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realypk

Looking for help with main tank Issues + ATI water test

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Summary. So I've had my reef set up since June, it cycled in 3 days with help of bacteria + LR + marinepure. Fish and inverts are all doing very well. Water is kept relatively stable at 78F. Problem is I cannot seem to keep any monti, acro and even some LPS alive, I have problems with all acro, all monti, all lepto, chypastrea some  Acans, fungia, and dendros are ok while others died. Others such as zoa, ricordia, shrooms, trumpets, pipe organs, gsp, all do quite well. My anemone's are generally happy, even the green ones. Fish are all cooperative and do not nip at corals, neither does CUC.

 

Tank:

106 Gallon Water Volume Total including fuge.

Eheim COMPACTON 5000 (1320 GPH)

biopellet reactor

carbon

gfo

SCA-302 Skimmer with antman pump (outside air supply)

2x air  stones in sump with air from outside

ATO wtih small ammount of kalkwasser added to water

4x 54w T5 2x ATI blue plus 1 x Ati true acitinc 1x ATI Coralview+ (5 hours full, +3hours only blue+ & acitinc)

2x Current IC Orbit LED 48 (5.5 hrs of 20% white 80% blue, 2.5hrs 80% blue)

3x current 2100gph eflux powerheads @10% (100% was way too strong)

Cheato + galaxea macro

Copepods + amphipods

RODI 4 stage that produced perfect water (https://lab.atiaquaristik.com/publicAnalysis/37832)

 

Last personal test was done 3/2/19 using hannah testers

3/2/19

1.025sg

30pho ppb

8.02 ph

7.8dkh

490 ca

1780 mg ppm

17.07ppb nh4

0.001 ppm nh3

78.4 farenheit

 

Ati water test was sent off on 25 march 10

https://lab.atiaquaristik.com/share/07d2b94b602c5920382c (full test link, recommendations screen below)

image.thumb.png.e05d44d51e995c79a53b61d4c5713bf9.png

 

 

 

Based on the info I presume I should start with upping my iodine, and find what is rusting if anything. And do water changes for removing chromium. Would my levels of chrome be harmful to corals? How about fish? Any other suggestions?

 

Also does anyone have a recommended Iodine test kit?

Edited by realypk

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My 2 cents, take it for what its worth:

 

Your tank did not cycle in 3 days. Sorry, but fake news. 

 

Why are you running carbon, GFO, Kalkwasser? But srsly, why? 

 

Your tank is still young. It's still finding it's groove. Can you give us the alk mapped out over the tanks life span? My tank didn't even finish the proper cycles until about it's 9 month mark. Over the past 1.5 months, I've been dosing 3 ml a day of ESV 2 part, and I have 30+ SPS in about 30 gallons of water. I skim, water changes, and dose for calc, alk, and mag (3ml a day.) 

 

I'm a huge believer of KISS. Keep It Simple Stupid. I also let it run for 2 months with the rock before I started adding things. Go back to basics, stop worrying about adding iodine, stop adding things to your tank, give it a few months and keep up with your basic husbandry, then add some birdsnest. You might be surprised. 

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hah well then the fish that I added at first were strong and survived :P but its def cyclced by now. As far as cycle I meant bacterial in terms of the kind that eats ammonia and detoxify's water for fish. Not sure if the chemistry cycle is finished yet. I had it as a fish only set up with rock and marinepure for 2 months before adding corals.  

 

I run carbon because I have a lot of ricordea and zoa, and some nudi's all of them laden with toxins, I dont want all my fish to die if one of them goes belly up, plus it keeps my water nice and clear.

 

GFO because without it my PHO levels were going beyond what my ULR hannah tester could read. With GFO i keep PHO at around 30ppb, kalkwasser because GFO made my alk and PH dip. I generally have issues maintaining 8+ PH levels. After lights have been on for a while it's at 8.01 PH with 7.68 without lights. Kalkwasser solved that for me. I've been doing 20% water changes bi-weekly. Even with that I ended up not being able to read GFO levels with my ULR Hannah as it was 200+ ppb

 

I'll keep up the husbandry but think that removing gfo and stopping kalk may be a bad idea? Also how worried should I be about ATI saying i may have something rusting?

 

Alk measurements

12/5/18

8.5 dkh

 

12/24/18

7.6 dkh

 

1/26/19

8.6 dkh

 

2/2/19

8.4dkh

 

2/14/19

8.3dkh

 

2/25

7.6dkh

 

3/1/19

7.8 dkh

 

I've been slowly trying to move my dkh back to the 8+ region using kalwasser which has helped both my ph and my alk. Late feb I had a dkh drop after adding GFO.  Will do a DKH reading tomorrow. 

