Steve's Led Red Sea Max 250

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ronin_hungary

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Hi,

I am new to reefing and failing miserably. I am trying to save my investment in corals, so I after reading many many discussions, it is time to ask questions. My LFS is either not too much use or I am being taken advantage of as a rookie (I highlighted the fact to them too that treat me like a 5 year old who is new to this).

I have a Red Sea Max 250 - 65 Gallon AIO with Steve's LEDs. I am using Red Sea mixed in the LFS as water (made out of RO water to my knowledge). Have the usual 8-11pm schedule with 90 min ramp and 60% Blue and 11% White with 60 min white delay.
Water parameters seem to be on required levels by API and yet still all corals are dying all the time. I have tried to turn the light down and up and everything as I read advices around here (for other people). Nothing seems to be working.

Maybe this is a coral question, not sure, apologies if chose the wrong forum group.

I have only had success with a Green Polyp coral (the one looks like grass maybe called different not sure), but now even that one has started this crapshoot of not opening up. I have tried Zoas, I am now trying to acclimate all corals at the very bottom of the tank and so on. Obviously something is wrong and I just do not know what direction to take. I am hoping that a seasoned veteran or an SME pro by looking at the pics can tell me what a hell I need to do.

Thanks for taking the time reading this and helping out if you can.

R.

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davidcalgary29

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I have two RSM250s -- one with a broken Steve's LED system (only half of it works) and one with broken original fluorescents (at least one ballast has burnt out). You've picked a real challenge in establishing a reef tank in a system with known problems that is no longer supported, in any way, by the company that built it. I have a love/hate relationship with these tanks myself, but keep running them because, even though they're extremely vexing, they have some outstanding qualities.

I don't think that your lighting is the issue: even with half of a working LED unit, I get enough light for LPS. Troubleshoot these areas:

-Testers: I would suggest that you switch to Hanna checkers, and monitor your temperature and salinity closely.

-Lighting: Steve's LEDs are certainly powerful...but they're also adjustable. I'm not sure what your PAR levels are throughout your tank, but you can certainly reduce intensity if you have too much light. Have you tested your levels with a meter? Can you borrow a Seneye from a friend?

-Heating: The RSMs have a latent overheating problem, and mine generally run at 27-30C. And, yes, I've permanently unplugged my heaters from the units. It's almost impossible to find replacement water-cooling fans at the back of the tank: it took me a year of searching on eBay to find replacements.

-Nutrients: the original skimmers aren't great and nutrient export tends to be a problem with these AIO units. I switched one of mine out with an Aquamaxx WS-1.

-Flow: I think you need at least one good powerful powerhead to circulate water at the lower levels. The returns on these just tend to mix water at the top. I run MP40s on mine.

-Pick the right corals for the job: with overheating issues, quirky lighting, and poor nutrient export, softies are a great fit for these tanks. Don't fight the tank by trying to stock it with corals that are either delicate or demand pristine water conditions: I gave up on SPS for these tanks long ago, as I just couldn't get them to thrive in these conditions. My tank with the broken fluorescents has thriving colonies of mushrooms, leathers, xenia, Grube's gorgonian, and Kenya Trees. And there's nothing wrong with that.

-Macro can help: think about cultivating an attractive species of macroalgae, like halymenia, to help with nutrient export. It's beautiful and grows well in this system...if you don't have ravenous herbivores.
 
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ronin_hungary

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Thank you for taking the time to give me pointers and advice.

Tester => I have read reviews of Hanna and it says inaccurate. Is that user error or...? Asking because honestly do not know which device to trust. Any device you read a review on always has someone stating inaccurate. Right now I am using Instant Ocean Gravity checker, because reviews said its accurate and I have 2 to make sure they line up. I would certainly appreciate the fact that I do not have to second guess myself all the time, but I do not know what to think of all the reviews.

Lighting => That's the thing that I do not know if i have too much or not enough light. For the time being I took your advice to rather reduce it. So it is 50% Blue and 10% White with the same timing and ramp up/down. I guess I will ask my LFS if they rent a PAR meter that would be great if they do.

