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AshleyH

Corals doing poorly

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AshleyH

Hi all,

 

I'm worried about a few of the corals in my tank. A torch coral I've had a couple months started losing some polyps over the past 2 weeks. My tank is 4 months old. I thought it was due to too high of flow, but after keeping one of the power heads off it hasn't gotten better. Now the one previously heathy head is completely deflated and looks to be dying. 

 

Our brain coral used used to expand very nicely and the past couple weeks has been shrunken in. We've had the brain a couple months as well.

 

My toadstool leather coral is keeping its polyps retracted most of the day. When they're out it's only halfway. 

 

I have 2 clowns, a TSB, and a coral beauty angelfish in a 32 G biocube. 

I have seen the angelfish pecking all 3 of these corals. 

My mushrooms, xenias, alveopora, and 2nd bigger but newer torch coral are doing well.

 

My water params: 

pH- 8

kH- 8

nitrates- 3-5

phos- 0

ammonia-0

Ca- 440

 

I do 5 gallon weekly water changes with RO/DI, consistently. 

 

I spot feed rotifers and mysis shrimp 2-3 times weekly. The brain used to like mysis :(  

 

I have stock lighting. Not sure what's wrong here. This is my first tank and Ive been trying to do everything right by it. 

 

I dipped the brain and the torch in CoralRX this morning and brushed a little hair algae off the brain.

 

Starting to get pretty disappointed...

Before: IMG_4611.thumb.JPG.f9763b79cf5ad79515115ab81173522a.JPG

 

Today:

IMG_4746.thumb.JPG.de5adaf9d4ea22c7c8e2c4691c0b1c5a.JPG

 

 

before:

PC140394.thumb.JPG.ed76a2747d4f1151db6330bd7ee8d798.JPG

 

today:

IMG_4745.thumb.JPG.b9af82f5bfd295fd2f297a5c97d4fa35.JPG

 

Before:

PC140401.thumb.JPG.799e9854597c08351b1b43d41f8e13a8.JPG

 

today:

 

IMG_4743.thumb.JPG.6b206ae0dabcdf5f89f8152746cd29f9.JPG

:(:(:( 

 

Link to to my journal: 

 

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seabass

Hey Ashley.  I feel your disappointment.  I've had unexplained losses before too.  Sometimes I never did figure out what was wrong.  A couple of things to consider.  I noticed in your journal (browsed through, but didn't fully read) that you were thinking of changing salt mixes.  Have you made a recent change?

 

Alkalinity swings can be a real problem.  How does your tank water compare with a freshly mixed batch of saltwater?  Corals can do fine within a wide range of alkalinity; however, it should be kept stable.

 

I notice that you use some API test kits.  That's totally fine; however, their phosphate kit is a high range kit (goes up on 0.25 ppm increments) and doesn't allow you to track levels in the recommended range (0.01 to 0.03 ppm).  You mention that phosphate is undetectable.  That could be a problem if it is actually 0.00 ppm.  High phosphate can also present some problems.  I'd get a low range kit like the Hanna ULR Phosphorus Checker, or even the Salifert Phosphate test kit.  Phosphate should be detectable but under 0.03 ppm.

 

It doesn't help when a fish is nipping at your coral.  Dwarf angels are notorious for nipping at corals.  It's too bad, because they are such beautiful fish.

 

Does the brain coral ever present its feeder tentacles?  If/when it does, you should feed it some chopped mysis.  I would try to feed it a little something like twice a week.

 

Leather corals can engage in chemical warfare.  I usually like to run fresh activated carbon when keeping leathers.  As far as the corals themselves, it isn't that unusual for them to go through periods where they deflate and then bounce back.

 

Are you keeping up on your tank maintenance?  The increased bio-load might warrant increased maintenance efforts.  IDK, just throwing that out there as I'm not really sure what's going on. :mellow:

 

I also noticed that you said that you aren't usually home when the tank lights are on.  I'd consider adjusting the light cycle so you can enjoy and observe your tank a little when the lights are on.  You might pick up on a behavior, or even a pest, that might be contributing to the problem.

