Need help - Big RTN episode on my SPS tank.

JCOLE

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Hello everyone! I wanted to reach out to see if I can get some opinions from everyone regarding a big RTN episode on my system. Please bear with me as this is a lot.

A little background on the system. I have a 150 gallon SPS dominant tank which is about 2 years old. I started the tank off with Mars Aqua Chinese black boxes. Things were going well for about a year. I picked up a $5 frag of Pocilopora and didn't notice the tiny bubble algae on the bottom of the frag until it was too late. This led to a massive bubble algae outbreak. I tried everything from Foxface's, Emerald crabs, etc and nothing touched the stuff. This led to me using Vibrant. I used Vibrant for about 1.5 months and it worked great on the bubble algae. However, it did cause issues with some of my pieces which led to discoloring and a dry look and also brought on Dino's. I worked on Dino's and was able to rid Dino's in about a month or so.

Things were going well for a couple of months and then I used Chemiclean along with Fluconazole. Those worked well and I really didn't experience any issues with corals except I lost 1 frag of Echinata.

Fast forward a couple of months and around the end of June, I started Vibrant again because my bubble algae was at plague proportions again. All corals were looking great with good color when started. I dosed for about 2 months or so and stopped because I lost my Red Dragon colony and a couple of frags. Things turned around within a month or so and I didn't lose anything else.

I decided to change out my lights at the beginning of November from the Chinese Black Boxes with Upgrades diodes to a 6 bulb retrokit with all ATI bulbs. Things were looking great and my ALK consumption jumped with great growth. Around the middle of November, I dosed Chemiclean because of a lot of Cyano in my frag tank and some in my Display Tank. After a week I decided to dose Fluconozaole again because I had an explosion of GHA in my frag tank. I ran Flucnoaole for about a week then decided to do a water change because things were looking "dry". Since the beginning of December things have seemed to take a turn for the worst. I have lost about 6 colonies and about 15 frags. They all start from their tips peeling.

Really at a loss for words here. I know I did a lot at once and I am torn as to what it could have been. My wife swears it the lights but I refuse to listen because I do not want to go through the work of taking down the retrokit and installing the LED's again.

Here is a breakout of the timeline of events.

March 2018 - Started up 55 gallon tank
April - 2019 - Moved everything over to 150 gallon tank and added additional rock
November 2019 - Dosed Vibrant for two months - cleared up bubble algae but made corals angry and Dino's kicked in as the result of it
March 2020 - Dosed Fluconazole - Cleared GHA and lsot 1 frag of Echinata
June 2019 - End of June I dosed Vibrant for two months. I quit because I lost a Red Dragon colony and a couple of frags. The system turned around the end of September-October.
November - Changed lights out to 6 bulb retrokit T5's with ATI bulbs
Middle of November - Dosed Chemiclean and then Fluconazole
End of December - Added Chaeto back to my Fuge and it has taken off and filled up my entire 20 gallon fuge within 2 weeks.

Paramaters
ALK - 8-8.3 - Per Trident
Cal - 400 - Per Trident
Mag - 1390-1400 - Per Trident
NO3 - 4.67 - Per Hanna
PO4 - 0.08 - Per Hanna

I sent off an ICP on 12/30 and waiting to see what I get.

This is very frustrating and depressing. Many times over the last month I have been on the verge of throwing in the towel. I won't though. I have spent too much time and money to just give up. It is depressing when I am unable to pinpoint what is exactly going on.

I looked around and found what looked like ALK precipitation going into the Sump from my dosing tube holder. It is weird because it is coming from a spot where there isn't a tube. Any thought of what this could be? It seems to have hardened or calcified when it touches the water. I use Seachem Reef Fusion for my Alk and Calcium

20210107_212204 (1).jpg

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Full tank shot taken on 11/01/2020. Switched to T5's about 2-3 weeks prior to this. This is when a couple of pieces started to show issues.

20201101_130645.jpg


I took these pictures the other day. As you can see this is not looking good and also the bubble algae has returned again for the 3rd time!!

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I completely lost this one since the picture was taken.
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I completely lost this one since the picture was taken.
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I completely lost this one since the picture was taken.
20210108_160141.jpg


Any suggestions you guys can think of and some words of encouragement to keep me going would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks again!
 
