I started my first reef tank about 6 months ago. Since then I have had a lot of issue with coral.
First some tank specs/background:
tank, 20 gal
0 ammonia/0 nitrite/0 nitrate/ 0.02 PO4
generally/79F temp, 8.1-8.3 pH/calcium is always high, as is alkalinity.
Lighting: 2X Aqua Illuminations SOL White. 12 hour photo period, but 2 hour ramp up and ramp down to a max of 30% white, 35% blue currently (been increasing this slowly over the last month or so).
2 MP10s set on EcoSMART and both running at around 50% of max.
Fish: 2 Percula Clowns, 2 Black Bar Chromis, 1 Anthias, 1 Royal Gramma.
Inverts: 1 coral banded shrimp, lots of hermits and snails
Basically since starting, I have managed to murder about 60-70% of the coral I have put in the tank. It started with the slaying of a couple of hammer corals early on, but over the past several months, most of my coral has just slowly faded/died. The only coral still doing well is a frogspawn, and a birdsnest. I have probably killed 100+ heads of zoa. I have some still left living, but more are dying every day it seems like. It seems like the heads get smaller and smaller, and disappear. I killed some pulsing xenia, also slowly - it did great for a couple of months, and then over the course of about 4 weeks, it just shrunk until there was nothing left. I murdered a trumpet coral and some fauvia in the same way. Looked ok at first, but then started to recede and the skeleton started showing until there was nothing left. Same with some sympodium. It looked great for awhile and then it just slowly died. My jasmine polyps did great for awhile, but here lately they are starting to look less well.
Obviously I am doing something wrong. Where to start here?
The lighting seems like it is set really low, but early on I went around in circles with this, and ended up nuking several corals within a weeks time by running the light at around 60%. So, after doing some reading about optics and renting a PAR meter I settled on some pretty low max numbers. But do the symptoms I am describing sound like lighting deficiency?? I have started to creep the light up about 3% a week over the past month or so, and honestly, if I had to venture a guess, I would say the coral looks WORSE, not better.
It is really frustrating... (not to mention EXPENSIVE!).