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Old 01-13-2004, 12:25 PM   #1
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This is going to be a broad topic, and Im posing the question only because Id like to get as many responses as possible.
Here's a breakdown of what I have.

* Water flow. I just upgraded the pump (see below), and the flow is noticably increased, but Im still seeing everything covered with a lite dusting of algae. What does everyone do to make sure the flow is getting to the right parts of the tank? Is three power heads too few? How many are suggested? Note that there's not a lot of this 'dust' on the sand, just the rocks.
* Colors and coralline growth. There has to be something I can do to encourage this. Ive tried dosing B-Ionic and Kent's Calcium and Alk buffer, but neither did much at all; a lack of coralline growth has been since day one.
* I dont have a skimmer, as Ive read many success stories of tanks without them. Is that a vital factor Im missing? Would it help here?

* 110 gallon FOWLR, set up for the last 18 months.
* AquaClear 300 converted to a refugium/sump.
* Little Giant 4-MDQX-SC.
* Three MJ PHs - Two 1200s and one 900 (the 1200s sit at either end of the tank and the 900 is positioned behind the rockwork).
* Two 175w MH, installed 6-7 months ago.
* Two 140w Actinic, bulbs replaced 4-5 months ago.
* 100 gpd RO/DI unit.
* Water changes are done every two to three months, 30 gallons each time [1].

* Ammonia/Nitrite are zero.
* Nitrate is 5-10.
* Water temperature is 80-84.
* Phosphate is 1.0 [2].
* Calcium is between 450 and 500.

* Appx 150 to 175lbs live rock.
* 6" DSB in display - 4" DSB in refugium
* Two yellow tangs.
* One regal tang.
* One zebra eel (also known as a yellow-headed eel) [3].

* Every color put in the tank (read: live rock growths) slowly fades to a dull grey color.
* Dust (looks like diatoms) covers every surface not *directly* in the path of the powerhead or return flow.
* No coralline growth whatsoever. No matter what the alk or calcium levels have been over the life of the system, I cannot get coralline to grow.

[1] I used to do water changes every month like clockwork, until I realized it wasnt doing a thing to help this situation. This has been going on for the last several months, and Ive only recently moved to every two to three months for water changes.
[2] Phosphate is still high, despite the switch to a RO/DI unit. Its still very new, and the cartridges arent due for a change yet. Ive tried using phosphate sponges or carbon, neither had much of an effect. Overfeeding perhaps?
[3] The eel was an impulse buy by my fiance, and we have already spoken to the LFS about taking it back for a credit. He's only been in the tank for two months or so, and this color fade has been going on lots longer than that.

Im currently redoing the plumbing on this setup, and have a project page started. It has pictures and updates, and I'll post as things progress: http://palmisanonet.com/aquarium/equ.../plumbing.html
Thanks everyone; any suggestions are welcomed.


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Old 01-13-2004, 07:18 PM   #2
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I do not think you have huge issues and should be correctable in time. The PO4 level is your largest obstacle. Not only does it contribute to your algae issues but at higher levels will also slow the growth of CaCO3 organisms. With the coralline, the need for CaCO3 is quite large and the PO4 inhibits the coralline from incorporating it. That in itself could be the issue. Your Ca level is fine but also needs to be balanced with Mg and the alk for the neccessary formation of the calcerous structures.

You can still be successful without a skimmer but you still need a form of regular export that will remove the unwanted chemical elements as well as the DOC. Overfeeding can be a great contributor but without even water changes (30% 4x/yr won't do much), the build up will continue. Your refugium is a plus but unless it has macro algaes that are regularly removed from the system, there is no export. The system harbours these nuisance properties until the macro is culled. PO4 sponges can also help but will also depend on the amount of basic organics they absorb as well. The granular sponge is only effective until it's "pores" are filled and often organics reduce their effectiveness long before they should. Rinsing these kinds of products rarely works and often requires baking in the oven at high temperatures. Keep in mind this does not "recharge" them as claimed. It simpley burns off the excess nutrient/DOC. To effectively allow the PO4 to molecularly release the bond with the aluminum you are looking at closer to 1200°.

Coralline also loves lighting in the 420-450nm range which true actinic lighting is great for. Depending on how you run your lights now, a 12ish hr/day actinic photoperiod augmented with the MH at 6-8 hrs/day may also help.

Although not an issue with the coralline, a temp range of 80-84° throughout the day is quite a swing. I would suggest you try to get that to a more stable level. Either through instalation of fans or possibley raising the heaters temp to bring up the average operating temp when the MH lights are not in use.

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Old 01-14-2004, 08:58 AM   #3
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Thank you for the detailed reply.

I am using macro algae (grape caulerpa) in the refugium, but it doesnt grow very fast and if I were to export it on a regular basis, it would quickly be gone. I do remove the excess pieces whenever possible, usually whatever has grown itself out of the water altogether.

Ive increased the actinic photoperiod from 8 hours to 11-12 hours, and the MH from 6 hours to 8 hours.

The temperature range was when I didnt have the heater running; with the heater on, its a pretty constant 83-84 degrees. Conversely, in the summer I run a fan over the water and it stays constant as well.

Thanks again, and Im curious to hear if anyone else has advice.
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Old 01-14-2004, 10:26 AM   #4
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One thing I have found about macro algaes is in a tank with higher chem, they will grow a little slower than normal. Higher alk/Ca ratios where Ca is maintained above 425 ppm will sometimes retard the growth of macro algaes. If you let your's drop a bit, you should see some increased growth.

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Old 01-15-2004, 01:47 AM   #5
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Side Question: You have to remove macroalgaes from your refugium regularly? (I don't have one, btw). I thought they processed nitrate and phosphate, not absorbed it.
- Gauge

92-gallon corner tank, 100lbs of LR, 140lbs of sand, 250watt 10,000K MH, 110watts of actinic PCs, Mag 7 return, custom refugium, AquaC EV180 w/ Mag 5

Female lyretail anthias, eyelash blenny, tomato clown, saddleback clown, firefish goby, 2 sand-sifting stars
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Old 01-15-2004, 01:59 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Gauge
I thought they processed nitrate and phosphate, not absorbed it.
They do not process it, they incorporate it. The two are not the same. The elements remain as long as the macro algae remain.

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