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Old 09/16/2019, 03:14 PM   #1
5881
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Help Please 13 yr. old tank in crisis

Iíve been running this tank (BioCube 29) for 13 years with very little drama. The 2 clowns in the pics are as old as the tank and nothing has been added for at least 10 months, before that maybe a frag or 2 from my sonís tank, which is healthy. The lighting is after market LEDís, which Iíve had for 5? years; they really made my coral take off when I added them. I run ChemiPure Blue sometimes and if not no filtration at all. About 2 weeks ago I noticed the Acan in the center of the tank was dying off, and a few days later saw the zoes were ďdroopingĒ. Iíve done 3 6g water changes in the past 2 weeks, and things are getting worse as the zoes are starting to close. I feed with Marine Snow, Coral Frenzy maybe once or twice every 2 weeks and nothing else in my routine has changed. I frankly have always taken a fairly hands-off approach and generally do 6g water changes every 3~4 weeks unless something is amiss. I always thought my ďsuccessĒ was due to maintaining a low bio load with only 2 fish.
My fish seem perfectly fine.
My water parameters using an API test kit are:
PH 8.4 Salinity 125 Nitrates 10-15 Nitrites 0 Calcium 480 mg/L Ammonia 0 Phosphate .25
Carbonate Hardness (kh) 125.3ppm

Iím at a loss and panicking. Thanks in advance for any help or insight.




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Old 09/16/2019, 03:25 PM   #2
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Forgot to mention that I put a "clean up crew" from Reef Cleaners in 4 months ago, and ran carbon for about 4 days last week and now have Phos Guard in and will be adding fresh carbon tonight.


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Old 09/16/2019, 03:47 PM   #3
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Stray voltage? Temp high/low? Magnesium?

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Old 09/16/2019, 04:09 PM   #4
5881
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Never thought about stray voltage; will a voltage meter detect that in water? Water temp stays spot on 78. Have never done a magnesium test; is that a common issue and what brings it on?


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Old 09/16/2019, 04:10 PM   #5
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First, congratulations on a really nice 13 year old tank! That kind of longevity puts you in the top 10%, if not top 5% or better of all reefers.

I think you have some serious water chemistry issues. First, dump the API test kits. They're OK for fish only but once you get into coral they are simply insufficiently precise. I like Salifert, but Red Sea and Hanna are also very good. Get some new kits and test with those.

Based on what you posted:

If your phosphates are really 0.25 ppm then that's the first place I'd look. They should be below 0.03 ppm. From the photos it looks like you have an algae problem, which would certainly be explained by the high phosphates. That would not be surprising for an old tank with little to no filtration. Eventually, nutrients like phosphate and nitrate are going to add up and monthly dilution from water changes is not likely to keep up over the very long term without some efficient nutrient export. BRS TV has a pretty good video on You Tube about how to control algae. "Eat, Sleep, Reef" has a really good one. Recommend watching both. I also recommend BRS's recent videos on test kits and salt.

At 125.3 ppm, your Alkalinity (Carbonate Hardness) translates into a dKH of 7.02 (most of us on RC measure alk in dKH). That's way too low for corals, which use it to build their skeletons. Recommend SLOWLY raising that to 8.0 - 9.0 dKH (or 143 - 161 ppm). It's also way out of balance with your Calcium, which is very high. Shoot for Ca around 420 - 430 ppm. Higher won't hurt but it will cause lots of precipitation and scaling on pumps, heaters, etc.

You didn't mention Magnesium, which is necessary for maintaining a balanced Alk and Ca ratio. Look there and fix that first. Dosing the others when Mg is below 1300 is a losing battle due to the way the ions interact in the water.

Summary of what I would do in your case:
1. DON'T PANIC! Go slow, corals cannot tolerate rapid changes in their environment even if you are making it better. It takes time for their metabolic processes to adjust to changes in water chemistry.
2. First, take a look at the chemical composition of your salt. If you're buying cheap salt suitable for fish only aquariums you might have to add a lot of Ca, Alk, and Mg to get it up to good parameters, not to mention the trace elements which most of us never even test for. Get a good quality reef salt, then do 3 large water changes of about 50% over a 3 - 5 day period. Don't do it all at once - rapidly increasing Alk can be very hard on some corals (see #1 above).
3. Get new test kits.
4. Test Alk, Ca, Mg, Nitrates, and Phosphates.
5. Consult Randy Holmes Farley's chemistry calculator (Google it) for dosing instructions.
6. Dose slowly to get Mg up to 1300 - 1400 ppm. Don't raise it more than 100 ppm in a day.
7. Raise Alk to 8 - 9 dKH and let Ca fall naturally to 420 - 430 ppm. Do not raise Alk more than 0.1 dKH per day. Slow and steady is incredibly important.
8. Take a hard look at your nutrient export strategy. A cleanup crew is important but insufficient. Your nitrates are OK but You need to get your phosphates under control. Test after your water changes. If it's still high then I recommend some Granulated Ferris Oxide (GFO) to bring it down. You might want to get yourself a $20 reactor and a $15 pump for this. It works best if it can tumble gently. You don't have to run it all the time but if your phosphates are really 0.25 PPM then you need it now.
9. It is likely that your coral have grown to the point where water changes alone are unsufficient for maintaining parameters and you will need to start dosing, if you're not already. For your setup, I would start with Kalkwasser in your topoff. Research it and start slow and dose carefully.
10. Go slow! Corals cannot tolerate rapid changes in their environment.