Overheating => I will check the temp, especially if the Hanna checks out. I think I have a fairly consistent 76F (24C) - 78F (25.5C), maybe that is my issue? Too low temps?

Nutrients => I wish I would understand what you are describing. :) What is wrong with the OEM skimmer? Maybe that is my issue since I only started using it recently to reduce Nitrates. I thought it is the regular foam maker crap regardless of what brand. Maybe I am better off without one?

Flow => Both my pumps are oem and it seems like they are already too powerful. Also have the Red Sea Reef Wave 45 (the larger one) at 40-50% to have the 6x tank capacity GPH. Should I adjust it higher? (it s on random btw)

Right Corals => I think I do not have SPS nor I plan to do so. I have heard nothing but agony unless you have like a decade of experience and a 300 Gallon Professional $30k reef with staff to maintain hourly (or you simply very talented to keep them alive). Based on the pics not sure what I have, but I think these are soft corals and maybe LPS? I only choose by color, shape and asking if it's easy to keep alive. I can live without a "rare moon rock only coral with a special color that only 5 people have and takes 2 decades to grow a mm" :D Frankly I only want corals to take over the tank and light up under the blue light, where I am ok with bi-weekly water change and monthly cleaning.

Macroalgae => Your suggested one looks nice, I think I get one this weekend. Thanks. Any other species that are useful and look nice? BTW - I have 2 Clowns, 1 Six Line Wrasse, Royal Gramma, Diamond Goby, 2 Chromis, Red leg hermits and snails. None of these will eat it up right? I also plan to have sea hare to get rid of the algae that you see on the pics. I plan on some dragonets (mandarin or red ruby and maybe a kole/squaretail tang)

I guess I have my work cut out for me to try out these things. Hopefully I can save the new corals, which arrived after my other ones were closing up (they were open, so I thought, hm maybe I got this, but well not). :)
 
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davidcalgary29

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Thank you for taking the time to give me pointers and advice.

Tester => I have read reviews of Hanna and it says inaccurate. Is that user error or...? Asking because honestly do not know which device to trust. Any device you read a review on always has someone stating inaccurate. Right now I am using Instant Ocean Gravity checker, because reviews said its accurate and I have 2 to make sure they line up. I would certainly appreciate the fact that I do not have to second guess myself all the time, but I do not know what to think of all the reviews.
Hanna testers are generally very reliable. Many of the testers require precision measurements, however, and many people do not understand that. They then get unreliable measurements.

The only Hanna instrument that I would not buy is the salinity tester. You can get much better and more consistent results with a good refractometer. Swing-arm hydrometers are more difficult to use and may provide you with inaccurate results if, for instance, water bubbles get trapped under the swing arm.

Your water temperature is fine for corals; ideal, really.

Nutrients => I wish I would understand what you are describing. :) What is wrong with the OEM skimmer? Maybe that is my issue since I only started using it recently to reduce Nitrates. I thought it is the regular foam maker crap regardless of what brand. Maybe I am better off without one?

The OEM skimmer produced a lot of skimmate for me in the first year or so that I had it (and it came used with the system). It then stopped producing much of anything, even though I increased the bioload in the tank and feed it heavily. I also gave the skimmer a thorough clean at this point, but that didn't change results. I replaced the OEM skimmer with an Aquamaxx WS-1, which proceeded to pull out large amounts of skimmate. That suggests that the OEM skimmers, which are all at least ten years old at this point, have reached the end of their useful lives.

You can certainly run your tank without a skimmer with your light bioload.

The return flows are fine for the upper water column, but they don't do anything for cross-tank water flow at the bottom, and especially at the rear of the tank. That's fine if you want stagnant water at the back of your tank, but it's never good to have large, anoxic zones in aquariums that are prone to overheating. I'm a firm believer in strong water flows throughout the tank for coral and fish health.

Right Corals => I think I do not have SPS nor I plan to do so. I have heard nothing but agony unless you have like a decade of experience and a 300 Gallon Professional $30k reef with staff to maintain hourly (or you simply very talented to keep them alive). Based on the pics not sure what I have, but I think these are soft corals and maybe LPS?

