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Extinction Level Event


Krux

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I have a lot of info to post, so just starting the thread, but the night before I left for Reefstock earlier this month, something went awry.

on Wednesday night my wife and I smelled an electrical odor coming from our forced air duct.  We ran around the entire house and garage trying to sniff out the problem.  After 15 minutes of searching we were unable to find any problems… off to bed.

 

On Thursday morning I did my pre-dawn KZ dosing and left for work at about 530 am.

 

when I got home from work at 7:30 that night and went down to feed the fish, several of my larger montipora colonies were bleached out.  Remembering the odor from the night before I did another tank investigation.  Everything was running fine.  I did a full battery of tests with my Hanna checkers and they were within error margins of my Trident.  No solution.

 

After an hour of watching the tank, acropora started bleaching and I knew something was wrong.  With the new tank I do not have nearly enough water volume for a large water change.  I started removing equipment piece by piece and was starting to panic, at this point I decided flying out to Denver in 9 hours was a bad idea, especially since I had no idea what was going wrong.

Kalk reactor taken offline, no issues.

Ozone offline, no issues.

MP40s offline, no issues.

UV pump offline, no issues.

UV unit was next - the power cord leading into the unit was hot, extremely hot.  UV had been running, I could see the lights.  Pump had been functioning, no flow issues.  I disconnected the unit and rotated it to drain out the water.  What came out was a sickly grey-brown fluid right into the sump… not excellent.  Housing seemed sound, seals good, but the wire connector was ripping hot.

As soon as I started disassembling the unit I could tell plastic had been melting and found the same smell from the night before.  Took out the bulb and quartz sleeve which was full of water.  How had the unit kept running with the bulb completely flooded?  Inspecting the wire connector, it had completely melted, fusing to the bulb.  We had found our problem.

UV was plugged into the eb832 which in turn was plugged into a gfci, somehow nothing tripped…

Final findings - a pinhole in the quartz sleeve had flooded the bulb which shorted but did not stop running.  At this point I knew the damage was done, and while everyone in the tank looked fine, an impressive history of crashing tanks told me it would be a few days before the full extent would be apparent.  I trained my wife on how to feed the fish and empty the skimmer and what to watch.  I decided staying home, now that I knew what happened, would not really change the trajectory of what was going to unfold.  Changed 20 gallons of water, threw in all the carbon and chemipure that I had, and went to bed.  Needed to be at the airport in 5 hours and figured on taking a nap.

 

TBC

Edited by Krux
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Posted (edited)

My wife worked diligently over the days we were away at the conference, sending videos and photo updates of all of the fish, colonies and frags.  For the next few days all fish looked healthy and were eating well, and we saw a slow march towards a complete die-off of acropora and montipora. 

Parameters seemed to be holding according to the apex, but it was hard to get some of the visual clues we all eventually learn to pick up on - coloration, vibrancy, polyp extension, tissue development or retraction as those are observations she hadn't made before.  She saw that some of the corals just "looked white" and some of them "looked like skeletons" which I was actually pretty impressed by - that is a distinction that can be subtle.  To my eye an estimated 30-40% of the corals were lost.

On Sunday white spot was observed on the first fish, our powder blue.  Not certain if the main reason for this was the UV coming offline, or if it was the stress from the poisoning event.  We increased feeding significantly in an effort to outcompete the crypto with calories.  She also started to have a difficult time locating a few of our more shy fish, I didn't really worry her that this was a warning sign of crypto build up - they still came out to eat.

I ran an ICP test as soon as I landed.  I have no baseline as I didn't think to fire one off on Thursday.  I do not know at this point what impact the chemical stripping of the water would have long term, but this at least would give me a chance to test the efficacy of the combination of three days running carbon, Chemipure blue, and some Cuprisorb.  Initial results below - red is too high, yellow is too low for this particular sampling company:

image.png

@steveweast and I were reviewing the results, he found it interesting that the things that were way above lethal levels are elements that people these days chase with moonshiner type methods... I can not however endorse UV bulb dosing at this time.

Boron was double the desired level, molybdenum 3X, and vanadium almost 4.5X what it should be.  Of note, I had admirable levels of Tantalum!  High on 3 and low on 8.  PO4 was scary low, but I chalk that up to the Chemipure blue.

