Zach's 120 Gallon Reef Resurgence - SPS/Mixed Reef - Build Journal

Discussion in 'Member Tanks' started by zachxlutz, Dec 7, 2016.

  1. zachxlutz

    zachxlutz 120 Gallons of FUN R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    I just placed an order with Tidal Gardens during their YouTube live sale. Well, I missed it live, I was out riding my mountain bike, but once I got home and saw that many of the corals I would have ordered during the live portion were still available, I went ahead and got my order in before they took down the corals from the site. I had a gift card from Christmas, so I kind of went berserk...
    • Purple Bonsai acropora
    • Frogskin acropora
    • Pink Sand Dollar montipora
    • Strawberry Patch montipora
    • Sunset montipora
    • Neon Green montipora
    • Superman montipora
    • Purple Haze montipora
    • Pink Floyd chalice
    • Red Stripe chalice
    • Hollywood Stunner chalice
    • Hill Have Eyes chalice

    Can't wait for these to show up! 2 acros, 6 montis, 4 chalices... This is really going to help fill out some bare spots in the tank.
     
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  2. zachxlutz

    zachxlutz 120 Gallons of FUN R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Ho-lee mo-lee. That was stressful... My order from Tidal Gardens showed up this morning, so I spent my lunch break (plus some) acclimating, dipping and putting the coral in the tank.

    A couple of notable things.
    • Looks like I got a couple of AEFW (acropora eating flatworms, Amakusaplana acroporae) to detach in the CoralRX dip.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    • Spotted an aiptasia on the bottom of one of the chalice frag plugs. - broke the end of that frag plug off.
    • I didn't remove any of the corals from their plugs (my usual process) as I was already at a high stress level from receiving that many frags at once.
    [​IMG]

    Left to Right
    1. Pink Sand Dollar Monti
    2. Frogskin Acro
    3. Neon Green Monti
    4. Strawberry Patch Monti
    5. Purple Haze Monti
    6. Purple Bonsai Acro
    7. Sunset Monti
    8. Superman Monti

    [​IMG]

    Left to Right
    1. Red Stripe Chalice
    2. Hills Have Eyes Chalice
    3. Pink Floyd Chalice
    4. Hollywood Stunner Chalice

    [​IMG]

    I hope the CoralRX dip and the Bayer dip handled the AEFWs. I'm very stressed about this. What should my next steps be? I'm thinking I'll remove all the frags from the frag plugs tonight and reglue them all to new frag plugs to observe for a while before placing the corals in the rockwork? I realize I probably should have just done this before placing them in the tank.

    Ugh. I really hope I didn't introduce any pests into the tank.
     
  3. zachxlutz

    zachxlutz 120 Gallons of FUN R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Last night, I mounted the Chalice frags on small pieces of live rock rubble so that I can move them around a bit once I see how far the sweepers extend. I placed them all on the lower part of the left island. I'll post a picture or two this evening. I still need to mount up the acros and montis but I ran out of time last night.

    I'll be dosing Vibrant again tonight, I skipped last week and I'm moving to a bi-weekly dosing schedule rather than weekly. I didn't get any significant rise in Nitrates or Algae growth by skipping a week so I'm hoping this new dosing schedule will help even out the NO3 swings and reduce my dependence on KNO3.

    Since picking up the Hannah ULR Phosphorus checker I've noticed that my PO4 levels are dangerously close to 0. I'm seeing very lower numbers than I'd like. .012 ppm last week and .003 ppm last night. To battle this I'm going to increase my feedings a bit more. I'm hoping that once I bring the three new wrasses over to the tank it'll help bring the nutrients up a little more.

    I'm dealing with a bit of STN on the montipora Setosa, although it's showing decent color and growth otherwise. I may end up having to frag it to save it. Hoping to increase the phosphates some and see the recession/bleaching stop.
     
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  4. zachxlutz

    zachxlutz 120 Gallons of FUN R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Quick FTS 04/07/2017:

    [​IMG]

    Left Island:

    [​IMG]

    See the chalices mounted on their shiny new start white rubble homes? Me too. Hopefully the rubble darkens up quickly, it's quite an eyesore now. The green psammocora refuses to look good under the full 8 bulbs, it just looks brown... Under the 2 bulbs of actinic and purple at sunrise and sunset it looks great though. :/ The Montipora spongodes is still regaining its color from when it bleached/browned out but it's well on it's way to recovery. The montipora setosa isn't looking great, to be honest. It's pale and has some STN. Not sure what's going on there.

    Right Island:

    [​IMG]

    Things look fairly good over here on this side, save for the Cyphastrea issues I've got going on. It's still showing great polyp extension but the blue/green base is bleaching a bit and the polyps don't have the color they once had. The chameleon acro, red planet and red digi are all showing great encrusting.

