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Hi Everyone,

I have a 220 gallon tank.  It was doing so well until this weekend.  I'm not sure what happen, but went out this saturday came back in afternoon and my corals were closing up (30% of them) Paragada, big mushroom, green bubble coral, some zenia, neon green leather coral.  I did too many things prior to this, so I'm not sure how to troubleshoot or what else I should do.  I may have contaminate it with some purple stuff (plumbing cleaner) when I was trying to add an extra 20 gallon sump for my refugium.  Or it could be the boxfish got ich, i had to remove him to the hospital tank, it took me a while, as he was running from me.  I'm guessing he may have toxic the tank.

Any ways, in a panic, did a 25% water change that same day, then another the next day, then I put in active carbon.  Anything recommendation of things to try?

Right now the mushroom haven't open up or even show signs of opening up.  The bubble is about 10% of what it use to be.  The paragada is about 10% open.  The green leather coral looks like it is missing a backbone (not standing up).

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4 minutes ago, Isaac said:

what are your params? nitrates, salinity, ph, etc.

All these are normal.  Nitrates 5-10 ppm, 1.025, 7.8 ph,

 

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temperature w/in range?  do the corals just look sad, or are they sloughing off at this point?

that purple primer is foodsafe once dry.  if it got into the system before then, its essentially ethers/alcohol/other crap.  here is the msds:

http://www.oatey.com/msds/1402c-oatey-canada-purple-or-clear-primer-nsf--2015.pdf

i'd keep the carbon running, add more if you can, and water changes.  but if you change it too often, you are losing good stuff too... hard call.  you could actually over-correct and cause more damage.  anyone else have any ideas?

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Sorry to keep you so long! Scientist me would look at what might have changed to cause the response in your corals. You mentioned that you have changed a couple of things in your tank, like setting up the algae reactors and removing your skimmer. It may be that the sudden change threw things out of balance. If the system was acclimated to a certain concentration of organics in the water, the increase may have caused some response. I would definitely get the skimmer back on line for now and like Isaac suggests skim a little aggressively.

If the boxfish stressed and released ostracitoxin wouldn't that hit the fish harder than the inverts? If you are not seeing any decline in the fish, I would think it is another cause. In any case load up on fresh carbon and try to pull out any toxins that might be in the water.

I hope it turns around!

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Thanks Todd,  I've remove the protein skimmer probably a month ago, so I really don't think that cause it.  I remember putting my hands in the tank (I had that purple cleaner on my hand which I was trying to put in a fitting, I may have accidentally contaminated it.  We are talking about maybe few drops.  Anywayz, I made a bold move today and change another 40 percent of the water.  Things are not as bad as day one, corals are starting to open up.  After this, I probably have to change my water once a week for a while to make sure I remove everything toxic from tank.  I hope the carbon dosing and the 25% water change I did immediately after I made that mistake was enough to help me save the tank.

Let's see how things goes the next few days.

 

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this is a good example of why having redundancies in place can only help.  if you put that skimmer back on... its there just in case something big happens, and its the best air exchange available.... why'd you remove it?

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Hi Isaac.  I'm trying to go all natural.  I know, it's risky, but since I've done it, it's been great for the last 40 days or so.  This boo boo I did was just an accident.  I do have two algae scrubber on there with 4 air Fusion Air Pump 700 that is giving the tank lots of air exchange. 

I feel like the protein skimmer is preventing the system from building enough stuff to established itself.

I know, it's crazy on my part, but I kind of wanting to try it.  We'll know in the next few years if it's a good move.

This has always been fascinating to me, how there are so many ways of doing reef tanks and how so many successful and failure doing it same and different ways.

