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Azure Phoenix Reefing

Montipora Digitata polyp extension question

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Azure Phoenix Reefing

I recently got my first SPS frag, a blueish Montipora Digitata. Now, with my other corals, I could get a decent enough idea if they were happy or not concerning flow and lighting for example, because their response was quite obvious and quick (Euphyllia and Rhodactis for example). However, this being my first SPS, I am not so sure, so I figured I'd make a small thread, hoping you guys and girls could help me out. As for my parameters, I measured these this morning and the frag is in my system for about a week;

 

  • Ammonia: 0ppm
  • Nitrite: 0ppm
  • Nitrate: ~3ppm
  • Phosphate test kit is on its way

 

  • PH: 8.2
  • dKH: 11.3
  • Calcium: 475
  • Lighting: AI Prime HD on a somewhat customized AB+ schedule and on an acclimation period until February 23
  • Flow: return nozzle and Aqamai KPS

 

Left side view

20190205_131340.thumb.jpg.e037621592545a171cf860cf231b65d3.jpg

 

right side view

20190205_190504.thumb.jpg.cb97726bd927d2bc3cbf40759ace39f4.jpg

 

Close up (crop) where the polyps seem to extend the most

20190205_175647.jpg.f0529e227496c8833c10ccb665eb0475.jpg

 

I am not entirely sure yet about the placement, because I see a lot of shading/dark sides on the frag, which is a result of the shape as well. I am also wondering if I could accidentally burn it, having it so high up on the rocks, that's why I put the Prime on an acclimation period though. Last but not least, my apologies for the quality of the images. They were made with my phone, yet I am looking to buy a filter and magnifier soon, because I really enjoy taking pictures of the frags and how they're evolving/growing.

 

What do you guys and girls think? Polyp extension alright, or no? Anything I could or should change, any feedback is much appreciated!

 

Bonus question, is it normal to tweak that much in the early stages of having a reef aquarium? I just can't seem to let it be, instead, I am wondering if the light schedule is alright, what about the placement of the frags....Flow, wondering if the return nozzle is aimed alright and the KPS schedule is decent enough....Oooh, how about the turnover rate? 🤦‍♂️ (I am really enjoying it though, don't get me wrong, haha!)

 

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WV Reefer
8 minutes ago, Azure Phoenix Reefing said:

I recently got my first SPS frag, a blueish Montipora Digitata. Now, with my other corals, I could get a decent enough idea if they were happy or not concerning flow and lighting for example, because their response was quite obvious and quick (Euphyllia and Rhodactis for example). However, this being my first SPS, I am not so sure, so I figured I'd make a small thread, hoping you guys and girls could help me out. As for my parameters, I measured these this morning and the frag is in my system for about a week;

 

  • Ammonia: 0ppm
  • Nitrite: 0ppm
  • Nitrate: ~3ppm
  • Phosphate test kit is on its way

 

  • PH: 8.2
  • dKH: 11.3
  • Calcium: 475
  • Lighting: AI Prime HD on a somewhat customized AB+ schedule and on an acclimation period until February 23
  • Flow: return nozzle and Aqamai KPS

 

Left side view

20190205_131340.thumb.jpg.e037621592545a171cf860cf231b65d3.jpg

 

right side view

20190205_190504.thumb.jpg.cb97726bd927d2bc3cbf40759ace39f4.jpg

 

Close up (crop) where the polyps seem to extend the most

20190205_175647.jpg.f0529e227496c8833c10ccb665eb0475.jpg

 

I am not entirely sure yet about the placement, because I see a lot of shading/dark sides on the frag, which is a result of the shape as well. I am also wondering if I could accidentally burn it, having it so high up on the rocks, that's why I put the Prime on an acclimation period though. Last but not least, my apologies for the quality of the images. They were made with my phone, yet I am looking to buy a filter and magnifier soon, because I really enjoy taking pictures of the frags and how they're evolving/growing.

 

What do you guys and girls think? Polyp extension alright, or no? Anything I could or should change, any feedback is much appreciated!

