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Feel like such a newb - advice needed

Discussion in 'Newbies Corner' started by DyM, Jun 13, 2019.

  1. DyM

    DyM Sardine M.A.S.C Club Member

    With as long as I had a reef, this new one is kicking my a$s. SPS and a lot of other corals keep withering away and dying.

    What's good: Acans, zoa's, chalices, blastos, brains, BTA, shrimps, tube warm, thriving pod population, coraline algae growing everywhere.
    What I can't keep: Montis cap and digi, lepto jack o'lantern, reverse prism favia, and a slew of acros - slimer, smooth skin etc. They die over 4-6 weeks.

    All fish are happy and good

    I thought it was too much light as I have 3 radion pro's on a 155. I knocked it down to 2, and they are max 40% so sure it's not the light, setting was for 14k, but now a bit bluer - ATI

    I've tested everything so many times, with different test kits. ALK, CALC, MAG, NO3, PO4, Ammonia, all seem fine. Ph runs between 8.1-8.2

    Trying not to make any knee jerk reactions, and changing slowly, trying one thing at a time over several weeks, but still seeing a decline.

    Using Liveaquaria pro salt, tested RO water with a dip for chlorine, and it's good, and 0 ppm. All filters including RO are new.

    I do run ozone, and only use it 5min per hr, for half the day. I don't run filter socks and the ozone stops build up. I turned it off for 3 weeks and it had no change.

    Sump is full of cheto, that grows really well. I did start to see PO4 get a bit high (1ppm), but got that back down with less feeding.

    My experience says the skimmer is a bit oversized, but doesn't seem to be skimming too much...

    I looked around for anything that could have rusted, or fallen in, and do not see anything.

    Run about a cup of carbon, change out monthly, and tried using less and more, not change. Thinking next to take that out for a few weeks.

    I just ordered ICP water test - the one here in CO (from BRS) and should have that here in a few days. I'll send it out right away.

    No fish nip or attach corals, after looking and looking, I don't see any red bugs, nudies, AEFW, or any other parasite.... I even took out an orange digi and dipped it to see if I could see anything bad in the dip, nothing.

    Keep trying but lost a lot of coral, and feel like an idiot. Any advice or area to explore is welcomed...
  2. DyM

    DyM Sardine M.A.S.C Club Member

    A few nuances - a chunk of purple stylophora has lived through it all, doesn't look happy, but is doing ok. Also, candy cane coral, which is an LPS, also doesn't look happy, but other LPS around it are thriving, growing, and fully open...
  3. JuanGutz

    JuanGutz Shark M.A.S.C Club Member

    Are you using two part dosing or anything for alk and calc?
  4. flagg37

    flagg37 Amphipod M.A.S.C Club Member

    I have a couple thoughts but no smoking gun.

    How are the sps dying? Rtn/stn?

    I had an issue where my chaeto was sucking up all my iron. I didn’t do water changes though so I had to dose extra.

    I doubt it’s lighting. Have you done any par readings?
  5. DyM

    DyM Sardine M.A.S.C Club Member

    Good Q - I still dose 3 part, but did make a change on that. I was using sodium hydroxide for the ALK part but thought maybe it was causing an issue, so last month when I had to make up another batch, I switched to the sodium carbonate part of the receipt. All the chemicals are either LAB grade, or from Liveaquaria. I suspected it could be impurities, but doubt it.

    Great points -
    SPS are really pale, dying both RTN and STN, it's real slow. Usually when SPS die, it's in a few days, not over weeks. Odd.
    I do auto water changes, equates to about 35gal every 2 weeks. I stopped it a few times for about a week each time, and never saw any changes either way.
    Don't have a par meter, I deduce that lighting isn't too strong given I am not melting softies.

    On my old setup, I didn't run macro algae. I used bio pellets, and later a sulfur denitrator and seakleer. I've thought a few times about that but wanted to use the most natural way, and cheto seemed to be good, and time tested.

