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gone_PHiSHin

digitata losing fluorescence

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i bought a couple montipora digitata frags about 2 months ago.  i let them acclimate to the tank on the sand bed, for about 3-4 weeks before moving them up to a relatively high light area in my tank.    since then, the polyp extension hasn't been as good, and the color (more particularly the fluorescence) hasn't been as bright.  it has dulled, and almost no fluorescence is present now.  i wouldn't say it "browned" and it certainly didn't bleach or fade, but it has significantly less pop or glow. 

 

i have a Nanobox Mini Tide over the IM10, with settings similar to teenyreef's, even less at peak, about 88% blues/uv and 22% whites/lime.  all parameters have remained solid during this and all other corals look great.  nothing else was changed other than the position of the digitata.  

 

temp 79, 1.026, calc around 450, alk 8.8-9.0, nitrates less than 10.  i run about a tablespoon and a half of carbon, about a tablespoon and half of GFO, a 100ml bag of purigen, and a reef glass skimmer.  biolaod relatively low, a clown and TSB, and i feed the corals 2-4 times a week. 

 

before i respond with what i have read may be causing this, can i get some feedback on why you think this is happening and also what my plan of action should be?

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Browning can be caused by high phosphate levels, as well as low lighting.  I wonder how that parameter is affecting the color.  Low phosphate can also affect coloration.  It's probably some combination of nutrients, feeding, and lighting.

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Phosphate?

sps losing color is almost always water quality related. Light, on very rare occasions.

Great minds think alike. Seabass posted while I was typing.

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In my experience with montis, they need a few weeks to get used to new conditions. Every single one has browned on me for a while and then sudden;y come back just fine. After that, most color fading has been from alk swings. Higher nitrates can also encourage coral to keep more zooxanthellae which of course will make them look browner, and higher phosphates has always encouraged nice vivid coloring (along with algae and cyano). Too low phosphates for the alk and ca level can make corals look pale in a bleached sort of way.

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10 hours ago, gone_PHiSHin said:

i bought a couple montipora digitata frags about 2 months ago.  i let them acclimate to the tank on the sand bed, for about 3-4 weeks before moving them up to a relatively high light area in my tank.    since then, the polyp extension hasn't been as good, and the color (more particularly the fluorescence) hasn't been as bright.  it has dulled, and almost no fluorescence is present now.  i wouldn't say it "browned" and it certainly didn't bleach or fade, but it has significantly less pop or glow. 

 

i have a Nanobox Mini Tide over the IM10, with settings similar to teenyreef's, even less at peak, about 88% blues/uv and 22% whites/lime.  all parameters have remained solid during this and all other corals look great.  nothing else was changed other than the position of the digitata.  

 

temp 79, 1.026, calc around 450, alk 8.8-9.0, nitrates less than 10.  i run about a tablespoon and a half of carbon, about a tablespoon and half of GFO, a 100ml bag of purigen, and a reef glass skimmer.  biolaod relatively low, a clown and TSB, and i feed the corals 2-4 times a week. 

 

before i respond with what i have read may be causing this, can i get some feedback on why you think this is happening and also what my plan of action should be?

How’s the placement?  Both of my Digitata s love lots of flow and light. 

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yeah after reading up on browning of SPS, my suspicion was my phosphate levels.  it's the only thing i don't test for (yet).  i'm going to order the Hanna phosphorus checker soon.   

 

i have no algae whatsoever in my tank, never have, so i never thought phosphate was a problem.  i do get a light dusting on the glass every other day but i've always assumed that was normal.  i have always run GFO but i never increased the amount. looks like i certainly need to test phosphates to get an idea of where i'm at.

 

i would say the digitata are in high light/medium flow.  they are right next to my birdsnest, which is even higher up and in similar flow, and the birdsnest is doing great...lots of color and polyp extension.  are the two corals comparable in regards to light/flow requirements?

 

other than checking my phosphate levels, what else should i do?  i'm thinking cut back on coral feeding for a couple weeks and see if that changes anything?  i never thought my nutrient levels were high in this tank, my skimmer pulls a very light skimmate no matter how much i feed, and although i don't have a good nitrate test kit (API) they have always been almost undetectable through the test kit so i know they are less than 10 at most.

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1 hour ago, gone_PHiSHin said:

yeah after reading up on browning of SPS, my suspicion was my phosphate levels.  it's the only thing i don't test for (yet).  i'm going to order the Hanna phosphorus checker soon.   

