Months of struggles (high res pictures, sorry long)

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javisaman

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Hi All,

Hoping you can help me with the current issues I'm having with my tank.


The setup:

Aquarium:
Started 07/2019
75 gallon Aquarium Masters + 20 gallon Trigger Systems sump
Reef Angel Controller
70 Lbs dry rock (old from a previous tank, but left in a tub for 2 years)
Barebottom with Starboard

Lighting:
3 x Radion 15 Pro (10am - 8pm, ramp up down, peak 45%)
4 x T5 - Ati Blue plus and actinic (11:30 - 3:30)
Kessil H160 Fuge Light 11:00pm - 9:00am

Peak light at 250 Par for most SPS except top which is 350 - measured with seneye

Basic Parameter Management
2 x 200W BRS Titanium heater
Fuge - Chaeto and Gracilaria (though hair algae tend to grow over it)
RLSS r6i skimmer (30% pump speed)
GHL Doser 2.1 SA for Alk/Cal
Large MarinePure block

Flow
2 x Sicce 3.0 for return
2 x Maxspect Gyre 330 (OGC -20 - 40%)
1 x Vortech MP40 ES

Maintenance
6 Gallon waterchange weekly (unless there is an emergency)
occasionally run carbon via bag in sump
dosing 5ml Red Sea AB+, Reef Roids, or Phyto a couple of times a week
Feeding 2x NLS pellets + 3x mix of frozen brine, mysis, calanus daily

I've dosed (very slowly about 1/8 dosage) of Dr. Tim's Refresh in the past. Currently, I'm dosing a little bit of Eco-balance because I suspect there might be some biological imbalance.

Livestock
4 x Dispar Anthias
1 x Orange Storm Clown
1 x Skunk Cleaner Shrimp
1 x Mexican Turbo Snails
Many Trochus Snails
Many scarlet and red leg hermits

When I started the tank, things were growing well: coralline algae were growing, sponges were taking over, and trochus snails were spawning regularly. Most of the growth of the corals was from the first 5 - 8 months of the tank's life.

About two months ago I posted about a sudden RTN/STN event in my tank. After some research, it may have been a combination of things. My coral colors were pale for a few months, but everything was encrusting and growing. I never registered Nitrate for the first year of the tank, but my phosphates were always high (as much as 1.5ppm at one point, but usually between 0.1 < 0.5). In terms of the sudden STN event, I suspect it was related to me changing filter socks with socks that were washed with this new "splashless bleach". I always rinse socks off before I put them in, but it may not have been sufficient. I also had turned off my skimmer that night because I had just cleaned it. There is a chance there was a drop in the dissolved O2 levels. The fish also looked ticked off that day. Either way, I'm not 100% sure what could have caused it, but it looked like my actions of large water change, running carbon, and running polyfilter at least slowed it down initially.

To be honest the tank has not recovered. The zoas in my tank have not opened since. Some do half-open occasionally, but almost all of them just say closed. The SPS have become increasingly paler, and some have more STN. I stopped dosing alkalinity and Ca over a month ago because I saw that it kept rising because the corals weren't up taking it. Over the course of two months, the alkalinity has dropped from 9.5 to about 7.7 dkH.

Current Parameters:
1.025 - salinity measured by both calibrated refractometer and Milwaukee handheld
7.7 dkH - measured by Hanna
480 Ca - measured by Salifert
1320 Magnesium - measured by Salifert
7.9 - 8.1 - daily pH swing measured by my controller
78F - 79F - temperature measured and managed by my controller
0 - ammonia/ammonium (salifert, tropic marin)
4ppm < X <10pmm - Red Sea pro nitrate test
0.04 - phosphate measured by hanna

ATI-ICP test concerns from 02/10/21 : High Lithium (1127 µg/l should be 161.8 µg/l), high silicon (293.3 µg/l should be 95.17 µg/l), high Aluminum (26.92 µg/l should be 0.10 µg/l) , and low iodine (27.87 µg/l should be 61.86 µg/l).

I've run cuprisorb for about a week to try and lower the aluminum, but it has always been high because I use MarinePure blocks. I've read in the chemistry subforum that lithium can be pretty high because of salt mixes. To fix the iodine I added 4 drops of lugols (spread over 4 days), things didn't change except for the cleaner shrimp molting.

Most of the damage seems to be towards the SPS: Notice the paleness of the tissue and also the parts where the tissue is missing entirely. This tends to be areas near the base or tips (depending on the coral)

Regarding the Zoas, I've only attached one picture but that's what nearly all of them look like.

