massive coral die off, need advice! - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 3 Old 09-11-2009, 05:30 PM Thread Starter
massive coral die off, need advice!

I was out of town for the week and left my tank behind. I had a friend look in on it after a few days to make sure it was doing okay in my absence. Well, the day before I was to return I got a call. My friend does not know much about saltwater so she just told me "I can't find the fish and the corals are turning white!" Of course there I was out of the area and could not do anything about it so I just told her to check the salinity and temp. Salinity was good but the temp was 95 F! Apparently my heater stuck. I told her to do a water change.
I returned the next day to assess the damage. All of my frogspawn, bubble coral, and torch coral were very much dead. My encrusted pagoda polyps had minor die off but is recovering well now. My green stars colony are completely gone...I think, I am not sure yet. There still seem to be the purple crust on the rock where the green stars used to be but I have not seen any reappear yet. I had some pink polyps that look REALLY bad, but it looks like some of them are coming back and the others are getting mushy and dying away. And all of my ricordia died as well.
The day I came home I returned with 4 new zoo frags that I got at my favorite fish store (something I was planning on doing before the die off happened.)
Its a 14 gallon biocube that had been up for about and year and a half with about 25 pounds of live rock and a deep sand bed. I tested my phosphates and nitrates and my phosphates were 0 (thanks to my phosban) and my nitrates were surprising only at 5.
I did a massive water change of 6 gallons, its almost a 100% water change because with all of the live rock in the tank, the tank only hold about 7 1/2 gallons of actual water. I threw out all of the dead LPS and scrubbed off all of the dying mushy zoas. After the water change i slowly acclimated my new frags. I added some fresh carbon to the back of the tank.
Everything seems to be doing pretty good right now. I have not retested my parameters yet though. All my new frags are doing great.
What I need to know is how to proceed now. Since my clown died in the disaster, I have no fish in the tank. I used to do a 1 gallon water change every 7 days. Since I have no fish at this time, do I still need to do the water changes? I am still going to do the one gallon per week for a while to keep the tank clean since there are still some polyps that my be dying off, but after that, how much do I need to change? I heard from someone that if you have no fish in a reef tank that you really never need to do any water changes. I do not plan on adding any fish to the tank for a few months, maybe not even untill next year.
Oh and can someone reccommend a reliable heater?

125g cichlid - 14g biocube reef - 6g planted Edge - 20g L goldfish/African Clawed Frog
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post #2 of 3 Old 09-12-2009, 08:15 AM
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On a nano tank I would recommend sticking with your regular water change routine, with or without fish. The effort is minimal and the benefits are extreme. Fish are not the only form of organic waste in an aquarium!

For a heater, I would be curious why you need a heater on a small aquarium. If you are aiming for a 74F temperature, I am willing to bet that the water pumps and room temperature would keep the temperature higher than necessary. Your real fight would generally be to keep the temperature down, not up. The old wise tale of using a heater for temperature stability is not a factor in my opinion, because the stability issues in a mini reef generally revolve around increasing temperatures, not decreasing.
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post #3 of 3 Old 09-13-2009, 12:58 AM Thread Starter
Okay good to know. There was a pretty nice 14 gallon setup at one of my favorite fish stores, and at the time I was just beginning a reef tank, and I wanted to dupicate their tank. I asked them what they did to get it so nice and they told me that they only add essential elements and nano a/b. Apparently the tank had been set up for 3 years without a single water change and the same power compact bulbs since day 1. In retrospect, I don't think the tank looked that great. I think I was just easily impressed because I was a newbie at the time.

As for the heater issue, theres no temp issues during the warmer months, but in New York the winters are rough. During the day its fine but at nightfall the temp in the apartment drops drastically because the radiator dosent turn on as often. I remember waking up and the tank was around 70 F, so I opted for a heater to keep the tank stable. It was my fault for not removing it after it warmed up. Oh well, all I can do is rebuild.

125g cichlid - 14g biocube reef - 6g planted Edge - 20g L goldfish/African Clawed Frog

Last edited by ThalesthePearsei; 09-13-2009 at 01:03 AM.
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