 

i have no algae whatsoever in my tank, never have, so i never thought phosphate was a problem.  i do get a light dusting on the glass every other day but i've always assumed that was normal.  i have always run GFO but i never increased the amount. looks like i certainly need to test phosphates to get an idea of where i'm at.

 

i would say the digitata are in high light/medium flow.  they are right next to my birdsnest, which is even higher up and in similar flow, and the birdsnest is doing great...lots of color and polyp extension.  are the two corals comparable in regards to light/flow requirements?

 

other than checking my phosphate levels, what else should i do?  i'm thinking cut back on coral feeding for a couple weeks and see if that changes anything?  i never thought my nutrient levels were high in this tank, my skimmer pulls a very light skimmate no matter how much i feed, and although i don't have a good nitrate test kit (API) they have always been almost undetectable through the test kit so i know they are less than 10 at most.

My tank is “dirty” with phosphate levels that would keep most people up at night......  my digitata is in between two types of Birdsnest Corals in high light, high flow. 

 

Good luck. 

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so if i wanted to raise my nitrates but not my phosphates, how would i go about that?  i have a dozen different foods available, but i'm assuming feeding will raise both?

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You can dose nitrate.  However, I'm not sure that you really want to raise nitrate.  It'll be interesting to see what the phosphate level is.  I'm guessing, based on the lack of algae in your tank, that it's not all that high.

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yeah i ordered the ULR phosphorus checker today but it probably won't be here for a week or so.  i'm really interested as well.  

 

so someone that has no algae in the tank and only has a light green film algae growing on the glass every other day (that easily comes off with a mag cleaner)...what would you guess the phosphate level is?  as in, when you have phosphate at the target 0.03ish range, do you get the glass algae i'm referring to?  how often does one have to clean their glass at 0.05 or lower?

 

 

also, if phosphate is assumed to be relatively low based on my algae growth, and i know my nitrate is fairly low...then what else would be the cause of the lack of color in my digitata?  i know my lights are plenty powerful, and the digitata is almost directly under my Nanobox Tide, so i don't think it's lack of lighting...

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I would guess it's a bit higher than 0.03 ppm.  When it's lower, you might only have to clean the glass just once or twice a week.  I'd like to see what the phosphate level is and work from there.  Pics might help too.

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thanks for the insight seabass, as always.  

 

i'll certainly report back once i get a reading, i should have a clear path once i figure that out.  

 

in the meantime, my plan is to only feed my fish this week and not the corals, and not changing anything else of my daily/weekly routine.  i just did a large water change yesterday and vacuumed the sand, so the tank is at its cleanest currently.   also i finally got my ESV 2 part dosage right and calc and alk have been relatively rock solid lately.  only thing in question at this point parameter wise is my phosphate/nitrate levels.  

 

i contemplated upping my GFO but know that too much GFO can cause serious problems and therefore i should probably test my phosphate level first.  hence, the phosphorus checker order.  

 

patience and observation until that comes in B)

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How long has it been in the tank, and how are the colors of other corals? I'd caution against chasing numbers in this case. It may just take a while for it to get used to the conditions in the tank.

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1 hour ago, teenyreef said:

How long has it been in the tank, and how are the colors of other corals?

Two months, but a month ago they were moved up higher (to a place with more light).  Since the move, PE hasn't been as good, and coloration (especially fluorescence) has declined.  All other corals appear good.

 

The move (being the thing that changed) appears to be an obvious possibility, or at least a contributing factor.  However, with the increased lighting, the color hasn't bleached or faded (and hasn't necessarily browned).

 

1 hour ago, teenyreef said:

I'd caution against chasing numbers in this case. It may just take a while for it to get used to the conditions in the tank.

This is good advice, especially if we don't know the numbers yet.  Everything might even check out OK.  However, in this case, I feel knowing the numbers might provide some insight (but maybe it won't).

 

@gone_PHiSHin, the problem with a spot check in parameters, is that we don't know the history or trend.  Ray and I were theorizing what else might be affecting coloration, and phosphate is a possibility.  However, I don't necessarily disagree with @teenyreef; especially since your other corals look good.

 

Maybe you can post a picture of before and now.  If not, then maybe just a current pic.  It might not tell us anything, but it's some more information that might spark something for somebody.  Still, I'm glad that you are getting a decent phosphate test kit.

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Sounds like you have a good plan! In my tanks, paler colors almost always is actually due to nutrients being too low, for what its worth. However, it's possible that your coral is still adjusting to the higher light level, even though it didn't actually get bleached.

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thanks everyone.

