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Old 03/13/2018, 06:06 PM   #1
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Location: Columbus, Ohio
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Need Advice, Thinking of Shutting it Down

so I had wanted to keep saltwater for sometime. When i finished my basement, I built a 90 gallon "in the wall" and had a fish room on the other side. Everything was set up for success. The first 5 years or so, everything went great. Bought my first 8-10 fish and didn't lose any for 3+ years. Then, one by one they started to die off over the next 2 years or so. I bought almost all these fish online, most at the same time. My original plan was FOWLR, but like many I fell in love with corals, mostly soft but some LPS as well. As I started into those, they flourished. At some point at the peak of my tank, soft corals started to die (I think flame angel may have been responsible). Then came the algae issues...then the aptaisia and other pests like that. I let things go for a while then was reinvigorated, bought some more fish. Half the fish died in quarentine. Then, not too long after I put the new fish into the DT, I had a heater go rogue and my temp topped out near 100. I had several fish survive and some coral, but the algae and pests went nuts. The pic shows what my tank looks like now. My fish are fine, but just looking at this mess makes me want to sell off the fish and shut it down.

If I can muster the energy, I am looking for advice on how to clean up this mess. The tank is probably 10 years old now, should I buy a new tank instead of cleaning up this one? Should I bleach/acidize the rock? Pitch rock and buy some dry rock and seed it with a little live?

I should also mention when my tank was doing really well, I had T5 lighting...just some Chinese crap I found on Ebay but the light seemed to do great. I invested in a Reef Breeders LED and while I don't think it was the cause of the algae and pests, corals just didn't seem to do as well with it, especially zoas and palys.

Any pep talk would be appreciated.

 photo 20180313_184950_zpsbwnjf4ix.jpg

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Old 03/13/2018, 06:11 PM   #2
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this is what the tank looked like once upon a time:

 photo DSC08734.jpg

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Old 03/13/2018, 07:15 PM   #3
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We put so much time, effort, and resources into this hobby it can be really deflating when our tanks don't prosper like we think they should.

I battled aiptasia for years in my 46g. I really think once you have aiptasia it's more about controlling the numbers continually because it will never go away. Just my personal experience with kalk, aiptaisia x, berghia, etc...What finally worked for me when I got tired of maintaining was pulling out all the rock and bleaching it. Everyone writes you can dry out the rock for a few days and that will work, but I just bleached mine and started over. If you can separate your corals from the rock, I would QT them. I just got rid of mine. Leave your tank free of rock for 30 days and kill any aiptasia trying to survive on the glass or sand bed. QT everything going forward and follow the recommended procedures for coral and fish. I follow Michael Paletta's guidelines for corals. If a vendor has aiptasia in any of their tanks, I won't even consider purchasing anything from them.

As far as algae goes, I have non-reef safe wrasses; so, no cuc. I just switched from a 12 hour lighting schedule to an 8 hour lighting schedule last year and the difference in algae is nothing short of tremendous. I run chaeto in the refugium and some bio media in the sump. My DT has rock and a DSB for my non-reef safe wrasses. That pretty much takes care of N. For P, I dose lanthanum chloride for pools (SeaKlear) mixed with RO water through a 10 micron filter sock. I set up QT tanks last year and am just starting to do corals again.

FWIW, vacuuming/stirring sand beds is good. It also looks like the GSP has taken over a lot of the tank. It's pretty impossible to remove that stuff from rock.

You can get back to a good place again rather than give up. Just think about what the solutions are and how much effort you want to put in. You may want to do a total or partial reboot. I can't explain or address losing fish after fish in SW, but my son's fresh water molly tank reminds me of that!

Don't give up! Good luck!

