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My SPS Dying


George Monnat Jr

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Last May on the 19th before the ARC meet, I stopped by Hydro's All WYSIWYG Grand Opening and got some great frags from his green birdsnest (I think). He generously gave me 5 frags. Here they are before gluing them to LR pieces and distributing them throughout the tank.

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That's not the best picture, but you can see how bushy and green they were. For weeks they were all great looking, then a couple of weeks ago one of them had the polyps die off. Then the next nearest one did the same. I thought maybe the water parameters were bad or they were in too bright light and were bleaching. Then my final three started doing the same.

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Sorry about the blurry pictures. In the two above they don't look that bad, so I'll have to try and describe it. Three are completely stripped, which took days to weeks. The two remaining ones both have spots that have been stripped of polyps. It doesn't look like the polyps died as much as it looks like something cleaned them off, almost like a wire-bristle brush was used. The progression is gradual, so not any kind of RTN. The progression was from one frag to the next but somewhat random on each frag. It looks to me like something is going from frag to frag and eating the polyps off. Could that be it, or do the polyps just disappear in patches leaving clean, shiney white patches behind?

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STN could be caused by some bug, flatworm, or Nudi's.

Also, seriatopora are pretty notorious for not liking changing conditions and they STN or RTN out of nowhere. There was an study in advanced aquarist or another one that stated they are pretty much the worst coral at adapting to changing conditions. Your's may just not have liked the tank move for whatever reason.

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Are you currently having a phosphate problem? My SPS started dying left and right due to my increased phosphate levels. Once I got them under control their slowly coming back so I wouldn't chuck the frags unless they are completely white as they could come back.

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I only have a few frags from wizardx322 and Hydro, so I don't think it's a bug issue (I hope). The acro and digi frags from wizardx322 are still ok.

I started running GFO a few weeks ago, and I've fed less in the last two weeks. Plus my carbon dosing and skimming has been heavier. My HI 713 and RCA still can't get a good read on my phosphates, but it should be lower not higher. The increased carbon dosing is a change, and I stopped it this morning (last batch of kalkwasser with vinegar in it used last night).

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SPS are way more demanding than lps, in terms of water quality, light, and parameters, such as, Ca, Mg, Alk, Ph, and all the usual, Nitrate, Nitrite, Phosphate and Amonia.

Even though you are now using GFO it may still be high. Not scientific but my way of checking is how fast do I get a film on my glass and do I see algae. I started dosing vodka 100 proof Karkov ($15 @ specs) and I'm surprised by how much my skimmer is now pulling out. It went from a light green tea skimmate to a very dark green. I now clean the skimmer collection cup, return pump sponge, and sump intake pipe filter sock bi-weekly. I need to do a bigger water change this weekend and keep up with a weekly 10% water change.

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George,

I'm just thinking the timing on everything is what is causing the SPS to die right now. I agree with your additions (GFO, carbon dosing), personally, I would just do it on a longer time table.

You were running a non-coral tank for the initial setup of your system, then you added anemones and ornamental shrimps/crabs. You slowly introduced coral into your system (much kudos on the patience of your introduction schedule) and now you are looking to change your filtering/additive regiment to have nice clean, pure water that we all try to attain.

I say take the same patience you had with adding corals slowly and do the same with the additions of the GFO/carbon and carbon dosing. You'll be surprised how tough most corals are and even more surprised when they show such sensitivity to the most subtle shifts.

My guess is the quick depletion PO4/NO3 in your system and the quick removal of organics in your system is what is causing your STN right now. Also, the potential increase in bacterial populations in your tank may have an effect as well.

Again, just my opinion, you're doing all the things I would do to my own tank, I would just say do one thing at a time, let it adjust over a period of time, then introduce something else, typically at a rate slower then recommended by the manufacturer. Lots of changes in a tank = lots of problems is usually what I run into.

Man... sorry for being overly preachy... I just reread what I wrote. poke.gif

-Ty

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I agree with Ty. You can strip your water of nutrients too quickly and IMHO birdsnest prefer slightly dirtier water than digis and acros. I'm definitely no expert but I have a mixed reef with very happy LPS and a few sps frags, and my birdsnests are super bushy even though my water is not pristine like most sps dominated tanks.

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STN and RTN more or less look the same, just a matter of the speed with which it happens. RTN (R = rapid) takes a matter of hours while STN (S = slow) can take days or weeks.

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  • 2 weeks later...

This is really interesting to me, because I just added a GFO reactor to my tank a few weeks ago and have noticed that my birdnests (a green and a pink) have both become extremely pale. I didn't realize that a sudden depletion of PO4 could stress a coral.

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I to am defntly not an expert but i can tell you when i did my tank switch last July i lost 80 percent of my SPS that i had had for over 3 years (HUGE colonies). I did test after test and the one thing that i came up with is that my salinity was a little low,MG was realy low, and my PO4 was to high compared to the original tank i took them out of. It made me sick to watch colonies the size of volleyballs die off with no end in sight. And i have ben keeping SPS for over 5yrs and it has taken me almost a year to get a true grip on the parameters to where everything looks good again. They call it the "MAGIC", and there in lies the truth of SPS. Thats why they are difficult, but once you have the magic its on, you will grow SPS like crazy. Birdsnest is one of the harder ones to keep alive, even in an awesome SPS tank they can RTN/STN overnight for no reason. Practice makes perfect, just dont give up.

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Seems to me that its one or the other. Softies are always easier as they like dirty water compared to SPS. Im attempting to do both. I think the growth of one will be limited by the water quality. If super clean SPS should flourish but softies like hammer and frog S will not grow as fast. My welso likes dirty water, he puffs up mad when the water has some stuff in it but then my sps barely shows polyps. After my rebuild, my water is super clean. SPS seems to be very happy but has taken days for my hammer to inflate back up. My welso was huge till last night but looks like hes puffing back up this morning.

I want to have about 60-70% SPS in my tank. Dont know what it is about the pokey little things but I just digg em!

George, didnt you stop dosing kalk and vinegar? Also, I see your frags are on the sand bed and the polyps are sticking out big time. I had a screamin green birdsnest frag, about the size of an orange and I moved it from the sand bed to the middle of my tank and then eventually up to the top. It did much better at the top and the polyps did not stick out as far.

"Lots of changes in a tank = lots of problems"-JeeperTy << think that hit the nail on the head.

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I'm still dosing kalkwasser (2 tsp pickling lime in 1 gallon water) but not vinegar. That means I get less lime in the water (vinegar let me add 3 tsp to the gallon). I'm making it up with 2-part, baked baking soda and calcium chloride. Stopping the vinegar has the cyano dying back off. It was on the verge of getting out of hand.

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What is your lighting again? The Green Birdsnest I have is less tollerant of lighting changes than other corals in my experience. To give you an idea how unpredictable this obsession can be - I took some green birdsnest from one tank and added it to another with exact same lighting and approxamitely same depth and it did the same thing that happened to yours. About two months later I tried it again and it acclimated and took off. To the best of my recollection I used the same admonishments each time. Go figure!

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