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FAQs about Stony Coral Health/Disease/Pests: Nutritional

Related Articles: Coral Pests and Disease; pests, predators, diseases and conditions by Sara Mavinkurve, Quarantine of Corals and Invertebrates, LPS Corals, True or Stony Corals, Order Scleractinia, Propagation for Marine Aquarium Use,

Related FAQs: Stony Coral Disease 1, Stony Coral Disease 2, Stony Coral Disease 3, Stony Coral Disease 4, Stony Coral Disease 5, Stony Coral Disease 6, Stony Coral Disease 7, Stony Coral Disease 8, Stony Coral Disease 9, Stony Coral Disease 10, Stony Coral Disease 11, Stony Coral Disease 12, Stony Coral Disease 13, Stony Coral Disease 14,
FAQs on Stony Coral Disease by Category: Diagnosing: Environmental (Pollution/Poisoning, Lighting...), Social (Allelopathy), Trauma, Pathogenic (Infectious, Parasitic, Viral) Predatory/Pest, Treatments 
FAQs on Stony Coral Disease by Family: Acroporid Disease, Acroporid Disease 2, Acroporid Disease 3, Acroporid Disease 4..., Caryophyllid Disease, Caryophyllid Disease 2..., Elegance Coral Disease/Pests, Dendrophylliid Disease, Faviid Disease, Faviid Disease 2, Fungiid Disease, Mussid Disease, Mussid Health 2, Poritid Health, Trachyphylliid Disease, Trachyphyllia Disease 2,
FAQs on Stony Coral Disease by Type: Brown Jelly Disease,

ALL life needs N, P, K; yes, the numbers on a bag of fertilizer... IF you have zero Nitrates, no soluble Phosphate, your life will not do well, or live long

SPS issues.     5/31/18
Hello again Bob, hope this finds you well. I was wondering if you could weigh in on something for me. Over the last few weeks I’ve had issues with a few colonies of my Aussie Acros. In one case a colony of highlighter Acro about 6”x6” started bleaching from the bottom up very slowly.
The bleaching was kinda odd because the demarcation line was perfectly uniform across the whole bottom of the colony and worked its way up keeping uniformity. I had to pull it and frag it to save some. So far the frags seem to be ok.
Something that I am noticing is that most of my Acros don’t seem to have the vibrant colors they used to. They seem to be pale and muted color. My chemistry is as follows
CA 475
<Too high, esp. in rel. to [Mg]>

Nitrates 0
<Likely NO2>
Nitrates 0
<... absolutely necessary>
PO 4 is undetectable
<Also essential>

Alk 10 dkh (just won’t go lower with my reactor)
PH 7.8-8.0
<A little low... I'd shoot for 8.2 on the low side>

Salinity 1.025
Mag 1300
ORP 390 (ozone)
Temp 77-78
And I run Radions from 7am to 6pm at 90% intensity.
<Do you have access to a PAR or PUR meter? Need values at the depth of your Acroporas>
My flow is adequate. Several wave makers and power heads. Can you think of anything that I could be missing?
<The above; most likely nutrient starvation>
Anything I can be testing for? I was wondering if maybe I have low potassium?
I don’t have a test kit to check it yet. I will have one in the next couple days.
As always, thank you.
<I'd either be feeding more or adding chemical feeds for NO3 and HPO4.
Bob Fenner>
Re: SPS issues.     5/31/18

Thank you Bob. Do you have any nutrient feeding suggestions other than overfeeding the tank? Any product you prefer?
<Mmm; well... as this is a purposely public forum, I am wont to not state caution... Because you have a large volume/system, you are a candidate for direct chemical dosing... There ARE nutrient supplements one can either mix up (DIY) or buy commercially... and administer drop wise on a tested, daily basis. However, again, if it were me, mine, I'd add more foods... live, frozen/defrosted, dried-prepared TILL you had a few ppm of Nitrate and a few hundreds of ppm of soluble Phosphate. Is this satisfying? Bob Fenner>
Re: SPS issues.      6/1/18

I read you loud and clear. More food it is. Thank you Bob.
<Welcome John. Do please keep me/us informed re your Acropora health, measurable nutrient levels. BobF>
Re: SPS issues.      6/1/18

Sure will Bob. Thanks again.
<Cheers mate>

Trying First Coral Addition - Green Hammer. Starved, and?       12/27/14
Hello All
<Tom, Annette>
Sorry in advance for the length but want to give you as much detail as possible!
I have been stymied in my attempt to add the first coral to my 55g FOWLR. I have tried consulting with local experts but have not been able to get any answers. It is a small branching hammer I currently have on the bottom in the sand partially sheltered by my rock. It still has color but keeps mostly retracted. I have had it for about 3 weeks and it has never opened fully like it was at the sellers.
<Mmm; could be "many" things different here. Several water quality possibilities, lighting, circulation, allelopathy, pests...>

