Fluval Evo 13.5 Reef- 101 problems

2006fuzz

So this is my first post on the salty side of Fishlore, and my first post in quite some time in general.

I run a Fluval 13.5 Evo AIO. The tank gets weekly 20% (3.5 gallon) water changes, I use Instant Ocean Reef Crystals, and has a Nicrew HyperReef 50W light set at 80% blue and 5% white on a 10 hour light period. The tank runs at 70F and is about 3 months old. I also use an RO Buddie with a DI resin for stock water.

Stocking is as follows;
- 2 occelaris clowns
- 1 fire shrimp
- 1 cleaner shrimp
- 1 blue tuxedo urchin
- 1 pink turban snail
- 1 blue legged hermit
- MAYBE 1 tiger pistol shrimp (haven't seen him in nearly 2 months and the fire shrimp moved into the cave I thought he was in)

- 5 zoa colonies
- 1 paly colony
- 1 xenia colony
- 1 red knobbly mushroom
- 1 acan echinata
- 1 acan lord
- 1 GSP colony
- 1 green frogspawn
- 1 indo-orange frogspawn

Parameters (post WC)
Salinity: 1.027
Temp: 70 F (usual temp)
Ammonia: 0
Nitrites: 0
Nitrates: 0
dkH: 10.6
Calcium: 430 ppm
Magnesium: 1560
Phosphates: Unknown, appeared to be zero on a inaccurate liquid test
Note: until the algae bloom I was running at about 10 nitrates so yes the tank is cycled

In the last 2-3 weeks I've hit the ugly phase, and knowing that free floating algae just re-anchors elsewhere I haven't been worrying about the front glass being covered in algae until WC day. This past WC day, I cleared off the front glass and what I "uncovered" was shocking.

One of my zoa colonies has aptasia on it. There is hair algae everywhere including on frags to the point its smothering zoas. One of my zoas actually looks bleached in a place it had previously been growing new heads. My GSP looked more algae then polyp and my green frogspawn doesn't seem to open anymore. My xenia isn't extending, I actually removed it's plug since it was just drowned in hair algae. I also have sea lettuce growing EVERYWHERE; all over my rock scape, the back glass, frag plugs, just everywhere.

I'm not sure where to go from here. I've had some suggestions of an emerald crab, vibrant, microbacter clean, purigen, chemi-pure blue, vodka dosing... I just really don't know how to move forward from here and any advice would be helpful!
 

Rcslade124

If possible pull the corals out and give them a bath in 50/50 peroxide rodi for about 3 mins. I also have sea lettuce growing on rocks. You can manually remove it. From my understanding it's nearly impossible to get rid of without getting all new rock. Keep up with water changes and eventually the algea will stop. I cannot speak for the suggestions as I haven't used any.
 
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Jesterrace

So this is my first post on the salty side of Fishlore, and my first post in quite some time in general.

I run a Fluval 13.5 Evo AIO. The tank gets weekly 20% (3.5 gallon) water changes, I use Instant Ocean Reef Crystals, and has a Nicrew HyperReef 50W light set at 80% blue and 5% white on a 10 hour light period. The tank runs at 70F and is about 3 months old. I also use an RO Buddie with a DI resin for stock water.

Stocking is as follows;
- 2 occelaris clowns
- 1 fire shrimp
- 1 cleaner shrimp
- 1 blue tuxedo urchin
- 1 pink turban snail
- 1 blue legged hermit
- MAYBE 1 tiger pistol shrimp (haven't seen him in nearly 2 months and the fire shrimp moved into the cave I thought he was in)

- 5 zoa colonies
- 1 paly colony
- 1 xenia colony
- 1 red knobbly mushroom
- 1 acan echinata
- 1 acan lord
- 1 GSP colony
- 1 green frogspawn
- 1 indo-orange frogspawn

Parameters (post WC)
Salinity: 1.027
Temp: 70 F (usual temp)
Ammonia: 0
Nitrites: 0
Nitrates: 0
dkH: 10.6
Calcium: 430 ppm
Magnesium: 1560
Phosphates: Unknown, appeared to be zero on a inaccurate liquid test
Note: until the algae bloom I was running at about 10 nitrates so yes the tank is cycled

In the last 2-3 weeks I've hit the ugly phase, and knowing that free floating algae just re-anchors elsewhere I haven't been worrying about the front glass being covered in algae until WC day. This past WC day, I cleared off the front glass and what I "uncovered" was shocking.

One of my zoa colonies has aptasia on it. There is hair algae everywhere including on frags to the point its smothering zoas. One of my zoas actually looks bleached in a place it had previously been growing new heads. My GSP looked more algae then polyp and my green frogspawn doesn't seem to open anymore. My xenia isn't extending, I actually removed it's plug since it was just drowned in hair algae. I also have sea lettuce growing EVERYWHERE; all over my rock scape, the back glass, frag plugs, just everywhere.