 

Edited by realypk

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ICP test from ATI is showing 220 ppb (or 0.220 ppm) phosphate (PO4) which is very high - about 7x the desired (but debated) level. Nitrates (NO3) are at almost 23 ppm (10x the calculated reference value and about 100x of what you want). 

 

You seem to have high nutrients either due to overfeeding, accumulated detritus, and/or inadequate anaerobic biological filter development. 

 

Not sure what you mean when you post different test results for NH3 (ammonia) and NH4 (the positive ion of aqueous ammonia). If you 

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Heavy metals can cause issues depending upon the metal. You may have some sort of plated screw, magnet, chrome-plated pump-shaft, or the like corroding and adding that element to your water. (Chrome is also used in varying proportions in stainless steel, so it's possible that you have some stainless corroding, too.) I'm assuming that you're using RO/DI water to mix up your change water, correct? If so, look for the source in your tank.

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Hey Origami thanks for taking a look, I really value your experience and the detail you provide!!!

 

So first yes, I use only RODI when mixing salt and ATI confirmed it was perfect with 0 contaminants. (nice that they test your RODI for free!!!)

 

As far as rust I'm going to look through the sump this weekend and inspect my scrubber magnets! (leave my flipper in the tank is that an bad idea... it does have a blade but i do not see rust on it) A few weeks back i noticed that the front intake screws on my main return pump were rusting a bit. It's an eheim compacton 5000+ pricey pump so I was a bit surprized.... Could 4 small screws on the front be the contributing factor in this? If so how the heck are those marine aquarium rated and what screw metal should I replace them with? Or should I not be concerned with small bits of rust on the screws and be looking for a bigger fish so to speak?

 

As far as the Po4 yes I think its high mainly due to having been overfeeding for a while.... I have a fully stocked tank with quite a few shrimp and critters and always liked seeing each creature get some food during each feed.... In the morning about 2x shrimp pellets 1/4th large hikari algea wafer, 6x 1mm  and 4x 3mm pellets and a pinch of premium flake food for the first feeding and for dinner I do frozen food with about 2 squares of mysis, 1 small square of rods and 1 square of copepod. I also have been doing a coral feast type turkey baste of about 2 shot glasses worth twice a week targeting feather dusters and corals. My guess is that yes I'm overfeeding, problem is if the shrimp don't get their fill they pluck food out of anemones and LPS which is not desirable.... so perhaps I should tone it down significantly and do a heavy feed only once a week and then target feed my anemones and LPS at that time? Is there any kind of food that you would suggest that can be fed with higher rates and not cause as much nutrients?

 

As far as NH4 and NH3 readings I wrote, those are taken directly from my seneye device, I seem to never really have ammonia at all just NH4. (the temp is actually at 78.5 but i accidentally uncalibrated my seneye through settings when I calibrated its PH and havnt gotten round to fixing it yet.

image.thumb.png.478d56817e0942de080cc5c8da3609d7.png

 

Also showing just a 72h worth

image.png.f66254576438f4b32088bc0ff0073145.png

 

Edited by realypk

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I know a lot of people spot feed their corals but I do absolutely nothing to feed ours. I do feed the fish a good amount of food and if some of that makes its way to the corals, fine, if not, too bad. I make no effort to feed the shrimp, or hermits, or snails, or conch or anything else in that tank, only the fish. I believe frozen foods like LRS and Rod's (I only use LRS) are about as good as it gets unless you're whipping up your own fresh concoction. I also add a portion of an algae sheet and a whole littleneck clam for everything to pick at daily (clam was introduced specifically for the butterfly but everything likes it). Stop worrying about trying to get food to everything, everything (a few exceptions like dendros) in there will be getting food when you feed the fish.

 

There is a large delta between your magnesium results and those of the ICP (same for phosphates). Your magnesium levels on the ICP are fine; try to figure out why your results are so much different (Red Sea test?). Do the same for phosphates. Test results that are that far off do more harm than good. 

 

How much GFO are you using? Effective doses rarely have significant impacts on alkalinity directly; is it possible you're using more than required? When I started using GFO, I used 1/4 the directed amount to gauge the outcome; I settled in about 1/2 the directed amount (BRS branded). 

Edited by madweazl

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Understood, will make an effort to tone down feeding. Hrmm the magnesium tester I use is red sea pro. Has me wondering if I'm doing the test wrong or if the regent in the test is bad... I try to be pretty accurate with it! 

