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Fast PH drop, everything mad

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Laird View Drop Down
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    Posted: July 01 2010 at 11:46pm
I had just done a 20% water change and added new carbon this morning.  Everything looked good until about 5pm today when I left.  

When I left for the frag swap my PH was 8.2 and everything was very happy.  This reading coming from my APEX

When I got home it was 8.0 and all the coral looks horrible including some look dead. 

I've been testing everything just now.

SG 1.024 from my refractometer
Temp 78
PH 8.0
AL is 11 I THINK.  I just picked up a Expert line aqua test kit and used it for the first time.  It took 22 drops so I think that means the alkalinity is at 11dKH.
No nitrites or phosphates
Calcium was really low 280
Magnesium 1300

I dosed calcium and a PH buffer just now.  

What in the world is wrong?   



Edited by Laird - July 01 2010 at 11:47pm
Indefinite hiatus from sw aquariums.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Laird Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 01 2010 at 11:49pm
Fish look perfect and are acting normal.  
Indefinite hiatus from sw aquariums.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CapnMorgan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 02 2010 at 12:21am
Hard to tell right off the bat, stir up your sand at all? 

Keep in mind not to bring the pH back up immediately as that will cause more damage. You want to bring it back up slowly over at least 4-6 hours to avoid putting even more stress on your corals.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote downhill_biker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 02 2010 at 12:22am
Was this pH drop about the time that the lights went out? I think my pH swings about .5 each day from day to night. I dont know if this is the culprit. Your calcium is VERY low. I wouldn't change anything too quickly, bring the calcium up slowly, and the pH may not even be out of whack. Changing things quickly in a reef can often be more detrimental than letting it ride out. I am not saying don't do anything, just do it slowly. The calcium is absolutely out of whack, but I am wondering why the corals stressed so quickly. What salt did you use for the water change. Did you make sure the salinity and temp were right?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Laird Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 02 2010 at 12:25am
Aquavitro, the expensive stuff for my salt.  It was teh first time i've ever used it.   I had mixed the salt two days before, and then had it in my house.  The temp couldn't have been more then a couple degrees off.  

I have no clue why the coral stress so fast, thats why i'm freaking out.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CapnMorgan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 02 2010 at 12:25am
Like Curtis said you Calcium is/was really low, that should be raised. Temp differences usually do upset corals more than fish. I find it easier if I mix up my water the night before and stick a heater in it, that way by the time I'm ready to change it the temp is as close to the same as possible.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Laird Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 02 2010 at 12:26am
Originally posted by CapnMorgan CapnMorgan wrote:

Hard to tell right off the bat, stir up your sand at all? 


No.  


Indefinite hiatus from sw aquariums.

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180 Gallons mixed reef paradise
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Laird Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 02 2010 at 12:31am
I don't understand why my calcium was so low either.  I test and dose a lot.  Yesterday I tested and it was a about 350 and I dosed enough that it should have brought it up to a lot.  Could my water change have affected it that much?  
Indefinite hiatus from sw aquariums.

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180 Gallons mixed reef paradise
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote downhill_biker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 02 2010 at 12:45am
Originally posted by Laird Laird wrote:

I don't understand why my calcium was so low either.  I test and dose a lot.  Yesterday I tested and it was a about 350 and I dosed enough that it should have brought it up to a lot.  Could my water change have affected it that much?  


Did you experience any cloudy water? First thing I think of is a snow storm, which is caused by calcium being raised too fast and precipitating in the water, which in turn lowers the calcium drastically. This may be the case.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Laird Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 02 2010 at 1:07am
Nope not at all.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote downhill_biker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 02 2010 at 1:15am
Hmmm...well I am kindof stumped as to why your calcium would drop off so quickly like that. Maybe someone else can help brainstorm here.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Laird Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 02 2010 at 1:37am
Its only been two hours since I dosed but I added a good amount of PH buffer in my mild freak out and it actually hasnt hardly moved my ph up.  It usually jumps pretty fast when I add it.  

I also forgot to add, my PH dropped before my lights went off.  My lights were still on when I got home.  They go on late in the day and stay on until 11.

If it can close up its closed up right now.  I have 2500+ zoas heads every place in the tank and they have never all been closed at the same time.  My torches, spawn, hammer,gsp,cloves, all closed.  My brains are all pissed off, and shriveled up.   The SPS isnt out.  have on tiny bit of nepthia frag left after I got rid of it all and its usually about 3-4 inches long and its about 3/4 on an inch right now.   Never has my coral looked like this before ever.   

Indefinite hiatus from sw aquariums.

Once I have my glorious return I'll set back up the following.
50 Gallon rimless cube.
180 Gallons mixed reef paradise
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote downhill_biker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 02 2010 at 2:02am
Wow, I dont know what to tell you. It sounds like something happened with the water change. I would double check your salinity, and also check/crosscheck your temp. Stick your hand in the tank and see if it feels warm or cool.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Laird Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 02 2010 at 2:12am
I've checked and rechecked both.    I have the temp prob from my apex and also a old back thermomter in the sump. I'   My hydrometer says my SG is a lil high but my refractometer says 1.024.    
Indefinite hiatus from sw aquariums.

