What is wrong with my setup?

Discussion in 'Wisconsin Fox Valley Reef Club' started by siropa, Jan 6, 2010.

  1. siropa

    siropa Well-Known Member

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    Trolling for some ideas here...

    Since the zeo issues I had, i've been unable to keep most corals thriving, much less living. I'm a little perplexed as to why at this point. It has been almost a year (I think) since it started going bad and i'd have expected a turn around.

    The losses include all my SPS, acans, most zoas and even some of the hardy LPS like hammer corals. the only things thriving are some mushrooms, a couple of leathers and some assorted softies.

    i've also tried some new frags into the system and those haven't done well either.

    -I've been doing regular water changes the whole time. I've tested the new salt water and it is ok. i've also used different salt batches and do regular maintenance on my RODI system.
    -My tank water tests out fine.
    -I've got good water movement and good lighting.
    -No pests that i've found.
    -I don't believe i've had any environmental contamination. I've been keeping tanks a long, long time and know how to avoid that. the wife has been well school in this too.
    -I don't think i've got any leaky voltage issues. I read low values with a volt meter, but I believe it is induced voltage, not leakage.
    -No leaky pumps or anything like that as far as I can tell.

    Any ideas out there?
     
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  2. Fishcrazy06

    Fishcrazy06 Reefing Addict

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    Just going out on a limb here Bill. Could it be something leaching out of your sand, Rock, or Foam wall? Something that happened to either of them during the tank crash that sucked it up and is now leaching it into the system? I wouldn't think that but that could possibly be something.
     
  3. siropa

    siropa Well-Known Member

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    Could be something like that, but i'm not sure what would have gotten soaked up during the crash. and all those materials have been in there from day 1 of the tank.

    I hadn't thought of the foam though. I wonder if something is coming from that. it doesn't appear to be breaking down at all, but who knows.

    I do have a couple of those fleet farm style stock tanks in my system. I wonder if either of them could be leeching something.
     
  4. Fishcrazy06

    Fishcrazy06 Reefing Addict

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    The stock tanks I think would be like your rock or something. They were setup from the beginning too and everything was fine. I just wonder if one of the above is leaching something some how. I too have pond foam on my new build too but I haven't heard of it leaching anything and I don't know if it could "suck" anything up after it cures because of how it cures and gets the hard outside to it.
     
  5. Bri Guy

    Bri Guy Well-Known Member

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    Have you tested for copper?
     
  6. siropa

    siropa Well-Known Member

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    haven't tested for copper, but you'd think all the inverts would be affected then. my mushrooms and leather corals are thriving. i've got a green polyp leather that has grown to a 8-9" head from a 1/2" frag in the last year.
     
  7. jascymcl

    jascymcl unregistered

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    Once saw a post like your the owner had simular problem when he finally took down the tank he found to pennies in the sand, his kid tossed them in their.
     
  8. Sikryd

    Sikryd hmm...Sweet! R2R Excellence Award

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    I would test for heavy metals. Specifically for something like this I would pony up the $40 and have your water tested by aquariumwatertesting.com
    It sounds like you have some sort of heavy metal in the system.
     
  9. siropa

    siropa Well-Known Member

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    I doubt I have any pennies or the like in the system, but the heavy metal thought is one avenue I hadn't tried.
     
  10. jlinzmaier

    jlinzmaier Well-Known Member

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    Possibly a pathogenic bacteria. Most softies like mushrooms have a significant allelopathy capability (and produce a large amount of slime) which may make them capable of fending off the pathogenic bacteria. IMO, the pathogenic bacteria possibility would be my first guess as to what caused your tank issues to become so severe in the first place. The zeo process simply provided the bacteria with a carbon source and the right conditions for a massive population explosion in addition to stripping the system clean of all nutrients required for good coral health. Those two added together means weak corals with a hardy growth of detrimental bacteria. 1+1= tank crash.

    If you can't find any other good ideas for fixing the situation, try some high doses of ozone (while keeping the ORP below 500) and that should kill off any pathogenic bacteria wihin the water column. That will at least give your corals a chance to put up a defense before their overcome. The ozone won't kill all bacteria, just those within the water column, but it may make enough impact to allow another species of bacteria to become more dominant or outcompete the bad bacteria for living space, food, etc...

    Just a thought.

