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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I am new to the forum. I have had a salt water tank for 5 yrs. I am not happy with the results i have. So I have many questions. First a background. I have a 240 gal tank with a 100 gal sump. I have a large protein skimmer and when the water is entering the sump it goes thru skimmer then to carbon filtration.
I am finding that my fist are fine and very healthy, but my coral is not doing well. I will post pictures of the coral shortly.
To be perfectly honest, I worry alot about my ability to take care of the tank and I would like to automate it as much as possible. If it is possible to automate as far as calcium and dkh and anything else.
What info do you need to help me diagnose? Ca and dkh are normal as is salinity and temp. I am using new lights - not sure of the name but they provide sunlight, sunset, and moonlight. I have over 200lbs of liverock as well.
 

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Big tanks are a challenge. The sheer cost and workload can be staggering. I got rid of my 80 g and moved to three small tanks and am enjoying the hobby much more. For example I do a 20% water change in all my tanks weekly and I only need 5 gallons of water. You are looking at 70g of water to do the same. If you give us dome details and specific’s of the type of equipment you have and its condition. Some pictures of the tank and equipment, and some details as to current water quality of your tank we can start to help you more.
 

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The first things I would suggest is to provide water quality parameters, exact measurements not just with in standards as that leaves far too much leeway. This alone could provide a lot of clues. This would include Nitrates, Nitrites, Ammonia, Alk, Calcium, Ph, and SG. The next thing is exact lighting set up for which you have and what corals and fish you have. Lighting for a tank with corals can be a bit challenging in a tank as deep as this one, especially if your not using Halides. The corals you have could also be a mitigating factor...for example, if you have a lot of Leathers in your collection they will often secreat chemical growth inhibitors in the water thereby engaging in "Chemical Warfare" with in the tank. This can seriously affect other corals in the tank, especially SPS type corals which are a lot more sensitive. Some corals that are sold on the market are really common, popular but very poor choices for the home aquarium such as Gonoporia often called Flower Pot corals. Some fish will pick at corals or other wise have a tendency to harass them in some way. A specific list of equipment would also possibly shed some light into whats going on. Are you adding suplements to the tanks water? In a Soft coral tank Iodine might be an appropriate addition on a regular basis especially when running a skimmer too, but there is a very fine line between what is a okay regimen and what will result in a Overdose.

We are not there to see the tank so you really need to kinda provide a very detailed picture of exactly whats going on, otherwise we can only take a stab in the dark.

There is a fair amount of things that can be automated. Things such as Auto Top off with R/O water is possible as is Calcium reactors just to name a couple. However there are a lot of things that just really cant be automated with any degree or reliability or consistency. It sounds like you have a fairly nice set up tank and I have had tanks this size and larger before. They can be maintained fine in my experience once they are set up and running well. Due to thier size getting them to that point can really test your patience not to mention your wallet.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I have uploaded my pics to www.ohiocomputers.net/tank13010.zip I have included pics of my fish, coral, rock etc. I also have 2 shrimp, crabs, 50 hermit crabs, and 100 snails. I will get a good test kit to get you as many readings as possible and post them. I also uploaded pics of equiptment to www.ohiocomputers.net/aqstuff.zip . it may take a few days to get you all the readings but i hope these pics help.
 

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One statement you make concerns me. You say when the water enters the sump it goes through carbon filtration. Water entering the sump is usually somewhat dirty in comparison to the water leaving the sump on its way back to the display tank. This means it wil have bits of food and detritus in it which would get caught in the carbon leading to nitrate problems.
I would get a reactor like the Phosban or other reactors and run clean water from the return section through the carbon instead of how you are presently doing it. Nitrates won't have much effect on your fish and a few of the other inhabitants but it will cause problems for most SPS or LPS corals.

What do you have for filtration, water movement and a skimmer? What is your lighting?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I guess once i have all my levels figured out I can look more into this. This is a nice article. THANKS BEASLBOB !!
 

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Is the carbon in a bag or what? How does the water pass over/through the carbon? Does the bag get plugged with debris?
If you look at the pics, you will see water goes into the sump, to the skimmer, then thru a tube out of the skimmer, into a 4 gal bucket. In the bucket is rock and carbon in a stocking. then it comes out back to the sump. Does not seem to get plugged with anything as so many pores in stocking.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I found a freshwater test kit. Here are a few readings. I will have a saltwater kit this afternoon. Ph 7.4 Ammonia .25 Nitrites 0-.25
 

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your water parameters should be something in the area of...

Ph 8.2-8.4
Alk 8-10
Calcium 380-450
Ammonia 0
Nitrites 0
Nitrates 10 or less
Phospates 0 if you can detect it - its too much

Check the water parameters towards the end of the lighting cycle to get an accurate Ph reading. Also make it a habit to check the water quality about the same time each day. Coralline algae is a good indicater of water quality. If the parameters are where they are supposed to be then coralline should be prolific in the tanks rock and glass work. High Nitrates and Phosphates will seriously inhibit growth.

As for the sump, I normally run a 50 micron filter cloth between the water entering the sump and the carbon in a lower tray. This allows the filter pad to catch the deteris allowing for realatively clear water to pass through the carbon media bag. The skimmer should be in one of the end compartments just before the return pump. You need to let the filter do the max that it can before reaching the skimmer. The skimmer will clean the water further allowing you to get the most from the filter system.

The T-5 lights are pretty good if you have soft and LPS corals. For most SPS, I prefer Halides.
 

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I found a freshwater test kit. Here are a few readings. I will have a saltwater kit this afternoon. Ph 7.4 Ammonia .25 Nitrites 0-.25
The api test kits for ammonia, nitrIte, , ph, and nitrate have different color charts for salt and freshwater.

PH on the high range pH kit 7.4 is the lowest reading. with the pH kit 7.4 is in the mid to high range. get the high range kit.


The FW ammonia kit will read small values when used on saltwater. And the color chart is hard to read at .25-0 values on the kit as well. I consistantly get a reading of .25 in a marine tank that has ran for years with healthy fish and corals.

NitrItes are low which is good but should have not a tinge of color.

So I would get it tested again.

I would measure pH just before lights out.

I would get a alk kit also but that is part of the article I linked.

Low ph means high carbon dioxide. I would add macro algaes to consume the carbon dioxide and return oxygen while recycling ammonia/nitrates and phosphates into fish food.

You may (and probably will) have to protect the algaes from your cleaner crews and fish. So some type of refugium even just a tank partition would be advisable.

I think you will find that with the macro algaes things will start running much better. But you may have to start the dosing in the article also.


my .02
 

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Here's the link to upload pics to your gallery here if you want:
Aquarium Gallery - Login
I think more people will view your pics that way vs downloading your zip file from your server.

How many corals do you plan to pack in there?

You can go with a 2 part drip, or you can go with a calcium reactor, kalk reactor, and dosing pumps for other suppliments like magnesium and strontium, etc. There are several ways to automate things better but it depends on your budget, the type of corals, how often you want to (or want to NOT) service your automation devices, etc.
 

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Just checked everything. PH is 8.4 nitrites 0 nitrates 0 ammonia 0 alk 9 ca 440

sounds pretty good. I would also check magnesium.

perhaps the corals need some food or somthing.
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
I dont have a magnesium test kit but I will get one. I do put iodine in once in a while. Have you seen the pics from above? I also uploaded to galyary too. 87 pics total tank 1_12_2010
 
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