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Old 03/14/2018, 07:59 AM   #1
MyHouseIsAZoo
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Corals Dying

I have a 14 gal BioCube that is about 2 months old. It was doing beautifully and now the few corals we had are dying. The first to go was a pulsing Xenia. That loss might have been contributed to it diving onto the floor during a rock restructure (I made a rookie mistake and added rock after sand, then we added a bonded high fin goby and pistol shrimp...the excavation caused the rocks to shift, they fell when I was cleaning the glass so we decided to glue them together to prevent a tragic collapse). We cleaned the Xenia with saltwater and then placed him back in the tank, after a couple of days it was back in action and looking beautiful, then 2-3 weeks later it closed up. I was cleaning some bubbles off the rock with a turkey baster and it disenigrated. We have a Galexia that isn't dead, but isn't full and happy like it previously was. It is just kind of there. The GSP in the tank was closed prior to the loss of the Xenia and now it is open and fuller than ever. It is the only coral that hasn't died off.

We have 2 baby Ocellaris Clowns, a long fin goby, a pistol shrimp, a blood shrimp, a pom pom crab, a handful of hermits and 3 snails. All of them are doing well. The blood shrimp has molted. One of the crabs has as well, but I only saw part of the shed skin, so I'm not sure if it was a hermit or pom pom. A couple of hermits have switched shells (we happened to be there when one of the switches happened, it was pretty neat to watch).

I have checked all of the tank parameters and everything seems to be spot on. I have compared to a reef water table I found and we are in range for everything. The levels are steady, I usually test every other day so we can correct any issues quickly.

PH is 8
Alk/KH is between 9 and 10
Salinity is 1.027
Calcium is 400
Phosphate is 0
Ammonia is 0
Nitrate and Nitrite are 0

We are running stock lights on the bio cube. We have added a Protein Skimmer (it has been running since day 3 of starting the tank) and are adding a UV Sterilizer because it has been cloudy the last couple of weeks. We have a little green algae, but nothing that seems excessive and we are getting some good purple growth (we cycled with dry rock). We are using Instant Ocean salt, will be switching to Instant Ocean Reef Salt with the next water change (we went through our original package, and I've heard good things about the reef crystals).

The coral is truly the only thing that doesn't seem to be doing well in the tank. I do find the hermits on them quite a bit. Could they be damaging/destroying them?

We are feeding a mixture of Bio-Pure Mega Marine and Mysis Shrimp most days. I find that mixing one cube of each seems to be working. Am I under feeding? There are usually some leftovers hanging out on the sand/rocks after I finish feeding, but they are usually gone by the morning.


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Old 03/14/2018, 08:11 AM   #2
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Which test kits are you using for No3 and Po4? A quality low range kit (Salifert, Red Sea, Hanna) should be used if you are seeing zeros. If you are using a quality kit already, I suspect the low levels of No3 & Po4 caused the demise of Xenia. Coupled with the UV Sterilizer the water essentially became too clean for Xenia. This happened to mine as well.

A benefit is the GSP, a hardy species, is improving. Also something I witnessed in my own system.

Bring the sg/salinity down a touch to 1.025(6) range. As a general rule of thumb when coral health appears to be deteriorating is to perform a good ol fashioned water change.

The Xenia dying off could release toxins which affected the rest.


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Old 03/14/2018, 08:29 AM   #3
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Hi there. It seems like that's a lot of new things added to your tank when it's still very new. Maybe the bio load was too much and there was an ammonia spike or something. When I started my tank, I added my livestock very slowly.

I agree with doing a decent size water change...20% or so.

I personally haven't had much luck with xenia...mine is currently shriveled up and probably not going to make it. It has never really done well in my tank after the 1st week sadly.

Keep us posted and good luck.

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Old 03/14/2018, 08:33 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobZilla04 View Post
Which test kits are you using for No3 and Po4? A quality low range kit (Salifert, Red Sea, Hanna) should be used if you are seeing zeros. If you are using a quality kit already, I suspect the low levels of No3 & Po4 caused the demise of Xenia. Coupled with the UV Sterilizer the water essentially became too clean for Xenia. This happened to mine as well.