Here are my system details: 55g 4 foot tank, 2 Chinese make 120w led (taotronic or similar actinic and white) currently set at min levels - blue on 12 hours whites 10) set at 9" above water,
<... see WWM re PAR/PUR and the needs of Caryophylliids... likely there's insufficient (too low intensity) light here>
40b sump in basement with SC Aquariums 302 skimmer additional rock and Chaeto, filter socks at DT drain (with bag of CupriSorb) and reactor outlet,
<Uhh; do you have measurable NO3 and HPO4? Necessary>

300w heater, BRS reactor w/ carbon, 32g brute can (2nd sump in line used for additional volume and mixing sw), JBJ top off fed from 2nd brute can that holds RODI (well water run through whole house neutralizer using calcium carbonate and 4 stage RODI with TDS of 0 - also used for water changes which is 10g a week with IO), pan world 100px return pump, total
volume approximately 105g.
I have been set up for 2.5 years. I have a pair of B&W ocellaris (2 years now), algae blenny
<Could be hassling>
(1 year), six line wrasse (<year) and flame angel (<year).
<This too>

I had a very hard time adding the angel, taking 6 tries to get one that survived. I attribute that more to the frailties of the fish than anything else. My current flame is very healthy and the King of the tank! It and the six line are buds! I feed 1-2 times a day alternating between LRS, Hikari mysis, Hikari brine/algae, New Era pellet and some Nori once in a while.
Current parameters are (they stay pretty consistent):
Temp 79.3
Sal 1.023 (refractometer)
<Needs to be NSW strength (1.025-6>

Ammonia <.02 (salifert and SeaChem alert badge)
Nitrite 0 (API)
Nitrate 0 (API)
<Absolutely necessary. SEE WWM RE>

Copper 0
Phosphate 0
<... this too. Chemo-photosynthates can't live w/o>

(I do currently have some Cyano which I am trying to siphon out)
KH/Alk 9.6 / 3.42
Calcium 350
I feel like I am doing everything right but can't figure out this hammer. I am on my second attempt and they both have reacted the same way. Looks ok at first but then retracts into the skeleton. I have not seen any picking
by my fish. I do not direct feed the coral. I have been cleaning my filter socks by soaking them in a water/bleach solution but I also run them through the washer with AmQuel. So perhaps low levels of chlorine? I also thought some heavy metal from the well water but it gets pretty well filtered I think. Here is a photo, not the best but gives you an idea of how retracted it is. This is pretty much how it has been.
Help! I am at a loss.
Tom Myers
<What's that saying? At least some of your/its problems are obvious. Keep reading. Bob Fenner>

Re: Trying First Coral Addition - Green Hammer      12/28/14
Thanks for the quick reply. Oh and happy holidays! I can work on increasing the lighting. I guess I thought it was not opening due to too much lighting.
<Not just this, but yes; move this "specimen up" on the higher rock>
I will also get the salinity up. I just recalibrated the refractometer and it was running high so I will adjust with my next water changes.
That and I will work on dirtying up my water I guess! I will stop the CupriSorb and carbon and see if that helps.
I really don't think it's any of the fish. I have never seen any of them pay any attention to the hammer. The flame swims by all the time. Never even takes a look. But I will keep an eye out.
Thanks again for input.
Tom Myers
<Measurable nitrate and phosphate... BobF>

Acro and disc coral sudden bleaching      10/31/14
Hi guys,
I have been having problems with coral bleaching,
<Having read the rest of your msg., some very real possible causes here>
it started about 6 weeks ago with disc coral slowly deteriorating over a few days. After I had lost 2 discs I noticed my peppermint shrimp sitting on one of the remaining discs and I thought it was likely the shrimp had either eaten the discs or annoyed them to the point of death.
<More likely just eating after they were going>
I then lost 2 large Acro colonies within a week of each other. They bleached but from the middle out as opposed to from the tips towards the center. I did several large water changes but am now losing the last two Acro colonies. The smaller of the two looked fine yesterday but today is completely bleached. The other larger colony is not as badly bleached but its noticeable. This time the bleaching looks to be happening from the tips towards the centre.
I had assumed there must be a problem with water quality but my tests (confirmed by lfs) are all ok
Sg: 1.036
Nitrate: 0
Phosphate: 0 - .25
<Chemo-auto-trophs need both NO3 and HPO4... they're starved>

Kh: 8
Calcium: 600 + (higher than I would have expected)
<This alone could kill them... see WWM re Ca and Mg proportionality>

