Why can I not keep SPS alive?

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am3gross

am3gross

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So with talking to some of the locals, can flow cause the quick death that I am experiencing? I have to MP60s and a MP40. I did not think they were, However I turned them down and I am still getting wavy movement and the LPS are actually starting to open more then I have ever seen.

The SPS usually starts from the bottom to the top when it dies.
 
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thatmanMIKEson

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Details first:

Tank Size: 375 gallons (96x37.5x24.5)
Sump: 75 gallons
Fuge: 40 gallons
Nitrates: 0
Phosphates: .30
PH: 7.98
Akalinity: 9.54
Calcium: 427
Magnesium: 1362
Salinity: 35.5
Temp: 78-79
Lights: 3 Ecotech G5 Pro, had them approximately 2 months, sitting at 90 percent
Flow: 2 MP60 1 MP 40, I have tried turning the flow up and it is currently turned down

Issue:

No matter what SPS I put in there, it dies. Sometimes after a week. In the beginning some would last a month to 6 weeks. I feel there is a pest of some sort in there. I have taken corals out and dipped and nothing but pods have come off the coral, So I am confused there. All corals when placed in the tank start at the very bottom of the tank, to acclimate to the lights. Here lately corals have not made it off the bottom before they die, so they do not even make it to the rock. My next assumption would be maybe the livestock, I have Emerald crabs, 7 tangs, a yellow coris wrasse, xmas wrasse, black leopard wrasse, and a Fairy Wrasse, 3 damsels and 2 cardinal fish. I really dont think the fish would kill stuff as I never see them picking at the coral. The emeralds only come out at night, so they are suspect. Any soft coral I have is safe, I have a pretty good success rate with those.

Does anyone have any ideas for me? If you need more info on anything please let me know, I have tried to list all the normal stuff that people ask for.


Thanks in advance,

-Juice
get a go pro 9 and take a time-lapse video and watch what happens for a week
 

DHill6

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Cant tell from the previous pics if you have any coraline growth.

You normally want to see this in a non Zeovit / AF tank.

Also, are you doing water changes?
Hold on, not necessarily. I have coralline, use Zeovit and an urchin
 
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DHill6

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A lot of opinions in this thread. I’ve tried a few different ways for tank management myself. I think it comes down to water quality first, flow 2nd, lighting 3rd.
Water changes replace a lot of different things, I use them, alittle bit of Zeovit products to feed, nutrient export by wc,skimmer, added Pom Pom algae recently. I also run g5 Pro over a 34g tank, 9 inches above water set at 48%. SPS, LPS, clam sitting on bb tank all doing well. The rock has to mature before the balance is easy. My no3 is low, I don’t dose that anymore. When the tank finds its balance everything turns around overnight. I do have 3 small fish and a lot of snails so there’s always n03 in there to some extent. Maybe a little if this will help. Im sure you e heard this before…don’t chase numbers, I learned this after a few years of jumping on the newest bandwagon…:)
 

Treefer32

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I'm speaking from personal experience and having similar issues. I went through a period where I lost a 12" massive stylaphora coral. Supposed to be easy to keep SPS, up and died within a week. I lost a birdsnest the same week. But other SPS was fine. I thought a dip of the skeletons would yield critters, but yielded nothing but algae. . .

I decided to do an ICP test, thinking there has to be something off, a stray heavy metal, maybe a screw in the sump or something strange and weird. . . The ICP test was revealing just not in ways I hoped.... It told me my red sea phosphate tests were crap. . . Always showed .16. Not great, but shouldn't kill SPS...

The ICP Test showed no signs of any heavy metals, in fact I was lacking in all trace elements (they were all undetectable). Which was a different problem, but, the biggest issue was, phosphates were detected at .66 not the .16 I thought they were at. . .

I worked to slowly lower my phosphates over a 2 month period from .66ppm to .05 ppm. Now, my SPS, no matter where they're at in my tank are doing amazing. My LPS hammers are growing new heads like crazy. I have Alveopora, supposed to be hard to grow, growing fast and beautifully. My Acropora are continuing to grow and looking great.

