Saturday, June 21, 2008

One More Nitrate Factory Removed

According to my Salifert test kit my Nitrates are at 25ppm and I have not been able to get it to drop below this. I then remembered that at the bottom of my protein skimmer's overflow box/bubble eliminator is a small sponge filter. I removed it but it really didn't look that dirty. I'll have to see if it makes a difference.

I just got the Salifert test kit this week. It measures Nitrate differently than the API and it has much better resolution at the low end. Unfortunately one of our dogs decided that the boxes for both Nitrate test kits were something it should eat. Fortunately they didn't eat any of the chemicals. However, the little syringe in the Salifert kit for measuring 1 ml of water got destroyed. I'll have to figure something out to measure the water volume.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I Lost My Brain

Over the last few weeks I've watched my beautiful rose colored open brain coral slowly die. As soon as I brought it home I noticed that part of its skeleton was exposed. I blogged about this back on April 28'th. I was worried then because I read that corals with such injuries rarely recovered. However, this one was doing really well. Here is how it looked one month ago. It was fully expanded and doing quite nicely.

This, as it turns out, would be the best I would ever see this coral. As I was battling my nitrate problem the health of this coral declined. I noticed that the area of exposed skeleton was expanding. First to the right side and then to the left.

Here is how it looked on July 10'th.

The green area at the far back is the are of original exposed skeleton. You can clearly see more exposed skeleton on the right side. You can also see some on the in the middle of the left side. The exposed skeleton became overrun with the red algae that you can see behind the coral on the sand bed. I blew it off with the current from a power head.

I knew at this point that this beauty wasn't going to make it. I didn't realize how quickly it would die. One week later, yesterday, it looked like this.

The only flesh remaining was on the section closest to the bottom of this photo. Here is a close up view.

I thought it was odd to see the stringy webby material all over the last remnants of the coral. I hadn't seen that before. I read about this today and it matches the description of Brown Jelly Disease. A highly contagious bacterial infection that attacks LPS corals. Some articles I read pointed out that it can spread quickly and finish off a coral in a day. Indeed, when I came home from work today all that remained was a calcium skeleton. A paper weight.

Incidentally, for the last week or so, my green open brain coral has refused to open. It's as if it senses the disease in the tank and is cowering in fear. I hope this guy lives. Here is how it looked yesterday.

So far there is no exposed skeleton so I am holding out hope. I've increased the current across it as recommended.

In other grim news, my torch coral doesn't look good either. It is no longer expanding completely. My red scooter blenny is also MIA. It was looking thin last time I saw it. After I bought it I realized it was a member of the dragonet family. Like it's cousins, the Mandarins, they are supposed to be difficult to keep because they only eat live food they find on the live rock and sand bed.

Looking on the bright side, my Xenias are still doing well. Pulsing away seeming oblivious to the the demise of their tank mates.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Xenia update

I've done countless water changes over the last few weeks to dilute my nitrate levels after removing my Bio-wheels. I can't tell what my nitrate level is now because the color for 5ppm and 10ppm look identical. What I can tell you is that my Xenia look a whole lot better. They are growing, the polyps are full and they are pulsing like crazy. And perhaps most importantly there is a little baby Xenia between mom and dad. This baby is growing where the connecting piece had stretched out between the main coral and the one that branched off. You can see it in the picture below.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Royal Gramma

I haven't seen it since May 29th when it was sitting on the bottom covered with white spots and breathing laboriously. Pretty safe to declare him dead. The spots are gone from my Yellow Tang.

I've done 4 water changes in the last 5 days. I changed about 16 gallons in each water change which is about 20 or 25%. My nitrates have dropped. However I can't tell how low. The color for 4ppm and 10ppm look the same to me for the API kit. I'm guessing I'm around 10 ppm now. I'll have to find a better kit to use that has more resolution.

I also increase the water flow in the tank big time. I put my two Koralia 3 power heads back in. Each of those is rated for 850 gph if I remember right. So between my Koralias and my two Emperor filters (400 & 280) I should have 2380 gph of flow in my tank. I also have two smaller power heads with unknown ratings. So my water is turning over more than 33 times/hour. This should help deliver water to the live rock and sand for filtering. Hopefully this will help with the nitrates.