The worst paradigm to hit the hobby and more specifically the SPS world

The worst paradigm to hit the hobby is getting your nutrient levels as low as possible?

  • Yes

    Votes: 288 52.4%
  • No

    Votes: 100 18.2%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 22 4.0%
  • Not Sure

    Votes: 140 25.5%

  • Total voters
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Chaswood79

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I have had a series of unfortunate events, phos hit 3 (off the scale) and nitrates 100 (off the scale) but slowly recovering, I should test, maybe tomorrow! ;)
Obviously all my acros rtn'd! :)

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Did they really all rtn? I’m reading/feeling a little bit of sarcasm in that comment.
 

SweetReefOH

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To add to my post above... It's why most hobbyists shouldn't be messing with carbon dosing and dosing of nitrogen and phosphorous. It becomes really difficult to balance and to control the bacterial balance that you throw off through manipulating nutrients.
I’m not sure about the “manipulating nutrients”. I manipulate the nutrients constantly thru skimming or dosing PO4 & NO3 if I’m extremely low. That is the whole wheel of maintaining the closed ecosystem. You have to constantly manipulate to achieve your desired results ;)
 

Ike

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I’m not sure about the “manipulating nutrients”. I manipulate the nutrients constantly thru skimming or dosing PO4 & NO3 if I’m extremely low. That is the whole wheel of maintaining the closed ecosystem. You have to constantly manipulate to achieve your desired results ;)
Manipulating bacterial colonies with the addition of nitrogen, phosporous is a tough balance that you will likely be a slave to if you keep it up. The problem is that adding one has an effect on the levels of the other and it can become a slippery slope
 

sawdonkey

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I’ll be the contrarian here. I do everything I can to keep my nutrients low, and I cannot get them as low as I’d like even with biopellets, water changes, ciporax, and a big skimmer. My triggers and large eel don’t help with that. My nitrates are almost alway 20+ and my PO4 is close to .1. I find that my acros are more colorful when PO4 is close to zero.

In my old system, my PO4 and NO3 were always near and sometimes at zero and I never had RTN issues and my corals looked great. If I could get my nutrients back there, I would, but I’d have to get really aggressive about it.

I know it’s not for every tank, but very low nutrients worked well for me for years.
 

Perry

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This topic deserves a deeper dive :)
A tank with mature rock and sand seems to do quite well in lower nutrient environment. Go back 10-15 years, when live rock was the standard, as many LFS's had readily available. Dry rock was not the standard, whereas today it is. In a mature system, the diverse micro life aids in nutrient removal, thus providing user with accurate determination of nutrient levels, likely being low, validated through testing.
Dry rock lacks this diversity, therefore bacteria, while being present, along side of mechanical and chemical filtration is mainly what is driving this removal, and tested nutrients. That said, this system would prefer higher nutrients, otherwise corals are competing with algaes, and in lower nutrient scenario, lacking diversity is a death sentence to acros.
Now, take a tank, with very mature rock, teeming with pods, tunicates, sponges, worms, dusters, as well as many other forms of micro life, and compare. There isn't, from a nitrification standpoint, but it exceeds that. All these diverse forms of life, act as an additional food source to fish, corals, and other inverts. I believe this to be a link, otherwise, why do we have so much evidence of low nutrient systems working so well?
All my systems that thrived in the past were in ULNS environments. What's changed? I believe many people struggle with dry rock systems, at least until the tanks have been seeded with these said diverse micro lifeforms. I don't believe its as easy as an argument over where to keep nutrient levels, but perhaps a better understanding of each individual's system and it's limitations.
My 2 cents :)
 
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Joedubyk

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This topic deserves a deeper dive :)
A tank with mature rock and sand seems to do quite well in lower nutrient environment. Go back 10-15 years, when live rock was the standard, as many LFS's had readily available. Dry rock was not the standard, whereas today it is. In a mature system, the diverse micro life aids in nutrient removal, thus providing user with accurate determination of nutrient levels, likely being low, validated through testing.
Dry rock lacks this diversity, therefore bacteria, while being present, along side of mechanical and chemical filtration is mainly what is driving this removal, and tested nutrients. That said, this system would prefer higher nutrients, otherwise corals are competing with algaes, and in lower nutrient scenario, lacking diversity is a death sentence to acros.
Now, take a tank, with very mature rock, teeming with pods, tunicates, sponges, worms, dusters, as well as many other forms of micro life, and compare. There isn't, from a nitrification standpoint, but it exceeds that. All these diverse forms of life, act as an additional food source to fish, corals, and other inverts. I believe this to be a link, otherwise, why do we have so much evidence of low nutrient systems working so well?
All my systems that thrived in the past were in ULNS environments. What's changed? I believe many people struggle with dry rock systems, at least until the tanks have been seeded with these said diverse micro lifeforms. I don't believe its as easy as an argument over where to keep nutrient levels, but perhaps a better understanding of each individual's system and it's limitations.
My 2 cents :)
But look at the posts. Every day there's multiple posts about corals paling/dying and it's almost always one or both being non existent
 

andrewey

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I know every tank is different and generalizations are a fool's errand, but here's my take on it.