A benefit is the GSP, a hardy species, is improving. Also something I witnessed in my own system.

Bring the sg/salinity down a touch to 1.025(6) range. As a general rule of thumb when coral health appears to be deteriorating is to perform a good ol fashioned water change.

The Xenia dying off could release toxins which affected the rest.
Currently I'm using API. I haven't added the sterilizer yet, bought it because even water changes aren't helping with cloudy water recently. The parameters were the same when we first added the Xenia and it had grown significantly the first few weeks we had it. I do a 2-3 gallon change bi-weekly. If tank parameters have a rapid spike, I do a change to try and stabilize (had a weird ammonia spike recently and did a water change to bring it back down).

I'm also questioning if what I thought was coraline is actually cyano, I'll be double checking that tonight when I get home.


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Old 03/14/2018, 08:37 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Jenyphur View Post
Hi there. It seems like that's a lot of new things added to your tank when it's still very new. Maybe the bio load was too much and there was an ammonia spike or something. When I started my tank, I added my livestock very slowly.

I agree with doing a decent size water change...20% or so.

I personally haven't had much luck with xenia...mine is currently shriveled up and probably not going to make it. It has never really done well in my tank after the 1st week sadly.

Keep us posted and good luck.

Jen
Ammonia has stayed stable throughout (with the exception of 1 spike, but a small water change corrected that and it has been stable since). I check it religiously! The clowns were added first and then it was weeks before the goby and pistol were added.


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Old 03/14/2018, 08:40 AM   #6
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Are you siphoning sand when you do a water change? Possibly stirring things up? That could be the cause of the cloudiness. Also, smell your tank...does it smell bad?


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Old 03/14/2018, 08:40 AM   #7
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While API is ok for a general idea of parameters, I would not trust them to be very accurate.

If your nitrate and phosphates are truly 0, it would explain why the xenia died. They prefer much "dirtier" water. Dropping it on the floor did not harm it. lol This stuff when it's happy literally grows like a weed.

I would look into getting some more accurate test kits that read at lower ranges. I prefer salifert as they are cheapish, and relatively easy to see the color change.


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Old 03/14/2018, 08:44 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by MyHouseIsAZoo View Post
Ammonia has stayed stable throughout (with the exception of 1 spike, but a small water change corrected that and it has been stable since). I check it religiously! The clowns were added first and then it was weeks before the goby and pistol were added.
Like the other poster said...at least the gsp is thriving. That's a good sign. Do you have any zoas?

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Old 03/14/2018, 08:48 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MyHouseIsAZoo View Post
Currently I'm using API. I haven't added the sterilizer yet, bought it because even water changes aren't helping with cloudy water recently. The parameters were the same when we first added the Xenia and it had grown significantly the first few weeks we had it. I do a 2-3 gallon change bi-weekly. If tank parameters have a rapid spike, I do a change to try and stabilize (had a weird ammonia spike recently and did a water change to bring it back down).

I'm also questioning if what I thought was coraline is actually cyano, I'll be double checking that tonight when I get home.
If you are able to share pix here it will help with identification. Ensure you turn your white channel lights on before taking the pic.

A 5g water change would be significant for your setup and probably do well to flush out anything which may be plaguing the coral.


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Old 03/14/2018, 09:18 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by MyHouseIsAZoo View Post
We are running stock lights on the bio cube.
I don't think those are suitable for corals..
Nor do I think a new tank with zero nitrates/phosphates at only 2 months is a healthy tank.. Typically I'd expect nitrates at least to be more difficult to maintain low levels for at least the first 8 months of a tank as the anaerobic bacteria is still getting fully established..

and save your money and just use regular IO.. There is very little reason to use RC and thousands of tanks are very successful with regular IO salt.. Its only going to get you higher alk/mag/cal and thats not always a good thing and many with low/zero nutrient levels have reported problems with alk burn,etc... and are finding keeping alk in the 8-9 range is better than a the upper levels..

To me your tank is just too new to sustain corals consistently and your lighting may be insufficient and your corals just may be starving to death due to lack of nutrients..