No man is an island entire of itself; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
John Donne

Current Tank Info: 120g Reef 100g Rubbermaid Sump, 20g Refugium; previous tank: 46g Drilled; Self Plumbed, Birds Nest, Anchor, Xenia, Zoas, Yuma Yuma Ricordea, Chalice, Mushrooms, Brain, Acan, Anenome Plate; Clams, Other Inverts, Fish, Live Rock

Last edited by FirstContact; 03/13/2018 at 07:44 PM.
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Old 03/13/2018, 09:52 PM   #4
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IMO, your way too hard on yourself. I seen 100's of tanks that are either never set up, never finished, or look way worse than what you show. I must not see correctly as those pics look not bad, looks very nature.....
I solved my dying problem as follows
-perfect on point NSW water, tested weekly.
-LED lighting in the correct spectrum
-addition of only peaceful, colourful community fish, and only 1 per ten gallons
-no limit on number of corals, but a limit for those with known aggressive tendencies to zero
-addition of only dead dry rock to eliminate hitchhikers
-use of only snails, no CUC,s especially crabs, even red legs, none, proven killers
-a strong review and QT, of everything Added to ensure the "neighborhood" stays safe.
It been years and I have not lost even 1 snail.

Never give up, be proud of what you gave learned, your certainly way, way ahead of many.

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Old 03/13/2018, 11:00 PM   #5
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As someone else already said, I have seen tanks looking much worse. Your does not look bad to me. Take it slow, set up everything you need for QT and the best husbandry equipment you can afford. Maybe find a species specific interest and focus on that? Your rock seems good but as you suggested, maybe acid and start over completely ensuring that you use all best practices to control your tank. Take it slow and enjoy the new and wonderful growth that will occur inevitably with what you add.

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Old 03/14/2018, 12:38 AM   #6
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If the first pic is what it looks like, then I like it better now than the second picture. You may have some issues you don't like but the tank looks very natural.

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Old 03/14/2018, 01:20 AM   #7
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I would love my tank to look that 'bad'...just saying!

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Old 03/14/2018, 03:06 AM   #8
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To start off.. how was ur tank husbandry? did you keep up with water changes, maintenance, testing parameters and etc...Setting up the tank is always the easy part but as you add things to your tank.. you need to keep up with the addtions.. more fish, more feeding, more poop... more bioload. We all make mistakes and is ok as long as we learn something from that experience.

If you enjoy the challenge and the hobby I wouldn't give up.. start all over just learn from your experiences.. As far as your tank go.. If the tank is 10 years old... If it's glass.. I would just get a new tank, eventually the silicone will start to go out.. As far as the rock goes.. it's up to you.. algae is can be taken care of, it'll just take time... this way at least you can keep whatever corals you have. If you dont care and want to just start again... give the rocks and acid bath.. new sand and start all over.

I took a 6 year break.. and the addiction only came back stronger =( but it's the challenge that makes this hobby fun.. or else just go with a fresh water setup... weekly water changes and ur set... now how is that fun?

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Old 03/14/2018, 05:42 AM   #9
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Top pic looks way better then the bottom pic to me. Not sure what the issue is, but tank looks very natural.

Noe the massive amount of GHA and xenia(looks like xenia on the lower left side) might be an issue, but I think it looks pretty good.

I'm not sure where this idea of a sterile looking tank comes from? The ocean isn't nice clean and sterile looking. It's a very dirty, detritus filled place. Of course in the ocean there is planty of animals in the food chain to keep things cleaned up, but you get my idea.

80G SCA Build:

Originally posted by der_wille_zur_macht:

"He's just taking his lunch to work"
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Old 03/19/2018, 03:25 PM   #10
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All of the "brown" you see is a combination of manjo anemones, those ugly brown palys that grow like weeds and aiptasia. I had a little of each before the heater meltup, but all of that just took off after. There is pretty much no way I can grow anything new without it being taken over by that stuff, not to mention the gsp. So maybe it looks "natural", but compared to where the tank was in its heyday, it looks terrible.

I have not kept up on water changes since the heater issue...I had just bought some new fish when that happened, had everything about where I wanted it, and then bam.

I might be getting a bonus from work soon, so I am trying to decide if I am going to do a reboot or just shut it down.