 

i don't have any good pictures of my tank actually, all i have is my iphone 6s and for the life of me i can't take a good picture.  i haven't given it much time though, i'll have to put some effort into that as well in the near future.  (and finally start a build thread!)

 

like you said teeny, i'm hoping the digitata is just adjusting to the tank and more specifically the sudden light increase.  

 

i think the Hanna checker arrives Friday...i'm trying to be patient!  

 

good news...although the majority of the digitata skin is kind of brownish on both specimens, the polyps still have some color and are always out.  and when the evening lights come on (which are very blue and show off fluorescence) a couple of the tips of the green one are showing some glow.  hoping all i need to bring back that awesome color is time!

 

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LOL what the hell??

 

my Hanna ULR Phosphorus Checker arrived yesterday.   i am about to do a WC so i went ahead and tested everything first, and used my new checker.  salinity, alk, calc...all spot on from last week.  it seems my ESV b-ionic 2 part dosing is where it should be.  

 

i have been watching videos and reading up on how to properly use the HI736 and how to get accurate, repeatable results, tips and tricks, etc as i've read people's complaints about it timing out, getting different results and stuff like that.  i was fully prepared for the test before i got the kit so i proceeded to review the directions once more and test away.

 

my reading: 0 ppb 

 

is that possible?  like i said, i don't have any algae growing in this tank, never have, but i do clean the glass about every other day.  i am almost certain i have at least SOME detectable phosphate in this tank.  

 

does anyone else actually get a 0 ppb reading on their ULR phosphorus checker?  i have read many reports of 0 on the phosphate checker but not the phosphorus one. 

 

and if this is an accurate reading, why would i have to clean the glass so often?

 

zero?!  now i'm really confused.  and my digitata still looks pretty brown...

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I have no experience with the phosphorous checker from Hanna. I've used the phosphate checker, as well as the alkalinity checker, though. Both were proven useless when compared against Salifert. Three tests in a row, side by side. Salifert had consistent results, Hanna checkers varied wildly. I'm not claiming the Salifert was dead accurate. These are hobby grade tests, you'll only get extreme accuracy from a lab. So, I'll take consistency every time. 

 

I dont really know what to tell you. I doubt you have 0 ppb, though. If that were the case, you'd have very pale pastel colored SPS. As seabass and I said before, SPS browning is usually higher phosphate related. However, where something like an A. lokani might start to brown out at 0.05 monti's are generally much more forgiving. I've seen them showing color at 0.1 ppb and higher. Granted, those were the old days, when everyone had higher phosphates and had the alkalinity jacked up between 10 and 12 dkh. I don't know the true relationship, or if there even is one. I just know that the lower your phosphate is, the lower your alk needs to be, lest you burn all your corals. At this point, I'm just rambling, though... 

 

I'd guess your next step would be to verify your results. Try to find an LFS that uses a reliable test kit, and have them run a few phosphate tests. It may cost you $1 a test, but spending $3 to get the same results is better than spending $23 on a kit. If that proves good, your next place to start looking is light. Go diving on a reef. Most corals are brown and green. That's light spectrum. So, provided your phosphate is good, perhaps you have too much red in your lights. It might be worth a try to lower the intensity of your warm color channels and see if that gets you results.

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thanks for the response

 

yeah my next thought was to get my water tested by a LFS too.  unfortunately that will have to be when i make a trip down to my favorite one about 45 minutes away...the ones in my town are horrible and i wouldn't trust their results.  

 

i read some reports of bad reagents with the checker but those threads were years ago.  i did email Hanna anyways.

 

i thought about removing my GFO for a week and seeing if i can detect any phosphates.  i know stripping phosphate quickly can cause problems, but is there any danger in removing it?

 

i just did another test directly after feeding some Rod's Food to my corals and it read 14 ppb.  i've always thought maybe i overfed this tank but i have no nitrates ever and now i'm seeing very low phosphates so maybe i should go back to feeding 3-4 times a week if i'm going to leave the GFO in there.  

 

i run my lights really blue, and my white channel is pretty low.  i definitely get great colors from all my LPS, especially with the bluer spectrum and low whites. i would think i wouldn't get as great of growth, color, and PE in my LPS with such low nitrates and phosphates?

 

another thought i had: with such low nutrients and having my alk at 9, i'd think i'd have to worry about alk burn and as far as i can tell i have nothing of the sort.  

 

damn, those digitata are throwing me for a loop!  everything looks great otherwise so i really don't want to change much but this additional testing has me confused now (and rambling as well)

 

i was almost hoping for an elevated phosphate level, because then i would know what direction to go!