 

I know, a long post that doesn't really tell you much.  Sorry, I wish I could be of more help.

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AshleyH
6 hours ago, seabass said:

Alkalinity swings can be a real problem.

There are some small alkalinity swings.  I correct it slowly over a few days with my BRS 2-part dosing, but thats a definite possibility. 

 

I did make the switch from IO to Fritz salt. I checked the kH before and after the water change yesterday and there was no difference (8)

 

6 hours ago, seabass said:

I'd get a low range kit like the Hanna ULR Phosphorus Checker, or even the Salifert Phosphate test kit.

I will definitely pick one of these up

 

6 hours ago, seabass said:

Does the brain coral ever present its feeder tentacles? 

It used to. I tried to feed mysis shrimp yesterday and they just sat on top of the closed mouth for 10 minutes before I turned the pump back on.

 

6 hours ago, seabass said:

Leather corals can engage in chemical warfare.  I usually like to run fresh activated carbon when keeping leathers.

This made me double check my ChemiPure Elite. As far as I can find online the ChemiPure Elite has GFO and activated carbon? I was sure both my Purigen and ChemiPure said 6 months for replacement, but now I see 4 months online. The Purigen looks pretty dirty too- I just checked. I'm going to replace both of these today. Not sure if this is THE underlying issue here, but I'm sure it doesn't help..... So you may have actually found my problem :)

 

I'm very slowly increasing the lights in my tank. DIdn't think I should have the Blue lights on during the day until recently I read that it's helpful. My husband sees the tank more when all the lights are on, and I can see it on the weekends. It looks the same night/day. 

 

Thanks for all the advice!! Definitely have some ideas to try now. 

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AshleyH

Well my tank is crashing. I had to take apart all my rockscape to get the coral beauty and we put her in a fishnet breeder box. 

I woke up this morning and one head of my new big torch coral was completely deflated. It looked beautiful last night. Now tonight I can see exposed skeleton on that head (look at the green area). The other torch had one head of flesh completely peel off, dead.

 

One of my mushrooms looks like there is torn flesh in the middle. Everything else looks moderately unhappy, but the fish are fine. 

 

UGH

 

We're water testing tonight, although I've been checking nearly every other day. 

 

Not sure where to go from here. Very sad day. 

Advice?

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R_Pierce

ugghh.  this sucks!  I wish I had advise for you but I do not.  Im having similar issues with my tank.  Nothing will thrive in it.  Everything checks out fine.  But it just wont keep corals.  I just keep hoping that miraculously one day everything will be OK.

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WV Reefer

I would slow it all down. The tank is four months old and you have fish, Corals, chemi pure, purigen, dosing, switching salt........ it’s all too much. Things need to be added slowly when you have a new reef.  I don’t think you are giving things time to settle in and adjust.  I would make sure you understand the workings of your reef before you start adding or taking things out of the water. 

 

Hopefully things will recover.... things are more resilient than you think. I would stop, relax and regroup. Good luck. :) 

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AshleyH

Water tested: 

SpG 1.024

pH 8.0

kH 8

Nitrates 5-10 ppm

Ammonia 0

Nitrite 0

Phosphate- between 0-0.25 (still only have API test kits)

Ca 450

Water temp at 77.5F

 

6 minutes ago, WV Reefer said:

I don’t think you are giving things time to settle in and adjust.

Maybe not, but still odd to me that multiple corals have damage and torn flesh basically overnight. 

 

14 minutes ago, WV Reefer said:

fish, Corals, chemi pure, purigen,

I thought the chemipure and purigen are are just the basics of filtration? They've  been there since I started the tank 

 

18 minutes ago, WV Reefer said:

Good luck. :) 

Thanks for the input. Often I feel that I'm all out of luck, and today is definitely one of those times. 

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LeoB

Maybe it's all from angelfish picking at the corals? I enjoyed reading about your progress in your journal and everything seemed to be going well until you added it. Nothing in the parameters that you tested to explain this sudden change. 