 

Bonus question, is it normal to tweak that much in the early stages of having a reef aquarium? I just can't seem to let it be, instead, I am wondering if the light schedule is alright, what about the placement of the frags....Flow, wondering if the return nozzle is aimed alright and the KPS schedule is decent enough....Oooh, how about the turnover rate? 🤦‍♂️ (I am really enjoying it though, don't get me wrong, haha!)

 

Looks pretty good........open but not quite all the way yet. 

 

Mine are up pretty high in my tank and get a lot of flow. 

 

In general......I find it best not to mess with things too much unless you are certain it is an issue. 

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pgrVII
7 minutes ago, WV Reefer said:

Looks pretty good........open but not quite all the way yet. 

 

Mine are up pretty high in my tank and get a lot of flow. 

 

In general......I find it best not to mess with things too much unless you are certain it is an issue. 

Less is more🤙

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Azure Phoenix Reefing
17 hours ago, WV Reefer said:

Looks pretty good........open but not quite all the way yet. 

 

Mine are up pretty high in my tank and get a lot of flow. 

 

In general......I find it best not to mess with things too much unless you are certain it is an issue. 

Thank you for the confirmation and giving me a frame of reference @WV Reefer, I am glad things look alright and I'll try to improve things some more.

 

All the while keeping the "less is more" motto in mind @pgrVII 👍.

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uwdanno

Like with most SPS- if its dead, its unhappy. 

 

Good luck!

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Azure Phoenix Reefing

@uwdanno haha, yeah, that's the kind of unhappiness I'd like to avoid 😝. Thanks though!

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Daniel91

Yeah, it looks like its just acclimating. Give it time and it’ll set in nicely.

 

Here’s mine;

CBF0E7B2-8B04-4E51-BBA9-0F43B7695EFB.thumb.jpeg.79dcd0b156d2162781dca6a847c3d04c.jpeg

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Azure Phoenix Reefing

@Daniel91 thank you for the feedback! And wow, your Digitata looks amazing! Really love the color combination!

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mcarroll

Shading isn't an issue per se.

 

All corals experience shade in nature. 

 

More than that, many branching stony corals grow in a manner that specifically shade themselves on purpose.  The more-exposed areas (eg branch tips) even have less dino's to photosynthesize than other parts of the coral.  It's a form of self-protection in high-energy environments.   (These same growth structures also massively attenuate flow near the coral...the other main "high-energy interface" they have.)

 

Make sure you aren't starving him -- NO3 and PO4 both need to be in the positive.....>=5 ppm for NO3 and >= 0.03 ppm for PO4 -- and all should be well.

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Azure Phoenix Reefing

Thank you for the helpful and elaborate reply @mcarroll!

 

I received my phosphate testkit from Salifert yesterday and tested the water. I was kinda shocked with the result though, it being ~0.30ppm. (that is if I am reading the testkit and color right) So I guess I am going to do a large waterchange tommorow and look into bringing the PO4 down. Normally I do weekly waterchanges of about 25-30% and I feed fairly light, or I'd like to think. Perhaps it has to do with the tank being fairly young as well. I don't have any reactors or anything, since the nano's sump is quite small and I haven't looked into external reactors yet.

 

Then again, this is what I like about my journey into the reef aquarium hobby so far, the many challenges and looking for solutions. 😃

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mcarroll

Hang on before you react....

 

0.30 ppm is high but not too bad as long as nitrates ARE NOT at zero.

 

But your nitrates, at "3 ppm" are very close to zero.....considering the accuracy and precision of the kit, it may actually be zero.

 

So IMO your phosphate number is only a symptom.  Why are your nitrate levels so low/so out of balance with your phosphate levels?

 

What are you doing for filtration, and how old is this tank?

 

If you're doing anything to lower nitrates, let us know....that will change guidance.  (ie stop lowering nitrates)

 

Based on what we know so far, you want to be adding nitrates to the system a lot more than you want to be doing water changes to bring down phosphates. 

 

Adding nitrates will allow the phosphates to be consumed in the normal fashion by everything from your corals on down to bacteria and other microbes that are trying to mature your tank into a healthy ecosystem.   
 

