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Reefkeeping made easy- what was not explained.

899510 Views 1783 Replies 195 Participants Last post by  hackshobby
here are a few threads that were started in another forum about what is going on in our system. hopefully some of you all will read the information here and start to get a handle on what makes our systems work or not work. I know this may require some reading and those on the internet are allergic to reading threads that are not theirs, but give this thread a go. I am hoping that it will answer most of the questions you may have about reefkeeping. these first three posts may be a bit disjointed. as they came from the other thread. I will try and edit them so that they flow a bit better and lead into each other better.

the biggest things we will be discussing in this thread are the biological process that are going on in our systems. these biological process are what most of the false information that is out there is about. this includes reef forums and LFS. The two main elemental processes we will be discussing are the Nitrogen and Phosphate cycles that are occurring in our systems. these two elements lead to the greatest confusion about what is going on in our little slices of ocean.

There will be a lot of information in this thread. I will be linking to other threads with even more reading and papers on the subject at hand for even further reading. This hobby is easy if you understand what is going on, if you do not care to understand what is going on and listen to a lot of false information out there, then this hobby can be very frustrating and lots of wasted money.
I would anybody to ask questions if they need clarifications. I will try and keep things as short as possible to keep the reading down to a minimum, but some of this stuff is fairly long winded in general.



A sort of Table of Contents for the thread. please feel free to PM any subjects or pages i should add to the contents.

Introduction: Page 1
Nitrogen cycle: Pages 1-2, 22
Phosphates: Page 3, 31
Sources of Phosphates: Page 3
Phosphate Cycle Graphics: Page 35
Early Tank Processes: Page 30
Problems with Sand: Page 4, 19
Sandbed Cleaning:page 7
DSB's: Page 9
BB Alternatives: Page 25
About LR: Page 8
LR Purging: Page 19, 26
Cured LR: Page 23
Tank Flow: Page 7
Light: Pages 13-15
Kalkwasser: Page 12, 17
Feeding: Pages 17-19
Zoax: Pages 15-17
Carbon Dosing: Pages 24-25
Tank Self Feeding: Page 27
Conservation of Matter: Page 28
Beer!: Pages 6-7
Bad Experts: Page 19
Definitions according to Spanky: Page 21
My Reference Links: Page 37
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sorry, am i supposed to use the british version of "colours"?

I used to write like that in elementary school...colours, favourite, labour, humour, centre, theatre....and they all got marked as spelling mistakes.

I put up a fuss and showed my teacher the dictionary, but ended up having to change the way I wrote.
Lol @ mikenicol88. I spell colors, favorite, labor, humor, center, theater, flavor... Good ole' American boy here! haha.

Anyways. This has really gotten interesting, I'll be just along for the ride on this bit as I'm a little too busy at work to try and add much input, plus I don't know enough about this part to actually have much to say. *popcorn*

i am not sure how i managed to maintain using most of those spellings. of course it did not help much living in Ireland for 7 months.

it depends on the reef. this is why it is important to define what type of corals you are trying to keep. the reef top biotope is extremely nutrient free. those lagoonal areas are nutrient rich. this is why it does not work well to mix and match the coral types in one system. the fuzzy sticks (SPS/tridacna clams) are looking for nutrient poor water to live in because this is where they have adapted. while softies and some LPS are looking for more nutrients. they have adapted to compete for space in each of these environments.

the zoax in the corals come and go. it is not once they are there they stay there. the corals can kick them out. hence coral bleaching. So, bonus question. why does the higher water temperature cause bleaching? hint: what happens the more active you are?

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i know the answer to the hint...but i don't see how it relates to corals.

My body temp increases, my heart rate increases leading to increased blood flow, leading to great oxygenation.

Depending on the level of activity, I can get overheated and start to sweat...trying to cool back down....depositing my body's water and salts through pores. This can cause dehydration, even death.

Again, depending on level of activity...I can cause other organs to fail..i.e. kidneys & liver, shutting down to increase productivity in areas of use.
WOW, Been away for awhile. Glad to see lots of familiars and great conversation is still around to pass time with! :)

Got back on site due to a mandatory tank rebuild due to a leaky bulkhead fitting. I will start a new thread to discuss that topic and I will follow this one closely to refresh my Brain on some basics I have probably forgotten all about.
No, they can't sweat :) But the zoox will increase their metabolic activity, producing too much O2 for the coral to handle. When the danger outweighs the benifits, the coral kicks them out. Right?
how exactly can the corals kick the zoox out? seems like the zoox have the upper hand
I'm not sure exactly how they do it, but corals host the zoox and can live without them for a time. I've seen bleached corals recover, but usually it is an "end is near" response.
Arwen is spot on. i will need to double check the thread that Vince posted earlier to see if that thread talked about some of the mechanisms involved in who has control of whom in the coral tissue. .

as the temp rises the metabolism increases and the Zoax can start poisoning the corals with O2. so what does this realate to what is going on in our systems? you hear about everyone trying to boost their temps, increase lighting, increase this, increase that to increase growth. how much do you think these corals can take? then you add the fact that we are running nutrient high systems compared to what is in the wild, it is no wonder people have bleaching/unhealthy corals. :(

which brings us back to how this all got started. how much light do you think is really needed in our systems if there are corals that live near the bottom of the Eutrophic zone? how do we know if our corals are getting enough/too much light?

