View Full Version : What is going on with my corals?
01/27/2006, 08:44 PM
Hey guys, I have been haveing a little bad luck with some sps lately. The colors have been really dull lately for a while. For the last few months polyp extension has been going way down and in the last month or so I have lost a couple of colonies to STN I believe. Today I went down and checked on the tank and noticed a few other corals that were showing signs of recession. One was a small humilis colony and the other was a montipora digitata of all things. I have had the monti for many years and it has been through everything with no signs of any problems. I think I could pour bleach in the tank and it would live. I have checked everything and the only thing I can find out of wack is the phosphate is pretty high. I couldn't tell on my crappy test kit but it looks like it is between .5 and 1 somewhere. I got some phosphate remover (phoslock-iron based) and have made sure my skimmer is working properly. I have read about some having issues with phosphate removers but I was having problems before hand. I am not sure what the phosphate is right now since I ran out of one of the reagents in the test kit. I will see if I can get a new test kit tomorrow. Can anyone recommend a good phosphate kit that is available locally? The whole tank it looking very good besides the sps. Does anyone have any ideas what else to check for? The other things I checked were:
No nitrate, ammonia, nitrite
I am very confused. Sorry if my post looks jumbled. Today was a rough day and my brain hurts. :rolleye1:
01/27/2006, 09:46 PM
High P can definately do that. Unfortunately the P removers will also cause STN in some cases(especially in well established tanks). I would allmost be willing to bet you have a lot of detritus built up somewhere, maybe in the sand in your two side tanks? I don't know who has a good test it local:(
01/27/2006, 10:02 PM
I am thinking it is the phosphate also. I think my sand is part of the problem. Have you read anything on why it causes STN? Is it just the drastic reduction in phosphate? I have read that several times but no reason why. Some of them STNed before the phosphate remover so I am hoping it isn't causing more problems. I wish I hadn't ran out of phosphate reagent. I was hoping to test it pretty often to see how fast I was taking it out. I did notice my Ph has been running a tad lower since the phosphate remover has been added. It is running about 7.9-8.1 now. It was about 8.2-8.3
01/27/2006, 10:16 PM
Sorry to hear Mike...
I think thats one of the reasons I lost so much was Phosphates(besides the heater breaking). After the 29 leaked and I took out the DSB and put in that SSB my rocks (I believe) just started shedding too much for what the sandbed could handle. Its amazing the junk my rocks have shed in 5 months during the "cooking" process. I never could get a phosphate test kit to register anything but 0 though. Good luck getting it figured out.
01/27/2006, 10:22 PM
The funny thing is the corals did pretty good when I had some hair algae. I tested for phosphates when I had hair algae but it always tested 0. Now that the algae is gone the corals are doing badly and the phosphate is high. I think the algae was sucking up the phosphate as fast as it was produced. I have cheato in the fuge but it doesn't grow too fast. Anyone have some hair algae for my fuge? :)
01/27/2006, 10:24 PM
As far as just the high P as far as I understand it over 0.2 is bad. If I remember correctly calcification starts to be inhibited above that. I have heard three ideas about the P removers. One is that it reduces the P too fast. Another is that it causes a sudden alk drop(maybe a pH drop too). While it does these things the most plausable cause of coral stress IMO is that iron is just bad for the corals. When I used it I had a new colony STNing or RTNing just about every night for several days. Most of the people that still use it that I have seen use much less than the recommended amount and rinse it very well before using.
The other part to think about is there are two different forms of P in our tanks, organic P and inorganic P. The latter is the only one our test kits test for and the only one the P removers remove. In other words if your tank tests high for inorganic P you are bound to have quite a bit of organic P also and the P remover will do nothing about it.
I'm really sorry to hear about the problem Michael. I know how frustrating they can be.
01/28/2006, 12:51 AM
What does STN mean?? :confused:
01/28/2006, 06:35 AM
Yea, I don't have any hard corals. I have no idea what STN or RTN are. :P
If you measure anything on a hobbyist kit, it isn't good. As Chris points out, rapid PO4 changes should be avoided. In addition, the phosphaste is likely bound up in your liverock. Do you run a refugium? Can you vacuum your substrate? Those options, plus at least one other controversial one (the Z word), are safe ways to get the PO4 down. Hanna and Deltec/Merck make decent orthophosphate test kits, but big bucks and you have to mailorder.
