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Hey everyone, I can not for the life of me figure out why I'm losing coral. I have a 29BC with a softies, acans, blasto, plates, frogspawns, Duncan's, candy canes. I've done water changes, have had RCA test for everything in my water... And yet I'm still losing things. This tank has been up and running since 2008... I am pulling my hair out!!! 

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what are your water params?  good starting point.

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I don't remember what the exact params were, but Francis said that they were good. The second time I had river city test my water they said it was good as well but my salt was down. Usually it's at at 1.026 and the said it was at 1.022 but I don't think that's it... I am going to do a 10 gallon water change today, I usually do a 5 gallon change every Sunday (I didn't do one this past Sunday) but this has been an ongoing problem even with water changes... 

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I don't dose my tank with anything,  that's why I do my water changes on sundays. 

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i'd suggest more frequent testing, check for variations/swings, specifically alk initially.  always check at the same time every day.  while this brand test kit isnt the best, its good enough to see swings that might be affecting you:  https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B001D6Z7QW

"they were good" is relative.  while each param has an acceptable range, swinging from one end to the other in a short time will cause issues.  For example, your alk dropping from 11 to 8 overnight, while its "in range and good" on paper, its bad to have drastic swings.  same applies to salinity.

also keep in mind the reefing "holy trinity" alk+ca+mg.  they all work together, if one is out of balance, you will be chasing the others.  get things stable. $25 test kit is worth protecting your investment.

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testing brands are like religion... you use what you like.  I use api for nitrates, alk, ca.  simply because lower price point means more testing, and they are accurate enough if you have a good eye.  i use redsea for mg, hana for phosphates.  when things get squirly, i pull out the redsea alk or ca. for salinity, the hanna ones are best.. i tossed the refractometers looong ago.

search a bit on here and you will find full threads on comparisons, and even some arguments.  but at the end of the day... you use what you like. :) 

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Sounds to me like old tank syndrome.  It's a problem I run into periodicly with my systems where water parameters are "good" but there is something clearly wrong.  As corals and systems age the microbal populations in the system and in the coral holobionts changes and can shift to types potentially pathogenic to corals.  You're already doing water changes that are critical to help shift micrbial types back to favorable species.  Since this si a small system hat I would also do is a major overhaul.   First thing would be to siphon off at least 2/3rds of the aquarium water into buckets.  It's important to do this first so the water you're saving won't have any of the crud that's going to get stirred up with the next steps.  If you are seeing nuisance algae issues ont hte rock and corals as you remove them scrub them off with a toohbrush (or similar brush) in a bucket with some of the remaining 1/3 tank water, rinse in new saltwater that's at least a few hours old then place in the save tank water that's going back in the tank.  Don't scrub off cryptic sponges you'll find on the back sides of the rock and corals, they are essential for recycling the labile DOC in the system.   Remove as much of the old sand as possible and replace with live sand (you can use new dry sand but rinse it well and get a couple cups of sand from different system that doesn't have any apparent problems).  As sand ages it looses it's buffering capacity (just like calcium reactor media) and the bacteria types shift to those less conducive for keeping corals.  Carefully add back corals, rock and original aquarium water then top off with new water.

 

For an introduction to the roles of corals, algae, DOC and how they influence microbial types and populations see Forest ROhwer's Coral Reefs in the Microbial Seas.

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