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zachxlutz

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About zachxlutz

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    project(fishtanks)
  • Birthday 08/29/1985

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    Lawrenceville, Ga

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  1. zachxlutz

    Zach's 120 Gallon Reef Resurgence

    01/21/2018 Photo Dump (some iPhone, some DSLR, some edited, some not). FTS: Things are going great. Fish are happy. Coral are growing like wildfire. Here's a few updates. I just replaced the T5 bulbs after 12 months and wow... I can't believe how "dull" the old bulbs had gotten. I didn't do a formal PAR test but the fluorescence of the coral and overall look of the tank seems to be greatly improved by swapping out the bulbs for new ones. The old bulbs were definitely worn out, I'll be replacing on a 9 month schedule going forward. Ostreopsis dinos are a thing of the past, but I still get a bit of the large cell amphidium on the sandbed. The watchman goby does a great job of keeping the sandbed clean on some days and on others not so much. It's strange. Some days it'll look like they're completely gone and some days they'll pop up around the perimeter of the live rock and coral and dust the open areas. I'm considering adding a big handful of Nassarius snails to help keep the sandbed turned over. As a matter of fact, I need to up the snail population of the tank for several things. I'm dealing with a bit of a cyano outbreak. Rather than treat with chemical means, I'm just blowing it off the rocks and continuing with water changes and keeping the water chemistry as stable as possible. I'm hoping it will subside with time and stability. I've heard of cyano popping up when T5 bulbs have gone past their prime, so maybe with the new bulbs I'll catch a break. The only thing I'm dosing currently is Alkalinity and Calcium at the rate of 85 ml a day, which equals a consumption rate of .85 dkh and 5.935 ppm. I'll dose up NO3 and PO4 as needed but that's only been once every 2 weeks or so. I'm considering starting back up a bit of live phyto dosing but I haven't made up my mind yet. Things are going good enough that I'm not sure I need to make any changes. Feather caulerpa has taken over the refugium and completely starved out the chaeto and other macros I had in there. It's fine, the whole goal is nutrient consumption and it seems to work... I'm still having to dose nitrate and phosphate on occasion. I'd rather have to dose occasionally than worry about high nutrients causing problems. I have a few upgrades planned for the near future. I scored a Neptune DOS unit for AWCs and a new Trigger Systems Triton44 sump from BRS during the Black Friday sales. I'm going to run the plumbing for the DOS auto water change setup from the mixing station in the garage, through the crawlspace and up behind the tank... Not looking forward to crawling around under my house. I'll hopefully be installing the new sump in the next few weeks. I'll have to change up the drain plumbing a bit... That's the step I'm looking forward to the least.
  2. zachxlutz

    Zach's 120 Gallon Reef Resurgence

    Does your system have a "copepod reactor"? Mine does! I haven't been running any GFO in this reactor, but it's been kept online with water slowly flowing through it and it's filled to the brim with copepods! It pulls from the manifold leaving the return and dumps back into the refugium... Really neat to see!
  3. zachxlutz

    Zach's 120 Gallon Reef Resurgence

    Quick and dirty FTS: Things are looking MUCH better lately. DINO BATTLE: The dinoflagellates have all but faded and fade more and more every day, although a few patches of cyano have popped up but seem to come and go... Not a problem for now. The NO3 and PO4 levels are, fingers crossed, starting to hold steady at 2-5 ppm and .06-.07. I'll have to dose, I'm sure, but the tank is starting to find equilibrium. CORAL: I mounted up a few of the frags that were still on the frag rack a few days ago. Pretty happy with the coral placement so far. NEED MORE! The corals are all looking happy with color and polyp extension returning after our battle with the dinos. DOSING: I've been dosing 40 ml live phytoplankton daily along with 4 ml of Acropower. Nothing else is going in the tank but food at this point. The coral are clearly growing, it's evident but the system just isn't using any appreciable amount of alkalinity or calcium. Still holding off for the alk to drop below 8 to start dosing. LIGHTING: After watching a few of the new @Bulk Reef Supply videos and doing some more research, I decided that I would raise up the T5 fixture, as I feel like I was blasting too much PAR into the tank with my nutrient levels and it lowered my PAR readings from 500+ at the top of the liverock to around 300-400. REFUGIUM: Growing macros like wildfire. Pods, worms, snails and all sorts of life shows up more and more. Everytime I look in the fuge (nightly... it's fun!) I see something new.
  4. zachxlutz

