Restarting My Reef

NickSmall

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Hello!

After 2 years of stepping away from the hobby I am trying to get my tank back to a good point where i can start adding coral and fish again. I never completely shut the tank down but did not complete a water change in those 2 years, i only topped it off with RO water when the pump started grumbling at me. The lights have been off the entire time so no problematic algae has appeared and feeding has been extremely sparse, the only living thing in the tank is one (very hardy) clownfish.

All equipment has been cleaned and is functioning - it is a 250LR (including a 50lr sump) tank with a Jerabo SLW-20 Sine wave maker, a Bubble Magus Curve 7, 2x filter socks which get changed weekly, a Ocean Free Hydra Stream 3 Depurator and i am setting up a refugium fitted with a cheap ebay light (https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/325605756199) the refugium has around 5kg of seachem matrix bio media in filter bags along with some live rock rubble.

i have completed a 70% water change and the Nitrates are still at 40ppm, i plan on doing another 60% water change this weekend which theoretically should take my nitrates to below 20ppm (i also completely cleared out the sump of detritus and did my best to clear detritus off of the sandbed and rockwork), the only place i think that i could be leaking nitrates would be the sandbed. all other parameters are within reasonable amounts, theres plenty of benifitial bacteria so ammonia and nitrite should not be a problem. Temperature is 26 degrees celcius.

finally there is no clean up crew, due to the high levels of nitrate i didnt want to add any too soon, what cuc should i introduce and when? there is plenty of algae to eat so i think theyll be some happy snails etc when they are introduced, to be clear this is a mature tank filled with bacteria and microfauna.

would love any tips on resurrecting my tank, my big concern is nitrates because id ideally not have to try and combat an outbreak of hair algae right away!

i will take some photos and upload them when im home from work for reference.

Thank you for reading :)
 

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NickSmall

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Pictures of the tank and sump right now, please try to ignore my horrendous cable/pipe management!!

i got too excited and put my lights on for 5 hours a day at the lowest intensity possible (its one of the viparspectra black box lights) regardless of my high nitrates and have started to spots tufts of hair algae so i have since turned those off and covered the tank in a sheet to prevent any light getting in (obviously no coral so this isnt harmful), the refugium light is on for 14 hours of the day but its worth noting this is only in there until i my specific refugium light arrives (cheato is in the plant pot to prevent it escaping into my return pump.

Auto top off is in the post and will of course take up that final empty section of the sump, filter socks also en route (although not looking forward to squeezing them into my admittedly small first section of sump).

Any ideas/suggestions would be great to help the resurrection of my tank along,

Thank you for reading!
 

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Bruttall

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reefcleaners.org is a great place to get a cuc. I've had good experiences with them.
Reefcleaners are amazing folks, I have over 400 critters I got from them, none dead on arrival and none weak or sickly. I highly recommend them!!
 
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NickSmall

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Reefcleaners are amazing folks, I have over 400 critters I got from them, none dead on arrival and none weak or sickly. I highly recommend them!!
thank you i will check them out!

I have checked them out, and sadly they are US only and im in England!
 
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NickSmall

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2 months (ish) later update

every week since this post i have completed a 20% water change, introduced a refugium fitted with a Tunze 8831 supplemented with a cheap led from ebay. im happy to report both my nitrate and phosphate is near 0 (obviously i want it a little higher for corals, but finally i am finding some success with the tank.

since the last update i have added 15 black foot trochus snails, 10 nassarius snails, a strawberry conch and a small scopas tang - you will notice he has some beat up looking fins, this is how i got him 2 weeks ago and now his fins are almost fully regrown and looking happy as larry (when he gets too big or aggressive i will move him on and get a smaller species like a Tomini tang but i find zebrasoma tangs are more aggressive algae eaters). i have also added some starter corals - 3 kinds of candy cane/trumpet coral and a hammer (all free from a friend) as well as a mushroom and an anenome (however i think the flow is too high in my tank for the anemone and it cannot find a good place to settle so that may end up being traded into my LFS).

