Some corals thrive, some don't. At a loss. Help?

beesnreefs

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Bit of a long post - want to provide all the info I can.

All of my fish are doing great. Most of my corals seem quite happy - a few do not and I have struggled to figure out why or what to do to help them.

I'm a novice reefer doing all I can to learn from experienced refers via R2R, BRS, my LFS, etc.

Started a 65g JBJ AIO almost 5 months ago with Aquaforest dry rock and sand. Cycled with TurboStart and dosed ammonia. Added first livestock about 4 months ago. For equipment I run:
  • Kessil AP9X (light schedule in photo below)
  • Two IceCap Gyre 2k wavemakers
  • JBJ stock return pumps that came with tank
  • JBJ TrueTemp titanium 300w heater with controller
  • Aqua UV hang on 15w UV filter running at about 550 gph for algae control
  • Santa Monica Scrubbers DROP 1.4 algae scrubber
  • IceCap ATO
Have been skimmerless for the last 2 months. As you'll see below, my system is very clean so I see no need for the skimmer - plus the microbubbles annoy me.

Light schedule -
IMG-2807.jpg


Current parameters (test kit used):
  • Temp: 79 (controller cycles it slowly between 77.5 and 79.5 throughout the day)
  • Salinity: 1.025 (refractometer)
  • Ammonia: 0 (API)
  • Nitrite: 0 (Salifert)
  • Nitrate: around 3 ppm (Salifert)
  • pH: 8.3 (API)
  • Alk: 9.3 (Hanna)
  • Calcium: 390 (Hanna)
  • Magnesium: 1310 (Aquaforest)
  • Phosphate: 0 (Hanna, confirmed with Aquaforest)
I test all parameters weekly except Nitrate and Phosphate which I have been testing daily for the last 3 weeks. About 4 weeks ago my Nitrates and Phosphates zeroed out. I have been dosing Brightwell NeoNitro and NeoPhos to try and get Nitrates to the 3-5 ppm range and phosphates to the 0.05 ppm range. Nitrates take a single dose (one capful usually does it) and they hit 5 ppm and stay there for about a week. Phosphates are a different story - I have been dosing 2 capfuls every day for the last 3 weeks and every day it tests at 0.00.

I have seeded the tank with several jars of AlgaeBarn EcoPods and 5280 Pods. I now have a visible pod population that is rather large, especially after the lights go out.

For cuc and fish I have:
  • 1 ocellaris clown
  • 1 large royal gramma
  • 1 pink pygmy wrasse
  • 1 medium sand sifting star
  • 2 Tongan nessarius snails
  • 3 small nessarius snails
  • 1 turbo snail
  • 2 trochus snails
For maintenance I do the following:
  • Daily: Feed fish and corals twice daily by broadcast feeding mini frozen mysis and Reef Frenzy (about 1/4-1/3 cube's worth total food). Also drop about 20-25 dki Marine mini pellets. Once a day I also broadcast feed Benepets, about 1/8 teaspoon and 15-20 mL of AlageBarn OceanMagik phytoplankton.
  • Every 2-3 days: Broadcast feed 8-10 mL of RedSea AB+ after lights go out.
  • Weekly: Clean glass of any algae (usually fairly minimal). On Saturdays I do my testing and then do a 10% water change. I also dose one capful of Microbacter7. On Sundays I dose one capful of Dr Tim's Eco-Balance.
I only use RODI water in the ATO reservoir.

Here is the challenge I'm looking for guidance, perspective, help on.

Some of my corals seem to be thriving. For instance, I have 4 torches that look stunning and happy. I also have a trachy and welso that seem quite happy as well as 4 blastos that are plump and the two I've had the longest are growing new heads. Two of my torches, which I've had about 2 months, are in the process of splitting from 2 to 3 heads.

As you'll see in the photos below, two of my acan colonies are doing great. The larger one has several baby heads you only see at night when the polyps shrink up a bit. The smaller colony was a transfer from my nano about 4 months ago and has grown a few new heads since.