Edited by realypk

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The Salifert seems to be more accurate for magnesium than the Red Sea kits; Randy Holmes-Farley mentioned something about it but I cant recall the reason now. 

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For the most part, I only feed my corals occasionally. I figure that, if I feed my fish, the fish waste feeds my corals. Some LPS can benefit from an occasional pellet, though.

 

The NH3/NH4 balance is set by pH. In the last graph in your last post, you can see that the NH4 level exhibits what we call a diurnal swing. That is, it's cycling high and low by each day - probably higher at night when the pH is lower (because everything is in respiration mode and releasing CO2, causing the water to become more acidic) and lower during the day (when your photosynthesizers are consuming CO2).  It's interesting that they measure each. Ammonia (NH3) damages the gills and highly toxic to fish. At pH 8.2, it's only about 7% of the total ammonia (NH3 and NH4) in the water. As pH rises, though, the proportion of NH3 increases while that in NH4 form decreases. (Low pH favors the less toxic form, ammonia.) 

 

You can read more about ammonia in the reef tank here.

 

As for the chromium, it could be coming from a pump shaft or other places. For now, though, I suspect that you need to lower your nitrates and phosphates some to keep some of the more sensitive SPS. 

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Can you clarify "fully stocked"? What is your stocking list, and how big is the display?

 

I always describe tanks under 12-16 months as "twitchy". You can take a water test and things look decent, but if you were measuring super frequent (like the Triton method stuff I was reading about yesterday), you'll see huge swings. Also, you're describing that corals that are bulletproof (trumpets) and ones that do not have stony components (zoas, GSP, rics) grow fine. Something seems to be messing with stony growth ability - nitrates and phosphates do that. 

 

I also enjoy feeding my LPS, and get upset at my shrimp stealing food. I only have two shrimp, so I give each of them a bigger meaty chunk that will take them a little longer to gnaw on so I can target feed my LPS in peace. Even still, I only target feed LPS 1 or 2 times per week. Otherwise my tank goes whack due to not being able to process the nutrients.

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Overall it looks like i need to tone down my feeding significantly, so thats what I'll do going forward. Do you suggest that I do so slowley or can I just go cold turkey starting today? I know slow changes generally seem to be better but not sure if thats the case in overfeeding scenarios.

 

@Origami do my dinural swings seem healthy or are they too large? I try to offset by keeping my cheato light in the fuge on overnight, but it does not seem to compensate for the T5 up top. I've never had any ammonia issues to date, would you recommend slowly upping my PH levels over time in order to help with the NH4 seeing as I dont have NH3 issues? How high would you go max in the PH regard? Also whats the max DHK I should aim for as PH generally rises with that... I was thinking of installing an co2 scrubber on my airlines from outside in order to help expel more co2 and increase my PH. Is there any other safe way to do it other than that and very slow additions of Kalkwasser?

 

What are considered more or less sensitive SPS, I was told montipora caps, and pocilipora were easy/bulletproof, also told the same about chypastrea but all those died slowly from bottom up or edges in when it comes to montis.  

 

@bues0022

 

Currently I have stocked:

2x maroon clowns fully grown 1 male 1 female

1x Mandarin Goby fully grown

2x small flame angels pair

1x scooter blenny

1x rainbow blenny

1x pistol srhimp watchman goby pair watchman aprox 3.5"

3x blue green chromis

2x female lyritail anthias 2.75"

1x male lyritail anthias 4.5"

3x anemone crabs

3x Pom Pom crabs

4x anomone 2x rbta 2x green bubbletip

1x dolbella sea hare

1x mcorskers flasher wrasse

1x blue line cleaner wrasse

1x blue yellow damsel

4x blood red fire shrimp swarm, they behave very cool almost zerg like beahvior

2x peppermint shrimp

1x scarlet skunk cleaner shirmp

5x Halloween hermits

5x electric hermits

10x snails assorted

3x Lettuce nudibranch

 

Edited by realypk

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4 hours ago, Origami said:

You seem to have high nutrients either due to overfeeding, accumulated detritus, and/or inadequate anaerobic biological filter development.

 

I would seriously look into all of the above, especially the inadequate anaerobic biological filter. 

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I have a significant amount of marine pure in my tank as well as a biopellet reactor and cheato going. What other biological filter would you recommend? More marine pure blocks?

Edited by realypk

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50 minutes ago, realypk said:

I have a significant amount of marine pure in my tank as well as a biopellet reactor and cheato going. What other biological filter would you recommend? More marine pure blocks?

