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Corals are melting!!

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More than a week ago, I had a disaster with rocks collapsing inside (and outside) my tank. After a few days of running carbon, things appeared to be getting back to normal. Corals looked unhappy, but nothing looked like it was going to outright die. In the last few days, things have taken a turn for the worse. Something crazy is going on, and I don't know what to do! 

 

wtf-favia1.jpg

 

Noticed this favia looked a bit strange. My camera wasn't capturing the melting appearance well, so I grabbed a cell phone and took a close-up with flash that shows far more horrifying detail than my eyes can see under reef lighting! 

 

wtf-favia2.jpg

 

Noticed a brain had whitish goo all over it, so I tried to gently blow it off with a pipette. Instead of the goo blowing off the tissue, I discovered the goo IS tissue, and I was blowing it off the skeleton! 

 

wtf-brain1.jpg

 

I stopped, but now I don't know what to do with it. Help! This is one of my favorite corals!

 

Trumpet heads that had been closed since the rock collapse suddenly looked very tattered on Saturday morning and were gone completely by evening. Blastos haven't opened since the collapse and appear to be headed down the same path. Fungia has lost tissue/color on nearly half its body. Hydnophora has major tissue loss and goo. Green slimer has browned out. Lots of other corals just looking extremely rough. Large LPS like a scoly and wellso have their mouths open extremely wide, so I can see a lot of the skeleton inside. The wellso has a bit of the whitish goo the open brain has, so it may have some minor tissue loss, but it's hard to tell.

 

wtf-hydno.jpg

 

wtf1.jpg

 

wtf3.jpg

 

wtf2.jpg

 

 

I have a fish in the tank, and he looks healthy as can be, completely unbothered. I'm thinking it's chemical with the corals, but I did not expect this much damage and am scared I'm going to have a lot of things die. I tossed the HOB filter back on and started some fresh carbon, and I'm mixing up saltwater for a water change.  What else can I do?

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For reference, things looked like this a few weeks before the rock collapse:

 

DSC_5744s.jpg

 

Plump, juicy, and healthy! Certainly no melting favias or gooed up brains with skeletons showing! 

 

I'm just days away from having the upgrade ready. This reef is going into a 40g breeder, which the plumbing is finally done on and has saltwater mixing inside right now.  I'm anxious to move everything over, but nervous my new tank is going to look like garbage, thanks to this rock collapse/melting coral disaster!  :sick:

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Some of those pictures remind me of when a coral is in the sand bed for too long. You had said that there was a bit of a sandstorm, which may have caused some hydrogen sulfide to be kicked up. Especially, with sand beds that don't get turned over too often.

 

I was curious about what hydrogen sulfide does to corals, and came along to this paper:

http://www.pnas.org/content/109/24/E1558

 

There is some interesting stuff in there, but I guess a common thing with sediments, corals and hydrogen sulfide is there is somewhat of a cascade. As some tissue dies on the coral from being in the sediment, it lowers surrounding pH, causing more hydrogen sulfide to be produced by microbes.

 

Maybe do a good sized water change, but in my opinion it looks like some sediment might have hurt them.

 

 

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Some of those pictures remind me of when a coral is in the sand bed for too long. You had said that there was a bit of a sandstorm, which may have caused some hydrogen sulfide to be kicked up. Especially, with sand beds that don't get turned over too often.

 

I was curious about what hydrogen sulfide does to corals, and came along to this paper:

http://www.pnas.org/content/109/24/E1558

 

There is some interesting stuff in there, but I guess a common thing with sediments, corals and hydrogen sulfide is there is somewhat of a cascade. As some tissue dies on the coral from being in the sediment, it lowers surrounding pH, causing more hydrogen sulfide to be produced by microbes.

 

Maybe do a good sized water change, but in my opinion it looks like some sediment might have hurt them.