Alkalinity swings can also cause what you describe, as could red bugs (but not the monti issue). Are these possible culprits? Good luck, and if you've got a way to get a sample to Knoxville, I'd gladly run a Deltec test on your water.
STN=slow tissue necrosis
RTN=rapid tissue necrosis
01/28/2006, 06:58 AM
From what i've read, it's not the sudden change of parems but the addition of nasties from the po4 removing media. The aluminum based supposedly being a bit safer. I had a horrible experience with the iron based stuff. Hope your situation turns out better. I agree with comiphora...the alk changes have always been horrible for me. Is your circulation done with powerheads in the display? Perhaps your flow is an issue. Clean the powerheads if you got 'em. The simplest answer being the most correct if you subscribe to that point of view.
01/28/2006, 07:14 AM
I have a 10 gal refugium with some cheato in it. Some more possibly important info I forgot to put in the post- I had about 3 in. of aragonite in my frag tank and I sucked it out approximately a month ago. I got a small bleaching event on a few corals afterwards. After the bleaching the colors of the corals came back better than ever. The 40 gal. tank was taken off line and cleaned out and all the water changed. The main tank is 110 gal., the frag tank is 40, and I also have a 50 gal. tank that has a butterflyfish and a small chainlink eel in it. The 50 gal. has just a sprinkling of sand in it, probably 1/2in. I have been vaccuming it regularly. The main tank has probably 2 in. of sand but most of it is only a couple of months old. I sucked out quite a bit of the old stuff. I am wondering if taking the old sand out would have done it. I would have thought that would have made the phosphate go down if anything though if it was bound up in the substrate. I changed the media in my CA reactor recently to Schuran media. I will test the phosphate coming out of the effluent when I get a test kit. To tell you the truth, I don't know how long the phosphate has been high. I really haven't checked for it since the algae issues.
01/28/2006, 09:28 AM
It could have been initiated by taking the sand out. Possibly by releasing some hydrogen sulfide. Another possible reason as seemed to be the case in Boofers tank exposing the bottom of the rocks will expose the area where a lot of P is absorbed by the rock from the sand releasing more until it finishes shedding. Since you took the sand out of the frag tank have you noticed the rock shedding a bunch all over(creating a lot of detritus)? That's usually the case. Mine has been shedding quite a bit for the last few months since I took my SSB out but is slowing down now. From other peoples experiences it takes several months for the rock to quit shedding once you remove the sand. Can you look up from the bottom and see under your rocks to see how much stuff is built up under them?
If it was my tank I would start a series of cleaning sessions. You can take a MJ 1200 or something similar and blow out every nook and cranny of the rocks and tank in a systematic order, including under the rocks. During this put filter socks on your overflow hoses(watch them because they will fill up fast) and run a good bit of carbon to help take out any real nasties that might be released(like hydrogen sulphide, which you shouldn't have a problem with since you don't have a DSB)just in case. Then do a large water change. If you do that every week or two for a couple of months I bet things will begin to get better. Taking the rocks out and cooking them like Boofer did would be the other option but with your sized system that would be a PITA. You could do that in sections though.
If you decide to run P remover in the meantime be very carefull. To be honest I have heard of people having problems with softies using the aluminum based ones but that is just heresay and Daniel may have actual experience otherwise. Like has been said the main danger with running iron based P removers is releasing a lot of iron in your system. You can reduce your P significantly with very little media.
good luck, Chris
01/28/2006, 09:31 AM
Here is a thread on how some guys are rinsing their media.