 

I've tried to go through some of my old threads to see if I could find some of the conversation about this, but the long and short of it is, your tank never really properly cycled the first go around. You can have all the space and rock and marine pure blocks you want, but the anaerobic bacteria never found a balance. The answer, IMO, is basic husbandry, and time.  

 

Upon a little bit of digging around, here's a good thread about it. Re: Time, see Zygote2K's comment about the European Method of cycling. 

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Cold turkey on the feeding shouldn't be a problem.

 

I'm more familiar with the size of the pH swing rather than the NH3/NH4 swing. However, it's perfectly normal and I don't expect that you're seeing anything grossly out of the norm. Don't worry about messing with pH. Unless it's horribly low, it'll manage itself as you manage alkalinity. Personally, I've always run my tank somewhere between 8 and 10 dKH - but I pick a spot and try to keep it there. For example, about a decade ago, I kept my tank at 10 dkH but, as I started experimenting with carbon dosing and an ULNS (ultra-low nutrient system), the 10 dKH alkalinity resulted in "burnt" tips on SPS which other reefers also experienced. Maintaining at a lower alkalinity was the fix for that and I dropped back to 8 dKH for many years. 

 

I do draw fresh air from outside into my skimmer to help "blow off" excess CO2.  CO2 scrubbers require a bit of maintenance and expense. I've never used it because, unless you've got a red flag situation with pH (and most of us don't), there's no real reason to add more complexity to the system.

 

Looking at the graphs above, note that your pH curve is generally the opposite of your NH4 curve. That's what you should see. pH will be highest typically at the end of a lighting cycle where photosynthesis is dominant because that process consumes carbon dioxide and releases oxygen (versus cellular respiration, which consumes oxygen and releases carbon dioxide). In many tanks with a lot of corals, this is in the evening when the lights in the main tank go off. However, if you don't have many photosynthesizers in the main tank as compared to, say a refugium stocked with a lot of macroalgae and running on a reverse light cycle, you could see a situation where the photosynthesis in the refugium dominates, so the pH is highest in the morning just before the refugium lights go dark.

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You will have to find the source of the metals in the water. Once you remove it you will need to do a big water change to bring them down. Also, using GFO without a good understanding of your tank needs, will drive everything else out of control and nuke your tank.

 

Your Kalk will help you maintain pH while keeping calcium and alk stable (just dose it all at once, use it as you re-fill evaporation). 

 

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@YHSublime I actually used dr tims as well as ammonia powder to cylce the tank and kept feeding it ammonia for about 1 month before adding lots of livestock. Since then I've not been able to detect any ammonia. 

 

Overall I will go forward with
#1 Finding the corroding item

#2 Reduce feeding significantly. How much would you say is right frozen food wise for a tank my tank stock? Also how much pelletized?

#3 Water 20% weekly water changes

#4 Dose kalk as needed to keep ph/dkh stable.

 

How long with following those steps before I should retest using ATI?

 

Any measurements that would be helpful for me to do on a freqeunt basis, for future diagnosis?  I have automated PH, Temp Nh4 NH3. I can manually test DKH PH SG and PHO and CAL with hanna and MG with red sea pro. How often should I test for each?

 

I would really like to be able to eventually grow acros, montis and fungia. Fungia are actually my favorite coral and if all else fails I at least want to be able to grow those. 

Edited by realypk

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Also as far as GFO goes

 

@madweazl I am using the recommended amount of GFO in a high flow area, using BRS brand high capacity GFO. I used half recommended and ULR hanna was still reading 200+ after 2 days. Changed out the bag, added full recommended amount and within 24hrs it reached 174. Within next 24hrs it reached 124ppb, 24 hours later it reached 70ppb and then it settled at the levels I sent it off to ATI for testing. Last check was at 30ppb which was a few days after ATI tested water was drawn using old bags and old feeding habits.

 

Considering my high starting PHO content and even elevated levels in ATI test would you guys suggest I

 

#1 keep running GFO?

#2 If so do you believe the bags I have inside the unit right now are exhausted?

#3 And should I add another half dose bag or full dose? 

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I'd drop the pellets altogether (along with the flakes) and just go with the frozen foods, they're far better. As for amount, I guess somewhere around six cubes per day but you'll just have to see how it goes. If they're skinny, feed them more, if not, you're good. What is the mandarin eating? 

 

Turn off the GFO reactor for a day and see what happens (probably only need 6-12 hours to see if it's exhausted). If your phosphates are high, continue to use it. What do you mean by bags though? You have it in a reactor, correct? It needs to be fluidized to work properly (i.e. not in a bag). 