    Zach's 120 Gallon Reef Resurgence

    Quick photo for you guys... This Pink Sand Dollar Montipora (maybe porites?) has had some serious growth and polyp extension lately!
  5. zachxlutz

    Zach's 120 Gallon Reef Resurgence

    FTS 06/15/2017: It's been about three weeks since I updated this thread so I figured it was time for a quick run-down of what's been going on with the tank and how the battle with dinoflagellates is going. I was kidding myself thinking that just additional feeding was helping with the dinos. I kept feeding and feeding and checking with the Hannah Phosphorus ULR checker and was consistently seeing 0 or 1. ZERO PHOSPHATES. ZILCH. I finally bit the bullet and bought some AquaVitro Activate phosphorus additive and I've been dosing up to .1 every day for the last couple of days and this time... this time I think I see a decrease in the dinos. It seems like the tank is soaking up about 1 ppm NO3 and .05 ppm PO4 daily. I definitely see some more polyp extension and LOTS of growth in the refugium. I'm really hoping this is the path I need to keep following. What really needs to happen is the addition of a few more fish to more naturally increase the bio-load so I can move away from having to dose both nitrates and phosphates. Last night I added 2 packs of 5280 pods from algaebarn.com and refreshed my CUC with 100 Dwarf Ceriths, 23 Nassarius vibex, 38 Florida Ceriths, 25 Assorted Hermits, 25 Nerites and 1 Fighting Conch. Florida Fighting Conch (2.5-3" long): I'm also starting a dosing regimen of live phytoplankton daily to help feed the zooplankton which, hopefully, are playing a role in helping to diminish the dinoflagellates. Alk has bottomed out at 8.1 for the last 3 weeks with no dosing. I'm seeing slight growth in the coral, just not enough to soak up the alkalinity in the water and require dosing. I'll just keep the calcium and alkalinity dosers off until I see the need to turn them back on. The refugium is packed with red and green macros that are growing like crazy and proving to be quite the breeding ground for pods, worms and all sorts of tiny little zooplankton. I need to trim it back, but I hate to pull it out, it's looking really neat.
  6. zachxlutz

    Zach's 120 Gallon Reef Resurgence

    Update: Crossing my fingers over here. I think I'm making some progress. It looks like the dinoflagellates are slowing down the spreading and possibly receding a bit. I've only been blowing it off of the corals and a little bit here and there when it's impeding on a coral. Additionally, I've been heavily feeding the tank and actively adding KNO3 to keep the nitrates at +/- 3 ppm. The tank is currently consuming about 1.5 ppm of NO3 every day. I think what's happening is the extra feeding is increasing the available phosphates and this is promoting desirable algal and coral growth, thus consuming both NO3 and PO4 in the process and hopefully outcompeting the dinoflagellates as a side effect. I've been tracking the phosphates daily and they are raising and holding steady at about 0.03 +/- 0.02. If I notice the phosphates dropping I'll just throw an extra couple pinches of food or an extra mysis cube. I see a few very small patches of fluffy turf type algae pop up underneath the stringy brown dinoflagellates in some nooks and crannies of the liverock. I think that's encouraging. I can add more snails to deal with that if the Foxface doesn't eat it up first. The macros in the sump seem to be growing and driving up the pH trend, it had been suppressed by about -.1 for the last few weeks. I've also had my calcium and alkalinity dosing off throughout this ordeal as consumption seemed to stop. It's been almost steady for a few weeks now but I think it's finally dropping. This would, in my opinion, indicate that the coral are kicking back into growth mode and consuming alkalinity. I'll continue to monitor and bring dosing back online as needed. One thing I have noticed is there is hardly any of the dinoflagellates in the sump. There is some green looking stuff on the heaters in the return chamber but that's been there for months and hasn't really done much, I assume it's a harmless cyano. I haven't dosed any Vibrant in 17 days. I really hope the bacteria from it are reaching their end of life and it's effects on the system will continue to diminish over time. It's hard to discern in photos so I don't really have any to post but I'll keep updating this thread as I battle this nightmare.
  7. zachxlutz