My chalice that had tissue dying off all over the coral, regrew new tissue and sealed up tears in it's skeleton, now, you would never know my chalice had been rotting.....

I too thought maybe it was lights, but, phosphates were the big issue for me. Our test kits don't do well. I got a Hana phosphate checker after the phosphate test, and it's saved me many $$$ in corals. Sometimes it's the simple stuff. I dose trace elements now also. (Red Sea A, B, C, and D) a couple times a week. I just detected phosphates rising back up to .15 this past week and noticed one of my acropora having tissue recession. I reduced phosphates down to .05 over a 4-5 day period and and the recession stopped and it's showing new growth on its tips.

My opinion is don't dismiss the simple stuff. Do an ICP test to confirm your real phosphates or get a Hana checker if you don't have one and verify they're really .3...

The .3 ppm phosphates and almost 10 dkh alk, combined, could be a recipe for SPS killer. Also make sure your DI resin is changed often enough....

Your water must have too much or not enough of something... Lights could be an issue, but usually the lights will affect coloration and longevity of the coral, it shouldn't kill it within a few days. . . To me that's a sign of water issues. Salinity could be off (too high), phosphates are for sure too high, and alk is bordering on dangerously high. My GSP won't open if my alk hits ten, along with my toadstool. Both completely get mad when my alk hit above 10 DKH.

I'd be careful with the dosing... My SPS are doing great at phosphates of .05ppm and alk at 8.3. Calcium is around 525, and magnesium just over 1500.

Just some random thoughts! Hope you find the issues! If I had to choose between a Hana ULR phosphate tester and an ICP test, I'd probably go the Phosphate tester first.
 

JWsticks

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Hold on, not necessarily. I have coralline, use Zeovit and an urchin
To be clear, Coraline growth will be minimal if you're running ULNS and near 0 nutrients.

You need nutrients to grow Coraline regardless of the system you run.

Most running Zeo or AF are at 0 and dose enough for the corals to consume.
 

JWsticks

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I'm speaking from personal experience and having similar issues. I went through a period where I lost a 12" massive stylaphora coral. Supposed to be easy to keep SPS, up and died within a week. I lost a birdsnest the same week. But other SPS was fine. I thought a dip of the skeletons would yield critters, but yielded nothing but algae. . .

I decided to do an ICP test, thinking there has to be something off, a stray heavy metal, maybe a screw in the sump or something strange and weird. . . The ICP test was revealing just not in ways I hoped.... It told me my red sea phosphate tests were crap. . . Always showed .16. Not great, but shouldn't kill SPS...

The ICP Test showed no signs of any heavy metals, in fact I was lacking in all trace elements (they were all undetectable). Which was a different problem, but, the biggest issue was, phosphates were detected at .66 not the .16 I thought they were at. . .

I worked to slowly lower my phosphates over a 2 month period from .66ppm to .05 ppm. Now, my SPS, no matter where they're at in my tank are doing amazing. My LPS hammers are growing new heads like crazy. I have Alveopora, supposed to be hard to grow, growing fast and beautifully. My Acropora are continuing to grow and looking great.

My chalice that had tissue dying off all over the coral, regrew new tissue and sealed up tears in it's skeleton, now, you would never know my chalice had been rotting.....

I too thought maybe it was lights, but, phosphates were the big issue for me. Our test kits don't do well. I got a Hana phosphate checker after the phosphate test, and it's saved me many $$$ in corals. Sometimes it's the simple stuff. I dose trace elements now also. (Red Sea A, B, C, and D) a couple times a week. I just detected phosphates rising back up to .15 this past week and noticed one of my acropora having tissue recession. I reduced phosphates down to .05 over a 4-5 day period and and the recession stopped and it's showing new growth on its tips.

My opinion is don't dismiss the simple stuff. Do an ICP test to confirm your real phosphates or get a Hana checker if you don't have one and verify they're really .3...

The .3 ppm phosphates and almost 10 dkh alk, combined, could be a recipe for SPS killer. Also make sure your DI resin is changed often enough....

