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Old 08-18-2005, 07:34 PM   #1
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HELP! Corals bleaching

Well... I had a great 5 day vacation to Chicago, until I came home to a polluted reef tank. While I was gone, a 2" long Mandarin fish died and apparently polluted the tank. He probably died right after I left, because there wasn't much left of him by the time I pulled him out. So far, I have done four 30% water changes over the past five days.

Here are the livestock observations:
1) No other dead fish (only have five others).
2) One dead crocea clam (died three days after I got home, got him out quickly).
3) Two 80% bleached Montipora (plating).
4) Two 50% bleached Montipora (branching).
5) Toadstool coral fallen over and polyps retracted completely, although it is perking up a little now.
6) Cup coral polyps completely retracted.
7) Torch coral polyps completely retracted.
8)Six sets of Xenia severely shriveled up but still attached to the live rock.
9) Two sets of Zoo polyps completely retracted.
10) Candy canes, mushrooms, elegance coral all look just fine.

Here are the chemical observations (these are the only things that I test for since I only add B-ionic and rely on 10% weekly water changes to take care of all other trace elements):
1) Ca is 430
2) Alk is 3.5
3) Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 3 ppm, Phos .03
4) Temp 80 degrees, SG 1.025

The tank is 11 months old and I have never experienced ANY problems until this. Could the Toadstool be releasing toxins in distress? I'm confused about the ammon, nitrite and nitrate levels being so low since the fish that died was relatively large. Perhaps it spiked quickly while I was gone... I think that this may be the case since there is a moderate amount of cyano on the rocks (especially near the top) and I haven't had any cyano problems since I installed a phos-ban reactor. Could something have been released from the sand bed? ( it is only 3" deep).

Any opinions or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Any chance of those Montiporas coming back or should I get them out of the tank right now? I guess I'll keep doing some more water changes too.
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Old 08-18-2005, 10:22 PM   #2
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Anyone?
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Old 08-18-2005, 10:29 PM   #3
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Water changes are a good first step but you should also be running carbon. Be sure it is changed frequently for the first while. Have the skimmer adjusted to pull out the most it can. While corals are ailing, they will emit more than normal toxins (primarily soft) that will affect the entire tank.

Bleaching with SPS's is more commonly a light or irritant issue so be sure they are free of any detritus or excess mucus. You may end up having to frag those.

How's the pH?

Cheers
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Old 08-18-2005, 10:36 PM   #4
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Was there a storm? Maybe you had a power outage.
Yes, PH?
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Old 08-18-2005, 10:42 PM   #5
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pH is 8.2

There was no power outage. If there had been, my wave maker would have reset to its default setting which it did not.

Carbon is running as is my skimmer... I run both of those 24/7. The carbor was just changed 5 days ago. Should I change it again? SPS--Frag off the bleached portions?
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Old 08-18-2005, 10:59 PM   #6
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I think you are doing just about all that can be done, I would change out the carbon again. As far as the SPS, I do not have much experience other than the fact that when they start to go, it is hard to reverse the process. That is just my experience (which is VERY limited as far as SPS go). I hope in your case you can
get it stopped.

Sorry to not be of much more help.
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Old 08-18-2005, 11:02 PM   #7
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Quote:
The carbor was just changed 5 days ago. Should I change it again?
I would say yes. Steve can tackle the fraging question.

anyone taking care of the tank? Possible that a cleaning solution or something could have made its way in?
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Old 08-18-2005, 11:08 PM   #8
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Quote:
As far as the SPS, I do not have much experience other than the fact that when they start to go, it is hard to reverse the process
That's what I thought. I just checked the tank and they're completely bleached... what a shame.

Quote:
anyone taking care of the tank? Possible that a cleaning solution or something could have made its way in?
No. I figured they could take care of themselves for only five days. I have Ca, Alk and top-off all set-up on a drip system. Everything worked fine while I was gone... as far as I can tell. They just had no food for five days.
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Old 08-18-2005, 11:14 PM   #9
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Wow, strange.
I doubt the Mandarin dying caused it, especially with your water readings.
are you simple inverts OK, like the snails?
sorry for all the Q's.
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Old 08-18-2005, 11:32 PM   #10
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Wow, strange
I know! I've beeen keeping all types of aquariums for over 25 years and I've never seen anything like this. Snails, featherdusters, linkia stars are all okay. I did lose a crocea clam. It seems like it has to be a toxin produced by either the toadstool or the Xenias. That's all thats left.

My theory so far is that this was a cascading effect precipitated by the death of the Mandarin. I think that the death of the mandarin touched off a brief, but large ammonia spike that was quickly brought under contol by the large amount of liverock, carbon filtration and skimming. The ammonia spike effected the soft coral which in turn released toxins that have been devastating some of my stony corals. Any opinions on this? Do I remove my soft corals... I sure would hate to do this based on a "theory". Steve, Hara, Quarry-- have any of you had a crash like this? If so, how long did your corals take to recover... and how did you do it. I really appreciate the assistance that you have provided so far.
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