Months of struggles (high res pictures, sorry long)

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terraincognita

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I did a small waterchange today to try and siphon off some of the dinos without changing parameters too much. All of the corals/fish look ticked. One step forward, two steps back.
hmmm...

weird that a WC makes them upset.

I do feel something else maybe in your water. idk. weird.
 
https://www.youtube.com/c/ReefStache
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javisaman

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I wonder if I have to do a waterchange without trying to brush off the dino if I'll have the same issues.
 
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javisaman

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Haven't done a water change since Friday, nor have I added bacteria since. Been monitoring my Nitrate and Phosphate. My nitrates seem pretty stable at around 8ppm, but my phosphate seems to drop anywhere from 0.03 to 0.08 every day (usually at night). I've never had to dose phosphate before to maintain it. This is strange because I have fewer corals than before. Maybe the bacteria populations have picked up?
 
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javisaman

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Today I did a large 50% waterchange since things were just getting worse. I started losing LPS heads a couple of days ago and hair algae grew pretty substantially. This time I scrubbed the rocks with a toothbrush, ran two 10u filter socks siphoned as much of everything as possible. Matched stability and temp and did the change.

Saw one of my fish (the smallest of the anthias) that was alive earlier today had just died. The others are hiding in the rocks. ***.
 
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javisaman

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Two more fish died this morning after the waterchange. I shouldn't have blown off the rocks before. I assumed that blowing the rocks and doing a large waterchange would help.
 

hhaase

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I just read through this whole thing again, trying to find a smoking gun, but I really can't find any major gaps in what you've been doing or the advice you've been given. My heart goes out to you on this one, and I applaud your fortitude in trying to resolve everything.

You've already discussed the lithium, silicone, and aluminum. Those levels are particularly high. Let me dig through the ICP's a bit further to see what else may jump out.
 

hhaase

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Just some questions, but no recommendations yet..... just trying to grasp a couple things. Everything to me looks more like a toxicity issue than a nutritional issue. Like I said on my last post, your attempts so far are taking a solid approach. Something unusual is going wrong for the normal solutions to be so ineffective.

1: The lithium levels: That one concerns me because it is so high. But I can't find any research on toxicity in reef tanks, only in humans.

Here is an article I found that references a crashing tank that was also suffering high lithium and low phosphates, which is what your ICP tests are showing. His lithium levels were lower than yours. It's all anecdotal evidence, but his apparent resolution was a change in salt brand. No idea how applicable that is but have you changed salt?


2: Home Routine: Most people don't think about it, but have you made any changes to your home routine that would potentially be putting reef-toxic chemicals into the air? New air fresheners, new cleaners, bug-bombs, glass cleaners, or other things that you may be using around the tank which are potentially getting into the water?


3: Do you still have the MarinePure block in there? Again, all anecdotal, but I have seen numerous complaints on forums about them causing dramatic issues.
 
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javisaman

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Thank you for looking more closely at the ICP test.


1. The salt I'm using is Tropic Marine Pro, which I believe is very popular here and also considered one of the better brands. This last water change was done with mostly a new bucket of salt since the ICP tests. In the past, I did use Red Sea Pro, but I made the switch before these issues.

2. Last summer (likely May or something) we did have some fungus nats infecting some plants on the same floor as the tank. The closest plant is about 15ft away and there is a foundation wall dividing the areas. We sprayed some bug killer directly on the plant. There have been a couple of instances when I cook with high heat where smoke fills the floor of the house. The stove is about 30ft away. For the past month or so I've been running GAC in a reactor.

3. Yes I still have the marine pure block. Do you think it's safe to remove or will I be causing a cycle?
 
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hhaase

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Thank you for looking more closely at the ICP test.


1. The salt I'm using is Tropic Marine Pro, which I believe is very popular here and also considered one of the better brands. This last water change was done with mostly a new bucket of salt since the ICP tests. In the past, I did use Red Sea Pro, but I made the switch before these issues.

2. Last summer (likely May or something) we did have some fungus nats infecting some plants on the same floor as the tank. The closest plant is about 15ft away and there is a foundation wall dividing the areas. We sprayed some bug killer directly on the tank. There have been a couple of instances when I cook with high heat where smoke fills the floor of the house. The stove is about 30ft away. For the past month or so I've been running GAC in a reactor.

3. Yes I still have the marine pure block. Do you think it's safe to remove or will I be causing a cycle?


1: TMP does have a good reputation. I'd expect if they were having salt issues with even a single batch that we'd be seeing a flood of threads like yours.

2: Nothing of concern, particularly if the bug killer was close to a year ago. BUT..... what about hand sanitizers, lotions, and things like that which may be on your hands when you're in the tank.

3: Tough call on that one. If it were my tank I'd take it out at once. With your current stocking level and tank size I wouldn't be worried about a significant cycle. I'm told that the stuff loves to crumble apart when it's been in there a while, so be prepared for that. BUT.... you're running bare-bottom, correct? I'd definitely keep an eye on the ammonia and nitrites and be prepared to do water changes if needed.
 
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javisaman

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2. I don't use any of that stuff. I do rinse my hands and arms before and after with tap water (no soap) before and after any maintenance.

3. Yea barebottom and dry rock (probably the reason I'm in this mess). I've pulled the marine pure block out briefly before to clean off some hair algae. It didn't crumble too much. I have it in a pretty low flow area of my sump.
 

ScottB

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My opinion is that your phosphate is too low and your SPS are starving to death. A safer, minimum level of phosphate is 0.1 ppm. If you had a mature tank with high import and high export, then running at your near-zero level may be fine.

My other opinion is that we should keep at least 1-2ppm of nitrate in our tanks. It has been suggested on here that this minimum level prevents the creation of sulfide gas (toxic to fish and us).