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14 ppb!?!? I guess that could be with a giant portion of the juice from the food in the sample... Try testing again in a half hour or so. See if it goes down. If it's still elevated into the ridiculous, I'd be suspect of that test kit. I'm going to go out on a limb, though. Reading through your replies, I don't think phosphate is your problem. I'm sure it's present, but probably in the 0.0something range. Easily within a good range for SPS.

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I'll try to keep this short.. Based on your feedback If you are are having issues keeping your Digi happy it's because your water is too clean from excess GFO. I've done this on occasion when trying to get rid of unwanted algae. Digi like medium to high light and high flow but they do need nutrients in the water to really thrive IME. I'd recommend reducing the amount of GFO you are using and feeding your tank a bit more. A reading of 0 on the hanna ULR is not ideal as these corals need phosphate.

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About the Hanna ULR Phosphorus Checker, I find them to be somewhere in the ballpark.  Sure I get different readings if I repeat the test, but nothing too wildly off.  It does have a higher resolution than Salifert's kit, and it's digital (so there's no trying to distinguish slight shades of blue).  Is it perfect?  No, but I haven't found a phosphate kit that is.  BTW, it's what I use too.

 

I'm almost positive that you have some phosphate, but a repeated reading of 0 ppb of phosphorus indicates that your phosphate is low.  Like you all have addressed, this could be a problem with high alkalinity.  Having some detectable phosphate is good; you just don't want it to get too high (10 ppb or higher).  If you can't detect phosphate, cut down (or discontinue GFO).  Now that you have a kit, you can more easily determine how much GFO to use.

 

1 hour ago, gone_PHiSHin said:

i was almost hoping for an elevated phosphate level, because then i would know what direction to go!

Start by trying to get phosphate increased to at least 2 ppb.  Don't add (or replace) GFO until phosphate reaches 8 ppb.  If it drops below 2 ppb, discontinue GFO until it reaches 8 ppb again.  So the goal is to try to maintain phosphate somewhere between 2 and 8 ppb.  Slight deviations outside this range shouldn't be a major problem.  If phosphate comes down too fast, try less GFO.

 

Note: By changing how much GFO you use, you will also change your alkalinity consumption.  You will have to monitor and make any necessary adjustments.

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awesome, thanks again 

 

i'm about to go out to dinner and maybe do some boozing with the girlfriend, so i'll test my phosphate later if i get a chance or tomorrow morning.  i'm going to have to get some reagent ordered!

 

Ray: is 14 ppb really that high directly after a feeding?  i did that test as a check to mostly see if the checker worked, knowing there had to be phosphate present in the food.  i'm assuming it will have been consumed or removed by now and won't be 14 ppb still?

1 hour ago, Rehype said:

I'll try to keep this short.. Based on your feedback If you are are having issues keeping your Digi happy it's because your water is too clean from excess GFO. I've done this on occasion when trying to get rid of unwanted algae. Digi like medium to high light and high flow but they do need nutrients in the water to really thrive IME. I'd recommend reducing the amount of GFO you are using and feeding your tank a bit more. A reading of 0 on the hanna ULR is not ideal as these corals need phosphate.

 

i understand and agree with all this, but if we are correct that the water is too clean, why are all the LPS, which much prefer dirtier water than SPS, doing great and growing?  i would think LPS would be more affected than the digitata by these 'too clean' conditions?

 

seabass:  your response was pretty much my plan moving forward with this.  before i read your post i decided i won't remove the GFO at all right now and just feed a little more and monitor.  if i can't get my phosphate level to where i want it without getting my nitrates too high, then i will reduce the amount of GFO by half and go from there.  your plan is a little more detailed and direct, i'll try for the 2-8 ppb range.  

 

in the end, i suspect i'm probably using too much GFO.  before i got this test kit, i thought i had elevated phosphate levels, and therefore i really cut back on feeding the tank this week.  maybe that GFO is doing more harm than good currently.

 

like i said, i'll need to get some more reagent ordered and start experimenting.

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Sorry, I was thinking in ppM. That makes what, 0.014 ppm? That's actually a pretty good number to be at. A bit higher is better. 

 

Comon logic would dictate the LPS would suffer, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Typical NSW values are around 0.005 ppm. LPS thrive there. 

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Sorry, I was thinking in ppM. That makes what, 0.014 ppm? That's actually a pretty good number to be at. A bit higher is better. 

 

Comon logic would dictate the LPS would suffer, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Typical NSW values are around 0.005 ppm. LPS thrive there. 

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