Where do you most attribute to your success

Charlie’s Frags

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Nice! I added the file fish and peppermint shrimp at the same time and my aptasia is down by about 75%. Hoping that it gets fully wiped out eventually. I attribute all to the shrimp... I haven't seen a file fish touch it at all
I added a file fish to one of my other tanks and it never touched them either.
 
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Charlie’s Frags

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Common sense + keeping things super simple is a recipe for success. Always run NSW levels. Feed fish a lot(once corals are growing consistently). Never start a system with dead/dry rock or sand. Always use T5s, and always spend more money on corals than equipment.
Always use T5’s????
My wife wouldn’t let me put those ugly things up
I agree with the spend more on corals than equipment. I only spent $600 on the tank, sump and stand
 
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Screwgunner

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This is my 4th setup . First one caught my house on fire. Second one got over run by red flat worms they nuked my tank. 3rd had to move. This is my 4th go around so far I have to owe my success to algae turf scubber. Alkalinity, calcium ,magnesium, trace, .
 

lemonade

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Always use T5’s????
My wife wouldn’t let me put those ugly things up
I agree with the spend more on corals than equipment. I only spent $600 on the tank and stand
Well I’ve used strictly T5s over my DTs for at least the last decade. So I have to give them some sort of credit for my success. I have also used MH and Radions over frag tanks and can say they are certainly competent light sources, but nothing has given me the same results as T5s.
 
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sam.veilleux30

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I've been through the ringer the past 3 years trying to keep SPS. I killed over 100 frags, easy. But now, finally, they're thriving. Here's my story and advice, for better or for worse:

I started in Nov 2018 with a tank with 100% dead rock and dead sand. I spent 18 months with what the reefing community considers perfect parameters, and couldn't keep an SPS alive to save my life. After 18 months, in April 2020, I took out ALL my rock and replaced it with 100% live rock from KP Aquatics, still in the water, directly into my tank. This is where things started to turn around. A good chunk of my SPS were actually not dying, but they still weren't growing and I was losing about 75% of the frags I bought, be it after a few weeks or a few months. After about 12 months with my live rock, I had finally attained what I viewed as sufficient time and stability for my tank, and had some decent success with stags, monti's and birdsnests. But many of my acros continued to not grow, and some still died. I had a RRC Marvin the Martian that literally looked beautiful - nice color, polyp extension, etc. But it did not grow 1mm in over a year. Same with some other corals.

Fast forward to today, my tank is thriving. Growth and color is awesome. The main difference that I attribute the growth and success to is lower phosphates. For years I had read so many people say "my phosphates are 0.2" or "mine or 1.0 and I still have beautiful corals". So when my test kits ready 0.08-0.1 consistently, I ruled that out as a factor. But then I bought a Hanna ULR Phosphorus meter and it was consistently reading 60+, which is around 0.2 PO4. I figured why not try bringing that down, and once I got it to 7-10 reading (0.03 PO4), my tank completely transformed. And this was in isolation - no other variables changed. I truly believe that the lower PO4 was the final key. I know every tank is different, but for me, this was huge.

So given that as a back story, I'd say the following, in order of importance, are key to SPS success:

  1. Live rock with live bacteria. There is no bottled bacteria that can replicate this. If someone tells you they started a tank with 100% dead rock and dead sand and a bottle of bacteria, push back and really inquire what else they put in their tank. More than likely it was a piece of rock from a fellow reefer with something already established, or some type of live bacteria. If not, they are in the vast minority, they can create miracles, and I wouldn't suggest trying to emulate something like that which has very little success potential.
  2. Time - There is no substitute for time. I'm no biologist, but I envision the tank as a bunch of different bacteria, battling it out on an epic stage for balance. This takes time. Once they all settle out (6, 12, 18 months), the tank has the stability and proper balance of bacteria, sponges, etc it needs to hold SPS.
  3. Stability of Alk - I had a few times in my tank where my alk dropped by 1.5dKH over a few days, and I lost coral due to it. No question. It was a direct consequence of the alk drop. I certainly accept the argument that other aspects of the tank didn't play well to the coral, and someone with a long-established tank that is well run could weather an alk drop like that better than I, but it's unquestionably real and impactful on corals
  4. Nutrient stability - I haven't noticed that nitrate has as much impact on my corals, so long as it's above 0. I've had it at 4ppm for quite some time, but it was at 25++ for a while and I didn't notice any difference. I could be convinced otherwise but I haven't noticed it personally. Phosphates though - Phosphates are key. Like my intro said - when I dropped PO4 down to 0.03 from 0.2 my whole reefing world changed. It was awesome.
  5. Keep it simple - Lighting, flow, skimming, macroalgae, dosing, etc - there's a million ways to do these but it's pretty well documented on R2R how to achieve at least adequate lighting, flow, nutrient export, etc. Jason Fox says that flow is more important than lighting... who am I to disagree. He also loves water changes. I've read 100 posts that water changes aren't really that important, and 100 posts that they are critical. I'm sure you can be successful with either; I do 10% WC's every week or so. All these aspects seem pretty easy to dial in to be at least somewhat successful with SPS - they can be further tweaked once your sticks are growing and thriving. Numbers 1-4 above, though - that's where you'll at least have some decent success.
That's my 2 cents. I've only been in the hobby for 3 years but I feel like I've been through a lot, researched for countless hours, etc etc. I now feel like anyone could have a successful tank if they just follow the steps above. Took me a while to get there, but it's a beautiful hobby when it's going well.

