Mixed Reef Doing Really Bad

Discussion in 'Saltwater Aquarium Builds' started by Ernest Sacco, Feb 23, 2019.

  1. Ernest SaccoWell Known MemberMember

    So my mixed reef is not doing well at all these past 2 weeks....its gone from bad to worse with at least half of my sps frags dying or on the brink of death....even after upgrading my lights they just seem to be dying one my one...my parameters have been as far as I can tell stable with daily 2 part dosing and weekly 15 percent water changes

    Alk 9.1-9.3
    Calcium 400 range
    Nitrate trace
    Phosphate trace

    Besides my orange plate coral dying my lps are all doing fine but not popping....I honestly think it's my flow as besides the one controllable aquami I only have continuous single stream wave makers running....I've ordered 2 jebao RW 4 wave makers and have been advised to start them on pulse mode....I hope this will help the tank....also some of the sps frags that are doing well are my birds of paradise birdsnest, my purple and my mint pavona.....the rest start out with little polyp extension then a brown algae starts to grow on the exposed areas eventually suffocating the rest of the polyps...even my orange monti is begining to show signs of this....

    After I install the new wavemakers I am really fed up with the reef....I'm going to take a long break from really working on it besides regular maintenance and focus on freshwater for a bit....maybe letting it sit unchanged may allow it to come back
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2019
  2. nikm128Fishlore VIPMember

  3. CulpritFishlore VIPMember

    What size is your tank? Lighting? Rock? Substrate? How long has this been setup? What water are you using?

  4. Ernest SaccoWell Known MemberMember

    60 cube roughly 4 months old....about 20 pounds of livestock that came from my 30 gallon I upgraded and and another 20 dry cured rock that has taken nicely....upgraded to a hydra 26 from an ai prime....have an eshopps sump with a reef octopus skimmer...I use store rodi water for big water changes and I use my own rodi water for daily top offs...tank was doing phenomenal the first 2 months with great coloration and growth....but then I had an alk calcium imbalance and it decayed....I fixed the issue and regained stability but it hasnt been the same

  5. CulpritFishlore VIPMember

    Well there's a few things that stand out to me that would and could be going wrong. Number one is, a large calcium/alk swing or imbalance can really mess SPS up, and SPS can take a long time to recover. Just keep parameters stable and lighting and good flow and they'll recover eventually. However, issue number two is current.

    If you keep your alkalinity and lighting high, as I'm sure your running with a Hydra, you have to have nutrients. Otherwise SPS will suffer. I'd suggest either feeding heavier or dosing NO3, or lowering your alk to around 8-8.5. Generally, higher nutrients = faster growth but not as much color. Low nutrients+high light = tons of color but slower growth.
  6. Ernest SaccoWell Known MemberMember

    I was aware of this fact and I started dosing the red sea two part nightly to give my corals some nutrients....but after a few weeks of that the algae issue started to occur....unless it's more of a lack of random flow which I read somewhere it might be I'm going to start with the flow and keep my parameters as they are mostly and slowly attempt to rectify
  7. stella1979ModeratorModerator Member

    We may have a misunderstanding here so I'll try to clear some things up. :)

    2-part does not generally refer to nutrients... 2-part is a widely accepted term for products used to control and maintain your big 3, Calc, Alk, and Mag, generally referred to as the minerals in a reef tank. It is of vital importance that they are maintained at steady, unwavering levels. Not to be repetitive, but the only thing that has caused fast SPS decline for me is a sudden swing in Calc and Alk levels, and this was due to an issue with my 2-part doser.

    Pretty sure the nutrients Culprit is referring too are the dissolved organics available in the tank in the form of nitrates and phosphates. I'm not saying I'm doing everything right... far from it in fact since I have an imbalance of my own causing hair algae. However, what works for my mixed reef is maintaining very steady big 3 numbers via an automatic doser for BRS 2-part and weekly testing, high light and high flow at the top of the tank for SPS corals, and low NO3 and PO4. Alk is 9.5, Calc 440, Mag 1350. Auto dosed 2-part handles Calc and Alk, while Mag is the only one that's hand dosed as needed.

    Here's my almost tank crash story.:( Several months ago, all of the sudden, I noticed my corals were mad as heck... not all of them, but all of the SPS and some choice LPS's too. Acros were turning kinda brown.:hungover: It was during my freak out that I noticed that the doser had been unplugged (unknowingly, a mistake by my 11yo), and so it hadn't been dosing alk and calc for 3 days. Alk was down to 7.8 and calc around 380. Funny thing is... before I started dosing my tank's alk level was right around 7.8, but it had become used to a level of 9.5 because that's where we carefully raised it to when we began dosing. Now it had suddenly dropped by nearly 2dKH and the tank looked bad. Even my old faithful, a Duncan, was looking terrible.:(

    In the end, it took over a month before I saw polyp extension on any of my acros, (though other SPS, montis, and birdsnest, never appeared to suffer from this at all), and I lost 3 heads of my largest euphyllia, a purple hammer, (though a green hammer, torch, and frogspawn were ultimately fine). It was strange due to some corals being affected and others not, like the euphyllia, or when one acan suffered but 4 others didn't. Anyway, for most of the corals that were affected, correcting parameters had them looking pretty good within a week. For the others though, namely the acros and hammer, it was a very scary couple of months but keeping things very steady from there on out eventually brought them around. It was at least 3 months until I saw any kind of growth from them but I'm still super relieved to say that everyone was fine in the end.