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ReefingRelapse

Are any inverts dying as well?

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AshleyH
27 minutes ago, LeoB said:

Maybe it's all from angelfish picking at the corals? I enjoyed reading about your progress in your journal and everything seemed to be going well until you added it. Nothing in the parameters that you tested to explain this sudden change. 

We have her trapped and as long as I get home in time tomorrow (and she doesn't jump out) shes going straight back to the LFS.

 

28 minutes ago, ReefingRelapse said:

Are any inverts dying as well?

None that I have seen (cleaner shrimp, hermits, snails)

IMG_4770.JPG

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ReefingRelapse

Hmm i bet it has something to do with that leather coral.

5 gallon water change every week seems a little excessive. May be too many!

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Clown79

Chemipure doesn't last 4 months. The media can become exhausted quicker than that.

 

With leathers it's better to use an activated carbon you can change out more frequently every 2-3 weeks. This ensure the carbon isn't exhausted therefore properly removing toxins as well as not becoming a nutrient trap.

 

Do you make your own rodi or buy it? 

Use any air freshners in the room, any chemicals in the air?

 

What about flow? Is the flow too high, not all corals do good in high flow, often tearing and closing up?

 

Any Brown jelly present on the euphyllia?

 

The dosing could be causing major fluctuations if done incorrectly.

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seabass
On 1/21/2018 at 9:51 AM, AshleyH said:

This made me double check my ChemiPure Elite. As far as I can find online the ChemiPure Elite has GFO and activated carbon?

Yes, but even quality activated carbon won't be effective for the advertised life of that product.  I prefer to use activated carbon and replace it weekly (or every other week).  If you find that you need help lowering phosphate, add a little PhosGuard to the activated carbon.

 

CPE does contain some GFO, but not much; and again, it shouldn't last the advertised duration of the product.  If phosphate levels are too low (undetectable by a low range kit), then using any phosphate reducing chemical media can make it worse.  GFO can also affect alkalinity.

 

I find it helpful to be able to replace the activated carbon more frequently, and use PhosGuard only when needed.  I use less than half of the recommended amount of PhosGuard so that phosphate levels don't drop too fast.  You might need to use even less than that, or none at all.

 

I still suspect alkalinity and nutrient levels, and/or chemical warfare from your leather.  When did you start dosing two part?  What are your target levels?  I see values for alkalinity and calcium, what is the magnesium level?  You should be testing that too if you are dosing two part.

 

 

Edit: Looks like Clown79 beat me to my post. :)

 

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gone_PHiSHin

seabass and clown79 asked all the questions i would have

 

i suspect the 2-part is causing the problems.  maybe you could give us more detail on how you use this?

 

i would also suspect the toadstool.  i've heard of them causing a whole mess of problems in certain tanks.  i too prefer to use carbon, and replaced often, instead of chemipure. 

 

another big one that clown79 mentioned, that new reefers never think of, is that aerosols or other air pollutants can have this sudden, dramatic effect on tanks.  one thread on reef2reef told of how a guy crashed his tank by using something like Pledge to wipe down and polish his tank stand.  

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Clown79
1 hour ago, gone_PHiSHin said:

seabass and clown79 asked all the questions i would have

 

i suspect the 2-part is causing the problems.  maybe you could give us more detail on how you use this?

 

i would also suspect the toadstool.  i've heard of them causing a whole mess of problems in certain tanks.  i too prefer to use carbon, and replaced often, instead of chemipure. 

 

another big one that clown79 mentioned, that new reefers never think of, is that aerosols or other air pollutants can have this sudden, dramatic effect on tanks.  one thread on reef2reef told of how a guy crashed his tank by using something like Pledge to wipe down and polish his tank stand.  

Ya, people have had issues with scented candles as well.

 

Another thing most aren't aware of, don't store any salt, water, anything for the tank near a cats litter. 

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benstatic

This is disheartening!!
I have nearly the same parameters in my tank and things seem to be going well.. (I'm not running any chemical filters).