Not true! There are some SPS (or LPS) species which are more forgiving and worth a try in non-expert tanks, such as porites and stylocoeniella and stylophora. I find LPS and softies much more interest because of their movement, and they're generally easier to keep, but that doesn't mean that you can't experiment.
 
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ronin_hungary

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Some development, again for the worse I think, although I cannot tell.

I reduced the Blue Light to 25% and the White light to 9% hoping that I can save what I have in the tank. Honestly, I cannot tell if more light is needed or less. I started adding Ocean Magik daily, PNS YelloSno, PNS ProBio and I have PNS Substrate sauce arriving next week (suspecting my sand sifting starfish destroyed my live sand months ago, not sure).
Also added Brine Shrimp, Copepod varieties to ensure more biological balance.

Can you help me on recent pics if my lights are too much or not enough?
 

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davidcalgary29

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Many polyps blanch out if they receive too much light. I've never had this happen to zoas, but there's a first time for everything. I think you should raise your blues to 40% and whites to 10%, and monitor. If you see the zoa polyps extending, you can either move them up on your aquascape or intensify your lights. If you can't get your hands on a PAR meter I'd reach out to Steve's directly: they must have made PAR readings themselves, since they developed the retrofit kit for the RSM250. Their customer service is pretty great.

I'd quit dosing unless you're carefully monitoring your water parameters and ensure that your export system is working efficiently (are you making lots of skimmate?). Sometimes the best thing you can do (aside from water changes)...is nothing.
 
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It's really hard to see on this pictures.... really cannot help you, but in my opinion - that is too low light....

Time passes but i still don't understand this 25% settings, i mean, like i said many times, if i run 2 rs90 at 100%, and one black box with blues at 100%, whites at 20%..... and didn't kill, bleach, or destroy anything, from leathers and sarcos directly under the lights....

Then i really cannot help myself not to wonder, what in the world you guys grow with candlelight? ;)
 

davidcalgary29

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It's really hard to see on this pictures.... really cannot help you, but in my opinion - that is too low light....

Time passes but i still don't understand this 25% settings, i mean, like i said many times, if i run 2 rs90 at 100%, and one black box with blues at 100%, whites at 20%..... and didn't kill, bleach, or destroy anything, from leathers and sarcos directly under the lights....

Then i really cannot help myself not to wonder, what in the world you guys grow with candlelight? ;)
Those are great points, but Steve's LED kits come with a warning that you can fry your corals with his lighting, and so it's not a bad idea to run them at reduced capacity. You still won't get a good idea what's being produced without a PAR meter, though, so I think you'd have to contact Steve's directly in the OP's case.
 
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ronin_hungary

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My LFS did not have a PAR meter for rent. I cannot afford one until I know that I am somewhat capable of doing this entire marine tank at all.
I found resources (other forum member measurements), so the Zoa is around 107-120 at 60% on all channels, which means I have to be very low now, since I am at 25/10 and the clove 180-200, which means i have to be way below that too. I try to get PAR meter in the meantime. What is the ideal PAR for Zoa and for the clove?
 

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No ideal par, with proper aclimatisation, you can hardly give coral too much light...

Just remember - higher par, lower running time, and vice versa...

Yes, you are too low.... ;)

Slowly increase to at least 40-40, and go from there....
 
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ronin_hungary

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No ideal par, with proper aclimatisation, you can hardly give coral too much light...

Just remember - higher par, lower running time, and vice versa...

Yes, you are too low.... ;)

Slowly increase to at least 40-40, and go from there....
What is slowly? every 2-3 days or 2-3 weeks? The Steve's led tutorial says should not go above 10-15% on the whites, I am so confused it is beyond belief. It is not that I do not believe you, I am just super lost. :)
 
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Koh23

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Really i'm not familiar with this lights, is there any specs, what diodes it uses, some par chart maybe?

If suggestion is to.go so low on white chanel, it can mean that most of par are in whites, similar to no name black boxes, or simply recomendation for better spectrum or colors.....

Personaly i newer bothered with small steps adjustments during long time, daily increase few % worked fine to me...

