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LPS struggling - hep!!!


Dave MN Nano

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Hi,

Let me try and tell you as much as I can about my tank.

 

1 year old - 20 gallon long

HOB Seachem filter with surface skimmer - no protein skimmer - activiated carbon in this filter

Fish - 2 Oscellaris clowns, 1 firefish goby, 1 YWMG, 1 royal gramma, all fish look great (did have one Bengai Cardinal with some type of ulcer maybe? euthanized)

 

Parameters:

Salinity - 1.025

Ammonia and Nitrates 0 or close to

Nitrates - 5 ppm

calcium - 460

alkalinity - has started dropping recently - need to dose Red Sea Foundation KH/Alkalinity to keep at 9 (has gotten as low as 6 then I dosed over several days)

phosphate - also drops!!! - I dose Brightwell Neophos to get it back up to 0.06. (has gotten as low as .03 before I dosed over several days)

I feed reef roids only once a week or 2. Feed mysis to coral every few days.

 

Corals:

Zoa/palyzoa - some exploding and growing great - some holding steady

Toadstool leather - 2 types - growing - doing great, growing

Devil's hand - doing great

Kenya tree - growing fast

GSP - growing fast

Acan - hardly grows at all but looks fine

Favia - hardly grows at all but looks fine

Pom Xenia and hand waving Xenia - look good

Rock flower anemones - look great

Ricordia and cabbage and Rhodactus mushrooms - look good - growing 

Duncans - growing - many new heads

Trumpet - exploding, dividing and growing

 

Now the problem:

Hammer, frogspawn and torch - see pictures - all have at least 1 dying or dead head out of 2-4. What is wrong with these????? Thanks much.

 

 

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18 minutes ago, Dave MN Nano said:

1 year old - 20 gallon long

HOB Seachem filter with surface skimmer - no protein skimmer - activiated carbon in this filter

Fish - 2 Oscellaris clowns, 1 firefish goby, 1 YWMG, 1 royal gramma, all fish look great (did have one Bengai Cardinal with some type of ulcer maybe? euthanized)

That's quite a fish load for a 20 gallon tank...strange your nutrient levels are dangerously low.

 

Consider removing your filter media – all of it – until you get your system on better footing.

 

18 minutes ago, Dave MN Nano said:

Parameters:

Salinity - 1.025

Ammonia and Nitrates 0 or close to

Nitrates - 5 ppm

calcium - 460

How stable are these numbers?

 

How much time has NO3 and PO4 spend at "0.0 ppm" in the last month or two?

 

Are you also forcing these numbers down by doing water changes?  What's your schedule?  (Consider easing off on this too.) 

 

Quote

alkalinity - has started dropping recently - need to dose Red Sea Foundation KH/Alkalinity to keep at 9 (has gotten as low as 6 then I dosed over several days)

phosphate - also drops!!! - I dose Brightwell Neophos to get it back up to 0.06. (has gotten as low as .03 before I dosed over several days)

I feed reef roids only once a week or 2. Feed mysis to coral every few days.

Alk spiking low like that can cause the problems you are seeing.  Is this the first time you've seen alkalinity drop, or is there a reason why it dipped?  

 

If it's the first time alk has dropped, just make sure you test and dose EVERY DAY until you know for sure what the daily dose is going to be to maintain >7 dKH.  (Ideally keep your target level of 9 dKH consant!)

 

I would stop feeding your corals because it's usually pretty ineffective.  (Close to 0% effective.) 

 

Focus instead on feeding your fish – which are excellent at feeding your corals a "more pro-biotic" diet.  This is a much more optimal arrangement.

 

Flow

You didn't really mention this, but how is your flow?  

 

Looks like you may only have one flow pump and it appears to be aimed at the surface rather than being aimed into the tank.  This kills flow efficiency, and that's a soft-flow pump to begin with.   Low flow complicates most factors of life for you corals.....exacerbates almost all problems, such as low nutrient levels, etc.
 

Try directing the flow straight across the tank to the far wall – ideally in a trajectory that has nothing obscuring the flow's path.

 

If it's your only pump, than consider adding (at least) a second pump on the other side of the tank.  If they are both AC pumps, run them on appliance timers so that only one pump is on at a time, and so flow switches from pump to pump every few hours.   I like to think of that as a "tidal flow" simulation.  Corals love it.

