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View Full Version : I am looking at a total loss...Learn from my mistake


Cujo#31
10-13-2017, 02:23 PM
This hobby. Certainly keeps one on their toes. First of all never, ever, ever assume everything is going well. I have a firm believer that the coral gods will take every opportunity to remind us who exactly is in control.
I came home from work yesterday and my first item of business after I take my work boots off is to give my tank(s) a quick eyeball.
Things didn't appear "normal" immediately, so I went into my tank room to start running some tests. I walk in to a room with water all over the floor (thank god this is all in my garage).
The next thing I notice is my 30g ATO reservoir is empty and the pump is dry churning away. Not good. This system is only 80 gallons with sump.
My frag tank sump is near dry in the return pump chamber. My overflow chambers are near dry, even worse. I shut everything down except circ and tank heat and start searching for the source of the problem.
It did not take me long to discover the problem. The cap seal on my CO2 reactor failed, pumping system water all over the floor. I went into immediate panic because I instantly knew what the chain reaction was. As my system levels dropped, my ATO continued to top up.
I ran a salinity check and started to almost cry. 1.05. Odds are it had been like that for a very long time. I'm away from the house for work at least 12-13 hours a day.
All of my coral are in my 50g frag tank as I am waiting on total stability before I introduce my Corals to the new display that is fully cycled and showing signs it is ready for my corals. I was going to transfer on Saturday.
I immediately knew my livestock was in deep trouble due to osmotic shock. SPS can't tolerate any levels of FW well.
I always keep spare tanks at hand and always have a full WC readyand churning away. I have restored "stability" but I'm thinking too little too late. I gave a couple Corals a quick shot with a baster to clear out the slime.....and was left with bare, white skeleton. I almost puked as I instantly knew pretty much every other piece of SPS is equally affected.
There is some irony to all of this. I have always known that a reactor failure could cause such an event, but my current sump had no space for the reactor. So I religiously burped the reactor every 2 days and checked every possible leak point as well. My new sump, set to go in this Saturday has a spot dedicated to the reactor.....too late.
I am expecting to come home tonight to 95 bleached white skeletons, I am sick to my stomach and I just want to crawl under a rock and die right now. Lesson learned.
If you have ANY reason to believe some part of your system has the potential to fail, remedy the issue immediately. Assume the worst will happen.... it just happened to me. Cost some animals their lives, and cost me thousands.

WarDog
10-13-2017, 02:51 PM
Sorry to hear Gary. Oh man.

Myka
10-13-2017, 03:00 PM
Gary, so sorry to hear about your losses. :( I assume you mean the SG was 1.015? That's roughly what the math works out to.

This is exactly why I "preach" redundancy all the time, and so many people ignore it, or plan a future resolve. Most of the time they sneak by without any problems (which encourages others to walk the line), but the unlucky ones like you get dragged through the flames. :(

Your RO/DI reservoir was 37.5% of the system volume. One of my "redundancy rules" is that an ATO reservoir is never more than 10% of the system volume (and never, ever, EVER attached to an RO/DI system which provides an unlimited supply of RO/DI). A full 10% addition of RO will reduce salinity from 1.026 to 1.024 which isn't enough of a change to affect most corals - even SPS. Something to consider for your future tank, so even if the reactor (or something else) failed and dumped system water out, the salinity wouldn't drop too far.

I have one of your SPS, I'd happily send you a big frag when you're ready.

Cujo#31
10-13-2017, 03:09 PM
Gary, so sorry to hear about your losses. :( I assume you mean the SG was 1.015? That's roughly what the math works out to.

This is exactly why I "preach" redundancy all the time, and so many people ignore it, or plan a future resolve. Most of the time they sneak by without any problems (which encourages others to walk the line), but the unlucky ones like you get dragged through the flames. :(

Your RO/DI reservoir was 37.5% of the system volume. One of my "redundancy rules" is that an ATO reservoir is never more than 10% of the system volume (and never, ever, EVER attached to an RO/DI system which provides an unlimited supply of RO/DI). A full 10% addition of RO will reduce salinity from 1.026 to 1.024 which isn't enough of a change to affect most corals - even SPS. Something to consider for your future tank, so even if the reactor (or something else) failed and dumped system water out, the salinity wouldn't drop too far.

I have one of your SPS, I'd happily send you a big frag when you're ready.
Any yes Mindy, don't I know the reservoir was too big. I was lazy and complacent. This was a temporary arrangement, so I didn't practice my due diligence. My SG was definately lower than 1.015 which means my system volume calculation was off, but in a small system like that miscalculations are definately magnified.

takeastabatit22
10-13-2017, 03:17 PM
That sucks ks Gary. Thanks for scaring. ME. I already come home every day wounding what gone wrong today?
I was just staring to feel comfortable it's been a mounth of goodness. Why coral gods why?

