Coral bleaching and general lacklustre growth

Discussion in 'Coral' started by Gipsieskiss, Sep 11, 2014.

  1. Gipsieskiss

    Gipsieskiss Guest

    I'm only running the two darkest blue LEDs during the evening and have just turned them down to 3% for a couple of hours after ramp down so that we can see something in the tank while we're at home. I've now turned them off all night after that. I wasn't running the full spread all night long (6 colours in the AI Vega).

    Thanks for the tip, I have been doing that and it seems to work well.

    I've managed to get the specific gravity up to 1.025 with the slow salt top up and will double check tomorrow with a salinity tester I'm going to borrow. My levels (Ca, mg, etc)went down over the weekend as I was out of town and wasn't dosing but have done another 5G NSW change and have another 5G NSW ready to go. I may do that in a couple of days, maybe two 5G per week is a good target. I'd love to work out how to get this stable although all I can see so far is LOADS of water changes, maybe that's the key as has been mentioned several times. Anyway - I'll work on the salinity first and see if I can get that stable and where it should be with fresh top off and will probably switch to salt mix soon enough.
  2. bondolo

    bondolo Supporting Member

    Water changes never hurt nobody :). They also avoid having to do others bits guesswork like dosing, inadequate filtration, overfeeding, etc.

    Reduce light intensity and light period. Start at 70% for 6 hours before increasing.

    For now concentrate on stabilizing params
    NSW SG 1.023-1.027
    Temp 73-76F (23-26C)
    8.0-8.3 pH

    Anywhere in the range is fine as long as it is stable. SG should not fluctuate more than 0.001 during a day (with top-off), temp by less than 3F degrees and pH by less than 0.2

    You should be doing enough water changes that the other params do not matter. Change water 50% a week.

    Once these params stabilize and you can maintain them for a week increase the photoperiod an hour at a time per week to 8 and then 10 hours. Once you get to 10 hours you can increase the intensity. If things start to bleach, move it down or reduce intensity. If algae, diatoms, cyano explode then do a water change, reduce feeding and notch back lights either in duration or intensity.

    If you are at full photo period and your params still on track with constant water changes then you can start to dose alk, calcium and mag and reduce water changes to 30% and eventually 20%. Start testing your alk, Mg and Ca. If your alk is below 8.5 dKh then you can probably ignore Mg and Ca because you aren't going to be able to maintain proper levels. Stabilize alk to 8.5-9.5 before worrying about Mg or Ca. Dose alk and Ca in equal proportions and dose Mg at "maintenance levels" (whatever the container says) for your tank size. Increase or decrease dosing until alk is stable. THEN test magnesium to make sure it is over 1250 and ideally near 1300. Magnesium regulates how much Ca can remain in suspension so there is no point to checking or chasing Ca levels until your Magnesium level is appropriate. Once you have suitable magnesium alk and mag levels, and because you have been dosing Ca in proportion all along, you probably will find that your calcium is already in good shape!

    Don't bother testing for phosphates or nitrates, instead look at your algae growth. If algae is under control then you don't need to worry (or test).
    Geneva likes this.
  3. Gipsieskiss

    Gipsieskiss Guest

    Thanks for the input !
    One thing I hadn't been checking was temperature and I just read it at 84 and I'm assuming that's too high. Sorry folks, I'm not purposely trying to kill these things, honest. I've adjusted the heater and will measure regularly.

    I'm going to try to get this thing within the specs that you suggest for a week and take it from there. I'll ramp the lights down, continue water changes, stop dosing and see how it goes.

    Am curious what I'm trying to flush out of the water with so much being changed. Also, should I vacuum sand when changing water or just leave the churning to the starfish and snails ? Am thinking the bad stuff must be in the rocks or sand although I think that's where the good bacteria live.

