sps something’s not right

reefdoctor27

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Okay here’s a lengthy one. Been set up for about a year now. Last experience was years ago with MH’s and when the goal was 0 Nitrate/phosphate. So a lot has changed since then.

Doing well with this nano 22 show with a 20 high custom sump I made to increase volume. Drilled the tank and made an overflow Only lps and sps. Everything seems happy with great polyp extension, decent growth, but some sps color is fading while others are great. Lps has been great the entire time. I’ve already had a browning effect due to a phosphate swing early on but for the past 6 months things have been very stable:

Check daily
Nitrate: 10ish
Phosphate: 0.04-0.07
Calcium: 400-450
All: 8.4-8.9
Mg: 1400-1500
Temp: 78
Salinity: 1.025

running:
2 ai primes (par map below - saxby’s)
2 Nero 3’s. Up fronted oriented back and up each variable max to 45% which is giving great flow and extension of polyps nothing is getting blasted too hard

fish:
Clown
Green chromis
Royal gramma
6line wrasse (new because of a huge amphipod population)

Total volume about 35g
5 gallon water change biweekly
Fuel 2/week
Coral feast 2/week spot and broadcast
Multiple fish foods and mysis

biggest noticeable difference is Jedi mind trick. But also bill murry went from red to all pale yellow despite both of these having great polyp extension. Teal acro new growth seems brownish too.

everything I read makes me think it’s a “nutrient too high problem”. But they also say to keep it in the range that I have it. So any ideas are welcome.
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homer1475

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While I'm just starting out in SPS also(couple years now), I feel your nutrients(particularly your phosphates) to be a bit too low.

I have never seen better coloration and growth when my residuals are in the 8 to 10ppm nitrates, and .08 to .15 phosphates range.

When I was running lower nutrients, things "browned out", or did not have the coloration certain pieces should have had.

Not sure how new these pieces are to you, but SPS will go threw a "conditioning" to your tanks parameters before they show all their glory.
 

TLO45

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Let me ask this. I see you mentioned that the system is about one year old. What you use to start the tank? Dry rock? The reason I ask is that is I did. Added dry rock and added many different types of bottled bacteria’s. It appears that the rock you have doesn’t have a lot encrusting coralline algae and the sand appears to be maturing as well. Correct me if I’m wrong. I stated my system about 2 1/2 years ago and until recently have been struggling to keep sps and had issues with Cyano and Dinos. 20 years ago when I started reefing live rock was the normal and things processed much quicker… today with the lack of true live rock or sand it can take ( as I discovered) many many months to get a balanced mature tank. Personally I think that is what you are dealing with here. I agree with keeping your nutrients detectable ( I run nitrates at about 25-30 and phosphate.04-.1 range. Seems to have helped me tremendously as well as being very patient! I personally think systems are just too sterile unless you start with very mature or even true live rock if you have it!
 
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reefdoctor27

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Let me ask this. I see you mentioned that the system is about one year old. What you use to start the tank? Dry rock? The reason I ask is that is I did. Added dry rock and added many different types of bottled bacteria’s. It appears that the rock you have doesn’t have a lot encrusting coralline algae and the sand appears to be maturing as well. Correct me if I’m wrong. I stated my system about 2 1/2 years ago and until recently have been struggling to keep sps and had issues with Cyano and Dinos. 20 years ago when I started reefing live rock was the normal and things processed much quicker… today with the lack of true live rock or sand it can take ( as I discovered) many many months to get a balanced mature tank. Personally I think that is what you are dealing with here. I agree with keeping your nutrients detectable ( I run nitrates at about 25-30 and phosphate.04-.1 range. Seems to have helped me tremendously as well as being very patient! I personally think systems are just too sterile unless you start with very mature or even true live rock if you have it!
I agree and was wondering if it may be as simple as the age of the tank, but I’ve noticed a huge change in the past 6 months as far as stability. I’m pretty confident the rock itself is mature. It was dry rock. The sand was live sand. As for coralline one thing I didn’t mention was that until a month ago I was being very ocd and cleaned the back of the tank with water changes. If you look at the rock itself there’s actually a good bit of coralline (if you can see past the dyed rock)
 
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reefdoctor27

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Let me ask this. I see you mentioned that the system is about one year old. What you use to start the tank? Dry rock? The reason I ask is that is I did. Added dry rock and added many different types of bottled bacteria’s. It appears that the rock you have doesn’t have a lot encrusting coralline algae and the sand appears to be maturing as well. Correct me if I’m wrong. I stated my system about 2 1/2 years ago and until recently have been struggling to keep sps and had issues with Cyano and Dinos. 20 years ago when I started reefing live rock was the normal and things processed much quicker… today with the lack of true live rock or sand it can take ( as I discovered) many many months to get a balanced mature tank. Personally I think that is what you are dealing with here. I agree with keeping your nutrients detectable ( I run nitrates at about 25-30 and phosphate.04-.1 range. Seems to have helped me tremendously as well as being very patient! I personally think systems are just too sterile unless you start with very mature or even true live rock if you have it!
So I’ve actually had to dose nitrate to keep it up. I have had people
Tell me to keep it closer to 25 but that the phosphate should be low about 0.03 but always below 0.1. My buddy had mentioned he’s been keeping his close to 0.1 with less of a problem with algae and cyano but I don’t really have a problem with this except for a little on the sand when it’s time for a change. The one thing that seems constant is that most say too high will brown.

as for patience I have that, as proven by what I call my brown acro that i stuck in my tank right after cycling. It was a broken piece from a friend that he just gave me to throw in for the hell of it. Colored back up nicely now lol

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homer1475

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I could not keep SPS alive until about a year and a half in my dry rock tank, yet everything else was fine(LPS/Softies), and I'm certainly not new to keeping corals(about 20 years experience), but am new to keeping SPS(about 4 years now).

