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Tank Crashing :(

2296 Views 19 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  encore
Hey Guys.... I am pretty new to this hobby but am falling in love with it instantly... I've had my tank for about half a year or even longer.. Before I left for Christmas break it was doing really well... I had several zoas, mushrooms, hairy mushrooms, a electric scallop, a star fish, a brain coral, candy cane coral, star polyps and a giant kenya tree... I let my room mate watch my tank for a week while I was gone and I know he didnt take proper care of it... When I came back my tank looked like shit... My star fish was loosing legs and my scallop was turning brownish on its underbelly... Anyways... I pretty much got everything back to running and everything seemed happy... I normally do a water change on the first of the month but forgot this time... I woke up one morning and my tank was completely cloudy. Nothing was open at all, and my torch coral was melting.... I did a 25 percent water change because my alkalinity was through the roof. I did another the next day because it was still reading an alkalinity of like 15. I just lost my brain coral and im pretty sure my duncan is gone... I litterally lost every single coral I had in a matter of 2-3 days.. I understand things like this happen but why??? what can I do in the future or right now to get things back to normal?
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Without knowing anything about your setup and equipment you use the best advice will be general good husbandry methods. It's always rough having someone else watch your tank. Because no one is going to do it exactly like you do, especially if it's someone thats not in the hobby and the only thing they see is a glass box of water. Hard to say what happened to your tank this time though. Has anything died prior to the "crash"? Any new additions? Parameters when it started? It sounds like you have had a lot of die off in the last couple of days, make sure you get all of the dead corals and livestock out so they don't continue to foul your tank.
What caused the Alk spike? How do you dose and what? Manual, dosers or reactor? A list of tank param's and equip will help.
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Hey.. So I did have my starfish loose its too legs.. it was hanging on but it look a little shriveled up after a week or so I just took my chances and tossed him.. My buddy says it could have been me over dosing my tank before I left for a funeral over the weekend.. I use Part A and B and was dosing some phyco pure.. The only things left in my tank are my kenya tree, two zoa colonies, some hairy mushrooms my clown fish a duncan and my pistol shrimp... none of the corals are open at all... I have not dosed anything since the water changes... Last time I tested my water was at my local store and my buddy said everything was fine except I had a huge spike in alkalinity.... My tank basically went from awesome.... to completely empty...
I'd be more then happy to come by tomorrow and test and see what you have going on and try to figure out what happened to your tank? I'll pm you my number if you want. When you say you over dosed the a&b did you dose an excess amount and dose them close to the same time? The cloudiness may have been the calcium precipitating.
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Sounds like alkalinity overdose. It will kill stuff real quick.

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I'd be more then happy to come by tomorrow and test and see what you have going on and try to figure out what happened to your tank? I'll pm you my number if you want. When you say you over dosed the a&b did you dose an excess amount and dose them close to the same time? The cloudiness may have been the calcium precipitating.
Very generous offer for you! Im sure Encore can get you headed in the right direction.
The Kenya trees will survive. Sucks man. This is why I don't dose anything. My stuff does great, although not very SPS heavy
Do not dose your tank any more. Find out who told you to dose your tank and tell them to be quiet. There is just no reason to dose a tank that doesn't have a large amount of corals; and I mean large. My 60 gallon at my office is filled to the brim with non SPS corals (I mean filled!), and I don't dose. Regardless, you really shouldn't be adding anything to your tank without being able to test for it daily. And I don't mean running some water to the local store to test. No doubt the local store sold you a pH test. They love to do that. Then they sold you some part one and two. Now you're probably adding this stuff a couple times a week to get your pH right. This is the fastest way to kill your tank. Stop chasing pH. If you want an absolutely gorgeous well growing tank... Then do a water change every week. Doesn't have to be a huge one, test for salinity and BAM, everything will look awesome. Let me know if there are any other ways I can help :)
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+1 On staying on top of the water changes. By what it you listed, You really didn't have any corals that required you to dose 2 Part. Most of the lps you had would have done fine on water changes. Granted they'd probably would have appreciated it, but not required.
Thanks guys.. I do have a test kit I was just really busy that day.. My clown seems to be not swiming and in the corner of my tank... hes still alive.. but it looks like hes struggling some.... I am about to test my water and update this status.. Its too late for me to run and grab salt water tonight... but I think I am going to do another change tomorrow...
Results :

Salinity: 1.24
Alk - Still through the roof.. around 15 or so
Nitrate - Under 5.0
Ammonia - .25
Phosphates - between .05 and 1...
Calcium - around 400 -500

The rest of these were done with a test strip...

Nirtate 0 Nitrite 0
PH - Around 8.0
KH - < 240
GH < 280
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How much saltwater do you need for a water change? I have some mixed but its not to temp yet but if you have a heater you could change it in the morning. Were you at coastal reef earlier today?
Do you have any Prime or something like that? Any ammonia is bad

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I am going to go to coast tomorrow I was working today and couldnt make it in time.. I was wondering how much I should do.. Its a 20 gal tank and Ive done two 5 gal changes.. one on wednesday and one on thursday.. Should I do another or should I get an extra 5 gallons and add that in after a couple more days?
If you get in a jam and need water. I have Reef Crystals mixed on hand ready to go at temp and pure 0 tds and 0 po4 straight out the holding tank. Pm me.
.I'm sure Scott will help you get it straight.;)

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I met someone in coastal today that had just had a tank crash is why I asked. If they Dont have water or you want some earlier or whatever I have like 70g of reef crystals mixed. If your coral is still looking bad I have room in a 40b to hold it until you stabilize your tank. My offer still stands to test your water and check it out if needed.another small 5g won't hurt for sure if everything still looks unhappy. I have an ammonia test kitbifbyou want a second opinion but if you have ammonia either you have a small cycle going or something dead and rotting in there. Any ammonia is bad
Thank you so much guys all this is really helpful! The shitty part is when I mean crash it allllll crashed... I lost every thing I had.. My clown is still in the corner of my tank on its side just sitting in the corner not moving... I am wondering if I should just take him out... Also in the future does anyone have any frags for cheap... I litterally lost everything and if I showed you guys a picture of my tank a month or two ago and now it is a drastic difference...
When you get you water right I have a 4 head blue candy cane I'll give you for free. Its just sitting on the back of my rack. I wouldn't rush sometimes a tank take awhile to stabilize back to normal after a crash.

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My sympathies. Most of us have been there with a crash, for one reason or another. What they used to say about understanding the Soviet Union also applies to reef tanks: "There are no experts, just varying degrees of ignorance."

Couple of thoughts: 1) When you can, consider getting some good testing equipment and test regularly, especially when you're new to the hobby. There's a lot to learn. Hanna checkers are good, but expensive. In my experience Salifert or Red Sea are much better than API which is what my LFS uses. 2) As a general rule of thumb, when in doubt about doing anything to a tank (including dosing), take a deep breath, count to ten, and do nothing. It's best to do nothing and be assumed incompetent than to add something and remove all doubt! I find that it's best not to obsess about getting alkalinity or anything else to a perfect number. It's better to go for stability--even if the pH isn't a perfect 8.3 and the alkalinity is not at 9-- than to fiddle with it constantly.

Finally, don't give up. Worst case, you can start over completely and fairly easily with a 20g tank. And there's a very low "degree of ignorance" on this site and as you can tell, folks here are willing to go out of their way to help; lots of savvy advice from experienced reefers that I've relied on more than I'd like to admit. Use the resources here and return the favors when you can. Hang in there. This will be a good story to tell in ten years or so when you're sitting back, admiring that 150 gallon SPS-dominant reef.
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I definetly have some easy coral when you get back ready if you want some.
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