View Full Version : I can't figure it out

01/04/2008, 10:47 AM
I can't for the life of me figure out why my tank keeps killing inverts and corals:mad2: . Even this one little aptasia we found on the rock we just bought looks like its struggling to survive:lol: which is a good thing. Its so small that its difficult for us to joes juice it. Anyways.. my question is..Is there anyone I can send a sample of my tanks water to ? I need an expert to tell me what is wrong with my water. Its driving me up the wall and is making me want to completely give up on that tank and start all over. I've done a salifert copper test on it..shows zero signs of copper. SG is 1.025.( well thats what my 2 month old hydrometer tells me) test read 0 on ammonia, nitrates, nitrites, and phosphates. calcium is 400. We do water changes weekly with RO water. My new refractometer that I ordered from LA is going to be here today. This tank has now been running for a year.

01/04/2008, 11:15 AM
What is your Ph and temp? Also, how are you acclimating them?

BTW, not an expert just trying to help!


01/04/2008, 11:15 AM
Have you check Magnesium.? Thats a sneaky puppy. I seems stable for a while till you forget about it. Then when you check it a month later it is really low. Once it is really low it takes a lot of work to bring it back up.

01/04/2008, 11:49 AM
PH 8.2 Temp 78-80 right now its 78. MH lights are off I have them set to turn on at 12pm and turn off at 5pm.I don't have a magnesium test kit. No stores in my area sell that test kit. I just noticed a few seconds ago that marine depot has them. Usually every place online has them on backorder. We have been dosing with seachem magnesium every once in while. I hate dosing when I can't test for it though. I'm ordering the test kit right now. For five months I have been struggling with this tank. This is making me want to pull all my hair out. So I guess there is no one I can send a sample of my water to huh?

01/04/2008, 12:04 PM
Look in the local phone book under water analysis. It cost me $60 to test for Ca, Mg, Sr, and Total Phosphorus. It let me know were my test kits stood. Best money I every spent, but I've only done it once. Don't be in a rush, most labs have a 1 week plus turn around.

You might want to also get some pH buffer 7.0 (Yellow) and 10.0 (blue) to calibrate your pH probe. Also check the calibration of you temp probe. I was experiencing poor coral coloration, and as it turns out the digital temp probe I had was 2 F off and I was as high as 83F during peak lighting.

01/04/2008, 12:34 PM
If your doing water changes once a week then I don't think mag supplementation is necessary. What brand of salt are you using? Try Red Sea Coral Pro. How much wattage are you running on the lights. Too much light can light shock corals and kill them. How big is the tank? Once you have the refractometer then you will know what the true salinity is. If your hydrometer is way off and your actual salinity is really lower then it says then that can hurt corals if the salinity is to low. Do you have a protein skimmer?

01/04/2008, 12:34 PM
Thanks mcneilwh, I hope I can find a water analysis in my area. I am so willing to pay some one to test my water. It would be good to see if my test kits are junk or not.

01/04/2008, 12:54 PM
We use to use instant ocean, and then switched to oceanic and now using Coralife. No stores in my area sells red sea coral pro. The light fixture is an outer orbit 48" 2 MH 4 blue atinics and 6 LEDs. for a 130 gallon tank. We do have a coralife protein skimmer connected to the sump that we turned into a refugium a little over a month ago.

01/04/2008, 02:21 PM
Percula9 brings up a good point on the lights. I had a MH light that came with the fixture one time that was defective. One of the bulbs got a discoloration in the glass, after about 15 days, and the color output was visible different from the other. Some of the corals on the side with the discolored bulb began to bleach out. I change both bulbs out when a found a screaming deal on two 20K bulbs at the LFS, and that fixed the problem. I have since changed to 12K's.

01/04/2008, 05:13 PM
The only reason I stopped using coralife salt is that it's high in boron. This might be the problem. I use Oceanic at the moment for both my Fowler and reef with no problems. If you want to use the Red Sea salt, you can order it on line at www.liveaquaria.com.