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Treefer32

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There's so much going on here, I think a lot will be afraid to offer advice. First off, I don't believe in Vibrant. As soon as I used half a recommended dose to get rid of some briopsis I had a huge outbreak of cyano. And nothing killed the algae. So, I dose Reeflux and chemiclean that took care of all of it. My Nitrates are 10-20 and phosphates .12 - .16. My SPS is growing like it's never grown before.

I don't see anything wrong with your phosphates and nitrates. SPS thrive on stability - keeping things the same all the time. You've been changing something every month. When I did vibrant I gave it 2 months. When it still wasn't working I then did water changes for a couple weeks then dose reeflux and gave that a try for a few months.

I run an algae turf scrubber that helps me export nitrates and phosphates. This has saved me a lot of in tank algae growth. I have a large softball sized ball of hair algae that I throw away every 6-7 days! This helps keep the nutrients in balance and consumes any other particles algae need to take root in the display. I haven't had issues since with algae in the display (still have some problems with diatoms on shelf rocks... I've accepted it.).

Stop dosing and changing things. You've got a nutrient export issue that's not detectable because your algae is consuming it. What is your filtration consist of? Have you tried a par meter to test your lighting? (Bulk Reef Supply rents them out, I'm sure local fish stores would rent one to you as well.)

I also would research why you have such buildup of alk and calcium on your doser. Something is not working right there!

I had a dosing pump where the tube had cracked and each time it ran it leaked onto my wood workbench. After a few months I noticed white stuff hardening and building up around the doser. Initially I had thought it was salt spray, but then realized, the tube was cracked and had leaked several liters of alk over my wooden bench which dripped into the tank from the wood. I have no idea what damage if any wood would do to a reef, but, once I got it under control everything is way more stable.
 
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JCOLE

JCOLE

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There's so much going on here, I think a lot will be afraid to offer advice. First off, I don't believe in Vibrant. As soon as I used half a recommended dose to get rid of some briopsis I had a huge outbreak of cyano. And nothing killed the algae. So, I dose Reeflux and chemiclean that took care of all of it. My Nitrates are 10-20 and phosphates .12 - .16. My SPS is growing like it's never grown before.

I don't see anything wrong with your phosphates and nitrates. SPS thrive on stability - keeping things the same all the time. You've been changing something every month. When I did vibrant I gave it 2 months. When it still wasn't working I then did water changes for a couple weeks then dose reeflux and gave that a try for a few months.

I run an algae turf scrubber that helps me export nitrates and phosphates. This has saved me a lot of in tank algae growth. I have a large softball sized ball of hair algae that I throw away every 6-7 days! This helps keep the nutrients in balance and consumes any other particles algae need to take root in the display. I haven't had issues since with algae in the display (still have some problems with diatoms on shelf rocks... I've accepted it.).

Stop dosing and changing things. You've got a nutrient export issue that's not detectable because your algae is consuming it. What is your filtration consist of? Have you tried a par meter to test your lighting? (Bulk Reef Supply rents them out, I'm sure local fish stores would rent one to you as well.)

I also would research why you have such buildup of alk and calcium on your doser. Something is not working right there!

I had a dosing pump where the tube had cracked and each time it ran it leaked onto my wood workbench. After a few months I noticed white stuff hardening and building up around the doser. Initially I had thought it was salt spray, but then realized, the tube was cracked and had leaked several liters of alk over my wooden bench which dripped into the tank from the wood. I have no idea what damage if any wood would do to a reef, but, once I got it under control everything is way more stable.

Thank you for your reply! Yes, I know there is a lot going on and I welcome anybody to chime in. At a loss here and maybe someone could think of something I haven't so far.

I have a Seneye and have tested PAR a lot during my light changes. When I was running my LED's I was getting close to 1500+ PAR at the tops of the rocks! It was crazy high. I lowered the intensity down for a couple of months before switching to T5's. After the switch, I am getting around 550-600 at the tops and around 300-350 near the lower of the tank.

My plan is to stop making any changes except for dosing some Nitrates. The dry look of my pieces makes me feel like they are starving.

On the dosing tubes, I do not see where there could be issues. I ran Alk, Calcium, and Acropower and they all drip freely in the tank and don't appear to be running down. It is also weird that it is coming from a hole that doesn't have a tube in it. I will run a test again this afternoon.

