Sierra_Bravo's "What did I get myself into??" 120g in-wall build thread

Mega Meltdown After Sale
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Sierra_Bravo

Sierra_Bravo

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Sierra_Bravo

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So, out of curiosity and a little bit of desperation, I reached out to @PSXerholic to try to get my tank back in balance and working right again with the Reef Moonshiner's calculators and recommendations for deficient trace elements. I've been battling GHA, a lighting error, alk swings, stalled growth and a bad refractometer - all of which caused issues - but I was able to correct each one and bring parameters back in line. Despite this, I have lost multiple colonies and continue to suffer from random STN. I can't figure it out no matter what I've tried.

I'm documenting fora starting point to see how I progress. The first video was a year prior to the problems when they were healthy; the video is current and showing where we are today.

May 2019



May 2020

 

WallyB

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So, out of curiosity and a little bit of desperation, I reached out to @PSXerholic to try to get my tank back in balance and working right again with the Reef Moonshiner's calculators and recommendations for deficient trace elements. I've been battling GHA, a lighting error, alk swings, stalled growth and a bad refractometer - all of which caused issues - but I was able to correct each one and bring parameters back in line. Despite this, I have lost multiple colonies and continue to suffer from random STN. I can't figure it out no matter what I've tried.

I'm documenting fora starting point to see how I progress. The first video was a year prior to the problems when they were healthy; the video is current and showing where we are today.

May 2019



May 2020

Glad you are Taking on this Challenge. Hope things go well.

Really Sad, to see that Grafted Moni that I remember photo's of in the past. (and the others you lost).
I know the pain your must feel seeing STN on Colonies. I get upset with a Frag going STN.
 
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Glad you are Taking on this Challenge. Hope things go well.

Really Sad, to see that Grafted Moni that I remember photo's of in the past. (and the others you lost).
I know the pain your must feel seeing STN on Colonies. I get upset with a Frag going STN.
I've only got about three more years in this house - I'd really like to get back on track and see some nice growth and colonies again. I was not much for the frag-on-a-rock look. As far as the STN, I could handle the losses if I just knew how to STOP them so I can progress again. We'll see.
 
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Hate to see and read about your issues! Such a beautiful tank. I've had several dragon varieties of SPS and they are always my whistle blowers. As soon as they start to fade I know something is wrong.

Hopefully you've turned the corner.
 

dragon99

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I've only got about three more years in this house - I'd really like to get back on track and see some nice growth and colonies again. I was not much for the frag-on-a-rock look. As far as the STN, I could handle the losses if I just knew how to STOP them so I can progress again. We'll see.
Keep it up! You'll be back on track in no time I bet. Andre has always been super helpful and willing to share his knowledge.
 
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Alright, Reef Moonshiner's order is here and I've started dosing. I've also begun dosing witch hazel directly in the tank in an effort to stem the STN that is now affecting nearly every colony that is over a year old. I feel like I have nothing to lose.

20200518_130411.jpg



I also created a large CO2 scrubber out of a repurposed Avast reactor. I had been running a smaller CO2 scrubber, but this one provides more contact time. In addition, I lengthened my chaeto light photo period. I'm trying to bump up my pH a bit more with these two changes.

20200516_110731.jpg


Last, and maybe most importantly, I added a chiller to the system. With my lights on peak and with my UV I was hitting 80 degrees, sometimes 81degrees every day. Cooling fans were no longer cutting it. Chiller is chillin' and beginning to do its thing:

20200518_130336.jpg
 
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So...let's see what corals made the "Smorgasbord of Death" today. (I used that phrase on a Facebook Group today and thought myself to be clever. . . :p ) We have on the menu RR The Vinh, PC Rainbow, RR Wolverine, Walt Disney, Farmer Ty Eternal Flame, Tubbs Mystic Blue, Green Slimer and the last of the Garf Bonsai.
20200521_211148.jpg


Was able to salvage some frags, at least.

20200521_211300.jpg
 
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So here's the basic procedure. My Snipers Blue Something or Other, from Battle Corals, is the last of the older colonies to succumb to STN. I've learned to cut it now, because if you don't you just end up losing more tissue.

