jlanger's 120gal Arts and Crafts Inspired Reef Build

Discussion in 'Tank Builds' started by jlanger, May 1, 2013.

  1. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    With a house meeting scheduled for next weekend, here's a quick FTS taken while starting my water change; hence the low water level.
    I spent some time these past couple of weeks placing the new rocks and finding new homes for many of the SPS frags; went through quite a few tubes of gel superglue!

    [​IMG]

    For the most part, most things are doing quite well.
    I've been battling a slowly climbing alkalinity level ever since I removed the large montipora colonies. Just when it seems stable out, it climbs again. The devastation of these alkalinity swings has been limited this time to the green Tenuis colony; about half of it has RTN'ed. The rest of the corals are doing great; especially the PC Rainbow frag!

    [​IMG]

    And speaking of rainbows... a new Rainbow Montipora frag that has colored up nicely.

    [​IMG]

    Earlier this weekend, I moved my nano tank into its upgraded 32gal tank. In doing so, I rehomed the One Spot Foxface and the Bangaii Cardinalfish into the 120gal. Both fish are doing well in the much bigger tank. The only aggression that I see is that the Flameback Angelfish doesn't much care for the foxface poking his nose into its business.
    And with it being Father's Day and all, the Percula Clownfish are currently laying another clutch of eggs as I write this.

    I'll try to get more updated photos of the tank and inhabitants this week prior to the house meeting.
     
    #541 jlanger, Jun 18, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2017
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  2. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    So here it is... the first new photo hosted through Flickr.

    [​IMG]

    This is actually a pose that I've been trying to get for a long time now. I really like when the fish are in full display with their fins; and the rabbitfishes especially look great.

    Many of you may have noticed that anyone that was using Photobucket to host their photo collection suddenly lost the ability to post their photos to forums; for free. Since I am not one to support such entities and antics, I'm taking my photos elsewhere. I signed up for a Flickr account and have started to move my photo collection over there. It's going to take some time to upload all of my photos and even longer to replace the broken links to the forum posts. Even though my posts tend to be quite wordy, a picture is still worth a thousand words. And I enjoy sharing my photos and my tanks with all of you. (We'll have to see if I update the memes, though.)
     
  3. Greentree

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    We love your photos, thanks for moving them to Flickr :) the PC Rainbow frag is AWESOME!
     
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    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    Just a tease...

    [​IMG]

    The top of the frag disk is completely covered, encrusting live rock on the bottom left and plating on the right side.
    If you look closely, you'll see the mauve streaks and there's a small green patch towards the top right; they're there, it's not an illusion.
     
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  5. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    This weekend's maintenance schedule was a little more thorough than usual.
    In addition to the usual glass cleaning and stirring up the sand bed, I placed a larger filter sock into the sump and vacuumed the entire front half of the sand bed. The filter sock collected quite a bit of detritus that has accumulated over the summer. I think the last time i vacuumed the sand bed was around the time spring weather arrived; I remember having the windows/patio doors open since it was so nice. I then performed a 50gal water change (40+%) to try and get my nutrient levels a tad lower. My ATS unit has been doing a great job at maintaining the nutrient levels, but not so great at lowering them. I'm considering the construction of a new ATS unit that will have a second LED fixture to double the amount of screen that will grow algae; thus lowering my nutrient levels?!
    I also cleaned up some of the plumbing to the system. I ordered some new Loc-Line fittings to replace those currently on the system. The existing Loc-Line and the flare nozzles were covered in coralline algae, bubble algae, vermetid snails and other gunk, so it was a good time to just swap them out.
    Once everything settles down tonight (or tomorrow), I'll perform new water tests to see if I made an impact.