Cheers,
Scott
Well written!
+1 for keeping po4 low, had them quite high for the last year and this summer a few of my acros went downhill.
 

jda

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You have to know who to believe and to listen to. Internet was always full of people who meant well but had no idea. It is worse now. While there can be a few different ways to do things, the combinations are not limitless and even the most divergent tanks still have more in common than they do not. So find some smart reefers and pay attention.

Second, is seeing the details and the nuance in things (true in most of life). Charlie does well with his N and P levels for what he keeps, but some of what I keep would suffer and die at those levels. Need to see the differences - not better or worse, just different. I keep my N and P low, but neither of us chase numbers... not chasing is what most need to focus on, instead they focus on the numbers and mostly miss the point. The smart get these types of things instead of seeing past the point to something of less consequence that might be more measurable fools gold.

Lastly, I would take good lighting and just OK flow and parameters (not crap, but competent) over perfect parameters and OK lighting. For me, once you have a tank with some stability and age, then lighting drives the bus. There is a 1 year old tank link in my signature that was driven just by MH and a bunch of equipment that most people would consider junk. While the inhabitants are not high cost, some of the digis are not easy to grow and I probably did better than most on this board can do in a year. I give the lions share of the credit to the lighting.

I am a huge fan of real live rock, 3 inches of sand, calcium reactors, heavy import through feeding fish and heavy export with chaeto and multiple skimmers. Seen plenty of tanks not do all of these and do well, but this is just what I like.
 

sgrosenb

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I keep my N and P low, but neither of us chase numbers... not chasing is what most need to focus on, instead they focus on the numbers and mostly miss the point. The smart get these types of things instead of seeing past the point to something of less consequence that might be more measurable fools gold.
Thanks @jda for the great insight. I've read many of your posts along the way and have learned a lot from you. Can you expand on the quote above? I find myself "chasing" low PO4; if I don't, my corals seem to suffer. I've been able to hold steady at 0.03 for some time now and its been working well, but I have to keep them there. Thanks!
 
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imustbenuts

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I am glad to see more posts here. It is fascinating to see longer posts with insight into your personal experiences. It shows there are many ways to be successful. Some pictures of my tank.

A880EB30-37C7-4D76-91A5-76B61E268BEF.png AB45E22D-9551-4366-9B51-AF6E57AD738A.jpeg 3195E88D-002D-4984-9804-336C70560C17.jpeg 39BFE2C3-05CC-4495-918E-848AAFDEEB9F.jpeg EB3E464C-0AB9-4B5D-9161-90C6F68DEB42.jpeg 748F714F-583F-43F3-A5FF-283F0C0113F4.jpeg 19237218-D39E-4027-AAA8-C3335EF54E68.jpeg 7831A3E3-434C-4F5E-96C4-0CAAF244E5B1.jpeg E3B18678-74C3-48DA-9503-17787028D967.jpeg 87BF84A8-6640-4FBD-99C0-5EF5F9CFE151.jpeg 111A2B7A-855B-459B-B3B6-CB431A291437.jpeg 0242D06C-27E4-4A7F-9C95-C5D4F50AC93D.jpeg B522AD84-A45A-4E1C-9B66-151C05A1D532.jpeg
 
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Charlie’s Frags

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You have to know who to believe and to listen to. Internet was always full of people who meant well but had no idea. It is worse now. While there can be a few different ways to do things, the combinations are not limitless and even the most divergent tanks still have more in common than they do not. So find some smart reefers and pay attention.

Second, is seeing the details and the nuance in things (true in most of life). Charlie does well with his N and P levels for what he keeps, but some of what I keep would suffer and die at those levels. Need to see the differences - not better or worse, just different. I keep my N and P low, but neither of us chase numbers... not chasing is what most need to focus on, instead they focus on the numbers and mostly miss the point. The smart get these types of things instead of seeing past the point to something of less consequence that might be more measurable fools gold.

Lastly, I would take good lighting and just OK flow and parameters (not crap, but competent) over perfect parameters and OK lighting. For me, once you have a tank with some stability and age, then lighting drives the bus. There is a 1 year old tank link in my signature that was driven just by MH and a bunch of equipment that most people would consider junk. While the inhabitants are not high cost, some of the digis are not easy to grow and I probably did better than most on this board can do in a year. I give the lions share of the credit to the lighting.

I am a huge fan of real live rock, 3 inches of sand, calcium reactors, heavy import through feeding fish and heavy export with chaeto and multiple skimmers. Seen plenty of tanks not do all of these and do well, but this is just what I like.
Just out of curiosity, what acros do you believe wouldn’t survive 0.20 po4?
 

Kfactor

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I haven’t hd a lot of success with my tanks but with my new build I did everything right ( I hope lol) now all is I have to worrie about is the chemistry part will see ho it goes
 

Charlie’s Frags

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Interested as well @jda - I'm curious if they are the same / similar to a lot of the ones that I have lost prior to lower PO4. I appreciate all the knowledge being shared!

 

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