I agree with this, my first thought was something being released out of the sand bed also. What are your parameters at? That can help us figure it out also to see if somethings off.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Do you have a pH probe to see if it had drop since the sandstorm? If it is low pH issue, add some Kalkwasser (mix in fresh water then let it settle then add clear solutuon) to bring pH back up.

 

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-N900A using Tapatalk

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Yikes! The sandbed stirring up nasties could definitely be an issue. I had a carnivorous snail that wiped out my sandbed fauna for over a year and it has not recovered. I have several nassarius snails in there now, but they mostly come up and eat fish food scraps; I don't think they keep the sandbed in good shape at all. 

 

Used API tests (not the best, but what I have):

ph is at 8.0

phosphates undetectable

 

I'm attempting to test for alk and some other things, but I have the Red Sea kit, which I find extremely difficult to read the results of and generally can't get consistent results with, so I'm just doing my best. Have already screwed up the alk test twice. Will report back in several minutes if I can get it figured out. 

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Btw, I don't have a clue what any of my parameters were before any of this happened, because I'm a bad reefer and never test anything beyond salinity.  :dejection:  

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Sorry, darn. If you have a separate system or close by reneging friend you could transplant prized coral while sorting this out.

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More than half an hour and several testing attempts later...

 

alk 7.0 (maybe)

 

I may as well be color blind trying to decipher blue turning orange. It never does. I can only see a change to yellow, so I just went by the moment when I no longer saw a blue tint. Not at all confident in this result.

 

Several corals are looking much worse than they did a couple of hours ago, including some I didn't even mention before because they only looked rough then, but now they look terrible, Since this is happening so fast and it takes me so long to test parameters, I'm going to halt testing and focus on getting corals into new water. I'll use a rubbermaid bin or something... I just have to get stuff out of that tank, or I'm afraid this is going to be a complete tank crash. 

 

Of course, this happens when I have a miserable cold. :(

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Sorry, darn. If you have a separate system or close by reneging friend you could transplant prized coral while sorting this out.

 

Well, I have several other systems running, but they are all in some stage of fish quarantine, and I'm too paranoid about disease to use those as coral storage. I'll start up a rubbermaid bin system for a couple of days while I get the upgrade tank ready. If I get this right, I just need a holding system with clean water for a couple of days while I get the salinity correct in the new system. Rushed isn't how I wanted to do it, but dead corals is not how I want to do anything, either. 

 

When it rains, it pours!  Don't even want to talk about a fish I lost in QT this morning, after treatments for flukes and horrible intestinal worms failed. 

 

The light in the dark is the new tank, which looks pretty snazzy and will hopefully be the saving grace of this reef! 

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Looks like your paly was stressed when rock falling down and releasing toxin into the water.

Carbon will not removed the toxin, it will take a lot  and the corals is affected immediately.

Those tooth corals, lobo, blasto, trachy, favia, favites, scoly ect will be affected.

Remove the paly from the tank and you can put back after the tank stable

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Looks like your paly was stressed when rock falling down and releasing toxin into the water.

Carbon will not removed the toxin, it will take a lot  and the corals is affected immediately.

Those tooth corals, lobo, blasto, trachy, favia, favites, scoly ect will be affected.

Remove the paly from the tank and you can put back after the tank stable

 

Thanks for your input!  Are these palys?  I thought zoas. Or does it matter?

 

photo.jpg

 

I hope these are not the cause of trouble, because they are ALL OVER my rock (a problem I was planning to tackle when I moved everything to the new tank). This was the rock that other rocks crashed onto the hardest, though, so it would make sense they were ticked off. 

 

I have a mini colony of purple death palys that did get quite a bit of sand on them when the rock collapse happened, so they would've been very angry. I never even thought about toxins. I'll get them out, for sure. 

 

Waiting for rubbermaid bin saltwater to mix up. I overshot the salinity and am trying to straighten it out before I start tossing in corals. 

