Reef Discussion

Adam_w

Member
Jul 6, 2016
202
52
Few Questions - On Sps
So been a while since I've been on here, looks like the MAFA facebook page has heaps of traffic but I much prefer the information on here than half the stuff that goes through that.

I've bought a few SPS frags over the past year or so, they always last like 5-9 months before they go pale and eventually die.


Nitrate/ Phosphates are always very low in my tank and pretty stable

Light on the SPS side of the tank is an AI prime which is pretty much maxed out on the blue and violet range (is that enough) water above the coral is probably only 10ish cm

Flow comes from the Icecap gyre which is on the other end of the 3ft tank


Questions are:
Is the flow from the gyre enough for the whole tank or should i put an old powerhead on as well?
AI prime, enough for SPS?

or if both of those are usually ok then I guess I need to work on keeping my KH balanced

Thanks heaps!
 

NiCd

Lead Moderator
Jul 29, 2011
4,297
1,586
Sydney
Hi Adam (what an awesome name!)

Do you have the size of your tank handy, how many AI primes and how far they are mounted above the surface of the water?

BRS TV did a good look into them last year to give you an indicative idea on PAR ratings etc and people have also had good success using the lighting mix they came up with.

https://www.bulkreefsupply.com/vide...lluminate-a-sps-reef-tank-brstv-investigates/

My personal experience with SPS losses is that light/flow/nutrients issues will brown out or stunt SPS but the thing that normally kills them is alk and calcium swings/drops. When SPS is happy though it really lets you know!
 

Adam_w

Member
Jul 6, 2016
202
52
The corals arent going brown so whatever it is that causes that it's not what's happening to me

The kind of go white/ spotchy not from the bottom up or top down so its like the colourful coral "skin" or whatever it is is being stripped away

Tank is 3ft long, AI prime on one end and coralbox moon led on the other (only lps on this side) i've kept the left side with the prime pretty bare because i've got some SPS plans if i can ever sort it out. The lights are about 13cm from the top of the tank. There is a glass cover to stop jumping but it's always pretty clean

I'm about 90% sure it's from alk swings but i just want to check i got the right gear before i tackle that problem
 

Adam_w

Member
Jul 6, 2016
202
52
so watched the BRS video, theirs are at 8 inch from the water and at 6 inches deep they seem to have enough par for SPS (only right in the middle), I would think my lights are closer than 8 inches and where the corals were placed isn't deeper than 6 inches so I think that is ok.

Next would be how do I know if the flow from the icecap gyre at the other end of the tank is enough? Should I be feeling some water movement on my hand where the coral will be, should it be blasting or just like a breeze

I guess that part is hard to explain hahah
 

Adam_w

Member
Jul 6, 2016
202
52
Yep, had a feeling it was the alk! I've been pretty on top of it with the new dosing pump I've got the coral box wifi one. I bought the ATI essentials range as well to try out with the even dosing, it did me a bit of a mischief and dumped a whole lot of the calcium in there so that shot up to 500ish ppm.

SPEAKING OF, when my calcium shot up to 500ppm my bta split, so now I have 3 instead of one so that was kind of alright. They've all settled in the same spot as the previous one as well which is front and centre in the tank

When I add a new piece of SPS, I'll need to adjust dosing, say for a small frag. It wouldn't cause that much change im guessing is it best to test alk every day and adjust? or is the impact most likely too small from a single frag and only adjust every few days to a week?

I've been trying to crack this SPS game for a while now, LPS, Clam and anemones have been fine for 3 years this is my last hurdle
 

Sam Parker

Moderator
May 6, 2013
4,802
2,397
Geelong
no need to adjust dosing based on new coral additions, only adjust dosing when you've seen a repeatable uptake in parameters. Ie, if you test once a week, and you've seen alkalinity go down two weeks in a row - up the dosage a little.

Don't react to a single test, don't react to a strange occurrence and don't react to a new coral addition :)
 

Adam_w

Member
Jul 6, 2016
202
52
Alright, over summer I'll give it another go with SPS current record is like 8 months with a little birdsnest
 
Sep 24, 2013
367
280
Palm Beach
Here is my check list when I have issues with SPS:

Like Sam said, most of the times the root cause is lack on instability in Alk or temperature. Try to keep the swing below 0.5/day for both (0.5C temp and 0.5dkh).

