Saltwater Aquarium/cyano, lights and who knows what else : )
QUESTION: Thank you for helping. I have a JBJ 28g CFL reef tank. I have hard and soft corals, 2 clowns, a royal gramma, pajama cardinal and purple firefish. I recently added two Mexican Turbos due to GHA and Gelidium. It has since resolved. I also have a green brittle star, two emerald crabs, five astreas and two large Narcissus snails. Oh yeah, can't forget the tuxedo urchin. The tank is 2 years old. Parameters are 0 Ammonia, nitrates.05, nitrites, .03 phosphates, 12 dkh, 430-445 (it varies) CA, salinity 1.025, pH 8.1, and temp between 77.5 and 79.5. I run no heater (I'm in Florida), and the JBJ skimmer, which is the only one that fits in the sump. I use a trickle filer with fiber filter pads in the top, a combination of Poly-Filter, carbon pad, and nitrate and phosphate sponges in the other two sections. The pumps are two 266gph and two powerheads rated at 650 gph, feed fish pellets or flakes (5 different kinds, rotated) every other day, either frozen brine or mysis soaked in Selcon on the day I clean the tank, corals once a week varying phytoplankton and zooplankton, i.e. Marine Snow or Cycklop-eeze). I remove 25% to 50% water weekly, putting back in salt I mix myself, vacuuming the sand and top off with r/o d/i. I also blow everything off with a turkey baster before cleaning tank.
Ok, I can't imagine that I've forgotten anything. I know I will never have a cube again. My two pumps have both gone out on me at separate times, the lid has dropped on my arm three times, and changing out the compact florescents is a real pain. BTW, how often do I need to replace them?
After getting rid of my other two problems, I now want to tackle the red cyano on my sand. I vacuum it once a week, but it comes back in a day. Because of the vacuuming so often, my sandbed, powder sand, went from 3 inches to 1. I have Aragonite sand I wanted to use, but am not sure about covering my current sandbed, even after I clean it. I would do it in stages, but I want your opinion. Everyone in the chat rooms on the Internet give different ideas, and I am worried. That tank is my baby and I couldn't stand if I killed off something.
Oh, I did forget something. I do not add anything to the tank such as CA or trace elements and use Instant Ocean Reef Salt in r/o d/i water. I know this is long but I wanted you to have everything the first go around and hope I did that and you didn't fall asleep. Thanks for the help."
ANSWER: Sounds like a very well cared for tank! Looks like you have looked into your stuff and cared for everyone well!
I have a few suggestions however that are minor and should help.
There is no need to be vacuuming your sand as your not allowing the sand to have a natural layering which helps let good copepods and other bugs grow happily, however if you feel you need too it isn't a huge thing as I have seen many healthy tanks where owners vacuum. If you want to add your new sand it shouldn't be a problem if its live just follow the instructions on the package and do a large water change after it has all settle and maybe a gentle vacuum to mix it up alittle.
The food rotation sounds good however maybe wean off the flaked and pellets more, and try feeding frozen alittle more, but rinse it under the tap first, ring it out then add your selcon on a rotation every other day. Pellets are heavy in proteins and oils, and flakes are high in proteins as well which will add more nutrients then needed.
Cyano thrives on nutrients primarily nitrates and phosphates but also uses silica from the water. It also is photosynthetic which can bloom when the lights are to old or to new, power compacts should be changed every 6 months is optimal for performance, every 9 months is acceptable. Remember to rotate the lights out one or two at a time and cut back your hours for the first few weeks then rotate in the next and do the same till they are all replaced and slowly over weeks bring your timing back to what your regular hours are. I would cut back your light time to 4-6 hours a day till your ready to start brings your hours back up.
To help with sand movement I would highly recommend putting in some cerith snails to clean your sand and keep down the algae however they won't eat the cyano. Maybe a small fighting conch if you like as well.
If you have a QT thank that you can set up for a few days and move your corals to it and put your light over it then cover the main tank with a heavy blanket for three days to kill off the cyano that is an option if it comes down to it or use chemiclean but follow the instructions very carefully as I do use it in a few clients tanks and it works well.
If you have switched salts recently sometimes this can cause Cyano blooms but I have a feeling its more likely the lights need to be changed which it may sound weird but I have seen lots of old lights cause blooms and go away after changes and a good chemiclean.
I hope my long essay helps even alittle and sounds like a fun tank, hope all goes well.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thanks for the extremely rapid response and the nice things you had to say.
I have been under the understanding since I began the tank that detrious builds up and needs to be vacuumed out or stirred in. My narcissus came to the top today and looked dead. My concern was the low sand bed. After an hour, he went back down. Thank goodness! The point of this is, leave the current sand bed alone, but it's ok to add aragonite on top to increase the depth of the bed?
I will go ahead and change the lights. It is a one piece blue/white light, so the only thing I can do is to cut back my lights for a while. I will also (before I get to change the lights) do a 3day blackout, just to be sure. Sound ok?
As far as feeding, I will wean off flakes and pellets, though I have started feeding them every other day. My concern is that frozen foods seem to foul the tank when fed more than once or twice a week, because the tank is so small. Do you consider this not to be an issue since I do PWCs once a week/week and a half? And feeding the corals once a week continues to be all right?
I had a small fighting conch once, but he died after only three months. I would be happy to get another. He was fun, and I frankly had forgotten to add another.
Last question. Sorry. Forgot this earlier. As we live in Florida, I don't use a heater except in the dead of winter. The house is kept between 73-75 degrees. Over the last three weeks, the tank temp has risen to 81-83 degrees all day and night.. I realize part of the problem is that it's a cube. I run lights 8 hours daily. I can't run a fan across the water because it IS a cube and I'm even afraid to leave the feeding door open in case someone decides to exit the tank. I've probably limited the answers you can give me, but I have to try. My Mexican Turbos can't take this heat for long.
BTW, what part of Canada are you in? We just came back from an east coast Canadian cruise, and were on the west coast a couple of years ago. Absolutely beautiful country!
Thanks for all the help! You are great!
To be honest there is many different opinions out there on the matter and I personally leave it as I know some copepods eat it. There is every informative site explaining options and information on detritus so I could go on fighting for either side but reading this article will allow you to choose which option is best for you.
Mix the sands alittle by a gentle gravel vacuum after you add the new sand as you have already been vacuuming it but when the new sand is added mixing it is ok.
If you are doing the 3 day blackout make sure your corals get some light as in a QT which can be very basic for the 3 days. Light, heater, power head and/or filter.
Feeding your corals as often as you do is fine, and there should be no fouling unless you are overfeeding or not rinsing the food first. If you find you can't break off small enough pieces to keep the frozen food low, it can keep overnight in a cup of water in your fridge. I have some clients even freeze it in very thin flats so they can just clip off small pieces for later.
Conches are funny sometimes, just do a really long acclamation of the conch and snails.
As for your temp as it sounds like all you can do at this point is buy a small chiller to keep it lower, and build a small net lid around where it enters the tank. Unless you have a dark cooler room you can move the tank or rip the lid off and build a custom net lid and hang the lights higher to allow a fan you are low on options.
I am in Vancouver BC on the west coast, and yes I do love our beautiful country and try to go out camping and hiking as often as I can get a chance. :)
Good luck and there is no limit to questions you can ask. :) Always willing to help.