Poor SPS Colouration - Best practice

Discussion in 'Reef Aquarium Discussion' started by domgreenslade, Nov 6, 2017.

  1. domgreenslade

    domgreenslade Member

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    Hey there

    Long time reader, almost first time poster. I've been keeping marines for about 6 years now, and one thing i've always struggled with is SPS colours. My latest tank, a TMC signature 600 has been up and running for 2 years, and is mainly SPS based. I should say, my other corals are mainly LPS, and I have a small bioload of 2 fish, a clown and a damsel.

    My SPS are pretty much brown. Or at least, the reds are not red, and the greens are not green.

    Some info about the tank:
    Its around 110 litres after displacement.
    I am running a radion over the top of it. I have recently changed my lighting schedule to run the SPS+ schedule, as previously i was running a custom one i made. Since this, the green montipora at the top of my tank has seemingly gone a little pale. Its currently on an acclimation timer for 4 weeks.
    I am running an MP10 on reef crest mode of about 70% power.
    I run rowaphos in a reactor, along with a bag of carbon, skim quite wet, and have a refugium with cheato in my sump.
    About a year a go, i was running Triton, but came off of it because all of my LPS withered away, and all my cheato died. I am now using balling lite.
    KH is at 8.6dKH, calcium at 420ppm and magnesium 1460ppm.
    Phosphate, using a phosphorous hanna checker, came out at 0.009ppm (3ppb phosphorous).
    Nitrate came out at 0.2ppm using salifert test.
    I water change 12litres every 7-14 days.

    I used to feed my tank about once a week on pellets. Because of this, i've been reading that i ought to either dose nitrates, or slowly increase feeding, defrosting frozen food, and then turkey basting my lps and feeding fish. I also have reef roids i've been starting to use also.

    I also have bryopsis, which i have literally just started treatment of fluconazole for. Because of this, i believe that my nitrate and phosphate readings maybe incorrect.

    My question is really related to how i can get the best out of my SPS colours. They grow, my hystrix and stylo have grown considerably in the last 5-6 months, but some acropora i have and my green montipora just lack those sharp colours, and in fact, only the polyps on the green monti have any colour. Should i reassess once the fluconazole has run? Should I consider dosing nitrates to get them up to around 4ppm (which is what i've read is a good number to keep them at for SPS), or is there something else i am missing. When i did an ICP a long while back, i had traces of copper, but these have since been eradicated, which I had assumed was the reason for poor tank health.

    Obviously, I am not expecting things to pick up overnight, just wondered if anyone can shed some light as to why perhaps my SPS are brown or browning?

    Thanks
     

  2. JOKER

    JOKER Well-Known Member R2R Supporter MTRCMember

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    I would recommend more fish. Fish poop feeds corals especially SPS. Byropsis is a bummer, but can be beaten. Just don't do anything quickly
     
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  3. domgreenslade

    domgreenslade Member

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    Would you say that’s the first port of call then? Increase bioload?
     
  4. domgreenslade

    domgreenslade Member

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    And also, say I do sort my Bryopsis issue out within the next few weeks, what is the best course of action after this, to look at SPS colours. I'm insanely jealous of some of the colours i see in the same tank as mine. I believe i have all of the correct equipment and set up, so it is generally going to be water quality that i can test myself, or is it worth getting an ICP done?
    Finally, does anyone dose anything for colours? I've got Red Sea Coral Colours, however, as i already dose Balling lite, i'm under the impression i would be overdosing certain elements?
    My red montipora is losing colour by the day, and turning brown too :(
     
  5. Waters

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

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    Based on those numbers, I would definitely increase the nutrients in the tank. Maybe cut back on the amount of Rowaphos you are using (very strong stuff) as well as feed more (or add additional bio load as was suggested). You will be shocked at how the colors turn around with some food :)
     
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  6. domgreenslade

    domgreenslade Member

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    I do use quite a lot of rowaphos to be fair, abut always assumed that my corals were going brown due to excess nutrients, but it turns out, it could be the opposite, and that the water is actually 'too clean'?
    I know this is a very generic question, but if i started feeding the tank, say half a cube of frozen, once a day, am i likely to increase nutrients too quickly, or is that a fair amount of food?
    I was also looking at dosing some amino acids, as i have done this previously to great effect, so wondering what peoples thoughts are on this?
     
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  7. Waters

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

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    If you look at your test results, your water is definitely leaving towards being too clean....although browning does point to higher nutrients. Do you have a lot of algae growth in your tank? I would try to raise both your phosphates and nitrates. Dosing amino acids can also help as well. I would probably reduce the rowaphos slowly and monitor phosphates. It is hard to say how much (if any) the half a cube of food will increase nutrients. I would just start and keep testing, and adjust accordingly. You can also dose nitrate if it comes to that....I actually dosed for a long time to keep my nitrate levels where I wanted them.
     
  8. BigJim

    BigJim Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    In my experience, brown SPS usually indicates high nutrients and/or not enough light. It doesn't sound like nutrients are an issue, so I would consider the lighting. With LED I have found it is very important to pick a setting and stick with it. I recommend continuing with your radion schedule and leaving everything else alone for at least three months. I also have had bad experience with SPS and using GFO, so slowly getting away from the Rowaphos as Waters said might help.

    How do you maintain your alk and calcium levels? If you are not using a dosing pump or calcium reactor, you might be having swings in those levels impacting coral color.
     
