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Old 08/23/2012, 10:12 PM   #1
Mcbeezus
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How long can a reef tank last???

Hello everyone,
I am in the middle of a 120 gallon build process. I am taking it slow and making sure that i get all of the right equipment, which isn't exactly cheap...but i keep reading theses horror stories of these priceless reef tanks crashing after 5 years or so (old tank syndrome/dsb) . I am wondering if there is a time frame from the initial setup to the crash of your tank, or can it stay alive as long as you keep parameters/etc. stable.


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Old 08/23/2012, 10:17 PM   #2
kenc87
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Well I don't think that there is necessarily a timeframe for tank crashes. I think a lot of it has to do with maintaining good water parameters and keeping things stable. I know for a fact that not all reef tanks crash as there is a guy on here who's tank is over 40 years old. I can't remember his name but clearly you can keep a tank for a long time.


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Old 08/23/2012, 10:31 PM   #3
9501gle
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I'm interested to see the responses on this thread as I posted pretty much the same question a couple days ago with no response. My sps dominated tank also crashed after 3 years of doing very well and I still havent figured out why. Old tank syndrome I guess. My parameters were still stable when this event happened. So depressing.


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Old 08/23/2012, 10:39 PM   #4
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On year 8 now hope it keeps going its a mixed reef which started soft to Lps and 3 years sps. There are so many variables that could kill everything it's scary. I worry about it constantly.


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Old 08/23/2012, 10:44 PM   #5
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I have a 46 Gallon Bowfront Reef that has never crashed in 6 years. Sure I've had my problems, but nothing that was catastrophic and caused an entire crash or death of everything. I still have my original black and white clownfish, and a 5 year old purple/green tube anemone.


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Old 08/23/2012, 10:56 PM   #6
9501gle
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Do you ever change out portions of your sand bed?


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Current Tank Info: 240 gal reef tank, 3 xMH400EB Icecap ballasts,12000K Reeflux bulbs in Lumenarc III reflectors, Aquatic Systems Design Kalk Reactor & Skimmer. 5500 gph Hammer Head Pump, Neptune Jr Controller, !00 gal Rubbermaid tank 2/3 full for sump.
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Old 08/24/2012, 04:52 AM   #7
Ron Reefman
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If you take the proper care of it, it can last right up until your A/C can't keep up with the global warming any more!


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Old 08/24/2012, 05:00 AM   #8
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http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/sh....php?t=2172887


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Old 08/24/2012, 06:27 AM   #9
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I have never changed my sand bed, but I have moved twice, which involved removing all the rock, corals and fish. I moved the tank with the sand covered by 2-3 inches of water and each time I got to my new house that water was very dark and got siphoned out before I put new water in.

So I would say twice in 6 years it got a really good cleaning, but it's never actually been replaced or added to. I used a few cups of that sand a few months ago to seed 2 other new tanks of mine.


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Old 08/24/2012, 07:03 AM   #10
Spirofucci
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Tanks do crash for no obvious reasons, but I'll bet most of the time it's from neglect or a power outage.


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Old 08/24/2012, 07:05 AM   #11
LaOtIn
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Truth is, there is a reason for every tank "crash". Something went wrong before the tank crash, something overlooked. Corals live forever if their environment is stable and they have the proper care given. I believe most tank crashes are due to lack of proper maintenance. Everyone starts out gun ho about water changes, testing, etc. After the tank sits in the living room for a couple of years though owners become complacent about it. The thought of "oh, well everything is awesome, I won't do maintenance this week and get it next" sets in and before you know it problems start happening.

All that said, I have never had a tank crash. in the past 4 years of my current livestock of coral and fish they have been moved to bigger tanks 3 times. Went from a 20L to a 40L and now they are in a 90. Ive had ick, GHA and red slime. Ive had several fish come and go, my oldest fish being my yellow tang, 2nd being a blue/green chromis.

If you keep a notebook with your maintenance, testing, problems, etc and keep on top of taking care of your water there is absolutely no reason to have a reef for years and years without a crash. If you do have a crash, and some people will be angry for reading this, its your fault. There is no situation that can not be traced back to you at fault. Even global warming get a back up power supply. If you are really serious about it you will have a back up system for everything. Even if the situation is out of your control, hurricane hits and power is off for days, it can still be avoided, gas powered generator, ive seen people ride out storms and keep thousands of dollars of livestock happy for weeks. Granted most tanks crash in those situations, but I have seen it work.

bottom line, its up to you how long your reef stays happy


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Old 08/24/2012, 07:16 AM   #12
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Environmental changes always have a cause which affects the biological community. Our problem is figuring out just what that cause may have been. It could be a gradual decline in a parameter such increased phosphates or an episodic event such as a kalk dump into the system and the pH spikes.