How low is your Nitrate and Phosphate? I've seen a huge difference on what people consider low for these two.

Nitrate:
Too low and SPS can lose color and too high can be irritating. Either will cause stress, which will diminish their ability to cope with any other problem. I try to stick to nitrate around 5ppm. Not zero and not over 10ppm.
I know a lot of tanks, including mine, that went over 50ppm for months and had no issues with SPS, but given you are trying to identify the cause of mortality, I would suggest paying close attention to No3 spikes.
Phosphate:
I never been able to relate high Po4 to coral mortality, so I wouldn't worry too much about it. Unless it is super high and promoting algae, the worse it does is to stunt SPS growth and brown them out.

Stray current
There are mixed opinions about the topic, but I had too instances of SPS RTN, that coincided with high stray current in the tank. So I always check that.

ph Swings
It isn't commonly associated with coral mortality, but can certainly add up to other issues, specially if the house is sealed during winter.

Acclimatation
Proper acclimation cannot be underestimated. However, doesn't seem to be your case, given your SPS are surviving for a couple of months.
Acclimatation to both light and water are important. It is very common to lose SPS due to putting them in strong light, after it comes from a tank with moderate light.

Wild vs Aqua cultured
Not directly related to your case, but might be worth to try some aqua cultured frags, as they are more resilient and used to aquarium environment.

Fish
If you have an species notorious for nipping on corals, that cannot be ignored.
If SPS has good polyp extension during the night, while fish are sleeping, that is a good reason to keep a close eye on that fish.

Heavy metals

If nothing else works, do an ICP test.
There are several sources for heavy metal and other pollutants, that can be difficult to identify. Sources can be rusted metal, dusty environments, skin with sunscreen, aluminium based media, etc.
I battled SPS RTN for an year, until I did an ICP test that detected high aluminum, coming from Phosguard and Marine Pure.


Flow and Light
Answering your direct questions, while flow and light are very important to general SPS health, growth and coloration, I find it extremely rare for it to cause mortality, specially if using high end Leds and wavemakers.

If they were the cause, most likely there would would be areas of the tank where corals do thrive and other areas where they perish.
 
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Adam_w

Member
Jul 6, 2016
202
52
Answers like yours and Sam's are why I ask questions here and not on Facebook!

My Nitrate has been 0-3ppm and stable for 3 or so years, phosphates used to be high but got them down with the UAC phosphate remover now they seem to stay real low like 0.013ppm kind of area

I still have algae growing on the back glass, but seems to be receding I run a fuge now so I think that has helped to sort that. As a side question my fuge the chaeto doesnt seem to grow so much but it goes seem to grow jelly like stuff all around the bottom of the fuge section, it's really gross to get out but figure it must be doing something. I'm not doing any form of carbon dosing any more so it's something thats happening somewhat naturally in the tank

I think the latest thing that caused this batch of SPS to die was the doser going weird and putting heaps of calcium in, so I'm thinking now that's sorted out I should be okay to try again.


Planning to do an ICP test once Quantum releases theirs I'm pretty sure all the others are heaps expensive and involve sending stuff overseas which just seems a bit excessive. Although I dont use any Quantum aside their salt any more I still want to support them where I can

I'll pick up a local SPS piece over summer and let you all know how long it lasts ;) hopefully it'll last a while
the annoying thing is the purple milli I had was getting some good growth so i got hyped then it all went to poo
 

macca_75

Member
Apr 22, 2012
2,125
844
Answers like yours and Sam's are why I ask questions here and not on Facebook!

My Nitrate has been 0-3ppm and stable for 3 or so years, phosphates used to be high but got them down with the UAC phosphate remover now they seem to stay real low like 0.013ppm kind of area

I still have algae growing on the back glass, but seems to be receding I run a fuge now so I think that has helped to sort that. As a side question my fuge the chaeto doesnt seem to grow so much but it goes seem to grow jelly like stuff all around the bottom of the fuge section, it's really gross to get out but figure it must be doing something. I'm not doing any form of carbon dosing any more so it's something thats happening somewhat naturally in the tank

I think the latest thing that caused this batch of SPS to die was the doser going weird and putting heaps of calcium in, so I'm thinking now that's sorted out I should be okay to try again.