For reference and maybe to help give perspective to the excellent TVWD water supply, I have my RODI results below - my filter has read 0 in and 0 out consistently for years - I don't burn through filters (other than sediment filters due to old pipes) very quickly

image.png

Fast forward two weeks for the next ICP result and there are some interesting findings.  For the two weeks prior to this test I removed the chemipure blue as my manual testing when I returned showed PO4 at 0.0 on my Hanna.  Having just gone through 10 months in my other tank fighting dinos I was not interested in zero levels.  I also removed the carbon replacing the two with Purit from Brightwell which I expected would do a better job at removing the heavy metals.  Vanadium came down to zero and now wants dosing, but I saw little movement on Boron and Molybdenum but both did trend down.  I need to find a better product to drop these two specifically.  Other metals also dropped as you can see below

image.png

So now we are at 2 high and 9 low, with most of the low numbers where they were expected after running the Purit for two weeks.  PO4 was back into a reasonable range but still low.  I might swap over to Cuprisorb or some other witchcraft based substance @Lexinverts has suggested.  I started doubling up on my dosing of KZ Flatworm Stop and Coral Booster - from the color and smell of the KZ FS I know definitively where my iodine input is coming from.  I am also using a new product from KZ, Coral's Love which smells a lot like soup - if anyone has been thinking of dosing soup to their tank I would suggest this KZ chicken noodle/beef consommé variety that I seem to have as it is very pleasant.

Livestock update as of last Monday - I was at one point looking at a 90% mortality rate on all stony corals with the only things that looked happy being some caulastrea colonies and a euphyllia (are torches still euphyllia?) which was good news as that is "the pretty coral" in our tank from my wife's perspective.  I inherited an accidental rose anemone in some live rock I bought and it seems unphased.   We had now lost nearly half the fish which really bummed her out - we had a pretty intense crypto outbreak  which took our burbonius anthias, wild percula pair, royal gramma, bangaii, and the powder blue.  We thought we had lost our lawnmower blenny but it reappeared late last week.  Probably gone today by the time I get home will be our bluethroat trigger - it has been struggling for the last 5 days and has ceased coming out to eat which is very uncharacteristic for him (he does track the food when it floats by which is minimally hopeful). 
 

Totally healthy with no signs of crypto are our mystery wrasse, purple and yellow tangs, peppermint hogfish, and our quoyi wrasse.  Who knows if the lawnmower has any white spot - Wilford is freaky mottled normally. 

I was able to replace my UV unit with another of the exact same size and model within the first week but I wasn't fast enough to save the more sensitive inhabitants.  I began a twice daily H2O2 dosing regimen of 8mL to stave off the worst but I honestly can't tell if it helped at all - my ORP readings are exciting looking though.

 

IMG_0158.jpeg

RIP Geoffrey you camera loving fool, you left us far too soon 💔

In the coming days I am going to try to collect a few photos of some corals that surprised me and may be making a comeback - guaranteed losses are running at around 45 colonies/frags.  I didn't remove very many things from the tank in hopes a polyp or two survived but now three weeks later and covered in algae I have given up hope for most of them.  The most dramatic resurrection was from my orange setosa, unfortunately all of the Fiji and nearly every smoothie in my collection have refused to survive.  I am currently most sad by the loss of a red A. simplex/elegans that was like no coral I had ever seen before.  @reefnjunkie is out of luck now, he was getting the first piece.

 

TBC

Edited by Krux
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The first step, is to admit you have a problem... I'm a Moonshiner.  (and I like it)

Took your first test results, typed them into moonshiners excel sheet to get it's interpretation of the situation.   Here's my translation of it's results.

  • Potassium Very Low "correct to target level immediately" (379, expected 410)
  • Boron is High, close to critical.   "do not let exceed 10 to avoid damaging corals" (9.7, expected 6.  Critical is 10)
  • Iodine is "low, but not depleted"
  • Barium is WAY high "not recommended to exceed 100.   Urgently find source of Barium to avoid further increase"  (101, expected <= 15)
  • Molybdenum high "let it naturally settle down" (37, expected ~15)
  • Vanadium is above, but "still no concern"  (7.5, expected 1-2 range)

My interpretation.   Need to bring Potassium up to target right away.  It's one of those basics.    M.Shiners recommends Brightwell Potasssion-P, mixed into solution.   I think I have this if you need it.