    I'm hoping the tank is just going through some new tank swings still and things will continue to improve as I control the parameters and keep them stable.

    Sorry the pictures aren't great. I'll need to bust out the DSLR for some better shots. That'll wait until I get the rest of the frags mounted up. Now I just need to decide where to put them.
     
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  5. zachxlutz

    zachxlutz 120 Gallons of FUN R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    I haven't updated lately and I apologize for that... The tank just isn't performing to the high level of standard I am holding it too. I'm still struggling with coral coloration and to some extent growth. I'm really struggling with some nuisance algae right now that I'm trying to ID.

    I'm hoping you kind folks can help point me in the right direction to ID this.

    Description:
    • Blows off coral/rock/sand easily but returns quickly
    • Stringy brownish color
    • Doesn't appear to create it's own bubbles within but will catch them occasionally
    • Appears to diminish with lights out and increase within the photoperiod
    • Covers some coral, lots of the rock and lots of the sand bed

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Tank:
    120 Gallon Display
    55 Gallon Sump
    Total water volume 140 gallons
    ATI Sunpower 8x54 watt T5 lights

    Parameters:
    Temp: 78* F
    Salinity: 35 ppt
    Ph: 7.82-8.14 (daily swing)
    Alk: 8.5
    Ca: 435-440
    NO3: 3-5 ppm
    PO4: .01-.03
    Mg: 1380
    (all parameters are very stable, I test very often)

    Dosing (through dosing pumps):
    BRS Alk/Cal: 20 ml daily each (.2 dkh Alk/1.39 ppm Cal daily consumption rate)
    Red Sea Coral Colors ABCD: .3ml daily each

    Dosing (manual):
    Nitrate: KNO3 - as needed, usually 10-20ml (28g/150ml solution) weekly
    Vibrant: Weekly
    Water Changes: 20% Monthly

    Feeding:
    Dry: Hikari Marine S Pellets, 4x daily through auto feeder
    Frozen: Mysis, daily or every other day
     
  6. Maritimer

    Maritimer Moderator Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award CTARS Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    That sounds dino-ish, though I've no personal experience with the beasties. I know some recommend getting them ID'd under a microscope . . .

    ~Bruce
     
  7. zachxlutz

    zachxlutz 120 Gallons of FUN R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Crossposting from another thread (to keep my thread up to date):

    Stopping Vibrant dosing seems to be the consensus. I'd been having great experience with the Vibrant until just recently when this popped up. It's appearing to get worse. I can't seem to positively ID it though. I'm unsure of whether it's cyano, diatoms, or dinoflagellates. I will be stopping the Vibrant dosing as of last dose. If GHA pops up again I'll look at adding some more clean up crew. I only added a sparse clean-up crew at the initial set-up of the tank 9 months ago. I'm sure it could use some more as I'm sure there was some die-off due to lack of algae for grazing. The tank has never really had a lot of algae. I certainly don't see too many snails out and about anymore... I'll pick up some next time I'm at the LFS.

    The symptoms appear to be worsening. I'm seeing more and more of the stringy brown slimy substance on every surface of the aquarium, corals included.

    [​IMG]

    This picture pretty well illustrates the growth patterns. It's matting a bit where flow is low, but definitely stringy in high flow. It attaches to everything. Tips of hard coral included. IT SHOWS NO MERCY. It does trap some bubbles, but, I don't see the bubbles at the tips of the strings that I see mentioned when discussing dinoflagellates.

    The color is best described as rust. It's not red or purple like most of the cyanobacteria I see discussed. I've dealt with cyano once before in an old tank and had good luck with Chemi-Clean. I've got some Chemi-Clean on hand and I'm going to consider dosing it if I don't see a decrease in this nastiness after I try manual removal, blowing it off the rocks and discontinuing the use of Vibrant.

    Hmmmmm...
     
  8. zachxlutz

    zachxlutz 120 Gallons of FUN R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    All that being said...

    I picked up a PMK (Par Monitoring Kit) from Neptune and tossed it in the tank just now before the lights dimmed and it was showing a PAR of around 390 in this location with all 8 bulbs on 100%. The lights just dimmed to 2 bulbs and it's showing a PAR of around 80. I'll move the sensor around to some other locations and see what kind of PAR I'm getting all over the tank and then make one of those fancy photos with the PAR numbers overlaid. Sorry about the rubbish picture.

    [​IMG]

    The PAR sensor is located in the "live rock" on the right island, if it didn't pop right out at you.
     
