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Old 08-23-2006, 09:41 PM   #1
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Effect of over cooling on reef tank

Hello- To start off I'm fairly new to the hobby so am learning as fast as I can. I bought an established fish only tank about 8 weeks ago and have been converting it to a reef tank. I recently added MH lights and was amazed at how quickly they heated the tank so I bought a 1\3 HP chiller. I hooked it up and set it to 78*, and it maintained the temp quite well. I started acclimating the tank to the MH lighting, but when I checked the tank in the AM the 3rd day after I installed it, the temp gauge on the chiller read 88*, but the tank was down to 68.9* and everybody looked pretty unhappy. The company rushed a replacement thermostat to me, but now a week later half of my corals appear to be dying off.

So- my question is, before I start growling at the manufacturer of the chiller for killing off half my tank w\ a brand new unit, is it reasonable to think this is the cause of my coral problems? (everyone else seems fine). I understand that large temp fluctuations are bad for a tank, but I don't know exactly how bad is bad? The tank temp wasn't depressed that low for more than 8 hours or so tops before I started warming it back up.

All my water chemistry is well inside acceptable parameters and there haven't been any additions or other unfortunate events-
ph 8.2
ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 10-20
Dont recall PO4 and alkalinity off the top of my head, but they were in the range the local shop told me was desirable.

Thanks!
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Very new to the hobby, bought an established fish only 110 gallon tank and are converting it to a reef aquarium, slowly adding critters. Current residents- corals: a torch , a flowerpot, a rock of purple mushrooms, a green brain, a hammer, and a Xenia (I think). Inverts: 2 longspine black urchins, an orange and a burgundy starfish (linkia?) , a green brittlestar, a handful of cleaner shrimp and fire shrimp, lots of snails and hermits. Fish: Royal Gramma, a mated pair of Clownfish, a pair of Yellow Tangs, and a Goby.
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Old 08-24-2006, 12:01 PM   #2
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Depending on what kinda lights were previously on it, they corals could be reacting to the higher light output too. Got a recent move of the established tank, new (and very bright) lights, and a 10 degree temp swing. Probably a lot for corals to get used to all at once. Try to get those 'trates down to 5 or 10 tops.

I'd also place all the coral on the bottom of the tank and acclimate them slowly back towards where you ultimately want them.

I guess you already know that LR to the tune of about 1 to 1.5 lbs per gallon is the target for most in succesful reef tanks.

P.S. - give us some more info on your setup. May help. Size tank. Lighting specs, inhabitants, kinda coral you're having the most trouble with. What died. What wilted. What didn't.
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Old 08-24-2006, 12:06 PM   #3
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IMO that type of rapid and drastic fluctiation could be responsible for the death of the corals.
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Old 08-24-2006, 02:07 PM   #4
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I agree that was too much at one time. 1 or 2 degrees at a time every 3 or 4 days
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Old 08-24-2006, 03:42 PM   #5
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WELCOME TO AA!!

Sounds like you have done your reading. I'm not a "reefer", but that large of a temp swing can have drastic effects. Good luck and keep us posted!
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Old 08-24-2006, 05:54 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by austinsdad

P.S. - give us some more info on your setup. May help. Size tank. Lighting specs, inhabitants, kinda coral you're having the most trouble with. What died. What wilted. What didn't.
Hmmm..I've got most of that info in my profile but I must be doing something wrong since it doesn't seem to be showing up...sorry OK, here's a brief summary:

Tank is 110 gal. and was fish only with a 3" bed of live sand and 100lbs of live rock when I bought it. It came with 4 96w compact fluorescents, protien skimmer, sump, UV filter, fluidized media bed, 3 filter media cannisters which all had activated carbon, and an ozone generator (set to 330). The main pump was an 1100 (I think) gph little giant. The seller was adamant that he never used copper medications (I believe him, he's a good guy).

Since buying it I've been converting it to a reef tank (doing my best anyways). I was told the 1100gph provided insufficient circulation so I added 2 950 gph mag drive recirculating pumps (plumbed them in a closed loop each). I've added another 50lbs of live rock and 50 lbs of live sand (about a 4" bed). I was told the activated carbon will filter out a lot of nutrients so I replaced one with a media that's supposed to promote denitrifyling bacteria (can't remember the name of it), and left the other 2 alone for now but turned the water flow down to a trickle, just enough to prevent the water from stagnating.

Critters- corals: a torch , a flowerpot, a rock of purple mushrooms, a green brain, a hammer, and a Xenia (I think). Inverts: 2 longspine black urchins, an orange and a burgundy starfish (linkia?), a green brittlestar, a handful of cleaner shrimp and fire shrimp, lots of snails and hermits. Fish: Royal Gramma, a mated pair of Clownfish, a pair of Yellow Tangs, and a Goby. These are all new to the tank since I bought it, and all have been doing well until now. We got a little carried away at first (too much too soon) and had a few short term failures (namely a green leather and an elegance coral, and 3 anemones (read the end of the post abut that)), but learned a valuable lesson and are much more cautions with adding new residents (none since the first 2 weeks). The current inhabitants have been stable and seem to be thriving until now.