    So much to learn here.
  4. Kensington Reefer

    Kensington Reefer Supporting Member

  5. bluprntguy

    bluprntguy Webmaster

    I'd vacuum the sand since you are taking water out. Also, make sure you vacuum out the back chambers.
  6. bondolo

    bondolo Supporting Member

    84F is indeed way too high. Anything over 82F is going to start bleaching and cause distress for fish and corals. Most of the time you want only 1-3F degree swings throughout the day. Corals and fish can tolerate occasional larger swings and higher temperatures for short periods of time.

    With water changes you're doing two things; removing phosphates, nitrates and dissolved organic carbon but you are also replacing depleted minerals; alkalinity, calcium, magnesium, trace, etc. When you aren't dosing these can get depleted fairly rapidly and occasional water changes may not be able to keep up with the depletion. Dosing also doesn't restore trace minerals and it seems impossible to correctly dose of trace minerals. Testing levels, dosages and depletion rates for trace minerals is impractical. It ends up being a stab and in the dark with as much potential for harm as good. So, do water changes.

    I have a fairly deep sand bed and only vacuum it occasionally. I will stir it up some (mostly checking for concreteization which has never happened) and blow crud off the rocks with a turkey baster before doing a water change. I haven't seen much of an accumulation in the sand.

    You are on the right track!
  7. Gipsieskiss

    Gipsieskiss Guest

    Time for an update.
    Firstly, thanks to those that have contributed.
    Secondly, I think things are moving in the right direction.
    Temps are still high - I took the glass lid off the tank and it eventually dropped the temp down to 80 (from 84) and that's where I am at the moment. Room temp water is 77 so perhaps it's time for some sort of chiller or at least a mesh top to keep the snails in as they tend to be a little suicidal.
    A Milwaukee salinity tester shows the specific gravity at 1.026, which seems to be ideal, and it's been like that for a few days. Temps are my current focus.
    Regular 5G changes have been happening with NSW although this will be changed to ZeroWater (000 TDS) plus Salinity mix (24 hour plus powerhead and aerator) for the foreseeable future. I will probably go Kold-Steril when the time comes.
    As for the softies that I have, they definitely seem to be growing with fresh buds coming along. The Chalice frag I bought a few weeks ago seems to be surviving somewhat although still looks like it's ready to bleach out at some point.
    I'll try to keep things constant and work out what it takes to keep this tank at a steady equilibrium.

    With the help I've got so far, I'm feeling much more confident that I can make this happen. It's really easy to buy things. Keeping them alive and providing for them is another matter.
  8. Coral reefer

    Coral reefer President

    A fan blowing across the surface hooked up to a controller is cheap and efficient if you have auto too off hooked up. Otherwise a chiller is a good way to go.
  9. bondolo

    bondolo Supporting Member

    I agree with Mike about trying a fan (or multiple fans) first before considering a chiller. Evaporation across a surface is a fantastic way to remove heat. If you have an extra stand or table fan you can put nearby temporarily to test it out it might save you some time and expense. The air needs to be blowing over the surface but need not be blowing at the surface.

    I am using a little Vornado that I bought on sale for $12 at Frys and a Holmes Clip fan in my sump. I plan to pick up one or two on clearance every fall while I have tanks. They seem to last about 12-18 months. I have them hooked to a Ranco ETC though there are other cheaper options.

    Keep headed in the right direction!
  10. You've got some great advice here! Seek stability and SLOW adjustments to anything that needs addressing. Stop dosing until stability is achieved and then only dose what you are testing for. I didn't read where you are, but I'm in the city and totally happy to help if you need. Good luck!

    Justin (San Francisco),
    sent from tapatalk
  11. Also, carbon + chemipure = a lot of carbon. I don't think running carbon on an ongoing basis is good. Some do it, but most report improvement after cutting carbon. I've only ever used it on an as-needed basis for a few weeks at a time. Your macro and skimmer should be carrying the workload on your "normal" nutrient export.