FWIW, my target levels are 0.15-0.25 ppm phosphate and 15-25ppm of nitrate. I have a mixed reef with mostly SPS and a few LPS. I've only ever lost SPS (after having them for more than 2 weeks) from too low level of nutrients. I've never lost SPS by feeding/dosing too much (high nutrients). My current tank is just over two years old.
^This.

I know you have some recent fish mortality and are working to understand that part now. But when you come back to the acropora, they are simply starving. Yes, you have some residual nutrients showing, so that is distracting but the pictures tell me all I need to know.

My tank is larger and older, but proportionally I feed about 5X of your input. Mostly frozen & nori (3 times a day) and pellets another 3X per day. Got here gradually of course.

Fish respiration, urination, defecation are ideal sources of ammonia, the ideal nutrient for acropora.
 
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javisaman

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Yea I agree. The biggest issue with this tank is that it was too sterile. I didn't have the biodiversity/stability/nutrients to support SPS long term. But I suspect the bottoming out caused dinos which ultimately caused the more dramatic issues that I'm having now.
 

ScottB

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Yea I agree. The biggest issue with this tank is that it was too sterile. I didn't have the biodiversity/stability/nutrients to support SPS long term. But I suspect the bottoming out caused dinos which ultimately caused the more dramatic issues that I'm having now.
I started with your emergency thread and honestly that one had me puzzled. You kinda did all the things I would have done for fish safety -- particularly keeping O2 levels raised while the tank was getting scrubbed. I've made that mistake before.

As to Marine Pure I am well familiar with the complaints, but it is inconclusive IMO. Just as many reported nominal ICP Al levels as those that reported high levels. I run several cubic feet of them with nominal ICP figures for Al.

Given all of your attempts to stop/slow this mysterious progression I would pretty much advise triple checking any potential (external) contaminant issues and waiting this out. I know that is the hardest thing to do: nothing. best I got.
 
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hhaase

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^This.

I know you have some recent fish mortality and are working to understand that part now. But when you come back to the acropora, they are simply starving. Yes, you have some residual nutrients showing, so that is distracting but the pictures tell me all I need to know.

My tank is larger and older, but proportionally I feed about 5X of your input. Mostly frozen & nori (3 times a day) and pellets another 3X per day. Got here gradually of course.

Fish respiration, urination, defecation are ideal sources of ammonia, the ideal nutrient for acropora.

This was another driver for my suggestion to remove the MarinePure block. I find that some nitrate/phosphate reduction methods are just far too effective.
 

drawman

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I started with your emergency thread and honestly that one had me puzzled. You kinda did all the things I would have done for fish safety -- particularly keeping O2 levels raised while the tank was getting scrubbed. I've made that mistake before.

As to Marine Pure I am well familiar with the complaints, but it is inconclusive IMO. Just as many reported nominal ICP Al levels as those that reported high levels. I run several cubic feet of them with nominal ICP figures for Al.

Given all of your attempts to stop/slow this mysterious progression I would pretty much advise triple checking any potential (external) contaminant issues and waiting this out. I know that is the hardest thing to do: nothing. best I got.
I tend to agree other than running some carbon for safety (which you already seem to be doing). The fish deaths have me puzzled as well. Are the survivors still getting progressively better?

Also have you identified your strain of dinos?
 

xiaoxiy

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The images of your acropora looked like what @hart24601 went through when his PO4 bottomed out. There are a couple things that make my suspicious of this too, including the dinos, the fact that WC are making things worse, and that you have been having difficulty keeping PO4 above 0.01 even with NEOPHOS dosing.

@hart24601 as able to turn it around within a couple weeks with external PO4 dosing.
Maybe keep dosing NEOPHOS until you're able to steadily hold a value of 0.07 or higher.
 

hart24601

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The images of your acropora looked like what @hart24601 went through when his PO4 bottomed out. There are a couple things that make my suspicious of this too, including the dinos, the fact that WC are making things worse, and that you have been having difficulty keeping PO4 above 0.01 even with NEOPHOS dosing.

@hart24601 as able to turn it around within a couple weeks with external PO4 dosing.
Maybe keep dosing NEOPHOS until you're able to steadily hold a value of 0.07 or higher.

Aye, I thought it was impossible to bottom out phosphate if feeding a lot, as I was 6x autofeeder with pellets, as in a previous system mari acros responded well to heavy feeding but undetectable or nearly undetectable phosphate level......

Well I was wrong. I had to use an entire bottle of neophos to get detectable levels but with no other changes the acros bounced back. I don't know why most of them went brown and dry looking, I expected pale, which one did, but most went brown.

I now keep it on a doser and target 0.05 and above. Just that one change totally reversed all the issues I had, but that is just my experience. Never know how different systems react.
 

ScottB

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Aye, I thought it was impossible to bottom out phosphate if feeding a lot, as I was 6x autofeeder with pellets, as in a previous system mari acros responded well to heavy feeding but undetectable or nearly undetectable phosphate level......

Well I was wrong. I had to use an entire bottle of neophos to get detectable levels but with no other changes the acros bounced back. I don't know why most of them went brown and dry looking, I expected pale, which one did, but most went brown.

I now keep it on a doser and target 0.05 and above. Just that one change totally reversed all the issues I had, but that is just my experience. Never know how different systems react.
Your experience is not all that unusual really.

Likely you will find that once your aragonite (rock, sand) finally get loaded up with PO4, your need to dose will go down/away. It will then serve as a nice buffer (or battery) of stored PO4 that will release back into the water as it gets used up. I dosed 3 liters of DIY (trisodium phosphate) before I could keep a residual amount in the water. That doser has not run in almost a year now, because I feed about 4X more than back then. My fish can lay some impressive pipe. Every time I feed the tang turds go flying.
 
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