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Don't worry if your hydno dies, you can have a (large) frag of mine, it's a bit out of control lol

 

Also if you need to check alk you could bring a sample by and use my Hanna checker if you want.

 

Sounds like this all relates back to the rock topple problem though. Did the rocks land on the brain or no?

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Have you done a water change? I would definitely do that. And yeah, the Paly's could definitely be the culprit here...I had a similar thing happen after scraping palys off my glass years ago in an SPS tank. The Hydrogen sulfide is also a possibility, but I would only guess that if your tank is pretty old(like 24 months or more...but I'm guessing).

 

If you do a large WC, just be cautious of temp, and salinity because your tank is in a very fragile state at the moment. try to get those to match exactly...or super close.

 

Also, sometimes things will just have to run their course...once things start to spiral down, they often times take months to get back to normal, so try to remember that for your next tank! It will get better!

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Don't worry if your hydno dies, you can have a (large) frag of mine, it's a bit out of control lol

Also if you need to check alk you could bring a sample by and use my Hanna checker if you want.

Sounds like this all relates back to the rock topple problem though. Did the rocks land on the brain or no?

Thank you. Since I don't have a clue what my alk was before the trouble, it might not provide much insight, but it couldn't hurt to test. I think I have my hands full with this tonight, but I'll take you up on the Hanna check tomorrow evening, if you're home and don't mind. If it's close to my result, I'll at least know I'm reading my test right. If it's way off, I'll have confirmation I have no clue how to read tests.

 

Rocks did crash onto a brain coral, but not the brain that is melting. Some other corals may have fallen into the damaged brain, but I can't remember. It was a chaotic time with me just grabbing all the corals I could, as fast as I could. The brain that had rocks crashing down on it is not looking its best, but is in better shape than many other corals right now.

 

I was planning to use some of my old water in the new tank, but now that this has happened, I'm going all new water. All the live rock should instantly cycle the new tank, and I have new sand. I just hope I don't carry over any possible hydrogen sulfide gas with my rocks.

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Have you done a water change? I would definitely do that. And yeah, the Paly's could definitely be the culprit here...I had a similar thing happen after scraping palys off my glass years ago in an SPS tank. The Hydrogen sulfide is also a possibility, but I would only guess that if your tank is pretty old(like 24 months or more...but I'm guessing).

 

If you do a large WC, just be cautious of temp, and salinity because your tank is in a very fragile state at the moment. try to get those to match exactly...or super close.

 

Also, sometimes things will just have to run their course...once things start to spiral down, they often times take months to get back to normal, so try to remember that for your next tank! It will get better!

The tank is only 2.5 years old, but since it doesn't have proper filtration, I wouldn't be surprised if there is a load of nasty crap in the sandbed. I'm going to move all rocks and corals, sans palys, into a plastic bin with new saltwater. Basically, 100% water change. I know that's drastic, but the photos don't quite convey how bad things are looking, and it's getting worse by the hour. I'll do my best to match salinity and temp exactly. Can't really match much else. The water has been mixing while I'm updating this thread. Once I have the corals in new water, I can focus on getting the salinity and temp correct in my new tank, the upgrade, and move everything into there.

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The nuclear green protopaly colony in your full tank shoot before the rock falling.

The toxin will be very potent in a small tank.

Nuclear Green & Toxic Purple Protopaly is best keep in 50gal or larger tank, so the toxin if release will be diluted with more water volume, hence less toxic to other corals.

 

For reference, things looked like this a few weeks before the rock collapse:

 

DSC_5744s.jpg

 

Plump, juicy, and healthy! Certainly no melting favias or gooed up brains with skeletons showing! 

 

I'm just days away from having the upgrade ready. This reef is going into a 40g breeder, which the plumbing is finally done on and has saltwater mixing inside right now.  I'm anxious to move everything over, but nervous my new tank is going to look like garbage, thanks to this rock collapse/melting coral disaster!  :sick:

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Sorry I called Toxic Purple (Purple Death protopaly) because it is the first paly that poison myself when I inhaled the air while cutting a frag.