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if they are getting bleached they are getting too much light.
Example of low light.....

18w of T-8 50/50 liteing over a 29g.....

People told me the tank crashed from lack of lighting.... I beg to differ!
Images taken after 9 months of corals and anemone being in tank!

Right before tank crash..... See any Hard Coral Left?
(3 months later, total tank time 1 year 2 months)
this image was taken 2 weeks after adding a fuge!

Excess Nutrients is what I believe to be the cause!
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bleaching can be caused by a lot of factors. it is really hard to tell which is the cause for bleaching if you do not know what the coral looked like before it bleached. as we know to much light and lots of nutrients can cause bleaching from the coral kicking out the zoax because of O2 poisoning.

hey EC- do the blocking proteins have a threshold limit? i am just wondering if the lighting is so low and the nutrients are so high that the sun is just not triggering the coral to produce the UV blocking proteins to block the zoax from overproducing O2 and getting evicted. this is the only thing that makes sense on why corals can also bleach when they are in low light, when we know that they can grow in some really low light areas in nature. thoughts?

in general if the coral is turning brown/green instead of the bright colours it had when you bought it, the phosphates are high in the system. if you remove the phosphates the colours will return. if you have great colour, then there is a chance you can go down in wattage and save yourself some money on the electricity bill. i know i was able to go from the 400w mh to 250w mh when i went to a low nutrient system and the colours were even better. the nutrients were just to high and the 400w were just barely keeping the corals semi-coloured up.

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ok i read like mad on this thread. awesome read i might add!
--Q: so adding this all up i read that plants (algea as well) "Bind" phosphates in them while growing correct?
--Q: if this is true: why not have a set up of the white 1/2" square grid with a nice grow light on it, when the algea starts growing very well on it, restart that prosses with new grid before the algea dies off and then releases the phosphates back into the system.
i guess this could be done with Any plant: cheato, algea, etc. then?

im REALLY trying to fully understand all this before i dump a ton more money into my system just to tear it down and redo it totally dif. lol. then again i really enjoy it, because every time i do i outdo myself again. eventually i will have the perfect system :angel: lol
also it serves as a phosphate level visual for your setup:arg:
what you are suggesting is referred to as an Algae Turf Scrubber (ATS). they were thought up in the late 70's i believe and hung around for a little in the 80's before they were determined to be not effective at all. they were however extremely good at making your water yellow. :(

the problem is that they are like the other phosphates binders. they are only good after you have a phosphate problem. if your phosphates are under control then there will not be any in the water column so your ATS would be empty. the algae will not be able to grow on it no matter how much light you put above it because the algae will not have any phosphates to use as energy. there will not be any in the water column.

algae do bind phosphates, but they are also leaky. they are like any other organism they have biological functions. :D they have wastes they need to get rid of also.

it is just better to remove all of the phosphates every week during water changes. if this is done then there will not be any phosphates available for either algae or any money sucking contraption you may feel like buying. :D more money for corals, and more time to enjoy them.

i can not remember if i went through this in this thread or not, but when i say water changes, i do not mean just changing the water. the point of water changes is to remove wastes. as you can guess from the discussions in this thread that there are very little wastes in the water column itself, so just changing the water does little, but replace trace elements, which of course are called trace for a reason, but that is another topic for later. when doing water changes you need to go after the biggest sources of waste, that is the detritus you see on top of the substrate. this needs to be siphoned up every week. it has to be siphoned up even if it is under the LR. if not you will start to see algae growing on the LR/substrate interface. this is your first clue that the substrate under the LR is full and is starting to leach phosphates. algae grows as close to the supply of food as possible. the deeper the substrate the deeper you need to dig down to remove the detritus. it all needs to be removed. do not worry about sucking up worms. it is harder to suck them up then you think, plus they will quickly repopulate.

here is a pic of what a sand bed looks like when it goes bad. i had thought i set it up correctly low flow, 9" deep, lots of critters. the extra Fe getting through my RO filter did not help either though.

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totally makes sense. well i at least feel good with just given basic info and facts was able to come up with a solution for the 70's lol :banana:. personally i blast my LR and sandbed weekly. on my return pump i put a T with ball valve and a 1/2 inch flexible hose adapted to a piece of 1/2 inch Cpvc with a 45 bend in it. then smashed the end down some for a fanlike affect. works very well. then i let it hit my filter sock. do a water change. wash sock out. replace...
that is a great idea for getting the detritus out of the sand bed. it would work very well as long as you do it from the beginning. that way you are not blasting super uber loads of phosphates back into the water column.

I just did a big water change yesterday. Following what I have learned here; I took a much smaller siphon hose and cleaned my sand bed. I got 3 whole buckets of greyish goo out of the bottom of my tank. I didn't see any spikes last night and, though I haven't tested today, nothing seems to be bothered.

I have 4-5 inches of sand in my tank. If its not helping that much with filtration, would there be any issues with removing about half of it? I do like the look, but I don't want to keep so much if it is just gathering Phos and junk. Thanks for all the info :) What's next?
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