i have reserved a small (2.5inch) foxface which will be introduced on the weekend, again for algae eating purposes - additionally my LFS keeps the fish in copper to try and remove any parasites so this is acting as a sort of quarantine while i wait to collect it. Furthermore i will continue adding to my clean up crew with more snails and potentially a tuxedo urchin or two and maybe even a second conch.

in negative news i have noticed a bit of cyano appearing on the rocks, however its not the red cyano im accustomed to but green slime - i ramped up the flow more as i know that is the best way to deal with cyano but it seems to be quite stubborn, of course i will continue to siphon it out on water change day but ideally i would find a way of preventing it in the first place.

attached is a video of my progress 2 months (ish) in.
 

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NickSmall

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2 week update

things have gotten a bit hairy in the tank, and we had a fish death which isnt ideal.

i believe the hairiness has come on from me overfeeding, when i got the 0/0 in nitrate and phosphate as well as cyano appearing i wanted to introduce some nitrate so i raised feeding but this was naive of me, the reality is the hair algae was probably absorbing nitrate and phosphate before my filtration could remove it. This week i will reduce feeding to once every two days and hopefully that will reduce the amount of hair algae appearing. Next month i will also get myself a RODI filter and my own salt (i was getting my saltwater from my LFS) as i believe my LFS's water was adding nitrate rather than removing it, when i asked them what their TDS (total dissolved solids) was it was between 10-15 rather than 0 which is what you should be adding to the tank. i have also added a tuxedo urchin to try and hoover up some of the hairy stuff.

I believe the foxface died because of either stress or not eating enough, jerry our scopas tang was a bit of a bully using his larger body to shove the fox face around and although the foxface did eat some nori, i wonder if he was getting enough - the foxface was only a juvenile so going into it i thought it would be a challenge, a challenge i ultimately failed. feels bad, will keep my out for a bigger foxface next time.

in positive news we added a few new corals to the system, a 3 headed common torch (which in the video looks a bit unhappy but i think thats because the tank is running a bit hot where britain is currently going through a heatwave), a single head of dragon soul torch and 10 polyps of (admittedly little) mindtrick zoanthids which look great.
 
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NickSmall

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heres the video to go with that update
 

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NickSmall

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2 week update

i am still in the perpetual battle with hair algae, that stuff just will not go. i have however changed my method of removing the hair itself, before i would go in with a toothbrush and scrub the hell out of my rocks but im concerned that was just spreading it and worse the mashed up hair algae was breaking down in my tank even after i do a water change. so during my weekly 20% water change i used the siphon and my finger to pinch and pull off tufts making sure any removed hair algae goes up the siphon. i also did a mid week hair algae cull, to do this i tied a filter bag to the outlet of my siphon and put it in my sump and proceeded to try and suck up as much as possible, the removed hair algae went straight into the bag and the bag into the bin.

i have made a few extra changes to try and help my problem, the first of which is i lowered the intensity of my light, sadly with the black box viparspectra light that i have even at 1% white light it is still a heck of a lot of light, so i went and stuck black paper over half of the white pucks in the unit, the result is the tank is bluer and the light is far less intense hopefully slowing the growth of hair algae. I have also added 16 extra black foot trochus snails, an extra conch and an urchin. i plan on getting another urchin in the hopes they start mowing through the hair.

as for the corals, the weather has finally cooled off and my torches are much happier, the mindtrick zoas are looking larger and there are a few extra polyps, i also bought a lump of basic red zoas from my lfs which look nice, they may end up being relegated to the back or the sides if they grow too quickly but for now they look really nice.

other than that theres not a lot to add. im excited to finally stop stressing over algae and start collecting coral etc.
 

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APCoralReefs

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Hello!

After 2 years of stepping away from the hobby I am trying to get my tank back to a good point where i can start adding coral and fish again. I never completely shut the tank down but did not complete a water change in those 2 years, i only topped it off with RO water when the pump started grumbling at me. The lights have been off the entire time so no problematic algae has appeared and feeding has been extremely sparse, the only living thing in the tank is one (very hardy) clownfish.