Tank: 400L + sump
Lighting: t5 vho 4× actinic 4x white 2x pink (8 hours) plus led moonlights
Tank is about 2 years old. Live rock came from a saltwater tank I'd had for about 18 months before that.
I make the saltwater with red sea coral salt, marine buffer, trace elements, and ro/di water. Let it mix for 24 hours before using.
All morphs, plate coral, cabbage coral, hammer coral and cactus coral are ok.
Livestock: blue spot tang, pair of clowns, foxface, coral beauty, mandarin fish, hippo tang, scooter blenny, peppermint shrimp and cleaner shrimp are also doing fine. Also have 2x btas (fine) and a squamosa clam (also fine), several Featherdusters (looking happy).
I am not sure if there is a problem with the water, i.e. something I haven't tested for, the lighting (too long or too short photoperiod) or a pest. I changed the lights 3-4 months ago. I changed 1-2 bulbs at a time however did not have pinks in before, could this be a problem?
<Not likely>
If it helps to know the Acro colonies were not placed in terribly close proximity to each other and I have one disc coral that has escaped unscathed (so far). This discs were all sitting on the sandbed and I can't see why I have lost all but one of them.
What do you think is causing the trouble?
<The lack of chemical food; the too high and disproportionate [Ca]>
I am not running carbon, should I be?
<Possibly; on a punctuated basis; look up C use on WWM>
I tend to skim wet but have noticed the skimmer is not pulling out as much gunk as usual. I've cleaned adjusted and fiddled with it but still not much coming out.
Please help.. I don't want to buy any new coral before I know how to fix whats going on and things are looking pretty sad at the moment.
<Read on! Bob Fenner>

chalice coral help; need data     4/13/13
Thanks everyone in advance!
<Welcome Kate>
I have scoured the internet, and cannot seem to find information regarding chalice corals bleaching from non light related issues.
<There are a few other general "cause" groups... some pathogenic disease, parasites, lack of nutrient, pollution, allelopathy, other environmental issues>

I have over 20 chalice colonies in my tank, and bleaching began on one chalice and has subsequently spread to almost every other chalice in the tank. Lighting has not been an issue, because the placement of the corals have not changed in months, and the lighting has remained consistent.
<Mmm, I'll add "as far as you're aware">
The bleaching spots seem to be random throughout the corals, and do not cover the entire coral. Besides the bleaching, the chalices have an extremely swollen appearance, and this is way above the normal inflation that is seen with healthy corals.
<Useful clues>
The tissue has slightly receded on some of the chalices, but most of the newly affected ones have absolutely no skeleton showing through, and just appear extremely puffy and translucent.  I have read that there can be certain bacterial and protozoa infections that can cause bleaching, but no real information on how to distinguish the causative agent, or even what treatments to pursue. Any suggestions  would be appreciated.
<Ahhh, need to know more quantified facts re this system... measures for PAR/PUR at depth re your light, whatever you measure for water quality; your maintenance procedures, the presence of other livestock here, foods/feeding, supplementation practices, the general set up... e.g. whether you use contactor/s and chemical filtrants, what you have been doing, not-doing differently the last few weeks...  Have you scanned through the marine disease area on WWM?:
Do so: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisindex.htm
The second tray down and further.
Bob Fenner>
Re: chalice coral help... three tanks involved... lack of nutrient, or?      4/15/13

