup. I now have the same size (~60g), similar lighting (T5 and LED combo, used to be just T5), added established live rock. None of that has worked.

    I might have just gotten very lucky the first time around. I bought live rock from a guy on craiglist who had an established tank. I got a BTA as a hitchhiker that apparently didn't like that guy's lighting but LOVED mine, as it became as large as a dinner plate and split many times. Basically, my first tank was effortless for me, probably in large part because of inheriting someone else's established rock. I tried to emulate that success by buying established live rock again, and all it has gotten me so far is an infestation of hydrozoans that are taking over.
     
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  5. g5flier

    g5flier Active Member Build Thread Contributor

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    Its almost funny, I have 2 tanks; a RedSea 525XL that is 1 year old yesterday and a WaterBox 75 that is close to 3 months old. Softies and fish do amazing in the 525, but put a piece of SPS in there and its a death sentence, despite having the right light, flow, water parameters etc. Trust me when I say no one can figure out the curse of the that tank...The 3 month old WaterBox has about a dozen SPS frags in it, each one is colorful and encrusting like crazy! Acros, Montis, etc seem to be thriving! Same lights, same basic flow, only difference is I started the WaterBox with LIVE ROCK.

    One would think after 1 year the rock in the RedSea would be totally okay now, maybe it is but I still can't figure out why SPS dies when it goes in that tank!

    Love this hobby!
     
  6. g5flier

    g5flier Active Member Build Thread Contributor

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    Duplicate post
     
  7. XNavyDiver

    XNavyDiver Insightful answer loading... please wait. R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Build Thread Contributor

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    Your and my tanks are about the same age. I don't have a past tank that I can compare my current tank to as my last tank was back in the 90s.
    Can you be more specific with any differences from your original?
    I've also had some struggles, but who doesn't? When you say things just die, how do they die? Slow downhill decline of color and PE? RTN?
    How stable have you kept things? Are you hands off or constantly tinkering and adjusting? What are your water parameters?

    What kind of rock did you use this go around? I started with dry Pukani. It's taken a while, but it's slowly but surely coming around. Sps didn't do well for a long time. Acros will live but still don't just thrive and explode with growth like in some other tanks.
    I had to "re adjust" my timeline expectations with my tank. Week by week, things are headed in the right direction. Dry rock tanks take a while to start thriving.
     
  8. XNavyDiver

    XNavyDiver Insightful answer loading... please wait. R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Build Thread Contributor

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    Just saw your post about live rock, so ignore my inquiry about what kind you started with. Sorry.
     
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  9. sebastiaan1985

    sebastiaan1985 Active Member

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    In my experience Live Rock really does make a difference...
    Started my 40gallon with dead rock and SPS won't grow, for no apparent reason.. Flow and lighting cannot be the issue, parameters getting stable...

    So next tank is started with live rock and any other tank will be started with a mix of dead rock and live rock.
     
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  10. LivinTheSwreefLife

    LivinTheSwreefLife Active Member Build Thread Contributor

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    No prob. As far as your other questions go re: how things die: most of the corals have followed the same pattern. They look great for about 3 weeks. Then they encrust, sometimes heavily, over the next few months, but they start to decline (paling, no upward growth at all, sometimes no polyp extension). Then one day, sometimes after encrusting an inch or more, they start STN'ing. Just this week I had a stylo that I acquired last May finally finish its STN and kick the bucket.

    Things are stable. I used to constantly tinker with the lights and parameters but have been totally hands off for the past 6 months or so. But when I do check parameters they are always pretty close. When it comes to alk and calcium, I have few corals taking up resources, so I turned off my dosers because things stay stable without them. Here's a summary of my parameter swings in the last few months:
    -Temp: 79.2-80.3
    -Alk: 7.8-8.8
    -Calcium: 420-450
    -SG: 1.023-1.024
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
  11. Tklb

    Tklb Well-Known Member Reef Tank 365

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    An ICP Test can be an incredibly valuable troubleshooting tool. Also a rundown of your equipment and more information about the symptoms your corals have and how they die would help people diagnose/troubleshoot.
     
  12. PanchoG

    PanchoG Active Member

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    We all have struggles in this hobby, I battle for a couple of years with algae and aptasia to the point that I wanted out, hang on in there. It is an amazing hobby perhaps some of the most experience guys here can give the solution!
     
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  13. LivinTheSwreefLife

    LivinTheSwreefLife Active Member Build Thread Contributor

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    Sorry, what's an ICP test?

    Here's my equipment. I listed the symptoms of the corals above as well.
    Tank: 57 gal Deep Blue rimless reef ready
    Sump/return: eshopps r100 3rd gen refugium sump and Jebao DC 3000 return
    Lighting: 36" ATI NanoBox retro T5/LED hybrid. 6 T5 bulbs, 6 NanoBox LED pucks. Should be more than enough light.
    Skimmer: None right now. PSK-100 sitting in the sump but I haven't turned it on due to light bio load/feeding regimen. Nitrates have been around 0-2 ppm, phosphates 0-0.03 ppm
    Flow: 1x MP-40, plus the return flow.
    Other Info: Bubble Magus BM-T01 for automated dosing of 2-part calcium alkalinity additives, turned off right now due to low coral demand
    Rock/sand: about 60 lbs of dry rock, 10-15 lbs live rock added later, and 20 lbs sand
    Tank inhabitants- fish: two oscellaris clownfish, 1 copperband butterflyfish. Two remaining corals that haven't died (some purple stylo and a large red encrusting monti)
     
  14. acro-ed

    acro-ed Active Member Ocala Reef Club Member

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    The hydroids could certainly be a contributing factor, but probably not the cause of the issue.