  9. JOKER

    JOKER Well-Known Member R2R Supporter MTRCMember

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    I would say for sure unless you have algae problems. From what I have researched, and seen as long as there are no algae problems most likely low nutrients. As soon as my nutrients have gotten high in the past I had algae issues way before coral showed signs of trouble. I run my tank as simple as I can. I am running a remote deep sand bed, marine pure blocks, skimmer, filter sock, and just live rock. I run carbon just to keep the smell down, and to eliminate warfare between corals.
     
  10. domgreenslade

    domgreenslade Member

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    The only algae growth I have in my tank is bryopsis, but as i said, i'm dealing with that as we speak, so hopefully it will be gone soon. If i am completely mistaken and its not bryopsis, then i have a GHA problem haha. But im 99.9% sure its Bryopsis.
    I was looking into nitrate dosing, however, I am certainly interested in increasing my bioload as its a bit lonely in there at the moment. I may cut my rowa down by a fifth at a time, might save some money in the long run. With phosphorous at 3ppb, what should i be realistically aiming for then?
     
  11. domgreenslade

    domgreenslade Member

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    I have a 3 channel Kamoer doser set up, running balling light (unofficial salts, but FM trace elements). Magnesium was high but gradually brought this down, and KH stable at 8.6dkH, calcium at 420ppm.
    I'm a lot happier with my Radion schedule now, but it might be that its just a bit too low whilst it builds up to 70% (currently at 35% power as i didnt want to bleach my corals when changing the schedule)
     
  12. Waters

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

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    I am running my tank at 4 right now (which is .0147 and is still a little low IMO) so I would just try to increase it slowly and watch for changes, both positive and negative. Every tank is different unfortunately. Some are running lower while some run MUCH higher levels of phosphates.
     
  13. domgreenslade

    domgreenslade Member

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    Just done another phosphate test since feeding the tank once a day/every other day on frozen and it’s at 13ppb phosphorus or 0.04ppm phosphate
     
  14. domgreenslade

    domgreenslade Member

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    Thought I’d share some shots. Both are the same coral, and are meant to be green plating montipora but this is the colour they are under the whites. Kind of a light brown 01D470D5-FDAB-4939-937F-359B45897B2C.jpeg 830AE6E5-0387-4C70-89A9-FF9E33A112A7.jpeg
     
  15. 2Wheelsonly

    2Wheelsonly Well-Known Member R2R Supporter

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    At some point someone burned the idea you need to have super low nutrients to run a reef tank. You need to eliminate that thought from your brain, whoever provided that information was a stooge.

    It sounds like you have a small system, why the need for fancy stuff like triton?

    Throw your rowaphos, carbon and whatever fancy modern ultra complicated dosing system you have in the trash and just stick to water changes weekly and feed your fish daily. Do that for 3 months, if you don't start noticing a change after 1 month then make small tweaks to the above. Don't second guess yourself on lighting, leave it on SPS+ because we all know that has been proven to show results. Also, don't skim so wet...

    With the feeding i'd gradually feed more each week so you don't shock your system...ideally you want to hit 2-5 nitrates and 0.03-0.06 po4 by the 3rd month.

    Simplify...it will save your tank.

    **Edit: I hope I don't sound too harsh, I am terrible at not looking like an angry jerk when I type sometimes. My wife tells me I should use more smiley faces when I type to people because I always sound mad. :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2017
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  16. JOKER

    JOKER Well-Known Member R2R Supporter MTRCMember

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    How high are the lights? That could be an issue. I never had luck with led myself, but many do. I never could find the sweet spot.
     
  17. domgreenslade

    domgreenslade Member

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    No, not too harsh or harsh at all. I really appreciate anyones input at this time, as i'm just getting really frustrated when I see peoples tanks and their greens are popping like mad, then i see mine and its like 'oh, nice brown corals'.

    The plan is to wait for full 2 weeks of dosing fluconazole, and then water change. After this, i'm probably going to not run carbon, skim drier, and feed a bit more often. In the short space of time since i have been feeding, my phosphate has jumped up from 0.009ppm to 0.04ppm, in the space of about a week. In this time, i also stopped dosing NoPox, so that might also be a reason for the drop. I'm going to test tonight and see where i am at with it, and see if its about stable.

    Triton you say? Well, initially i was renting a house, had no outside tap, and wasnt allowed to plumb in an RO system. Add to this my LFS was an hour and a bit drive away, and i work 6 days a week, it wasnt plausible for me to constantly make trips there for water changes. So Triton was a way out of that. It served its purpose until it pretty much crashed by tank, even though my ICP was very good. Still, i made the move back to balling where i feel a lot more in control.

    It is a relatively small system, i've just put into the system everything i had in my smaller tank before, the reactor, carbon etc. Never once did i really think that my nutrients were too low for colour. As i said before, i was always under the impression that because i had brown corals, my nutrients were too high, so i'd stop feeding the tank for a week or so. But no colour even came, when i did that.

    My radion, as i said before, is still on acclimation timer, and 2 weeks in to that. Its running at 70% brightness, and i believe max intensity of 48%. Its just the SPS AB+ schedule, so not sure if i can turn the brightness up or what, perhaps the light just isnt strong enough? I've always had it on 70% brightness.
     
  18. domgreenslade

    domgreenslade Member

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    They're on the Radion Mounting System:::: 15C4F098-8D6C-46AB-AAAB-9CACB3536F41.jpeg
     
  19. domgreenslade

    domgreenslade Member

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    And how quickly would you expect corals to regain their colour, or is that a tricky question?
     
  20. JOKER

    JOKER Well-Known Member R2R Supporter MTRCMember

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    SPS can take several weeks to months from my experience. They can also change colors when you move them the least bit. Very finicky for sure. As long as they have PE and aren't bleach white they are still living. That is a plus!! Just be patient, and keep the tank stable. That is all you can do.
     
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