Until that happens, everything from corals on down is starving and that gives the advantage to algae and microbes that don't need dissolved nutrients to grow and thrive....bubble algae, hair algae (incl bryopsis), cyano and dino's are the most likely.  All have alternate methods of acquisition or production.

 

Hair algae is the only thing (pest-wise) that's particularly likely when you re-establish a balance of nutrients....and it's the only type that a CUC will readily consume.

 

Most importantly, coraline algae will not compete well at all without balanced nutrients.....and that's the algae you actually WANT because it can prevent pest algae from growing in it's place.

 

Can you get some Seachem or Brightwell Nitrates to dose?

 

 

 

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Azure Phoenix Reefing
2 hours ago, mcarroll said:

Hang on before you react....

 

0.30 ppm is high but not too bad as long as nitrates ARE NOT at zero.

 

But your nitrates, at "3 ppm" are very close to zero.....considering the accuracy and precision of the kit, it may actually be zero.

 

So IMO your phosphate number is only a symptom.  Why are your nitrate levels so low/so out of balance with your phosphate levels?

 

What are you doing for filtration, and how old is this tank?

 

If you're doing anything to lower nitrates, let us know....that will change guidance.  (ie stop lowering nitrates)

 

Based on what we know so far, you want to be adding nitrates to the system a lot more than you want to be doing water changes to bring down phosphates. 

 

Adding nitrates will allow the phosphates to be consumed in the normal fashion by everything from your corals on down to bacteria and other microbes that are trying to mature your tank into a healthy ecosystem.   
 

Until that happens, everything from corals on down is starving and that gives the advantage to algae and microbes that don't need dissolved nutrients to grow and thrive....bubble algae, hair algae (incl bryopsis), cyano and dino's are the most likely.  All have alternate methods of acquisition or production.

 

Hair algae is the only thing (pest-wise) that's particularly likely when you re-establish a balance of nutrients....and it's the only type that a CUC will readily consume.

 

Most importantly, coraline algae will not compete well at all without balanced nutrients.....and that's the algae you actually WANT because it can prevent pest algae from growing in it's place.

 

Can you get some Seachem or Brightwell Nitrates to dose?

 

 

 

Thank you for the reassuring and, again, elaborate explanation and feedback! As a beginner, I really appreciate that!

 

I am starting to think adding Chemipure Blue and Purigen so early wasn't the best idea, eventhough the intentions were alright. Before I actually started the reef tank, I did quite a lot of research for a couple of months. And nitrates, phosphates seemed to be the bane of the reef keeping hobby. Leading to me, as a beginner, trying to prevent high levels of both...

 

Which means I am currently using both Chemipure Blue and Purigen, together with a filter sock (soon to be an InTank media basket with filter floss). No skimmer or refugium yet. Skimmers hardly fit the Waterbox 20, or at least not without a lot of resonance from the pump vibrations. I have been considering a refugium for a while now, however I haven't made the preparations fkr it yet.

 

All of this in a 20g Waterbox Cube, with about 20 pounds of CaribSea dryrock and Arag-alive sand. The tank has been up and running since november last year and the cycle being finished mid-december.

 

Hopefully this gives enough of an image as to how I am currently running my nano-reef. I am eager to learn and change whatever is needed to provide the livestock, consisting out of; two clownfish, a skunk cleaner shrimp, assorted snails and hermits, some GSP, a rhodactis mushroom, hammer coral and the Monti, with the best environment possible. So thank you once more for helping me out!

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Daniel91

All in all, it’s important to mention that unless completely stripping the tank of nutrients (no3 and po4) via exessive waterchanges, heavy skimming or export via refugeium, you will most like gain/maintain beneficial levels of these two elements via regular feeding and husbandry.

 

You want to monitor, of course, especially as your tank matures and finds balance but don’t let it effect the joy for the hobby. 

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blasterman

Monti digis like tank water a bit on the seasoned side in my experience.

 

I've had German blues thrive in tanks with nitrates well over #10. Too clean and their color suffers.

 

Too bad the blue dont grow as stupid fast as the green digis.

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mcarroll

A very common startup story, so take heart that you're in good company!  :-) :-) :-)

 

So take out all the extra filtration materials. 

 

Keep the lights on and the pumps running. 