    How much are you feeding? My initial thought is that marginally high alk (8+) coupled with stronger lighting (LED+T5) could be starving the SPS if you aren't feeding enough. This would make sense in light of you seeing some growth and then recession. For example, if your Alk was a little lower in that range and you were feeding a little more you might have hit a threshold where they were happy and started growing; then later the Alk creeps up and you feed a little less and they start to starve.

    When the SPS have been growing are they rich in color or somewhat pale and/or have that "thin" tissue appearance? That could confirm the above.

    Where are you sourcing your SPS frags? If you are primarily getting maricultured pieces and trying them in a new-ish tank that is right on the edge of alk/light/food balance it isn't surprising that they "sort of" do ok and then fade away.

    Final thought for now: what are you doing for flow? Is it sufficient?

    You are probably very close to having it all click; it's just a little bit off.

    -Ed
     
  15. acro-ed

    acro-ed Active Member Ocala Reef Club Member

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    Your most recent post confirms my suspicion above... you have potentially 0 nitrate and 0 phos and a very strong light (6 T5 and 6 LED pucks could potentially be very high PAR), and an overall light bioload. I think they need more food.

    -Ed
     
  16. LivinTheSwreefLife

    LivinTheSwreefLife Active Member Build Thread Contributor

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    The hydrozoan problem is a recent development. It is likely they came in with the live rock 2 months ago, but only recently exploded in population since I added the copperband butterfly and started dropping frozen blocks of food in the tank that don't always get eaten entirely (so nutrients on the rise). Before that, I fed pellets only to the clowns, who gobbled up every last bite instantly so the tank was pretty clean.

    I had been told that I might be starving the corals, so I dosed stump remover daily for about a month, raising my Nitrates to 2.5-5.0 ppm. It made no difference. But I never tried anything that raised phosphates. The SPS are pale and have thin appearance, all except for the monti which has been doing well for whatever reason, although it's not growing.

    None of the frags are maricultured, all have come from other hobbyists tanks, except for 2 from the LFS which I have no idea where they came from, I guess originally maricultured. Which, now that I think of it, are the only 2 that have survived this long.

    Flow is an mp40 on reef crest. Used to be 2 mp10's. Should be enough for a 57 g, seems like a whole lot of flow in there.
     
  17. acro-ed

    acro-ed Active Member Ocala Reef Club Member

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    An MP40 plus the return pump is fine for flow on your 57g. I have a 60g with the same on a mixed reef and the Acros are great.

    You don't need to dose anything for phosphate. The food will have some phos in it. Make sure you are using a high quality food that is good for the fish and coral (LRS, Rod's, or make some yourself from fresh seafood). The fish waste will drive the nitrate a little bit higher as well.

    How often are you feeding? I generally feed my tanks 3-4x per day. You should try feeding smaller amounts more frequently if possible.

    What SPS have died thus far? Is it possible you have chosen more finicky acros? Some might look pretty yet be very temperamental as to fluctuations in chemistry and/or nutrition.

    How strong are you running those LED pucks? Do you know your PAR? It's not critical, but you might back them down a bit and sort of "reset" things as a starting point with more food and less light.

    Try keeping your Alk right at 8 (not closer to 9; I personally notice my acros get pale at around mid-8's, and tip burn at low 9's). On the other side of the spectrum, recession from the base is common with too low of Alk.

    Hope this helps,
    Ed
     
  18. chipmunkofdoom2

    chipmunkofdoom2 Always Making Something R2R Supporter Reef Squad R2R Excellence Award Article Contributor

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    My first tank was successful against all odds. I used tap water for the water changes, which took place every 3 months or so because I was in college. I fed pellet food heavily and never removed the excess. The sandbed was actually a coarse freshwater gravel that resembled large-grained sand, and I never vacuumed it. The only "filtration" I had was a HOB filter, which I stopped using all together after a while. From that point on, it was flow only: no GFO, no GAC, no organic carbon dosing, nothing. Never had a single algae outbreak, and the tank was always covered with coralline algae. And I had nothing but success. I didn't keep SPS, but the few soft corals I kept did very well. They didn't grow out of control, but they were exceptionally healthy.

    Fast forward to the current tank. It's been set up for just over two years and have been fighting algae issues the whole time. I'm just now starting to get growth on a few of the SPS I have. Most are not growing at all. I've tried water change schedules from once a month to 50% every other day. Whatever the secret is, I have't found it yet.

    The only real difference between these two tanks is that the first tank was started with beautiful uncured rock from Live Aquaria, while this one was started with dry rock. Sadly, Live Aquaria doesn't offer that live rock product anymore.
     
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  19. XNavyDiver

    XNavyDiver Insightful answer loading... please wait. R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Build Thread Contributor

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    Acro-ed had very sound advise. I had to dial down my LEDs to 30% when I added a t5 hybrid fixture to them. I still have to remind myself to feed the tank more often.
     
  20. cracker

    cracker Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Build Thread Contributor

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    I had terrible algae issues thru several setups over the years. I finally learned it was poor CUC ,poor lighting & nutrient issues . I can still melt an Acro in short order !
     
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