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Dearth
10-13-2017, 03:40 PM
I had an ato failure a few years ago no where near as catastrophic as yours but I pumped 20 gallons of ato water into my sump which filled up fast and dumped about 15 gallons onto the floor hours of steam cleaning carpet and doing a water change and making fresh water killed a good portion of my day.

I lived alone for years and I was gone like you for 12 hrs a day and nights (shift worker) so never knew what I would be coming home too every night or morning

Still sucks though

Cujo#31
10-13-2017, 03:51 PM
Ah crap...edit and spell check. I DID know the reservoir was too big. I was complacent and lazy. In the haze and stress of recent events, it also just occurred to me that while I normally ran a 33 reservoir I had switched to a 55 reservoir when we went on vacation for a week the last week of August. My old display was a 125 with a 45g of water in a 90g sump. Either way...hopefully everyone else learns from my errors and strive to be more diligent in their reef keeping practices. Bad things don't just happen to "other people". We are all susceptible to disaster, and I should have known better. Nobody to blame but myself.

Piscez
10-13-2017, 03:51 PM
Gary so sorry to hear, and yes it should help as a reminder to us all, as these type of things happen more and more often we owe it to our little creatures to be diligent and responsible for their lives, I've certainly messed up a couple of times and I totally agree redundancy is a major preventative. Good luck in your rebuild.

Potatohead
10-13-2017, 04:25 PM
I don't mean to pile on, but most ATO's also have a maximum run time so this type of thing doesn't happen. If set up correctly the most water a system will lose is whatever amount is in the return chamber + maximum ATO run time. You'll burn up your return pump, but who cares. I guess if the leak is slow enough that the ATO can refill completely and resets every time, there's nothing you can do about that. In hindsight this stuff if always easily solved of course.

Really a crummy situation for you :sad::sad:. I hope some stuff pulls through.

jhj0112
10-13-2017, 04:30 PM
I'm sorry for your loss.. man! that's tough..

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Delphinus
10-13-2017, 05:53 PM
In my early days in the hobby I too learned the hard way not to have top up on an infinite water supply. Oh what a mess that was.

Sorry for your losses and pain.

Cujo#31
10-13-2017, 06:13 PM
I don't mean to pile on, but most ATO's also have a maximum run time so this type of thing doesn't happen. If set up correctly the most water a system will lose is whatever amount is in the return chamber + maximum ATO run time. You'll burn up your return pump, but who cares. I guess if the leak is slow enough that the ATO can refill completely and resets every time, there's nothing you can do about that. In hindsight this stuff if always easily solved of course.

Really a crummy situation for you :sad::sad:. I hope some stuff pulls through.

Oh no. Pile it on bud. This isn't about a pity party for me, this is about sharing and learning. I had asked myself that question too and the simple answer is my reactor is fed with a 1/4" line that is throttled down to keep a decent feed to reactor. I've seen my ATO trigger for top off and it only runs for about 5 seconds. There is plenty of time for the pump to shut down and reset before the levels dropped low enough again to trigger start up.

DKoKoMan
10-13-2017, 06:20 PM
Sorry to hear man about the disaster. I feel for you as I also work shiftwork and this is an example of my biggest fear. I always worry that when I get home from my regular 10 hours (sometimes 12/13 hrs) that something has gone wrong. I have saw some of your frags on Canreef and they are stunning. I am also very impressed with your resiliency and your will to rebuild a new system. I’m hopefully some people who have acquired beautiful pieces from you are able to help you rebuild your coral collection as Myka has already mentioned. Keep us posted... I appreciate you sharing your tragic experience with us Canreefers so we can learn and hopefully prevent this in the future.

Animal-Chin
10-13-2017, 08:02 PM
Oh man this sucks, sorry to hear...ooooof

Cujo#31
10-13-2017, 09:00 PM
In the spirit of redundancy and planning, and going over some of the things I could have done differently, if I had set up a salinity probe to my controller, then run the ATO thru the controller, I could have most likely set the ATO "off" at a specific SG reading and most likely could have avoided the whole event. I would still have water on the floor and possibly a burnt out return pump but those are small potato issues in comparison to what I have now.