Only way I know to bring boron down is Dilution, eg large water changes.  Or check on your absorbers.

Otherwise, I assume Barium came from your UV unit.   

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48 minutes ago, obrien.david.j said:

The first step, is to admit you have a problem... I'm a Moonshiner.  (and I like it)

Took your first test results, typed them into moonshiners excel sheet to get it's interpretation of the situation.   Here's my translation of it's results.

  • Potassium Very Low "correct to target level immediately" (379, expected 410)
  • Boron is High, close to critical.   "do not let exceed 10 to avoid damaging corals" (9.7, expected 6.  Critical is 10)
  • Iodine is "low, but not depleted"
  • Barium is WAY high "not recommended to exceed 100.   Urgently find source of Barium to avoid further increase"  (101, expected <= 15)
  • Molybdenum high "let it naturally settle down" (37, expected ~15)
  • Vanadium is above, but "still no concern"  (7.5, expected 1-2 range)

My interpretation.   Need to bring Potassium up to target right away.  It's one of those basics.    M.Shiners recommends Brightwell Potasssion-P, mixed into solution.   I think I have this if you need it.

Only way I know to bring boron down is Dilution, eg large water changes.  Or check on your absorbers.

Otherwise, I assume Barium came from your UV unit.   

Fantastic intel, thank you! 

 

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13 hours ago, Krux said:

Fantastic intel, thank you! 

It's the reason I'm liking Reef Moonshiners system.   For me, it's not about Chasing Numbers only.  It's also about getting feedback, What does being "off number" really mean.   When to react strongly, when to let-it-ride.

For example, notice I didn't pick on any of the "daily" type elements.  (moonshiner term)    "Daily's" are consumed or vanish relatively fast.   Or need an ICP-MS test in order to believe the accuracy of the value.  And, unless they're added regularly (aka, almost daily), they'll go down naturally - fast.  <-- Assuming you've removed the source of what raised them in the first place.

  • Cobalt, Chrome, Selenium, Iron, Manganese, Iodine (and Copper)

There's a pretty regular question in the moonshiners group.  Oh No, I accidently dosed (big amount, eg: 4-8x) more of one of my daily elements - what should I do?   Answer is reguarly, Do Nothing - just wait a week for them to burn off naturally, and resume normal dosing.     

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I don’t think it’s a matter of micronutrients being above limits as much as rando carbon compounds from whatever plastic burned up. You did the best you could considering the circumstance. 

Kudos for having a write-up about such a depressing event punched up with a little humor. 

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Really sorry to read about your tank crash. Unexpected equipment failure that ends up contaminating your whole system is like...the 2nd to worst case scenario in this hobby (first being glass break I'd argue.) 

I have a question about a decision you made early on, specifically:

Quote

After an hour of watching the tank, acropora started bleaching and I knew something was wrong.  With the new tank I do not have nearly enough water volume for a large water change.  

You mention soon after that you knew you were in for a system collapse, so I'm curious why you didn't think it would be wise to remove the majority of the toxins from your system by performing a huge water charge? Surely 100% water replacement would be less harmful to your livestock than unknown chemicals in the water column? Hindsight is 20-20 of course, but just curious if you'd still do the same things if it all played out again?

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10 hours ago, Gedxin said:

Really sorry to read about your tank crash. Unexpected equipment failure that ends up contaminating your whole system is like...the 2nd to worst case scenario in this hobby (first being glass break I'd argue.) 

I have a question about a decision you made early on, specifically:

You mention soon after that you knew you were in for a system collapse, so I'm curious why you didn't think it would be wise to remove the majority of the toxins from your system by performing a huge water charge? Surely 100% water replacement would be less harmful to your livestock than unknown chemicals in the water column? Hindsight is 20-20 of course, but just curious if you'd still do the same things if it all played out again?

Great question!

 

Simple answer is that I didn’t have access to 150 gallons of water.  The issue had been ongoing for 20 hours, and the earliest I would have been able to source that volume for a water change would have been another 13 or 14 hours in the future.

