SPS Question - Good Polyp Extension but Poor Growth, Pale Colors and White Tips

sgrosenb

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Hi all,

I've been trying to find instances where tanks have SPS with good polyp extension but poor growth, poor coloring and (more recently) white tips (coral is dying - definitely not new growth). Quick background of my tank and parameters below:

  • Tank is 165g and 2 years old, but I started with 100% dry rock. Completely switched out dry rock for live rock about 6 months ago
  • Cal 480
  • Mag 1290
  • Alk 7.6 dKH steady as a rock
  • NO3 5-10ppm, but it dropped to ~0.5-1ppm recently. Started dosing small amount of sodium nitrate to bump it up
  • PO4 anywhere from 0.03-0.1 depending on when I do a water change, dose reef roids, etc
  • Lighting is T5/LED hybrid: 4x ATI T5 (2x Blue Plus, 2x Coral Plus), 4x Radion XR15 G4 Pro on SPS AB+ setting. 10am-6pm daily with blue LED in early morning and evening
    • Par is generally 250-400 for all my SPS
  • Bubble King Mini 180 skimmer 24/7
  • Fuge with chaeto
  • Maxspect Gyre 250's on each side of the tank - solid flow
  • Roughly 20 fish - feed them pellets 2x daily, 2 cubes of PE Mysis shrimp 1x daily
  • Most recent ICP tests from Triton and ATI show pretty solid levels across the board:

I had some decent color and growth with my SPS up until about a month ago, then the growth slowed down and some of the SPS started to pale. A few seem to be dying now.

Only change I made in the past month was to add a bit of activated carbon in a mesh bag for about a week (but then removed it). Could that possibly have caused this?

Here is an example picture; a few of my SPS are starting to look like this:

1602616139106.png


Any thoughts on what could be causing this would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
 
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ScottR

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Do you keep a close eye on pH? I know it seems like a no brainer but I had the slowest growth when my pH was always under 8. So I had to make many changes to get my pH to my target of 8.2-3. My acros would only mainly encrust but after getting my pH stable, the encrusting parts started growing sticks like crazy.
 

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Do you keep a close eye on pH? I know it seems like a no brainer but I had the slowest growth when my pH was always under 8. So I had to make many changes to get my pH to my target of 8.2-3. My acros would only mainly encrust but after getting my pH stable, the encrusting parts started growing sticks like crazy.

Scott, what did you do to improve your pH?

Mine runs about 7.8 to 8.0 depending on the time of year. In the summer our house is closed up 24/7 with A/C running all the time and obviously the pH is a bit lower. In the winter our house is open almost all of the time and the pH goes up a bit. I do have a lot of water motion at the water surface and the skimmer runs just about 24/7.
 
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ScottR

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Scott, what did you do to improve your pH?

Mine runs about 7.8 to 8.0 depending on the time of year. In the summer our house is closed up 24/7 with A/C running all the time and obviously the pH is a bit lower. In the winter our house is open almost all of the time and the pH goes up a bit. I do have a lot of water motion at the water surface and the skimmer runs just about 24/7.
I had a long talk with my wife..... I ran my skimmer line out the window and I asked her to keep all the windows open the whole day and we have a couple of exhaust fans in our home that we keep on during the day. I heavily considered a CO2 scrubber but the window thing really made the difference. We live in a valley on the opposite side of the ocean so lots of wind and fresh air.
 

ScottR

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Thanks @ScottR I do keep a close eye on it via my apex. Chart below - it bounces between 8.0-8.3 like clockwork. I've wondered if my pH is actually that level or possibly my probe is off, but I've calibrated it multiple times over the past year or so.

1602681677450.png
I think this gets overlooked in the hobby and many are afraid to do it, but flow for SPS is crucial. They need it to perform metabolic duties. They can take a beating that LPS and softies can’t. I tend to blast flow in my tank. My current system is quite new but I’m getting good growth so far. My goals: stable parameters, high pH, good lights and lots of flow.
 
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sgrosenb

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I'm with you, and I feel like my flow is pretty solid. My Maxspect Gyres are blasting some of my SPS (almost to the point I feel like I should dial it down) so doubtful it is flow. I'm stumped - I have stable parameters, solid lighting, and good flow.
 

ScottR

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I'm with you, and I feel like my flow is pretty solid. My Maxspect Gyres are blasting some of my SPS (almost to the point I feel like I should dial it down) so doubtful it is flow. I'm stumped - I have stable parameters, solid lighting, and good flow.
I’m running maxspect gyres too. Just enough so they don’t blow water out of the tank. Have you tried an ICP test? I have some acros that just sit there all hairy and don’t really grow. But some just grow and grow. It’s really part of the game. If you’re keeping higher end stuff, it’s common for them to not grow much.
 