    Justin (San Francisco),
    sent from tapatalk
  12. neuro

    neuro Webmaster

    hey btw 84 is OK if it's not for too long
  13. Gipsieskiss

    Gipsieskiss Guest

    Time for an update. So, all seems to be well and I can see positive results.
    SG is rock steady at 1.026 with the freshwater auto top off.
    dKH is steady at 7 with an Elos kit
    pH is either 8.3 or 8.4 with an API kit

    Sponge filter media gets changed every week with the now, Salinity mix, of 5G over NSW.
    I've removed the carbon and Chempure for now to see if they have any positive effects.

    Overall, growth on the soft stuff is very positive with the harder things still struggling.

    Now then, next steps.....?

    I really need to find a Kold Ster-il outfit to make water more efficiently.

    <Edit> I sorted the temps out as well by adding a small clip fan that is on low during the day. It was the only way I could get the temps below 80. I think, for now, that's the best I'm going to get. It has obviously caused more evaporation hence my need to become more efficient at producing water.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2014
  14. Kensington Reefer

    Kensington Reefer Supporting Member

    Keep on keepin on!
    Grow it, love it
  15. bondolo

    bondolo Supporting Member

    Looking good! The alk is a little low and the pH is surprisingly high for the low alk. If you aren't currently dosing alk/cal then it is perhaps time to start a little. Test your magnesium and make sure it is 1250-1350 to ensure that the calcium won't just precipitate and start doing dosing as part of your topoff regime. Don't forget to maintain the magnesium levels. Perhaps do your testing and magnesium dosing mid-week between water changes (that's what I do).
  16. Gipsieskiss

    Gipsieskiss Guest

    Hmm, OK, so it seems I'm back to school and this is where the fun starts.
    Mg measures at 1000 ppm with a Red Sea Kit today. Are you suggesting I dose Bi-Onic once a week in between 5G changes ?
    It seems as though I need to read up on the Mg, Salinity, Alkalinity equation and how it all pulls together.
  17. I always test before my water change, water change, then dose. I tend to back off a little, knowing that the water change is going to bring things up a little and I don't want big movements. I test daily and dose small amounts often so water change Sunday is just another day the week that still requires testing/dosing

    Justin (San Francisco),
    sent from tapatalk
  18. bondolo

    bondolo Supporting Member

    You should be dosing with the Bi-Onic whenever you top off. (Alk/Cal parts). The Mag part is what you should dose mid-week between water changes. I would slowly increase the magnesium by double dosing until you have it stable around 1300. Some corals, duncans in particular, react badly to rapid changes in magnesium.

    The amount of calcium you can maintain in solution is related to the amount of magnesium you have in solution. If you do not have sufficient magnesium then then calcium will precipitate out on pumps, in sand, etc.

    Alk and calcium should always be kept in proportion. This is most easily done by dosing the same amount of each. (Bi-Onic makes this easy). pH is strongly related to Alk though not perfectly-the amount of dissolved carbon dioxide is the next strongest factor. You can measure your pH at both the beginning and end of your light period. Measuring at the end of the day will give you your best indication of where you stand with Alk as a factor in your pH as this is the point at which carbon dioxide will be lowest. If the difference between the minimum and maximum pH is high, above 0.3, then you probably don't have enough buffer.

    The Randy Holmes-Farley articles in Advanced Aquarist are very good at explaining the chemistry though they don't really say enough about problem solving.
    Coral reefer likes this.
  19. Gipsieskiss

    Gipsieskiss Guest

    It looks like I have some reading to do. Phew !

    Ok, I've just seen that B-Ionic, among others, make a Magnesium supplement which I foresee in my near future. Will start to bring that level up and get back to monitoring levels. Not chasing numbers, just keeping records.
  20. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    Note that it takes what seems like a surprising amount to raise Mg up to proper level,
    but it takes fairly little to maintain it once there.
    So don't use the same amount for weekly dosing as you do for initial fix.
    Coral reefer likes this.

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