Planning to do an ICP test once Quantum releases theirs I'm pretty sure all the others are heaps expensive and involve sending stuff overseas which just seems a bit excessive. Although I dont use any Quantum aside their salt any more I still want to support them where I can

I'll pick up a local SPS piece over summer and let you all know how long it lasts ;) hopefully it'll last a while
the annoying thing is the purple milli I had was getting some good growth so i got hyped then it all went to poo
I've never been able to keep SPS (Haven't really tried, but doubt I could). Shouldn't Nitrate be a little higher than this? Could they be starving? I don't think the current aim is 0 (it used to be 10+ yrs ago, but at the time it was hard to reduce Nitrate. No it's pretty easy and sometimes people go to far).

Or am I totally on the wrong path?
 

Adam_w

Member
Jul 6, 2016
202
52
I don't think for me it would be from Nitrate being too low, I've still got algae growing in the main tank as well as the fuge. I keep some dragons breath in main tank and some calurpa as well grows to one side. I think the 0-3 is a false reading from that, so the internet tells me anyway.

I am about 90% sure its from alk swings, I'm just tyring to think what the best way to tackle that is. I have a feeling I need to get a new dosing pump, the coralbox wifi pump for me at least seems pretty unreliable. I had the alk, cal and mag dosing all set to 1ml every 3 days. Check back after a while alk and mag are fine at the same levels but it had dumped in about 3 litres of the calcium (this is what I think killed my last SPS frags)

In saying all this i'm now losing my duncans again they just dont seem to last more than a year for me, the hammers and nems are still all fine as well as the elegance so it's pretty annoying!
 
Sep 24, 2013
367
280
Palm Beach
I don't think for me it would be from Nitrate being too low, I've still got algae growing in the main tank as well as the fuge. I keep some dragons breath in main tank and some calurpa as well grows to one side. I think the 0-3 is a false reading from that, so the internet tells me anyway.

I am about 90% sure its from alk swings, I'm just tyring to think what the best way to tackle that is. I have a feeling I need to get a new dosing pump, the coralbox wifi pump for me at least seems pretty unreliable. I had the alk, cal and mag dosing all set to 1ml every 3 days. Check back after a while alk and mag are fine at the same levels but it had dumped in about 3 litres of the calcium (this is what I think killed my last SPS frags)

In saying all this i'm now losing my duncans again they just dont seem to last more than a year for me, the hammers and nems are still all fine as well as the elegance so it's pretty annoying!
Is "1ml every 3 days" a typo? If this is correct, the this is something suspicious you can look at.
You haven't mention the volume of the tank, but given it is a 3ft tank I guess it is over 100l. If that is the case, 0.3ml/day is a negligible amount, even for the most concentrated of the supplements.
Just for a comparison, I dose 30ml/day per 100l of tank water, of Randy's recipe.
Also, the consumption of Alk in a single day can easily be over 0.5dkh, which would cause a swing large enough to make SPS nearly impossible to keep. It is preferable to dose daily, in multiple small doses, because of that.
In addition, 1ml every 3 days such a tiny dose that it would be difficult for the cheaper dosing pumps to dose precisely.

What is the tank volume, what supplement are you dosing and what is the brand of your tests?

The other thing I noticed in your earlier message, is that the tank has a lid. This will greatly impact gas exchange, which would normally make hard to keep nitrite and nitrate under control.
Hence, I would question the accuracy of the test kit and try to double check it in the LFS.
 

Adam_w

Member
Jul 6, 2016
202
52
I'm dosing ATI essentials range for all 3 products, says to dose evenly at the start and see if it changes any of your balances.

