Diary of a Tank Crash by Brian D
Adding Reef Tank Technology
Reef Tank Trouble Brewing
In November, I had to travel a fair amount and was only home on weekends. I did the routine water changes, filter cleaning, etc, but didn’t test the water parameters. At the end of November, my SPS corals were starting to loose colors and then I spotted the first signs of coral bleaching and die off starting at the base of my corals. I immediately ran water tests and found that my Alkalinity levels had dropped to 4.5dkH and Calcium was down to 320ppm. Panic sunk in. I started checking everything in the tank and found that the dosing pumps were not picking up the solution from the containers. I took the pumps down, changed the inlet & outlet hoses, reconnected everything and still nothing. I contacted BRS and they stated the inner tubes within the dosing pumps can become warn over time which turned out to be the issue. I purchased the replacement tubes from BRS, replaced them in the pumps and now the dosing pumps are working properly. But what about the corals?
I immediately started taking all my SPS corals out of the tank, moved them downstairs into a quarantine tank and started examining them all thinking I had some type of parasite problem. Using a magnifying glass, I wasn’t able to find any parasites on the corals. I then decided to dip the corals every 5-7 days in a 5 gallon bucket with CoralRx and Iodine. I had a drip line setup to the bucket along with a powerhead and would leave them in there for about 15 minutes. I then hooked up a MaxiJet 1200 to a hose and would “power wash” the corals with saltwater before replacing them in the quarantine tank for observation.
Reefkeeping Lessons Learned
From the research I was able to do, some people had success with fragging the live parts of the corals and others lost the corals all together. I found a few people that stated they had luck with fragging the corals about ½” above the highest point the skeleton was exposed. I did that on all the SPS corals and disposed of the pieces that had died off. Unfortunately, that meant that several of the larger coral colonies became mini-colonies again. I found this to be successful for my milliporas, a red planet and a rainbow Acropora I had. After fragging those corals, doing a few more dips and monitoring them in the quarantine tank, I have not seen anymore die off. The next signs I hope to see are new growth and some encrustation of the frag plugs they are now mounted to.
On a larger Acropora colony I had, I fragged it 3 different times to stop the STN. The corals arms were roughly 8” in length (6 total pieces) to start with and they are now down to about 4-5”. On another Frogskin Acropora I had, I wasn’t so lucky. It appeared the coral had really died from the inside out. Each time I fragged and dipped it, the die off would appear again within a day or two. I ended up only being able to save one arm of that colony, so now my goal is to grow that frag back into the colony I had before this happened.