I still cannot explain it, but every SPS minus monti's just browned out and eventually RTN/STNed.

My older tank grew everything just fine, moved tanks and started all new with dry rock, and even SPS that were doing well in my old tank, browned out and died.
 
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reefdoctor27

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I could not keep SPS alive until about a year and a half in my dry rock tank, yet everything else was fine(LPS/Softies), and I'm certainly not new to keeping corals(about 20 years experience), but am new to keeping SPS(about 4 years now).

I still cannot explain it, but every SPS minus monti's just browned out and eventually RTN/STNed.

My older tank grew everything just fine, moved tanks and started all new with dry rock, and even SPS that were doing well in my old tank, browned out and died.
I have the opposite problem for me montis aren’t growing well and will brown out quickly. I was getting scraps from a friend. It got to a point where it was a joke to see how long the next piece would last. All the while my acros looked beautiful with amazing polyp extension and color.
This was earlier on when the tank was definately too young. The red monti I have now has been stable and showing growth.

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I have certainly seen a FEW exceptions, but dead rock starts take a long time to build a diversified and balanced biome suitable for acropora. Bottled bacteria seems focused on the nitrifying types but there are many others necessary. Lou Ekus theorizes that acropora rely on certain bacteria to consume phosphorus. These "gut loaded" bacteria are then consumed by the acropora.

Maybe source some old sump rock, or a grunge pack from ipsf.com can jumpstart things a bit.
 

homer1475

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Feeding live phyto for a while will help immensely too. Not only will it mature the tank faster, but it feeds many of the microlife that makes up a mature tank, and competes for alage for nutrition which in turn keeps algae at bay.
 
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reefdoctor27

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Im fine with assuming the tank is just still young and keep trucking with keeping things stable but what is the consensus on levels because I keep getting different information regarding this. Mostly nitrate, alk , phosphate. Does tank size matter for this as well since I do have a small total volume.
 
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Feeding live phyto for a while will help immensely too. Not only will it mature the tank faster, but it feeds many of the microlife that makes up a mature tank, and competes for alage for nutrition which in turn keeps algae at bay.
Can you recommend a source of live phyto? I'm following this thread as I am having similar issues. I am curious about your suggestion and want to research more. Thank you!
 

homer1475

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Plenty of places to buy live phyto.

Algaebarn, reef nutrition(phyto feast live), and a few on here sell it live.

I personally buy mine from someone on here thats fairly cheap(compared to the big box competition), and I can buy it every monday for a friday delivery.

Very little information is out there on live phyto dosing when it pertains to algae. Just a lot of first hand experience, but very little scientific data. I can say after dosing now for over 2 years, with my nutrient numbers algae would be running rampant. Yet all my coral is vibrant, colorful, healthy, and growing, and I have nearly 0 algae(0 would be a bad thing as even some algae is needed in a healthy tank).
 

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Just a tip. If you guys are starting with man made rock and new sand, hop onto Indo Pacific Sea Farms ipsf.com and get a mix and match special get their snails, mini stars, amphipod breeding kit, live sand activator, and Coraline algae booster disk. The live sand is said to have nearly 30k different strains of bacteria. We do this for every new tank we install.

You may have too much par for some of those corals. Also make sure to turn down your greens and reds. We never run them at more than 5 percent.
 

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Im fine with assuming the tank is just still young and keep trucking with keeping things stable but what is the consensus on levels because I keep getting different information regarding this. Mostly nitrate, alk , phosphate. Does tank size matter for this as well since I do have a small total volume.
Your levels for NO3, PO4 and ALK are fine as long as the nutrients are consistently available.

The consensus on nutrient levels (broadly) has shifted from "it must be zero" to "anything is better than zero".

What we measure with our test kits is residual nutrient. Truth is, if you have enough nutrient throughput constantly being added/removed from the system, you don't need any residual. That is easier to do in a larger system with a ton of fish. Or in a bacteria driven system that is regularly fed but the bacteria are constantly consuming residuals.
 
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reefdoctor27

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Just a tip. If you guys are starting with man made rock and new sand, hop onto Indo Pacific Sea Farms ipsf.com and get a mix and match special get their snails, mini stars, amphipod breeding kit, live sand activator, and Coraline algae booster disk. The live sand is said to have nearly 30k different strains of bacteria. We do this for every new tank we install.

You may have too much par for some of those corals. Also make sure to turn down your greens and reds. We never run them at more than 5 percent.
It’s all acro and monti up top with a digi and birds nest. The lps was what I was worried about with increasing light and its doing the best in my tank. I’ve seen people run up to 500 with sps with no issues
 
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reefdoctor27

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So you parameters where good when you tested, are the stable? How is you temperature? Does it fluctuate? How’s your ph?
That is what they are on average, been stable there for months. Temp is 78-78.5 doesn’t fluctuate much at all I have a controller just for the temp. When change water I actually heat the water to get to same temp. ph is 8-8.2
 

galactic_coral

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It’s all acro and monti up top with a digi and birds nest. The lps was what I was worried about with increasing light and its doing the best in my tank. I’ve seen people run up to 500 with sps with no issues
Monti caps and digi don't require high par. We keep ours in 250 and under for best growth and color. Maybe move them down a bit.

I also noticed that on your schedule you are running running it more than 12 hours. Is this still the case?
 

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We run our 700 gallon SPS show tank for 9 hours a day on AB+ with Radions and we run T5s for 3 hours mid day.
 
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