Help!, feeling very much like a beginner.

SteveZz

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My tank is stocked pretty much to the max. Everything has been running great for a long time. Frogspawn is massive, candy canes finally started to split, SPS was opening beautifully. As I'm sure you all sense already. That didn't last.

I picked my acan up out of the sand the other day and noticed at the bottom that the skeleton was showing. I chalked it up to the fact that it may have been covered by the sand, slid it up higher and though nothing of it. Shortly thereafter I noticed that my candy cane was receding from the bottom and I though that since the heads were opened and happy that this was likely just the limit to how much flesh is on candy canes and as they grow longer and wider the base recedes (someone please tell me if that thought is remotely correct). Then I noticed my other candy cane (which had a much smaller head, but still about 6 heads in total and splitting) was also receding from the base. This candy cane is way too close to the mouths to be anything normal. So I started watching closely, every day. And it's only gotten worse. I do have a few other single head frags of the same candy cane and they are doing fine, no signs of receding what so ever. One of the heads on my frogspawn is showing more skeleton than I'm used to as well.

I'm using RODI water (which was the same batch from when it was doing well to when things changed). I do a 2.5 gallon water change weekly on my 30 gallon system.

Params:
Mag: 1480
Calcium: 460
dKH: 7
PO4: 0.25 ppm
Nitrate: 0 ppm
PH: 8.0
Salinity: 1.0255
Temp: 76.8 F

Recent additions were:

? Blue ridge
? Gorgonian
? Birds Nest (which is growing incredibly fast even through these problems)
? Green Pocillopora
? Red Skirt Zoa
? Purple Stylophora

All of which are doing fine.

I'm curious if you all think it's possible that the receding of the base is starvation? I've been keeping my feedings low and wonder if that along with the addition of new coral could have resulted in LPS running out of the necessary nutrients they need.

I've since increased my feeding of both mysis and marine snow but have yet to see improvement. One of the two candy cane colonies opens nightly for food while the other opens slightly but not nearly as much. The acan is looking terrible and doesn't really open much at all any longer. I've seen asternia starfish on the skeletons and flesh of these corals and while I know I've seen people say these kill coral I feel as though they are just eating the dying flesh and not the actual problem for the coral.

Any and all ideas are welcome, and again I want to get these params to you but would like to buy an accurate kit to do so. So please suggest one and I will update with numbers.

Thank you

I will post pics shortly.
 
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Spartanwarrior

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by no means an expert here, but a salinity of 1.022 is rather low. Most aim for 1.025-1.026. This in turn can start to swing other parameters such as Calcium and Alkalinity. I've noticed Alkalinty is the most important to keep steady and consistent. 7.0, 8.0, 8.5...between 7 and 12dKH is normal. Just keep that steady. Swings are the absolute worst. You say you stocked your tank to the max. Without testing, you may not notice that your corals are consuming all the Cal, Mag, trace, etc. The water changes are a great step. Perhaps increase the percentage to 5 gallons a change instead of 2.5. Make sure your new water is acclimated for pH and temperature.
LPS also need food. I've found it a delicate balance between feeding enough and too much for my SPS to thrive. I recently had a die-off of euphyillia and some zoos. I was so concentrated on starving my tank for the SPS, I forgot to feed enough for these poor guys. Try target feeding with Julians Thing. Use Reef Roids. I've found this combo to be very effective. Mixed reefs are incredibly difficult, but o so beautiful when done correctly.
Unfortunately, I know from experience, a smaller sized tank is affected so much easier from even the smallest changes to your system.
And get on that testing asap. I really like Hannah checkers for alk and PO4. Red Sea is good too, cal and mag on those. Salifert is cheaper but notice sometimes differentiating levels is a pain. NYOS is newer, but also accurate. Perhaps send for a Triton testing kit or bring to your local LFS for a quick whole system check. Expensive but worth the $ and effort to really start attacking the problem.
Last question, but did you dip all of your new corals? Perhaps you introduced a pest? Not my area of expertise.
Good luck and I hope I could provide a little guidance. I'm sure I'll think of even more as I post this and even with 2.5 years under my belt, I'm always learning everyday and adapting. It's definitely not a hobby for the faint of heart!
 

