got ethical husbandry?

Dry Rock Reef - 11 months in


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I am considering adding some live rock rubble from "Tampa Bay Saltwater" to my sump area. I started my tank with Dry Rock 11 months ago and cannot keep an SPS alive to save my life. I have read that Dry Rock can take up to 2 years to fully cycle and be ready for SPS. The other corals in my tank seem to do fine. I posted a picture below. I am starting to think it is not the parameters, but the lack of bacteria that can only be obtained from the ocean. By-the-way, I started with Dry Rock because I had a reef tank about 10 years ago that I started with very expensive "live rock". The reef was successful, however, I had every bad thing imaginable, including a mantis shrimp, gorilla crabs, and a few others. I finally got tired of fighting all the problems and gave my tank away.
Does anyone have an opinion on whether or not adding reef rubble from real live rock will help establish dry rock into a reef that can support SPS? I am thinking the real live rock reef rubble will speed up the process. And hopefully not come with a bunch of dreaded hitchhikers.

My parameters:
Salinity 1.0255
NO3 = 19 ppm
PO4 = .18 (run GFO)
CA = 420
Mag = 1400
Alk = 9.0
Salt = Redsea Blue Bucket
Par = 200 - 230 at the top of reef rock 8 hours per day
Feed: Ocean Magic every night, reef roids once per week, Red Sea AB+ once per week.

What kind of SPS have you tried? Stuff like seriatopora, stylophora, pocillopora, monti cap tend to be just as easy as most LPS in my experience. Some of the more hardy Acros like Cali Tort would be another one to try. I'm also 11 months in using dry rock, and have had success with all of the above.

I can give you a Bird of Paradise Seriatopora frag to try. I'm in San Jose. Shoot me a PM if you're interested.

One of the guys in LA club. He dropped some knowledge years ago.
Thank you for the reply. I have tried several different types of SPS. Green Slimmer, Rainbow Montipora, Digitata, and a few others. JVU gave me a few to add to my tank as well. I feel bad, they did not live very long. Thank you for the offer. As soon as I can get one to live longer than 2 weeks I send you a PM.
How are they dying? Immediately, or a slow death? If it’s immediate (i.e., hours/days), it’s very likely not a bacterial issue. I would venture to guess there’s something else wrong with your water quality. Check your RO/DI supply for chloramines or look at an ICP test for presence of heavy metals. Make sure your equipment you use to test water is calibrated and validated (e.g., refractometer, alk test kit), You could also make sure there are any magnets rusting or other rogue metal in the tank.
It is unlikely to be a problem with rock, but bio-diversity is a good thing, so seems like a good plan regardless.

+1 on how are they dying. In particular, from the base up, or tips down.
And do they instantly get covered in algae, or are they white for a while.

Phosphates are high. You might run more GFO and feed a bit less.
For an established tank, that would not be a problem.
But early on, you want algae to lose and corals to win, so good to keep it below 0.1

Running carbon for a while can be helpful to remove contaminants that are hard to measure.
In particular, if your softies are putting out chemicals. They do fight using chemical warfare.

Flow and Lighting can make a big difference, and are tricky to get right.
Especially in a mixed tank.
Lighting and flow are likely low for SPS.
They die a slow death from the base up. Lately the are taking longer to die. I have had the two for about 3 weeks. The green slimer and stylo are losing tissue from the base up. Oh, and something new I just started happening is they tips of the corals are turning brown.
Do you think I should turn up my lighting? Maybe just a little?
Coral Reefer helped me with my light settings back in November. I don't want to mess them up.
This was the final lighting from November:

If those par measurements are correct, lighting isn't likely your issue. Even if it was too little lightening, they would likely turn brown first, before dying and it would be in the months timeframe, not weeks.

I’d still recommend checking/validating your test kits and possibly sending in an ICP test before trying to do something else. Eliminate one thing at a time so you can attempt to nail the root cause. Throwing in bacteria or using antibiotics is really a Hail Mary and won’t give you a definitive answer.

Adding bacteria diversity will not likely be the silver bullet for you right now. I assure you that you can take a brand new tank with no bacteria added, new water and as long as you maintain a stable environment with the right nutrients, it will survive for a while.
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Looks like Ulva (sea lettuce).
+1, the dreaded Ulva invasion. Good fish food. So hard to control.

I'd restart on the basics. Recalibrate anything you're using to test, including checking salinity and temperature. Make sure those things are staying stable. Give all your pumps and things their yearly cleanup, making sure nothing is cracked (in theory should show in ICP but who knows. Make sure if you're running GFO or carbon that you've changed it, and it's not dumping into the water column. Make sure your dosing method is not doing anything crazy (eg dumping it all in 10ms). Do a big water change. Suction the random crap out of the sand and sump.

Worst case you check off your yearly maintenance list.

This doesn't seem applicable to you, but I had similar die offs in my tank and eventually I realized the dinos I was fighting were causing way more issues than I thought. I likely should've been running a lot more carbon to catch bad stuff. I later had issues with my frag tank with die offs, and things like finally turning back on my skimmer made a big difference (also seemingly irrelevant to you).
I'm having a similar issue. Started with dry rock and sand. Ran it a few months with a couple fish. added a few lps corals. Those looked good after a few months so I added a few easy sps. Had a fight with dino which made sps corals look bad, beat that, and sps corals started to color back up. Then all of a sudden they started looking sickly like in your pics, and eventually stn/rtn. Lps is so so. Some look fine, others have wasted away.

ICP didn't show anything weird. May consider aquabiomics...

Thinking back, I think this is the first tank I set up with 100% dry rock and sand. It's definitely the first time I have had this kind of issue.
people will say I’m wrong. I believe if you start an aquarium with dry rock alone. It will set you back 1.5-2 years in the hobby. The biome just isn’t there.
people will say I’m wrong. I believe if you start an aquarium with dry rock alone. It will set you back 1.5-2 years in the hobby. The biome just isn’t there.

I’d be the first. :)

This tank was run with all dry rock.