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Nitrates, Phosphates, Number Chasing and Corals!?

adamf83

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For a while I’ve struggled to get my nitrates and phosphate under control, maybe I’m guilty of chasing numbers, maybe there is nothing wrong, but I look at 2 soft corals (Toadstool and GSP) I have in my tank and can’t figure out why they don’t come out like they used to when I first got them.

The tank is 125l, plus another 25l in the sump, so 150l in total. The tank is 20 months old.

My params are:

Ammonia - 0
Nitrite - 0-0.05
Nitrates - 30-40
Phosphate - 0.16
Alk - 7.6
Cal - 375
Mag - 1400

I do a bi-weekly water change, 25l straight from the sump. I did that at the weekend just gone, no change in nitrates that I can see.

The fish are fine, no sign of distress, it’s just the corals I’m concerned about. I want to get into LPS and I’m due to replace the light in the next few days (going from a Fluval Marine 3 to a Radion G5 XR15 Blue), maybe that will make a difference. Before I go down the LPS route, I want to make sure my params are good.

Does anything seem off that could be affecting my current corals or am I just guilty of chasing numbers? Are these numbers ok for LPS?

Any advice would be appreciated.
 
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adamf83

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Any live rock? More specifically how did you start your tank biologically?

Just curious.
Yep, live rock, can’t remember exactly how much, but it’s covered in coralline.

It was a fish less cycle, no chemicals involved.
 

Swell

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Alk and Cal are low. Nitrates are a bit high, and I feel like I run my tank high at around 20.
How old is the tank?
What salt are you using?
What is your gravity?
How much flow do you have?

I have had leather toadstool for about 4 years now. He is humongous and constantly sprouts new toads.
I run my alk at ~9 and calcium ~420 temp at 78F, and salinity at 1.025. My phosphates are at 0.30. He is wide open from sunup to sundown. My acans HATE low alk and low flow.
 
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adamf83

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Alk and Cal are low. Nitrates are a bit high, and I feel like I run my tank high at around 20.
How old is the tank?
What salt are you using?
What is your gravity?
How much flow do you have?

I have had leather toadstool for about 4 years now. He is humongous and constantly sprouts new toads.
I run my alk at ~9 and calcium ~420 temp at 78F, and salinity at 1.025. My phosphates are at 0.30. He is wide open from sunup to sundown. My acans HATE low alk and low flow.
Tank is 20 months old and I’m using iQuatics salt (it’s a U.K. brand), salinity is at 1.026, temp at 28c. Flow wise, I have no idea exactly how much, but in terms of equipment, 1x MP10 which is run quite fast and my return pump is a TMC Reef Pump 2000 running on the middle speed, it seems like enough flow and when the GSP was out, it was moving nicely, as do the BTAs that I’ve got.

If my nitrates and phosphates are not too bad, maybe a little high in places, I wonder if my main problem is just alk and cal? I dose alk by hand, but as and when needed, which probably isn’t great and I might forget.
 
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Sallstrom

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Tank is 20 months old and I’m using iQuatics salt (it’s a U.K. brand), salinity is at 1.026, temp at 28c. Flow wise, I have no idea exactly how much, but in terms of equipment, 1x MP10 which is run quite fast and my return pump is a TMC Reef Pump 2000 running on the middle speed, it seems like enough flow and when the GSP was out, it was moving nicely, as do the BTAs that I’ve got.

If my nitrates and phosphates are not too bad, maybe a little high in places, I wonder if my main problem is just alk and cal? I dose alk by hand, but as and when needed, which probably isn’t great and I might forget.
7,6 dKH is not low. It's higher then the numbers in the ocean. So you do not have to change that. Some like to run higher KH, often combined with higher nutrient levels, but you don't have to.
Calcium is a bit low, but can be raised quite easy. Just do it slow. I like to mix a bucket with RO water and CaCl (after checking how much CaCl I need to get to the number I want), and then dose a little bit every morning until the solution is finished. You will find links to calculators here on R2R if you do a search.

LPS is grouped together just because their polyps are a bit larger the SPS. It doesn't mean they all come from the same spot or like the same conditions. So try to find a LPS that are known to be hardy. I would try a common Euphyllia first for example. Do not go for any expensive coral at first. Try not so expensive ones first and make sure they survive and grow. Then you can try other species after that.

Other then that, it's hard to say if your tank is ready for stony corals or not. But coralline algae is always a good sign! :)

Good luck!
 

HuduVudu

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Tank is 20 months old and I’m using iQuatics salt (it’s a U.K. brand), salinity is at 1.026, temp at 28c. Flow wise, I have no idea exactly how much, but in terms of equipment, 1x MP10 which is run quite fast and my return pump is a TMC Reef Pump 2000 running on the middle speed, it seems like enough flow and when the GSP was out, it was moving nicely, as do the BTAs that I’ve got.

If my nitrates and phosphates are not too bad, maybe a little high in places, I wonder if my main problem is just alk and cal? I dose alk by hand, but as and when needed, which probably isn’t great and I might forget.
How and what do you dose?
 

reefluvrr

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What is your oringinal PO4 and NO3 to start with?

When you had higher PO4 numbers and then go down from there; It really depends on how fast that number went down.
If your PO4 went down quickly, I believe the corals can't adapt to the sudden lower change that quickly and they contract.

It may take time for them to open back up once when your PO4 and NO3 reaches a lower stable number.
 

Wee Mad Arthur

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Tank is 20 months old and I’m using iQuatics salt (it’s a U.K. brand), salinity is at 1.026, temp at 28c. Flow wise, I have no idea exactly how much, but in terms of equipment, 1x MP10 which is run quite fast and my return pump is a TMC Reef Pump 2000 running on the middle speed, it seems like enough flow and when the GSP was out, it was moving nicely, as do the BTAs that I’ve got.

If my nitrates and phosphates are not too bad, maybe a little high in places, I wonder if my main problem is just alk and cal? I dose alk by hand, but as and when needed, which probably isn’t great and I might forget.
Just want to rule out the iquatics salt for you. I use the same one and have no issues at all with my 2 toads or other corals.
 
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HuduVudu

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Ouch ... don't do that :(

Quick chemistry concept. The two parts are in some way Na(CO3)2 (Sodium BiCarbonate) AND CaCl (Calcium Chloride). When you add just Na(CO3)2 you are adding Alk (CO3), BUT you are also adding Na (Sodium). The (CO3)2 gets used by stuff in your tank, biological filter, corals etc ... The Na does not. This means the Na Cl (Sodium Chloride or just salt) in your tank starts to have more Na compared to chlorine, thus throws your salt out of balance. Fortunately in large tanks with low dosing this isn't a major issue (at first) because the Na Cl pool is large, but over time it gets to be a problem and also if it goes on too long it gets very difficult to pull the balance back to normal.

So when you dose one you MUST dose the other. Also if you are dosing even if you do it perfectly (if that is even possible) you are raising the Na Cl in comparison to other elements and your salinity will start to move up. The only way out of this predicament is water changes. There is the Balling Method, but it depends on to many factors to be fully useful IMO, but it is better than just straight dosing.

A better strategy for you I think would be dosing Kalkwasser. It mostly solves the issues with dosing and it is easier to accomplish for what you are doing.

If you have been dosing Alk for a while you need to start doing water changes to correct whatever imbalance you may currently have.
 

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