Thanks for your quick reply! I will attempt to give you as much information as possible. The tricky part is that currently there are 3 systems that are all experiencing the same problem,
<... what is/are the commonality/ies here? The water likely... have you changed... brands of salt mix, your MO for prep.? Has the municipality done something overt to your source water... or you to the RO, whatever treatment you employ?>
and none of them are plumbed together, so I will attempt to give you the common traits between all of the tanks. As for pur/par, I do not have exact values or readings (I know, rather useless information on my part), but the tanks are lit by either metal halide or leds. I have had bleaching in relation to light before with corals, and the extremely swollen appearance of the tissue is something I have never seen before. The tissue on the chalices are so swollen that they look like wellso brain corals, or other similar corals. One system does have quite a lot of fish, along with an oversized skimmer and gfo for filtration.
<Remove this... see WWM re "rust" use; the need for appreciable HPO4>
The other two systems are coral only with live rock, and no fish. I do have either a diatom or Dinoflagellate outbreak going on in a couple of the tanks, but not the third one. The dino/diatom (not sure which one and can't seem to distinguish the two based upon observation alone) is not covering the whole tank or anything, but I have noticed some of the slimy brown bubbles here and there, and brown tint to the glass every few days. I do not know if this is causing the coral problem, but only the chalices seem to be affected, and I have multiple other lps and soft corals. Now, you mentioned another possible cause could be allelopathy, and that did definitely stick out to me. The only real change in my tanks has been the addition of multiple chalices, not 5 or 10, but probably 30. I made sure that none of them are actually touching each other, or that their sweepers are able to touch another coral, but they are all still in less than 50 gallons of water per tank. I have not run carbon in at least a year, because I only used it when I saw any nitrate spike, etc. So is there a possibility that the corals are attacking each other with their slime or whatever?
<Yes; but in all three separate systems at once? Strange>
Could carbon take care of it?
<Might well help. I would employ this and the product PolyFilter in your flow path>
If allelopathy is the cause, what are the chances of recovery for the corals if tank conditions are improved?
<... depends on how badly, how much cascade effect the biochemistry is eliciting>
Some other little tid-bits of information about tank practices and changes that have happened in the past month or so would be the addition of vitamin C tablets (yes, the ones used for human consumption).
<Usually Ascorbic Acid is fine... but just in case, I'd hold off w/ any further addition>
 I heard they were good for corals and fish, so I added a tablet in each tank one time, and never since then. I also hooked up and used a sulfer <Sulfur/Sulphur> nitrate reactor on two of my tanks.
<Ahh, this could do it for sure... see WWM re... too much change, even in the "right direction/s" can have this effect>
 I used it for one week on two tanks to try and get rid of the last 5-10 ppm nitrates
<... all chemophotosynthetic life needs "some" NO3... I would NOT reduce NO3 to zip. SEE/READ on WWM re>
 that I had, and then I stopped because I couldn't really find much information about them, and the whole acidic water thing did kind of freak me out. Also, I do have chronically low ph, staying around 7.85-7.9.
<... could be the reactor as well... READ re Ozone use, RedOx on WWM... you're ready>
Granted, the ph has been the same level for 3 years, and I am still trying to correct that, but I am assuming that is a whole other issue.
Hopefully there is enough information to help with a diagnosis, but if not, I will try to get any additional information that you may need.
<... time for you to spend more time reading, understanding, and less purchasing. B>
Re: chalice coral help      4/16/13

Thank you Bob!
Slow down and read, seems like the best advice for any problems in a reef tank :-)
<Ah yes... in the meanwhile pull the GFO, stop the Vit. C....>
I will get back to your site and work from there. Hopefully I can figure something out before I lose my corals; race against time, and taking my time all for the same problem! Quite the catch-22 Im in right now!
Thanks again!
<Welcome. BobF>

Water parameters out of whack? More questions re killing stony corals    6/22/09
Hi all, I have been out of the hobby for about two years and decided to make a come back. At any rate, I decided to do a SPS/Clam/Zoa tank.
So here is the issue, I added some frags SPS from a friends tank about 4 weeks ago...all dead with in a week. Their tissue sloughed away.
<Oh, now that doesn't sound good... This was the first life you added to a new system?>
two weeks went by and I bought a frag from a LFS, It's showing signs of tip burn and I have had it for about 3 weeks. I bought another 4 frags from a LFS (Idaho Grape Cap, Orange Cap, Leng Sy Cap, and a green slimer) The caps are doing ok (Idaho grape is starting to show tissue slough). The green slimer is starting to turn white at the base and start to have some of the tips turn white.
The clam looks great, but the a few of my Zoas have closed up and appeared to have died.
<What? The Zoanthids could have poisoned the Scleractinians... see WWM re them, allelopathy>
The local reef group (salt-city.org) I am in thinks that my Alk is the issue, but I am looking for some direction as far as where to start because I don't think that Alk is it.
<... Ok>
Here are my tank parameters:
Tank is a bare bottom 120 gallon with 40 gallon sump.
<Why no substrate?>
Skimmer: Deltec AP702
CA reactor: Geo 612 (not in use)
Running Phosban and Activated carbon 24/7
<Again, why? Cnidarians need the materials these remove...>

Lighting: 2x250 watt DE Hamilton 14k MH with Lumen Bright reflectors and 2 54watt T5 actinic for supplementation
<Is this much more than these were exposed to previously?>
Circulation: 2X Tunze 6100s on a Neptune Aquasurf
Tank has been running for 3.5-4 months.
water parameters :
Temp: 79-79.3
pH: 8.11-8.23
Spec. Grav: 1.026
dKH: 12 (4.29 mEq/L)
Calcium (460-480)
<Too high>
Mag: 1140
PO4: 0 (Undetectable)
Nitrate: 0 (Undetectable)

Ammonia: 0 (Undetectable)
Top off/Make up TDS: 0-1
Salt used for water changes is half Instant Ocean half Oceanic. Last water change was done yesterday at the advice of my local forum. I did 25% in hopes of getting the dKH reduced (my tank was at 12)...the dKH remained the same, 12. I tested the new water prior to doing a water change and it was at 12 dKH also.
I'm trying to solve the mystery that is causing things to die off.
<Understood... see the questions above? Search them on WWM. Bob Fenner>
Re: Water parameters out of whack?   6/22/09