All equipment has been cleaned and is functioning - it is a 250LR (including a 50lr sump) tank with a Jerabo SLW-20 Sine wave maker, a Bubble Magus Curve 7, 2x filter socks which get changed weekly, a Ocean Free Hydra Stream 3 Depurator and i am setting up a refugium fitted with a cheap ebay light (https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/325605756199) the refugium has around 5kg of seachem matrix bio media in filter bags along with some live rock rubble.

i have completed a 70% water change and the Nitrates are still at 40ppm, i plan on doing another 60% water change this weekend which theoretically should take my nitrates to below 20ppm (i also completely cleared out the sump of detritus and did my best to clear detritus off of the sandbed and rockwork), the only place i think that i could be leaking nitrates would be the sandbed. all other parameters are within reasonable amounts, theres plenty of benifitial bacteria so ammonia and nitrite should not be a problem. Temperature is 26 degrees celcius.

finally there is no clean up crew, due to the high levels of nitrate i didnt want to add any too soon, what cuc should i introduce and when? there is plenty of algae to eat so i think theyll be some happy snails etc when they are introduced, to be clear this is a mature tank filled with bacteria and microfauna.

would love any tips on resurrecting my tank, my big concern is nitrates because id ideally not have to try and combat an outbreak of hair algae right away!

i will take some photos and upload them when im home from work for reference.

Thank you for reading :)
 
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NickSmall

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3(??) month update (new year)
After months of battling the dreaded hair algae, im finally at a point where i can say im on top of the hair algae. i have no idea what changed, but for future reference these are the steps i personally took;
  • started a chaeto refugium (powered by 2x Tunze 8831)
  • herbivores (foxface rabbitfish & scopas tang)
  • reduced feeding (1/2 frozen cube of mysis every other day & a strip of nori every other day)
  • reduced light (i stuck black paper over half of the white pucks on my black box light fixture)
  • changed to 10% weekly water changes (turns out the water from my lfs had a tds of 10-20 so using less was adding less nitrate)
  • manual removal (NO scrubbing the rocks with a toothbrush, instead i removed by pinching off the hair algae and sending it down the siphon)
  • changing filter socks 2 times a week
funnily enough i went away on holiday over new years for a week, and i left my tank in the capable hands of my friend, who i think was very stingy with feeding and this allowed the hair algae to die right back and i came back to a basically algae free tank.

as for updates, there are none. well i got a temperature controller and i have set that up, however i have been advised to get a titanium heater as my current glass heater is struggling to maintain the temperature i want (25.5 degrees celcius).

im excited to start ticking my money down the drain on coral and fish. my current fish stock list is;
  • 1x Clownfish
  • 1x Scopas Tang
  • 1x one spot fox face rabbit fish
  • 1x flasher wrasse
  • 1x three stripe damsel
  • 1x long nose hawkfish

my current coral stock list;
  • 3x heads of basic torch
  • 1x goniopora (doesnt look too happy but is alive)
  • x green mushroom (+1 baby mushroom)
  • 1x head of dragon soul torch (maybe turning to 2 heads its hard to tell)
  • 3x heads of golden hammer
  • 2x heads of green hammer
  • 17ish heads of mind trick zoanthids
  • 1x clump of boring red zoanthids
  • 1x clump of boring green zoanthids
  • 1x neon green candy cane coral
  • 3x pin wheel candy cane coral
  • 2x mint?? candy cane coral
  • 1x Bubble tip Anenome
excited to see what the year brings, hopefully a lot more coral and maybe a couple more fish!

TLDR: hair algae contained, fish alive, coral alive, looking forward to new year.
 
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NickSmall

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heres the video update for this update, i got camera lenses to remove the blue from the video so its a bit easier to see whats going on.

please forgive how dirty the glass is and all the snail eggs, i havent done a water change yet!
 
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heres the video update for this update, i got camera lenses to remove the blue from the video so its a bit easier to see whats going on.

please forgive how dirty the glass is and all the snail eggs, i havent done a water change yet!
No video!
 

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