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Thread: ATS Prevents Disaster after Move

  1. #1

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    ATS Prevents Disaster after Move

    A bit of background...My daughter is disabled and spends a lot of time in her room for treatments and resting. Fish were suggested to us by a friend at church and we started an Oceanic Bio Cube 14 in January. Saltwater, live rock, some soft corals, a clown and a 6 line wrasse. Kept it in her room and she loves it! I had almost killed the whole thing by April, but got serious and have fantastic water parametes now with the help of a small ATS in the back.

    Flash forward to today...Our friend is moving to a new house, and her 90 gallon system isn't moving with her. So, last Thursday this moved into my daughter's room:



    Took 10 hours to move everything and we're just about to put the fish back in. I decide I'll test the water first. I have never seen a nitrate test change color so fast. By the time I'd finished shaking the vial it had maxed out. After tome RO/DI dillution I finally got a reading along with some others from my Red Sea Marine Lab kit:

    Nitrates: 300+
    Nitrite: 0.3
    Ammonia: 0.25
    Phosphate: 5.0

    After freaking out and figuring I'd done something wrong and effectively killed my daughter's new aquarium, I decided I'd better test the water the fish were still in. It had come straight from the top of the tank that morning. I got something like:

    Nitrates: 400+
    Nitrite: 0.4
    Ammonia: 0.25
    Phosphate: 5.0+

    Seems the fish had been living in this and we'd just dilluted it some with the water change from toping off the tank. 3 anemones and a dozen soft corals were living in this too. So, in go the fish.

    I'm running around trying to figure out what to do. The protien skimmer is dead and hasn't worked for more than a year (thanks for telling me now!). The LFS store is closed because their moving too. I'd been "priming" an ATS screen in my shop using wastewater from the Bio Cube. It had been going for about 2 weeks and was nicely green but not thick at all yet. What the heck...I slap it in the sump and start it running with 4 CFL floods from WalMart. Then to bed to have nightmares of my daughter waking to a tank full of death.

    To my pleasant surprise, the next morning (Friday) everything was alive and, apparently, well! I go to work installing the hood, chiller, etc. By that evening I took another water sample and got:

    Nitrates: 200
    Nitrite: 0.2+
    Ammonia: 0.25-
    Phosphate: 5.0-

    Everything seemed fine. I'm wondering if I'd messed up the readings on Thursday. Saturday was mostly a day off. The ATS had grown thick already so I scraped it. Just a few measurements:

    Nitrates: not done
    Nitrite: 0.2
    Ammonia: 0.25--
    Phosphate: not done

    Yesterday night (Sunday) about 36 hours after cleaning the screen it looked like this:



    The white piece on the right is an extension I added Saturday. It's starting to grow already. Last night's water parameters:

    Nitrates: 15 (I kid you not. 15 Checked this over and over. The 10X dillution I started with showed undetectable. I'd needed a 10X dillution before just to get a reading. Got this 15 on straight tank water.)
    Nitrite: 0.2-
    Ammonia: trace
    Phosphate: 3.0

    Thusday night I thought I was in the middle of a slow motion trainwreck, but by today all looks good. Thaks to all who have contributed! You lead me down the right path.

    Sorry if that was long for a first post. ops:

  2. #2
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    Re: ATS Prevents Disaster after Move

    Fantastic to hear! Daughter will be happy.

    BTW, if you shrink your pics a bit, they will show up correctly. This site cuts off the right side of big pics.

  3. #3

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    Re: ATS Prevents Disaster after Move

    Thanks, my daughter is VERY happy! Grinning ear to ear.

    I see the whole of both pics but maybe that's because I uploaded them. Where do you see them cut off? How far do they go?

  4. #4
    kcress's Avatar
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    Re: ATS Prevents Disaster after Move

    Wonderful news!

    Thanks so much for the details - I realize that takes a lot of time to put up a post like that.

    We see, fore instance, just the left half of the tank.

  5. #5

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    Re: ATS Prevents Disaster after Move

    Water chemistry update from last night:

    Nitrates: <5 (This is a system that "Has always had high nitrates" according to the previous owner)
    Phosphates: 2.5 +/- Going down a lot slower than nitrates. At least I can get a reading without doing dilutions now.


    I shrunk the images. Is that better?

  6. #6
    kcress's Avatar
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    Re: ATS Prevents Disaster after Move

    Yes images are fine now.

    So if the previous owner always had high 'trates he didn't have a TS?

    If you added it how long did it take to get turf going?

  7. #7

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    Re: ATS Prevents Disaster after Move

    I'd been playing around with scrubbers using waste water from changes on my Bio Cube. A 15 gallon tupperware container a bit of live rock and sand. Threw some food in now and then and let the scrubber clean it up. The screen that's running in the 90's sump was in the tupperware system for 15-20 days. It wasn't thick but had good growth.

  8. #8
    kcress's Avatar
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    Re: ATS Prevents Disaster after Move

    OK. That fills in a lot of questions (like instaTurf).

    This is all great stuff. Your Daughter will hopefully be engaged with the dynamics of the tank life.

    I hope you can explain it all to her to help her see the complexity and interrelated synergy of it all.

  9. #9

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    Re: ATS Prevents Disaster after Move

    Update:

    Unfortuneately the nitrate miracle was no miracle, it was a test kit going bad. Determined that shortly after the last post and got around 400. I started frequent water changes (twice a week 25%) and the ATS was chewing away at it as well. However, phosphates came down very little. Less even then the water changes should have produced. By the beginning of last week I had about 50 for Niterates but still 3.0 for phosphates.

    I'd been working on a fish room and DIYed a 100 gallon sump> Last Wednesday, I used it to take my system volume up from 80 to about 180. Did effectively a 90% water change at that point too. Got 5 for nitrates and 0.3 for phosphates. The next day nitrates were undetectable but phosphates were still about 0.3, maybe higher. Phosphates clearly higher, say 0.5 on Friday. By today nitrates are still undetectable but phosphates are about 1.0. I assume that the phosphates are leaching out of the rock that have been sitting in high nitrate water for quite a while. I guess available nitrates are limiting the ATS's ability to soak up phosphates any faster.

    Now for the question:

    Should I:

    1. Feed more to give the ATS more nitrates
    2. Build a bigger ATS
    3. Dose lanthanum chloride
    4. Sit back and relax, time will take care of it
    5. Other

  10. #10
    kcress's Avatar
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    Re: ATS Prevents Disaster after Move

    Sounds like fun..

    What are you using for all your water going into the tank? Often that is the route into your tank for phosphates.

    How is your TS growth? Has it slowed down? Has it been 4 months since new bulbs?

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