What am I missing( corals bleaching out...)

So Since moving to naptown I have been making a ton of changes on my tank- increased flow, increased skimming, increased the lighting a bit…

for about a month now I have wathced my sps bleach out or turn brown.
My theory is this- I had a large buildup of algea prior to my move. after the move it bloomed even more, but within a month was dying back quickly. my skimmer and cheto went nuts it seemed like things were on the up and up. more recently the remaining algea in the tank is turning brown and im assuming going through a final dieoff. even the cheto growth in my sump has slowed a bit. assuming that the dieoff was causing the bleaching/browning from nutrient release into the water I have started adheering to a stronger water change regiment of 10% a week. this is week three of water changes, but I have not seen any improvement on my sps.

The alternative possibility is due to increasing the total MH lighting time on the tank. I have been increasing the time by about 1hr every other week or so. its up to 3hrs a day and 4hrs of VHO( previosly all VHO), but I have been holding it at 3hrs for about a month now due to the bleaching…

What do you guys think? algea die off, too much light or something im missing here? any thoughts on a path forward appreciated!

Well the nutrient growth would be my first guess since I assume you tested your numbers.
How old are the VHO light bulbs?
You are using an Ro unit (non DI) correct? Could the major change from De polluted water to VA polluted water be a problem?
I would test TDS and if ok increase the water changes

I am pretty sure he’s using DI, but my memory hasn’t always been the strongest.

Tells us about the light changes you made. Different fluorescent pigments and zooxanthellae could be produced if you’re spectrum changed significantly. I know you’ve used a lot of different types of bulbs in the past and switch things up a bit after the move. What brand bulbs are you not using and what color spectrum.

Have you tested Alk, Mg, and Ca? Perhaps if you’re using a new bucket of salt something is differen then what you’re used to. Which brand salt are you using.

Can be difficult to pin point it exactly, but lets get a little more info and dive into this further.

One last thing I just thought of. I know you are trading/buying more SPS with the clubs over there. Have you thought about QTing yet? People who keep a lot of SPS could potentially host a lot of pests and not know it and share it with others. Would hate for the thousands of dollars worth of live stock you have to take a dive because of a $5 frag. Worth the time and $ to protect what you’ve took so long to build.


PS, you still owe me a frag when things are doing better. :wink:

Hey guys, thanks for the replies…
Jon, your still first in line for frags. I was gettng some great growth after the move, but things have slowed. I think its gonna be a combo of factors, but lets go into some more details:

Water- I do indeed use RODI, checked my TDS today and im at 0. Kalk is added to the water and dosed daily with a aqualifter on a timer.

Parameters- I admit a few shortcomings here- my Phospahte and nitrate kits are crappy, but both tested in at 0 as best as Icould tell. I was not surprised by this though due to my fuge and running polyfilter. mg:1200, ca~425, alk~4.34 meq, ph~8. I dosed some mg and kalk to raise my levels up today. one change in routine that I am going to make soon is to add a pinpoint PH monitor to the system. I gaurantee my ph swings are big and I really would like a steady 8.3 that I trust.

Dosing- aside from the kalk top off, I add a couple of shots of DIY two part every day or so. I also add Tropic marin parts A and K when I do a water change. started adding reff plus once a week or so.

salt- no change. reef crystals.

Lighting- after my move I chaged around my lighting quite a bit. previosly I was using VHO actinic and 50:50 with 24watt T-5 actinic and blue supplement. I yanked the 24" T5s out and moved the bulbs around.
I am curently running 54w t-5s(1 actinic and 1 blue plus) from 2pm-midnight. VHOs(same as before) come on at 2-7. 250W 10K XM MH comes on at 7-10.
VHO bulbs could probably use replacing, but I am hesitant to make more changes than I have already made…

Added aquamedic skimmer after move. pulls dark skimm contiously.

Flow- I have increased this quite a bit. I wonder if you can have too much? I have a koralia 2 a koralia 4, a rio600 and my return pump going right now.

I dont currently quarantine. probably would be good, but unfortunately dont have any way to set up a seperate tank for now.

Im still betting this is a combo of lighting change and algea die off, but im gettin a little concerend with the lack of responce over the last three weeks or so…I htink getting a better handle on my PH would help as well…
What do you guys think?


I wouldnt worry about anything. SPS are VERY quick to degrade but VERY slow to come back around. It sounds to me like your doing everything right. I think all the changes at once just might have shocked them. I have a digitata that pulled in most of its polyps about a month ago because of a .002 change in SG and it still hasnt fully recovered. There is a reason why most people can only keep specific SPS if any at all. I would just continue to monitor everything closely and keep the water consistent. Thats the key. They are very tempermental to the slightest changes.

Yeah I agree with Shawn, wouldn’t change too much at this point. Is the rio600 the old power head you used to have in their? I think the K2 and K4, plus the return would be enough flow in the tank, but it also depends on you’re placement of corals into high flow areas and low flow areas.

If you think you’re pH may be swinging perhaps a better ALK test kit would be the way to go. I have two pin point pH probes, but I have pretty much just been use one during hyposalinity treatments. I’ll probably hook up the second pin point to my new display(which will be prodominatly SPS and LPS), but for time being I know it can’t be too far off because I keep a close eye on CA, MG, and Alk. pH usually falls in line when the other three are dead on.

Are you running you’re fuge at a reverse schedual as the display or just 24/7? Chaeto doesn’t require 24/7 light, but it will probably grow faster in it.

I think you have the right idea of holding things where they are and just letting them recover. Only thing I would consider is just purchasing different testing equipment to have a better idea of what exactly is going on and maybe pull out one power head if you decide there may be too much flow.

Hope it all pulls through,

Thanks for the input guys,

pretty much what I figured as well. jsut need to ride this out and see how things are looking in a month or so before reevaluating…

Jon- I took out that Rio that was in there as my main powerhead when you saw it last. I hated that thing and it was prone to locking up after power outages. the rio in there now is just a small one, its hooked to my APC in case of poweroutage as my emergency water movement. the Koralias and return pump are doing the work now. my fuge is on a reverse schedule. my cheto growht has slowed quite a bit in conjunction with the algea in the display. things are looking better slowly but surely. most of hte hair algea is gone and what is left is brown and dying off. the culerpa that is left is pretty weak as well. Ive been pruning it back and hope that it will die off as well.

IM planning on running a tighter controll on my PH and letting my Alk fall back to lower levels. I have heard that ALK as high as I have run it can cause bleaching. im gonna go for around 3meq and PH of 8.3 or so for the next month.

7 hours of light a day is not normal for reef corals. 10-12 seems better.

HI Ken,
I have it set to about 8hrs of light currently. I hear a lot of mixed info about light cycles- do you run yours on 10-12??
I hear some say 10-12 is good, others say that anything over 8 really doesnt add any health to the corals-- this might make a good new thread…

It also depends on light intensity. Once they get a certain intensity and duration they don’t require any more.

Well, my timers are set for about 12-14 hours a day for my VHO/T8 setups. but i usually have the lights on far into the night while messing around in them. 14-18? I once read an article about PAR readings on the reef in the ocean. an hour after sunrise the par readings are far above our tanks but not that far off the high noon peak. meaning the light builds up on the reef very fast in the morning and lingers till just befor sunset. lots of difusion. light may be one factor. but its probably something else. change of light however, causes the zooxanthelae to reorganize to make best use of the new light spectrum and intesity. if possible. which is why many acros brown out when moved. adjustment time.

hopefully its not bacteria or something.