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takoattack

Struggling with acros in a reefer 525

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Reaching out for advise.
I have an 8 month old reefer 525xl deluxe that was planned to be sps dominant and low nutrient. I have been struggling with most types of sps health where color will start to dull after 1-2 weeks, and after 3 weeks the tips and bases tend to start loosing flesh, then around week 4 it’s a rapid decline. This has been happening with Motis, digis, acros, birds nest and pavona. I have an alveopora a chalice and a plate coral that have been in the system for about 6 months and have been doing well.
I run an oversized skimmer, and about two months ago started running a carbon reactor and a month ago started running gfo. Before that I used a few bags of chemipure. I regularly change 25% of the water every two weeks. I mix my own at 1.025 and use a 6 stage BRS 150gpd RODI system. Up until last month I was using black bucket Red Sea coral pro salt. I’m now trying to reduce alkalinity and transition to blue bucket.
I was almost always in the 9.5-10dkh range through this tanks history and am now down to 9.1 and slowing targeting blue bucket levels of 8dkh.
 
I was running the David saxby light program on the three hydra 26s that came with the delux. I’m starting to experiment with custom profile that is lower intensity.
 
I got icp water test results in today and they don’t really show much other than healthy water that aligns with my at home testing.
 
My home is well sealed and the CO2 levels in my house are 800-1300ppm. I installed a CO2 scrubber but I think the media expired but I can’t really tell. My pH ranges from 7.8 at night to 8.0. I’m considering this as a possible problem and considering running an airline to the outside of my house to the skimmer.
 
I try to keep NO3 at 5ppm. At one point I dosed spectracide to get up to 2.5ppm from undetectable, this was about 3 months ago. My PO4 is very low. Like 0.03- 0.05 range.
 
Here are my recent home tests and the icp data from the same sample.
 
Is high alk and low nutrient a bad combo? Is 1.8ppm dissolved CO2 (calculation) a problem? Is there another possible contamination in the water that icp test will not find?
 
Frustrated reefer.
 
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I would not keep alk that high with nitrate and phosphate in that range.  I like to keep alk closer to 8-8.5 range, 5 nitrate and .04 phosphate.  I also see a big phosphate spike in your chart.  Is that a bad reading?  If not, how did it go so high so fast and then come down so fast?  And, if the tank is only 8 months old and started with dry rock there is a good chance it's just not mature enough yet for more difficult corals.  I've never had luck with acros until I see lots of sponges and coralline algae growing in the tank.  Another thing to consider: from the picture it looks like your bioload (fish) is pretty light right now.  You might consider adding fish and using an amino acid supplement for the tank until the fish load is higher.  I use Pohl's xtra and KZ amino LPS on my 67 gallon frag tank because my fish load is on the small side.

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Hey there, my money's on coral starvation. High alkalinity and GFO without enough dissolved organics. The solution is a fun one, though. Get more fish. Feed them more often. Pull the GFO. All good things.

Maybe once you have 15 fish in there and they're all fat from all your feedings, you could consider re-adding the GFO. Until then, your water is too clean!

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Good comments thanks, that one spike in PO4 was after a two week work trip when my girlfriend was feeding the tank (I suspect she over fed) before I started gfo. There was a bit of bryopsis that popped up. I used gfo and a 30% water change reduce that.

My bioload: (which I didn’t think was small)
Mimic tang
Chevron tang
Two snowflake clowns
Three Lyretail Anthias
Three chromis
Fire fish
Saowisata Wrasse

Two skunk cleaners
Porcelain crab
Rock urchin
2 big turbos
3 nasarius
1 queen conch
1 strawberry conch
About 60 trochus snails (they bred, still thinning the herd)

I feed at noon and 4pm with an auto feeder (pellets and nori) and about 2 cubes worth of frozen at about 7pm every day. About 4 times a week I also mix in reef roids and or coral frenzy.

I was experimenting with adding trace elements as well, did a few bottles of Red Sea reef energy AB for a bit, and now using acropower. I didn’t see a change in coral health when adding either of these.

I have been getting coraline coverage over the last few months. As you suspected I did start with dry rock and seeded some sponges in the sump from my nano




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I use Pohl's xtra and KZ amino LPS on my 67 gallon frag tank because my fish load is on the small side.