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Removing a skimmer would not cause corals to react that way even if it was the primary way a system is being oxygenated.  And if you didn't see a shift in pH the skimmer wasn't doing any oxygenation anyway.  Like Todd said the toxin from the boxfish should have affected your other fish before it affected the corals.  Another consideration is did your system see a temperature spike this weekend?  It would only take a jump of a few degrees if your tank was already sitting in the low 80s or a rise above 84 or 85 F.  You might also check all your equipment for broken/exposed wiring or cracked housing thats letting saltwater contact wiring.    It looks your water changes and carbon is getting you through the worst but something I've found helpful over the years in situations like this is getting enough water from a healthy established reef to do a 10% to 20% water change to add some helpful microbial stuff (it won't hurt to add bacteria from a bottle  but it's not the same stuff that's thriving in a healthy reef system).  I would definitely not add the skimmer back,  I've found my corals are far more resilliant without them (look at the parameters in my skimmerless thread) and now that we have the science showing they really skew the microbial populations and the labile forms of DOC they do remove are used by sponges to make alkalinity I'll argue they are detrimental long term.

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I was just asking :)  a skimmer just recreates whats happening at a beach w/ seafoam... its more natural than you think :)

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I wonder how this all turned out nearly two days later...let us know

And I'm chiming in pretty late so for next time you think possible chemical toxicity go immediately to a chlorine/ammonia  blocker and locker like Prime and shock the system pretty good IE 2-3 times the regular dosage.  Then do a large water change up to 50% if needed.  Tim is right if you can get some good cycled water from another tank then do it , if not go for the newly made water.  And run lots of carbon.  Then expect to watch the corals and if some are not making it then remove them so the decaying materiel does not accelerate a crash.  Same as fish.  Speaking of fish they will  react as well to ammonia / chlorine levels so the Prime is the first step.  Always keep a bottle on hand  just in case.  I hope it was a false call and all is well.  .   

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On 5/17/2017 at 8:58 AM, Isaac said:
I was just asking :)  a skimmer just recreates whats happening at a beach w/ seafoam... its more natural than you think :)

 

That's a common thought.  But let's look at it closer.  To begin with let's look at the surface to volume ration of the ocean to our tanks, after all it's a fundamental factor in the amount of stuff skimmed.  Before adding s protein skimmer any of our tanks is gong to have a much higher ratio than the reefs where our corals came from, only reef flats might have a higher ratio but that's not where the surf is for the most part.  And what happens to this seafoam on the shore?  It's not being dumped somewhere but running back into the water.  And the foam that's on waves farther out, is it really going anywhere?  Are the currents and wind blowing it out to sea or back onto reefs?  How much of the "stuff" that supposedly is skimmed by wave action is actually removed under natural conditions?   Does the science show a difference between skimmed and what's found on reefs?  As it turns out one group of researchers led by Dr. Ken Feldmen looked at this question and found systems with skimmers had microbial populations significantly altered from what's natural while unskimmed systems have natural levels.  Some may say this is a good thing but I'll disagree.  Healthy natural microbial populations are essential for healthy ecosystems, arbitrarily and selectively removing part of the microbial population of an ecosystem does not strike me as a smart way to maintain a healthy ecosystem long term.  To quote an addage often tossed around by reefers "don't do anything you can't test for".  If we look at Dissolved Organic Carbon, DOC, we have another argument against skimmers.   While there are thousands if not 10's of thousands of compounds that fall under the heading DOC they can be divided into 3 catagories; Labile or easy to metabolize, semi-refractory or can be metabolized under some conditions and refractory or can't be metabolized easily and this constitutes about 2/3rds of the DOC found in the ocean.  

For some back ground, research presented by Dr. Hass at C4 two years ago showed the only time the refractroy DOC is consumed is in reefs systems that have crashed, become totally eutrophic (read as "nutrient enriched and oxygen depleted"), and are completely dominated by "nuisance" algae.  His research group took a closer look a couple years ago and found what we call "nuisance" algae release DOC that promotes heterotrophic microbial activity that can lead to eutrophic conditions if not kept in check. Fortunately corals release DOC compounds that promote autotrophic microbial activity that create oxygen enriching  conditions.

Getting back to Feldman's research, his group looked at the Total Organic Carbon (TOC)* removed by skimmers and found at best skimmers only removed about 30% of the TOC (for a complete list of links to Feldman's research check the 2nd page my skimmerless thread ).   Some may say "That's good! It's at least removing some of the bad stuff!"  And it is, but does that out weigh the good stuff it's also taking out?   I'll say no.  The really bad stuff that is only used by microbes under eutrophic conditions is left.  The labile and probably some of the semilabile forms of DOC are what's removed, while this does include forms released by algae that promote heterotrophic microbial activity it also includes the labile forms released by corals that promote autotrophic conditions.  

