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Acropora dying, out of nowhere, and quickly. What is going on?

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I've been keeping acropora for years. I've never seen anything like this. Check the pictures -- this level of decline is happening all over the tank. Thousands of dollars, lost. And I can't seem to reverse it.

I'm perplexed.

I check alkalinity daily. It's solidly 8.5 or a decimal point or 2 north/south of it. My salinity is good. Calcium and magnesium are good. I automatically dose hourly.

Can you guys double check my thought process here? About a month ago I added a Marinepure block. The result was AMAZING - the cyano problem I was having disappeared. My glass that I used to have to clean daily was pristine, needing only weekly cleaning. Awesome.

A few weeks later, I start seeing white tips. New growth on acros was pure bone, then algae on tips, then it started spreading down. 

Did I strip my water too clean? I cannot imagine that being the case even with the added MP blocks as I have 28 fish and I feed *heavy*. Still though, I have removed the MP block, I have removed my filter socks, I've pulled my algae scrubber, and I've increased feeding. I did all of this a week ago but the decline is still happening. Every morning I wake up to find a new coral being affected. At this point I'm forecasting a total loss, 100+ acros. They're all showing either bleached tips, base recession, or reduced coloration (which I've never in my life had a problem with before).

- If it IS a decline in nutrients (too clean), and I remove some of the export, how long will this degradation happen? Is this sort of thing reversible? I've taken a few frags out and clipped the dead tips but it does nothing, the decline still continues.

- If it ISN'T nutrient decline, WHAT ON EARTH IS IT? Metal contamination? I've checked pumps, they're all new equipment. I did have a few magnet Two Little Fishies seaweed clips but they're well sealed. Didn't see any rust or anything.

 

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What are your nitrate and phosphate reading right now and how have they been trending?   If they have dropped too low you could try adding some amino acids, and or dosing some nitrate sometimes this can reverse it but it sounds like its happening really fast.  If you don't have any I can help you

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1 minute ago, jolt said:

What are your nitrate and phosphate reading right now and how have they been trending?   If they have dropped too low you could try adding some amino acids, sometimes this can reverse it but it sounds like its happening really fast

Embarrassingly I haven't checked phosphate or nitrate in years, my kits are long expired. I've always run both in excess. 

Whatever absence there was is definitely not there anymore. Glass is requiring daily cleaning again and I'm starting to see traces of cyano. I just don't know if the damage is done already at this point. I also don't know of a surefire way to verify if it was a bottoming out of nitrates -- if it isn't, and my theory is wrong, I'm at square one with a problem I haven't addressed yet. Yikes

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I'm no expert on acropora, but in the event that something did get in the water, are you running carbon? Poly filter?

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I had something similar happen two years ago and it ended up being a water issue. The city flushed the municipal water with chloramine and it turned up my rodi. If water changes aren't helping then it's the source.

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1 hour ago, Sascha D. said:

I had something similar happen two years ago and it ended up being a water issue. The city flushed the municipal water with chloramine and it turned up my rodi. If water changes aren't helping then it's the source.

Sent from my Moto G (5) Plus using Tapatalk
 

That's a frightening thought. Although I wonder if thats the cause if jolt's tank would also show degradation as we live in such close proximity.

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I’ve heard of marine pure leaching aluminum. Could be something there


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That's a frightening thought. Although I wonder if thats the cause if jolt's tank would also show degradation as we live in such close proximity.
It's possible, but you'd have to be filtering water at the same time using media around the same age. If someone filtered a bunch of water before the incident then they might miss it altogether before they filter again.

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Can you isolate some frags in another tank possibly at the very least if it works to regrow things if its 100%? maybe get some saltwater from a different sorce IE the dome or from Jake and set up a system completely independent. I have the 20gal waterbox i just broke down if you need a temp system. has everything you would need. 

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Also, how does the rest of it look? the LPS and soft corals Zoas if you have anything like that? if it was metal id think they would be showing some signs of stress as well. how to the skeletons of the rtn acros feel, soft or brittle? Id prob check alk with another test kit right before the dose and go from there. If the others dont appear to be stressed id prob rule out metals. you can buy test kits for chloramine at petco i believe or even Leslies pool supply. 

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The LPS and softies are doing fantastic, no signs of decline. This is entirely SPS, and it's affecting almost all of them.

I double checked alkalinity with both Salifert and Hanna. They're both reading the same -- 8.4. 

 

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****, thats odd. this might sound stupid but have you checked for stray voltage? normally it effects everything, but the acros being more sensitive, its a possibility. 

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Doesn’t sound stupid at all, I checked as well. I even added a grounding probe in a last ditch effort to undo whatever is happening. 

I added a bag of Cuprasorb to the sump to see if anything improves. 

This blows! 

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Based on all the evidence you've shared I still feel the acros are starving

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My initial reaction as well. I wonder how long it’ll take before the STN and RTN stops from an event of bottomed out nitrate that probably lasted just a few days. 

I’ve reduced most of my nutrient export. I’m broadcast feeding the acros which I’ve never had to do before. 