Were your nitrate levels higher without the bio-pellets (carbon dosing)? They should knock your nitrates down to whatever level you desire with the right amount. I'm not suggesting you change it right now, just that you have complete control of the levels based on how much you use.

 

Edited by madweazl

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I give the mandarin 1 frozen copepod cube per day + have 2 tanks of pods currently producing and i add pods from there directly into the tank. I also have a really cool brine shrimp hatching contraption that slowly releases the brine shrimp napulai but not the eggs into the tank for time released live feed throughout the day. Both scooter blenny and mandarin love hanging around it as do some of the wrasses and other fish for snacking. 

 

https://reefingart.com/products/brine-shrimp-auto-hatchery?variant=7259809284147

 

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@madweazl I keep my GFO inside of filter bags that are in a very high flow area forcing water through it. The grain of the GFO I use is meant for it as its too small and heavy to tumble in a reactor, its the high capacity stuff, you use it kind alike you would high capacity carbon. 

 

Nitrate levels prior to biopellet reactor were probably 10ppm higher so it has had an effect but not as much as expected. That biopellet reactor is half full and has only been running for about 1 month now. 

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12 minutes ago, realypk said:

@madweazl I keep my GFO inside of filter bags that are in a very high flow area forcing water through it. The grain of the GFO I use is meant for it as its too small and heavy to tumble in a reactor, its the high capacity stuff, you use it kind alike you would high capacity carbon. 

 

Nitrate levels prior to biopellet reactor were probably 10ppm higher so it has had an effect but not as much as expected. That biopellet reactor is half full and has only been running for about 1 month now. 

 

If you're using the high capacity BRS GFO, it should absolutely be in a reactor just like the rest. 

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Hey realypk, 

 

The amount of food you are adding could feed my 250g for 2 days. You need to cut WAY back. Most of the food you are adding is not going to the fish or corals but simply decaying in your tank. 

 

You also seem to be under the impression that you can use a product according the directions and there will be no ill effects. For example your explanation of why and how you are using gfo. Just because you are using the right product in the right way in the recommended amounts does not mean your tank needs it and does not mean that it is not harmful. Whenever I run GFO I have trouble with my stoney corals. That's not true for everyone but it is true for MY tank. 

 

When other members are saying that your tank is not completely cycled one of the things they mean is that just because the bacteria are converting Ammonia into Nitrite and Nitrate does not mean that you have 1) enough bacteria 2) the right strains of bacteria or 3) the right balance of bacteria. The only way to get that it to adjust what you are doing, stop throwing products at your real and not so real problems and sit back and let your tank mature. 

 

Take some time to read through reports of how the products o the market can both solve AND cause problems. Carbon can give you crystal clear water but can also cause HLLE. GFO can reduce phosphate but it can also kill sps. Nothing is as straight forward as the label on the product says. You are dealing with a living, dynamic ecosystem. It does not not read product labels. 

 

Simply your system, figure out where the metal is coming from and take some of the extraneous things you are using off line. Then take 6 months to stabilize your tank before trying more stoney coral. 

 

Good luck

 

 

 

 

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If not clear from the posts, your #1 concern is nutrients. The high nitrate level points to insufficient development of an anaerobic bacteria population to match the nutrient input. The collective wisdom here is pointing to overfeeding as the source of these nutrients. Cut back on feeding and perform several large water changes over the course of a couple of weeks to cut back on these levels. The water changes dilute the high nutrient levels; reducing the feeding cuts back on new nutrients being added to the water.

 

Your second issue in priority is trying to find the source of the chromium. It could be corrosion or could be from a food source or some other additive or it could be in your salt mix. It's unclear if chromium is a major problem in reef tanks. About a decade ago, almost all salts tested positive for some chromium. Some brands had as much as 15 ppb, I believe. You're at 10.5 ppb, so it could be related to the brand of salt that you're using. If you can't find it, don't get too spun up too quickly. Deal with the nutrient problem and then watch your tank for improvements.

 

Finally, don't worry about the NH3/NH4 balance or your pH swing. They're low risk in your case and behaving perfectly acceptably/normally. (But, I encourage you to read more just tot ake advantage of the learning opportunity.)

 

One final note: Some tanks, when they start getting cleaner can actually become too clean for some corals that have adapted to high nutrient conditions. For example, some people can't keep xenia or find that their xenia withers away when their nutrients drop to low levels. Your mileage may vary. Once you get more experience under your belt, you'll find that your first, best test kit is your eyes. 

 

 

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