    Zach's 120 Gallon Reef Resurgence

    5 minute timelapse of the stuff reconstituting.
  8. zachxlutz

    Zach's 120 Gallon Reef Resurgence

    Furthermore, I've noticed a drop in calcium and alkalinity uptake since the phosphate levels have been dropping. Further reviewing my logs, I see that the phosphates began to drop around the middle of march, which is when I noticed the alkalinity rising and subsequent 5% drops week after week in my dosing schedule. I think this might have something to do with this bloom. I have been unhappy with the growth and coloration in the last few months and I really think I'm just seeing systemic effects of having an ULNS. The Vibrant dosing was masking some problems, I think. The tank looked clean and clear but it's really been struggling. Plan of action: Vibrant is off the menu. Trimmed back the mass of chaeto in the refugium. Feeding the fish a little heavier handed. Acropower. I've been wanting to try this and I've seen Randy Holmes-Farley mention in some threads that aminos do help ULNS. I've already got this on hand and will start tonight. Tuning the skimmer to produce less skimmate. Possibly dosing some phosphorous product to jumpstart the process.
  9. zachxlutz

    Zach's 120 Gallon Reef Resurgence

    New updates: Phosphates are between 0 and 0.003 checking with the Hanna ULR phosphorus checker and have been reading 0-ish since 5/7/17. I took the first test on the 7th as a error and did a check with the Red Sea kit and it always comes up barely noticeable in the color range. I usually call it 0.03 or so... I made a note of this in my tracking log and just used the value from the Red Sea titration kit. I'm thinking my phosphates have bottomed out leading to a dinoflagellate bloom. Looking at the trend, the phosphates dropping and the rise in dinos seems to correlate. I'm thinking about dosing up the phosphorus in the tank. I've perused through the Dinoflagellate threads on the forums and a common theme is low phosphates causing dino outbreaks and increasing phosphate levels seems to be the cure. It's natural, like dosing KNO3 has been and I think i'm going to give it a shot. I'll be picking up some SeaChem Flourish Phosphorus and bringing the levels up to around .03 ppm. Thoughts?
  10. zachxlutz

    Zach's 120 Gallon Reef Resurgence

    All that being said... I picked up a PMK (Par Monitoring Kit) from Neptune and tossed it in the tank just now before the lights dimmed and it was showing a PAR of around 390 in this location with all 8 bulbs on 100%. The lights just dimmed to 2 bulbs and it's showing a PAR of around 80. I'll move the sensor around to some other locations and see what kind of PAR I'm getting all over the tank and then make one of those fancy photos with the PAR numbers overlaid. Sorry about the rubbish picture. The PAR sensor is located in the "live rock" on the right island, if it didn't pop right out at you.
  11. zachxlutz