I think the reason for such low dosing is my corals, I only have a few corals and no SPS so there isn't much demand
4x hammers
1x small elegance
1x scolly
3x bta

When I had my clam I had to dose a bit more but at the moment everything is stable, and by stable I mean nothing is growing so demand doesn't increase. That's probably another issue I need to look into, how often should hammers sprout a new head and grow? I've had some of these about a year and no new heads

Tank volume I think is around 130L
Test kits

-ALK API, I've tested it against a few other brands and it all seems to be the same anyway LFS says the same thing so I've just stuck with the cheap one
-Phos - ULR hanna checker
-Nitrate - red sea pro (previously used nyos)
-Calcium - Nyos
-Mg - Salifert

How does the tank lid affect the nitrate exchange? The skimmer is in the sump which is open and i make sure to crack the lid a little bit around the edges so that some air can get in (but hopefully no fish out)
 
Sep 24, 2013
367
280
Palm Beach
How does the tank lid affect the nitrate exchange? The skimmer is in the sump which is open and i make sure to crack the lid a little bit around the edges so that some air can get in (but hopefully no fish out)
Sorry, I replied in a rush and mixed things up. The lid will be negligible in when it comes to affecting the nitrogen cycle and I meant to write that it will cause accumulation of CO2, on the water column and help bring pH down.
The skimmer can compensate that indeed, but it isn't uncommon do read reports of the aforementioned problem, even in tanks with strong skimmers.
Also, the lid will defuse the light.
 

Adam_w

Member
Jul 6, 2016
202
52
I'm just scared of jumpers! its an open cabinet where the skimmer/ sump is so hopefully that balances it out.

Anyway my brother just got a boat so some fresh NSW is back on the cards
 

Adam_w

Member
Jul 6, 2016
202
52
Just thought I'd update on here, picked up a small birds nest frag and kept a real close eye on my levels. Kept alk solid and it still didn't grow, when i first put it in they seem to grow and real happy then after a few months they start to deteriorate.

Next thing I'm thinking of is flow? At the moment the flow has been enough to push the sand from the corner of my aquarium so I thought maybe it was enough but is there actually any way to test this? Just have the Icecap Gyre at one end of the tank, can throw a spare powerhead at the other if it will help?

Thoughts?
 
Sep 24, 2013
367
280
Palm Beach
Hi @Adam_w,
a full tank shot and photos of the coral before and after it started deteriorating would bey very handy to give you better advice.

How long it took between the first sign unhealthiness and full necrosis?

Flow is important, but I find it unlikely that slow flow would cause of tissue necrosis in all SPS.
Also, your flow seem adequate for the size of the tank.
 

Adam_w

Member
Jul 6, 2016
202
52
Will get photos to document next time I give it a try, it's weird because the lepto frag I picked up at the same time is actually growing quite fast. I know it isn't as needy as a birdsnest frag but still.

So everything was fine, first few weeks was signs of growth and great PE
I think about a month or so in the PE slowed down
shortly after it started to go in random patches, didn't look like it started at the top or the bottom

It's directly under the AI prime maybe about 10cm deep in the water, could it be from too much light? I always set the light into acclimate mode to go down to 50% power and ramp up over 2 weeks. The SPS frag always goes at the opposite end of the tank to the gyre pump, but just below the frags the sand has been completely moved away. So the flow must be pretty good in the area

I guess I'll try again if I see some cheap frags pop up nearby on the facebook groups, I'm pretty well over spending $20 for something that looks cool for a few weeks

Then I might just accept LPS and softie life
 

Adam_w

Member
Jul 6, 2016
202
52
Just thought I'd update here on what's been going on

about a month ago now I picked up a cheap monti frag from a local guy only $5 for a green monti, an extremely tiny frag and it was just cut and glued on the day I got it.

Had it for about a week all perfect as usual, then week 2 it went a bit down hill and receded. So in week 2 I added back on my old RW 15 wavemaker, so now running the icecap gyre (130 or something) and an RW 15 in my 3 ft tank. I've got a bare spot on the sand in one corner but that isn't a huge deal.

I also went into my AI prime and changed the channels a bit, upped the violet and UV channel to max similar to something on the BRS channel where they tried to copy the spectrum from the radions.

Anyway coral started to come back, the base of the skeleton is still a brownish boring colour but the polyps are out and there seems to be more every day.

I may have finally cracked it, or I might be speaking too soon

The other good news is the guy who sold me the monti actually frags a fair bit and has heaps of corals for $5 as well so I've got some options to get some nice stuff