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weeks - I would test the nitrate and phosphate and dose up as needed.   especially the nitrate

I can give you a nitrate test kit and also some nitrate dosing solution.  you should target 5ppm

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11 minutes ago, jolt said:

Based on all the evidence you've shared I still feel the acros are starving

Other than that im at a loss. Im really sorry. makes you kind of wonder if the wild acro was the start. 

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19 minutes ago, jolt said:

weeks - I would test the nitrate and phosphate and dose up as needed.   especially the nitrate

I can give you a nitrate test kit and also some nitrate dosing solution.  you should target 5ppm

Thanks so much, I appreciate it- no worries, I have more nitrate tests and some stump remover getting next day aired. 

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I dunno Jolt, if they were starving them I would expect faded colors and zero extension.

Did you replace any media recently? That student drop in PO4 can nuke some sticks. Bp will do it to but takes a few weeks to come online.

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You could be right Sascha.  I don't claim to be an expert, but I feel we can't be certain until we see some test results.  If I understand correctly, Eddie added Marine pure, saw a huge decrease in algae growth, and then acros started RTN.  

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That’s correct Sascha and jolt. MP blocks were added, with benefits noticed two or three weeks later, followed by acropora death shortly after. It’s the only thing new that I’ve added to a very simple methodology of reef keeping that I’ve been following for a long time. 

I just assumed sps starvation would be slower, similar to Sascha. Faded corals and no polyp extension. Whereas what’s happening in my tank is full polyp extension folllowed by immediate RTN/death. Maybe it’s shock from change?

There are a few acropora that are quickly fading away though, which is what I’d assume starvation looks like: quickly fading colors and algae slowly covering dying tissue.

And then I have other acropora that are STN’ing from the base. Which could be alk burn? I have no idea. Maybe 8.5-8.7 alk is too high once nitrate bottoms out. This is all frustrating speculation as I watch the decline. Just hoping whatever happens stops. 

 

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B6F05E45-825E-4506-A30C-71E655E7B87A.jpeg

Its hard to tell in the pic but this one has declined how I’d imagine starvation would do it. The colors are fading and some tissue is fading away getting covered by algae. 

5EABA3AA-C600-4AD2-AE76-11BF350F805A.jpeg

And here’s some brutal RTN. This coral is a  goner, this happened over a period of a day or two. 

0A7E2A2B-C5BB-470F-B50B-A45D36E00497.jpeg

Meanwhile, further adding to my absolute confusion, this wild acro is thriving. It’s growth has increased. 

A4806FC6-226E-45CD-9D7F-BA520E7A5312.jpeg

Red Dragon RTNing at base and tips getting covered in algae. 

D7D9A24D-DBAA-4D06-8354-9B695F349AF7.jpeg

White skeleton both at tips and base. 

So yea, this sort of decline is showing all over. I’ve thrown six or seven bone white frags into the garbage already with more to follow. Some are holding out, lots of the bigger colonies are holding strong, at least for now. 

28EF986A-C34C-4D84-ABA8-ECB725CBE8CC.jpeg

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Sorry to hear. Im no expert either but I'm going through a similar issue. Have lost quite a few sps but lps/softies show no signs of being affected. I stopped testing my parameters often a few months ago and my sps started dying. Either from the base or in the middle... but never from the tips.

I suspect an alk swing with 0 nitrates/ phosphates was the culprit. My digis, pocilloporas, and a few others were however were unaffected... but I lost about half of my sps. My tds meter crept up to 1ppm after the last stage recently... so maybe my ro water is an issue as well. 

Hopefully it was the lack of nutrients and alk swing... cuz I'm dosing nitrates/ phosphate now and seems like an easy fix. Setup auto dosing, awc and am testing everything daily again.

Hopefully u get it all worked out!

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At this point I'd say you likely have several issues going, unfortunately it looks to me like you've got bacterial infections along with compromised immune systems.   Like the above posts I'd definitely get the numbers for PO4 and nitrate.  If PO4 has dropped over time creating a phosphate deficiency your corals may look more colorful and as the brown zooxanthellae  growth is restricted but by doing so the coral photobiology is adversely affected and with continued growth if feeding isn't increased at some point some corals aren't going to be able to cope.   Restricting the zooxanthellae also compromises a coral's immune system potentially making it more susceptable to bacteral infections.    You also have an algae scrubber and while it's a very popular addition to reef filtration research done by scientists on reefs show DOC from many algae species promotes heterotrophic bacteria, many of which are pathogenic to corals. being done with algae shows You need to be careful increasing nitrogen (organic or inorganic) without raising phosphates as that can ascerbate a PO4 deficiency (I would suggest keeping PO4 around .1 mg/l).  The variable response in your coral colonies shouldn't come as a surprise.  Corals immune systems vary significantly at the genotype level and the degree a coral relies on autotrophic or heterotrophic feeding varies significantly between each species.  And don't assume corals that appear to be unaffected haven't been impacted.   It's impossible for us to measure their actual biomass and difficult to quantify their growth rate on a daily or weekly basis.  

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