I did a lot of experiments.with my lights, and short term speaking, it seemed that corals really dont mind this 20-30-ish par increasement daily. Long term, maybe i caused some damage, it remains to be seen....

I always remember my first led lights, it was diy fixture with 180 3w chips, i run both channels at max, no limits, 12 hours a day....

Everyrhing was great, honestly, when i put some new coral in tank it was not happy for a week or two, after that... Not a single problem with any lps or softie...
 
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ronin_hungary

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Really i'm not familiar with this lights, is there any specs, what diodes it uses, some par chart maybe?

If suggestion is to.go so low on white chanel, it can mean that most of par are in whites, similar to no name black boxes, or simply recomendation for better spectrum or colors.....

Personaly i newer bothered with small steps adjustments during long time, daily increase few % worked fine to me...

I did a lot of experiments.with my lights, and short term speaking, it seemed that corals really dont mind this 20-30-ish par increasement daily. Long term, maybe i caused some damage, it remains to be seen....

I always remember my first led lights, it was diy fixture with 180 3w chips, i run both channels at max, no limits, 12 hours a day....

Everyrhing was great, honestly, when i put some new coral in tank it was not happy for a week or two, after that... Not a single problem with any lps or softie...

Thank you for your advice. I guess I will do a few % a day.
As for specs, this is all I could find

And these are the par readings I could find

Poor Zoa, looked so pretty when I got it and I thought its an easy coral. :D
 
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Well like i said, very high chance that i'm saying wrong, but....

As wrong as it can be, but, judging by that par reading on pictures, both channels at 60%, its easy to see that somewhat in 40-50% is good starting point, of course, just guessing, but better than nothing.

Assuming that mounting height is same in each tank, that is....

If white channel is simple for color and spectrum, meaning, few times weaker than blue, then makes no big difference, but, if its 1:1 ratio, then, lowering white channel drasticaly impact par...
 
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ronin_hungary

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Well like i said, very high chance that i'm saying wrong, but....

As wrong as it can be, but, judging by that par reading on pictures, both channels at 60%, its easy to see that somewhat in 40-50% is good starting point, of course, just guessing, but better than nothing.

Assuming that mounting height is same in each tank, that is....

If white channel is simple for color and spectrum, meaning, few times weaker than blue, then makes no big difference, but, if its 1:1 ratio, then, lowering white channel drasticaly impact par...
Thanks for the input. It all makes sense that's my problem, all the advices make sense, but this thing defies all logic. :D

The height must be the same due to OEM lid and install location.

I already started to raise levels based on your advice and the Par pic. I keep doing it daily. About 5% each day I guess until I reach 40ish or so. Interestingly, Steve's leds claim on the website that at 100% coral will outgrow the tank in hours. (I am joking, but in fact they claim these lights could be used at 100%). This got me thinking that maybe I have had the lights on low all along (I bought them used and I assumed (how wrong I was) that the person sold it had it setup right.

But now the "marine rebel" adjusting it like a kid twists the radio buttons. Something must work at one point. :)
 

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Just watch for coral opening, polyp extensions,colors, and you cannot set it wrong.... To be hones, wihtout par meter, you cannot set it perfect, but, it dont need to be perfect, just constant....

As for zoas, if they elongated they stalks, usualy that mean light is low....

But not always, i have same zoas one next to another, same flow, same amount of light, one is flat with rock, one have normal stalks, and third is just few cm apart, and have long stalks..

Like i said, i played a lot with lights, making daily changes in intensity, other than day-two not looking happy, all corals are excellent...
 
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ronin_hungary

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I will keep recording it. Curious.
06-26-2022
210 - 5% white and
1225 - 30% Blue
Ramp Delay 60 mins white
90 min ramp up/down
8:00-22:00

Let's see. :)
 
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davidcalgary29

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You're also running your lights far too long. 0800-1800, or something like that, is better. Even with ramp-up time, you're still looking at twelve hours at full (eventual) intensity, and not to many reefers have their lights at that level for so long. It's probably not going to harm corals at this point with your reduced intensity, but it could be a problem for algal growth.

Which of Steve's LED controllers are you using with this system? PIcs, please.
 
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