One thing I need to check is to see if I have any magnets rusting in the tank. I am hoping that the ICP comes back shows me something.

I haven't bothered checking for AC current either because all of my powerheads and gyres are DC. I could still check though.
 
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jda

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I will guess the vibrant and/or fluc. Known SPS killers for too many to be ignored. Some have some success with it with SPS, but there is something going on that nobody has figured out that leads to many deaths.

It is not the lights.

Salt creep from a weeping or slow leak - no big deal, but plug it up or otherwise fix it.
 
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JCOLE

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I will guess the vibrant and/or fluc. Known SPS killers for too many to be ignored. Some have some success with it with SPS, but there is something going on that nobody has figured out that leads to many deaths.

It is not the lights.

Salt creep from a weeping or slow leak - no big deal, but plug it up or otherwise fix it.

I figured it was the combo of everything dosed. I am going to just ride out the storm and hoping there aren't too many deaths. Really looking bad though. Never had anything to this level before.

Wish there was something I could find or do to help. Feel pretty hopeless when this happens. It's all part of it though. Live and learn.
 

ScottB

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After posting this thread I have seen a lot of posts recently created for RTN. What is going on with everyone's tanks? A fitting end to 2020 I guess.
You are correct, SPS death everywhere you look. Maybe I am just paying more attention; maybe not.

The white tips plus the Vibrant, plus the fuge, plus the few fish I saw (spotted kole is a beauty, love those) had me leaning toward a lack of available nutrient late November. When PO4 bottoms and ALK consumption falls, bad things happen a few weeks later. How often you measuring and how much noise there?

Fluconazole does miracles often but on some occasions wreaks havoc on SPS. @Wunderpus has a somewhat unique (IME) SPS slow motion crash (delayed) after fluconazole. Not confirmed but some suspect. Relatable?

With acropora, their reaction (IME) is rarely coincident with stress unless extreme. I find it delayed by 2-3 weeks very often. If it is a gradual thing it can take longer until they all start going. If you work with that kind of a timeline, maybe you can work back to the setting that started the slide?

And sorry @JCOLE for the pretty stick losses. Been there to some degree or another -- more than once. Learn. Adapt.
 
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ryshark

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I figured it was the combo of everything dosed. I am going to just ride out the storm and hoping there aren't too many deaths. Really looking bad though. Never had anything to this level before.

Wish there was something I could find or do to help. Feel pretty hopeless when this happens. It's all part of it though. Live and learn.
Yeah, I think it has to do will all the different chemicals you're dosing and it's not the lights.
In regards to the bubble algae, I was in your same boat back in 2009 with blankets of this stuff everywhere. This is what I did and it worked pretty quick for my 180-gallon tank naturally.
1. Purchased 50 mexican red-leg hermit crabs from bluezooaquatics. I got this idea from another reefer which also had a bad bubble algae problem and also beat it.
2. Purchased 6-emerald crabs from various places
3. I scraped the bubble algae off the rocks with a metal spoon. I'd say that about 50% of the rocks I scraped underwater and the other 50% I was able to take out of the tank and scrape the bubbles off in the backyard, then I would pour a little tank water over the rock before putting it back in the tank. While doing this the bubbles were exploding everywhere, shooting liquid all over me including in my eyes and in my mouth.
4. I took a net and caught as much algae as I could which was floating in the water column. Although I tried to scoop out as much as I could with the spoon, there was a ton which I was not able to get out and just scraped away at it while it floated away or fell to the bottom. My sandbed had bubble algae all over.(all pumps off during this process)
5. I purchased a Scribbled Rabbitfish (S. Doliatus) It did not take long before the Rabbitfish was eating the left over bubble algae, right out of the water column. He was going after it like a tang goes after food. Then after he ate it all he started picking remnants of bubble algae off the rock too. The S. Doliatus was a bubble agae eating machine, eventually I got rid of him and the issue didn't come back. I think all the crabs helped to prevent it from coming back.
 

SifuMemphis

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dang man, thats a tough loss. Sorry to hear that.

Maybe with all the stuff you're dosing, it stripped out too much nutrients, too fast? Rapid changes to p04 and nitrate can have that effect on sps.
 
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JCOLE

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Are they connected systems? Asking, not judging.