Even if an organism dies of "old age" there is a cause of it.


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Old 08/24/2012, 08:13 AM   #13
Paul B
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Quote:
I know for a fact that not all reef tanks crash as there is a guy on here who's tank is over 40 years old. I can't remember his name but clearly you can keep a tank for a long time.
That would be me. My reef has never crashed even though the power has gone out for days a few times, 24 urchins that I collected all spawned at the same time turning the water into Half and Half, a large 12" carpet anemone croaked and fouled the tank, I went to Germany and left someone in charge who let the water level drop 7" etc.
I feel that it depends on a few things, most important your substrait. If you use a DSB the tank has a lifespan because DSBs can't be maintained which is the reason there are very few of them over 10 years old.
Many tanks live on the verge of crashing all the time for various reasons. I also feel that regular infusions of bacteria from the sea is important as I have always done that, I do realize many people don't live near the coast and can't do that.
A lot is said about testing and in a new tank that is important but as the tank ages and you get more experience (like ten years not 6 months) it gets less important as you will be able to tell the parameters just by looking at the animals. If the fish are spawning, the corals are growing, the parameters are good, and if they are not, who cares?
I personally have been at this all my life and I am old. I don't do regular maintenance any more because as I said, I know when something needs attention and I don't look for trouble. I do change water but only 5 or 6 times a year. That is my tank, all tanks are different.
My last thing is food, I feed a lot of live food specifically live blackworms, the rest of their diet is frozen clams or mysis. I feel this keeps them in breeding condition and in that condition they "never" get sick so I don't have to worry about a hospital or quarantine tank.
But as I said, that is after many years of enjoying this hobby.
I did have my share of problems and lost hundreds of animals along the way.
Good luck with your new reef.

Quote:
There is no situation that can not be traced back to you at fault. Even global warming get a back up power supply. If you are really serious about it you will have a back up system for everything.
I also agree with this.


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Old 08/24/2012, 08:56 AM   #14
Mcbeezus
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Thanks for the input. It makes me feel better that at least i have a fighting chance to keep a stable tank for quite sometime rather than knowing all my money spent will be worthless at some point.( Not saying money will not go down the drain to mess-ups and since I'm fairly new to the hobby)


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Old 08/24/2012, 09:57 AM   #15
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After 11 years, I decided my tank (55G, DSB, Bak-Pak skimmer, VHO lights) needed an upgrade/overhaul. As others have discussed above, many of my problems were my own fault. I had an early HA outbreak due to not using RO/DI water, but I brought it back with a new RO/DI system, frequent water changes and also added a refugium. It looked amazing for years with lots of good growth despite periods of benign neglect and very little testing or $$ invested (new babies will do that). My tank would have large temp swings in the summer (no AC) but I used fans and ice packs and never lost a coral or fish (sps, lps, softies)

The main reason for my current upgrade is because of a house move and a tank and stand that appear to be physically deteriorating. I am taking the opportunity to move to a shallow sand bed as I feel that the age of my DSB has contributed to recent algae problems. I have invested in a larger tank, LED lights, a sump and a better skimmer (Avast Marine CS-1).

As Paul B says, if you keep an eye on the condition of your tank inhabitants, you will be in touch with the overall health of the tank. Things are hardier than you think - my tank inhabitants have been living in a baby pool in my garage for 2 weeks now with just powerheads and no lights until I get their new home set up. The zoas and lps are still doing fine, reaching towards the window light. I realize my sps might take a beating in this with the lack of light but I hope to get them moved over this weekend. I did take the precaution of taking frags of all of my favorite corals in to work to put into a nano I have there.

Good luck


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Old 08/24/2012, 10:22 AM   #16
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The old tank crashes are often not a result of neglect but a lack of trace elements that are used up over time and not replaced adequately by water changes alone. Since most of these elements cannot be tested for by the home aquarist since the equipment required is cost prohibited, it is not practical to test and any blind dosing of trace elements risks an overdose. I've seen articles advocating annual 100% water changes to overcome this issue (although I've never made one).


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Old 08/24/2012, 10:34 AM   #17
Nanook
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Many folks become "experts" and develop a Zen-like approach after a few years. They get cocky and don't test as much, they lose track of their chemistry, or they lose interest in their tank and their observation skills suffer. Many take time off during the summer and neglect their tank. Many rely on auto-topoff devices that can fail...risky.