I'm not sure where to go from here. I've had some suggestions of an emerald crab, vibrant, microbacter clean, purigen, chemi-pure blue, vodka dosing... I just really don't know how to move forward from here and any advice would be helpful!

Okay let's see if we can't trouble shoot this

1) Beyond the pistol shrimp that tank is way overcrowded with shrimp and IMHO the Urchin isn't well suited to a nano tank either. I had a single cleaner shrimp who had no trouble handling my 90 gallon if that gives you any kind of reference. I have a Blue Tuxedo who once again has no problem handling my 90 gallon on his own. I would just go down to a pistol shrimp and call it good.

2) 70F is WAY TOO COLD for a reef tank. Ideally it should be somewhere around 78F.

3) 10 hours is a bit much, especially for a nano tank. I recommend no more than 8 hours and that will help a bit with the algae

4) How often are you feeding and what are you feeding? How long does it take your fish to eat all the food?

5) How often are you changing your filter floss/sock/cup? Sounds crazy but it's best to do it about every 3 days. That one factor made a world of difference for my reef tank.

6) You need to bump up your snail and hermit crab population in there. Ideally the clean up crew should be close as possible to 1 per gallon. Hermit crabs are effective because they eat the extra food bits that feed the GHA Growth

7) As for the Aiptasia it might be best to simply remove the frag that has it as that could prevent the spread. It's likely that the aiptasia will kill it in time anyway and it's much better to sacrifice 1 frag than a whole tank worth of coral. You could try something like Aiptasia X to treat it but it may or may not work.

8) If all else fails I would go with Reef Flux aka Fluconazole for GHA. Vibrant can work but if you get the dose even a little bit off it essentially nukes all your inverts. I've used Fluconazole before and let it sit for a month and it took a tank with rocks that were covered to a tank that was spotless. Emerald Crabs are arguably the worst suggestion as they generally don't go for GHA but can be opportunists and go for certain corals.

There are a few other issues that could be minor problems, but let's start with the aforementioned.
 
Upvote 0

2006fuzz

Okay let's see if we can't trouble shoot this

1) Beyond the pistol shrimp that tank is way overcrowded with shrimp and IMHO the Urchin isn't well suited to a nano tank either. I had a single cleaner shrimp who had no trouble handling my 90 gallon if that gives you any kind of reference. I have a Blue Tuxedo who once again has no problem handling my 90 gallon on his own. I would just go down to a pistol shrimp and call it good.

2) 70F is WAY TOO COLD for a reef tank. Ideally it should be somewhere around 78F.

3) 10 hours is a bit much, especially for a nano tank. I recommend no more than 8 hours and that will help a bit with the algae

4) How often are you feeding and what are you feeding? How long does it take your fish to eat all the food?

5) How often are you changing your filter floss/sock/cup? Sounds crazy but it's best to do it about every 3 days. That one factor made a world of difference for my reef tank.

6) You need to bump up your snail and hermit crab population in there. Ideally the clean up crew should be close as possible to 1 per gallon. Hermit crabs are effective because they eat the extra food bits that feed the GHA Growth

7) As for the Aiptasia it might be best to simply remove the frag that has it as that could prevent the spread. It's likely that the aiptasia will kill it in time anyway and it's much better to sacrifice 1 frag than a whole tank worth of coral. You could try something like Aiptasia X to treat it but it may or may not work.

8) If all else fails I would go with Reef Flux aka Fluconazole for GHA. Vibrant can work but if you get the dose even a little bit off it essentially nukes all your inverts. I've used Fluconazole before and let it sit for a month and it took a tank with rocks that were covered to a tank that was spotless. Emerald Crabs are arguably the worst suggestion as they generally don't go for GHA but can be opportunists and go for certain corals.

There are a few other issues that could be minor problems, but let's start with the aforementioned.
Sorry it took so long to get back here, I didn't get a notification of a response!

1) Im rather attached to my urchin, and other then be a general pest moving frags he seems to do alright. Everyone gets along and I haven't had any issues there. I am aware it's on the heavy side of stocking tho.

2) Yeah, I've looked into it further (i have trust issues with heaters) and I've decided to go with an Eheim Jager 50W.

3) I do 10 hours to make sure I can have a solid light period rather then split, and to make sure I can get more then 15 minutes viewing of the tank with the lights on.

4) I feed everyother day for fish, they get Vitalis Marine soft pellets. And I dose Reef Roids once a week about.

5) Media wise, I only have the basic EVO media (sponge, baggie of bio and a carbon packet) along with a packet of Purigen.