Thanks Bob! I will do some research and ask if I have any more questions. thanks again, for all your help!
<Welcome Travis... do gather data... and we'll chat further... Together we can work this out. BobF>

Coral Health -07/28/08 Hello, I know that one of my questions is going to be one of those questions that no one has a for sure answer for but I must ask anyway to get someone else 's opinion of the situation. I acquired a 120 gallon Salt water system from a friend a while back, I spoke with Bob about it during the setup and moving phase, and as an update I lost 2 small Montipora digitata colonies and a yellow fang blenny during the move. Everything else out of the set up is in tact including all of the acropora colonies which I thought I would surely lose. I was able to save some of the orange Digita but lost it later due to the frags falling off a rock. To the question... when the tank was originally set up at my house the coral polyp extension was great. The baby blue Monti that I had acquired in the deal looked like blue fuzzy tree branches. As well as some of the Acros who had been showing great polyp extension. Here in the recent month or so my Acros do not have the extension they once did and my baby blue Monti hasn't had extension for a great time, several months to be exact. My calcium is in the 360-380 range and my KH has stayed in the 150 - 180 ppm range through this time. Has anyone pinpointed what causes polyp extension, I know it is a mechanism of feeding,... around the weekly range I try to spot feed all the SPS E.S.V. Phytoplankton to entice the polyp extension to little avail. <Not worth it (won't help the underlying problem). Try using oyster eggs. Polyp extension (or lack there of) is, as you likely know, the result of a combination of factors (lighting, feeding, water quality, water flow, etc. etc.). The coral might also simply be adapting to its new environment. If I were you, I'd start feeding oyster eggs (and perhaps other very fine particle meaty food) and just be patient (see what happens).> Also I have a Green Hydnophora that has always had a colony of green zoanthids at the base of it. My pistol shrimp, during his bulldozing adventures, toppled some rock and the Hydnophora was moved. When I moved it It began rapid tissue necrosis. <Typical... these corals do not like to be moved (not even from one part of a tank to another).> I can not take credit for the save,... but by some divine act the piece made it through the ordeal without a major loss. <Cool. Oddly enough, also typical for this coral. Though they hate to be moved, they are also known for some miraculous recoveries.> (the colony stands about 5 inches and I lost about an inch from the bottom) I did not cut the colony and the zoanthids have been slowly making their way up the base. Now at this point it seems that the zoanthids have spread to the beginning of the living Hydnophora tissue. Is this a cause for concern? <Hmm... probably not. These corals are fierce.> At the back portion I have noticed the Hydnophora has split the zoanthids... or kept them from spreading, by spreading down the base where the bare skeleton is. <not surprising> Last question I swear, I've been researching and saving them ;). I want to purchase a calcium reactor to help ease the pain of trusting someone with my tank while I am on vacation,... ok ok.. I just want one. Anywho I have plans to put in a 375 gallon tank in the next 6 - 8 months, and use my current 120 for a refugium. I want to buy a reactor that would be big enough for this system, probably a Korallin C-3002. Would this be a bad idea to place a 800gal reactor into a ~200 gallon system? If I did this what adjustments should I plan on making to it off the bat? <Oh, hmm... best I can do here is redirect you to http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcreactors.htm Please see the FAQs and related articles.> Thanks guys, Your always a huge Help!!!! Adam <Thank you, Sara M.>