Cujo#31
10-13-2017, 09:04 PM
Sorry to hear man about the disaster. I feel for you as I also work shiftwork and this is an example of my biggest fear. I always worry that when I get home from my regular 10 hours (sometimes 12/13 hrs) that something has gone wrong. I have saw some of your frags on Canreef and they are stunning. I am also very impressed with your resiliency and your will to rebuild a new system. Iím hopefully some people who have acquired beautiful pieces from you are able to help you rebuild your coral collection as Myka has already mentioned. Keep us posted... I appreciate you sharing your tragic experience with us Canreefers so we can learn and hopefully prevent this in the future.
Yes, this has been a kick to the nuts for sure, but I'm still moving forward. I have a nice new display, a newly designed and re-tooled sump. and a plan. This is a major setback for sure, and I wont bounce back very quickly but I can only move forward and do so successfully if I learn from my failures.....which are quite numerous LMMFAO

Galizio
10-14-2017, 02:41 AM
Sorry to hear Gary ... that's really unfortunate,stay positive.



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Cujo#31
10-14-2017, 06:23 AM
Sorry to hear Gary ... that's really unfortunate,stay positive.



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Thanks Galizio. The "body count" is at 34 now and there are a small handful that might not make it. Hopefully the others continue to show positive signs. This won't make me throw in the towel, if anything this makes me more determined than ever to shoot for the moon with my new display. Not saying this hasn't brought me to my knees, it is a crushing blow. But I still love the hobby, love the challenge, and probably always will. I was never any good at quitting.

Frogger
10-16-2017, 03:24 AM
Hi Gary

Just got home to read all the bad news. Sorry to hear about your catastrophe.

Glenn

SeaHorse_Fanatic
10-16-2017, 08:52 PM
Oh Dang Gary. This really sucks to hear. It just takes one or two little things to go wrong and a reef tank can go sideways soooo fast. Sadly I know the feeling.

Fingers crossed that some corals survive their fw bath.

Anthony

Cujo#31
10-23-2017, 02:39 PM
As an update, my loss was 100%. The corals were just too stressed and weak from osmotic shock to recover and within 3 days I had nothing to show for 3 years of collecting than a 2 gallon pail of bleached white skeletons. While a loss and setback of this magnitude would cause many to throw in the towel, or take a break I'm a sucker for punishment.I love the hobby. I was about 3/4 of the way thru the set up of my new display and I continue to move forward. I still have my sights set on SPS domonant with select LPS.
We continue to learn. We will always make mistakes,we will continue to have oversights and we will always lose more than we win. If there is a lesson to be learned here, it is that the worst thing any reefer can experience it is complacency. I knew, that little voice in the back of my mind told me that the 55g ATO reservoir was too big, and in the back of my mind was the "it won't happen to me, this is only temporary". Listen to that little voice. It isn't wrong very often. We walk the razor edge daily in our little oceans and complete and total loss is only one misstep away.

olisze
10-23-2017, 05:28 PM
Gary,

Thank you for sharing your experience with fellow reefers.
So awesome to hear that you'll continue on.
I'm new to this hobby, so it's inspiring to read about everyone's experiences.
Good luck with your new build and I look forward to seeing photos!

Cheers,
Olivia

SeaHorse_Fanatic
10-23-2017, 07:06 PM
Sad to hear about your worst fears coming true.

Good luck with the rebuild my friend.

Anthony

iamfrontosa
10-23-2017, 11:43 PM
As an update, my loss was 100%. The corals were just too stressed and weak from osmotic shock to recover and within 3 days I had nothing to show for 3 years of collecting than a 2 gallon pail of bleached white skeletons. While a loss and setback of this magnitude would cause many to throw in the towel, or take a break I'm a sucker for punishment.I love the hobby. I was about 3/4 of the way thru the set up of my new display and I continue to move forward. I still have my sights set on SPS domonant with select LPS.
We continue to learn. We will always make mistakes,we will continue to have oversights and we will always lose more than we win. If there is a lesson to be learned here, it is that the worst thing any reefer can experience it is complacency. I knew, that little voice in the back of my mind told me that the 55g ATO reservoir was too big, and in the back of my mind was the "it won't happen to me, this is only temporary". Listen to that little voice. It isn't wrong very often. We walk the razor edge daily in our little oceans and complete and total loss is only one misstep away.



I hear you. I also went thru a crash that costed me $$$$. I may have gotta some pieces from you last year. I also don't mind fragging and sending some your way when you are ready.

Myka
10-24-2017, 02:53 AM
Your perseverance is admirable. :)

kaboom
10-24-2017, 04:21 PM
100% loss is very painful, the worst I've experience is 50% and it hurts. Tank and plumbing design is utmost important to avoid such disaster. On my most recent tank I eliminated the sump and made a larger over flow to accommodate all gears, it's the best design change I've done in over 20 years of reefing. Without the extra plumbing, reduced noise and lower maintenance, it's given a me a huge piece of mind. The only thing that could possibly go wrong now is my Tunze osmolator but in my 15 yr experience with the product it's rock solid.
Consider sump-less system my friends.

