Water params are wonky, critters and corals are fine?!?!?

Sweet Coraline

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Hey everyone! Long time lurker, first time poster. This may be long-sorry in advance! I'm new to reef keeping, experienced in freshwater, so I understand the cycling process. I have a Fluval Evo 13.5, upgraded filter media (floss and chemistry blue), added powerhead, stock lights and pump. Tank was started with live sand and rock three months ago. Added several blue legged hermits and a coral banded shrimp first. Several weeks later, added a clown, fire fish, and six line wrasse. ( NOT all at the same time, and no more critters will be added, only corals!) Corals went in over this time as well-mixed softies, lps, and "beginner friendly" sps. So far, everyone is healthy and happy and GROWING! 10 hour light cycle, feeding a mix of pellets, frozen, seaweed, and a liquid phytoplankton about every three days. Experiencing diatoms and hair algea. Yay. 25-30% water change every Sunday. Tank was cycled. Tested today and didn't like what the API reef master kit told me:

1.026 sg- has not changed in months
.25-.5 ammonia (hard to tell, and the fw master kit is soo much easier to read for some reason!)
0 nitrites
0 nitrates ( What?!?!?!? Since when?!?! It was hovering around 5)
8.2 ph-has not changed in 3 months
78 degrees- also hasn't changed
360 calcium
9kh ppm
.25-.50 phosphates-super hard to read
No magnesium test
No alkalinity test
That's the stupidest!!!!! Uggg!

So. Did I lose my cycle? Should I be concerned? Everything is thriving, but I don't like these results. I NEVER dose my fw tanks, and need opinions on what everyone thinks of dosing salt tanks. (ie- I need to up the calcium for the corals, but this will drop my alkalinity, so dose magnesium????) Obviously, I need to find a test kit for these before dosing anything, and which do you prefer?

I haven't tested in a few weeks, and had I NOT tested today, I'd just assume everything is fine. Do I just leave well enough alone? Start dosing? Add macro algea to one of the compartments? Any and allllll suggestions are welcome, because if I can keep this tiny tank going, then....!)
(It's hard to give a simplified version of feeding, cleaning etc! Geez!!)

20210922_084020.jpg
 

Waters

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Hey everyone! Long time lurker, first time poster. This may be long-sorry in advance! I'm new to reef keeping, experienced in freshwater, so I understand the cycling process. I have a Fluval Evo 13.5, upgraded filter media (floss and chemistry blue), added powerhead, stock lights and pump. Tank was started with live sand and rock three months ago. Added several blue legged hermits and a coral banded shrimp first. Several weeks later, added a clown, fire fish, and six line wrasse. ( NOT all at the same time, and no more critters will be added, only corals!) Corals went in over this time as well-mixed softies, lps, and "beginner friendly" sps. So far, everyone is healthy and happy and GROWING! 10 hour light cycle, feeding a mix of pellets, frozen, seaweed, and a liquid phytoplankton about every three days. Experiencing diatoms and hair algea. Yay. 25-30% water change every Sunday. Tank was cycled. Tested today and didn't like what the API reef master kit told me:

1.026 sg- has not changed in months
.25-.5 ammonia (hard to tell, and the fw master kit is soo much easier to read for some reason!)
0 nitrites
0 nitrates ( What?!?!?!? Since when?!?! It was hovering around 5)
8.2 ph-has not changed in 3 months
78 degrees- also hasn't changed
360 calcium
9kh ppm
.25-.50 phosphates-super hard to read
No magnesium test
No alkalinity test
That's the stupidest!!!!! Uggg!

So. Did I lose my cycle? Should I be concerned? Everything is thriving, but I don't like these results. I NEVER dose my fw tanks, and need opinions on what everyone thinks of dosing salt tanks. (ie- I need to up the calcium for the corals, but this will drop my alkalinity, so dose magnesium????) Obviously, I need to find a test kit for these before dosing anything, and which do you prefer?

I haven't tested in a few weeks, and had I NOT tested today, I'd just assume everything is fine. Do I just leave well enough alone? Start dosing? Add macro algea to one of the compartments? Any and allllll suggestions are welcome, because if I can keep this tiny tank going, then....!)
(It's hard to give a simplified version of feeding, cleaning etc! Geez!!)

