So...I can't keep SPS!

Marc2952

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Here is the issue. Once my tank hit about 2 years, SPS just took off. It's really about biodiversity. Young tanks that are started with sterile dry rock, just cannot support SPS life regardless of what the parameter of the water are.

Do an @AquaBiomics test and you'll see the difference between a young tank that was started with dry rock, and one that can support SPS.
Agreed the lack of biodiversity in dry rock seems to really impact the survivability of sps. It took me a year to finally be able to grow sps and i specially noticed i had no deaths when i started growing sponges all over my sump. Its been the same case for other people that have had dry rock too that once they start to see coralline and soonge growth sps seem to just take off.
 

Marc2952

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This one is easy.

The OP has a very high nutrient tank. His phosphate and nitrate levels are fairly elevated.

Most coral frags come from very low nutrient grow out tanks. Acropora frags will likely brown out and die fast when introduced to this tank.

SPS corals can acclimate and thrive under high nutrient levels but they need to acclimate to those levels as they mature and grow. You cannot just put frags that come from low nutrient commercial tanks in there and expect them to thrive. They will RTN.

The fact the monti and birdsnest are doing ok is proof. Both like elevated phosphate and dont mind nitrate.

I would get the nutrients back into a more normal range like 5-10 for nitrate and .05 ish for phosphate. Until you do you will keep losing new coral.

And quit with the Acropora. Even a bali slimer will struggle under those nutrient levels unless it comes from a tank with the same params. Stick to blue or green digis, pocs, etc. Until they thrive dont mess with anything like acros. There is no law or regulation that requires reef keepers to waste money on finicky acropora.

FYI I haven't done a water change in almost a year and my alk levels range from 8-10 and calcium from 350 to 450. All my SPS grow like weeds. Keeping nutrient levels in range and stable is 99% of the magic.
Dayum thats a big alk swing my sps wouldnt like that at all. Goes to show every tank is different, i dose 24 times a day and i be surprised if my alk even swings 0.2 alk daily lol
 

Barnabie Mejia

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What are you dosing to bring the mixing container to your desired dKH? You wouldnt use the AFR for that would you?

Oh Gosh no! that would be expensive using the AAFR for that !

I use baking soda to bring up the alkalinity. I usually have my son drop 2 teaspoons into the 20 gallon mixing container to bring up the alkalinity to match the tank, and he does this about 4 hours before the water change. super cheap to go that route and very effective. before the AFR I was using this as a mixture and dosing it (BRS stuff was getting expensive haha and now i'm suing AFR... go figure)

here is the link to the calculator that I use for the values of the baking soda. BUT MAKE SURE ITS BAKING SODA AND NOT baking powder.


Barnabie Mejia
 
Zoanthids

Uncle99

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So I know this topic has been addressed in the past by different people. Well it's my turn now and yes, I am going to slowly comb through the other threads but I will also appreciate any additions here....

Equipment:
My tank is 96'' x 30'' x 30''
Just a little over a year old
Marco and Moani dry rock
Caribsea sand bed about 3'' deep
Custom aquarium seamless sumps (3 tubs and a 4th for ATO)
Filter socks
Reef Octopus 300Ext skimmer at 3 power level currently
40W pentair UV sterilizer
2 gyre pumps set to random and 2 tunze pwerheads.
4 kessil 360s and Aquatic life hybrid with 8 T5s

I have about 15 fish: 7 tangs, 2 sand sifter gobies, a few small wrasses, 1 foxface, 2 clowns, copperband butterfly, pyramind.

Tank Parameters:
7 stage BRS RODI with TDS meter reading 0 TDS
Sal: 1.026 Hanna
Temp 77-77.5
Alk: 8.5-8.9 Hanna
Cal: 420-450 Hanna
Mg: 1395-1425 salifert
Phos: 0.13 ( was in the 0.03-0.08 range for a while but over the past 2 or so months its been up). Hanna ULR
Nitrate 10-25 salifert
Salt mix: Tropic Marine pro reef , 2 weekly 20% water changes
Doing Reef pro part A and B for ALK and Calcium

The problem:

First set of coral added 6 months ago, mostly LPS , Zoas with one Acro...Acro died. Turn brown. LPS are still alive, not growing impressively but may be normal, except fifth element blasto that has 3 extra heads already.
4 months ago added a pack of beginner corals. All slowly died. some turn bleached white and then eventually brown. Others just start turning brown from the tips. I last surviving one has just started turning brown 3 days ago and dying very fast.
I placed them at different levels on the rocks to cover different Par levels.
Another pack of beginner corals added about 3 months ago have all died.
Only surviving SPS at the moment is a green birdnest and monti cap from my 3 months ago beginner pack.

I did a PAR testing before introducing coral and my range is 150 at the bottom on the tank to 450 at the highest rock scape.