On the flip side, some of my acans are really struggling and I can't figure out why. I've lost 2 small frags already.

My button scoly is happy as a clam and the hammer right next to it, which I've had for 2 years, started getting cranky about a month ago. Today it started dying. I had a gold hammer that was plump as can be the first 2-3 weeks then suddenly took a turn and died about a month ago.

Thoughts on what I can do to help the few corals that are struggling? Anything I can/should be doing differently?

Goodness if you've made it this far in my post I seriously THANK you!

Photos of my corals:

3 of my 4 torches - puff up and gently sway in the flow all day. Colors are wonderful
IMG-2795.jpg

This is the newest of my two brains. I've had it almost 2 weeks and it is already coloring up more than when I got it.
IMG-2796.jpg

This brain has been with me about 3 months and is always plump and colorful, even though the clown loves to hang out in it.
IMG-2797.jpg

3 of the 4 blastos. The one on the far right was only one head when I got it. The one on the left has a baby you can't see that has grown to be about a half inch across.
IMG-2798.jpg

Button scoly I've had about 3 months. Happy as can be and opens up fully to feed at night. You can see a bit of my dying hammer to the right. I dipped the hammer in iodine this morning but fully expect it will die within the next 24 hours.
IMG-2799.jpg

This is my happiest acan colony. Those plump polyps are covering up at least 6 baby heads at the bottom.
IMG-2800.jpg

This was a 3-polyp colony when I bought it.
IMG-2801.jpg

My unhappy acans. The one on the left was from my nano. At first it was SUPER happy in this tank. Plumped up and extended feeders like it never did in the nano. Last few weeks it has looked like this.....it does extend feeders at night though. Just never fully plumps up. The one in the middle and the green one on the bottom right also never seem to plump up.
IMG-2802.jpg

This acan was super happy at first....last 2 weeks has looked like this.
IMG-2803.jpg

This acan was happy for the first few days but last couple of weeks looks like this.
IMG-2804.jpg

This acan has been with me about 2 months and has almost always looked like this. Of note, the past few days it has started extending feeders at night.
IMG-2805.jpg

My whole scape for reference.
IMG-2806.jpg
 
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tsouth

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Low nutrients (low phosphates, low nitrates, etc) mixed with high Alk is not recommended. Try to increase your nutrients, be it through feeding (up to 3/4 times a day), reducing water change volume and/or frequencey, or other means (removing chaeto etc).

Lots of chemical's going in as well, so stability may be fluctuating too hard.
 
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beesnreefs

beesnreefs

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Low nutrients (low phosphates, low nitrates, etc) mixed with high Alk is not recommended. Try to increase your nutrients, be it through feeding (up to 3/4 times a day), reducing water change volume and/or frequencey, or other means (removing chaeto etc).

Lots of chemical's going in as well, so stability may be fluctuating too hard.
Thanks for the perspective. I have upped my feeding and do not have chaeto. Also dosing NeoPhos every day for past 3 weeks and NeoNitro when nitrates get below 3. I have been able to keep the nitrates between 3-5 fairly well but the phosphates continue to read at zero despite daily dosing.

Regarding you comment about the chemicals, do you recommend I stop adding some/all of the things I am dosing? If so, which ones do you think I should make changes to?
 

tsouth

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If I had a plan of attack (which I recently went through) it isssss

1. Reduce water changes to 10% every 2 weeks
2. Stop dosing neophos and neonitro. I also did this to try and raise my levels, including microbacter7, but the only thing that came of it was Cyano
3. Hook up the skimmer - this is your #1 method of oxygenating water. You can always adjust it to skim really dry so it doesn't pull too many organics from the water
4. Increase bioload, add up to 3+/-. A 65 is a lot of space, you've gotta get some poopies in there big time
5. Up feeding. I have an autofeeder pushing a mixture of flake, pellet, and benepets 3 times a day. I feed frozen once in the evening as dinner. (45g total water volume, 6 fish)
6. Let your tank work itself back out without adding anything over the course of 2 months. Figure out the base line. I cannot stress this enough!!! I literally stopped doing any dosing and bandaids and my tank is just the bees knees right now. I loooooove it.