Yes they are connected. Display tank runs into the garage with all of the equipment and frag tank is connected to system in garage. The frags of the green stag that I lost are starting to go as well in the frag tank. Whatever it is seems to be system wide.

My guess is the Vibrant and Fluconazole wreaked havoc on my beneficial bacteria and upset the system. Along with that I think nutrients are too low. Even though my Hanna is showing good readings and what they normally were with the LEDs. I think with the T5s I need more nutrients. Just a thought.

I am not going to dose PO4 as I can get that from foods. I am dosing Sodium Nitrate every day for a week or so to see if I see any improvement.
 
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JCOLE

JCOLE

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Yeah, I think it has to do will all the different chemicals you're dosing and it's not the lights.
In regards to the bubble algae, I was in your same boat back in 2009 with blankets of this stuff everywhere. This is what I did and it worked pretty quick for my 180-gallon tank naturally.
1. Purchased 50 mexican red-leg hermit crabs from bluezooaquatics. I got this idea from another reefer which also had a bad bubble algae problem and also beat it.
2. Purchased 6-emerald crabs from various places
3. I scraped the bubble algae off the rocks with a metal spoon. I'd say that about 50% of the rocks I scraped underwater and the other 50% I was able to take out of the tank and scrape the bubbles off in the backyard, then I would pour a little tank water over the rock before putting it back in the tank. While doing this the bubbles were exploding everywhere, shooting liquid all over me including in my eyes and in my mouth.
4. I took a net and caught as much algae as I could which was floating in the water column. Although I tried to scoop out as much as I could with the spoon, there was a ton which I was not able to get out and just scraped away at it while it floated away or fell to the bottom. My sandbed had bubble algae all over.(all pumps off during this process)
5. I purchased a Scribbled Rabbitfish (S. Doliatus) It did not take long before the Rabbitfish was eating the left over bubble algae, right out of the water column. He was going after it like a tang goes after food. Then after he ate it all he started picking remnants of bubble algae off the rock too. The S. Doliatus was a bubble agae eating machine, eventually I got rid of him and the issue didn't come back. I think all the crabs helped to prevent it from coming back.

Good plan. I HATE bubble algae. I don't know what it is but I can handle every other algae including dinos but for some reason bubble algae makes me not to want to look at the tank. That $5 Poci frag cost me SO much money and time...smh.

I recently ordered a large CUC from Reeftopia. Picked up 24 emeralds. Should have enough of those now haha. Went scorched earth with them. The bubble algae does seem to have subsided and they are starting to turn grayish white. The chaeto might be starving them out. Could be the issue with the corals also.
 

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Good plan. I HATE bubble algae. I don't know what it is but I can handle every other algae including dinos but for some reason bubble algae makes me not to want to look at the tank. That $5 Poci frag cost me SO much money and time...smh.

I recently ordered a large CUC from Reeftopia. Picked up 24 emeralds. Should have enough of those now haha. Went scorched earth with them. The bubble algae does seem to have subsided and they are starting to turn grayish white. The chaeto might be starving them out. Could be the issue with the corals also.
Valonia can exist in quite low nutrient systems like I used to run.

In the tanks I have with big foxface and emeralds, I can only find bubble in the overflow. I think it is the foxface. I have one big fox in each of my 2 of my growout tanks. Anything green they eat.
 
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Good plan. I HATE bubble algae. I don't know what it is but I can handle every other algae including dinos but for some reason bubble algae makes me not to want to look at the tank. That $5 Poci frag cost me SO much money and time...smh.

I recently ordered a large CUC from Reeftopia. Picked up 24 emeralds. Should have enough of those now haha. Went scorched earth with them. The bubble algae does seem to have subsided and they are starting to turn grayish white. The chaeto might be starving them out. Could be the issue with the corals also.
That does really suck it came on the cheap frag. Yeah, you have more than enough emeralds. If you want to try a fish which you will see clear it all up in front of your eyes try the Scribbled Rabbitfish, has to be S. Doliatus.
 

Treefer32

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Thank you for your reply! Yes, I know there is a lot going on and I welcome anybody to chime in. At a loss here and maybe someone could think of something I haven't so far.