 

Initial Diagnosis

The corals are slowly starving to death, consuming "spare polyps" as food to survive until conditions improve....but otherwise conditions are apparently good since your corals overall seem to be growing well.

 

You didn't mention how you're feeding your fish.  Can you elaborate on this?

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@mcarroll you are the BEST!! Christmas day help!!! Here is more info:

 

Alkalinity was my best guess also. It has been 8 since I set up my tank. Never changed so I did not check often. On 12/17 I checked and it was 6. Ran right down to the LFS and got the junk to dose it. Dosed it up to 9 (over 3 days) and it has not moved since. I watch that closely now. I check this now every 2nd day or so.

 

Phosphate - which I do check regularly, every - twice a week or so - got down to 0.03 on 12/12. Dosed up to 0.06. 12/17 it was 0.03 again. Dosed up to 0.06 again. 12/24 back to 0.03 and I dosed it up to 0.06. I am using the Red Sea Phosphate Pro measuring kit. Why does my phosphate go lower??? I have a big chunk (1 cup) of carbon in my filter because I am worried about the leather corals poisoning the others (as we have talked) other than that no special filtration going on. I can always feed my fish more!?? But I really don't think I am under feeding. Yes it is a lot of fish but they are all small. My problem is more low nutrients usually than high. My nitrates stay pretty stable at 5, where I think I want them, while phosphates go down????

 

I feed either Omega mini-pellets. or mysis shrimp or Frozen Marine Cuisine - containing mysis, krill, brine and spirulina. I feed one of those, once a day. Most often frozen food. I could easily go to twice a day feeding and feed corals more. I don't really consider feeding mysis to corals are really wasteful??? I know they eat some, I see it, and whatever they don't eat, the fish do.

 

I do a 2 gallon water change every two weeks. I have about 16 gallons of water so that is 12.5% every 2 weeks.

 

I have 1 Current USA eflux wave pump. I set it to about 60%, which rocks the tank pretty good and then about a month later, when the flow has reduced and I have it at 100% I clean it with citric acid. WOW, suddenly it kicks water like new. I don't know why I need to clean it so often. I will point it down more. I was purposely disturbing the surface because I do not have a protein skimmer and I wanted to help my air exchange.

 

Thanks much!!! Any other advise appreciated!

 

 

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2 hours ago, Dave MN Nano said:

@mcarroll you are the BEST!! Christmas day help!!! Here is more info:

🙏

2 hours ago, Dave MN Nano said:

Alkalinity was my best guess also. It has been 8 since I set up my tank. Never changed so I did not check often. On 12/17 I checked and it was 6. Ran right down to the LFS and got the junk to dose it. Dosed it up to 9 (over 3 days) and it has not moved since. I watch that closely now. I check this now every 2nd day or so.

Good deal.  👍  If there's any reaction from your corals it might still happen in the next week or so.

2 hours ago, Dave MN Nano said:

Phosphate - which I do check regularly, every - twice a week or so - got down to 0.03 on 12/12. Dosed up to 0.06. 12/17 it was 0.03 again. Dosed up to 0.06 again. 12/24 back to 0.03 and I dosed it up to 0.06. I am using the Red Sea Phosphate Pro measuring kit. Why does my phosphate go lower??? I have a big chunk (1 cup) of carbon in my filter because I am worried about the leather corals poisoning the others (as we have talked) other than that no special filtration going on. I can always feed my fish more!?? But I really don't think I am under feeding. Yes it is a lot of fish but they are all small. My problem is more low nutrients usually than high. My nitrates stay pretty stable at 5, where I think I want them, while phosphates go down????

Makes some sense...there's a LOT more nitrogen going into the tank than phosphates.  (Food is the main source of both.).  But there may be more going on....keep reading.

 

I'm sure it's getting used up in growth of corals and all the other organisms growing and spreading in your tank.

 

I'd suggest dosing the tank up to 0.10 or 0.20 ppm once and see how quickly it gets used up.  Measure 30-60 minutes after you dose and see how much is still left.