    Zach's 120 Gallon Reef Resurgence

    Stopping Vibrant dosing seems to be the consensus. I'd been having great experience with the Vibrant until just recently when this popped up. It's appearing to get worse. I can't seem to positively ID it though. I'm unsure of whether it's cyano, diatoms, or dinoflagellates. I will be stopping the Vibrant dosing as of last dose. If GHA pops up again I'll look at adding some more clean up crew. I only added a sparse clean-up crew at the initial set-up of the tank 9 months ago. I'm sure it could use some more as I'm sure there was some die-off due to lack of algae for grazing. The tank has never really had a lot of algae. I certainly don't see too many snails out and about anymore... I'll pick up some next time I'm at the LFS. The symptoms appear to be worsening. I'm seeing more and more of the stringy brown slimy substance on every surface of the aquarium, corals included. This picture pretty well illustrates the growth patterns. It's matting a bit where flow is low, but definitely stringy in high flow. It attaches to everything. Tips of hard coral included. IT SHOWS NO MERCY. It does trap some bubbles, but, I don't see the bubbles at the tips of the strings that I see mentioned when discussing dinoflagellates. The color is best described as rust. It's not red or purple like most of the cyanobacteria I see discussed. I've dealt with cyano once before in an old tank and had good luck with Chemi-Clean. I've got some Chemi-Clean on hand and I'm going to consider dosing it if I don't see a decrease in this nastiness after I try manual removal, blowing it off the rocks and discontinuing the use of Vibrant. Hmmmmm...
  12. zachxlutz

    Zach's 120 Gallon Reef Resurgence

    Really doesn't look like hydroids. Cyano is a possibility, although I'm thinking dinoflagellates are a possibility, as well. I dose Vibrant and it really does a great job with GHA, etc but doesn't seem to be impacting this.
  13. zachxlutz

    Zach's 120 Gallon Reef Resurgence

    I haven't updated lately and I apologize for that... The tank just isn't performing to the high level of standard I am holding it too. I'm still struggling with coral coloration and to some extent growth. I'm really struggling with some nuisance algae right now that I'm trying to ID. I'm hoping you kind folks can help point me in the right direction to ID this. Description: Blows off coral/rock/sand easily but returns quickly Stringy brownish color Doesn't appear to create it's own bubbles within but will catch them occasionally Appears to diminish with lights out and increase within the photoperiod Covers some coral, lots of the rock and lots of the sand bed Tank: 120 Gallon Display 55 Gallon Sump Total water volume 140 gallons ATI Sunpower 8x54 watt T5 lights Parameters: Temp: 78* F Salinity: 35 ppt Ph: 7.82-8.14 (daily swing) Alk: 8.5 Ca: 435-440 NO3: 3-5 ppm PO4: .01-.03 Mg: 1380 (all parameters are very stable, I test very often) Dosing (through dosing pumps): BRS Alk/Cal: 20 ml daily each (.2 dkh Alk/1.39 ppm Cal daily consumption rate) Red Sea Coral Colors ABCD: .3ml daily each Dosing (manual): Nitrate: KNO3 - as needed, usually 10-20ml (28g/150ml solution) weekly Vibrant: Weekly Water Changes: 20% Monthly Feeding: Dry: Hikari Marine S Pellets, 4x daily through auto feeder Frozen: Mysis, daily or every other day
  14. zachxlutz

    Zach's 120 Gallon Reef Resurgence

    Yeah, it's really great.
  15. zachxlutz

    Zach's 120 Gallon Reef Resurgence

    Quick FTS 04/07/2017: Left Island: See the chalices mounted on their shiny new start white rubble homes? Me too. Hopefully the rubble darkens up quickly, it's quite an eyesore now. The green psammocora refuses to look good under the full 8 bulbs, it just looks brown... Under the 2 bulbs of actinic and purple at sunrise and sunset it looks great though. :/ The Montipora spongodes is still regaining its color from when it bleached/browned out but it's well on it's way to recovery. The montipora setosa isn't looking great, to be honest. It's pale and has some STN. Not sure what's going on there. Right Island: Things look fairly good over here on this side, save for the Cyphastrea issues I've got going on. It's still showing great polyp extension but the blue/green base is bleaching a bit and the polyps don't have the color they once had. The chameleon acro, red planet and red digi are all showing great encrusting. I'm hoping the tank is just going through some new tank swings still and things will continue to improve as I control the parameters and keep them stable. Sorry the pictures aren't great. I'll need to bust out the DSLR for some better shots. That'll wait until I get the rest of the frags mounted up. Now I just need to decide where to put them.
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