Anther consideration is what cryptic sponges are doing with DOC.  de Goeij's research surprised everyone when he showed some species of sponge feed almost exclusively off DOC.  And further knocked everyone off their seats again when he showed these cryptic sponge species were basicly reproducing at twice the rate the fastest bacteria were reproducing but were not growing.  As it turns these sponges are taking DOC, recycling it and dumping it back into the water column as HCO3ˉ or alkalinity (they're also messing with nitrogen).  This raises the question "Do you want to feed your sponges the easy to consume labile forms of DOC to convert into alkalinity for your corals or just the refractory forms which they will have a hard time dealing with?"

 


*TOC is 10%  POC (Particulate Organic Carbon) + 90% DOC (Dissolved Organic Carbon).

 

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that was a long read *lol*.  good thing i do water changes too :)

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15 hours ago, Timfish said:

Had to turn my laptop on it's side but it looks a lot better than your initial description.  :)

I should of taken video of when this first happen, but I didn't really care, because I was in panic mode, so I skip it.  It was very bad though.  This video was after the carbon dosing and 3 water changes, and 2 days later.

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Here's a video of my tank that has a giant skimmer rated for double the capacity of tank water volume, ran from day 1 with carbon dosing (via biopellets), and with 0.0-0.03 phosphate level that I ran for almost 4 years with no water changes.

I do feed a ton daily as I try to mimic the large influx of nutrients daily to natural reefs and do my best to mitigate the resulting nutrient spikes via equally as quick export of the nutrients when possible.

Many ways to skin a cat, I like my method and I like my results. Mine is the opposite of what Tim describes is an ideal reef setup in almost every way so I wanted to give it as an example for an alternative viewpoint.

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I should of taken video of when this first happen, but I didn't really care, because I was in panic mode, so I skip it.  It was very bad though.  This video was after the carbon dosing and 3 water changes, and 2 days later.

Oh, and I think you might be confusing using activated carbon as carbon dosing, which it is not the same.

This is carbon dosing:
http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2008-08/nftt/

What you are doing is just using activated carbon to remove toxins in the water, which I employ monthly myself on top of my carbon dosing, which I employ a biopellet reactor for and a carbon polymer media.

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FarmerTY,

Thanks for the correction.  I remember a long time when I first started, I was doing vodka dosing.  I didn't even realized it is consider carbon dosing.  Interesting.....

This brought me to another question.  If I get toxic in my tank again, can I use vodka instead of activated carbon?  After all, we are just trying to give it more carbon correct?

 

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FarmerTY,
Thanks for the correction.  I remember a long time when I first started, I was doing vodka dosing.  I didn't even realized it is consider carbon dosing.  Interesting.....
This brought me to another question.  If I get toxic in my tank again, can I use vodka instead of activated carbon?  After all, we are just trying to give it more carbon correct?
 

No problem at all. The confusion of terms is quite common.

No, the activated carbon can actually absorb toxins into the cavities of the carbon and lock it in. Carbon dosing (vokda, biopellets, sugar, vinegar, etc) works on the principle of adding missing carbon into the system and allowing bacteria to grow and uptake nitrates and some some phosphates. It does really nothing for toxins, which I don't think is your problem anyways.

I've used purple primer like nobody's business with ill-effect over the years. I've even accidentally dripped it and the PVC glue directly into the tank with no issues. Granted, I always have activated carbon in my system.

Regarding toxins from the fish, like others have stated, effects on inverts should be minimal if any.

I really think its just changes to your system and the resulting changes caused by it. Removing your skimmer shouldn't be detrimental as long as you still mitigate the increase of your nutrients because of its removal, which you did with the turf scrubber. Perhaps the turf scrubber is too efficient and stripping your water of nutrients?

Just keep in mind any change, no matter how minor you feel it is, could potentially impact your reef tank more than you think. Stability is your best friend in this context.

I also advise to find a tank that you like, either in person or online, and mimic their approach. If it worked for that tank, odds are you can get close to reproducing it in yours.

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