6) I'm working on this one, COVID has made shipping unreliable at times not to mention stock is short everywhere and my local options are nil.

7) i've been debating fragging the colony that has the aiptaisa, removing the polyps I know are fine and ditching whats left near the stupid thingy.

8) I've had good luck with Vibrant so far, it came in about a week ago and has been doing rather well. The hair algae is nearly all dead. Sadly the sea lettuce has shot up since it's all thats left, but Ive seen tons of people claim it kills macros so time will tell.
 
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ChrissFishes01

I personally don't find your tank to be unfathomably overstocked. On the heavy side, sure, but I'm a heavy stocker too. The urchin is a bit much for a 13.5, but if he's still a small guy (with plenty of algae to eat), he should be alright. As he grows, though, he will probably need a larger tank to avoid starvation. Even the Tuxedo urchins grow pretty large to be in an Evo.

I personally have no experience with keeping fire shrimp and cleaner shrimp together - I'd always thought of them as a one per tank thing, or a bonded pair per tank. If they don't fight and don't have any issues with aggression, I think you'll be alright. One thing to keep in mind is that they will eat quite a bit (for an invert), and that'll add a lot to your bioload long-term.

Definitely get that temp up to at least 76 or so.

I've got my lights on for 6 hours with whites and blues, and then another 4 hours of just blues. It's a lot of light, but it's done well for me so far. I'd get a timer so you can have the lights on while you're around - running the lights with whites and blues on for 10 hours a day is likely a big reason for the algae bloom.

Getting some more hermits and snails will help with the algae as well, as mentioned. Reef-cleaners is a great place to order from, although I'm not sure they ship to Canada.

I'd agree with fragging the colony. I'd even set up a little observation tank to make sure no new ones pop up on the new frag, if it were me. Much easier to rid yourself of one aiptaisia rather than twenty.

I get that the Ulva is being a bit invasive, bit should be fairly easy to remove and is great nutrient export. Might be a blessing rather than a curse, especially if you're still having trouble with hair algae and that kind of thing.
 
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Jesterrace

Sorry it took so long to get back here, I didn't get a notification of a response!

1) Im rather attached to my urchin, and other then be a general pest moving frags he seems to do alright. Everyone gets along and I haven't had any issues there. I am aware it's on the heavy side of stocking tho.

2) Yeah, I've looked into it further (i have trust issues with heaters) and I've decided to go with an Eheim Jager 50W.

3) I do 10 hours to make sure I can have a solid light period rather then split, and to make sure I can get more then 15 minutes viewing of the tank with the lights on.

4) I feed everyother day for fish, they get Vitalis Marine soft pellets. And I dose Reef Roids once a week about.

5) Media wise, I only have the basic EVO media (sponge, baggie of bio and a carbon packet) along with a packet of Purigen.

6) I'm working on this one, COVID has made shipping unreliable at times not to mention stock is short everywhere and my local options are nil.

7) i've been debating fragging the colony that has the aiptaisa, removing the polyps I know are fine and ditching whats left near the stupid thingy.

8) I've had good luck with Vibrant so far, it came in about a week ago and has been doing rather well. The hair algae is nearly all dead. Sadly the sea lettuce has shot up since it's all thats left, but Ive seen tons of people claim it kills macros so time will tell.

1) The Urchin will likely need supplemental feeding in a Tank that size as it gets larger so definitely have some greens ready for it.

2) Glad to hear it, that is a good choice for a tank heater.

3) 10 hours full blast is really heavy for a tank that size and a heavy contributor to your algae problem. What you may want to consider is adjusting the lights more to your schedule and adjusting the times to fit that. I find that 11AM-7PM is the perfect compromise for me and that was when I was working both swing shift and the current day shift that I have.

4) Once a week reef roids is definitely contributing to your GHA on a tank that size. It's notorious for raising phosphate levels. When I was using reef roids I actually did a half dose of what was recommended every other week and it seemed to do okay. I have since switched to Willow Creek's Coral Feast as it's very similar but doesn't mess with your phosphate levels as much.

5) How often do you clean out the sponge? Unlike a freshwater tank you don't really want all the stuff trapped in there. Personally I'm not a fan of sponges on saltwater tanks for this reason. Sock, floss or filter pad would be a better choice.

6) Sounds like you have a plan and are good to go there

7) That would be a great choice as you are attacking the problem right at the source. The lone aiptasia I had came in on a zoanthid frag and after hitting it with Aiptasia X, I removed and threw away the frag (the aiptasia had killed it off anyways). Haven't seen an Aiptasia in nearly 3 years now.
 
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2006fuzz

I personally don't find your tank to be unfathomably overstocked. On the heavy side, sure, but I'm a heavy stocker too. The urchin is a bit much for a 13.5, but if he's still a small guy (with plenty of algae to eat), he should be alright. As he grows, though, he will probably need a larger tank to avoid starvation. Even the Tuxedo urchins grow pretty large to be in an Evo.

