View Full Version : Need HELP, trouble keeping corals, sps and lps

02-11-2010, 10:20 PM

I'm new to salt and have been running a tank for about 10 months now. I'm having troubles keeping corals and could use some advise.

My sps that I got a month back are turning white from the light brown color they used to be. They are positioned about mid tank level, about 10 inches from the light. The heads on my frogspawn branches (think that's the name) are dying off and the tips are white. These branches are positioned mid to top of the tank level, about 14 inches from the light. I got these branches a couple weeks back and they were in perfect condition.

My equipment set-up is as follows:

90 bowfront, Coralife 48" PC, 2-65 watt Actinic 03 Blue, 2-65 watt 10,000K daylights (aquarium lid is on) and running 8 hrs a day, both sets on, Rena XP3, Deltec MCE 600, inline heater, 9 watt UV sterilizer, 4 Hydor's with Wavemaker controller running at 70% max output to 30% minimum.

Water parameters are as follows:

PH 8.4
Cal 460
Phos 1.0 - I understand it should be lower and I'm working on that. It has never been higher than this number.
Nitrate (NO3) 0
Nitrite (NO2) 0
Ammonia 0
KH 11 dKH
Mg - no test kit
Temp 79
Using Reef Crystals and daily dose of Coral Snow and Coral Vitalizer.

I do weekly or biweekly water changes. I have no problems keeping fish and have never lost any yet. I'm leaning towards the lighting not being sufficient but would like some quality advise on this situation. Hopefully this is enough information for someone to take a stab at it.


02-11-2010, 10:34 PM
well, first that phosphate level is extremely high for SPS. What you're describing sounds like bleaching, in the absence of a photo to prove it, and it could be caused by any of a number of factors including water quality. In the case of light not being sufficient, what you would generally notice is that the corals otherwise appear healthy but are getting browner in color, not lighter. Also, the alk is a bit on the high side, prob not enough to cause what you're describing if everything else were perfect, but it's not, so..... Any chance you could take a photo for us?

02-11-2010, 10:39 PM
What test kits do you use are you sure you have no Nitrite, and Nitrate?
How old is your tank. What about flow is there enough flow/oxygen in your tank? Does not sound like a light problem to me. You PO4 is a bit high but should not kill things.

02-11-2010, 11:22 PM
No expert but lighting seems a bit weak

02-11-2010, 11:28 PM
no expert but my sps is growing and from what you posted i would agree phos is high and you need more light also imo higher quality bulbs than the stock ones seems to have made a difference for me

02-11-2010, 11:31 PM
Photo attached...... Bleaching sounds like the right word for what is happening to this SPS. Thanks for your comments.

02-11-2010, 11:33 PM
Thats a lot of fish for a 90 are you sure you have no NO3
I only have 3 fish small ones in my 75 and I show 0.2 of NO3

02-11-2010, 11:37 PM
Are you sure your lights are T5's? 65w sounds like PC to me.

02-11-2010, 11:38 PM
I have tested for both Nitrate and Nitrite, results zero. The tank is about 8-9 months old. There is lots of flow and I believe there is lots of oxygen. I will try to continue to get the Phos down. Jessie55 - are you running the same light ballast as me? Deluxe series, double linear strip T5's from Coralife or something similar in a compact?

02-11-2010, 11:39 PM
Does not look like bleaching to me it looks like a water quality issue.
How old and what kind of test kits do you run? I think your problem is there it is unusual to have that high a PO4 and no NO3

02-11-2010, 11:41 PM
Are you sure your lights are T5's? 65w sounds like PC to me.

If they are PC's you don't have enough light.

02-11-2010, 11:44 PM
PC I'm assuming that this is power compact. This is what I have. Sorry for misleading everyone quoting T5's. I though there were the same.

02-11-2010, 11:52 PM
If they are PC's you don't have enough light.
plus 2 being actinic doesn't help

02-11-2010, 11:55 PM
I'm running API Test Kits I have had them for 8 months plus however long they were on the shelf. I re-tested P04 and NO3 and have the same results. So is this a lighting issue, water quality or both?

