My New 29g And Some Of The Issues

  • #1

29 gallon long

40 lbs of live rock

DIY Chaeto reactor (Two Little Fishies Phosban Fitler Media Reactor powered by a Cobalt Aquatics MJ1200 Powerhead Sump and Abelle LED Plant Grow Strip Lights )

Caribsea Super Naturals Aquarium Sand

Hydor Koralia Nano 425 GPH Sump

Jebao 530-1000 GPH Wavemaker

Fluvial Marine and Reef 2.0 LED Strip Light 32 Watts

Instant Ocean Aquarium Salt


Yellow Watchman goby

Mandarin Dragonet

2 Occelaris Clownfish

3 Nassarius Snails

3 Blue Legged Hermit Crabs

Hammer Coral

Zoanthid "Gatorade"



I currently have a 29 gallon long that is about 2 months old and I'm having issues with my newly placed corals and with certain inverts I place in it. I fully cycled my tank within 2 weeks with Bio-Spira and dosing ammonia chloride once to 4ppm and letting it drop. My tank has about 40 lbs of live rock in it. After the cycle I decided to add a watchman goby, emerald crab, and mandarin dragonet (eating frozen mysis). The goby and dragonet made it and are doing fine up to this day but the crab died I think since after 4 days it was frozen in the same spot it was added. The crabs bottom part of its shell was open which made me think it possibly molted but I never have seen a crab in my tank. I temp and dripped acclimated all of them. I decided at this time to make a DIY chaeto reactor because my nitrates were very high. I built it and added copepods into it with some live rock and chaeto. I added the copepods hoping they would be able to reproduce in the reactor and it seems to be working. The reactor has a plant strip light around it bought from amazon. After about another 2 weeks I added a fire shrimp, 3 nassarius snails and 3 blue legged hermit crabs. The fire shrimp died after an hour of being added in but everything else lived. I did temperature acclimate and drip acclimate all of them. Just 4 days ago I added a serpent star, two clown fish, a hammer coral and zoanthid. The serpent star just like the crab and fire shrimp did not make it and died. It was stiff after about an hour and after 2 days it didn't move and it was in direct light. The star smelled bad when I took it out and the goby seemed to nibble on it from time to time. I placed my corals high up on my rocks and I let two days pass by and my corals still haven't opened so I decided to place them on the sand bed to see if they will open up at all. It has been a day and both corals have not opened up. Both are shut tight and I did notice that the hammer coral had hair algae on it after being added. I attempted to take some of it off but even after trying it still had some left on it. I just temp acclimated the corals and put them into the tank after reading a bit that they don't need to be drip acclimated. I am wondering why my inverts keep dying after being added (shrimp, crabs, stars) and others live such as my nassarius snails and blue legged hermit crabs. They die very quickly and do not live to see the next day for the most part. I also am wondering why my corals have yet to open. I moved them from their location to see if the flow was the issue that was bothering them and they still haven't opened (it has been a day after moving). After adding the chaeto reactor all of my nitrate issues or any small traces of ammonia are at zero. I just did a 25 percent water change yesterday as well hoping that mightve helped the corals open up but atlas nothing has changed. I use tap water treated with Instant Oceans Water Conditioner mixed with Instant Ocean Sea Salt. What is possibly happening from with my corals and why do some of the inverts I add die almost immediately after being added to the tank even while being acclimated? My calcium and carbonate hardness levels are very high and I wonder if that has anything to do with why my inverts are dying or my coral not wanting to open?

MY PARAMETERS (I use the API reef and saltwater test kits to check these levels):

Saltinity: 1.026

pH: 7.8-8.0

Ammonia: 0 PPM

NItrite: 0 PPM

NItrate: 0 PPM

Phosphate: 0.25 PPM

Calcium: 520 PPM

Carbonate Hardness (KH): 17 dKH

  • #2
Personally, the first thing I would do is switch my test kit from API to Red Sea or Salifert. API has too many variables with marine testing for my tastes. I have a hard time believing that you have no measurable nitrates in the tank given the fact that you have had inverts in there (even for a few days).

Also a Mandarin in a brand new small tank is not a good idea. They are copepod eaters and your tank won't produce enough of them to keep them fed. Take it from a guy who spent more money then he cares to mention just to have one die in a few months. Last of all, where are you getting your Fish, Inverts, etc. from

  • Thread Starter
  • #3
I buy all my fish at local fish stores (not petcos or petsmarts). (Chicago, Illinois) Tank it Easy, Old Town Aquarium and Old Orchard Aquarium. I got my mandarin from Old Orchard aquarium and he was captive bred and was fed frozen mysis for the 3 months that he was living at the pet store. He has been with me for a while and he eats frozen mysis and bloodworms from what I see. I did also add a chaeto reactor where copepods are being produced and released back into the display tank. I got my coral from Tank It Easy. All of these fish stores seem to be very well taken care of. I will get new test kits soon once my paycheck comes around. What do you think is happening with my corals and some of my inverts?
  • #4
The Phosphate levels could definitely explain the corals as .25 is considered high for a reef tank. Regular Ocean Phosphate levels are considered to be around .03 if that gives you any kind of reference. GFO (Granulated Ferric Oxide) will help reduce phosphate levels. Not sure if the inverts are an acclimation issue or not (inverts can be a pain that way).
  • #5
It'd like to throw in my 2 cents on the phosphate test. I swear just about every time I've ever tested for phosphates with my API test kit it's given me a reading of .25, I just got a Hanna meter, which is pricey but it says mine are @ zero.
I wouldn't expect anyone to go buy a $50 meter but maybe grab another brand of test for the phosphates - based on my experience, I don't trust that API test. API also doesn't show any increments between 0 and .25 so you could be lower than that and you'd have no way of knowing.
As Justerrace said .25 is high, just in case, maybe a larger, 20% or so water change might be a good idea.
  • #6
Also a 17 dkh is super duper high....are you sure that's what it was? Not doubting but I mean the normal is lik 8-10...


  • #7
Culprit stella1979 Lchi87
  • #8
Your calcium and dkh is a bit elevated... I'd retest with another kit to double check. Can you bring a water sample to the LFS if you can't invest in a different kit perhaps? That could be shocking the corals if they're not used to that.

Sorry about your inverts, sometimes they're just difficult like that. I'll wait for you to confirm that those are your actual parameters before I try to advise further, hope you can understand! I've tested 3 different times and gotten three different results before so I wouldn't rule out user error too...(one too many drops on accident, one droplet being slightly larger than the rest etc etc) All these little things can affect your result.
  • Thread Starter
  • #9
Thank you guys so much for the help, very thankful of you guys. I will bring a sample to my lfs and I also will be making a new thread about my corals if you guys could follow up on it that would be very helpful but basically my hammer and zoanthid coral are shruken and covered in white slime.

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