I personally have no experience with keeping fire shrimp and cleaner shrimp together - I'd always thought of them as a one per tank thing, or a bonded pair per tank. If they don't fight and don't have any issues with aggression, I think you'll be alright. One thing to keep in mind is that they will eat quite a bit (for an invert), and that'll add a lot to your bioload long-term.

Definitely get that temp up to at least 76 or so.

I've got my lights on for 6 hours with whites and blues, and then another 4 hours of just blues. It's a lot of light, but it's done well for me so far. I'd get a timer so you can have the lights on while you're around - running the lights with whites and blues on for 10 hours a day is likely a big reason for the algae bloom.

Getting some more hermits and snails will help with the algae as well, as mentioned. Reef-cleaners is a great place to order from, although I'm not sure they ship to Canada.

I'd agree with fragging the colony. I'd even set up a little observation tank to make sure no new ones pop up on the new frag, if it were me. Much easier to rid yourself of one aiptaisia rather than twenty.

I get that the Ulva is being a bit invasive, bit should be fairly easy to remove and is great nutrient export. Might be a blessing rather than a curse, especially if you're still having trouble with hair algae and that kind of thing.

The urchin is actually terrible at eating algae, he could not care less. I end up having to feed him nori every few days. He just hangs out by the clip when it's time to give him a snack. The shrimp are actually great together. The fire shrimp moved into a cave (90% sure the pistol shrimp died since he didn't kick him out) and the skunk lives at the top of the arch. They're also some of the quickest for pellets, even beating out the clowns at times

Sadly, I have yet to find a single American store that ships livestock to Canada for obvious reasons. Importing livestock is pricey and risky.

I don't mind the ulva, or a tleast I wouldn't if it hadn't covered a large majority of my rock. I pick it out when it gets too too big so I can at least see my coral, otherwise they just get buried...
1) The Urchin will likely need supplemental feeding in a Tank that size as it gets larger so definitely have some greens ready for it.

2) Glad to hear it, that is a good choice for a tank heater.

3) 10 hours full blast is really heavy for a tank that size and a heavy contributor to your algae problem. What you may want to consider is adjusting the lights more to your schedule and adjusting the times to fit that. I find that 11AM-7PM is the perfect compromise for me and that was when I was working both swing shift and the current day shift that I have.

4) Once a week reef roids is definitely contributing to your GHA on a tank that size. It's notorious for raising phosphate levels. When I was using reef roids I actually did a half dose of what was recommended every other week and it seemed to do okay. I have since switched to Willow Creek's Coral Feast as it's very similar but doesn't mess with your phosphate levels as much.

5) How often do you clean out the sponge? Unlike a freshwater tank you don't really want all the stuff trapped in there. Personally I'm not a fan of sponges on saltwater tanks for this reason. Sock, floss or filter pad would be a better choice.

6) Sounds like you have a plan and are good to go there

7) That would be a great choice as you are attacking the problem right at the source. The lone aiptasia I had came in on a zoanthid frag and after hitting it with Aiptasia X, I removed and threw away the frag (the aiptasia had killed it off anyways). Haven't seen an Aiptasia in nearly 3 years now.
1) Yeah, the urchin ignores the algae for the most part, he does do some grazing on the glass. He gets about a square inch of nori cut into smaller pieces throughout the week and it seems to be doing him well

3) I have a very odd schedule, but I suppose feeding after lights out wouldn't be such a big deal either. Hmm, I may try something closer to 9-5 to maximize lights on when I'm home and less when I'm out.

4) Got it, I'm terrible at remembering to dose Roids and I felt bad about it. Seems like it's just a blessing in disguise that the poor guys sometimes go a week without food. I'll try cutting down and see if that helps at all.

5) Being honest, I've never cleaned it as it doesn't have any debris or mulm on it. I am looking into a media rack for the middle compartment, so I could go floss, purigen, carbon, bio media. And then a fuge if I played my cards right.

7) I'm a tad nervous about fragging the colony. All the plugs I have on hand are plugs I removed from other coral since they were algae magnets. Any way I could sterilize these and put them back in use for the soon to be fragged colony?
 
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Jesterrace

Yeah, you can reuse the plugs. Do you have an LFS nearby? My LFS will frag anything you bring into them. So not sure if that is an option for you.
 
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2006fuzz

Yeah, you can reuse the plugs. Do you have an LFS nearby? My LFS will frag anything you bring into them. So not sure if that is an option for you.
Not currently. With COVID they aren't taking anything back in for any purpose not to mention they are very difficult to access for me. I end up getting most of my supplies (tank included) and livestock online...
 
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