Once I have my glorious return I'll set back up the following.
50 Gallon rimless cube.
180 Gallons mixed reef paradise
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SGH360 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 02 2010 at 2:28am
could have been a temperature spike like they say it stresses everything out. This happend once in my nano tank really stressed everything and killed some of my soft corals. Even this was a 1 hour event
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote snoyce Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 02 2010 at 9:03am

Thats very strange, from your post it seems like the waterchange and adding carbon was in the morning and in the tank for a at least a few hours before you left the tank at 5pm, is that correct?

I would mix up another small batch of the new salt the same way you did the first time, and then test it, see what the calcium tests at, maybe a bad batch/bucket of salt.  I would doubt it was a temp problem, if the waterchange was earlier in the day, I would think the effects of a temp problem or PH swing from the new salt would happen faster after the water change, I would aerate the water more to try to bing PH in line rather than dose more, is your skimmer working the same as before the problem?  producing bubbles and skimmate?  did you test for ammonia, are all major creaturs accounted for? double check your temp with a different source, maybe the probe is not working right?  I would double check that all equipment if functioning correctly before changing anything more.

I agree with others take it slow, sometimes I think we do more damage trying to correct things in a hurry by adding things?  does it look any better now? have you used that carbon bucket/source before without issues?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 02 2010 at 10:23am
Please excuse my bluntness in this post. I'm just telling it like I see it.
Downhill biker and snoyce are hitting the nail on the head.Thumbs Up You were right to come here after noticing the reaction of the coral. They are the indicator of problems with the tank.

The salt mix can be expensive but may not be better. There could also be a problem with that batch. More likely it is the shock of giving your tank that much new saltwater of a type it is not used to. Salt mixes are formulated differently and the organisms can tell the difference.

The AC is also suspect. If it is a new brand or from a new "bottle" it could be adding in something deleterious or taking out something good of which there already was too little. How often is AC used in this tank? How old is the tank? I use AC only 1-2 weeks/month. That's all it needs because AC sucks out bad (and good) chemicals very fast. The newer the tank, the less populated the tank, the less often AC is needed.

A pH of 8.0 is not a big deal by itself. Most tanks reache near that at night anyway. I don't test pH. I find very little value in it, almost no value at all. On the other hand, I definitely know the Alk and Ca numbers at least monthly, preferably biweekly. I make sure they are always within range. Your Ca was very low. This one bad parameter sets the tank up for a reaction when one or more other stresses happen to it. I would forget pH and keep up on the Alk and Ca.

Look first to the salt and AC. When I am using a new brand of salt, I always acclimate the tank to the new salt by mixing old and new salt mixes together accordingly for a few water changes.

Have you ever read my recommendation for 10% water changes only every 1-3 months? Last night at the meeting I was hob-nobbing with a member of the club presidency.Smile He confided to me that he has never done a water change in his 7 year old reef. To look at it you would never suspect anything but the best conditions. Because it has the best conditions. Approve


Edited by Mark Peterson - July 02 2010 at 10:40am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Adam Blundell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 02 2010 at 10:26am
Tough call. I'd go all or nothing. Either leave it alone to settle and cycle, or a massive water change.
I am a big fan of water changes so I would probably do that.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Laird Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 02 2010 at 11:50am
Everything looks way better this morning.  Id say 15-20% of the coral still looks bad tho.  Its not just once type of coral either, its about 10-15% of every coral, sps, lps.  Fish still look great.  From what I can tell the only thing that died is a couple acan frags.  My closed brain, and a couple lobos still arent happy.  My large torch, frog and hammer is are still pretty much closed up.  I don't think any fish, or inverts are missing or dead.  I have lots of shrimp and are hard to find but i've seen some of my cleaners, and peppermint so I assume they are ok.  

A double checked salinity and temp again today.  I used a digital thermometer I have and the temp is right, and my hydrometer and refractometer both say my SG is good.  

After thinking about it all night I think it has to be the new salt mix.  

I looked at my APEX ph graph and the ph dropped from 8.2 to 7.99 from 6 to 7 o'clock.  So it dropped that much in an hour and then stayed that low.  How weird is that?  My water change was at about 10am so 8 hours later was when the ph freaked out.  

If I do decide to do another water change to add in more of the new salt how long should I wait?  Seems to me that I should give everything quite a bit of time to get looking better before I hit them with that again.  It seems unlikley that its a bad batch of salt, just probably very different then my last.  I had heard very positive things from that brand of salt from people around here.  

At least things are looking pretty good now. 

What product does everyone use for calcium? I had been using that two part reef fusion system and am about out.  I was going to go into AD and get some new calcium for dosing and ask if they had heard about that salt brand freaking thing like like that.  

Thanks for all the help!
Indefinite hiatus from sw aquariums.

Once I have my glorious return I'll set back up the following.
50 Gallon rimless cube.
180 Gallons mixed reef paradise
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Laird Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 02 2010 at 12:03pm
I also don't do large water changes very often either.  I think i've only done one other water change this big and it was my first water change.  I usually do about 10% and not that often.  I guess I had it backwards but the reason I did such a large one this time was because I was using new salt that from everything I had heard was a lot better that what I was using.  Because of that I wanted to get a lot of it in, and thought that would be a good thing not a bad one.  Oops.   
Indefinite hiatus from sw aquariums.

Once I have my glorious return I'll set back up the following.
50 Gallon rimless cube.
180 Gallons mixed reef paradise
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