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  9. zachxlutz

    zachxlutz 120 Gallons of FUN R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    New updates:

    Phosphates are between 0 and 0.003 checking with the Hanna ULR phosphorus checker and have been reading 0-ish since 5/7/17. I took the first test on the 7th as a error and did a check with the Red Sea kit and it always comes up barely noticeable in the color range. I usually call it 0.03 or so... I made a note of this in my tracking log and just used the value from the Red Sea titration kit. I'm thinking my phosphates have bottomed out leading to a dinoflagellate bloom. Looking at the trend, the phosphates dropping and the rise in dinos seems to correlate.

    I'm thinking about dosing up the phosphorus in the tank. I've perused through the Dinoflagellate threads on the forums and a common theme is low phosphates causing dino outbreaks and increasing phosphate levels seems to be the cure. It's natural, like dosing KNO3 has been and I think i'm going to give it a shot. I'll be picking up some SeaChem Flourish Phosphorus and bringing the levels up to around .03 ppm.

    Thoughts?
     
  10. zachxlutz

    zachxlutz 120 Gallons of FUN R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Furthermore, I've noticed a drop in calcium and alkalinity uptake since the phosphate levels have been dropping. Further reviewing my logs, I see that the phosphates began to drop around the middle of march, which is when I noticed the alkalinity rising and subsequent 5% drops week after week in my dosing schedule. I think this might have something to do with this bloom. I have been unhappy with the growth and coloration in the last few months and I really think I'm just seeing systemic effects of having an ULNS. The Vibrant dosing was masking some problems, I think. The tank looked clean and clear but it's really been struggling.

    Plan of action:

    • Vibrant is off the menu.
    • Trimmed back the mass of chaeto in the refugium.
    • Feeding the fish a little heavier handed.
    • Acropower. I've been wanting to try this and I've seen @Randy Holmes-Farley mention in some threads that aminos do help ULNS. I've already got this on hand and will start tonight.
    • Tuning the skimmer to produce less skimmate.
    • Possibly dosing some phosphorous product to jumpstart the process.
     
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  11. zachxlutz

    zachxlutz 120 Gallons of FUN R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    I'm leaning towards thinking this all stems from the strongest algae/bacteria that the Vibrant couldn't combat and it's now taken the low phosphate situation in the tank and taken off with it. I believe it probably would have laid dormant if it was being outcompeted by other more controllable algaes.

    I stripped the water in the tank bare from the get go. I was running GFO and changing it out constantly, targeting that 0 phosphate... and succeeding. The tank was a barren wasteland for the first 4 months of the tank. I haven't run any since November. The tank was started in September. I started the KNO3 dosing in early December and the Vibrant shortly after that, as I was dealing with some GHA on the back glass and plastic bits in the tank. If I could go back again and start over, I never would have used the Vibrant or only used it to get it under control and then backed off but I continued dosing as I saw no ill effects until this started popping up.

    For the record, I was asked to take some of the stuff out of the tank and swirl it around in a container to see if it reconstituted. It seems like it did. It seemed to form pillar like structures within the container within the first 10 minutes or so.

    Immediately after swirling the water around and agitating it with a baster:
    [​IMG]

    10 minutes or so later, you can see how it's reconstituted and formed pillars and stringy sections:
    [​IMG]

    Between seeing the stuff reconstitute and seeing how it covers everything and talking with some knowledgeable people, I believe I have a form of dinoflagellate ostreopsis which I should be able to knock out with a nice small increase in phosphates and allowing some other more controllable algaes to overtake and outcompete.
     
  12. zachxlutz

    zachxlutz 120 Gallons of FUN R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    5 minute timelapse of the stuff reconstituting.

     
  13. zachxlutz

    zachxlutz 120 Gallons of FUN R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Update:

    Crossing my fingers over here. I think I'm making some progress. It looks like the dinoflagellates are slowing down the spreading and possibly receding a bit. I've only been blowing it off of the corals and a little bit here and there when it's impeding on a coral. Additionally, I've been heavily feeding the tank and actively adding KNO3 to keep the nitrates at +/- 3 ppm. The tank is currently consuming about 1.5 ppm of NO3 every day. I think what's happening is the extra feeding is increasing the available phosphates and this is promoting desirable algal and coral growth, thus consuming both NO3 and PO4 in the process and hopefully outcompeting the dinoflagellates as a side effect. I've been tracking the phosphates daily and they are raising and holding steady at about 0.03 +/- 0.02. If I notice the phosphates dropping I'll just throw an extra couple pinches of food or an extra mysis cube. I see a few very small patches of fluffy turf type algae pop up underneath the stringy brown dinoflagellates in some nooks and crannies of the liverock. I think that's encouraging. I can add more snails to deal with that if the Foxface doesn't eat it up first. The macros in the sump seem to be growing and driving up the pH trend, it had been suppressed by about -.1 for the last few weeks. I've also had my calcium and alkalinity dosing off throughout this ordeal as consumption seemed to stop. It's been almost steady for a few weeks now but I think it's finally dropping. This would, in my opinion, indicate that the coral are kicking back into growth mode and consuming alkalinity. I'll continue to monitor and bring dosing back online as needed. One thing I have noticed is there is hardly any of the dinoflagellates in the sump. There is some green looking stuff on the heaters in the return chamber but that's been there for months and hasn't really done much, I assume it's a harmless cyano. I haven't dosed any Vibrant in 17 days. I really hope the bacteria from it are reaching their end of life and it's effects on the system will continue to diminish over time.