As for the lighting, I bought a 2x400w MH system w\ 10000K bulbs. I pulled one of the CF fixtures to make room and left the other 3. I continue to run the CF's on their normal schedule, and ran the MH's for an hour a day for the first 2 days I had the cooler, but then the cooler broke. I had planned to run them 1 hour\day for 3 days, then 2 hrs for 3 days etc, while continuing the CF's on their normal schedule. So- I didn't just suddenly switch over to a MH system- I tried to acclimate the system slowly, so I don't think that was a factor. I have not run the MH's since- I want to make sure the system is stable again before making any changes.

As for who's suffering. One fire shrimp died (and he was a beauty too!), the flowerpot is toast- the polyps all contracted and didn't come out again, and it developed an ochre-ish colored film. The shrimp feasted on it a few days later, now it's just a rock. The mushrooms were all puckered up for several days and their color is a little pale. Their undersides look slightly discolored (a tiny bit brownish), and the shrimp seem more interested in them than usual (although they haven't eaten or damaged them). They're also a little "floppier" than usual in the current. They seem to look better every day, but I don't think they're out of the woods yet. The xenia has been hit hard. It covered the whole upper surface of an approx. 4"x9" rock. It has about 1\2 died off, and there are several broken stalks amongst the remaining population. However, about 1\3 of the original population seems to be looking better every day- all of them were tightly contracted for several days, but 1\3 seem to be getting back to normal, although their color isn't as "vibrant" as it was. Everybody else seems OK, and the torch and hammer corals are doing great.

On another note...

Do you think replacing the activated carbon w\ the denitrifying bacteria media is likely to help get the nitrates down a bit more? I have one local shop telling me yes and one saying no. I don't know what to think because I'm not sure what to make of the local shops here- I think I've gotten some very bad advice from one of them. I went to them whe I first started converting to a reef, and on their recommendation they sold me (amongst many other things) a long tentacled anemone and 2 others (I can't think of the species). It sounded great at the time- a mated pair of clownfish w\ a choice of 3 anemones, how cute. From what I've read online since then that was an enormous error, both for the health of the anemones (all dead now) and the health of my reef. Needless to say I don't shop there anymore, but that kinda shook my faith in getting advice from shops who profit from my purchases. I've now turned to forums like this for info, but 8O it can be overwhelming (and humbling- I've made a lot of mistakes). Anyways just venting I guess, but I'd like to get the nitrates down that last little bit.

Thanks for the help, and I'm open to any other comments or suggestions you may have!
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Old 08-24-2006, 06:25 PM   #7
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Quote:
I was told the activated carbon will filter out a lot of nutrients
I believe the GAC will make the water clearer, but it will filter out meds, if used. I'm not sure how much nutrience it would filter, but I would have to imagine not too much.

Quote:
Do you think replacing the activated carbon w\ the denitrifying bacteria media is likely to help get the nitrates
Probably not, that media can sometimes produce a LOT of trates, down the road.

Quote:
Needless to say I don't shop there anymore
Definitely a good move, since they only seem to want to make money.

Quote:
've now turned to forums like this for info
I think you found the best one!

Quote:
Anyways just venting I guess, but I'd like to get the nitrates down that last little bit.
PWCs twice a week, would be a great starting point.

HTH!
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Old 08-24-2006, 07:58 PM   #8
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PWCs twice a week, would be a great starting point.

HTH!
I've been doing 10% (10 gal) once per week. Would 5 gal twice be sufficient or should I be doing 10 twice per week?

Thanks!
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Very new to the hobby, bought an established fish only 110 gallon tank and are converting it to a reef aquarium, slowly adding critters. Current residents- corals: a torch , a flowerpot, a rock of purple mushrooms, a green brain, a hammer, and a Xenia (I think). Inverts: 2 longspine black urchins, an orange and a burgundy starfish (linkia?) , a green brittlestar, a handful of cleaner shrimp and fire shrimp, lots of snails and hermits. Fish: Royal Gramma, a mated pair of Clownfish, a pair of Yellow Tangs, and a Goby.
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Old 08-24-2006, 10:05 PM   #9
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I would be doing 20 gallons twice a week until the numbers were where you wanted them to be.

Another issue you are going to have is that cannister filters are nitrate factories pretty much. They will also compete with the liverock. Your best bet would be to remove the media and add liverock rubble to the cannisters.

As far as carbon, it is a good practice to run it for a week or so a month to help clarify the water. Leaving it in longer then that won't do you any good anyway as by that time its ability to help is gone.
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