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Author Topic: Downhill spiral - lights, PO4, dead corals  (Read 224 times)

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Offline Reeferntraining

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Downhill spiral - lights, PO4, dead corals
« on: December 24, 2017, 11:08:04 »
I am going to be long winded on this post. I just want to document the mistakes I have made but also document what Iíve learned through this process as well as the supporting documentation Iíve found in my research.

My current delimma is a complete loss of 40% of my SPS coral by my own hand. Since the beginning of setting up my system, I have always had ultra low nutrients. This will come into play later. Things were always growing good and I didnít have many problems. Other than my pH experiment that caused my magnesium to drop extremely low. But that was quickly corrected. In October I changed my lighting spectrum to the AB+ Settings that are recommended by AquaIlluminations and Radion for maximum growth and color. I ran that spectrum for a month, up to November 20th. Looking back at pictures, I was having great coloration and canít believe that I felt I could get even more color. At that time, my royal blue and blue lights were only running at 90%. I read an article saying that blue light would increase color at the end of the light cycle. So, I decided to back off the UV and violet light in favor of bumping the blues up by about 15-20%. This was a huge mistake. It damaged most of the SPS. Exactly what occurred within the coral, I do not know, but they started dying. While this was happening, I started feeding reef roids daily to try to get the corals to pull through. I was not diligent in testing phosphate and nitrate while doing this. This created a new problem in the form of excess nutrients. The PO4 skyrocketed to .25 and nitrate was up to 30-40. I learned that since the lighting mistake damaged the Corals and they started dying, not only did calcification stop, but nutrient consumption stopped as well.

What I was observing was a complete halt in growth of the Corals and the flesh was just falling off. I quit adding the reef roids and started doing water changes. At the time, I didnít know exactly what level of PO4 was acceptable. I could not get the PO4 under .2 consistently. So, I added some caulerpa to the sump, once again. In the last few days I have been searching and searching for answers as to what is hindering coral flesh growth. I have been monitoring a sunset Monti thru this. This particular coral is trying to grow and spread but shortly after it encrusts, it starts turning dark and retracting polyps. Much like the other Corals that have died.

Well, Thursday I found what I think is the answer, through an article by Randy Holmes Farley about phosphate and itís affects on reef aquaria.

http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2006-09/rhf/index.php

In this article, I finally found an answer as well as a number. In the article, RHF says that research on the Great Barrier Reef has shown that a PO4 level of .19 for as little as 3 hours a day inhibits  coral calcification by 43% in pocollipora and acropora species. It does not, however, say what the level is to cause a coral to stop calcification completely. But, I am taking .19 as that number for future reference.

The other (side note) thing I learned from the RHF article is that PO4 will bind to precipitating calcium. Exporting PO4 in the process. This would explain why I could never get a PO4 reading on the Hanna while I was having the Ca precipitate, due to my high pH experiment.

My testing yesterday was
1.026
9.23 alk-hanna
419-Ca- Red Sea
1410-Mg-Salifert
30-40 NO3-API
.06-PO4-Hanna

Over the last week I have incrimentally changed the lighting back to AB+. I have not seen any change to the corals yet, but I am optimistic that I have hopefully stumbled onto my answer to getting this sinking ship righted.

All I can say is when it rains, it pours. So many things in this hobby are closely related and when you disturb one thing, it may affect 2 or 3 other things. Iíve learned my costly lesson and I am going to do my best to quit tinkering lol.



Offline jjoos99

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Re: Downhill spiral - lights, PO4, dead corals
« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2017, 14:18:31 »
I think that everyone here has learned from failures.  From what I have found is that good things take awhile to show their results but bad things can happen in what seems like minutes. One thing that I have done and I have seen others do is when things arent good we try to change too many things at one time and we either compound the problems or dont know what it actually was that fixed things. Just take things slow.
Jeff

Offline Agame43

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Re: Downhill spiral - lights, PO4, dead corals
« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2017, 16:01:53 »

  Jesse, man you have been thru a lot these last couple months, great post above with a lot of great information. Thanks for sharing your results with all of us, I should probably book mark this post, it may come in handy later. It is good to hear that your system has made a turn for the better, keep us posted. I just read through the article that you attached to your post, very good as well.

  Merry Christmas to you and your family!

Offline Reeferntraining

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Re: Downhill spiral - lights, PO4, dead corals
« Reply #3 on: December 24, 2017, 16:34:11 »
Youíre right Rick. Some of it self inflicted. :Sigh:  I think it will only serve me in the future. I donít want to get complacent and think I have it all figured out lol. Iím just happy I didnít get a top dollar coral before I took this lesson on the chin.

Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones as well. And again, I thank you for your service Rick!

Offline Heinbaughb

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Re: Downhill spiral - lights, PO4, dead corals
« Reply #4 on: December 24, 2017, 17:00:31 »
I splurge on my fish but try to stay with corals $30 or under because of these situations. We do something accidental and watch our money and energy go out the window. I guess thatís what makes this hobby so rewarding, knowing what it takes to keep a reef stable. Glad to hear youíre using this as a learning situation and not giving up.


120 gallon mixed reef.

Offline Agame43

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Re: Downhill spiral - lights, PO4, dead corals
« Reply #5 on: December 24, 2017, 17:42:06 »

Jesse, many thanks. Question, you mention above a Phosphate PO4 value of 0,19 is this ppm as the "unit" of measure? , if so than I would say that my 0.08ppm are very good for a current phosphate level?

Offline Reeferntraining

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Re: Downhill spiral - lights, PO4, dead corals
« Reply #6 on: December 24, 2017, 18:06:54 »
Rick. Thatís exactly what they were referring to. 0.19 ppm. There and above hinders the Corals ability to calcify. You can literally watch the skin melting away on the coral. Leaving the calcium skeleton. My understanding is that Brian tries to stay between .02-.08. So it sounds like you are right in that range.

Offline Reeferntraining

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Re: Downhill spiral - lights, PO4, dead corals
« Reply #7 on: December 24, 2017, 18:14:17 »
I splurge on my fish but try to stay with corals $30 or under because of these situations. We do something accidental and watch our money and energy go out the window. I guess thatís what makes this hobby so rewarding, knowing what it takes to keep a reef stable. Glad to hear youíre using this as a learning situation and not giving up.


120 gallon mixed reef.
I totally get that. I love my fish too. They are all fat and happy and get along great. But I already went down that road when I was into saltwater years ago. So I wanted something new to learn about. I donít know what it is about the SPS but I just canít get enough. Iím captivated by the polyp extension when theyíre happy. The dancing polyps in the current. I am in awe of the coloration. And I can stare at those sticks for hours daily, looking for growth.  Iím an addict.... lol

 

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