Reef startup successes and issues

Doug86

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Hey all,

I have started my reef tank after months of youtube and discussions with my local fish shop. Long term plan is a LPS and softie reef tank with a few lower light demanding and hardy SPS. Details are:

5ft long x 2ft tall x 20in wide (total volume inc sump 570ltrs or ~150g)
Side weir into 3 chamber sump (skimmer, fuge and filter media)
DC return pump at ~3000l/h
Deltec 1000i skimmer
5ft MML panel LED light Link here (90 degree LED lens) - built for LPS and softie tanks
4 cobbled together wave makers pushing ~12000l/h flow (replacing soon with 3x Jebao OW-40)
Moderate sized reef made using dry rock
Thin layer of fine sand ~2cms deep
Cheato in the fuge - 8hr photoperiod at night - growing really well, small amounts of green cyano also growing in sump

Cycled for 3 weeks with lights off, a further 2 weeks with lights on. Two frozen prawns used to add bio load. Diatom bloom started at about 4 weeks. Added variety of snails and 2 small hermits at the 5 week mark about a week after the ammonia and nitrite dropped to zero. Diatoms slowly dropped back, still present. They cover the sand in places and recover the rocks quite quickly after the snails have cleaned them up.

First fish were added at week 6. Two percula clowns, 2 x picasso clowns (all captive bred) and a blue line rabbitfish. All doing really well although the clowns do just cluster around the weir and do not venture too far anywhere else in the tank. All eating well on pellets and brine shrimp.

First corals were added week 9. Series of hardy zoas, green paly, star polyps, green mushroom and Dallas Acro. Everything but the zoas is doing really well but ALL of the Zoas crashed and melted straight away and I have zero idea why. They came from a very reputable local who is known for excellent quality and healthy frags so I have no concerns about the source or initial health of the corals.

Current water parameters are all good as far as i can tell:
Temp: 24.4 degrees C
pH: 8.06
Amm: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 5
Phosphate: 0.1
Sal: 1.024
Alk: 8.15
Cal: 485
Mg: 1500
water is generally crystal clear but does tend to go a bit cloudy after a feed.

I have three theories on why the zoas did not survive and in order of likelihood they are 1) The tank is not ready for them as indicated by the continued diatom growth, including maybe having the diatoms grow over the zoas while closed, 2) lights are not setup correctly (the curse of the ever adjustable LED) or 3) the flow is not enough. Of course these theories are not mutually exclusive either.

I am in need so of some help as every where i go people just says Zoas are super easy to grow...
Reef tank 10 weeks.jpg


Can anyone help or provide insight into where to go from here? I have resolved to not buy any more corals until i have this sorted out. Thanks in advance :)
 
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Doug86

Doug86

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Light cycle is

Lights 10 weeks.PNG


At 100% for all LED channels the light produces ~150 PAR at 60cms (bottom of the tank). I have dropped the whites back to lower levels on the recommendation of the coral seller with the long term goal to build it back up
 

Mykawl

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What do you mean the zoas melted did you remove them? They can be finicky give them time. I would agree the diatoms are what is upsetting them everything else seems good.

150 par at the bottom seems pretty intense
 
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Doug86

Doug86

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Sorry, melted is a bit of a loose term. The closed up due to the move and did make attempts at opening on the first afternoon of being in the tank. They all closed overnight and never opened again. Over the next few days they shrunk until they began to break down. Now all that is left is the frog rocks :'(
 

jeffchapok

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Your tank is still awfully young. Mine has been running 10 months and I'm just now able to keep my first zoas alive.

Nothing good in this hobby happens quickly. Give it a few months and then try again.
 
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Doug86

Doug86

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Thanks for the input :)

I stand corrected, the PAR at 60cm depth is 126 with all LEDs at 100%.

I will try and get the Mg down. I have no idea how it got up so high in the first place. The salt mix im using is not that high. Hoping some of the corals will start to use it.

I agree the tank is very young. I have seen many people keep zoas in tanks this young before and everyone i have spoken to seems to think they should be fine. I am all for waiting, I was just surprised that none of them even looked like going ok. Hopefully the increased flow with the new WMs will help drop the diatoms off a bit and I can try again in a month or few.

My wife is on me to 'de-boring' the tank.Guess i'll have to sell the long game :cool:
 

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