Corals are dying, please help!!!  -- 08/27/07 Hi, guys, How is everything? <fabulous, thank you> Hope you're having a great summer. <indeed> All your advice has been right on the money, you've helped us more than once, and it has worked wonderfully. Wanted to thank you. All was going quite well until June. Turning to you again, because things are on a down-slide to such an extent that I am not sure how to remedy the situation. <Sorry to hear that, let's see if I/we can help'¦> To refresh, we have a 1-year-old 55 gallon tank, with a 45 gallon sump/fuge system. On your advice we've replaced crushed coral substrate with a 3-inch sandbed, and added about the same into the refugium. We installed a nice overflow system, built a powerful spray injection skimmer, added halides and new actinics. We also purchased a new RO/DI system, and have a large tub of water on hand for all kinds of emergencies.<excellent> My husband also designed an automatic top-off system that allows gradual addition of RO water to the sump. The lighting is on several timers, simulating sunrise/sunset/dusk/ moonlight. The fuge is illuminated from 9 am till 8 pm by a small set of old fluorescents. Nitrates went from 10 to zero. Phosphate is zero. Calcium is continuously replaced on "as needed" basis (helping corals grow and keeping phosphate down). Water harness is also checked, and is within normal limits. We have a "copepod central" in the "fuge"! I think the starfish that lives there also reproduced recently (we have mini-stars in the main tank, as of last week). For about 4 months the tank was on autopilot, requiring only routine maintenance and monitoring. All water parameters, except for temperature are ideal. The temperature has been very difficult to control this summer. We have no AC, but the tank is shielded in the bedroom which has north-west exposure and hardly ever gets any sun, except before sunset. A chiller at this very moment is financially prohibitive. <How about a cheap in-window air conditioner from ::sigh:: Wal-Mart? I've seen some of them sold for even <$100. This would probably make you more comfortable too, no?> 30% water changes were done three times this summer to control temperature. So far we lost the birdsnest, green slimer, sun coral, and a couple of other SPS frags, a flowerpot, and about half of the Galaxea. <yikes> Our 3-inch coral banded shrimp and coral beauty angelfish are also dead. Nothing else seems to be affected. The green hair algae are taking over now, even though phosphates and nitrates cannot be detected with ANY system. <Here's the thing about measuring nitrates and phosphates when you have algae 'problems': it's quite likely that the algae are the very reason why your nitrates and phosphates are undetectable. The algae is likely sucking up these nutrients fast enough to effectively deplete them from the water. This is good for your water quality (hence the idea behind the algae scrubber filter), but will still leave you with the algae to deal with.> We tried to keep a sea hare, but it didn't eat anything, and died within two weeks, and a large snail soon followed its fate. The yellow tang does not touch the stuff either. The filaments are soft and long, just like baby hair, and grows in tufts or clumps on live rock, corals, anything it can get hold of. <Yep, sounds like hair algae.> Coralline algae also took off like crazy. <Hmm'¦ not a good sign. What exactly are your calcium and alkalinity measurements?> The last three months we have seen some bleaching of the corals, some bleach from base to tips, and some, like the bird's nest started bleaching at the tips in just one area but moving rapidly over the entire coral. Then, the green hair algae move in to cover the dead skeleton. <typical> All the SPS frags we had are now dead. The sun coral was next. <Well, you certainly picked some challenging corals for a tank that's only a year old. Don't get anymore SPS or sensitive corals for now.> A white spot forms on one fragment of the coral. No slime, nothing! Within a week or two that coral is completely white and "dry". We were going crazy, looking for nitrates, phosphates, anything. But the water parameters are still textbook. <Ideal parameters depend a lot on the kinds of corals you keep. You've set up a very complicated situation with so many different kinds of coral in a relatively small tank.> The green hair algae has taken over a large portion of the live rock, and some in the sump. The phosphates are ZERO, but the Chaetomorpha in the refugium grows like there's no tomorrow. Two weeks ago my husband cleaned out a "cube" of it that has taken over and assumed the shape of the fuge. He left just a small clump. Today this clump has more than tripled in size. We can't find anything wrong with the water. My husband is so frustrated he wants to take the hammer to the thing. A coworker of mine who has a bit of salt water aquarium experience says that it is simply a "cycle", and it will "weather over". This is one costly "cycle"! <Well, everything is a 'cycle' of sorts. Your tank is struggling to adapt to an excess of nutrients. What are you feeding the tank? How much and how often?> Today I woke up and found the "elegance" coral pulled out of its skeleton, laying against the back wall of the tank under the rocks. <Yes, this happens when corals are extremely stressed. It can re-grow the skeleton, but under greatly improved conditions.> I have some mushrooms, zoos, a candy coral, and a brain coral, and none of them are affected. <These are tougher corals. You'd almost have to try to kill mushrooms and zoanthids. I think, for now, you should stick with tougher corals. But don't get any leathers (not if you keep the LPSs).> I do not know what to think about the "elegance", I never thought that they are able to migrate. But its skeleton is in one place and it is in a totally different spot. <It's extremely stressed. It's not dead, but getting there'¦> I have a yellow tang, a clarkii clown, diamond spotted goby, and a yellowtail damsel. <Your tank is much too small for a yellow tang. This might also too many fish for a small reef tank. Reef tanks do best with a minimum number of fish.> The clown hosted the elegance until last night, and she looks confused and restless now. <I assure you that the elegance is not pleased either.> We tried to "starve" the algae by reducing feedings and decreasing halide lighting time. <Right idea'¦ wrong implementation.> The orange diamond goby has lost a TREMENDOUS amount of weight-- it looks like a little tadpole skeleton now. I cannot in good conscience starve him to death, so I picked up the feedings again. <I'm not entirely sure lack of food is what's causing him to starve.> I am at my wits end, and do not know what to do. We are doing everything by the book, but somehow things are not working out. <Yikes, which book?!> I read the material on your website, but nothing has really helped. Just "checking off" everything as I read it: yes, doing that, and that, and that.... <::sigh::> I am thinking, there may be a parasite...or starfish offspring...or hair algae toxin.... or is the water test kit lying? I've looked up info on the green hair algae can survive on as little PO4 as 0.05 ppm. Our kit does not go that low. But I know that spa places offer phos test kits that read in ppb. Would this test kit work on salt water? Is there a low-range test kit for nitrates, and who makes it? And the biggest question is. . . how can I "starve" this green "monster" if my fish are suffering? Please help!! <Ok, here's what I think you should do: 1) don't add anymore coral or fish! 2) if possible, find another home for the yellow tang 2) decrease MH light over the main tank to 7hrs a day (mostly to control heat) 3) leave the light on the sump (and Chaeto) 24/7 4) decrease feeding to only what is absolutely necessary to feed your fish. Now that you don't have any SPS left (correct?) you can commit to keeping an LPS/soft coral mixed tank. Your calcium should be around 350ppm and your alkalinity should be about 3 to 4 meq/L. What salt mix are you using? Are you adding anything else in terms of supplements, additives, etc.? And just how high is the temp in the tank? Try to think of the overall picture rather than the 'check list.' You have a system with excess nutrients. This is what's causing your hair algae. You're never going to completely deplete your tank of nutrients (and you don't want to). What you want is to control what gets the nutrients and what doesn't. You want the Chaeto, coralline algae, and corals to use the nutrients, not the hair algae. Hair algae won't grow over coralline. So if you can get that back and growing strong, that will help. If you can get the Chaeto to grow more and even faster, it will compete with the hair algae for nutrients. Your mushrooms and zoanthids can help too. Basically, you want to create ideal conditions for the things you do want so they can out-compete the things you don't want.> Thank you! Nina <De nada, Sara M.>