You can knock out the first three immediately :)
 
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beesnreefs

beesnreefs

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If I had a plan of attack (which I recently went through) it isssss

1. Reduce water changes to 10% every 2 weeks
2. Stop dosing neophos and neonitro. I also did this to try and raise my levels, including microbacter7, but the only thing that came of it was Cyano
3. Hook up the skimmer - this is your #1 method of oxygenating water. You can always adjust it to skim really dry so it doesn't pull too many organics from the water
4. Increase bioload, add up to 3+/-. A 65 is a lot of space, you've gotta get some poopies in there big time
5. Up feeding. I have an autofeeder pushing a mixture of flake, pellet, and benepets 3 times a day. I feed frozen once in the evening as dinner. (45g total water volume, 6 fish)
6. Let your tank work itself back out without adding anything over the course of 2 months. Figure out the base line. I cannot stress this enough!!! I literally stopped doing any dosing and bandaids and my tank is just the bees knees right now. I loooooove it.

You can knock out the first three immediately :)
Thank you so much for taking the time to read through and respond to my situation - I appreciate you!
 

ApoIsland

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Re nutrient level - it seems like low fish load to me.

If that were my tank I would add the following to the 3 you already have:

Marine Beta
Yellow Coris Wrasse
Long Nose Hawkfish
Banggai Cardinal

Half the people here would want to murder me, but if that tank is at least 36'' long and 15'' wide I would add a small tang instead of the cardinal and the hawkfish.



Re Hammer - is the flow going directly back from the scoly? is it possible the scoly is secreting something and it is hitting the hammer?

Re Acans - who the heck knows. Most of mine grow and thrive for a year or two and then melt away. I only have one colony that has made it more than a few years.
 
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beesnreefs

beesnreefs

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Re nutrient level - it seems like low fish load to me.

If that were my tank I would add the following to the 3 you already have:

Marine Beta
Yellow Coris Wrasse
Long Nose Hawkfish
Banggai Cardinal

Half the people here would want to murder me, but if that tank is at least 36'' long and 15'' wide I would add a small tang instead of the cardinal and the hawkfish.



Re Hammer - is the flow going directly back from the scoly? is it possible the scoly is secreting something and it is hitting the hammer?

Re Acans - who the heck knows. Most of mine grow and thrive for a year or two and then melt away. I only have one colony that has made it more than a few year

Thanks everyone for the comments.

A bit of an update - things are going very well now. I made a few changes to the tank so it's difficult to know what made the ultimate difference....and I should recognize there could have been a cumulative effect as well. Here's what I did over the past 2 months:
  1. Added more fish: For my viewing pleasure and to have more natural nutrients in the system I added 3 more fish - a melanurus wrasse (which was actually an oops, accidently shipped to me from Dr Reef's Quarantined Fish instead of the ornate leopard I ordered), an ornate leopard wrasse, and an ignitus anthias.
  2. Increase biodiversity: Years ago I was having an issue with a nano tank - awful algae issues - andgot introduced to Gerald at Indo-Pacific Sea Farms. He helped me put together a package of their live sand activator, wonder mud, and some beneficial critters and it changed my tank for the better. So I ordered a package from him for this tank as well to help with biodiversity.
  3. Started spot-feeding corals: I had been broadcast feeding everything. Shortly after writing the original post here I got a package of Benepets Benereef food, Brightwell Aminos, Restor, and Koral Color. Every 2-3 days I mix the Benereef, Aminos, and Restor and spot feed my corals using Julian's Thing. Once a week I dose Koral Color as well.
I'm not sure what of the above has made the biggest difference - or if it's the combo effect - but the tank has turned around incredibly Everything is puffy, happy, and thriving now. I'm even starting to see growth on some of my corals which is exciting.
 
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