I strongly recommend second opinions on all this, so other RC members, please chime in. I also recommend research in trusted sources like Randy Holmes Farly, BRS TV, Reef Central's Marine Chemistry Forum, and others.

Good luck and keep us posted!


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Old 09/16/2019, 05:35 PM   #6
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Thanks for your help JVan82 and Capt. Dave. There seems to be no stray voltage using my meter on AC and DC.
I have a Salifert Carbonate Hardness/Alkalinity test and came up with 7.3 KH in dKH and 2.62 ALK meg/L. I tested twice.
I have always used Instant Ocean Reef Crystals, never anything else. Should I switch?.
Calcium has always been way high; up to 500, and I have never added calcium products. I think my first move is to get a magnesium test kit.I was wondering if with all that zoe growth over the past year or so if I have reached "critical mass" in the tank. Good news/bad news. The zoes have been overtaking everything, including some nice riccordia I had.


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Old 09/16/2019, 05:39 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 5881 View Post
Thanks for your help JVan82 and Capt. Dave. There seems to be no stray voltage using my meter on AC and DC.
I have a Salifert Carbonate Hardness/Alkalinity test and came up with 7.3 KH in dKH and 2.62 ALK meg/L. I tested twice.
I have always used Instant Ocean Reef Crystals, never anything else. Should I switch?.
Calcium has always been way high; up to 500, and I have never added calcium products. I think my first move is to get a magnesium test kit.I was wondering if with all that zoe growth over the past year or so if I have reached "critical mass" in the tank. Good news/bad news. The zoes have been overtaking everything, including some nice riccordia I had.
Slow and steady, I dont remember the science, relationship between alk, cal, and mag. I wouldnt worry over salt, plenty of people are successful with IO salts. How often do you do water changes?

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Old 09/16/2019, 05:46 PM   #8
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Normally I do water changes (6g) every 3~5 weeks (yeah, I know!) I am not very disciplined at all when it comes to the tank, only checking salinity when I do water changes and essentially checking nothing else other PH every once in a while. I do use one of those PH lock products when I make water which seems to work. Many on this forum would consider my practices to be criminal, but obviously something has been working. Again in my ignorance I attribute it to having only 2 fish in a 30g tanks with lots of coral.


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Old 09/16/2019, 05:55 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 5881 View Post
Normally I do water changes (6g) every 3~5 weeks (yeah, I know!) I am not very disciplined at all when it comes to the tank, only checking salinity when I do water changes and essentially checking nothing else other PH every once in a while. I do use one of those PH lock products when I make water which seems to work. Many on this forum would consider my practices to be criminal, but obviously something has been working. Again in my ignorance I attribute it to having only 2 fish in a 30g tanks with lots of coral.
Might be worth a chance, to start doing every 2 weeks, if only to balance, alk, cal, mag. I did 4 gal weekly on my biocube. I agree you're doing something right have one up and running 13 yrs. Worth a shot.



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Old 09/16/2019, 07:27 PM   #10
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Are you sure that your water is free of chlorine/chloramine?
Cheers! Mark


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Old 09/16/2019, 07:27 PM   #11
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Take a look at SK8R's "Dirt simple chemistry" post pinned to the top of this forum. All the basics.

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Old 09/16/2019, 07:48 PM   #12
5881
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Are you sure that your water is free of chlorine/chloramine?
Cheers! Mark
Given a 1ppm reading on my RO/DI water I figured I was good there. Will check in the A.M.; question is do I have a kit for that.


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Old 09/16/2019, 08:19 PM   #13
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I have used Alpha for reefs in all of my R/O water. Cheap insurance.
Cheers! Mark


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Old 09/18/2019, 04:29 PM   #14
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Just got and used my Salifert phosphate and Mg test kits. I figured I would test my tank water and my "water change" water but have not yet tested just the RO with no salt added. Test were done 2x each with same results.
Tank Mg 1480ppm
Tank Phos 1~2 ppm

Change water MG 1480 ppm
Change water Phos 0

I have not checked chlorine yet based on my 1ppm reading on the RO but will pick up a kit today.
I plan on doing a 35% water change tonight, assuming no one thinks it's a bad idea. I'll check the chlorine before. The zoes are holding their own; still droopy but not getting worse. The Acans are pretty much toast, although there is a different species in the back of the tank that seems fine.
Thanks again for the help.