102 Fever & Chill and Burning Throat for 8 hrs. I was lucky I didn't inhale enough toxin to knock me out.

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The nuclear green protopaly colony in your full tank shoot before the rock falling.

The toxin will be very potent in a small tank.

Nuclear Green & Toxic Purple Protopaly is best keep in 50gal or larger tank, so the toxin if release will be diluted with more water volume, hence less toxic to other corals.

 

Oh, that's very informative and implicative, because the nuclear greens were damaged in the rock collapse. They ripped into 3 frags, and some of the polyps disintegrated in the tank.

 

I removed the purple death palys. I will now also remove the nuclear green frags that came about from the rock collapse, but I'm not going to touch the ones still encrusted on the main rock. I think that might do more harm than good.

 

Thank you very much for the information!

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I decided against moving everything out of the tank into a rubbermaid bin - too much work and too much risk.  Instead, I did an enormous water change, about 70-80% of the tank water, but ran into some new problems:

 

- had to decide whether to expose a possibly/probably toxic sponge to air OR to pull it off the rock and risk pissing it off, so that I could keep it submerged during the water change (I chose the second option; seems to have gone ok, but for all I know, I just set off an apocalypse) - I believe it's a Haliclona species

 

- miscalculated the water volume! I currently have some rocks and corals out of water, because I removed more than I had mixed up (making more now; heating is taking AGES!)

 

- stirred up more sand while adding new water to the tank, which, of course, mostly landed on the already damaged brain coral   :doh:  I cleared it off gently, but now a bit more skeleton is exposed. 

 

I feel as stressed as some of these corals look!  :unsure:

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It's up to you if you want to test alk tomorrow, I'll be home after 4:30 so anytime works. I have Hanna phosphate and calcium as well if that is of interest knowing.

 

Since you only test salinity, what are you using? Just curious.

 

Also, new tank has a sump/skimmer/filter fixins right?

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It's up to you if you want to test alk tomorrow, I'll be home after 4:30 so anytime works. I have Hanna phosphate and calcium as well if that is of interest knowing.

 

Since you only test salinity, what are you using? Just curious.

 

Also, new tank has a sump/skimmer/filter fixins right?

 

I use a refractometer, and I try to clean it off well and recalibrate with tap water between uses. I'd like to get a digital salinity checker, but the price puts me off. Always something else the tank budget ends up going to - usually coral!  I don't use hydrometers; don't even know how to work them.

 

New tank definitely has a proper sump and nice skimmer! This 29g was my starter tank, when I was coming from freshwater and found sumps terrifying. I don't regret it, but it's definitely time to move on!  I'll start a tank thread for the upgrade once things calm down. 

 

Tomorrow would be great for checking some parameters. I noticed after struggling with my Red Sea test kit that it expired 8/15. I used it only a few times, because I could never get the hang of reading the color changes. I'll text you tomorrow around 4:30/5'ish and swing by. Thank you!

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Sorry I called Toxic Purple (Purple Death protopaly) because it is the first paly that poison myself when I inhaled the air while cutting a frag.

102 Fever & Chill and Burning Throat for 8 hrs. I was lucky I didn't inhale enough toxin to knock me out.

 

That's terrible!  This is a list of the zoas and palys in my tank:

 

purple death (removed from tank)

nuclear green (removed frags from tank, but left the ones encrusted on large rock)

unnamed pink (post #13 photo)

unknown purple zoas (similar to hornets)

eagle eyes 

radioactive dragon eyes

Kedd red

utter chaos

 

Do I need to take out any others? Most of them were not damaged in the rock collapse, but some have had dull color the last few days. The ones that were damaged, either by tearing or having a lot of sand piled on them, were the nuclear greens and purple deaths. 

Edited by Flashy Fins

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