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Out of the water you can see the progression goes all around the circumference of the colony.

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First I'll cut the branches off the rock into a container of tank water. I'll trim them up later - right now I'm just trying to limit the coral's time out of water.

20200525_134343.jpg



I use about 5 ml of witch hazel in another container of tank water as a dip, and then cut the diseased portions away. It's important to cut about 3/16" to 1/4" above the diseased portions. You want healthy tissue only on the frags.

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I was able to salvage quite a bit to remount and create frags by making the decision to cut it now. The rest is trash.

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Next, I want to bury the raw end in epoxy and seal it all the way around with super glue. This is to try to ensure all the diseased area and bacteria are covered if any remains. The healthy tissue will grow back over the superglue, but if you miss a spot the bacteria will have a chance to reestablish and STN will continue. I fray the end of a plastic drinking straw to use as a makeshift brush to spread the glue.

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I mount the smaller pieces on frag plugs; the larger will go back in order to create a smaller colony and get something back in the hole that was created. Again I fully coat the bottom of the larger pieces with superglue and then sandwich an epoxy ball with additional superglue to attach to the rock in the tank. It's smaller, but at least I still have something of a colony left.

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The frags I'll sell or add to the new colony once I make sure no more disease is present.

20200525_143635(0).jpg
 
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2.5 Week STN Update:

I have implemented the Reef Moonshiner's trace element plan using my ICP test as a starting point. At this point I have completed the correction dosage and am working on the daily dosing regimen. I also dosed witch hazel for 10 days, dosed Biodigest, installed a chiller to maintain temps at 77F, and increased the size of my CO2 scrubber, all in an attempt to slow/stop TN. I think (fingers crossed) this primary goal has been obtained.

I have culled out a very large amount of my colonies to physically remove diseased, dying, and dead corals. In all I've had to trim close 14 colonies, with an additional 8 colonies and 7 frags completely lost. My tank now looks similar to how it did a year and a half ago when I had mostly rocks with frags.


I have a general feeling of better health in the tank. I'm seeing a little better coloration and polyp extension and finally a little bit of growth at the bases of my faster growing SPS. Chaeto has increased in size and I've been able to feed heavier without nitrates/PO4 going up.

Today, I sent off a follow up ICP test now that my corrections have been completed and will run the Reef Moonshiner's calculator again once I have the results.

 
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It's based on your ICP test. Explained very basically, you correct for major insufficient trace elements to bring back to rangte first, then there are certain minor elements you dose on a daily basis if not detected. For me, it's Chromium, Cobalt, Vanadium, Iodine, Iron, and Rubidium.
 
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As part of my changes to get this tank back to right, I decided to install an outside line to supply my skimmer with the goal being to improve my pH. I usually get down to 7.8 overnight and rarely go much higher than 8.0 during the day. This is with a giant ball of chaeto and extended grow light hours.

Trouble is my aquarium fish room is dead in the middle of my home. My only choice was to go under our stairwell to reach an external wall I could drill through. I used a piece of 3/4" pvc to reach under the stairs.

20200607_143508.jpg
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On the outside of the wall I used a slip x threaded elbow and a reducer bushing so I could unscrew the end should I ever need to clean it. To keep the creepy-crawlies out, I found a faucet screen washer fits perfectly and the bushing fit snugly against it for a good fit. I made sure to seal the outside with caulking. I think it's not overly obvious when you look at the wall, so I'm good with it.

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On the inside, I drilled a solid cap and tapped a 3/8 nylon hose barb to connect my vinyl line. The line was first connected to a reactor full of carbon, then into a large CO2 scrubber, then into my skimmer. The skimmer is able to pull air easily through all this.

20200607_151917.jpg

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So, what did I achieve for all this effort? Well, not a lot, unfortunately. This is my pH reading 24 hours later. I'm very surprised it didn't have a bit more impact.

20200607_153706.jpg


(Wow - I need to wipe down my display really badly! :p )
 
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