Do you use this with a dosing pump? Does it need to be refrigerated? What is your dosing regiment?

There was only one high P04 reading with Hannah ULR, looking back it may be measurement error. I tested again after 24 hours with gfo and a 30% wc. And it was back down. If those two things couldn’t strip the phosphates that far it was likely a bad reading.


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Sponge looks happy.  I see a fair amount of coralline.  But, even though that sounds like a high fish load, when I look at the pictures of your tank things look pretty sparse, and on the coral I see thin flesh and holes in the flesh, so I still feel it may be a nutrient issue.  I do not use a doser for the supplements.  I dose 20 drops of Pohl's per day, and 4-6 drops of amino LPS every other day.    It does not require refrigeration.  There are many supplements you could go with, the KZ ones are definitely expensive.

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I don’t think anyone will balk at adding more fish. I’m going to postpone my water change this cycle and start up a qt when I get back from Holiday travel. I’ll pack my fish sitter food containers a little bit heavier.

I also think low nutrient and high alk may be a problem, I’ve read a lot about that from various forums and was starting to transition with the new salt. This theory wasn’t something that everyone universally agreed on, but there were multiple first hand experiences that aligned with that. Surely if I get frags from systems that keep alk in the 7-8 range it’s a shock just to get started in 9.5.

Thanks for the feedback! I’ll check out some of the different aminos. Will probably put one on my doser. I haven’t been needing kalkwasser as the small amount of corals don’t pull much out of the water. My plan is kalkwasser once demand starts to rise. And I’ll likely add in two part if I can’t keep up with kalk later. I know most of you guys run calcium reactors so I might go that route. My low ph issues made me a little weary of this approach.



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There's a lot going on in your system! Avelopora  and sea whips are much more sensitive than digitata. Generally the filter feeders would be the first to show signs of nutrient deficiency. The pavona and cyphestrea don't look healthy, but I would have expected them to fade or wash out. It could be that you have enough particles in the water column, but not enough DOC's. Have you tested PAR?  I would start with the  lights because it's the easiest to correct or rule out as a suspect. If PAR is okay, then pull the media and feed normally. I had a nutrient issue in my tank two years ago and it took about two weeks to show signs of improvement. 

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I do not have a par meter. I’m using light profiles that have multiple user success in the same tank size and mounting arm. That was one of the allures if a Red Sea tank. Recently I have dialed down the light to see if that helps.
I’ll be looking to rent a par meter to sanity check the intensity in the new year. (I think aquadome has one that they will rent?)

The alveopora has been in here for 7 months, and the Gorgonian was added about 2.5 months ago. It’s regularly has full polyp extension but not in these photos.
The big Cyphastrea and Pavona have been in about 6-8 weeks and just started to take a turn for the worse in the last week or two. I have another cyphastrea frag on the rack that is growing out over the plug.

I just did a 5 gallon water swap with my 2 year old nano that runs higher nutrient.

Will check in after the new year.


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Obviously the people commenting here know what they are talking about and you should follow the tactical advice given.

My advice is more strategic.  Like others have suggested, your tank is really young and it just takes time.  I would focus on getting montipora to grow first since they are one of the easiest and most forgiving.  You could also try pocillopora to start with.  It sounds like you're on top of your maintenance so you're probably better off not worrying about it too much and enjoying your tank.  It's a long process and you'll get there. 

I would also put the Acros on hold temporarily and save yourself the expense and frustration.  I have both Hydra 26s and Hydra 52s and, based on my experience and observation, I think it will be a challenge to get anything but the most robust Acros to grow under 26s.  To put it into perspective, my tank has similar height and length dimensions as yours and I have 3 Hydra 52s.  I still get shading and have not been able to keep the more challenging, light-hungry Acros.  That being said, you don't have to have a tank full of exotic Acros for it to be awesome.  I know that's not something you want to hear since you just bought those lights less than a year ago.  Probably isn't even true, just my personal (i.e. worthless) opinion having used AI lights over the last 5-6 years.

If you're interested, I'm happy to help out.  I know how frustrating it can be to watch frags you spent your hard-earned money on inexplicably die off.  I have several different montiporas that have been rock solid in my tank over the years.  I'll break you off a couple frags for free if you want to try them.  I also have a PAR meter you can use.  I think you'll find the 26s are not as powerful as you think they are.

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