What are the foam pads for?
They were there only for biological filtration before I had the new ATS up and running.Originally Posted by SantaMonica
I've also added a powerhead (without pads) to the sump under the ATS so that nothing settles on the bottom and that any un-eaten food gets passed back into the tank.
Everything was going fine until the day after I pulled both foam filters from the power heads (they're more like Fluval filters really), I guess there wasn't enough light on the ATS and it was also the same time that I did a cleaning on the screen so half of it was nearly bare. All generally bad timing!
I think the fact that the nitrate hadn't fallen to 0 still was an indication that the scrubber wasn't up to the job yet, hopefully the extra light will help. Also I still don't think I roughened up the screen enough (I still get growth within a day of cleaning, but I'm sure it'll help), so I may go over the areas I clean in a few days.
I've also redirected the flow more evenly over the entire screen with the two overflow outputs so should get more growth on the edge areas (also the new lights cover one side where the old lights didn't cover as well), so all in all there should be more growth.
Sort of had a mini disaster. This is how I think it happened.
I pulled the foam pads from the powerheads.
I had missed a few 7 days cleanings by a day or two, so the screen was a little overgrown and possibly not pulling everything up it should.
Started to a small amount of some ammonia.
This stressed out the soft corals. Could well have leached toxins into the water, which in turn stressed out the hard corals.
I put the foam pads back in after doing a clean (they had been cleaned under tap water originally, but then rinsed out and put into the sump just in case.)
The foam pads took 2 weeks or so of suspended food in the water and started processing it.
The food rotted in the pads, which weren't properly populated with bacteria, releasing ammonia.
This in turn pissed off the soft corals even more, which pissed off the rest of the corals and stressed out the fish.
Started to get an outbreak of ich (pretty sure it's cryptocaryon) (don't have the room for a Q tank unfortunately, so have relied on healthy fish and good water quality).
Added some bacterial starter.
Started to get some nitrites.
Gorgonia and some SPS started to die (which really sucks as they had grown massively, quadrupling in size in 3-4 months), releasing more toxins.
Whitespot/ich/cryptocaryon got worse and last night I lost my bannerfish :shock: (almost exactly at the same time that Michael Jackson died - freaky... yes he's dead, wake up and watch the news!).
Again, bad me, I was a day overdue on the cleaning, I took the screen out and it was completely covered in thick brown slime algae, which had choked the algae underneath, which had started to rot and make things worse.
I removed only a little of the turf algae as after I blasted the screen with the shower and the slime algae came off, there was no new grown underneath that from the previous cleaning.
Then did my first water change in 10 months, did 20%. (calcium, hardness, ph etc. have all been fine, only needing minor supplements).
All this time I've been dosing Seachem Prime to keep down the ammonia/nitirite, but it's not been enough.
I'm happy to say that tank is looking somewhat better after the screen clean last night, but the surviving corals are all still in and a few fish still smothered in ich (to be expected for a week or so).
I know that the problems are not caused by the scrubber, only the lack of correct maintenance (been stupidly busy with work for the last month). I was however considering some non-mechanical backup biological filtration to be a backup in case I make another silly mistake like this. Something like a fluidised sand bed filter, which shouldn't remove any suspended food, yes it's likely to keep the 'trates up a bit I guess.
I think it explains why my nitrates were never 0 but always very low (around 5ppm normally), more than likely it was the foam filters in the powerheads that were making the nitrates that were then being soaked up by the algae on the scrubber, rather than the scrubber soaking up the ammonia directly and bypassing the nitrate stage.
I'm a little wary of removing the foam filters at the moment as the fish are fairly stressed and don't want to loose any more. It's probably irrational, but hey.
All in all, this comes down to a few mistakes:[list]When removing biological filtration, don't do it all at once.
Putting the pads back in after 2 weeks or so of not having them - causing food to rot.
NOT CLEANING THE SCREEN EVERY 7 DAYS WITHOUT FAIL!!!![/list]
In my continuous-liquid-feeding experiments, I was able to get almost the same results you accidentally got. Details aside, I got to about 100 times normal daily food amounts, and was starting to see your results, which are typical for increased ammonia and nitrite (not nitrate). Immediate fix is to stop feeding, turn on a UV if you have one, put in lots of carbon, lower the temperature, start dosing vodka (only if you have studied how), then put a filtersock on the overflow and start vacuuming/blowing the entire tank. Then clean out the sump, and clean the sock twice a day. You can have zero ammonia/nitrite in one day if done correctly. Water changes won't help... the dying corals/animals put in much more ammonia than the water change takes out (so be sure to remove anything that's dying). Since your scrubber (like mine) is just a regular-sized one, it's not too hard to over power it with lots of ammonia (the recommended size is the smallest size that works OK).
You might still do some of these things to get you back to normal. I dont' think a few extra days on the scrubber caused it. It would have to really accumulate for it to be the cause. But certainly the scrubber was unable to help, since as you said it was thickly covered with slime.
I figured as this is no longer a design and it's been built, that I'd move it to the main forum now
Well good news, after the cleaning the filters and scrubber a few days ago I put some carbon yesterday and today the tank is looking nearly back to normal and actually looks pretty good again!
I think another factor that didn't help things was that in the last 1-2 weeks it's got pretty warm, I also setup the air-con unit in the living room with the tank 2 days ago.
The tank had settled around 24-25C until it started getting warmer a 2 weeks ago, and it started to get to 25-26, then 26-27, which was when everything really went wrong all at once. I had to turn off the halide and only have the T5s.
The tank has now settled at 25C, even with the halide on, when it's 30C+ in the rest of the house (and a pleasant 22C in the living room! ), the fish still have a fair bit of whitespot, but are all eating well and very active, the corals are recovering well now. All in all, the temperature increase was likely to just stress the tank out even more.
4 days after cleaning the screen, it's completely covered in brown slime algae and this long stringy brown algae, the same stuff that was smothering it before, so I'm going to do an early clean tonight, I'll probably just blast it with the shower to get rid of most of it rather than scraping it, as I don't think there's much growth under the brown algae.
Still, everything is look much better now, I think the brown algae is just growing because of the high ammonia/nitrite, going to do a test now, but from the way things look, pretty sure they're very low now. Hopefully that will cause the brown algae to slow down and give the turf some chance again.
sorry to ear about the mishaps m8 hope you have it all under control very so , also do you have any pics
Well, it's getting better very quickly, so it's looking good.Originally Posted by ocean rock
I've not taken any since it started going a bit pear shaped, but there's the post with the slightly older ones on:
I'll take some of the screen before I clean it again with all the brown algae.
As I mentioned in the other thread, I've moved all inverts out into a Q tank (after dipping the coral in iodine dips, and rinsing the rest), and treating the main tank with Seachem Cupramine (copper based).
After a week with the full dose of copper, it's working great, almost no sign of ich in the tank, and oddly enough the slime algae seems to have vanished from the screen (maybe due to the copper?) and the turf is growing very well.
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