01/28/2006, 09:59 AM
I don't have any real rocks in the frag tank but it is catching a lot of detritus from the main tank where it overflows into it. I am thinking of getting some filter socks to catch some of the junk. I converted an old seaclone and made it a phosphate reactor. I hooked it up and let it run in a bucket for a while and changed the water until it ran clear. Really I think I have just done too much too fast. I probably stirred up a lot of junk and need to get it out. The funny thing is that some of the corals that were doing the worst before all this are actually looking a little better. I have a blue mille that browned out and had no polyp extension. It is starting to extend the polyps again and I noticed it is getting a little color back. I got an efflo at the first Cinncinatti frag swap and it never grew until about a month ago and now it is growing and is starting to get a purple fringe around it.
Oh, something else just hit me. I had some reeftec's (like DIY tunze streams) that died on me probably 6 months ago. After this time I didn't have nearly as much flow. In the middle of December I found some pond pumps real cheap so I decided to make a couple more. Since then the flow has been a lot better and I am probably flushing more stuff out of the rocks and such. I agree with you Chris, I think if I just stay on top of water changes and such things will get better. I wasn't as diligent for a while with maintenece and now it is catching up with me I think.
Oh, Chris, don't you have an EV-180? How much skimmate are you getting out of it? I remember you had a larger pump on it than recommended. I have a mag 7 and it isn't doing nearly what I think it should. It does okay for about a day but if I don't clean it it just quits almost.
01/28/2006, 10:29 AM
Sounds like you have a handle on things. I hope they continue to look up. I sold the EV 180 a while back when I got My MR2 and put my Lifereef on my frag tank. To be honest I never had a lot of luck with the larger pump either. I had to throttle it back quite a bit and my skimmer didn't seem to work well if the water line went much over the box. You might email Jason and see if he will send you a new injector. He sent me a new one that the clear part was about 1/4 " longer and that made a big difference. IMO you could probably use a bigger skimmer......but that's just me:)
01/28/2006, 10:38 AM
IMO you could probably use a bigger skimmer......but that's just me
Yep, I couldn't agree more. I have thought about a DIY one but I am afraid it wouldn't work right when I built it. I did make a new injector fior my Aqua C and it seems to be working a tad bit better. It is longer than the original. I pretty much just found a tube that fit into the hose fitting and heated it up and formed it with some pliars into the shape of the original.
01/30/2006, 12:57 AM
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=6607764#post6607764 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by commiphora
STN=slow tissue necrosis
RTN=rapid tissue necrosis
Thanks Dave!! Now I know what a DSB mean, but what is SSB? I need to get more flow under the rocks, I do see some detritus from my rocks underneath that my fish blows out while swimming underneath. There's soooo many nooks and crannys, I'm not sure how I'm gonna get water flow through all of them. I know I have some phosphate in my tank from feeding frozen food, but I do 10-15% water change every 2-3 weeks. I heard from some of you guys by having a sump/fuge system will help this issue. I'm gonna get it done by this spring, hopefully before I host the meeting in June.
01/30/2006, 06:46 AM
01/30/2006, 12:16 PM
FWIW, coral growth is actually retarded above .03 ppm phosphate. So as Dave mentioned, anything registered on one of our test kits would be bad. Also, Kent makes a phosphate absorber that is ceramic based (I believe). I used it a year ago on a fairly regular basis with no problems until I got my phosphate issues under control.
I have also noticed that having hair algae around helps keep phosphates down. I don't allow any in my display, but I let the stuff run wild in my fuge. I have plenty I could fix your fuge up with Mike, if you are serious about throwing some in your fuge.
01/30/2006, 04:40 PM
Yep, I know all about the problems of having high phosphate. I just didn't realize that was the problem until I thought to test it. I didn't have any algae issues so I never expected it. The funny thing was that when I had hair algae the phosphate was low and the corals looked great. Now that the hair algae is gone the phosphate is high and the corals are doing poorly. I tried an aluminum based remover several years ago and some of my softies didn't like it too much. The iron based remover seems to be reducing it and the corals have actually stopped receding. I did get a Salifert kit at Fishey Business this weekend and it shows between .25 and .5 now so it is coming down some. The water out of my reactor is testing 0 so it is doing something. I also tweaked the heck out of my skimmer this weekend. I hooked the Mag 24 up to it and have gotten it skimming pretty good. I got over a quart out since Saturday. It was pretty dark stuff also. I would adjust it and check it after an hour or two and adjust it again until I thought it was doing well. Now if it would stay the way I have it. :D I have a beckett nozzle that came with a pond kit and I am seriously considering making a good DIY beckett skimmer. I just need to find a simple, foolproof design. I would hate to build one and it not work any better than the skimmer I have.