    Jeremy
     
  11. siropa

    siropa Well-Known Member

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    Jeremy, besides convincing my wife to dust off her micro-biology books and remember how to be a biologist, is there anyway to verify your theory? I don't have any ozone equipment, so that isn't going to be the easiest thing for me to just try out.

    Do you think that without the carbon sources being added that bacteria could still be thriving?
     
  12. jandlms

    jandlms Reef Enthusiast

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    Having a tank go balls up as yours did opens the door to a lot of bacteriological contamination. Jeremy is right in that those pesky shrooms are destined to survive a nuclear war. They really can handle just about anything. I would go thru the process of having a full scale test done on your water to eliminate the heavy metals angle and then go ahead and start from scratch. Quarantine your corals and empty the system. I know your system is monstrous but I'm not sure there is any other way. A UV sterilizer is only going to eliminate the bacteria in the water column not the rock or sand. Might be a good "club" project when we get up and rolling. I can certainly bring a bucket.
     
  13. 110reef

    110reef Well-Known Member

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    Have you done any siliconing lately? GEII silicone has anti-fungal agents that will kill your inhabitants.
     
  14. customcolor

    customcolor The coRal nuT

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    do you think something leached from the pond liner you used in your massive frag tank and is now in the rock? i do have a copper test but i used it once about a year ago i think...i dont know if it would be any good any more but you can have it if you want it...
     
  15. siropa

    siropa Well-Known Member

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    I've been pondering the complete tear down and re-setup, but really don't want to resort to that unless I have to.

    no recent silicone work. plus I know what is the correct kind to use. good idea though.

    I don't believe the pond liner did it. I was far from the first person to use them for that purpose. plus it hasn't been hooked up to the tank in months and months.
     
  16. Fishcrazy06

    Fishcrazy06 Reefing Addict

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    Do you think your going to go the route of a Out sourced water test? If so let us know what you think of that! I have heard of people that use them once a yr just to see how the numbers jive with theirs. I was always curious about this.
     
  17. NewMelee

    NewMelee Well-Known Member

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    +1 on the heavy metals idea. I've read more than one thread the reads just like what happened to you and found a source of metal to the tank. FWIW- no personal experience just what I have read.
     
  18. jlinzmaier

    jlinzmaier Well-Known Member

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    Well it would be very difficult to find the exact pathogen. If you were certain the problem was bacterial then you could do some cultures. Considering there could be thousands of species of bacteria in a single tank and several more species that live within various corals tissues, that isn't a realistic option. You might be able to swab an infected coral and hopefully culture out the bacteria that is causing the illness but that would be something like putting on a blind fold going into a group of 50 people and randomly selecting the one your looking for. Obviously not realistic either. If, by some chance, you were able to culture out a pathogenic bacteria, which is known for causing coral illness, you would need to treat your tank with an antibiotic which that bacteria is susceptible to. If you've ever tried convincing a vet you need interceptor to treat you tank for redbugs, then you'd have some idea of just how difficult it would then be to get a vet to prescribe abx for your tank.

    In all reality Jon is very right with his recommendations. I suggested the ozone (and/or UV) as an attempt at curing the problem before you go the whole route of taking everything down. Jon is correct that the ozone or UV would only likely affect the bacteria in the water column when ORP is maintained under 450. Although ozone injection is capable of eliminating some bacterial growth on rock and sand very near the reactors effluent, it won't treat all surfaces within the tank. Another reason I suggested ozone, is that even though it might not wipe out all pathogens in the tank, it might lower the concentrations enough that another type of bacyteria (within the tank or within the corals) can become the more prevalent species which can ultimately prevent the pathogen from exploding into plague-like numbers. There is some logic to this becuase many bacteria can only become problematic once a more dominant competitor for nutrients and space is eliminated. A common example of this is when a person develops a clostridium difficile infection after being on antibiotics for a duration of treatment. The abx wipe out a persons normal bacterial flora within their intestines and the clostridium difficile is allowed to become prevalent (and very problematic!). UV sterilization and ozone injection might be something you may want to try before entirely taking down the whole tank and entirely starting over. Starting over would mean entirely cleaning every tank and every peice of equipment that came into contact with the water. By cleaning I'd suggest a 1:1 RO water and bleach solution. You'd also have to entirely ditch the substrate and cure the rock in a bleach solution as well. That also means you then have to spend time and money neutralizing all that remaining bleach (I believe this can be done with vinegar but I'd have to look into it a bit further). I hate to be such a downer on the huge endeavor of starting over. That's why I suggested at least giving the ozone a try.