    Thanks for the questions, as good details to add.
  6. scchase

    scchase Shark Staff Member M.A.S.C Club Member M.A.S.C. B.O.D. B.O.D. Member-at-Large

    Increase your Nitrate to around 5 problem will go away, in general I see way too many low nitrate systems these days, SPS will be pale and either die or grow real slow without enough of it.
    neoalchemist74 and Dr.DiSilicate like this.
  7. halmus

    halmus Sardine Staff Member M.A.S.C Club Member M.A.S.C. B.O.D. M.A.S.C Secretary

    Thanks for the input Scott. Following along. I’ve had similar experience with SPS in my system although not as drastic. Things did perk up when I cut down on water changes and fed more aggressively.

    Any recommendations on increasing Nitrate? Additives? Feed more? Skim less? Decrease water changes? Pee in the aquarium seems to be a popular mantra here but probably only during initial cycle?
  8. scchase

    scchase Shark Staff Member M.A.S.C Club Member M.A.S.C. B.O.D. B.O.D. Member-at-Large

  9. SynDen

    SynDen Kraken Staff Member M.A.S.C Club Member M.A.S.C. B.O.D. M.A.S.C President M.A.S.C Webmaster

    If you want to borrow the club par meter it is available.
    How old is the tank? Maybe just needs some more time to establish?
    Other things I would check - Stray current would be first. Do you have a grounding probe in the tank, or tested for stray current recently?
    I also might put a poly-filter in and see if maybe it absorbs some contaminate, or heavy metals, in the water
    And as Scott mentioned I would try and let those nitrates come up a bit.
  10. ReefCheif

    ReefCheif Shark Platinum Sponsor M.A.S.C Club Member

    Sounds like low nutrient issue to me. Having a mixed reef your walking a fine line. LPS want it dirtier, SPS want it cleaner, but it sounds like maybe ots way too clean to me.

    This will probably shock most of you, but my tanks runs almost 50ppm for nitrate, and between 1 and 2 ppm for phosphates. Those that have seen my tank can attest that having high nutrients is not causing any problems with my corals and Im SPS dominate.
  11. Andrew_bram

    Andrew_bram Kraken M.A.S.C Club Member

    How long has tank been set up?

    How do you measure salinity refractometer or hydrometer?

    Sent from my SM-G965U using Tapatalk
  12. DyM

    DyM Sardine M.A.S.C Club Member

    I have 35 fish, I feed 5 cubes of mysis/brine + pellets and flakes 2x (twice) a day so 10 cubes, etc. I also put 1/2 a nori sheet for the tangs daily.

    I suspected low nutrients, as No3 always reads 0 and I know it should show at least have a little. I don't have any algae issues at all in the display, but actually like that. Still, I will measure everything again today. Even though just last week removed 1/2 my cheto as it was hard to move it arround, I'll again reduce the amount.

    I use to feed about 12 total cubes , and cut back to 10 after reading 1.3+ for PO4. The fish eat all the food so I know they would love more, think I have little pigs and not fish but I'll look for stray current first. Starting today I'll up the food.

    Thanks everyone for taking the time to comment - I hesitated posting this (part of it from my own pride) but glad I did.

    I'll look into this, if I can't get nutrients up by feeding more & actively keeping the cheto amount lower/ in check, I'll go this route.

    Tank has been up for more than a year, I had a set back in Dec with velvet that killed 80% of my fish, but didn't get back to full fish load (after QTing in batch) until about 8 weeks ago. I don't think it's too new but a good question since I posted this in the newbie section :)
    I have to look on how to test for stray current. I have a multimeter, just think having one probe connected to ground, and the other I put in the tank. I'd try both Watts and Amps although both should be 0, I'd assume - let me know if that sounds off track. I also may have a poly filter, but for some reason thought carbon also took out contaminates/metals. Good easy thing to try.