Animal-Chin
10-24-2017, 06:14 PM
Oh even sumpless has its issues, I had my 50 gallon partially empty into my living room because the return for my canister filter moved (somehow, maybe the cat, who knows) and was shooting water out of the tank. I got home and there was salt and water everywhere, ruined furniture, the floor, lost coral, heater was exposed, a couple of fish died, you know...

Lets face it, we have big boxes of water in our homes, things can go wrong, things will go wrong...

kaboom
10-24-2017, 06:48 PM
I hear ya, the more equipment we can contain and housed with the water box the better off we'll be. Less peripheral and more internal setup to avoid as much water transport from one place to another is key. That's why I made an over-sized overflow to place everything in there, skimmer, reactor, heater, etc. Only down side to it is the extra space it occupies behind the tank.

KPG007
10-24-2017, 07:38 PM
Sorry to hear about the losses, Gary. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help. I have lots of coral, as you know, and would be happy to give you a bunch to get your new tank filled out.

Kelly

Scythanith
10-25-2017, 01:02 AM
For reference my ATO pail is 5g on a ~330g system lol. It fills twice a day, but only 5g at a time.

Sorry to hear about your catastrophe! Bigger and better, learn from your mistakes and all that jazz. Best of luck!

Dearth
10-25-2017, 01:59 AM
I talked with an American friend of mine today he is in the Hobby as well and he told me of his personal nightmare 3 years ago (He is a lurker on Canreef). He has a 300 gallon DT and a 155 gallon sump due to were he lives (Savanah, Georgia) almost all his plumbing, wiring and additives are outside of his house in a little over hang shed.

He had his ATO hooked up to the house water and had several redundancies built in couple of floor wet sensors, overflow sensors on his sump and display and several solenoid driven actuators that were designed to fail closed in event of an outage or water sensors tripped. Being as he is a licensed and certified Electrician and pipe fitter he knew what he was doing. He had backups for his backups but what he never counted on was Mother Nature.

His house received an indirect lightning strike while he and the wife were at work and the wiring in the shed took a direct hit all fried and rendered it useless now the actuators on the ATO system wired into his house water should of failed closed but unfortunately all 3 actuators failed open due to the power surge and frying the electronics in the solenoids. His oldest daughter came home from school and he received a panicked called from his wife whom his daughter contacted saying the floor was covered in water.

Bruce came home to find about a 1/3 inch of water on the floor his tank water a lovely shade of milk and the smell of burnt wiring. Problem was quickly sourced but damage was done. End result was $37,000 in water damage, roughly $9,000 in dead coral and fish and about 900 gallons of water sucked up and one devastated family. They figure the water was pouring into the sump then floor for about 8 hrs. After serious talk with his wife they decided to keep the tank going and 5 months after the disaster and repairs completed they got the tank up and running again. Now he has the house water pumped into a 100 gallon container with a separate ATO that runs from there to the sump and everything is hooked up to separate power sources with GF indicators now. Today he has a healthy vibrant tank again.

dino
10-25-2017, 03:43 PM
I use a 5 gallon bucket on a gravity feed for this reason. its so simple and if my float fails it wont overflow my sump because it can take a extra 5 gallons.
I will donate any extras to you garry when your running although you used to be into a lot nicer corals than me.

sobe
10-25-2017, 06:16 PM
Sorry to hear your loss. I cant even imagine how you felt coming home from that.

Im same boat as dino I lug a 5g jug and hooked up to an aqualifter. Its back breaking . The only nightmare i am afraid of is a leaking tank on a 2nd floor house with about 100g of water

I have some corals that can donate but they are not high ends. Just let me know if you are in the area.

tang daddy
10-25-2017, 10:01 PM
Sorry to hear Gary, not much to say here that hasnít been said already. Every time we make a mistake we learn something. A few years back I had a fully stocked Lps tank I ran up until summer without a chiller, lost the whole investment one day when the temp got over 29.... expensive lesson as most of the Lps was Aussie. No one to blame but myself for not spending money on a chiller, all my tanks now run a chiller.... with that said I also run my tank in the garage as I still have tons of spills on the floor, mostly from the rodi overfilling the ato which is about 30g. But the garage floor sucks up that moisture like the Sahara. Lots of people ask me why I donít keep the tank inside, my simple answer is because I still make wet spots here and there, the other reason is itís alot cooler in the garage which means I save abit on the cost of chilling my tank summer months....

Hope you have your new tank dialed in by summer next year.
Let me know if thereís any way I can help.

shiftline
10-27-2017, 07:26 AM
Good to hear your sticking with it and moving forward!

One thing I have learned is to plan for redundancy and dual safety