    The reason for upping my maintenance routine is that my 120gal is partaking in a feeding and supplement study by Craig Bingman at UW-Madison. It started with having to fill out an extensive survey describing many facets of my system; water volume, filtration methods, lighting parameters, water movement parameters, supplement, and, of course, what supplements and foods are being used. I will be sending two bottles filled with my tank water to the study to establish a baseline. Over the next couple weeks, I need to record exactly how much food and supplements are added to my system. When the study concludes, I imagine I will send in another water sample to compare to the original sample. Depending on how the study progresses, I may find out some valuable information about how my system handles it's bioload.
    One thing I learned from filling out the survey was actually how little water movement I have in my display. We had to calculate how much water was actually being moved in the display by using some calculations; also had to do this with my lighting schedule. I thought I had decent water movement in my display since I have four MP40 water pumps in addition to the two return lines. It turns out that I didn't have nearly the water flow as I thought. Since my four MP40's spend most of the day running in a pulse mode and are synced/anti-synced with one another, they are really only pushing half (at most) of the water the pump is rated at. So when I set the maximum flow rate of the pump at 80%, the most I could possibly get is 40%; more like 25-35%. I adjusted the back pair of my pumps that I had set at a lower flow rate to run much higher (almost 100%) throughout the day. I do notice more flow in my tank, but I still think I could use more flow up front. I also noticed that my water temperature has increased by just over a degree, but that may also have to do with the heat/humidity of the season. I may reconfigure my pumps to run with a more stable flow and avoid the pulse modes, but I haven't decided on that yet.

    Anyhoo... a couple of recent pictures of corals liking the increased water flow; i.e. polyp extension!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  6. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    The water sample for the feeding and supplement study was drawn tonight.
    For the next 2-3 weeks, I'll be monitoring exactly how much food and supplements are added to my tank. The foods that I will be using have been weighed and will be weighed again once the study concludes. I'm just going to limit myself to feeding LRS Reef Frenzy for the majority of the foods with some Hikari Bio-Pure Mysis thrown in. I'm not going to feed the PE Mysis since this is a food that I thaw and then rinse prior to feeding; I didn't want to deal with tracking what was lost from rinsing. Then I'll be keeping a daily chart of the three supplements that I dose; ESV B-Ionic Calcium, ESV B-Ionic Alkalinity and ESV Transition Elements PLUS. The calcium and alkalinity will be easy to chart as my Apex DOS pump records each dose throughout the day. The Transition Elements PLUS is manually dosed, so I just have to remember to record it as I dose it.

    As a side note... The larger water change and sand bed cleaning knocked my NO3 down to 4ppm. Let's see if my ATS unit can maintain that number.
     
  7. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    There's been a fish on my "Gotta Have It!" list for my 120gal system for a handful of years now.
    With this weekend's visit to the DFS/LA Open House Tour, I can finally say that I was made an offer I couldn't refuse!

    Meet the new king...

    [​IMG]

    This is the best photo I could get (out of 111 I took this morning) of my new male Lineatus Wrasse.
    I'm really excited to have this fish in my tank. He is already eating with gusto and swimming in the open water with the other fish. The other fish don't seem bothered by his addition to the tank; which is great! His coloration has deepened already; from a paler pink/orange body at the facility to the pink/blue that is in the photo. The yellow in his dorsal and anal fins is very bright when he pauses to flash them. He has a few areas of fin damage from collection and acclimation, but it looks like his tail is already healing back up.
    I may have to resort to using video to show this fish off.

    I'm hoping the addition of the Lineatus Fairy Wrasse will assist my male Pintail Fairy Wrasse to achieve terminal male coloration.
     
  8. ChristopherKriens

    ChristopherKriens Xenia lover
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    Very nice! I know you were looking at these the last time we were over there.

    Nothing worse than doing a long photo session, and still not getting one you love. :eek:
     
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  9. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    I posted the good news in my 32gal Office Tank build thread.
    Now the bad news...

    [​IMG]

    This is the third collection of dead montipora coral colonies I've collected over the past month.
    What I used to consider weeds in my system over the past five years has suddenly become a mass extinction. I started noticing some of my montipora corals losing their bright coloration. The Orange Setosa, Red M. hodgsoni and even the Forest Fire Digitata started fading towards a drab pinkish fleshtone color. After a couple of weeks, the coral started losing patches of tissue exposing the bright white skeleton. As time elapsed, the entire colony was dead. In the last month, just about every colony (or frag) or montipora coral has succumbed to the same fate. I've already lost all of the red and green M. hodgsoni, the R. capricornus, the M. spongodes, the Orange Setosa, most of the Purple Rim, the Flowerpot, the entire Nauti Spiral, the Rainbow and even the Phoenix montipora. The M. undata is struggling to hang on, as is the Lilac and some of the Idaho Grape colonies. The green digitata seems to be doing okay, but that's the only montipora sp. coral doing okay.