01/30/2006, 04:55 PM
Commiphora has a design made out of PVC that seems pretty easy. Also here are some good threads about making one out of acrylic.
Not sure how easy they would be though.
01/30/2006, 06:57 PM
Thanks for the link. I remember seeing most of those on RC but had forgotten about them. I think they may be a little too involved for me though. I have been looking at the Barr Aquatic skimmers though. Maybe the SK1620? Anyone have any experience with them? I guess the thing I really want is consistancy. My EV180 does good for a little while and then does hardly anything. Sometimes I can adjust it and get it working and sometimes I can't.
01/30/2006, 08:29 PM
The Barr skimmers have a good rep. I was going to get one and I waited for a couple of months after being put on the list but eventually had to go another route. Not sure what the lag time is now, check Brents order page. I ended up going with an MRC MR2 and I'm very happy with it. http://www.myreefcreations.com Andy's turnaround is about two weeks or less on stock items.
Precision Marine also makes a good becket. You might be able to find an MRC or PM used if you look around.
01/30/2006, 08:40 PM
Ah, there is the catch. The waiting list. I have been seriously looking at the MRC skimmers as well. I am not set on a beckett, just something that works. :P
01/30/2006, 09:10 PM
If you are looking at needlewheels you might look at
Euroreef and ASM also seem to get good and bad reviews but mostly good. Then there are H and S and Deltec which are both $$$$ with both having great reps and H and S being a little cheaper. Picture the reef sells H and S so if you are interested in those you might want to pm him.
If your looking for a recirc needlewheel you might look at Geos new site
If you are looking for a big skimmer for your series of tanks the becket is going to be the most reasonably priced for the "skimming power" you get IMO. I would think an MR3 with a good pressure rated pump would work nice:)
01/31/2006, 02:59 AM
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=6621737#post6621737 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by fishdoc11
DUH!! I knew that, can't believe I even asked.....Thanks though....
02/13/2006, 04:41 PM
Okay, a little update. I used the phosphate remover but I think I had too much water flow through it and it was grinding it up and getting swept away. I had a few sps to rtn so I stopped using it. After I figured it out I started it back a few days later with a very slow flow, barely a trickle. The phosphate coming out of the reactor is now 0. My levels are slowly going down in the tank and the rtn/stning has stopped. It seems like the newer frags I have (probably less than 6 months) are showing pretty good polyp extension now. The colors are starting to come back to normal. I think the key to the GFO phosphate removers is VERY slow flow. I did notice an alk drop overnight when I was using higher flow and that could have done it. I have the phosphate down to about .25 now and it is dropping slowly but steadily. I think I panicked a little and tried to drop it too fast. It took a while for it to get there so I guess it will take a while to drop it also.
06/11/2006, 11:48 AM
Hey guys, a little update. I finally got smart and did about a 90% water change a few months ago. After that everything stopped receding and started to look better again. Must have been something built up I didn't/couldn't test for. I got some frags from fishdoc11 a few weeks ago and I have noticed some are actually growing! Hopefully my problems are over for now and I can start rebuilding. It will take a long time for it to get back how I want it but I have patience.....well, as long as things aren't dying anyway.
06/12/2006, 12:48 PM
Glad to hrear things seem to be looking up...knock on wood:lol:
06/12/2006, 05:47 PM
Tell me about it! I thought it was over several times but problems just kept coming back. I am growing some algae now and I am actually glad about that. Before I coudn't even get algae to live. :lol:
06/12/2006, 05:51 PM
I know the feeling... When I had the big crash last year, nothing would grow. When algae came back, I knew it was a good sign. Funny how it takes the worst to appreciate when you've got it just bad;).
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