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Old 09/28/2019, 11:59 AM   #15
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Copper? I once had a pump that was for fresh water. It has a brass seal that has copper. I was doing 25G water changes twice a week for 6 months before I found the problem. You could have a wire cut and if it was the neutral or ground you wouldn't get voltage in the tank to know. My tank would perk up for a day after each water change but then the next day would start to go to poo.


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Old 09/28/2019, 01:07 PM   #16
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If your phosphates are really 1 to 2 ppm (between the last 2 blue and purple squares on the salifert saltwater phosphate test) then they are 100 times normal and safe for a reef tank and that is almost certainly why your coral is dieing. I recommend 3 50% water changes with a reef salt that mixes up close to your current alkalinity, to avoid an alk spike, over the course of a week to get phosphates down, then use GFO to control it as the algae in your tank dies off and releases the phosphates in it's cells back into the water.

Remember, our tanks are (mostly) closed systems. What goes in does not come out unless we take it out.

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Old 10/06/2019, 10:49 AM   #17
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Sorry for falling off the radar for a few days. Tank is no better, zoes are looking worse; smaller and some are closed. Did a phos test this A.M., reading between .5 and 1 after running PhosGuard for a week. I changed the PhosGuard this A.M. and will do multiple water changes this week.
I have never used GFO; what would be a good method to start?


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Old 10/06/2019, 12:32 PM   #18
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Quote:
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Sorry for falling off the radar for a few days. Tank is no better, zoes are looking worse; smaller and some are closed. Did a phos test this A.M., reading between .5 and 1 after running PhosGuard for a week. I changed the PhosGuard this A.M. and will do multiple water changes this week.
I have never used GFO; what would be a good method to start?
GFO and water changes are generally my go-to first step when things don’t look or smell right.

You can get activated carbon packets will fit in the media section of your AIO filter section. A better option IMO would be something like the TLF media reactor and a small pump like a maxi 600. Make sure to rinse the GFO befor introducing to the tank. I usually connect my reactor (full of GFO) to the RO faucet at my kitchen sink and run it till it runs clear then dump the water and run it backwards for a minute or so.


https://www.bulkreefsupply.com/phosban-reactor-150.html

https://www.bulkreefsupply.com/esv-g...ed-carbon.html

https://www.bulkreefsupply.com/maxi-...rhead-600.html

Some will say that’s too much GFO but you don’t have to fill the reactor.


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"I hate that hole"

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Old 10/07/2019, 04:49 AM   #19
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Would PhosGaurd or Purigen get me there?


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Old 10/07/2019, 06:26 AM   #20
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Would PhosGaurd or Purigen get me there?
Carbon is more of a broad spectrum.

An ICP test may be in order, they run about $45 and the big problem is they take 3 weeks but you wi get a lot of info. I really like the ATI ICP test, you get more compounds tested than most and they also run a test on your RO/DI included in that price.


https://www.marinedepot.com/ati-lab-...hoCLlEQAvD_BwE


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Originally posted by yellowslayer13:

"I hate that hole"

Current Tank Info: SCMAS Member 225 peninsula euroreef RS180 Apex 250W X 3 20k radiums mixed SPS
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Old 10/10/2019, 12:10 AM   #21
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Would PhosGaurd or Purigen get me there?


PhosGuard, yes. Purigen, no. I use Rowaphos, which is GFO with good results. PhosGuard is Granulated Aluminum Oxide, which also works. Follow the directions.


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Old 10/10/2019, 12:35 AM   #22
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I would consider sending a sample of your water to ICP. They can give you a rundown of what is up with your aquarium.


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Old 10/10/2019, 08:34 AM   #23
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The only things else I can think to do once you get it sure that a) no test is expired and misreading b) that your incoming water is ok ---is to run a strip of Polypad and SEE if it colors-up as the result of some metal contaminant (it would tell you which); and finally to do a super-big water change, which can sometimes help an old tank perk up---30% the first day, 20% the third day, 20% the fifth day. If anything legitimate has slowly built up to unwanted levels, that might help.


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Salinity 1.024-6; alkalinity 8.3-9.3 on KH scale; calcium 420; magnesium 1300, temp 78-80, nitrate .2. Ammonia 0. No filters: lps tank. Alk and cal won't rise if mg is low.

Current Tank Info: 105g AquaVim wedge, chromis, royal gramma basslet, tailspot blenny, ocellaris clown, RBTA, signal goby, yellow watchman, red firefish, chestnut turbo snails, bristleworms, couple of hermits.
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Old 10/11/2019, 10:32 AM   #24
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The Acan in the Centre looks more like a Favia to me, but maybe it's just my device.
Are you sure no one around the parameter of the "Acan" is playing war?

Do those big frilly mushrooms expand over top the "Acan" blocking it's light?

You would figure after 13 years, water would be stable, obviously you know what you are doing....

To me, the pic looks like a slow but consistent regression.u


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Old 10/11/2019, 12:14 PM   #25
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Things can change quickly in small tanks. Temperature and salinity are the two that change the quickest. Have you changed anything that would make temperature swing or has your ATO or top-off method changed?


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