Re: Black Band Disease?? Time, almost past time, to read   7/29/07 Bob, <Elsa> Sorry, I'm just so worried about this disease in my tank that sometimes I forget to go into the specs of my tank. I usually test for Salinity - 24 <Mmm... as in 1.024? Too low... see WWM> Nitrate - 20 <Too high... ditto> PH - 8.4 Calcium- 420 <Alkalinity? Magnesium?> I give phytoplankton to my Lobophyllia, open brains, I have a green and a red one. I also feed my clam phytoplankton. <... They don't eat this> I inserted pictures of the sick corals in hopes that maybe you can tell me what this is. Thanks Again Elsa <Environmental troubles... see WWM... re Scleractinian Health... the Systems, Compatibility, Feeding of all the species you have. BobF>

Bleaching/RTN with Rowaphos? 7/23/04 Adam, Thanks for the reply.  I am quite sure that the temperature did not spike since it is controlled via a chiller and X10 controller (Aquadyne Octopus).  Also it does not appear that anything died....but even if it did I have a 300 gallon tank, 30 gallon frag tank and 50 gallon refugium all connected together.  It would take a lot to raise ammonia.  <Agreed on both counts.  Thanks for the clarification.  Although, you might be surprised at how much ammonia can be generated by the consumption of a relatively small animal!> But I agree with you that alkalinity alone may not be the culprit.  Maybe the use of RowaPhos PLUS an alk drop did it.  People have been associating the use of RowaPhos with RTN.  Originally I had no problem using the RowaPhos...but maybe the alkalinity drop, along with the adverse effects of the RowaPhos was enough to cause these problems? Regards, Chuck Spyropulos  <I have not heard about the association of RowaPhos (or other Iron Oxide Hydroxide phosphate removers) with RTN, but I have heard that they can drop pH.  Definitely worth checking!  Also, most chemical media will remove elements other than the target from the water.  Performing additional water changes during their use is probably prudent.  Best Regards.  Adam>

Coral Color - low Nitrates? 7/1/03 Anthony, one last question on my 75Gallon SPS, LPS and Softy Reef.  After what you have told me about my VHO lighting and from the tanks I have seen, It should be adequate for my tank.   <agreed... although it pains me to see such an unnatural mix of corals. Sure to be challenged and have some failures in the 1-3 year plan if not sooner for mixing LPS SPS and octocorals in one small tank> I have now seen some great looking SPS tanks under VHO and saw a coral breeder's tanks in person.  They were outstanding. <indeed... MH not needed for SPS> However, I would like to get the color of my SPS to stay as dark and vibrant as when I get them.   They have darkened up some since my low Alk episode but even some of my new frags seem to lighten up or at least changed color over time in my tank.  Is this normal?    <perhaps a lack of nitrogen for the zooxanthellae... are your nitrates near zero... too low if so. Need a few ppm for coral vigor/color> I am feeding the tank much more and doing larger water changes.  My Alk seems to stay at a steady 9.5 dKH and my calcium is around 350-360 since the 2 big water changes you had me do.    <excellent> I am dripping about a gallon of Kalk daily.  You have said not to push either Calcium or Alk to much so I have been keeping it at this. <and will be very fine for growth of corals... steady and stable> Can you think of anything else that would help with the color of my SPS? Thanks so much. <Daniel Knop reported on European aquarists making a sodium nitrate solution to improve coral color ion zero nitrate systems... I cited and repeated it in my Book of Coral Propagation. Do test for nitrates. Best regards, Anthony>