    It's hard to discern in photos so I don't really have any to post but I'll keep updating this thread as I battle this nightmare.
     
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  14. zachxlutz

    zachxlutz 120 Gallons of FUN R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    [​IMG]

    FTS 06/15/2017:
    [​IMG]

    It's been about three weeks since I updated this thread so I figured it was time for a quick run-down of what's been going on with the tank and how the battle with dinoflagellates is going.

    I was kidding myself thinking that just additional feeding was helping with the dinos. I kept feeding and feeding and checking with the Hannah Phosphorus ULR checker and was consistently seeing 0 or 1. ZERO PHOSPHATES. ZILCH.

    I finally bit the bullet and bought some AquaVitro Activate phosphorus additive and I've been dosing up to .1 every day for the last couple of days and this time... this time I think I see a decrease in the dinos. It seems like the tank is soaking up about 1 ppm NO3 and .05 ppm PO4 daily. I definitely see some more polyp extension and LOTS of growth in the refugium. I'm really hoping this is the path I need to keep following. What really needs to happen is the addition of a few more fish to more naturally increase the bio-load so I can move away from having to dose both nitrates and phosphates.

    Last night I added 2 packs of 5280 pods from algaebarn.com and refreshed my CUC with 100 Dwarf Ceriths, 23 Nassarius vibex, 38 Florida Ceriths, 25 Assorted Hermits, 25 Nerites and 1 Fighting Conch.

    Florida Fighting Conch (2.5-3" long):
    [​IMG]

    I'm also starting a dosing regimen of live phytoplankton daily to help feed the zooplankton which, hopefully, are playing a role in helping to diminish the dinoflagellates.

    Alk has bottomed out at 8.1 for the last 3 weeks with no dosing. I'm seeing slight growth in the coral, just not enough to soak up the alkalinity in the water and require dosing. I'll just keep the calcium and alkalinity dosers off until I see the need to turn them back on.

    The refugium is packed with red and green macros that are growing like crazy and proving to be quite the breeding ground for pods, worms and all sorts of tiny little zooplankton. I need to trim it back, but I hate to pull it out, it's looking really neat.
     
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  15. codydemmel4

    codydemmel4 Valuable Member

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    any update now?

    Do you have a filter sock and are you still blasting the dinos with a turkey baster, etc?
     
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  16. zachxlutz

    zachxlutz 120 Gallons of FUN R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    I've been blasting everywhere that has dinos daily, although the need to has been decreasing since the phosphate dosing. I run an eshopps 300 micron filter sock that I replace about once a week after it starts to overflow. I've also had to clean out the mesh inside my glass-holes overflows as it's been holding some of the blasted off dinos as well.
     
  17. codydemmel4

    codydemmel4 Valuable Member

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    I am not sure my phosphates are that low, but possibly they are. The dinos popped up out of nowhere when I was on vacation. Now I am nervous as I am going on vacation again this Sunday for a week. I have an autofeeder that feeds flakes 4 times a day but thats all I feed.
     
  18. zachxlutz

    zachxlutz 120 Gallons of FUN R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    180 gallons and you're only feeding flakes 4x a day? You may be nutrient limited. I feed 2-3 cubes of mysis daily and 4x a day the autofeeder spins twice and drops Marine S pellets and I still struggle to keep nutrients in the tank. Do you think your tank got less food during the vacation period?
     
  19. codydemmel4

    codydemmel4 Valuable Member

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    Looks like I will be feeding more. I know people who feed there tank every other day and have great growth so I dont know. I would say it probably got less when I was on vacation since noone was feeding anything other then the autofeeder. I do drop some pellets and frozen mysis every once in awhile, same with brine
     
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  20. zachxlutz

    zachxlutz 120 Gallons of FUN R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    I'd try upping the food additions to the tank and see if that helps.
     
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