Was a Tierra del Feugo. There is still tissue/polys on the other side
Coral Struggles - 1 of 7.jpeg


Garf Bonsai. It's always been pale, but has encrusted. Placed higher in the tank about 250 Par
Coral Struggles - 2 of 7.jpeg


Zoas mostly closed for over a moth
Coral Struggles - 3 of 7.jpeg



Red Dragon Acro. Paler now, but had grown 3x since I had it. However it hasn't grown in 3 months or so. The tips are STNing.
Coral Struggles - 4 of 7.jpeg



Walt Disney Acro, used to show a lot of Polyp extension, but now pale and looks like it's on it's way out
Coral Struggles - 5 of 7.jpeg



PC Rainbow always pale.
Coral Struggles - 7 of 7.jpeg



Forgot the name of this ORA acro, but this had significant STN/RTN from the event. It still has some color and PE where the tissue is, otherwise it's pretty terrible.
Coral Struggles - 6 of 7.jpeg


Sorry for the long post; it's been a few weeks coming. I'm sort of at my wit's end and don't know what could be going on. Obviously, there are some stability issues with the number of waterchanges I've done, but really shouldn't be that dramatic. I do have some LPS and they for the most part seem okay as of now. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
 
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ReefRy

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IMHO, you're doing too much. When my phosphates hit .18 two days ago I AGONIZED over adding rowaphos. I hate hate hate anything that isn't natural. I run carbon for smell, water clarity, and to neutralize any softie warfare, but that is it. Time and stability. You'll get a lot of opinions I'm sure, but I wanted to be the one guy that says keep it simple.

Oh..you didn't say to what percentage you run your MP40, but I had Maxspect 330s and by comparison they're fairly weak. At first glance I wonder if your flow is enough for those sps.
 
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javisaman

javisaman

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Thanks for the reply. I agree with the stability. This is my third reef tank and I've had some success with previous ones (first one was 6 years till I moved, second was 2 years). However, it just seems like the corals are getting progressively worse even when I don't do anything for weeks.

I hadn't heard about that opinion regarding the maxspect gyres 330s. If anything I've read on this forum that they can be a bit too strong. I can't run anything higher than 60% without causing all of the fish to stay along the edges or in the rocks. The Vortech is placed on the back and is running about 20%-30% gyre/lagoon mode. I could add more flow I guess, but I would think two returns, two gyres, and a vortech would be enough for a 75 gallon.


So do you recommend I don't do anything other than regular maintenance?
 

ReefRy

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Also, the filter sock thing is real. About a month ago I got impatient (my wife won't let me touch her washer and dryer) for my filter socks. They were sitting in the washer and they smelled clean. Well...they hadn't gone through the extra rinse cycle. When I put it in my sump it fizzed. My first thought was an expletive, followed by, "there goes 5 grand." Within 20 minutes three or four corals were pi ssed. Thankfully, after a 30g water change and prayer they survived, but it was a nervous week. Now we have a ridiculous protocol to ensure that never happens again, which is basically wait patiently until my wife hands me the filter sock. If you did poison your system try carbon and continue with your water change schedule. Hopefully your corals will rebound. Best of luck.
 

ReefRy

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Yeah, sorry. Was typing that as yours came in. For me, carbon and water changes did the trick. I'm curious as to what others think. It might've been as simple as I got lucky and you didn't.

It sounds like your flow is fine, then. I'm also a huge believer in letting the fish be your guide as much as possible. I mean, it is their house...
 
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javisaman

javisaman

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Yeah, sorry. Was typing that as yours came in. For me, carbon and water changes did the trick. I'm curious as to what others think. It might've been as simple as I got lucky and you didn't.

It sounds like your flow is fine, then. I'm also a huge believer in letting the fish be your guide as much as possible. I mean, it is their house...

The main issue I have with the gyres I think is the type of flow. It seems the laminar flow is very high up top, but pretty weak down low meaning that detritus almost always eventually settles down. I'm not sure if my corner overflow affects it or if it's just the pump. But I agree that it could be better.
 

ReefRy

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The main issue I have with the gyres I think is the type of flow. It seems the laminar flow is very high up top, but pretty weak down low meaning that detritus almost always eventually settles down. I'm not sure if my corner overflow affects it or if it's just the pump. But I agree that it could be better.
Yep, agreed. It looks awesome and the surface agitation is unsurpassed, but as far as actually buffeting the corals with random or chaotic flow they leave something to be desired. Try playing around with the MP40 a little. 20%, but maybe a reef crest period or tidal swell. I have mine ramp up and synched to my lighting schedule.
 
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javisaman

javisaman

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Curious if you checked for stray voltage?
The sps skin looks dry and things looks ticked. Have you done an ICP test to see what heavy metals or other contaminants may be in your tank?

How were you running your polyfilter, did it change color?


Thank you for the reply.