Hungry bubble and open brain? 3/20/03 Hi,  I'd like your input on a troubling development. My tank has been running about 2 years and basically going very well , till the last few weeks when my bubble and open brain which had both been thriving started to open up less and less, secrete more mucous/waste, and accept feedings of small pieces of shrimp much less readily.  The tank is a 46 with 2x96 pc's (one actinic on for 14 hrs; one 10,000K on for 12 hrs).  T= 78; SG=1025; pH=8.4; Alk=12; Ca=425-450; NH4=0;NO2=0; NO3=varies between 1-3(can't seem to get it to zero).  Other critters are all doing great: 2 toadstools, pr of Banggais, pr of ocellaris, 2 cleaner shrimp, one fire shrimp, a frogspawn which actually does seem to be getting slightly browner; was a brighter green at first).  No new inhabitants or changes in parameters that I can think of. The recent change in the bubble and open brain is quite dramatic and puzzling since nothing else is different.  I know I should try to get the  nitrates lower with more h2o changes, but I can't seem to do enough.  I do about 10-15 gallons every few weeks; it varies and NO3 did reach 3-4 recently for a short time.  I'd really appreciate any ideas you guys have as to what's going on and if you think that the NO3 levels could account for the "symptoms."  Thanks very much! <it is far more likely that they have suffered very slowly from attrition. These are two of the "hungriest corals". Even with ideal lighting, their daily nutritive needs are only served 70-80% by photosynthesis. The rest they must get from food (organismal and absorptive feedings). Without feedings several times weekly, most only live 12-18 months before showing the signs. At 2 years, you may simply have been feeding some but not enough. Or if not at all.. then these corals were getting it incidentally from the bio-load (fishes feeding, waste, etc). Do consider if this may be the case. And please read our articles and FAQs on corals feeding starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fdreefinverts.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/growingcorals.htm Best regards, Anthony>
Help for ailing bubble and open brain 3/20/03
Thanks very much for the quick reply!  I have studied the site as well as your great book on Coral Propagation.  I have been feeding them several times a week with small bits of cooked cocktail shrimp, <ahhh, kudos to you for the research my friend. Excellent to hear. Passing mention... avoid feeding any cooked foods to your aquatics, the process reduces their nutritive value. Do seek raw and preferably intact (shell-on, guts, legs, etc... for fishes, corals, etc). No problem here though likely from just that> but when I began to notice the recent change, they both stopped "accepting" food, i.e. they didn't seem to extend their feeder tentacles or contract around/envelope the food any more.  So if they're hungry but won't eat,  it's a catch-22, no? <agreed... perhaps a whole different matter here. Many possibilities... a physical parameter would be the next likely cause (aging or dirty lights, water clarity, light penetration... change in water flow dynamic (usually increase from pump cleaning or added pumps)... water quality of course). Its a stretch for us here to guess without knowing more about the history and hardware of the tank> What to do?  Are there other ways to get them to accept food?  Thanks again! <do examine and consider if there have been any physical changes to the tank/water recently... there may be more to this. With kind regards, Anthony>

Use of chemical filtrants, phosphate, WWM Hello, A simple question I think. I have a sixty gallon - six month old SW reef tank with bout 80 lbs. LR.. Several fish and corals with 440 watts of lighting (VHO). About three months ago I added a 29 gallon refugium with about an inch and a half of miracle mud. At the same time I had an extreme problem with hair algae and added a treatment called PhosBan to the system. Since then the corals have not been coming out like they were. <Mmm, you do realize phosphate is an essential nutrient?> The fish are doing fine. The corals come out about ten percent only. I have added Caulerpa to the refugium twice and both times it died. <HP04 is an essential nutrient for all life...> Now my refugium runs without any plant life and the corals are not healthy. The fish are thriving though. All water tests I have been advised to do turn out ok. I don't test for iodine, magnesium, or strontium. Calcium at 400, alkalinity at 3.0, ammonia, nitrite, and phosphate at 0, nitrate at 20. I would greatly appreciate and input, thank you. Jon <Study my friend... less chemicals, more biology. Bob Fenner> 

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