SPS developing a thick tissue

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I'm in this grow-out competition and have been making some adjustments to my tank to get better growth and color. Before all this, I was merely trying to figure out how to not kill them instantly.

Since then, I've been ramping up my AP700 light from 30% power to a target of 100%. At the same time, I had to start dosing phosphates and occasional nitrates as there were no fish in this tank. It is just corals and inverts - aside from a new dragonette I need to fatten up with the sheer number of pods in this tank.

It's been a couple of weeks since starting the lighting and nutrient. Although the tank does look healthier I've noticed that the frag in question has stopped extending its polyps and seem to have built up some thick skin/tissue. I'm new to being able to keep SPS so this seems odd that it seems healthier but not happy. It has continued to encrust, but slowly. The two photos below are exactly one month apart.

Should I worry about the thicker tissue/skin? Is that why it no longer extends its polyps? As much as I would like to win the competition, I think a bigger win for me would be to get the little frag to a small colony.

This is how it looked like when I first got it. It is before ramping the lights and dosing nutrients. (I didn't have a filter when I took this one)
PXL_20221011_204216962.NIGHT.jpg

This is a photo of it tonight. No polyp extensions but the tissue/skin look really thick and puffy. Only the tips are showing striation. Everything else is covered in thick tissue - like the coral has a weight problem.
PXL_20221113_012824356.jpg
 
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The tank is a reefer 250, and there are two gyres on opposites set to 30% power in an alternating mode. There are other SPS next to this one and have decent polyp extensions. This frag used to have really nice extensions but then started clamming up so I am a bit worried. This frag would be the only high-end coral I have tried so I'd like to keep it from dying.
 

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AP700 would be my first concern, I am not sure that has enough punch without t5's wrapped around it. Next, age of the tank? Next P04 and N03, after that alk? The translucent corralites with lack of PE is consistent with starving acro.
 
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AP700 would be my first concern, I am not sure that has enough punch without t5's wrapped around it. Next, age of the tank? Next P04 and N03, after that alk? The translucent corralites with lack of PE is consistent with starving acro.

From BRS video review of this light. I should be expecting at least 350+ PAR at 100% but I haven't ramped up to that max yet. I'll run some tests again today and post them later. Working on installing a remote start on my car as it's getting cold here.
 

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Entering corals into a grow out contest and fiddling with parameters isn't a path for success. Someone else put it this way: "A watched pot never boils."

I hope you find the sweet spot, it is awesome when sticks start growing and glowing! GL with the contest.

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From BRS video review of this light. I should be expecting at least 350+ PAR at 100% but I haven't ramped up to that max yet. I'll run some tests again today and post them later. Working on installing a remote start on my car as it's getting cold here.
Here is my Raindrops on Roses from BC, this is under a Reefbreeders 32V Pro with 4xt5. Sorry, but that light alone probably won't cut the mustard, millis love light :)

20221023_124711.jpg
 
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@Perry these are the tanks parameters taken just now.

Screenshot_20221113-154233.png


It appears my nitrate uptake may have increased and also phosphate is coming down as well. I'll have to increase my dosing for those two.

Alk seems lower than I'd like. Will be increasing the daily dose as well.

The tank is going 8-9 months now but was a rebuild that utilized only the matrix media. Everything else was new.

Current tank photo. Competition frag is sitting front-center of tank.

PXL_20221113_214824351.jpg
 

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@Perry these are the tanks parameters taken just now.

Screenshot_20221113-154233.png


It appears my nitrate uptake may have increased and also phosphate is coming down as well. I'll have to increase my dosing for those two.

Alk seems lower than I'd like. Will be increasing the daily dose as well.

The tank is going 8-9 months now but was a rebuild that utilized only the matrix media. Everything else was new.

Current tank photo. Competition frag is sitting front-center of tank.

PXL_20221113_214824351.jpg

Here's my advice...
Get some fish, like 8-10 of them.
That will solve your problem. Until then dose N03 and P04 until you get the fish and higher values. Fish will solve the low nutrient problem. Having 8.44dkh with +/- .5 testing error, could possibly put that alk value too high for .04ppm P04 and 1ppm N03. Those values with no fish are concerning, likely see better results when the tank gets a bit more dirty.
 
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Any chance you have a recent ICP and also a graph showing the trends of your currently tested parameters? The piece looks to not be thriving, and may have entered dormancy due to swings while "chasing" the adjustments to increase growth.
I would recommend trying to stabilize your parameters, nutrients included, and see if things start to look better after a few weeks/months.

In a mature stable habitat, the piece could and should eventually come around start growing, and as long as things stay stable, should grow exponentially over time. Trying to force an acropora frag to specifically "grow fast" usually doesn't end well for the piece :(.
 
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Here's my advice...
Get some fish, like 8-10 of them.
That will solve your problem. Until then dose N03 and P04 until you get the fish and higher values. Fish will solve the low nutrient problem. Having 8.44dkh with +/- .5 testing error, could possibly put that alk value too high for .04ppm P04 and 1ppm N03. Those values with no fish are concerning, likely see better results when the tank gets a bit more dirty.

I have thought to add a Tang and maybe a Wrasse to help with algae, bristle worms, some flat worms - they seem to be the harmless ones.

I'll have to figure out if I want to add them back. I'm kind of holding for a yellow Tang given Hawaii opened up to a few types, I think the yellow Tang was included.

Alk is low. I adjusted the daily dose and will monitor to keep it around 9. Should it be higher if I want to keep phosphate around 0.1 and nitrates 5-10?
 
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Any chance you have a recent ICP and also a graph showing the trends of your currently tested parameters? The piece looks to not be thriving, and may have entered dormancy due to swings while "chasing" the adjustments to increase growth.
I would recommend trying to stabilize your parameters, nutrients included, and see if things start to look better after a few weeks/months.

In a mature stable habitat, the piece could and should eventually come around start growing, and as long as things stay stable, should grow exponentially over time. Trying to force an acropora frag to specifically "grow fast" usually doesn't end well for the piece :(.

I have not gotten any ICP tests. But here is the graph since restarting the tank this year.

Screenshot_20221113-171853.png

Screenshot_20221113-171844.png

Screenshot_20221113-171839.png
 
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The drastic changes in Nitrates from prior to August to October are most likely showing their effects in full force on the system right about now. You main big 3 have also been all over the place over the last 6 months.

Probably not what you want to hear, but the system most likely just needs a long steady period of stability without anymore drastic changes in parameters, lighting, flow etc.

There is a wealth of information and methods to keeping SPS. I would pick one methodology, and stick with it without trying too many different things at once.
 
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