I just bought Ophek LED bars, planning to add to supplement but not sure if that is the problem.
Also planning on adding a refugium. just waiting for chaeto

I am open to advice and recommendations....Thanks
I was thinking nitrate 10-25 was on the higher end for Acros.
There’s a lot of flux between 10-25, maybe shoot for 1-3.
FWIW anyways.
 

thepotoo

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You got some very good advice on nutrient levels, see if you can source some birdsnest from someone who has similar nutrient levels. I have a few other observations:

* Your wavemakers are pointed up. In a 96" tank, you are definitely not getting good flow in the middle of the tank. The one on the left should be pretty much level and about 4-6" below the surface, Make sure you're getting around 10 cm / second of flow in the spot where you are putting your SPS. And the flow shouldn't be hitting the coral directly, it should be going a couple inches over the top of it.

* How much coraline algae are you getting? I can't tell from the pics. Put corals where there's good coraline growth.

* Make sure new frags are placed in the same PAR as the tank you got them from. I recently fragged a couple montis and moved them from 200 to 500 PAR (same exact water chemisty). Bleached and dead 2 days later. Any change is pretty rough on corals.
 

Tuffloud1

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True depending on PO4, higher Alk ni matter how stable at low PO4 is a big no no for SPS.
Do you consider 9 high?

My acros did great with alk at 9 and PO4 at 0 - .02 (Hannah ULR).

Every tank is different.
 

Loosechangereef

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FYI, i had barebottom and sand tanks, both grow sps corals, but with sand its a chore and you have to clean parts of it on waterchanges when it gets older ,plus you need sea cucumbers which are great, and sea serpents(which i think ate my small fish,lol
Plus SPS like bare bottom you can crank it up(flow),Which you can crank up with sand but be more directional,
With sand i found also if its,dirty and you crank it up cause sand blowing around and there can be bad back bacteria that causes sps to die,
Thats why if you clean the sand bed go below sand line,
 
Reef Chasers Aquaculture

Barnabie Mejia

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And i forgot to mention when you clean sand only do a portion like 6inch by 6 inch,so it can repoplulate with pods
I would like to add to this:

if your tank has been up for 2+ years I would recommend using this practice. if its younger I would try and keep the sand bed clean right now. I clean my entire sand bed every week. you can stir it up in any part of the tank and there is no cloud that comes out of it. I have had a super clean sand bed and I have never had issues with SPS in the tank.
 

PatW

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I started with dry rock also. I had cyanobacteria for quite awhile. My nutrient levels were low, nitrate less than 5 ppm and phosphate less than .03 ppm. For some reason, I added a variety of bacteria diversity cultures. The cyano disappeared. And the coralline algae really went to town. My montipora have flourished. All of my LPS do well. My acropora are doing well now to.

I run chaeto to keep nutrients down. I have add chaeto micronutrients because otherwise the chaeto goes belly up.

I have found that the all the corals seem to do better with a 10%+ water change.
 

MabuyaQ

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Do you consider 9 high?

My acros did great with alk at 9 and PO4 at 0 - .02 (Hannah ULR).

Every tank is different.
With NSW being at 7, yes I consider 9 high. The problem with running a tank on the edge is always that stability becomes even more important.

In the case of the OP this isn't an issue just wanted to add this for future reference for people reading this thread.

In case of the OP I think this tank is still not mature enough for SPS, given the nutrient swings the bacterial biome is still developing.
 

schuby

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With NSW being at 7, yes I consider 9 high. The problem with running a tank on the edge is always that stability becomes even more important.

In the case of the OP this isn't an issue just wanted to add this for future reference for people reading this thread.

In case of the OP I think this tank is still not mature enough for SPS, given the nutrient swings the bacterial biome is still developing.
I think that maintaining low residual PO4 values of 0-.02 ppm (effectively zero) and being successful with SPS requires that you also have high nutrient throughput, high import and high export. If you just have near-zero PO4, then your SPS will starve and die, STN and/or RTN.

I've noticed that people who try to keep SPS, ultra low nutrients (PO4 and/or NO3), and no fish are not usually successful. The benefit of an adequate amount of fish (and adequate fish-feeding which produces adequate fish-poop) seem to be missed leaving the reefer confused about what they did wrong. These same reefers likely also have low biodiversity, trying to keep their tank as clean (sterile) as possible. They suffer from the SPS quadruple-death-knell: low residual nutrients, low biodiversity, low import, & low export.
 
Zoanthids

PICK the Most Tested & Least Tested Parameters of your Tank (Pick 2)

  • Calcium (most)

    Votes: 48 6.0%
  • Alkalinity (most)

    Votes: 547 68.8%
  • Magnesium (most)

    Votes: 6 0.8%
  • Phosphate (most)

    Votes: 75 9.4%
  • PH (most)

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  • Nitrate (most)

    Votes: 87 10.9%
  • Nitrite (most)

    Votes: 7 0.9%
  • Ammonia (most)

    Votes: 24 3.0%
  • (least) Calcium

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  • (least) Alkalinity

    Votes: 4 0.5%
  • (least) Magnesium

    Votes: 77 9.7%
  • (least) Phosphate

    Votes: 16 2.0%
  • (least) PH

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  • (least) Nitrate

    Votes: 14 1.8%
  • (least) Nitrite

    Votes: 220 27.7%
  • (least) Ammonia

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