    Okay, so when you say Red Sea 2-part, I am imagining their Reef Foundation supplements for Calc, Alk, and Mag. If you started using these products and it changed and/or maintained the tank's level for the big 3... well, suddenly stopping would certainly cause issues as you've described. Any sudden or major change in these parameters is dangerous to your corals.

    If instead, you are actually referring to Red Sea's Reef Energy Coral Nutrition A & B... well, these are to supplement some kind of dissolved nutrients, though from what I can gather, it's not NO3 and PO4, what they call the 'algae nutrients', and all I see on their site is that these bottles contain some type of DOM, (dissolved organic matter.) So, I'm unsure exactly what's in those bottles and general advice says that an excess of dissolved organics will cause algae, which you've also described.

    Knowing exactly what has been dosed to your tank should clear some things up... but one thing seems clear. Your tank has gone through some changes it didn't like so to figure out what they may be, a timeline of supplements and changes in the tank should be examined. From this point forward, your best bet is to follow this famous line in reefing... stability is king. Make sure there are no swings in any of the major parameters from here on out and you might be surprised at what can recover. Good luck!
  8. Ernest SaccoWell Known MemberMember

    To clarify I was referring to the red sea nutrients a and b.....besides that I just dose the esv 2 part which I have not altered or changed...i cut the red sea after I started to see the algae....to have a run down all of my lps are meh with my two hammers not looking as great but I blame this more so on flow as there isnt much on them...my bubble coral is also doing fantastic extending to 4 times the size of his skelaton in the back of the tank...my purple and mint pavona are also doing great with both showing serious growth and with the mint nice white edges...I've even seen the recovery of the blue xenia I bought nearly 8 months ago....for all the time I had it it never had any heads it just had a collection of stalks....well in the past 2 weeks it finally all of a suddemt regrew all of its white mouths with more sprouting from the base...my two large frags of bop birdsnest are also doing relatively well with continued polyp extension though coloration is not great....my smaller birdsnest and my forest fire monti are all but dead and my normal monti caps look awful with segments faded and starting to show algae growth... my meat coral, favia, duncans and scolys are all doing fine as well as my rock flowers....and I dont think I have to say the colt is also fine....it just seems to mainly be sps and the top of the tank
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2019
  9. Ernest SaccoWell Known MemberMember

    So a week later and the die off continues....now even my one orange monti who has lasted over 8 months seems to have gone along with the rest of my sps....except my blue monti digita and my mint and purple pavona....again my lps are not fantastic but they seem unchanged....my soft corals seem very happy...my fish also look bad....now a theory is that my one pink hairy mushroom detatched a while back and started roaming....
    He went behind the rocks....I cant as of now find him is it possible he died and set off this change reaction...again my nitrates are trace as well as my phosphates...I have algae film all over the glass after a week and I have coraline growing all over the rocks
  10. CulpritFishlore VIPMember

    Can we get your exact nitrate and phosphate readings please? Trace doesn't mean anything to me. Trace to one person could mean 5, and to another 0.01.

    Looks to me like there's a few things wrong. First one is you are bleaching and shocking everything with a huge light stepup. I would reduce your lighting. An AI Prime to Hydra is a big step and if you didn't take the time to acclimate then more then likely that is causing your problems.

    Second is, if you're running high light like a Hydra, and your alk is 9 and nitrates and PO4 is 0, then that could also be causing issues. To run high alk you need nutrients too.
  11. JesterraceWell Known MemberMember

    That does bring up a good point, about what light intensity are you running your Hydras at?
  12. Ernest SaccoWell Known MemberMember

    So just got water tested....my ammonia and nitrites are still at zero but my nitrates jumped to 10...this is due to the fish die off I just had in conjunction with the coral problem...i think it was a parasite as it took all of my fish except my six line who is going into quarantine to allow the display to sit empty for at least 3 months....I will never not quarantine a salt water fish again after this horrible disaster....

    In terms of corals my ph was 8.4 which is .2 points higher than it was a month ago...we think this is the most probable cause of the dying though the low nutrients also probably played a part...I am currently running the jamaican ai settings found off of the Facebook group under acclimation mode....I have been playing around with light presets more than in should have which may also have contributed to the decline and death

    I have been advised to use the seltzer water method to lower my ph back down does this sound like a good plan?
  13. JesterraceWell Known MemberMember

    I wouldn't. that might work with freshwater but right now we need to focus on getting rid of the parasite more than anything else. Chasing numbers with pH often causes more harm than good. I would say if you stick to small weekly water changes you should be fine regardless in that respect. I definitely think this is a parasite issue and not a pH issue. As for the AI and it's settings, I was referring more to how long you run your lights on your tank. If they are running more than 8 hours it can cause various problems (most notably algae issues). It can also affect your pH if they are running too long.
  14. Ernest SaccoWell Known MemberMember

    The jamaican schedual is at least 10 hours...my older schedual was also around that time so I havent changed much except as I said I started shifting through presets a lot the past few weeks as I sort of panicked...the one i used had a period of 7 hours though it had very low blues for well over 13 hours...it was a modified pirates...
    I am glad I asked because I really did not want to start chasing numbers....I just want the tank to age more and find balance and I'll start over in time...at least when I start adding again I'm sure my rock work completely covered in coraline

    Do you think I have a parasite affecting the corals?
  15. Wild BillWell Known MemberMember

    Have you tried redipping your corals?
  16. Ernest SaccoWell Known MemberMember

    No but it was on my mind....the die off came before I could react...now everything seems calm....I did a water change and the tank is now without fish