Test results are in and its not looking good! Any advice?

ScottR

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I've added half a cap of Prime, and did a 10% water change with live water with added synthetic salt to bring salinity from 1.018 to 1.030 in the source, and 1.024 in the tank. I removed any detritus and brown algae from the sand, and I'm quite sure I wiped out a baby colony of sponge in the process. The sponge came free with the ocean sand and I'm not even confident that it is a sponge because it has never become solid. The one torch which was bleeching has been gone for 2 days, I suspect its gone forever. It has about 1 to 2 mm of tentacles showing but I've seen that happen on another torch that only had about 5 tentacles remaining and it died within days. The remaining 4 torches, star coral, and clownfish, seem to be thriving. If they last a few more weeks I'll upgrade to LED.
Sponges can’t be exposed to air. Do you have a pic? I’m guessing it can’t be a sponge. And it shouldn’t be hard.
 
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Ralph Ritoch

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Did your sponge look like this?
F7903A6B-5920-4B4D-84AC-BAACD86A2A5F.jpeg
No. The sponge looked a bit like mold. Here are some pics from another post. They seem to go away and come back. I see one floating around the tank now so whatever it is, it is still in the tank.

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DSC_0782-resize.JPG
 

ZaneTer

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If you have access to fresh seawater I would not buy salt. Just let what you have evaporate until it reaches the correct salinity. Your corals are probably toast but it’s a valuable lesson in patience and understanding.

Everyone on here has killed corals, myself included.
 
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Ralph Ritoch

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By design they can’t be wrong, just difficult to read.
I was actually thinking this. I went with the hydrometer since I read that it is more accurate than the swing type but I've seem many people claim they are incorrect.
 
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Ralph Ritoch

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If you have access to fresh seawater I would not buy salt. Just let what you have evaporate until it reaches the correct salinity. Your corals are probably toast but it’s a valuable lesson in patience and understanding.

Everyone on here has killed corals, myself included.
For better or worse I think my learning curve was shortened by being given a coral that was already dying. This seawater has some ammonia in it but reducing salt expense by allowing evopration and using my RO filter to lower the salinity does sound like a very economical solution. Is there anything I can do to the water to start the nitrogen cycle in the water that is waiting (to evaporate)?
 

ZaneTer

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Seems like a lot of effort for a doomed tank
Come on man, don’t be like that.

It’s not rocket science.
You just need:
A tank
Seawater at 1.025 and 26’C
Some rocks
Don’t really need sand but if you have nice fresh beach sand I would use it.
A circulation pump.
A dead fresh shrimp.

Patience for one month.

That’s all. Just wait a month and test. Don’t add corals or live stock. When ammonia reaches 0 you can start adding little bits of food to keep the bacteria fed and THEN start looking at some fish. Just catch something from a rock pool
 
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Ralph Ritoch

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Seems like a lot of effort for a doomed tank
I do not believe you are wrong. I've said as much in a much less PC way. I feel like I'm running hospice for this tank but I'm doing what I can to try to keep it alive.
 
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Ralph Ritoch

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Come on man, don’t be like that.

It’s not rocket science.
You just need:
A tank
Seawater at 1.025 and 26’C
Some rocks
Don’t really need sand but if you have nice fresh beach sand I would use it.
A circulation pump.
A dead fresh shrimp.

Patience for one month.

That’s all. Just wait a month and test. Don’t add corals or live stock. When ammonia reaches 0 you can start adding little bits of food to keep the bacteria fed and THEN start looking at some fish. Just catch something from a rock pool
Well, there you go, lol, my mistake rate is officially at 100%! The only thing I didn't mention about this tank was that I started it with live shrimp that all died so I removed them. A few days later I found one in the sand and removed that also. I had no idea leaving one behind was a good thing.

(edit) The shrimp all died because apparently they can't survive in ocean water, they needed river water that is salty and can't survive in a tank. None of them went to waste, I fed them to my turtles.
 
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ZaneTer

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First you need to stop thinking of it as an alive tank because it isn’t.
Just start afresh but get it right this time.
Don’t add livestock.
Have patience
 

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Well, there you go, lol, my mistake rate is officially at 100%! The only thing I didn't mention about this tank was that I started it with live shrimp that all died so I removed them. A few days later I found one in the sand and removed that also. I had no idea leaving one behind was a good thing.
Leaving a dead shrimp behind is a good thing. If you read the posts of a comment I quoted earlier it will explain why in depth.

The reason for the dead shrimp being left behind is for a source of ammonia feeding your beneficial bacteria that you have to colonize on your rock. The rock will act as a "filter" instead of the ones you hang on the back.

This is the start of the nitrogen cycle. The conversion of toxic ammonia to nitrite to the less toxic nitrate. Once the cycle is complete any ammonia present in the reef will be converted directly to nitrate.

Then comes Calcium, Alkalinity, and Magnesium but the links should cover it. More reef info that you shouldn't need to get into until the cycle is complete.