If you have due diligence and good husbandry, along with a backup plan in case of the unexpected things that happen, you can be a bit safer. No guarantees that a tank can not split, or something spawns that destroys everything.

Good ideas for preventing tank disasters:

Get a generator for power failures, either an automatic one, or one that you are there for when the power goes out.

Get a reliable tank sitter when you leave town that can check on the tank every day, not just a family member with no experience.

Keep your heaters on controllers so they don't fry your tank as they are unreliable, but the controller is reliable. Use several smaller heaters instead of one big one, just in case.

Auto topoff disasters happen all the time, make sure you have failsafes in place. I use manual topoff.

Do not overstock your tank with fish! Every closed system is striving for homeostasis. Fish will kill each other off for territory, may take a week, may take 2 years. Everything is fighting to survive!

Spend a lot of time reading, get good at chemistry.


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Old 08/24/2012, 11:07 AM   #18
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I've also gone the route of more manual husbandry - no auto-anything. I made a Kalk dripper from a 1 gal milk jug, some tubing and a stopcock, I do the top offs myself or have a friend come in to add water when I am away. No other fancy equipment or other dosing except I do plan to put a TLF phosban reactor on the new tank. I have a battery backup airstone that kept everything going when we lost power for a few days last summer with Irene and I am ecstatic that my new house has a generator, just in case.


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Old 08/24/2012, 11:45 AM   #19
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as long as exports equal imports. a reef tank can last forever barring any unforeseen electrical/mechanical problems.

G~


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Old 08/24/2012, 11:53 AM   #20
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My tank is going on 9 years old. It has been moved from South Carolina to Maryland and moved 4 times since 2006. I still have the first fish I bought in 2004. I use a old Kent container and dose Cal, also have an Autotop off that has screwed me a couple times with wet skimming. I used to not change water monthly (maybe once evry 3 months) now I do it once a month. I have a min clean up crew and never once had a crash yet(fingers crossed). I had one scare whenthe power went out for 3-4 days, lucky my neighbor had a power invertor which we used 2-3x a day to power the return pump.


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Current Tank Info: I have a 180 gal mostly LPS corals, it contains 1 Val. Tang, 1 yellow striped clown fish, 3 percula clownfish, a blood shrimp, cleaner shrimp and a sand shifting goby, 5 pajama cardinals, 1 green chromis. Also a 75 gal. sump/fug.
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Old 08/24/2012, 01:42 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Reefman View Post
If you take the proper care of it, it can last right up until your A/C can't keep up with the global warming any more!
+1 I'm maintaining 5 systems that are 15 to 20 years old although none of them have DSB. All of them have had cycles where the corals don't seem to expand as much or grow as much even though water parameters are ok but it is corrected with bigger or more frequent water changes. Sometimes alkalinity or calcium have dropped. Sometimes I've seen very long gradual drops in pH. Sometimes phosphates have started to climb. All reasons not to always trust the ol' eyball (even though I do a lot) and test periodicly.


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Old 08/24/2012, 02:09 PM   #22
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Old Tank Syndrome should be called, Sand Bed filled up with Cr*p and crashed my tank syndrome. Yet..... I would not do a tank with out a sandbed they are just so damn pretty


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Old 08/24/2012, 04:58 PM   #23
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You can create a nice siphon hose with some 1.5" PVC and large tubing. Get a siphon going and that sandbed can be removed toot sweet! Then you just put the new sand down with a piece of PVC tubing.


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The wind blew, the chit flew, and then they came two by two.

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Old 08/24/2012, 06:43 PM   #24
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i do think auto is better and worse I used to dose manually and fill manually and i suspect that there were swings but maybe those swings strengthen your livestock. with auto you can leave a while and not worry and with a controller at least you can look in on things while away. I wouldn't need anyone to look at the tank while I am away but it would make me feel better. I am almost completely automated. I not convinced that this is good but it is easier. I still test and look over everything every day, but it is nice not having your hands in the tank every day out of necessity


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Old 08/24/2012, 06:54 PM   #25
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A lot of people like the sterile everything in its place look that a few year old tank has. They end up battling everything and do more harm than good. Once a tank hits five years and older you accept the random spots of cyano, GHA, and those broke off corals that pop up in random spots. If you can accept that in your tank, it will last a long long time.

I know someone has that spotless 10 year old tank, but this is my experience..


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