I'd look into new lighting and would start increasing feedings to get measurable nitrate/phosphate levels.. I'd bet you have better luck with that.


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Old 03/14/2018, 09:18 AM   #11
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Are you siphoning sand when you do a water change? Possibly stirring things up? That could be the cause of the cloudiness. Also, smell your tank...does it smell bad?
I don't siphon the sand. We have snails that like to hang out under the sand and they seem to be doing a good job at keeping it cleaned up. The tank does not smell bad, which is a plus.

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While API is ok for a general idea of parameters, I would not trust them to be very accurate.

If your nitrate and phosphates are truly 0, it would explain why the xenia died. They prefer much "dirtier" water. Dropping it on the floor did not harm it. lol This stuff when it's happy literally grows like a weed.

I would look into getting some more accurate test kits that read at lower ranges. I prefer salifert as they are cheapish, and relatively easy to see the color change.
I'll definitely look into getting other tests!

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Like the other poster said...at least the gsp is thriving. That's a good sign. Do you have any zoas?

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We don't have any Zoas yet. They are a bit pricier at LFS, so we have held off because we wanted to limit financial impact of any rookie mistakes. We want some because they are colorful and gorgeous!

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If you are able to share pix here it will help with identification. Ensure you turn your white channel lights on before taking the pic.

A 5g water change would be significant for your setup and probably do well to flush out anything which may be plaguing the coral.
I will try to get some photos tonight! I just did a 2.5 gal change on Sunday, but will do another change tomorrow (hubby has to pick up more RODI as our water is terribly hard and usually measures .25 to .5 in ammonia out of the tap...we are adding a RODI system soon as we have a 75 gallon tank that will be set up soonish).


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Old 03/15/2018, 06:30 AM   #12
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I inspected the purple on the rocks it is encrusted and not fuzzy/slimy. It doesn't budge with bursts from the turkey baster or when I scraped at it with my nail. It also isn't really on the sand bed. I'm now confident it is coraline and NOT cyano which is a relief!

The blood shrimp was being a little beggar when he saw me inspecting the tank. Seems he knows I equal food and it was around the time I normally feed them. Shockling the clowns weren't clowning around for the camera. They make it into most photos because they are always begging for food (they nip at my fingers when I am getting water to test).


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Old 03/15/2018, 06:42 AM   #13
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I inspected the purple on the rocks it is encrusted and not fuzzy/slimy. It doesn't budge with bursts from the turkey baster or when I scraped at it with my nail. It also isn't really on the sand bed. I'm now confident it is coraline and NOT cyano which is a relief!

The blood shrimp was being a little beggar when he saw me inspecting the tank. Seems he knows I equal food and it was around the time I normally feed them. Shockling the clowns weren't clowning around for the camera. They make it into most photos because they are always begging for food (they nip at my fingers when I am getting water to test).
Correct on the coralline.

Is that green all over the glass? Get a magnet scraper and clean it off so the filters can remove it. That much green indicates increased No3 & Po4 levels.


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Old 03/15/2018, 06:49 AM   #14
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Correct on the coralline.

Is that green all over the glass? Get a magnet scraper and clean it off so the filters can remove it. That much green indicates increased No3 & Po4 levels.
Some of the green might be on the glass, I didn't scrape yesterday. I typically clean the glass on the days I don't test.

I was just doing more research/reading and am wondering if the filter pad a the bottom of chamber 2 might be part of the problem. Seems that I (like many others) have forgotten that was there and if it gets clogged it can cause filtering issues.


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Old 03/15/2018, 06:55 AM   #15
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I see those 2 pictures and think to myself "That tank should not have corals at this time"..
Its not ready for corals..
Its still immature and not stable..


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Old 03/15/2018, 07:03 AM   #16
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I see those 2 pictures and think to myself "That tank should not have corals at this time"..
Its not ready for corals..
Its still immature and not stable..
Now I'm a little preturbed that LFS didn't recommend waiting. We have been VERY open with them about the newness of the tank, the size and the inhabitants before purchasing anything. I'm not a fan of buying things and killing them We get attached to our little reefy friends!