I have a Seneye and have tested PAR a lot during my light changes. When I was running my LED's I was getting close to 1500+ PAR at the tops of the rocks! It was crazy high. I lowered the intensity down for a couple of months before switching to T5's. After the switch, I am getting around 550-600 at the tops and around 300-350 near the lower of the tank.

My plan is to stop making any changes except for dosing some Nitrates. The dry look of my pieces makes me feel like they are starving.

On the dosing tubes, I do not see where there could be issues. I ran Alk, Calcium, and Acropower and they all drip freely in the tank and don't appear to be running down. It is also weird that it is coming from a hole that doesn't have a tube in it. I will run a test again this afternoon.

One thing I need to check is to see if I have any magnets rusting in the tank. I am hoping that the ICP comes back shows me something.

I haven't bothered checking for AC current either because all of my powerheads and gyres are DC. I could still check though.
Well, I have first hand experience with AC current on a reef! Do a google search for Electrified steel plates to jump start a reef. Something along that line will get you an article on an experiment done in the 80s. Electricity mixed with salt water was shown to speed up the mechanics of coral tissue and calcified skeleton growth. I had a heater leaking a current into my display from my sump (300 watt heater). Over the month it took for me to troubleshoot the issue, my corals grew rapidly. I mean, I had things doubling in size in a month. I couldn't believe it. However.... The downside and what made me wonder was I was losing 3-6 fish a week. Every 2-3 days at least 1 fish was found dead, then two more, etc. I never felt any current in the tank. But, fish were dieing left and right. I lost 16 out of 19 fish in a 3-4 week period. I finally grounded myself and put my hand in the sump and felt a current. The corals grew awesome, but fish don't like shock therapy! I unplugged one thing at a time to find out it was one of two heaters I had. My 350 gallon display had only been operational for 6 months. This coming June will be 2 years since that crash.

My corals are still good. I have 1 fish that survived that fiasco. (1 other fish jumped out later and the other died of complications of the electricution). I let the tank go fallow after that with one fish until August 2019. Then started adding fish, and I have only lost 2 fish since adding fish and am up to 17 fish now. Corals doing great. I did lose 1 styla pora in the last year and a birdsnest, both were huge and growing fine and the next day started dying off. No idea why. What's funny is I still have 2 other colonies of stylapora doing just fine. I tried one birdsnest since then and it died. Corals are really finicky, but, I agree with others, Vibrant is not good stuff!

I tried it and had nothing but issues with cyano.
 

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Yes they are connected. Display tank runs into the garage with all of the equipment and frag tank is connected to system in garage. The frags of the green stag that I lost are starting to go as well in the frag tank. Whatever it is seems to be system wide.

My guess is the Vibrant and Fluconazole wreaked havoc on my beneficial bacteria and upset the system. Along with that I think nutrients are too low. Even though my Hanna is showing good readings and what they normally were with the LEDs. I think with the T5s I need more nutrients. Just a thought.

I am not going to dose PO4 as I can get that from foods. I am dosing Sodium Nitrate every day for a week or so to see if I see any improvement.
In my experience PO4 is the critical nutrient to have available. Lou Ekus at Fauna Marin has it correct (IMO): SPS don't directly consume PO4. It is too much work. Instead they eat the bacteria that consume and process PO4. Corals are very competitive at consuming nitrates directly when healthy so as long as food is going in they are fine.

If your nitrates are low and you begin to dose NO3 be careful with your PO4 levels as they can plummet when adding NO3 to a depleted system.

Measure, track, change slow, learn and hang in there.
 

Bobblehead

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After posting this thread I have seen a lot of posts recently created for RTN. What is going on with everyone's tanks? A fitting end to 2020 I guess.
Chalk me up as one of those people having similar problems. I’m not near experienced enough to offer advice but I can share the pain with ya!
 

Foothill Corals

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In my experience PO4 is the critical nutrient to have available. Lou Ekus at Fauna Marin has it correct (IMO): SPS don't directly consume PO4. It is too much work. Instead they eat the bacteria that consume and process PO4. Corals are very competitive at consuming nitrates directly when healthy so as long as food is going in they are fine.

If your nitrates are low and you begin to dose NO3 be careful with your PO4 levels as they can plummet when adding NO3 to a depleted system.

Measure, track, change slow, learn and hang in there.

Totally agree,

When I saw that you are going to dose nitrate I was going to post but this post sums up what I was going to say.
 
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