    As of this week, my large scroll coral colony is exhibiting the loss of the deep purple color; appears as a metallic tint over the purple.

    The oddest part of all of this is my acropora corals are doing fine. Go figure.

    Do I know what happened? No.
    There has been a few chains of events that could contribute to the losses, but I'm not sure which one or multiple of them have done so.

    Number one:
    Early in August I performed a more thorough water change and maintenance procedure prior to the sample being taken for Craig's study. Nothing really showed up in that water sample to point the finger at; parameters were normal. By vacuuming the sand bed through a filter sock so the water remained in the system, did that release any harmful compounds? Did I create a mini-cycle that stressed the corals? I don't know.

    Number two:
    During that water change procedure, I changed out my Loc-line tubing. Was there something on the plastic that contaminated the tank? I don't know.

    Number three:
    Around the time I noticed the corals looking not so great, my son had a bunch of friends over with their computers for an all-weekend gaming session. In doing so, the temperature of the room and tank rose; the tank reached over 81° for about a day. A couple weeks after that, our AC unit blew a capacitor and once again we had high temperatures in the house and the tank almost reached 81° again. The 81° isn't that high of a temperature on it's own, but I normally keep my tank at 77° so it was a quick rise of four degrees.

    Number four:
    There has been a recent thread about the low levels of potassium in the hw MarineMix salt mix. I read through those threads as I have been using this salt mix exclusively (and vigorously) over the past year or so. I performed my own water tests on my tank and freshly mixed saltwater. All of the tests show my potasium levels to be at a consistent 280ppm; quite below the recommended and advertised levels. Potassium is known to affect coral coloration (which is very apparent in my tank) but does the low levels affect montipora sp. corals so drastically. I don't know.

    Number five:
    There was a thread on Reef2Reef called "Light, Alkalinity, Nutrients." In reading the thread, post #4 described exactly what was happening in my system. I dropped my nutrient levels (finally) to acceptable levels, the corals started losing color so I lowered the intensity of the lighting, the corals stopped growing (consuming calcium and carbonates) so my alkalinity started to rise. I kept lowering the dosing levels to try and maintain stable levels and everything crashed.

    So... I don't know what's happening to my tank.

    Since I've returned from New Orleans, I've been trying to figure out what is going on.
    I've been reading as many threads as I can find on coral death.
    I've been testing every parameter with multiple brands of test kits.
    As of the past week or so and today's testing results, my tank's parameters are as follows:

    Specific gravity: 1.026
    Temperature: 77°

    Ca: 420ppm
    Alk: 7.4dKH
    Mg: 1300ppm
    K: 280ppm

    NO3: 25ppm
    PO4: 0.5ppm

    Looks good, except the nitrates crept back up from not performing water changes over the past month due to these events and the hw Marinemix reports.

    I've briefly talked with a few people about my problem and as of now, I'm trying to fight through it. As long as the acropora sp. corals are looking good and growing, I know that it's not all lost.
    At times, I've wanted to tear this system down and start over. Doing so would elevate a few other problems as well; i.e. vermetid snails, bubble algae and blue mushrooms. I've tried various methods of removal or containment and it's not working. Starting over with new rock and a newly established biosystem is really tempting.

    What is really keeping me from doing such a thing is my fish. All of my fish are doing great. The clownfish continuously spawn. The anthias have established a new male and the harmed status. The pair of Midas Blennies are still getting along and hang out with the anthias. My leopard wrasse is looking great. The pintail and lunettes wrasse are getting along "swimmingly"; the Lineatus is amazing!!! They're all doing very well, so I don't want to disrupt the environment that they've created and live in.

    But there is that voice in my head (one of many) that says this is the perfect time to upgrade to a bigger system, but I just don't have the time and resources (or evidence to convince the wife) right now to be considering such a plan. So I'll continue to fight the fight.