Even if I had turned on the RO unit immediately, we did not have a container even remotely large enough to mix salt in, even the bathtub is too small.  That said, I am making progress with my wife on her agreement to getting at least 100 gallons of water storage containers for installation.

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1 hour ago, Krux said:

Great question!

 

Simple answer is that I didn’t have access to 150 gallons of water.  The issue had been ongoing for 20 hours, and the earliest I would have been able to source that volume for a water change would have been another 13 or 14 hours in the future.

Even if I had turned on the RO unit immediately, we did not have a container even remotely large enough to mix salt in, even the bathtub is too small.  That said, I am making progress with my wife on her agreement to getting at least 100 gallons of water storage containers for installation.

Anyone looking for water storage tanks (for RO/DI or saltwater mixing stations) can find a huge selection at Green Concepts Container in Gresham.  They advertise on Craigslist:  https://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/grd/d/gresham-drinking-potable-waterfood/7726165135.html

This is where I bought my two 75 gallon storage tanks.  If you have the space, get storage tanks with the capacity for at least a 100% water change on your aquarium setup for emergency situations like this.  

image.png

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9 hours ago, SuncrestReef said:

Anyone looking for water storage tanks (for RO/DI or saltwater mixing stations) can find a huge selection at Green Concepts Container in Gresham.  They advertise on Craigslist:  https://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/grd/d/gresham-drinking-potable-waterfood/7726165135.html

This is where I bought my two 75 gallon storage tanks.  If you have the space, get storage tanks with the capacity for at least a 100% water change on your aquarium setup for emergency situations like this.  

image.png

I was looking at these folks on Craigslist last week as an option.  I plan to take my Subraru over there and see how large of a container I can haul home.

Thanks for the positive feedback, I was skeptical about the posting. 

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Sorry to hear that it got so bad, Ryan. The main thing I would do is continue with water changes. I'd worry less about the minor elements and keep moving a decent volume of water through that system to help strip all of the unknown nasties out of it. That Triton detox stuff I recommended depends on large water changes to work, as well.

I would also ditch the UV if at all possible. I wouldn't want there to be a non-zero change of the same issue repeating in the future.

Good luck!

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I upgraded my water station this winter with two 100 gallon barrels I picked up directly from the Norwesco manufacturing plant in Washougal.   You can’t buy directly from them but they gave me the name of several places I could order from and then pick it up myself as freight from Washougal.  It ended up being a bit cheaper for me.  I used an irrigation place in Tri-cities as my local distributor.  
While a little costly, I modeled my new water station after SuncrestReef’s and it has been a fantastic time saver.    

IMG_8492.jpeg

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Also has the side effect of your truck looking like a happy vampire!

Did those come with bulkheads installed?  Research shows me that isn't always the case.

 

If this was relatively recent, do you mind messaging me with what the cost ended up being?  I am looking at the Grasham place as well as used setups and want to evaluate value as much as possible.

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I couldn’t figure out the name of the distributor I got it through, it was a phone call order in November.  On my card statement it is listed as Fimco Schaben Agspray but I think that was just a billing issue.  I got the 100 gallon ones, 28x43.   The total was $625.17 for both, including tax since I’m in WA.   

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5 minutes ago, Coug Reef said:

Oh, and yes they came with threaded 2 inch bulkheads.  I wanted to use 1 inch PVC, so I got a 2 inch threaded pipe adaptor and then used a reducing bushing.   

I bought my two 75 gal tanks the exact same way.   Went to norwestco on the web, was connected to a distributor, ordered them Will-Call from the Washougal facility.  CAREFUL- If my memory is right, you have to pick models that have a W in the mfg site, not all plants make all sizes.

And YES, pay the extra ($10?) for the bulkheads to be pre-installed.   I wanted a smaller size and thought, "I can install those myself."  But in a fit of genius, I got lazy and ordered them pre-installed.   Looking now, I'm not sure how I'd install them myself.  Life saver.

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Looked up my purchase details.  Ordered two of these tanks in July 2019.   Amazing how the price has increased.  They've basically doubled.

I bought from National Tank Outlet, and selected Norwesco based tanks.

https://www.ntotank.com/75gallon-norwesco-white-vertical-storage-tank-x9749447

https://www.ntotank.com/norwesco-vertical-storage-tanks

 

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