Is there a way to removed glued frag plugs from rock (without removing the rock)? I don't really want to leave rotting coral in the tank.


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Old 03/15/2018, 07:20 AM   #17
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Now I'm a little preturbed that LFS didn't recommend waiting. We have been VERY open with them about the newness of the tank, the size and the inhabitants before purchasing anything. I'm not a fan of buying things and killing them We get attached to our little reefy friends!

Is there a way to removed glued frag plugs from rock (without removing the rock)? I don't really want to leave rotting coral in the tank.
you have to consider that while your lfs genuinely wants you to succeed, telling their customers to go home empty handed isn't good for business. not to mention, you can't set a clock to how quickly or slowly a system will stabilize which is why you read about people adding coral inside of a couple months and others waiting longer.
as for your glued plugs, you just have to pry them off.


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Old 03/15/2018, 07:45 AM   #18
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Not all tanks react the same way..
So while I'm not defending the LFS (as they are trying to make money after all) unless they were standing in front of your tank its very difficult to judge from what a customer tells them in the store..

In general most of us would recommend waiting at least till the ugly stages are over (which can last for a few months after a tank has cycled) and most importantly until a tank is stable.. Algae blooms/green water,etc... does not equal a stable tank..

Not to mention that the smaller the water volume the more difficult keeping corals "can" be.. It doesn't take much in a small volume of water to equate to a substantial swing..

I would just recommend you wait in corals.. For at least a few months to ensure that you can keep parameters stable/don't have an algae/diatom/cyano issues,etc...

Some people can just get lucky and throw corals in from the start.. Others just aren't..
Its ok.. you really didn't do anything wrong other than the typical newbie excitement that tends to cause you to go faster than you should.. Live and learn..


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Old 03/15/2018, 09:13 AM   #19
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you have to consider that while your lfs genuinely wants you to succeed, telling their customers to go home empty handed isn't good for business. not to mention, you can't set a clock to how quickly or slowly a system will stabilize which is why you read about people adding coral inside of a couple months and others waiting longer.
as for your glued plugs, you just have to pry them off.
True. Though we usually buy more than just stock for the tank when we are there.

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Not all tanks react the same way..
So while I'm not defending the LFS (as they are trying to make money after all) unless they were standing in front of your tank its very difficult to judge from what a customer tells them in the store..

In general most of us would recommend waiting at least till the ugly stages are over (which can last for a few months after a tank has cycled) and most importantly until a tank is stable.. Algae blooms/green water,etc... does not equal a stable tank..

Not to mention that the smaller the water volume the more difficult keeping corals "can" be.. It doesn't take much in a small volume of water to equate to a substantial swing..

I would just recommend you wait in corals.. For at least a few months to ensure that you can keep parameters stable/don't have an algae/diatom/cyano issues,etc...

Some people can just get lucky and throw corals in from the start.. Others just aren't..
Its ok.. you really didn't do anything wrong other than the typical newbie excitement that tends to cause you to go faster than you should.. Live and learn..
Hopefully the GSP keeps thriving. I thought we were going to lose him when he closed up for a week, but when he opened back up he had grown substantially! I'm also very happy that all of the other tank inhabitants are doing well.

I'm sure I can find something to distract us for a few months. We have a 75 gallon that is sitting all lonley and covered up in the basement. It needs plumbing and components. We are also talking about converting an existing freshwater to saltwater (we have a group of fish that won't coexist with any others...LFS has offered to buy them from us). There's also spring break. We won't be adding anything to any tank prior to that trip as I'm leaving my 18 year old sister to manage the house for us...luckily her boyfriend is pretty knowledgable about saltwater tanks (they have a class at his high school that is based around fish keeping, his teacher apparently has a very large impressive reef tank) and will be stoping by to help her test and maintain the current tank (he's also housesitting for us when we go away for a week in Dec so we don't have to worry about the tanks). Oh yeah and kids and their activities. Dogs and guinea pigs too. The fish just don't talk back like the rest of them do


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Old 03/15/2018, 10:14 AM   #20
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Not that it is likely the main issue but I would lower your salinity to 1.025. I say this because at 1.027 any evaporation is going to raise that to a level I would personally be uncomfortable with, while maintaining 1.025 it gives you the flexibility to bounce between 1.025 and 1.026 with evaporation. On a small 14 gallon evap quickly affects salinity. Maybe even think about testing your salinity with a different device than you are currently using to make sure it is on point. I tend to agree with McGyvr and would say your tank is still young and you should work on maintaining your current inhabitants until everything clears (which can take a while depending on many variables). Keep up the testing!