02-12-2010, 12:01 AM
You don't have enough lights for SPS and barely enough for LPS especially if your bulbs are older than 6 months. Looks like an excuse to upgrade T5's or M/H:wink:

02-12-2010, 12:14 AM
Ok, thanks for your help on this........ Next one........please. I attached another pic of the lighting area I have (in original post). It is very limited as the aquarium is built in to a finished cabinet. There is a measurement for height, total length available is 48 inches. Is there something I can put in this space that will work or should I just tear everything down and start over with a proper sump, tank, complete entire set-up, build a new cabinet, LOL!!

02-12-2010, 12:15 AM
I'm not trying to be critical for the sake of it so please don't take this the wrong way but that's too many fish for a tank you are trying to keep challenging corals in. Plus, I notice you have a large angel fish which in all likelihood will either a) continue to maintain water quality as an ongoing issue or b) make a nice light snack out of your corals. I agree as well that it is very odd to have that many fish and no nitrate, esp with phosphates that high. Typically when you are keeping SPS and/or large (and beautiful!) fish together like that it requires either a really large tank or extreme maintenance effort on you part (ideally both). That's why most people end up making a choice between corals and fish like large angels, not doing both (I said most!). Again, just trying to offer advice, not dictate. Please don't be offended.

02-12-2010, 12:17 AM
any t5 fixture should work there, including the cheapest option - a diy retrofit t5 that would be a huge improvement over what you currently have. Again, only applicable if you decide corals will be your focus. If you want to continue to focus on fish, the light you have is fine.

02-12-2010, 12:21 AM
and on further inspection, looks like what is happening to the SPS coral may be STN or RTN (slow tissue necrosis or rapid tissue necrosis, depending of course on how fast it's happening). This has many potential causes but could be related to a water quality issue of some type (including acclimation issues).

02-12-2010, 12:50 AM
nlreefguy - I knew a stab would come back about the tank loading. Those little buggers are always fighting for the camera lens hence almost every fish was in the pic. I tried to hide them but no luck. It looks a bit worse then it really is. I will agree that maybe there is a little overloading but I think it is still respectable. When they get too big they will go to new homes. Don't call the reef police, ok. My focus?....... To have a reef with everything! Well not everything but a nice complement of fish and corals. I would agree with your diagnosing of STN or RTN, ya right I don't have a clue what that is. Got some reading to do, thanks for your comments.

Any ideas where I can buy a new light for this set-up?

02-12-2010, 01:59 AM
my pleasure i just hope some of it has been useful. ithink the cheapest effective lights you could get would be a diy retrofit job that you could mount to your canopy. i really dont know where to tell you to get the components - i'm in Canada!

02-12-2010, 02:10 AM
I would say upgrade your lights and stick to LPS to start (make sure your angels do not eat them) Then after that if things go well try SPS again.
Hope that helps you out a bit. good luck and don't be afraid to ask. Some of us might be a bit harsh on you but don't let that get you down we are only trying to help.:mrgreen:

02-12-2010, 02:14 AM
I am in BC but I hear Red Coral is a good place to shop I am sure they can set you up with the right stuff. Someone in AB can probably steer you in the right direction

02-12-2010, 02:58 AM
my pleasure i just hope some of it has been useful. ithink the cheapest effective lights you could get would be a diy retrofit job that you could mount to your canopy. i really dont know where to tell you to get the components - i'm in Canada!

Sorry, I meant "I'm in Newfoundland"... must've thought I was on RC there for a minute!

02-12-2010, 05:49 PM
Any ideas where I can buy a new light for this set-up?

Probably not the cheapest option, but I think the sunlight supply T5 Tek Light is only 2.5" high, that might well fit? I've been seriously considering one myself, but the price is putting me off at the moment (trying to buy a house too). The best price I found (in Canada) was Ocean Aquatics. Also, if you can get around any corrosion issues the sun blaze is a bit cheaper.


02-12-2010, 06:13 PM
Ok, thanks for the suggestions guys.

So should I be going with a T5 setup, MH or try to find something with both. I'm going to purchase a new lighting system so I want to get it right. I would like to eventually have SPS, LPS etc. etc. once I get it right. Space is a premium with a 5" height, 48" length and 8" width. It's either that or I tear the cabinet down but I don't really want to do that. Price isn't too much of a concern but I don't need it gold plated either. Just need to be led in the right direction and I will do the research.

02-12-2010, 07:08 PM
Keep your eye out for something like this: http://www.canreef.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=59705&highlight=tek

If budget isn't a concern you might want to check this out: http://bcaquaria.com/forum/showthread.php?t=33236