 

One thing I thought about as I read about this 

Maybe its your angelfish, and selling him to your fish store will work well... 

But maybe there are other nocturnal guys on your live rock wreaking havoc - I'm thinking crabs mostly - something with pinchers that tear stuff.
I have had my tank 3 months and am continuing to see new creatures emerge from some of the Live Rock I've bought (including a crab who has only been eating algae so far)... 

You might scope it after lights out and see if you see any knuckleheads causing problems.

 

I personally don't think its your leather (chem warfare) or your water params.  It sounds like mechanical damage to me (tears in hardy mushrooms?? - I thought those were hard to kill...)

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SaltyBuddha
3 hours ago, Clown79 said:

Ya, people have had issues with scented candles as well.

 

Another thing most aren't aware of, don't store any salt, water, anything for the tank near a cats litter. 

I store all my buckets and water mixing stuff near my cats litter!! Had no idea, but I keep all the buckets closed/sealed.

 

I agree that it could be the dosing. It should not be necessary for a tank with your bioload. 5 gallon water changes are fine. You could go up to 7 or 10 with your fish/coral if you really wanted to. Just match temp/salinity. I think it would be better to do larger water changes rather than the 2 part dosing to keep parameters in line.

 

One change at a time is best for tanks. Dont be discouraged. Once you figure out a routine things will go a lot smoother.

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1967type1

When was the last time you recalibrated your refractometer? They become inaccurate if you don’t calibrate them ever once in a while and I know that was one of my issues early in with corals not doing well. My refractometer would say the salinity was at 24 but actually it was down to 18-19.

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gone_PHiSHin
36 minutes ago, 1967type1 said:

When was the last time you recalibrated your refractometer? They become inaccurate if you don’t calibrate them ever once in a while and I know that was one of my issues early in with corals not doing well. My refractometer would say the salinity was at 24 but actually it was down to 18-19.

yes, good call.  drastic salinity changes definitely could cause these problems 

 

also, calibrate it with the calibration solution to 35 ppt.  don't use RO water to zero it out, like i did at first long ago!  i calibrate mine every time i use

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Clown79

Cat litter has ammonia in it. Many who kept their water near them found traces of ammonia in the water.

 

Calibrating refractometers is really important.

Mine is spot on for months but I still do it and I use the distilled solution that came with mine as well as the 35ppt solution- a little overkill but at least I know it's correct. 

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AshleyH

So many helpful responses... Seriously thank you for the feedback. Awesome community here :)

 

 

 

On 1/23/2018 at 10:47 PM, ReefingRelapse said:

5 gallon water change every week seems a little excessive. May be too many!

 

First time I've heard this... I'm doing about an 18% water change each week. I read 25% weekly is good practice for small tanks?

 

21 hours ago, Clown79 said:

With leathers it's better to use an activated carbon you can change out more frequently every 2-3 weeks. This ensure the carbon isn't exhausted therefore properly removing toxins as well as not becoming a nutrient trap.

 

Do you make your own rodi or buy it? 

Use any air freshners in the room, any chemicals in the air?

 

What about flow? Is the flow too high, not all corals do good in high flow, often tearing and closing up?

 

Any Brown jelly present on the euphyllia?

 

The dosing could be causing major fluctuations if done incorrectly.

I will look into buying activated carbon separately. I bought Chemipure Blue this weekend when I realized the old Chemipure Elite had reached it's expiration (it had been in about 3 months since I did not have it in through most of tank cycling). 

 

Have been purchasing rodi from the LFS until husband bought me a 4 stage unit from BRS. We used it once last week (but stuff started to look angry before using the water we made)

 

No brown jelly present. Low flow - currently using the stock pump and Koralia nano 240 with gentle movement of the torches

 

 

21 hours ago, seabass said:

I still suspect alkalinity and nutrient levels, and/or chemical warfare from your leather.  When did you start dosing two part?  What are your target levels?  I see values for alkalinity and calcium, what is the magnesium level?  You should be testing that too if you are dosing two part.