SteveZz

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Merrick, NY
by no means an expert here, but a salinity of 1.022 is rather low. Most aim for 1.025-1.026. This in turn can start to swing other parameters such as Calcium and Alkalinity. I've noticed Alkalinty is the most important to keep steady and consistent. 7.0, 8.0, 8.5...between 7 and 12dKH is normal. Just keep that steady. Swings are the absolute worst. You say you stocked your tank to the max. Without testing, you may not notice that your corals are consuming all the Cal, Mag, trace, etc. The water changes are a great step. Perhaps increase the percentage to 5 gallons a change instead of 2.5. Make sure your new water is acclimated for pH and temperature.
LPS also need food. I've found it a delicate balance between feeding enough and too much for my SPS to thrive. I recently had a die-off of euphyillia and some zoos. I was so concentrated on starving my tank for the SPS, I forgot to feed enough for these poor guys. Try target feeding with Julians Thing. Use Reef Roids. I've found this combo to be very effective. Mixed reefs are incredibly difficult, but o so beautiful when done correctly.
Unfortunately, I know from experience, a smaller sized tank is affected so much easier from even the smallest changes to your system.
And get on that testing asap. I really like Hannah checkers for alk and PO4. Red Sea is good too, cal and mag on those. Salifert is cheaper but notice sometimes differentiating levels is a pain. NYOS is newer, but also accurate. Perhaps send for a Triton testing kit or bring to your local LFS for a quick whole system check. Expensive but worth the $ and effort to really start attacking the problem.
Last question, but did you dip all of your new corals? Perhaps you introduced a pest? Not my area of expertise.
Good luck and I hope I could provide a little guidance. I'm sure I'll think of even more as I post this and even with 2.5 years under my belt, I'm always learning everyday and adapting. It's definitely not a hobby for the faint of heart!
Thanks for the input. I think you're right about focusing too much on keeping the tank clean and finally seeing ill effects of it. I just checked iodine levels which checked out just fine (happened to still have that test around). At the moment I'm doing target feedings of mysis and adding marine snow at night. Hopefully I don't swing too far in the opposite direction. As for your question about dipping, I did not and I should have. I'm hoping it's not a pest but hope is all I have at this point as far as that's concerned.
 

MDreef

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low alkalinity can cause tissue necrosis in both sps and lps. How long have you had it at 6?

I'd start raising it slowly along with salinity and try to get your Mg measure as well, if Mg crashed can be contributing...

what was your Ca before adding new corals?
 

SteveZz

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low alkalinity can cause tissue necrosis in both sps and lps. How long have you had it at 6?

I'd start raising it slowly along with salinity and try to get your Mg measure as well, if Mg crashed can be contributing...

what was your Ca before adding new corals?


I?m not sure what Ca was before the new additions. As for salinity I?ve gotten that up to a respectable 1.025. I?ll have to get my hands on an Mg test but I?ll look into that. For now I?m going to try to get params back in check doing larger weekly water changes and continue to monitor to see if it improves alk.


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MDreef

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are you carbon dosing? perhaps stop a few days until you get nitrates up and params stable. Might be worthwhile checking ph a few times a day to rule out big swings or low values.

Bacteria can cause rtn/stn especially if corals are stressed

I personally use Hanna for PO and Alk (spot checked with an old RS), red sea for Ca and Mg (not crazy about Mg), RS and salifert for nitrates (issues with both), ph RS and controller probe though even API works.

Good luck!
 

SteveZz

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are you carbon dosing? perhaps stop a few days until you get nitrates up and params stable. Might be worthwhile checking ph a few times a day to rule out big swings or low values.

Bacteria can cause rtn/stn especially if corals are stressed

I personally use Hanna for PO and Alk (spot checked with an old RS), red sea for Ca and Mg (not crazy about Mg), RS and salifert for nitrates (issues with both), ph RS and controller probe though even API works.

