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Fustrated and Confused ??


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My tank is almost 4 months old and I just can't figure out why it won't suppport corals ?? or some corals...it defies all logic to me....the Fish I have seem fine but the corals are doing miserable. I have checked all parameters numerous times ...on a daily basis even at night....currently I seem to have brown diatoms on the walls every 2-3 days needing cleaning ....the snails seem lethargic but the crabs seem ok. I have had 2 different Frog spawns in the tank...neither have ever opened .....a Xenia that closed from day one and has never opened back up but appears alive ....green star polyps that look bleached but are spreading ? I recently added a Coco Worm that died within 5 days and never opened ....I have a small amount of red slime alage on the rocks only that is slowly growing. I have dosed only a small amount of iodine in the last week to get the iodine levels up to .006.


Parameters: I use Insant Ocean Powder test kit and some API / Sechams test kits


Ammonia 0

Nitrate 0

Nitrate 10-

Calcium 520 just went up in last few days no reason why

Mag 1300

PH 8.4

Temp 77 night 78.5 day

Alk 11-12

Salinity 1.024 tested with hydro and refractometers

Phospates .002 or less


Feeding 1/2 cube daily brine mixed with myosis small piece seaweed for Foxface / angel





Coral Angel

Bi-Color Blenny

3 Chromis Damsels

1 Clown

Diamond Goby

Small red Star Fish

Green BTA 5"

LARGE Feather Duster


Inverts approx


15 hermits red/blue leg

10 snails most turbos only last a week then die





90 gallon DT / 20 gallon wet /dry sump 100 lbs LR 2" LS no bioballs

Nova Extreme 6x54 T-5 10 on 10 off

Coralife 125 skimmer set at dry skim approx 2 cups weekly produced

GFO reactor media replaced last week media barely "dancing" on top

Mag 350 canister polishing filter / carbon reactor

Electrical probe in DT

Koralina 3 and Max Jet 1200 for motion (Mag350 also provides motion w/ return )




Started in Jan 09 used Tap water....not city tap, from a well 750' deep...tested no phosphates/ nitrates...but have installed an ATO from DI only water for last 2 months.....I do water changes once a month 20%. I rarely dose with anything as parameters have shown no need to ....recently learned running 24/7 carbon will strip some elements I checked and started dosing iodine as needed to obtain .006..( 4 drops lugols )


I have a Media sock on the return and skimmer ...changes weekly


I have spent 100's of hrs researching and have tried and tried .....I did my homework on several different sites....with negative results....so here I am ...on bended knee...(scratch) I am afraid to add anything else to the tank...fish or coral. I can't figure out why these HARDY corals...Xenia / FS will not thrive/ open....the turbos snails don't live more then a week ....yet the Anenomme and Feather Duster and fish look great ?? I have iodine dipped the Xenia...moved them all around to different areas and heights and motions...????


Any / All advise is welcome !!!

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I agree. Copper could be a reason.


IMO, the tank is too young to have so much added so quickly. I would suggest increasing amount/frequency of water changes. That should help get your nitrates down to zero and will help remove copper that may be in your tank. I would also suggest putting some chaeto in your sump for additional help in reducing nitrates.


My corals seem to be happier in the 1.025-1.026 range than when I had them in the 1.023-1.024 range. Might be worth raising it to that level and see how they respond. Also, re-check calibration on your refractometer. I calibrated mine a few months ago and just checked it again today to be sure it was still correct. It was off by .02. Must have gotten bumped or something.



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I did the fight with he refractometer calibration a few weeks ago ...I calibrated it to Sea Horses water ...and it seems to be holding...I also tested my Hydrometer to sea horses water and it reads accurate ..I use both instruments when checking

I haven't tested for copper in a few months ...I could check it again, but last tests I did for copper came out clean few months agao

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I don't know of any test kits that accurately test copper at such low levels. Someone else may know of one.


I would do a large water change and see if things improve. If you have any copper in the tank, it will be reduced over time by continuing regular water changes. Copper may not even be the issue, but doing more water changes won't hurt anything.


There is also come chemical media you could add to your canister filter to remove any leftover copper. Someone that knows more about that could suggest which one works best. I don't know enough about chemical media to suggest any.

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I have been running carbon 24/7 for the first few months ...until recently...I guessed if there was any copper ( rocks etc ) it would have purged and the carbon would have stripped it...Shy of taking water to an actual LAB I'm stumped ...its the Anenome and FEather Duster that baffles me ....supposed to be the most sensitive and they are doing great ...low salinity will cause snails to die....but thats not an issue

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I am going to add red slime remover as its starting to spread more....and have a 30% waer change already waiting...then going to every other day feeding.....as for Macro alage in sump.....no room ......I added a 30 gallon HEX tank as a fuge and fought with the lighting for weeks to get it to grow.....lighting was the issue ....I will be adding another fuge soon, when i can afford a 20 gallon Plexiglass. for Now it GFO reactor to coontrol the PO4....and my NItrates seem to be in a Normal area in comparrison to most tanks I thought ?

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Copper is a heavy metal, and thus will not be readily absorbed by carbon. You need to run a product such as cuprisorb if there is copper in the tank.


was it just the tank that had copper treated in it, or was it also the rocks and substrate? it could leach out of the rocks for years if those are also tainted.


IMHO you have too many filtration processes removing things that are likely not the root of the problem. Adding more and more will not allow you to narrow down the issue.

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I would say then that you will be struggling until you change the rocks... it could be something else, but that is a glaring issue to me.



In the long run, new rock is cheaper than constantly buying replacement corals

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Could a trace amount of copper be the Problem ?? Does it affect the Corals that much ?? Thanks for the info about the copper media....I run the GFO to control the PO4...for algae control .....and haven't run carbon for a week now.....to help stabilize the iodine levels. If this is all due to Copper ...I reserve my comments !

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100 parts per billion is completely lethal to inverts, 10 ppb begins killing them off... and most test kits are not going to be fine enough for you to detect some, but know if it is under that level.


inverts dying to copper poisoning, particularly snails under rock work could definitely be the source of phosphates and nitrates, so in a round about way the algae outbreak could be linked...

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Going fish only won't be so bad really.....I have a 125 gallon DT that is 5 weeks old and going SLOW on this one.....was a used system...and I took the time and nuked the rocks .....2 weeks time to be exact.....I can add the corals from the 90 to it over time ...and make the 90 a fish only I suppose. I will be testing it for copper soon i suppose.

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Very good point!! TY I try to remove the snail when I'm sure they are dead ....but I know there are some I can't get to.


Starting to make perfect sence now .......not to happy with the people who sold me the tank ...knowing this would be an issue ..

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Copper Testing is #1 priority at this point ...I will post the results ....


Thanks All for the Advice !! I will get a copper test kit....just for kicks...and will try the poly filter for a better margin test.


Is called Poly filter ??

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the issue with common copper test kits is they are in ppm, and are designed to show you how much to dose for treatment, they do not in general test low level which is what you need to have to determine trace poisoning. Get the most precise kit you can, adn then do the math and multiply the reagents to change the scale.

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Math...Someone say Math ??? this is suppose to be a HOBBY!!! Grrrrrrrr Hates Math!!!


I'll post results .....gonna be a few days befoe I can get a test kit...and have a water change schedued in a few days...will do the testing after the change. 30% W/C

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