01/04/2008, 08:00 PM
You might want to try running a Poly Filter, to see whether it turns blue, which would indicate copper. Carbon can help with some problems, too.

You could have a very expensive battery of tests run by a professional, but I don't think it's worth the cost.

Has the hydrometer been calibrated? This article might be useful, even for the refractometer:


The PinPoint 53 mS solution is also fine for calibrating refractometers. RO/DI or distilled water isnt:


I agree that CoraLife salt seems to be high in boron. If it's being used with a high-borate alkalinity supplement, that could make the problem worse.

01/04/2008, 11:28 PM
I am now convinced a swing arm hydrometer is something you should give to your kid to play with. I just threw mine away after testing my water with a refractometer. The refractometer says my SG is 1.028:eek2: The hydrometer was saying my SG was 1.026. I always couldn't figure out why I had to add more salt after I went by the coralife instructions and measured it by ounce and still ended up with 1.020 SG with the hydrometer. darn hydrometer:mad2: its junk.

I've already said..up there^^^ that I did a copper test and the salifert copper tester read 0..no sign or trace of copper.

01/04/2008, 11:44 PM
1.028 isn't that bad, and isn't likely to cause any problems. I would lower it slowly to 1.026-1.027, over the course of a 4-5 days.

01/04/2008, 11:51 PM
Until you calibrate your refractometer correctly with a 35ppt fluid, as mentioned already in the post, don't be surprised if the swing arm hydrometer is closer to accurate than the refractometer.

01/04/2008, 11:52 PM
I'm planning on lowering it slower than that..as in 1 point per week.

01/05/2008, 12:02 AM
What?..the refractometer comes calibrated, it says on the instruction book that its already calibrated. It read zero for the RO water.

01/05/2008, 12:13 PM
The salinity might be to high for some of your corals. Lower it slowly to 1.025-26 and see if that helps. Your water quality sounds ok. Like I said previously lighting may be the issue.

01/05/2008, 12:25 PM

Randy Holmes-Farley
01/05/2008, 12:56 PM
What?..the refractometer comes calibrated, it says on the instruction book that its already calibrated. It read zero for the RO water.

They claim that, but calibration in RO water does not, unfortunately, guarantee accuracy at any other salinity. That's why folks often check at least once in a seawater solution.

01/05/2008, 10:37 PM
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=11524945#post11524945 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by bertoni
1.028 isn't that bad, and isn't likely to cause any problems. I would lower it slowly to 1.026-1.027, over the course of a 4-5 days.

My salinity swings from as much as 1.025-1.028 in a matter of minutes when I topoff. Usually the swing is smaller than that, but even with a swing that size, none of the corals or fish care. In fact, my Percula loves to swim in the freshwater stream.

bellusangel3: Could you post some photos of your tank? We may be able to spot a sign of something wrong.

01/06/2008, 08:07 PM
The first three months all we did ..was up our water changes from once a month to 1 a week. We also tried to raise the salinity because our stupid hydrometer was telling us the SG was 1.020.

This is what we have been doing for the past 2 months on this tank.

First we turned the sump into a refugium to have pods growing in our tank again and to get rid of the algae bloom we had.

We thought that it might be a good idea to try hermit crabs again one died the next day,and then the other died three weeks later.

Then we added two zebra snails to help get rid of the algae they seemed to be doing a good job. so we decided to add 5 more snails. They were trochus and nerites..

First the trochus went and then the zebras and then the nerites.

Once all our snails died again..I didn't want to put any more snails and hermits in there again. I am too afraid to.
I still had this huge algae problem but no inverts to get rid of it.
Finally we couldn't take the algae problem anymore ..we took all the rocks out, one by one and scrubbed them down with the water we took out of the tank.
After putting all the rocks back into the tank and doing a new aquascaping. I did a red slime treatment and then a couple days after that we did a 25% water change. We also did a phosphate remover. Its now two weeks later and I don't see any red slime anymore.
Our rocks look like new live rock now, no coraline at all because it was being smothered by a carpet of gross algae.
Last weekend we bought two rocks that were covered in coraline algae, red, green,purple and pink. I am hoping maybe these will seed the old live rock.
Yesterday we bought a frag of xenias for $5 ..if these guys survive I hope that it will be the end to our five month tank nightmare. The xenias look ok today they were opened and some were pulsing, (keeping fingers crossed)
Durring this whole thing our fish are doing very well, bright colored and eating well. Haven't lost one fish. We only have 11 fish in this tank. 8 chromis, 2 ocellaris and 1 coral beauty angel. we bought these fish feb 07.

