SPS are pale, zero nitrates and still have algae.

KatoJoe

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My nitrates consistently test at 0. Phosphate usually .02. My SPS are all quite pale except the slimer and montis but I still have algae. Tank info listed below.

Red Sea Reefer 425 (90 gallons I think with 25 gallon sump)
Fleece roller
Skimmer that’s on for 6 hrs at night. Set up mostly for raising ph by using outside air for intake. Not much skimmate is produced.
Fuge with basketball sized ball of chaeto.

Parameters:
Salinity - 35ppt
Alk- 8.5
PH - 8-8.25
No3 - 0 (Hanna checker)
Po4- 0.02(Hanna checker)
Calcium - 420
Magnesium - 1360

I’ve read through tons of threads with similar issues and still unsure of the best course of action. I’ve been told to dose nitrates, feed more, skip water changes, remove chaeto etc.

I’ll try to attach pictures for reference.

I have a decent amount of chaeto in the fuge along with gha and film algae, and what I believe are diatoms (although it looks greener under white lights) on the sand in the display in addition to something I believe is an algae but haven’t identified yet. I have to clean the glass every day or every other and the chaeto is growing, I also have to clean the sand bed with every water change at least. I recently removed half of the chaeto. I doubled my feeding (mostly pe pellets and frozen mysis) and stopped water changes for the last month, my algae is growing faster but nitrates still zero. I even dosed neonitro one evening, tested the next night and nothing still. I did have an acro frag rtn right after that, not sure if it was related.

Now, with how well algae is growing I find it silly to think the answer is adding more nutrients? But that’s the advice I keep getting to bring my nitrates up to address the 0.0 test results and color up the SPS. Is this the wrong advice? Should I instead be shutting down the fuge so it’s not consuming nitrates, manually remove nuisance algae and see if nitrates come up? Any advice is appreciated. I just want to avoid wasting my time following the incorrect advice.

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Lavey29

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A lot of your acros are dead. Bottomed out nutrients mean your corals are starving to death. What m8nimal nutrients are in the tank are being absorbed by algae out competing the corals. Eventually all your corals will decline and algae will flourish.
 

19Mateo83

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What is your clean up crew? If you really want to put a dent in the green add 2-3 Mexican turbos, 10-15 astrea snails, 1 pencil urchin, 10 nassarius snails to stir your sand bed and about 20 dwarf blue leg hermit crabs with extra shells. They will control algae and dose neonitro and neophos to get your nutrients up. That’s what I would do.
 

19Mateo83

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A lot of your acros are dead. Bottomed out nutrients mean your corals are starving to death. What m8nimal nutrients are in the tank are being absorbed by algae out competing the corals. Eventually all your corals will decline and algae will flourish.
They are not covered in algae yet, maybe just paled out due to low #s
 

coral reeftank

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I would have a look at your trace elements, an icp test would help you gauge your issue. There is most likely a trace imbalance.
 
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KatoJoe

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I would have a look at your trace elements, an icp test would help you gauge your issue. There is most likely a trace imbalance.
I have an icp test kit on the way.
What is your clean up crew? If you really want to put a dent in the green add 2-3 Mexican turbos, 10-15 astrea snails, 1 pencil urchin, 10 nassarius snails to stir your sand bed and about 20 dwarf blue leg hermit crabs with extra shells. They will control algae and dose neonitro and neophos to get your nutrients up. That’s what I would do.
Clean up crew is small and I’m working on building it up. Probably around 5 small blue leg hermits, 1 turbo, a few astreas, a couple nassarius and a conch.
A lot of your acros are dead. Bottomed out nutrients mean your corals are starving to death. What m8nimal nutrients are in the tank are being absorbed by algae out competing the corals. Eventually all your corals will decline and algae will flourish.
most of the acros are growing just slowly and lacking any color. Aside from maybe the recently rtn’d acro.
 
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KatoJoe

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So bringing up nutrients is correct answer and just deal with the resulting algae? Does that mean I should also eliminate the refugium for the time being to stop it from consuming nutrients?
 