I've been using the BRS calcium and alkalinity calculator for their 2-part dosing system. Seems pretty straightforward and my frequent testing is coming back stable (Ca and kh). Only thing is I don't have Mg test kit yet, so I haven't attempted to dose Mg. The kit said usually dose once you get through the 1st gallon, so the test is something I hadn't purchased yet.  I actually brought water into the LFS tonight and the Mg was slightly low (didn't get the value though:blush:). 

 

9 hours ago, gone_PHiSHin said:

another big one that clown79 mentioned, that new reefers never think of, is that aerosols or other air pollutants can have this sudden, dramatic effect on tanks.

YES my husband is an obsessive "deodorizer" (cats+ dogs= smelly house---> candles, occasional Febreeze on the couch across the room, essential oils diffuser across the room. Yes he reads these posts. Sorry for calling you out :D

We are eliminating this possibility starting now. 

We do not, however, store anything remotely close to the cat litter box. 

5 hours ago, benstatic said:

Maybe its your angelfish, and selling him to your fish store will work well... 

Brought her back tonight! Who knows if she was the issue, but she sure didn't help with the nipping. Now there's one more thing I'm ruling out if there's any further damage.

 

5 hours ago, benstatic said:

It sounds like mechanical damage to me (tears in hardy mushrooms?? - I thought those were hard to kill...)

THIS- I showed the guy at the LFS the purple rhodactis today, and he told me it was splitting into two, not dying. Well this was good news :) Here is a pic from today. It initially just looked like a gaping hole in the center though.

IMG_4779.thumb.JPG.8bf6da9790ef8596e59a98d5ec2fcffc.JPG

 

3 hours ago, SaltyBuddha said:

I agree that it could be the dosing. It should not be necessary for a tank with your bioload.

I'm not sure why, but my alkalinity wants to be 6 and Ca wants to be around 300 if I don't dose. If I find a low value, which I have at a few points in the past 1-2 months of dosing, I gradually increase to my ideal (kh-8, Ca 420-440) over a number of days. It may very well be an issue with alkalinity, but no real recent changes here.

3 hours ago, SaltyBuddha said:

I think it would be better to do larger water changes rather than the 2 part dosing to keep parameters in line.

I think I like this idea.

 

2 hours ago, 1967type1 said:

When was the last time you recalibrated your refractometer?

Last week and last night with distilled water. I am a veterinarian, so I use refractometers at work on a daily basis. It's stayed consistently accurate over the past couple months. 

 

Here is what remains of the big torch after I removed the flesh that was dangling. 

IMG_4780.thumb.JPG.ff2b1fbff887f8cec574f6b3c192519f.JPG

 

Will update you on the progress/ destruction. Thanks again!!

 

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seabass
12 minutes ago, AshleyH said:

I'm not sure why, but my alkalinity wants to be 6 and Ca wants to be around 300 if I don't dose. If I find a low value, which I have at a few points in the past 1-2 months of dosing, I gradually increase to my ideal (kh-8, Ca 420-440) over a number of days. It may very well be an issue with alkalinity, but no real recent changes here.

First, I want you to test a freshly mixed batch of saltwater.  I find that this makes for a better target than what you might otherwise consider ideal.  This way you are just replenishing consumed elements, and water changes won't cause parameters to swing (but bring levels closer to target).  Testing fresh saltwater will also double check your test kits.  If your saltwater doesn't mix to an acceptable level, switch your salt mix.

 

Next, get a Salifert magnesium test kit.  Low magnesium will cause precipitation of calcium and/or alkalinity.  Dosing might just be causing more swings.  Precipitation probably makes more sense than a tank with just a few corals consuming that much.  I also recommend using Salifert calcium and alkalinity kits.

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Lula_Mae
38 minutes ago, AshleyH said:

So many helpful responses... Seriously thank you for the feedback. Awesome community here :)

 

 

 

 

First time I've heard this... I'm doing about an 18% water change each week. I read 25% weekly is good practice for small tanks?