    Another thought would be to put any remaining live animals into a QT tank and really try to sterilize the entire tank. You can do this with large amounts of ozone injection allowing the ORP to get above 600. This would also kill off anything on the surfaces as the ORP of the water would be deadly to nearly all life. You could also accomplish this by not running your ozone effluent through carbon as it leaves the reactor. This would allow the ozone to get into the tank thus making the leap to an ORP of 600 much quicker and easier, as well as directly injecting ozone molecules into the tank. Ozone is a stable molecule for only a very short time and it's byproducts are easily removed with GAC. This would make it easy to get your tank back on track wihtout too much side effect after your done nuking your system. When returning the QT animals back to the tank do several dips in an iodine solution. Iodine is highly oxidative and that's why it's so good at killing any HH pests or pathogenic animals.

    If I had an ozonizer I'd love to let you borrow it but I'm looking for one myself (as a preventative measure for limiting the possibility of a pathogenic plague!!). Maybe somebody else has one you can borrow??

    If you've got no ability to try UV sterilization or ozone injection the only next logical step is taking everything down and starting over. I'd even skip the testing. It's just my opinion, but I very highly suspect this is biological and spending upwards of $100-$150 on testing you minor and major elements will likely not give you the answer your looking for. For those of you who've heard of heavy metal poisening causing a major tank crash, what elements were at fault?? I'm not sure how that could happen unless you dropped some metals (screws, pennies, etc...) in the tank. It's not impossible, but I think Bill is pretty on top of things and the correlation to the crash and the timing of using zeo leads me to believe that this is likely much more a biological problem.

    In regards to the carbon source, yes it very well could be stored up and/or still present in your tank. Usually C is the limiting factor in bacterial growth and is used up quickly in a reef tank, but dosed in large amounts (like the zeo process) without good guidance (like the poor guidance that the zeo experts gave you) it is very easy to dose enough that it can build up and be a problem over a lengh of time. There isn't a lot of research on this and I don't know how long dissolved organic carbons can remain in a system or bound to a medium. I don't believe there are any ways to test the levels of dissolved organic carbons, but it's easy to tell if there is any significant amount present. If you've got algae growing then it's highly unlikely that there are still large amounts of a carbon source present. If there was carbon present, it would likely fuel the growth of nitrifying bacteria to the point that they would decrease nitrate and phosphate levels so low that the nuisance algea wouldn't be able to grow.

    I wonder if there are other ways of sterilizing your tank without using ozone. I wonder if you could remove the live animals and dump a gallon of bleach in there and let it run for a week. After a week remove all the water and fill it with RO/DI water. Then add a crapload of bleach neutralizer (again, I think this can be accomplished by using vinegar). After 24 hours test for chlorine. If there is any present do the chlorine neutralization again. Repeat as necessary. Once the tank tests free of chlorine immediately remove all the water and fill with freshly mixed salt water as quickly as you can. As you add the new saltwater make sure you add a crapload of Cycle or some other nitrifying bacteria addative. Keep in mind that the vinegar you use to neutralize the chlorine is also a carbon source for bacteria (however it is about 100X's less concentrated than start2. Meaning 100 ml of vinegar would be equal to about 1 ml of start2). By adding the Cycle or other biological addative you'll increase your chances at any remaining vinegar fueling the growth of the nitrifying bacteria. Of course, you'd have to cycle the tank again before adding any animals and it would take some time before it's ready for SPS again (you'd essentially be starting with what would be similar to a new tank set up). This is really thinking outside the box and I don't know if this has ever even been attempted, but it's also cheaper and easier then entirely taking your system down and sterilizing everything. If I were in your shoes I'd give those options a try before I went through with breaking everything down.

    Just a few thoughts.

    Jeremy
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2010
  19. siropa

    siropa Well-Known Member

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    Wow Jeremy. You sure do come up with some ideas :)

    maybe i'll just turn the big tank into a FO and setup a nano. sure would be a lot less effort.

    a complete tear down and bleaching wouldn't be so bad if I didn't have so many big fish. really hate to risk some of those, especially the emperor angelfish that was the size of a quarter when I got him and is now about 5" long.
     
  20. jlinzmaier

    jlinzmaier Well-Known Member

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    What you don't like the bleach idea?? LOL!! Just trying to think of ways to help. I know a tear down is tough and was trying to think of other ways for killing any pathogens to aviod the tear down.

    Jeremy
     

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