Some tanks thrive in with low P and low N. However, I would not suggest new tanks or inexpenienced hobbyists shoot for as low as possible. It takes either a mature tank or a mature reefer to keep a stable low nutrient system without causing dino outbreaks, RTNing SPS, etc. We saw this when biopellet reactors came onto the market a number of years ago and there were hundreds of novices nuking their tank after dropping their levels to get their SPS looking "pastel".
 

Chaz D

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What's changed? I believe many people struggle with dry rock systems, at least until the tanks have been seeded with these said diverse micro lifeforms.
I think most of these failed tanks start off high alk (>NSW), low nutrients. The rock, lighting, and lack of bacteria & diversity takes too much of the blame.
 

Perry

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Exactly!
Zero nutrients in a dead rock system is not the same as in a system teeming with micr o-life, which explains how some don't even need a skimmer, as the system has become a self sustaining eco-system. Again, in the past, most SPS gurus tried to go as low as possible, why? Because our rock was LIVE :) In this environment, you did not have to feed as often, the tank produced it's own food. I had a refugium with mysis teeming, I actually had my LFS growing them in one of their overflow boxes, unbeknown to them. I actually bought them from LFS to seed my fuge. Not that I didn't feed, but going a day or 2 without was no big deal. Have you ever seen how acros respond to stomatella snail spawns? They go nuts! Or, when your pods lay eggs on the glass, and acros put out feeding polyps when swiping glass? So my impression FWIW:
New systems or systems setup with dry rock, higher nutrients likely better.
Mature systems with tons of life, low nutrients likely to be acceptable, not better, just more capable of ULNS scenario.
 

Lasse

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andrewey

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Thanks @Lasse for the article- just finished the intro and will finish the rest this afternoon. Very well written and hot off the press.
 

Waynerock

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No3 never goes above 3 and po4 is between 000 and .03 as per Hanna. Stuff is happy but I would like a little better color on SPS. All of my tanks have been notoriously low. I dose aminos and feed kinda heavily once daily. All these tanks started with ocean live rock. It feels like the LPS are more pickey of the lack of nutrients than the SPS are. I think It took a minute for everything to get used to the lower nutrients in my tank. If I try to raise nutrients even a little I get hit with small bits of cyano and the hair algae starts to come back. I have decided to go with the flow and let the tank run it’s self with the exception of amino dosing once a day and feeding once at night. I also maintenance dose vibrant every 2 weeks at half strength. It’s crazy how we can have totally different tanks and roughly have the same results

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Pedoconfuego

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Starvation + any alk large alk swings = death ime.
Yea it’s not the uln environment that’s killing the coral. It’s the reefers that get there the wrong way or that have major swings once they do that have coral die. I find corals grow and color better when they aren’t in raised nutrients. I have not had a tank yet that does really well with elevated nutrients. That’s always when I have issues. Many ways to run a tank. If your going to try something new and try low nutrients, read up on it before you do it. Like Ike said, there is more to it then just having certain numbers.
 

jda

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People struggle with this for one simple reason... they don't understand the difference between availability and residual levels.

I usually hate to point out BRS videos since they have some bad info every once in a while, but they said it best in the Zeovit video that was something like "people think that Zeovit tanks are low nutrient because they test very low, but this tank has more nutrients running through it than any other tank we have ever seen." It was something like that.

Throughput. Availability. Heavy import and heavy export are the key, not residual levels on a test kit.

As always, I have very low residual levels, but also have high import and export. This allows me to keep probably another 20% of acropora that would struggle and/or fail at .10 P and 10 N... but that is not much and most people do not even miss them anyway. Most people do not care about those corals, so why bother.

I imagine that this is so hard because there is no test kit for it and the people looking for answers do not yet have the breath and depth of knowledge needed to understand what some people post on the topic.
 

Chaswood79

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I’ll be the contrarian here. I do everything I can to keep my nutrients low, and I cannot get them as low as I’d like even with biopellets, water changes, ciporax, and a big skimmer. My triggers and large eel don’t help with that. My nitrates are almost alway 20+ and my PO4 is close to .1. I find that my acros are more colorful when PO4 is close to zero.

In my old system, my PO4 and NO3 were always near and sometimes at zero and I never had RTN issues and my corals looked great. If I could get my nutrients back there, I would, but I’d have to get really aggressive about it.

I know it’s not for every tank, but very low nutrients worked well for me for years.
Do you keep acros?
 

Rick5

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I think ultra low nutrients may presently be one of the worst trends in the hobby, but it wasn't the case a few years ago. The preferred range for nitrate and phosphate used to be pretty darn low and it used to be sustainable (and largely without issue) whereas nowadays, a lot of folks seem to run into trouble with the same low nutrient ranges. I've blamed dry rock before and, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, still do. I think dry rock is more aggressive than real live rock at nutrient export, although diversity of bacteria and life may certainly play into it.
 

Coral in your reef tank?

  • Pack in as many as I can get

    Votes: 47 12.8%
  • A lot but leave room for growth

    Votes: 249 67.7%
  • Less is more

    Votes: 52 14.1%
  • Very very few

    Votes: 13 3.5%
  • Fish only...blah!

    Votes: 5 1.4%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 2 0.5%

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