 

I will look into buying activated carbon separately. I bought Chemipure Blue this weekend when I realized the old Chemipure Elite had reached it's expiration (it had been in about 3 months since I did not have it in through most of tank cycling). 

 

Have been purchasing rodi from the LFS until husband bought me a 4 stage unit from BRS. We used it once last week (but stuff started to look angry before using the water we made)

 

No brown jelly present. Low flow - currently using the stock pump and Koralia nano 240 with gentle movement of the torches

 

 

I've been using the BRS calcium and alkalinity calculator for their 2-part dosing system. Seems pretty straightforward and my frequent testing is coming back stable (Ca and kh). Only thing is I don't have Mg test kit yet, so I haven't attempted to dose Mg. The kit said usually dose once you get through the 1st gallon, so the test is something I hadn't purchased yet.  I actually brought water into the LFS tonight and the Mg was slightly low (didn't get the value though:blush:). 

 

YES my husband is an obsessive "deodorizer" (cats+ dogs= smelly house---> candles, occasional Febreeze on the couch across the room, essential oils diffuser across the room. Yes he reads these posts. Sorry for calling you out :D

We are eliminating this possibility starting now. 

We do not, however, store anything remotely close to the cat litter box. 

Brought her back tonight! Who knows if she was the issue, but she sure didn't help with the nipping. Now there's one more thing I'm ruling out if there's any further damage.

 

THIS- I showed the guy at the LFS the purple rhodactis today, and he told me it was splitting into two, not dying. Well this was good news :) Here is a pic from today. It initially just looked like a gaping hole in the center though.

IMG_4779.thumb.JPG.8bf6da9790ef8596e59a98d5ec2fcffc.JPG

 

I'm not sure why, but my alkalinity wants to be 6 and Ca wants to be around 300 if I don't dose. If I find a low value, which I have at a few points in the past 1-2 months of dosing, I gradually increase to my ideal (kh-8, Ca 420-440) over a number of days. It may very well be an issue with alkalinity, but no real recent changes here.

I think I like this idea.

 

Last week and last night with distilled water. I am a veterinarian, so I use refractometers at work on a daily basis. It's stayed consistently accurate over the past couple months. 

 

Here is what remains of the big torch after I removed the flesh that was dangling. 

IMG_4780.thumb.JPG.ff2b1fbff887f8cec574f6b3c192519f.JPG

 

Will update you on the progress/ destruction. Thanks again!!

 

If you have some Lugol's iodine, try dipping the torch.  Put maybe 3-5 drops in a cup or so of tank water and adjust ratio accordingly if you need more water (I usually recommend just a couple drops but this guy's looking pretty rough so I'm recommending a bit more).  Let it sit for 3-5 minutes.  I would do this two days in a row for this guy.  It's not a cure-all but it can help angry and struggling corals.  I'm not sure what happened to this guy but is it possible he was exposed to a change of flow that was rough enough to tear the flesh against the skeleton?  Maybe he got bumped with a rock during the great angel chase of 2018?  Maybe there's a rogue crab or something hiding in the live rock?  Just throwing out some ideas.  Everyone else has great suggestions. :)

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burtbollinger

essential oil defuser..interesting...then again, its the plug-ins that are the really bad ones.

 

other random things:

what are you testing your alkalinity with?  are you SURE its accurate?  

 

You're not spiking the alk. upwards when dosing?  (from experience, If dosing 2 part, I'd not do it unless I had a Hanna checker or something handy, trustworthy, and keeping an eye on Alk. daily or every other day. I crashed a tank taking educated guesses)

 

For the refractometer, should you not be calibrating to 35/1.026 with calibration solution?

 

Temp at 77.5...thats the low end of things...how sure are you on that?  is this dropping at night or anything wierd?

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Clown79

I would definitely find out what

 

Your mag is at. Too low mag causes imbalance in ca and alk, like @seabass mentioned. 

 

What new water mixes at for mag, ca, and alk.

 

If it's mixing low and it takes you 4 days to get up to 8, you do a waterchange it will drop again.

The up/down, up/down with alk will cause issues.

 

 

 

 

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