 

2 hours ago, Dave MN Nano said:

I feed either Omega mini-pellets. or mysis shrimp or Frozen Marine Cuisine - containing mysis, krill, brine and spirulina. I feed one of those, once a day. Most often frozen food. I could easily go to twice a day feeding and feed corals more. I don't really consider feeding mysis to corals are really wasteful??? I know they eat some, I see it, and whatever they don't eat, the fish do.

It's good that it's not wasting much into the tank.  But it's still better just to feed your fish more – maybe more often rather than more per feeding if that makes sense.

2 hours ago, Dave MN Nano said:

I do a 2 gallon water change every two weeks. I have about 16 gallons of water so that is 12.5% every 2 weeks.

It may or may not be a big contributor, but take it easy on the water changes until the nutrient situation is stable.  Every water changes makes a direct impact on lowering nutrient levels.

 

If you HAVE to do a water change, then dose nitrates and phosphates in the water change water up to the tank's target levels so the impact is neutral on nutrients.

 

2 hours ago, Dave MN Nano said:

I have 1 Current USA eflux wave pump. I set it to about 60%, which rocks the tank pretty good and then about a month later, when the flow has reduced and I have it at 100% I clean it with citric acid. WOW, suddenly it kicks water like new. I don't know why I need to clean it so often. I will point it down more. I was purposely disturbing the surface because I do not have a protein skimmer and I wanted to help my air exchange.

If the circulation in the tank is strong, then the surface water will be moving a lot regardless.   If it's not, then you definitely need more flow – a 2nd pump, or even stronger pumps.

 

2 hours ago, Dave MN Nano said:

Thanks much!!! Any other advise appreciated!

 

 

Not advice but a request....can you add some flake food to the tank and make a video of it so we can see what the flow is like?

 

A few seconds of the whole tank and a few seconds of close-up on the sand bed should be interesting.  Anything else you think m makes sense to include as well.

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I didn't see much polyp movement, so at least judging from that vid it seems like there should be at least one or two things you could do to bump up flow.

 

I think I'd either consider adding a 2nd Eflux pump, or consider upgrading to a different pump....though you should still use two rather than one for more ideal flow.  (A single pump tends to leave dead zones.)

 

At $80 the little Eflux pump seems like a pretty good value, so maybe adding a 2nd one is somewhat of a no-brainer.  The only downside is that you have such as small space to flow – especially compressed vertically and front to back....12"" each way....that's not much space for a pump that's designed to throw it's flow as wide as possible, rather than projecting the flow out into the tank.

 

Depending how you feel, consider adding a pair of pumps that might be better suited to the confines of a 12"hx12"w space.  IMO check out the smallest two Tunze nanostreams....the 6015 and the 6020.  Two completely different styles of pump, but I think either would probably be great.  Both are around $50 each, so an excellent value.  

 

I think in general for a tank your size I'd prefer the 6015 since it's the most adjustable.  But it also has a larger profile int he tank than that 6020.... if you set it up in it's longest configuration it's just slighty larger than the eFlux.  So the 6020 is more compact, slightly less flexible, but a fair amount stronger than the 6015.  (Either one is more powerful than your tank really needs, much like the eFlux.)  Again, I think I'd go 6015...similar size-wise to what you have, but better....you can run them just about anywhere and aim them in any direction, so maybe you can even partly hide them behind your rocks.   If you do, remember what I said about running a "tidal simulation".  👍 

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Oh I missed the video link. Yes flow looks to be an issue.

Those LPS need to have a bit of movement, there seems to be a bit at the surface but that's a low flow at best. If you can, turn the flow up in increments.

 

Increase by 25% daily until you see LPS right at the bottom of the tank moving in the flow.  If you can't dial up the flow with what you have, consider adding a new pump as @mcarroll suggests.

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Had this happen to me as well. @mcarroll helped me. My corals have started doing better since I increased flow in the tank and I all so made sure my salinity and alk stayed stable. I feed my fish twice per day with dry food in the morning and frozen at night. I have found that when I feed my fish flakes the phosphate goes up so maybe feeding flakes each day would help 

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I upped the flow and figured out a daily dose of Neophos and Red Sea KH supplement. 0.8 ml and 2.25 ml respectively. Will do that daily whenever possible and monitor. I bet this will help. Thanks.

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