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Old 03/15/2018, 12:45 PM   #21
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Not that it is likely the main issue but I would lower your salinity to 1.025. I say this because at 1.027 any evaporation is going to raise that to a level I would personally be uncomfortable with, while maintaining 1.025 it gives you the flexibility to bounce between 1.025 and 1.026 with evaporation. On a small 14 gallon evap quickly affects salinity. Maybe even think about testing your salinity with a different device than you are currently using to make sure it is on point. I tend to agree with McGyvr and would say your tank is still young and you should work on maintaining your current inhabitants until everything clears (which can take a while depending on many variables). Keep up the testing!
It should be fine. Natural salinity of northern red sea is around 1.031 (41ppt). And going above 1.031, starting from 1.027 would require ~15% of the water to evaporate.


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Old 03/15/2018, 01:00 PM   #22
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Not that it is likely the main issue but I would lower your salinity to 1.025. I say this because at 1.027 any evaporation is going to raise that to a level I would personally be uncomfortable with, while maintaining 1.025 it gives you the flexibility to bounce between 1.025 and 1.026 with evaporation. On a small 14 gallon evap quickly affects salinity. Maybe even think about testing your salinity with a different device than you are currently using to make sure it is on point. I tend to agree with McGyvr and would say your tank is still young and you should work on maintaining your current inhabitants until everything clears (which can take a while depending on many variables). Keep up the testing!
I'm confident in the salinity. We use a refractometer (had a hydrometer, but I didn't trust it as it always jumped around). Hubby checks it regularly for calibration and is usually the tester...he uses them at work and is very particular with it. I am trying to slowly lower it!

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It should be fine. Natural salinity of northern red sea is around 1.031 (41ppt). And going above 1.031, starting from 1.027 would require ~15% of the water to evaporate.
It got that high for evaporation and replacing with saltwater instead of RODI...twice. That was a rookie mistake that won't be happening again. We had been using premixed saltwater that had been purchased and when the filter started spitting because the waterlevel dropped that was grabbed for refill. We now keep only RODI and not premixed. We keep it at 72 (have a 5 gallon bucket with a lid and a heater) so we can do a quick add without offsetting the temperature and so we can do a quick mix if we need to do a water change. I always worry about rapid temperature changes on the small tank...we killed a few freshwater fish years ago because of not paying attention to water temperature when doing a water change so now we go out of our way to prevent it. The bigger tanks don't seem to be as quick to change temperature with a small water change.


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Old 03/16/2018, 06:34 AM   #23
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Did a water change yesterday (3-4 gallons) and it was looking better right away. I was right about the filter pad between the 2nd and 3rd chambers! It was clogged big time and pretty gross. I tossed it and now water flow between the chambers is much better. I took photos about an hour after the water change last night and it was already looking better. This morning we were back to crystal clear! I was running late, so I didn't take any photos I removed all but 2 of the coral. I'm 99% sure they were dead. I left the GSP because it is alive and well and left the galaxea because we aren't sure if it is dead or not. I was surprised by how easy it was to pry off the glued on frag plugs. My kids were not happy to see that their coral frags were gone but I explained why and they were good.


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Old 03/16/2018, 06:46 AM   #24
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What is your filtration setup in the AIO chambers? Mechanical filtration is not a must, but it can clog quickly especially in such a confined space. One option is a Poly Filter pad which can be cut to size. Advantage is they will remove contaminants along with mechanical filtration. This will help clear the water and remove silica from the water column. After that you're left with Nitrate and Phosphate control.


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Old 03/16/2018, 07:28 AM   #25
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not to burst your bubble. your coralline algae are purple paint, if they sold you that as premium live rock, you should stay away from that store.


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