Your water must have too much or not enough of something... Lights could be an issue, but usually the lights will affect coloration and longevity of the coral, it shouldn't kill it within a few days. . . To me that's a sign of water issues. Salinity could be off (too high), phosphates are for sure too high, and alk is bordering on dangerously high. My GSP won't open if my alk hits ten, along with my toadstool. Both completely get mad when my alk hit above 10 DKH.

I'd be careful with the dosing... My SPS are doing great at phosphates of .05ppm and alk at 8.3. Calcium is around 525, and magnesium just over 1500.

Just some random thoughts! Hope you find the issues! If I had to choose between a Hana ULR phosphate tester and an ICP test, I'd probably go the Phosphate tester first.
I've gone through a similar experience where liquid phosphate test kits were registering 0ppm and Hanna ULR Phosphate read 0.30.

After correcting that, all the acros started coming to life. Also noticed montiporas did not mind the dirty tank and was able to grow colonies from 1inch frags
 
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am3gross

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I am extremely frustrated right now. No matter what SPS I stick in the tank, with in 2 weeks it dies.

I have 2 MP60's, 1 MP40 for flow.

I have 6 gen 5 Ecotechs for lights at 60% 9 inches above the water.

I bought a PAR meter and checked all parameters, and I have good spread from what I can tell.

I have a full APEX system, to include the Trident.

My ALK has been with in a .3 for weeks...

CAL is 500

MG is 1356

Nitrate is 10

Phosphates are .06

Salinity is 1.025

I pulled a "dyeing" SPS out and dipped it for bugs and nothing...

I have 1 torch that is looking great, the other barely comes out... a frogspawn that is ok..

Zoas, Acans, Clove polyps, Xenia, Alevepora and a Blasto all look great.

If it is an SPS or Monty, it dies...

I dont know what else to do at this point.
 

tehmadreefer

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So do not anything for a month.

Get an oversized skimmer if you can, don’t test, don’t dlfiddle with anything, keep hands out and just do basic maintenance. Then add sps and see what happens.
 
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am3gross

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I even put the SPS midway to upper part of the tank.
 

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am3gross

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Fish are:

Achillies tang
Powderblue tang
purple tang
scopas tang
yellow mimic tang
blue eyed kole tang
chevron tang
powder brown (sump)
sailfin tang (sump)

leopard wrasse
xmas wrasse
fairy wrasse

2 cardinal fish

3 damsel

red scooter blenny

mandarin goby

4 anthias
 

ScottB

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You may not have the time or interest to get all the way through this thread, but in it are answers to your thread title question. Your exact same problem/question is posted on R2R pretty much daily. And while there are often nuances (lighting, ALK, flow,etc) the core issue is that the biome -- the interconnected web of plankton, bacteria, sponges, film algae, microorganisms etc -- is not developed enough to support the needs of these creatures.


So, add some ocean live rock ideally, or some established live rock. Or a starter pack from IPSF.COM. Something that brings in "wild" microorganisms. Sponges are always a good sign that the system is ready IME.

Other little tweaks to consider:
a) Check the nutrient and ALK levels of your coral vendor. None of the ones I buy from run elevated ALK like you are.
b) The lack of light you are running isn't killing them this quickly. It is still a problem you need to solve for acropora.
c) You have just enough powerhead volume if you run them hard enough.
d) Describe your dipping/acclimation process.
 
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am3gross

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@ScottB

I read that very long thread, there is alot of people that have the same issue that I am having here, the exact same issue. I know that in THIS post everyone says time is the key here, but I still have a few questions.

From the thread, I get that I need more bacteria. I ordered some and will try it. Cant hurt anything, that is for sure.

So here is my question, If I started with real live rock I would not have to add bacteria, but if I add bacteria I will have to continue to add it. Why do the corals use up the bacteria I add but not the bacteria that comes on the live rock? Is this some kind of catch where companies just try and get more money out of someone?
 

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I live in Hampton. I can try to help. I can give you some live rock from my system. I can also test your water to compare to your results. I also saw that you have a PAR meter, we can compare results with mine.
 

ScottB

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@ScottB

I read that very long thread, there is alot of people that have the same issue that I am having here, the exact same issue. I know that in THIS post everyone says time is the key here, but I still have a few questions.