20210922_084020.jpg
Congrats on the tank....looking good! There is a lot of info there lol. I will start with the API ammonia. Ammonia routinely will test at a minimum of .25 using the API test kit. It is most likely 0 since your tank is three months old. Your initial cycle has not stopped. Since you used live sand and rock, your nitrates "can" be converted into nitrogen gas and released from the water. It is also possible that your nutrient export is removing nutrients faster than you are adding to the tank. Since you have coral (and will be adding SPS) I would recommend getting your nutrients up. Calcium and nitrates will need to be increased. I would also pick up a Hanna checker for phosphate so you can get an accurate number there. What salt are you using and how often do you do water changes? Regular water changes are often enough to keep numbers where they need to be so you won't need to dose. As far as which test kits to use, most use Hanna for ALK and Phosphates. The rest I use Salifert.
 

Lasse

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.25-.5 ammonia (hard to tell, and the fw master kit is soo much easier to read for some reason!)
Most total ammonia tests show up a false reading around these figures even in cycled tanks - no worry IMO

0 nitrites
0 nitrates ( What?!?!?!? Since when?!?! It was hovering around 5)
What did your nitrite show when you hovered around 5 ppm in NO3?

360 calcium
Low - rise to around 400

Not understand this - do you mean 9 in KH?

.25-.50 phosphates-super hard to read
Maybe should be lowering to around 0.1 ppm but - IMO - no catastrophe as long as your corals seems to thrive

If the tank looks good - no drastic changes needs to be done - IMO

Sincerely Lasse
 
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Sweet Coraline

Sweet Coraline

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Thank you for your response!
My nitrites have been 0 from about two weeks after the live sand and rock have been in the tank, so because I had 5ppm n03, and 0 n02, I assumed that it had cycled.
Yes, 9 dkh carbonate hardness.
I also assume that my calcium levels dropped a bit due to the corals ( mixed lps, sps, and softies) but I guess I'll just keep an eye out for this???
Probably time to change the chemipure blue to help with phosphates??? Could phosphates be why I'm getting so much hair algea? Lots of questions, but more looking for other's thoughts. I like to be pretty hands off while tanking (beyond feeding and water changes), but there is soooo much conflicting info out there in the salt world!
 
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Thank you! Glad to be here and thankful for the help and insight that this group offers!
Always good to get new reefers. There is tons of help and information here. R2R is nothing like other forums and socials, it's very welcoming and helpful.
 

anthonygf

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Welcome Sweet Caroline!
Nice looking tank. I got rid of all my hermits because they would always climb my branching Monti and break branches off, now I only have about 400+ snails in my 75. Also you need to supply hermits with larger shells for when they grow.

I notice you have a metal thermometer, probably aluminum. I would not use anything metal, may leech into water. Get a digital with plastic probe, easier to read also. Here is a pic of my reef going on 1 year from upgrade of a 46 bowfront I had running for 5 years. Pic #2 was my 5-6 year old 46 bowfront just before upgrade. Happy Reefing.
 

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Lasse

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Thank you for your response!
My nitrites have been 0 from about two weeks after the live sand and rock have been in the tank, so because I had 5ppm n03, and 0 n02, I assumed that it had cycled.
Yes - i think the tank is fully cycled according to the nitrification cycle. For the nitrate hitting 0 see below
Yes, 9 dkh carbonate hardness.
Carbonate Hardness = alkalinity
I also assume that my calcium levels dropped a bit due to the corals ( mixed lps, sps, and softies) but I guess I'll just keep an eye out for this???
Probably time to change the chemipure blue to help with phosphates???
As I understand - Never have use the product - Chemipure is not a GFO - it is activated carbon. You need to use a phosphate remover based on iron (GFO) or aluminium

Could phosphates be why I'm getting so much hair algea?

The scholars discuss this:p. The algae needs phosphate - but thats do the corals too. In your case - it looks like you have zeroed the NO3 and therefore the algae is growing but not so much. However - IMO - you can´t never limit algae growth through limiting the nutrients because if you do so - you will limit even the growth of your corals. The way to solve this is to have a decent Clean up Crew - including urchins

Lots of questions, but more looking for other's thoughts. I like to be pretty hands off while tanking (beyond feeding and water changes), but there is soooo much conflicting info out there in the salt world!

The basic in the biology does not differ between salt and fresh water - just see your corals as your plants and the algae you have to defeat in both systems

Sincerely Lasse
 
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Sweet Coraline

Sweet Coraline

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Welcome Sweet Caroline!
Nice looking tank. I got rid of all my hermits because they would always climb my branching Monti and break branches off, now I only have about 400+ snails in my 75. Also you need to supply hermits with larger shells for when they grow.