Actually, I did check for stray voltage. I don't remember the exact number but I believe it was in the ballpark of 500mV, which when I looked it up didn't seem concerning. I've also run a ground probe since day 1.

Regarding the ICP test. In my first post I mentioned the results that were concerning. Sorry those results were hidden in a large post.

ATI-ICP test concerns from 02/10/21 : High Lithium (1127 µg/l should be 161.8 µg/l), high silicon (293.3 µg/l should be 95.17 µg/l), high Aluminum (26.92 µg/l should be 0.10 µg/l) , and low iodine (27.87 µg/l should be 61.86 µg/l).

The issue with the polyfilter is that it seemed to clog rather quickly. I had it in the area between the fuge and the return chamber because I wanted to make sure water flowed through it. It may have gotten a little brown/yellow but that could also be from collecting algae/detritius.
 
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javisaman

javisaman

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Hi thank you for the reply.

I mentioned those things in the original post (sorry hidden by the long message)


4ppm < X <10pmm - Red Sea pro nitrate test
0.04 - phosphate measured by hanna

dosing 5ml Red Sea AB+, Reef Roids, or Phyto a couple of times a week
Feeding 2x pinch NLS pellets + 3x mix of frozen brine, mysis, calanus daily (1/4 cube)
 

kenchilada

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I’d suspect it’s just basic imbalance and instability issues (especially since you had high alk recently). Once you start blaming stray voltage, plutonium, and McDonald’s barbecue sauce you’ve gone to the bad place.

I’d get all parameters for your target alkalinity in check, make sure nutrients are available, stabilize it and see what happens. There’s no quick fix.
 
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javisaman

javisaman

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Also I feed my QT tanks heavier than you’re feeding this tank, but I do feed and skim really heavy because I think it’s important for acros. I have no proof to back this up, so grain of salt and all that.

I suspect this is one of the main issues. My skimmer doesn't pull up that much stuff (can take 3 weeks to fill the cup). I however still have algae and diatom issues where it almost feels like I'm feeding too much.
 

Sarlindescent

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If I am reading this correctly, you stated a large water change and carbon improved things. Not sure what you consider large, but if that provided an improvement, I would continue the behavior. Do it a few more times and let the tank sit. Keep things stable and wait. The effects on corals, specifically acros can be from some change you made a month ago. With that, about the largest water change i do is 25%.

Splashless bleach is not aquarium safe, so I suspect that was the culprit and would not use it again. If some got in the tank, it can make the water toxic and would make since why the water change and carbon provided improvements.

It sounds like this has been an ongoing issue for a while. At this point, I would stop adding bacteria. Let your tank settle into where it should be. Added bacteria can improve things when there are none, or on occasion, but IMO, the added bacteria strains can out compete one another if the tank has not reached an equilibrium.

Regarding flow, if the polyps are moving, that shouldn't be an issue with corals living or not. I like to spend 10-15 seconds inspecting each coral and make sure I see motion. There may be health benefits to increasing, since flow is the only way for corals to remove waste.

If that still doesn't work, I would cut down the coral feeding if you do not see them eating. If corals provide a feeding response every feeding, continue.
 
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javisaman

javisaman

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I don't see the SPS polyps aggressively moving but they do move. I believe if there was more extension they would move, but most are contracted.

Any ideas about the zoas? So far the LPS are doing fine, but I'm surprised that the zoas (allegedly the least sensitive corals) are having so much trouble.
 

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This is my preferred flow. A little high for some tanks, but an example none the less. Some of the sticks with long extension are going crazy, but the others are still in motion.

Running 200ish gph from the return pump and 2x jebao slw-20 @80-100% in an IM Nuvo 30.


Note: the algae is a byproduct of changing the frags from plugs to tiles and adding a new rack a month or so ago.
 
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javisaman

javisaman

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My flow is basically the same. At least the algae on the corals sway as much and whatever polyps there are do too. My zoas still don't open (and I don't think they ever will). One thing I notice is that whenever I blow off the rocks with a turkey baster a lot of detritus comes off and all of the corals close up for hours afterward. In the past, with my previous tanks, it was never this bad. I feel like there is some contaminant somewhere or something that's influencing the tank. But the ICP showed none of the common contaminents.
 

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I’d agree with the culprit still being the splashless bleach. I believe that stuff has detergent in it,
and it may have other organic toxins. If it’s gotten into your rock you may have to keep on working to get that out.

You mentioned you ran carbon in a bag in the sump? That may not be efficient enough. You probably want to invest in a proper carbon reactor and make sure you push good flow through and also change it out frequently until you see improvement. I’d say perhaps daily at first, and then weekly.

You might also want to try Purigen alongside the carbon, which could potentially bind other organics.
 
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