Struggling with Cyano, Nutrient Levels and GFO/Carbon

Discussion in 'Reef Chemistry by Randy Holmes-Farley' started by TechnicalFisher, Jul 6, 2017.

  1. TechnicalFisher

    TechnicalFisher Well-Known Member

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    I've got a 50G cube that I've been running for about 7 months and have began battling some cyanobacteria in a corner of the tank. Fishload is a clownfish pair (with a leopard wrasse and yellow assessor coming from QT in a week or so). Corals are a hammer, couple of acros, rose stylo, turbinaria, superman monti and grafted monti cap. Also have a small island of zoas on a rock on teh sandbed. All are small frags added within the last few months.

    My parameters as of yesterday are as follows:

    Salinity- 1.025
    PH- 8.1-8.3
    ALK- 9 dkh
    CA- 450ppm (Red Sea Calcium Pro)
    N03- 2.0 (Red Sea Nitrate Pro)
    P04- 0.0 (Hanna Low Range)

    My issue is, I've got a BRS media reactor that I ran GFO and carbon (ROX) in a couple of months ago. I had several corals bleach out and actually lost a couple. Since taking GFO and carbon offline, as well as letting my nitrate rise gradually from .25 up to 2.0 over the last month or so, I've seen coral health and color return. Seemed the more I fed, the happier the corals got. So, I attributed the issues I was experiencing to my having stripped the water of nutrients.

    Now, event though I'm reading zero phosphate, I'm seeing cyano. Corals all look as happy as they've been since they were added. So I'm assuming that there are phosphates in the water that the cyano is utilizing before I see them on the tests. I'm inclined to restart the GFO (and possibly carbon) but don't want to repeat the issues I had in the past. If I start feeding less in an effort to reduce nitrate, I'm also afraid that corals will begin to suffer.

    Since the tank is still fairly young, I'm wondering whether the cyano issue is simply a later stage of tank establishment and will run its course. On the other hand, I want to get ahead of any problems that are percolating. Any suggestions on how to proceed? Many thanks.
     
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  2. saltyfilmfolks

    saltyfilmfolks Lights! Camera! Reef! R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Photo of the Month Award Reef Squad

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    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:)

    Also look at flow and dissolved organics piling up. I have one spot in my cube that gets build up. then cyano.
     
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  3. TechnicalFisher

    TechnicalFisher Well-Known Member

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    Thanks- strangely enough the spot it's growing is directly in front of my Gyre and gets blasted with flow. Just the opposite of where I'd expect it...
     
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  4. saltyfilmfolks

    saltyfilmfolks Lights! Camera! Reef! R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Photo of the Month Award Reef Squad

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    yup, two possibilities. build up of orgaics. or bound po4.
     
  5. TechnicalFisher

    TechnicalFisher Well-Known Member

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    Siphoned out a bunch of the cyano yesterday and did a 20% WC. This morning showing phosphates up from 0 to .03 on the Hanna, which given its margin of error I guess could be as high as .07. Assuming that's a result of cyano taking up phosphates before and since I removed it I'm getting a more realistic picture. Nitrates still at 2. If the .03 phosphate reading is right, those numbers are about where I'd want them, but obviously something's not right in the tank.

    Still debating getting GFO back online but concerned about stripping too much out again. Leaning towards keeping it as is and letting it play out but don't want a plague on my hands.
     
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  6. saltyfilmfolks

    saltyfilmfolks Lights! Camera! Reef! R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Photo of the Month Award Reef Squad

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    It'll take time. I beat a true plague one with water changes every week and cleaning.
     
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  7. TechnicalFisher

    TechnicalFisher Well-Known Member

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    So I did around a 30% WC last weekend and siphoned out all visible cyano. It's now started to come back. Also have a brownish looking algae that's on a number of rocks in the lower portion of the tank. Latest test on the Hanna is showing zero phosphates again. Nitrate is unchanged.

    [​IMG]

    Is it safe to assume that if I'm seeing this cyano and whatever the brown stuff is there must be phosphates fueling it? I'm considering adding 1/2 the recommended amount of GFO in a filter bag rather than reactor to ease slowly into it but try to get ahead of the problems.

    Any thoughts appreciated.
     
  8. saltyfilmfolks

    saltyfilmfolks Lights! Camera! Reef! R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Photo of the Month Award Reef Squad

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    Yea start slow on some gfo. But I would also reccomend manual removal and more large snails.
     
  9. SamsReef

    SamsReef Well-Known Member

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    are you dosing any amino acids or carbon source?
     
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  10. TechnicalFisher

    TechnicalFisher Well-Known Member

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    @SamsReef, I'm not now but was for about 2 months early on. I started NoPox pretty soon after cycling the tank and then stopped it after I found bleaching and poor appearance of the few corals I added early on (a monti cap, scroll and hammer). I was unable to keep any detectable nitrates even after reducing the NoPox dose substantially. So, about 4 months in or so, I stopped. At that time I also stopped dosing the reef energy aminos that were part of the NOPOX program.

    Incidentally, I'm also now seeing some strands developing off the brown stuff that's growing on the lower rocks. They develop and hold bubbles. Wondering if I've got a 1-2 punch of cyano and dinos on my hands.

    I'm sort of wondering whether what I'm seeing now is essentially the normal new tank process that I may have delayed by dosing carbon so early in the game?
     
  11. saltyfilmfolks

    saltyfilmfolks Lights! Camera! Reef! R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Photo of the Month Award Reef Squad

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    yup.

    nope, it didnt stop, it just had to deal with your addition.
     
  12. SamsReef

    SamsReef Well-Known Member

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    Okay, in my 12 years of Reefing, I see cyano much more these days than before (used to appear only with very high nutrients and low flow and would go away with use of GFO). These days, cyanos are rampant even in ULNS.... I am blaming carbon dosing for its increased resiliency primarily. Aminos and high phosphates are also contributors. Stop all carbon dosing and aminos. If you need to add additional nutrients, just add coral food(some recommend adding more fishes..., I am a bigger fan of coral food). If you need additional export, use bacteria source. For coral food, I would recommend Reef chilli and Reef roids. Give it some time with above changes and water changes. If you have Dinos, your tank is cycling. I have never had dinos come back in any of my tanks once they are gone.

    Sam
     
  13. TechnicalFisher

    TechnicalFisher Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the advice. Haven't dosed carbon in a few months so that portion of it is taken care of. I'm in the process of adding two more fish (for a total of 6) so hopefully will have a good bio-load at that point. Otherwise will follow the course as everyone has recommended and look forward to getting through this portion of the new(ish) tank process.

    Interestingly as I've been changing the water I've also been actively vacuuming my sand bed. Since its shallow (1.5" or so) and I've always planned on adding a goby (yellow watchman going into QT tomorrow) I hadn't been vacuuming the bed on water changes.

    When I started doing it last week it was shocking the nastiness that I pulled out of it. Brown water that, even when I let it sit in a container overnight didn't settle out. I suspect that I permitted a big nutrient sink to build up and have been paying the price. Gradually working my way through the entire bed with each water change and it's looking considerably better. I know there's a lot of controversy surrounding the vacuuming of sand beds but have to say I'm a believer now.
     

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