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Old 03/19/2018, 05:42 PM   #11
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IF you continue a controller for the heater is a Must.
Either Ranco or Inkbird are recommended.

250 gallon mixed reef, 2 Reefbreeder's Photon V 2, RD 3 Speedy 80 Watt, DAS EX-3 Skimmer, MTC mini cal, 2-3/4" Sea Swirls, Aquacontroller & 6 Tunze pumps.
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Old 03/20/2018, 09:24 AM   #12
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What fish do you currently have and what size is your tank? From the top pic you don’t look to heavily stocked. One option would get a matted or green filefish, or I believe it’s a Klein’s butterfly fish. Maybe some peppermint shrimp as well. Stop feeding the tank when you add them and they will likely mow through the aiptasia and mojanos, peppermints just the aiptasia. The Klein’s will likely start on the palys next. If your considering breaking the tank down anyway what is there to lose? If you want to quarantine the new fish just take a piece of rock that is covered with the pests and palys and put it in the quarantine tank with them. Train them to eat the pests basically that you can bleach that one rock after before you put it back in the main tank and replace it in the quarantine with another from the display until your quarantine is done.

This process could take months to eradicate the pests, or at least get them to manageable amounts but the cost would be minimal. Also unless you are real attacked th that rock, many lfs or even local reef club members if you have one near you may take it in trade or buy it from you. You could fund the new rock that way and start with all new rock.

“In wine there is wisdom; in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria.” - Benjamin Franklin

Current Tank Info: 90 gallon reef. Biocube 29 lionfish tank. Mantis tank.
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Old 03/20/2018, 10:15 AM   #13
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On to the topic, just take a deep breath man, reefing is a huge learning process. I have been there, adding things to my tank that in a months time began to spread like wildfire. I had a massive out break of bubble algae, and I wanted to shut down as well. Realizing the scope of my investment in reefing, I just simply got to work and took out rocks and began plucking away.

If you have the time and energy start fragging or remove what you don't want and toss it, be safe when doing it.

If at first you don't succeed at reefing, break it down and set back up😁

Current Tank Info: 75 gallon corner overflow, 4-54W T-5 , dozen blue hermits, tiger pistol/yellow watchman gobby, royal gramma, yellowhead hawkish, dispar anthias
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Old 03/20/2018, 04:55 PM   #14
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I’d kill for a tank that looked like that.

Where is this algae everyone is taking about? I just see GSP everywhere.

Quitters never lose.

[QUOTE=CStrickland]Who gets mad at a starfish?[/QUOTE]

Current Tank Info: 75g DT, 30G refugium, 10g chaeto tank, 50g stock tank basement sump
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Old 03/20/2018, 05:24 PM   #15
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me thinks the before and after picts are reversed.

120g DT 100lbs LR / 200 lbs LS, 45g fuge, VectraM1 Return, Herbie drain, 4x RW-8, 2x AI Hydra 26 w AWM, ASM G2, Apex controller, Apex BoB w floats ATO
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Old 03/20/2018, 08:47 PM   #16
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Agree on the pictures reversed no matter, I agree that tank doesn't qualify for a lost cause, just some work and money IMO


Current Tank Info: none
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Old 03/21/2018, 09:17 AM   #17
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I like how it looks. I added a copperband butterfly to my tank and it ate every last aiptasia. I also bought that "wand" which doesn't really get rid of aiptasia but made them smaller for the fish to eat.

If you really don't like the look of your tank, see if a local fish store with trade new rock for you rock. It's a way to start over. People actually but green star polyps and xenia. They might even give you a store credit.

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Old 03/21/2018, 09:18 AM   #18
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I like how it looks. I added a copperband butterfly to my tank and it ate every last aiptasia. I also bought that "wand" which doesn't really get rid of aiptasia but made them smaller for the fish to eat.

If you really don't like the look of your tank, see if a local fish store with trade new rock for you rock. It's a way to start over. People actually buy green star polyps and xenia. They might even give you a store credit.

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