01/06/2008, 08:35 PM
Pretty typical. New tank syndrome. Your tank is by no means ready for a heavy load. Now, its getting over the first few weeks of pushing it. Now its beginning to settle in. This whole scenario is pretty much the norm. No sweat. All should be well from now on.

01/06/2008, 08:37 PM
For future reference, you do add things to your tank at a pretty rapid rate. You need to have a bit more patience. You'll have a lot more success. Sorry to sound condescending, but its true.

01/07/2008, 08:33 AM
I don't see how thats a rapid pace:confused:
This isn't a new tank.
Its been up for a year and I didn't get all 11 fish at once. I just don't remember exactly when. Just a month after we started the tank in december of 06.

Heavy load of what? inverts?...The only snails I have left in my tank are super tongas and there is only five of them.

For the first seven months of this tank it was running smoothly and the tank was doing well. Then after July things starting going south. First lost all my herbivore snails. We thought it was the scarlet hermits picking them off one by one but then we noticed the hermit crabs weren't coming out durring the day. Then we assumed they were just coming out at night. No.. they were dying. Then my bubble tip anemone died and then a month after the bta died my skunk cleaner shrimp died. We had that skunk cleaner shrimp for five months I was upset to see it die. We did big water changes after the skunk cleaner shrimp died. Two months after the cleaner shrimp died. Our angel started to get dead scales on her. So we thought oh two months after the first shrimp died our tank should be safe by then. So we bought 2 baby cleaner shrimp drip acclimated them for over two hours. My angel was so happy to see them it looked like she was dancing after we added the shrimp to the tank. While the shrimp were trying to get use to the tank the angel was already going up to them and opening up her gills like she was saying CLEAN ME! :( 1 shrimp died in one week of being in my tank then the other went almost month later.

I hope this $5 frag of xenias will be ok I don't know if I can take anymore inverts dying on me.

01/07/2008, 10:03 AM
Here is some pictures of my tank that myka asked for.

I know..sand looks new :) thats because it is . we just added it yesterday.. before the sand was added there was no sand in that area. To get all the thick algae off our sand and rocks. We ended up syphoning up a lot of sand too.
(right side of tank)
http://img181.imageshack.us/img181/7723/picture202802wj7.jpg (http://imageshack.us)
MH are still off..I'll take more pictures when they are on.
The frag of xenias are in this picture.(left side of tank)
http://img181.imageshack.us/img181/7269/picture202804ge3.jpg (http://imageshack.us)
whole view of the tank
http://img513.imageshack.us/img513/615/picture202806ys2.jpg (http://imageshack.us)
After looking a little closer ..I guess I didn't lose all of my coralline algae from the big crash. That or the seeded rock is working already. yeah right:p

01/07/2008, 10:41 AM
You never mentioned in your original thread that you had an algae problem. Red algae can kill corals by smothering them. Even though you may not show phosphates, the algae absorb it so fast you can't measure them. High phosphates also may have killed some of your corals. Hopefully with the things you have done, things will be good now. Good luck.

01/07/2008, 11:51 AM
Can that red slime kill scarlet hermit crabs and snails too?

Yeah I hope the changes we have made will improve the tank and this nightmare is over. Does the tank look good now? So much of the coralline is gone now.. that it looks like a new tank. I had pictures of what it looked like a month ago. The algae was so thick that we could peel it off the rocks like we were removing carpet. I use to have pictures of it but I couldn't stand seeing them anymore, so I deleted them off the computer.