    Thanks, good to know and I've seen and read plenty of examples of higher nutrient levels in tanks. My old tank had lower levels, but if this is in fact the problem, I will cetainly not complain with NO3 of 10ppm, and PO4 of about 1ppm.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2019
  13. DyM

    DyM Sardine M.A.S.C Club Member

    I use a refractometer, and it's calibrated, so know salt is good at 1.026 / 35
    Tank up and running since May/June of last year
  14. crisc

    crisc Cuttle Fish Platinum Sponsor M.A.S.C Club Member

    Brightwell makes some new(ish) products called neophos and neonitro. Basically phosphates in a bottle and nitrates in a bottle. Easy to hook up to a dosing pump and adjust according to what your tank needs.
  15. ReefCheif

    ReefCheif Shark Platinum Sponsor M.A.S.C Club Member

    I would start turning off mechanical filtration. With that many fish and as much as your feeding nutrients shouldn’t be an issue. Sounds like your over doing the cleaning of the water in general.

    And personally, id turn that auto water change off entirely and not run that at all, ever. But thats just my 2 cents on that one.
  16. jda123

    jda123 Tuna M.A.S.C Club Member

  17. Andrew_bram

    Andrew_bram Kraken M.A.S.C Club Member

    Have you tested for copper. Just trying to find the outside the box explanations.

    Sent from my SM-G965U using Tapatalk
  18. DyM

    DyM Sardine M.A.S.C Club Member

    Awesome help! Thanks everyone. Here's what I did in the last 24hrs: Harvested about 5gal worth of cheto out of the fuge. left about a NFL football size behind (80% reduction). Feed my fish a smorgasbord of food. about an hour after that, tested NO3, read non-detectable. Dosed KN03 to get upto about 10ppm - that took all evening as I really went slow on dosing. Also stopped the auto water change. Tested this morning and read a more than 10ppm mg/L on the low range. I'll test again this evening. At this point I'm going to keep nutrients in the tank, and monitor how things go over a few weeks. I don' want to make more changes and will monitor what is already in place for the foreseeable future. If anything, I'll add some live rock as covered below.

    Thanks, I stopped by Lowes yesterday on the way home from work and bought KN03 - Potassium Nitrate (thanks Scott - scchase for bringing that up). Nitrates always read non-detectable using Salifert Test kit in high resolution mode and confirmed again yesterday before harvesting cheto. Later, I dosed enough to get about 10ppm.

    I don't any have filtration that is 'mechanical' - but rock, some of the Brightwell bricks in the sump, skimmer, ozone, and fuge. I see the logic though that what I have, is making the reef too starel, and agree seems I'm over doing it. In the last month, I harvested about 10gal worth of cheto, I can't believe how much was compacted and in my fuge area of the sump that measures 10.5″ x 15.5″. What I will do is find the balance of where my system is at today, and how much micro algea is needed to keep N03 ~5-10. I'll have to harvest cheto when I clean my skimmer weekly. Hopefully that will work. BTW, I'm a fan of water changes but will limit how much of it I do.

    That was a great read, a lot of similarities. I do currently have sponges but started with 150lbs of dead rock, although it is called “Real Reef” manufactured rock. http://realreefrock.com/real-reef-manufacturing.html -- still... it does parallel to what Michael wrote . I wonder if I can dose more bacteria and only add some live rock. Kind of how I introduced coraline by adding just a small few pieces and sure enough, it's all over the place now... I took a lot of time planning and constructing the rock work. I'd hate to have to break sections apart.

    I bought copper, and the test kit but ended up never using it as my tangs - or any other batch of fish never showed signs of ick or velvet. So didn't need it after a long QT process. Can't hurt, I'll test and report back.

    V/r Dave
  19. DyM

    DyM Sardine M.A.S.C Club Member

    I forgot to test for Stray current, and will do that today
  20. jda123

    jda123 Tuna M.A.S.C Club Member

    Real Reef rock will never act like the live rock that you are accustomed to. It is only capable of hosting life on the outside, which is just a small fraction of it's value. It is not porous and is coated in epoxy and will not allow the magic in the middle to happen. Although probably not all of your issues, the stuff that Mike P wrote will probably continue to happen. Even dry aragonite rock can become like live rock in a few years, but I fear that RR rock never will. Adding some real live rock would probably help.

    If your other corals are growing, or algae is growing, then you have enough building blocks. I would not chase these since you can do more harm than good.
    neoalchemist74 likes this.

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