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sgrosenb

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yep I agree. My ICP tests are linked above in my original post. Everything looks to be in line. I actually just sent off 3 more last week so I'm interested as to where those come back. Triton, ATI and CoralVue. But all signs point to everything being pretty solid in terms of levels
 
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ScottR

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yep I agree. My ICP tests are linked above in my original post. Everything looks to be in line. I actually just sent off 3 more last week so I'm interested as to where those come back. Triton, ATI and CoralVue. But all signs point to everything being pretty solid in terms of levels
I overlooked that. I see you added live rock. That’s a huge plus. SPS actually eat bacteria and that bacteria is very beneficial to overall health. I attribute my growth to live rock. Are you sure it’s actual ocean live rock? Or from someone or a LFS that just kept rock in salt water? How’s your coralline growth? When coralline starts taking over, acros usually are very happy.
 
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sgrosenb

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Thanks @SPS2020 I actually tried a CO2 scrubber a few months ago. I ran it for about a week, but had to be very careful as my pH started to jump up into the 8.5-8.6 range. My tank got very stressed when it hit 8.6 so I took it offline and never installed it back
 

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Thanks @SPS2020 I actually tried a CO2 scrubber a few months ago. I ran it for about a week, but had to be very careful as my pH started to jump up into the 8.5-8.6 range. My tank got very stressed when it hit 8.6 so I took it offline and never installed it back

Oh wow, good to know they can be overreactive.
 

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Thanks @SPS2020 I actually tried a CO2 scrubber a few months ago. I ran it for about a week, but had to be very careful as my pH started to jump up into the 8.5-8.6 range. My tank got very stressed when it hit 8.6 so I took it offline and never installed it back
I will speculate a little to bump the thread along.

If the pH spike was not so long ago, remember that acros don't always tell you they are (or were) stressed for a couple weeks or more. And they can nurse a "hangover for weeks after that. That is one idea.

Next, those gyres can throw some water. I love them. None of that flow is too direct on the affected frags, right?

So it has been well over a month since the last post. How are the sticks looking now?
 
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sgrosenb

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@ScottB Thanks so much for checking in. No issue on direct flow from gyres. I would say that the growth is about the same on the sticks that have shown little to no growth. However, some of my other corals have grown a bit are starting to show signs of further growth. Those are mostly the birdnests, a cali tort, monti's & caps, a stag, and some digis. None of them are growing at a pace that I'd deem as fast (although I know everyone's view on coral growth speed is a bit different), but at least they're showing signs of growth.

Any thoughts on why those specific types of corals would be growing quicker, but some of my other ones are either still completely stunted in growth, both vertical and encrusting? Or are the SPS types I just listed more common quicker growers / hardier corals?

Thanks for any insight!
 

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@ScottB Thanks so much for checking in. No issue on direct flow from gyres. I would say that the growth is about the same on the sticks that have shown little to no growth. However, some of my other corals have grown a bit are starting to show signs of further growth. Those are mostly the birdnests, a cali tort, monti's & caps, a stag, and some digis. None of them are growing at a pace that I'd deem as fast (although I know everyone's view on coral growth speed is a bit different), but at least they're showing signs of growth.

Any thoughts on why those specific types of corals would be growing quicker, but some of my other ones are either still completely stunted in growth, both vertical and encrusting? Or are the SPS types I just listed more common quicker growers / hardier corals?

Thanks for any insight!
This is just IME and IMO stuff, but monti, digi, stags and birdsnest are relatively faster SPS growers. Torts for me are more like tenuis and mille speed so take some joy there.

The single thing I ever did that resulted in explosive acro growth was switching from too little LED to too much T5. They just exploded. ALK & Ca consumption went nuts.

On the downside of that though is colors are kinda meh with my T5 only setup. LEDS have an advantage there IMO. You just need many of them, and hang them high. When I get the time, that might be my next adventure. My 300G frag system is hybrid and the colors are very much better.
 

Strad12

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Sounds similar to what I was experiencing, especially the slow growth and poor coloration. A couple things that helped me were dosing RedSea AB+ amino acids, raising pH (don't be afraid of "too high" pH), doing an ICP test (my trace element levels were all 0), and increasing alkalinity. I think low alkalinity can be a limiting factor for growth when it's around 7.0. This is purely anecdotal, and I'm well aware of natural sea water parameters, but it might be worth experimenting with. Your tank is a lot bigger than mine, so you might have more success with a refugium and CO2 scrubber than I did. For my tank, Kalkwasser alone was enough to remedy my low pH. I agree that your corals need more flow. You might consider picking out a handful of Jebao powerheads and attaching them to the back wall of your tank. This will randomize the flow a little more and generally get more water moving. Best of luck to you OP, we're all cheering for you.
 

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I have a question, do you have to clean the glass from film algae every day or to . If yes nutrients are probably good to go . If not , like algae has stopped growing. Then the nutrients are definitely not in check .
you do seam to have everything covered. Good luck
 
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