I have a 55 gallon FOWLR
tank that I'd like to turn into a reef tank but I'm having trouble getting my nitrates down low enough and could use some suggestions.
I bought the tank in September. It was set up about 6-7 years ago and has 110 lbs of live rock that is covered in coralline. When I moved the tank, I used new live araganite sand, at about a 3" depth.
The tank has a 20 gallon sump in which resides a heater, a protein skimmer, and a UV
filter. Water goes back and forth from the sump to a chiller, from the sump to a separate 8 gallon refugium, and from the sump to the main tank.
There are currently no fish in the tank (they are in a hospital tank being treated for ich) so this should be a great opportunity to get my nitrates down without the bioload being a factor. Current occupants include nassarius snails, hermits, a sally, an emerald, a brittle star, a fire shrimp, and some banded trochuses. And the usual hitchhikers - asterinas, feather dusters, bristleworms, stomatellas, etc. There are also three zoas and a xenia that all appear to be doing well.
The tank came with some red bubble algae that I have been siphoning off whenever I get a chance. I have a ball of chaeto in the refugium, about the size of a large grapefruit.
Since I got the tank in September I have been diligent about doing 10% PWCs every week. The nitrate level was hovering around 10 ppm
until a few weeks ago when I lost a torch coral to brown jelly disease. Possibly a coincidence but the nitrate level spiked to 20 ppm
and I haven't been able to get it down from there.
I feed once a day and rotate between three frozen foods (two Rod's mixes and vitaminized brine shrimp).
What's the best approach here - big PWCs, add more chaeto, start feeding every other day??? Suggestions would be VERY much appreciated.