Personally I'd restart the tank and start the cycling process over. It will save you plenty of headache and will give you a healthier ecosystem when it's complete. Please read the links on the comment I left earlier.
 
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Ralph Ritoch

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Leaving a dead shrimp behind is a good thing. If you read the posts of a comment I quoted earlier it will explain why in depth.

The reason for the dead shrimp being left behind is for a source of ammonia feeding your beneficial bacteria that you have to colonize on your rock. The rock will act as a "filter" instead of the ones you hang on the back.

This is the start of the nitrogen cycle. The conversion of toxic ammonia to nitrite to the less toxic nitrate. Once the cycle is complete any ammonia present in the reef will be converted directly to nitrate.

Personally I'd restart the tank and start the cycling process over. It will save you plenty of headache and will give you a healthier ecosystem when it's complete. Please read the links on the comment I left earlier.
I have every intention of reading the rest of it. As for starting over, if this tank survives 6 months than I have every intention of starting over with a 300+ gallon tank and 120+ gallon sump. The residents will stay but from what I've learned so far I'll run it a few months without residents. Fill it with liverock and a mix of beach sand and live sand, and a few dead shrimp. Depending on how the chemistry is doing at the time will decide if I use any resources (sand, liverock, filter) from this tank.
 

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I have no idea where this doomed is coming from. You just get your parameters in an acceptable range add flow and proper lighting and the rest will follow. You don't need a skimmer or a sump for a 30g. Technically you don't even need a filter but I do like to run a little carbon for clarity and toxins and floss for particles. Some people just use live rock and water changes.

I probably wouldn't bother with a 300g tank yet. It seems like more headache then learning on a small one.
 
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Ralph Ritoch

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The tank is now in more trouble than when it started, but this isn't the first time. A second torch had fully retracted and the remaining were reduced, they are clearly stressed. I moved them from their spot where the flow was low to a spot with medium flow. The 5th torch has no signs of life at this point, and the remaining 4 are alive but stressed. The starfish haven't started climbing out of the tank so hopefully it is just temporary shock from the salinity increase. The salinity has been kept between 1.020 and 1.022 for the past 2 weeks so the sudden increase to 1.024 was a bad move. It wasn't completely intentional, I miscalculated. I thought the 10% water change was only going to bring it up to 1.023 but it went to 1.024. The tank is also now a bit more cloudy but the filter usually handles that within a few hours.
20190722_170216.jpg
 
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Ralph Ritoch

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I have no idea where this doomed is coming from. You just get your parameters in an acceptable range add flow and proper lighting and the rest will follow. You don't need a skimmer or a sump for a 30g. Technically you don't even need a filter but I do like to run a little carbon for clarity and toxins and floss for particles. Some people just use live rock and water changes.

I probably wouldn't bother with a 300g tank yet. It seems like more headache then learning on a small one.
I'm in a situation where it takes up to a month to get supplies shipped in. This is offset by the fact that I have an unlimited supply of ocean water, live sand, and RO water. The test kit I ordered just came in today. Being new to this and not having a good supply chain doesn't give good odds on the survival of this coral, plus it was already dying when I received it. I am shocked by the PH level which is actually the same as the ocean here, 8.4. The ocean water I'm using already has ammonia in it so while the PH level is acceptable I'm going to be re-introducing ammonia at every water change. Currently my ammonia level isn't much higher than the source water and its reasonable to believe that within one or two weekly water changes the ammonia level of the source water will be higher than the tank water.

I just retested the ammonia and the Prime + water change dropped the level to 0.25 ppm based on the salt water chart I found online. This is a freshwater kit but I found sources which claim the only difference in the tests is the color of the results.
 
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Ralph Ritoch

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After the water change the nitrite dropped to 0, so the only real problem right now is the Ammonia.
 

Rilo

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After the water change the nitrite dropped to 0, so the only real problem right now is the Ammonia.
You are still in the cycling process. If ammonia is still present in your tank.

Once you stop dosing prime the cycle will start.

The ammonia will turn into the toxic nitrite. You have to go through this. Then it will convert to nitrate. This process can go for 1-2 months. Which is why we recommend rehoming the fish until the process is complete.
 
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Ralph Ritoch

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You are still in the cycling process. If ammonia is still present in your tank.

Once you stop dosing prime the cycle will start.

The ammonia will turn into the toxic nitrite. You have to go through this. Then it will convert to nitrate. This process can go for 1-2 months. Which is why we recommend rehoming the fish until the process is complete.
The ammonia level is very close to the level in the ocean water so it seems the cycle is going to be a permanent part of this system until I have a larger system that can go without water changes.
 
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Ralph Ritoch

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I currently have about 15 gallons of ocean water waiting for the next water change. I'm running a blubber in it to avoid dengue/mosquitoes. If I add some sand from the tank to it will the cycle start? It seems I need a way to cycle the ammonia out of the water before I use it.
 
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