I notice you have a metal thermometer, probably aluminum. I would not use anything metal, may leech into water. Get a digital with plastic probe, easier to read also. Here is a pic of my reef going on 1 year from upgrade of a 46 bowfront I had running for 5 years. Pic #2 was my 5-6 year old 46 bowfront just before upgrade. Happy Reefin
Just stunning!!!! I just took out the thermometer. Good call. I have a glass one in there and forgot to take out the metal one. Lol
 
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Sweet Coraline

Sweet Coraline

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Yes - i think the tank is fully cycled according to the nitrification cycle. For the nitrate hittin 0 see below

Carbonate Hardness = alkalinity

As I understand - Never have use the product - Chemipure is not a GFO - it is activated carbon. You need to use a phosphate remover based on iron (GFO) or aluminium



The scholars discuss this:p. The algae needs phosphate - but thats do the corals too. In your case - it looks like you have zeroed the NO3 and therefore the algae is growing but not so much. However - IMO - you can´t never limit algae growth through limiting the nutrients because if you do so - you will limit even the growth of your corals. The way to solve this is to have a decent Clean up Crew - including urchins



The basic in the biology does not differ between salt and fresh water - just see your corals as your plants and the algae you have to defeat in botg systems

Sincerely Lasse
This is what I was thinking! My head was spinning with, "If I do xxxx, then I'll ALSO have to yyyyy because it will affect zzzz." I have montis coming tomorrow and a bird nest, as well as some other lps. (Incidentally, lighting this tank was a feat in the beginning because I actually have conure parrots that have free reign of the house. They discovered that this tank has a sensitive touch sensor to power the lights. It was a disco rave tank for a few days before they grew bored with that. ‍♀️) I wondered how the crabs would do with these! I had a turbo snail, but it died quickly. My son picked it up for me, so not really even sure if it was alive to begin with honestly. What type of urchin would work with such a small tank with the corals?
 

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Depending on what kit you’re using .
I wouldn’t bother testing nitrite or ammonia . Your tank is cycled !

what salt are you using ?
If mixed to proper salinity as the values above state . But it depending what you’re testing with again . How accurate is it ?

the salt should be enough to maintain calcium if the alkalinity and salinity is correct .
But as Every salt is different . It should give you a idea on the bucket if it’s mixed to 1.026 ( 35ppm) every parameter should be within their range of their
 

Rmckoy

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Thank you for your response!
My nitrites have been 0 from about two weeks after the live sand and rock have been in the tank, so because I had 5ppm n03, and 0 n02, I assumed that it had cycled.
Yes, 9 dkh carbonate hardness.
I also assume that my calcium levels dropped a bit due to the corals ( mixed lps, sps, and softies) but I guess I'll just keep an eye out for this???
Probably time to change the chemipure blue to help with phosphates??? Could phosphates be why I'm getting so much hair algea? Lots of questions, but more looking for other's thoughts. I like to be pretty hands off while tanking (beyond feeding and water changes), but there is soooo much conflicting info out there in the salt world!
I would strongly recommend changing test kits

as mentioned above hanna for phosphates ( I prefer the ulr phosphorus and there is a conversion chart to convert from ppb phosphorus to ppm phosphates .
more accuracy will help you determine if that is the cause for the algae .
I don’t believe you have enough corals consuming alkalinity and calcium to lower values that fast .
Water changes should be enough to maintain stability .

For test kits I use

salinity- refractometer and Hanna digital salinity meter
Calcium - salifert
Magnesium - salifert
Alkalinity - Hanna checker and salifert
Nitrates - salifert

I rarely ever test ph
never test nitrite and only test ammonia if something bad happens ( everything dies over night )
 

Double monti 61

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I believe that a clean up crew is essential for a system to develop a more natural state but I do not think you need to resort to such large life as sea urchins I believe that there are many other smaller inhabitants that do the same unless you’re system is large enough to house a sea urchin good luck with the monti they grow very quickly if they are doing well.
 

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Lasse

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never test nitrite and only test ammonia if something bad happens ( everything dies over night )
IMO - this is a logical somersault. If you not have tested under normal condition - you do not know the normal values and a test when things go south is worthless. Nitrite as an example is always present around 0.02 - 0.05 in a mature aquarium and if you want to run low in nitrate - most tests will show between 0.5 - 5 wrong in nitrate (depending on brand) for more discussion around nitrite - see this. With ammonia - it is often tests with low reliability - I normally stay away from these. A nitrite test have high reliability and it is a very good marker if the nitrification process halt. Nitrite is not toxic in sea water the way it is in fresh water but every freshwater aquarist know the importance of measuring nitrite in order to get an insight hoe the nitrification process is going

Tuxedo Sea Urchin can be a very good addition even in small tanks with heavy algae growth. They are slow grower and can often be purchased in small sizes. when you composes a CUC - then the word diversity is very important. Different organisms have different preferences when it comes to food. If you buy 10 snails - buy different species, if you buy 10 hermits - be sure it is as many different species as possible. Please read this article. It is a new start article but I think you can get some important information from it.