 

And I would start dosing the tank with nitrates to maintain at least 5 ppm.

 

Other than that, as long as you keep the rest of the tank moderate and stable you shouldn't need much else! :-) 

 

(Skip the skimmer if one doesn't fit in any reasonable way.)

 

Once the tank has some time to run like that, things should turn around on their own, making the need go away for further nutrient dosing.  You might only have to dose a few times or at most I'd think for a few weeks....but it will get natural processes back on track.

 

As far as explaining the guidance you got on your way into the hobby, it can kinda be boiled down to two main problems with lots of noisy little variations on the theme which we won't attempt to cover here:

  1.  Folks have trouble keeping their livestock loads within their ability levels, and...
  2.  They stock up the tank with the biggest animals first and too quickly, which exceeds the tank's current capacity.

Eutrophication is the technical term for the process that follows, including all the usual algae blooms.  The severity of the algae bloom and eutrophication is parallel with the severity of excesses of #1 and #2.

 

There really aren't too many good examples to follow in these two respects, so it's understandable to a degree.  But do we jump in a lake with both feet if we can't swim, or do we go slow to figure it out first?  It should/could be the same here, right?  😉

 

The usual move after that is to try and rectify things with a bandaid like a chemical nutrient remover or carbon dosing, which obviously does little or nothing for the root issues and may even make things worse.  (Trade hair algae for cyano or bubble algae anyone?  Or cyano for dino's?  No-o-o-o-o-o-o!)

 

4 minutes ago, blasterman said:

Monti digis like tank water a bit on the seasoned side in my experience.

 

I've had German blues thrive in tanks with nitrates well over #10. Too clean and their color suffers.

 

Too bad the blue dont grow as stupid fast as the green digis.

My favorite coral and my first stony coral...and my avatar pic.  Love the German Blue!!!

 

Have any good pics of yours?

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Azure Phoenix Reefing

Apologies for the somewhat late reply @mcarroll, timezones and work got in the way 😃.

 

I have followed your advice and removed all the filtration material, except for the filter sock, cause I wasn't entirely sure if that had to be removed as well. I searched a few online stores over here for the dose-able nitrates, but haven't found any so far, but I haven't had them all yet, so I'll search some more tomorrow.

 

Usually I would do a 25% water change tomorrow, however, based on your advice about the nitrates, I reckon a water change tomorrow might come a tad too soon? I will test for dKH and Ca, but I expect those to still be in the higher numbers, since I only have a little Monti frag, one smaller Euphyllia and small piece of Favites, which I forgot to mention earlier. When would it be wise to do WC? When Nitrates get too high? Or see if I can go from weekly to bi-weekly WC's and keep an eye on overall livestock health and behaviour?

 

It's also quite reassuring to read I am making the same mistakes as most beginners. Guess I am the person who jumps in with both feet, however I try to stay grounded all the while, instead of going open waters immediately, so to say. Eutrophication sounds logical in that way and I am going to read up on that some more later this weekend.

 

I'll see if I can follow up the results of the above mentioned changes in my Journal, seeing as this thread is mainly about the Digitata. Would you mind if I'd mention you in that thread?

Gonna try and update the journal anyway this weekend, it is way too " empty" at the moment and I had such great plans for keeping track of the aquarium in there!

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mcarroll

Since nutrients seem too low, I would only do water changes as-needed to maintain alkalinity....doing no water changes is fine if your alk isn't really moving.

 

Keep us posted!   :-)

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blasterman

Just one note about digipora - they are very sensitive to biological warfare.

 

If you're inclined to keep rocks full of those pale green no name palys  that reef stores sell next to the GSP tanks plan on waking up one day and finding all your digis nothing but white skeletons. They compete in the same tidal zones and hence don't like each other. Plus, they are they test very high for palytoxin.

 

This is the best picture I could find of them on google. Note that they are often confused with nuclear greens and green implosions but are neither.  They need to be banned from the trade

 

https://www.google.com/search?q=green+palythoas&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjzk8rv3a_gAhWL64MKHea6AksQ7AkoAXoECAAQDQ&biw=1903&bih=919#imgrc=VWV3sfdNPZrpAM:

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