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A lot of your acros are dead. Bottomed out nutrients mean your corals are starving to death. What m8nimal nutrients are in the tank are being absorbed by algae out competing the corals. Eventually all your corals will decline and algae will flourish.
Yeah I was about to say they are bleached maybe not dead yet because no algae growth on it yet but they are close.
 
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KatoJoe

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Whatever you decide do it slow. The tangs dont keep that algae under control?
In the display, yes. Other than the stuff growing on the sand that is. And the weird blackish stuff that grows in low flow low light areas. They don’t touch that.

Honestly, the display doesn’t really have what I would call an algae problem. The sump on the other hand has lots. The only reason I brought up algae was I figured it was important to note that even though my test for nitrate is always zero, algae doesn’t seem to have a problem growing. So I’m assuming that I have nutrients in the tank and the algae is consuming it all. That’s why I questioned if it’s better to remove refugium and manually remove algae that the cuc doesn’t take care of and see if nitrates become detectable because there’s no algae to consume it or leave everything as is and just start dosing nitrates.
 

Justfebreezeit

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I hear you.

Tough choice honestly. Just gunna have to tinker.

If it was me i would start by halfing the time the refugium is lit. And give that a week.

I personally like water changes even when nutrients are bottomed out. Just dilutes any potential problems (besides 0 nutrients of course)
 

Lavey29

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In the display, yes. Other than the stuff growing on the sand that is. And the weird blackish stuff that grows in low flow low light areas. They don’t touch that.

Honestly, the display doesn’t really have what I would call an algae problem. The sump on the other hand has lots. The only reason I brought up algae was I figured it was important to note that even though my test for nitrate is always zero, algae doesn’t seem to have a problem growing. So I’m assuming that I have nutrients in the tank and the algae is consuming it all. That’s why I questioned if it’s better to remove refugium and manually remove algae that the cuc doesn’t take care of and see if nitrates become detectable because there’s no algae to consume it or leave everything as is and just start dosing nitrates.
Dinos are next
 

spcpettit22

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They are always there, just in lower numbers which results in them remaining under control. But once it takes hold and the population grows ie. low/zero nutrients, that’s when you will start to see it. Age doesn’t have a huge impact.
 
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KatoJoe

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Thanks for the feedback. I’ll continue with trying to raise nutrients slowly and see how things respond.
 

DIYreefer

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So bringing up nutrients is correct answer and just deal with the resulting algae? Does that mean I should also eliminate the refugium for the time being to stop it from consuming nutrients?

I know this kinda foes against the norm, but the only time I ever notice any algae in my systems it's basically always when my nutrients are too low.

How old is your tank? If it isn't new, try feeding more. Corals will likely regain color and the algae may subside as well.

If it is a new(er) tank, it may simply not be ready (stable enough) for acros just yet. The fact that they are growing is definitely a positive sign. They likely just need a bit of help from the water column (nutrients) to perk back up.

Take it slow, though. Don't just start dumping s ton of food in your tank. Maybe feed 50% more per day and test your nutrient levels every few days to see what effect that has. If you're still reading zeros bump up the feeding a bit more.
 

DIYreefer

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I know this kinda foes against the norm, but the only time I ever notice any algae in my systems it's basically always when my nutrients are too low.

How old is your tank? If it isn't new, try feeding more. Corals will likely regain color and the algae may subside as well.

If it is a new(er) tank, it may simply not be ready (stable enough) for acros just yet. The fact that they are growing is definitely a positive sign. They likely just need a bit of help from the water column (nutrients) to perk back up.

Take it slow, though. Don't just start dumping s ton of food in your tank. Maybe feed 50% more per day and test your nutrient levels every few days to see what effect that has. If you're still reading zeros bump up the feeding a bit more.

Sorry, didn't see the part about the tank being 1.5 years old. My advice remains the same :)
 

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One error I made was not using the Hanna checker correctly for Nitrate and Phosphorus. Just to check: When you add the vial with reagent at step C2, do you hold down the button on the reader to start the countdown timer? I went for half a year not doing that step right!
 

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