Sincerely Lasse
 
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Sweet Coraline

Sweet Coraline

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IMO - this is a logical somersault. If you not have tested under normal condition - you do not know the normal values and a test when things go south is worthless. Nitrite as an example is always present around 0.02 - 0.05 in a mature aquarium and if you want to run low in nitrate - most tests will show between 0.5 - 5 wrong in nitrate (depending on brand) for more discussion around nitrite - see this. With ammonia - it is often tests with low reliability - I normally stay away from these. A nitrite test have high reliability and it is a very good marker if the nitrification process halt. Nitrite is not toxic in sea water the way it is in fresh water but every freshwater aquarist know the importance of measuring nitrite in order to get an insight hoe the nitrification process is going

Tuxedo Sea Urchin can be a very good addition even in small tanks with heavy algae growth. They are slow grower and can often be purchased in small sizes. when you composes a CUC - then the word diversity is very important. Different organisms have different preferences when it comes to food. If you buy 10 snails - buy different species, if you buy 10 hermits - be sure it is as many different species as possible. Please read this article. It is a new start article but I think you can get some important information from it.

Sincerely Lasse
Great article!!!!!! This is pretty much how I started!!! I could definitely use some more snails of differing species. I forgot to mention my emerald crab. It's neat to watch him "lawnmowering" the algea. BUT. Speaking of cuc, I have noticed an issue with my coral banded shrimp-I think. Maybe I should start a new thread? Anyways, he goes after my smaller fish. Killed my bengaii. Just this morning, he was eating my firefish!!!!! He's going back to the lfs. I'm reading conflicting stories on these guys too. I'm new to salt, ut not tanking. I can USUALLY recognize distress in fish. The bengaii and the firefish seemed perfectly fine! No labored breathing, swimming issues, sores, tears, eating and swimming like crazy! Are they just masochistic jerks that like to rampage fish?! ( my true feeding schedule has been carnivore and herbivore pellets one day, frozen the next, then broadcast and spot feeding corals the next. Wash, rinse, repeat. It feels like enough, especially when growing algea. Little jerk! Was he the likely culprit?
 

Little c big D

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Great article!!!!!! This is pretty much how I started!!! I could definitely use some more snails of differing species. I forgot to mention my emerald crab. It's neat to watch him "lawnmowering" the algea. BUT. Speaking of cuc, I have noticed an issue with my coral banded shrimp-I think. Maybe I should start a new thread? Anyways, he goes after my smaller fish. Killed my bengaii. Just this morning, he was eating my firefish!!!!! He's going back to the lfs. I'm reading conflicting stories on these guys too. I'm new to salt, ut not tanking. I can USUALLY recognize distress in fish. The bengaii and the firefish seemed perfectly fine! No labored breathing, swimming issues, sores, tears, eating and swimming like crazy! Are they just masochistic jerks that like to rampage fish?! ( my true feeding schedule has been carnivore and herbivore pellets one day, frozen the next, then broadcast and spot feeding corals the next. Wash, rinse, repeat. It feels like enough, especially when growing algea. Little jerk! Was he the likely culprit?
I've kept a few and they never once attacked a fish. But they were in my previous 90g. I've also read they can be a bit aggressive. In a 13.5 it's possible it was cramped enough. Firefish will sleep in the floor of the tank giving him a chance. Still seems strange though. How long has this tank been up and running?
 

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I've kept a few and they never once attacked a fish. But they were in my previous 90g. I've also read they can be a bit aggressive. In a 13.5 it's possible it was cramped enough. Firefish will sleep in the floor of the tank giving him a chance. Still seems strange though. How long has this tank been up and running?
I was always led to believe they are scavengers.
possible the fish was weak ?
 

Little c big D

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I was always led to believe they are scavengers.
possible the fish was weak ?
I can only imagine. I had 4 fire fish in the 90 and they were never touched by the shrimp. Even at night when they slept near its rock. There are always those Rouge animals that go all Jeffery Dahmer though
 

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I can only imagine. I had 4 fire fish in the 90 and they were never touched by the shrimp. Even at night when they slept near its rock. There are always those Rouge animals that go all Jeffery Dahmer though
I agree .
I have never had much luck keeping fire fish .
they always jump .

cardinals and cromiss I can add as many usual in odd numbers and it always ends with only 1
 
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