    That is all.
     
  10. cathorn

    cathorn Senior Member
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    Jason please keep us informed of any information you find. Like we talked at Eric's house meeting, I am also loosing most of the monti, I got from you. Today I also removed a lot of Moni, really makes you wonder what happened so quickly.
     
  11. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    Have you experienced any of the things that I've mentioned?
    I'm not curious of the nutrient, light and alkalinity issue. Do montipora spp. corals need a higher level of nitrates and phosphates for better overall health? When those elements are depleted, do the corals shut down and stop growing, thus consuming less calcium and carbonates and causing unstable levels.
    Before I removed the last two large colonies earlier this summer, I was dosing 82-84ml/day of the ESV B-Ionic Calcium Supplementation parts. After removal, I dropped the doses to find them stabilize around 40-50ml/day. And right now, I'm stable at 22ml/day. Drastic change.

    But... whenever I've had fluctuations with my alkalinity levels, it was my acropora spp. corals that would exhibit RTN to alert me of the issue. As of now, my acropora spp. corals are doing just fine.
     
  12. dirtrider225

    dirtrider225 Junior Member
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    For what it's worth, my tank was unable to grow montiepora at all. No matter what combo of nutrients lighting or flow montis would ALWAYS turn a gray color and die within a month. I also was using hw marine mix for my salt.

    When I shut down my reefer and transferred to the smaller system, I also started using coral pro salt. Interestingly enough a tiny piece of purple monti that had found it's way into a crevice has not only stayed alive, but also is purple (not gray) and exhibiting polyps AND growing.

    Idk what this means but so far in my experience the red sea salt (and reef crystals back in the day) have produced much better results than the fancy manufactured lab grade salts.
     
  13. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    This is really good to know.
    Do you happen to remember the timeline of when you were using the salt? (I could go looking for build threads, but I thought I'd ask.)
    I'll need to go back and look at my timeline for specific dates of when I started using the salt mix and how my corals responded. Since I know that I have had good color and growth when initially using the hw MarineMix, it will be interesting to see when a decline is first noticed. If my timeline matches up with other timelines, then I think we can start narrowing down where things went wrong.
    I'll also need to see if I documented when I stopped dosing the hw supplements. Maybe those supplements were what was keeping the elements in the tank within normal levels and by stopping those doses, those elements declined and affected the corals.

    This weekend, I just opened the last box of the hw MarineMix l have left. And it will be the last, ever.
    I'll be looking at other alternatives. I used to use Reef Crystals, but I got frustrated with the amount of residue that would accumulate in my mixing can. I'm on the list to test the new DFS/LA salt mix and those are set to start shipping out soon. And Stephen at AcanLord has suggested I try using the Biomarin salt mix he uses at the store.
     
  14. dirtrider225

    dirtrider225 Junior Member
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    From september 2015- june 2016. I tried a couple buckets of aquaforest salt and it was good but the rest of their products gave me issues so i stopped with there stuff. Decided to just go to the red sea coral pro when i shut down the reefer and moved to the c130. Tank was filled 100% with new water and that salt and seriously things rebounded within weeks and my alk went from being stagnant to actually being consumed. Good luck with your troubleshooting Jason, Always been a huge fan of your tank! Personally ill be sticking to red sea salt or maybe even go back to IO/RC salt.
     
  15. cypho

    cypho I contributed!
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    Thriving corals & dirty mixing bucket vs clean mixing bucket & dead corals. Does not seem like a difficult decision at all. Perhaps the corals needed whatever ingredient was contributing to dirtying the can.

    If you suspect the salt is the problem, why did you open the last box instead of making the switch immediately? If you later rule out the salt as the problem you can always use that box later.
     
  16. rlinusc

    rlinusc I contributed!
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    FWIW my montis- including the pieces i got from (forest fire) are thriving and i use RC.
     
  17. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    I know... I heard the voices in my head arguing against doing it, but I'm waiting to get new salt mix from Stephen. My OCD has me doing water changes weekly and I couldn't wait; OCD talks louder than practicality.
     
  18. Jonty

    Jonty I contributed!
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  19. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    Aww... What'd I miss?
     

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