Good luck!


Thanks. I?m not dosing anything. Just water changes.


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pecan2phat

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Just curious, did you read or was given advice on the salinity and alkalinity levels?
1.022~1.022 ppt is more towards a fish only with live rock tank parameter. 1.025 ppt is what you should strive for with a reef tank. Alkalinity at 8.0 DKH and Magnesium at 1350 ppm is another point level to shoot for. Alkalinity should be brought up with a buffer solution slowly over a week's time, Magnesium can be done a little quicker. After you test and find that you need to adjust levels, you should do it in this order: Mg, Alk, Ca.
 

SteveZz

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I brought the salinity up to the 1.025 range, and I'm working on Alk slowly (tests for the salt water I use for water changes is testing all at 8 so hopefully those changes will help me stabilize that.) I haven't tested Mg.

As for the tanks state, it seems like the Candy canes have stopped receding but the Acans are still not doing well. I've moved them into a breeder within the tank to keep shrimp and starfish from picking at them just to maybe help them recover. But so far it doesn't seem like there's much improvement there.
 

pecan2phat

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Magnesium is important in the chain, low mg will not allow you to keep a stable calcium or alkalinity level.
Just keep in mind that if your salt mix is testing at 8 DKH, your not accounting for any draw that the tank is using so doing water changes might not keep your alkalinity at 8 DKH. You should bring your tank level up to the target point using buffers first. SeaChem Reef Builder is an easy way to do it.
 

SteveZz

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Magnesium is important in the chain, low mg will not allow you to keep a stable calcium or alkalinity level.
Just keep in mind that if your salt mix is testing at 8 DKH, your not accounting for any draw that the tank is using so doing water changes might not keep your alkalinity at 8 DKH. You should bring your tank level up to the target point using buffers first. SeaChem Reef Builder is an easy way to do it.
Noted, I have ESV 2 Part, I generally like to avoid dosing for the off chance something goes wrong. But I've been doing small doses of that to bring it up as well.
 

Wesley

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Hanna colorimeters for Ultra-low PO and Alk as well. They are one of the least time consuming test, with digital readout no less. For low Nitrate reading (which is not that important nowadays), I use NYOS that you can buy from BRS. Very easy to tell the difference in color at low range.
 

SteveZz

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Hanna colorimeters for Ultra-low PO and Alk as well. They are one of the least time consuming test, with digital readout no less. For low Nitrate reading (which is not that important nowadays), I use NYOS that you can buy from BRS. Very easy to tell the difference in color at low range.
Thanks Wesley
 

SteveZz

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So I've gotten my params in check using ESV 2 part and testing often. That being said, the coral with problems still has problems and it continuing to get worse.

I've started to check my tank more closely at night to see if there might be any hitchhikers that might be causing the problem. I did see what looked like a clear bristle worm that I've never seen again. I did also see something that after my best google searching I've determined might be a ribbon worm. If it is a ribbon worm does anyone know 1. How I would go about catching it, (i took the coral that has it living inside out and it's now in a bucket) and 2. Whether or not ribbon worms would explain what is happening to the LPS at all?
 

MDreef

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So I've gotten my params in check using ESV 2 part and testing often. That being said, the coral with problems still has problems and it continuing to get worse.

I've started to check my tank more closely at night to see if there might be any hitchhikers that might be causing the problem. I did see what looked like a clear bristle worm that I've never seen again. I did also see something that after my best google searching I've determined might be a ribbon worm. If it is a ribbon worm does anyone know 1. How I would go about catching it, (i took the coral that has it living inside out and it's now in a bucket) and 2. Whether or not ribbon worms would explain what is happening to the LPS at all?
I doubt it?s a worm eating your corals. Parasites worms etc would be more systematic in eating everything then moving on. Also you?ve prob had those worms all along and while it?s possible they suddenly developed an appetite for your lps it?s unlikely. Google Ron Shimek and worms I?m sure he?s covered all types...
 

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