From the thread, I get that I need more bacteria. I ordered some and will try it. Cant hurt anything, that is for sure.

So here is my question, If I started with real live rock I would not have to add bacteria, but if I add bacteria I will have to continue to add it. Why do the corals use up the bacteria I add but not the bacteria that comes on the live rock? Is this some kind of catch where companies just try and get more money out of someone?
Yes, your issue is probably the most common thread in the SPS forum, so clearly we don't have all the answers nor the data to prove what does/does not work. We are inferring or deducing based on a collection of experiences.

The bacteria that SPS need most are the ones that consume/process nutrients -- namely phosphates -- and make them them available/consumable for the SPS to consume easily. Most of the bottled bacteria products that I've used seem to process Nitrates much more so than phosphates. Lou Ekus (Tropic Marin) has done a few videos and discusses SPS phosphate consumption via bacteria and carbon dosing. (And of course has a product offering suited to the purpose :))

Live rock is my "go to" method of starting a system and in some cases rebooting a system. Looks like you have an offer from @vlad2spinn that you could consider. A really good LFS usually keeps some sump rock around as well. Just make sure it comes out of a REEF system, not a fish system. LFS fish systems often run copper.

The best testimonial I have is probably in this build thread. We got it wet on May 24th, stocked with 200 lbs of live rock that came out of 3 different coral systems. Stocked it with hardy SPS about 3 weeks later. Still going strong. Barely any uglies and no noticeable hitchhiker problems so far. The initial coral stock list is on page 6.



(Forgive me if I am repeating myself on this thread as I often forget what I've written in THIS thread versus the dozen or so other very similar threads.)
 
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am3gross

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@Scott B.

You are not repeating yourself at all, and I appreciate all the help! You my friend have opened my eyes a lot and thanks is just not enough!

@vlad2spinn

I could use all the help I can get, and maybe a 2nd set of eyes might be worth having. Let me know what and when is best for you, I can bring my par meter and a sample to you or what ever. If the answer is to get live rock then I will do it, but I cant let you give me rock! That stuff is gold!

At the end of the day I think the answer is going to be patience. Let the tank mature.. I am just running low on patience right now! The bacteria that I ordered will hopefully be here next week. I got Zeostart3 and Zeobach. I will start with the half dose as recommended in the post that Scott B. directed me to. And that will be a 3 month process. Maybe I will be ready to try another SPS towards the 1st of the year.
 

vlad2spinn

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@Scott B.

You are not repeating yourself at all, and I appreciate all the help! You my friend have opened my eyes a lot and thanks is just not enough!

@vlad2spinn

I could use all the help I can get, and maybe a 2nd set of eyes might be worth having. Let me know what and when is best for you, I can bring my par meter and a sample to you or what ever. If the answer is to get live rock then I will do it, but I cant let you give me rock! That stuff is gold!

At the end of the day I think the answer is going to be patience. Let the tank mature.. I am just running low on patience right now! The bacteria that I ordered will hopefully be here next week. I got Zeostart3 and Zeobach. I will start with the half dose as recommended in the post that Scott B. directed me to. And that will be a 3 month process. Maybe I will be ready to try another SPS towards the 1st of the year.
PM me your contact info. I have things to do today, but I am available almost any day next week, or the weekend. I can also give you some easy to grow stuff as test corals so you don't have to spend money on frags that will just die. I have tons of green pocillopora that I grow in anywhere from 300 PAR all the way down to 50 PAR. If that dies, you can eliminate lights as the main problem. I also have a lot of purple digitata I can give you. It also grows in wide PAR range. Not as forgiving as pocillopora, but also grows like a weed in my tank. Once you get those to grow, I can give you some acro frags that seem very forgiving in my tank and are fast growers. I can also bring ICP test with me and you can send it off to make sure it is not heavy metal problem or some other mineral deficiency.

I really don't think lighting is your main problem, as others suggested. SPS would not die this quickly with insufficient light. Once you find and fix the main problem, and are able to keep SPS alive, then you can play with lights and add lights to get better coloration, faster growth, etc.
 
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