General Help for a frustrated keeper!

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Hi there folks,

Hoping for a bit of friendly advice. I’ve been plugging away at this hobby for a couple of years now with mixed results, and really want to keep increasing my understanding to help achieve the beauty of the tanks I see in all your posts. Forgive me for any obvious things I’m doing wrong, and for the length of this intro post!

A little background….

I have a Kent Bio 94l tank that I’ve been running for around 2 years. Over this time I’ve really struggled to keep corals alive, fish seem OK, but recently lost a lot (most) of the livestock due to a heater failure (heater failed causing the water temp to rise, don’t know exactly how much, but it was hot!). Currently only have a pair of clowns and 1 Halloween crab that managed to survive, hardy little blighters! New heater and better thermometer mean im now on top of the temp.

I have made some modifications over the years, replacing the top hood for an AI Prime LED light and taken out the stock powerhead in exchange for a tunze 6040 powerhead. I removed the hood completely and fitted a plastic mesh cover with the light above, open top style, and the powerhead runs from its controller and gives me some nice waves/pulses. So I think im OK in these areas?

In terms of the back of the cabinet I have the following setup:

Compartment 1 – Heater (now thankfully replaced)

Compartment 2 – Plastic bio balls that came with the tank, carbon mesh bag (recently replaced), stock black sponge

Compartment 3 – Ceramic tubes, recently replaced. Then the stock Kent skimmer.

Compartment 4 – Stock return pump

I try and keep ontop of water changes using RO and saltwater from my local fish shop, and have a refractometer to check salinity. Admittedly I perhaps don’t change as much as I should (average 25% every 3 weeks?) but have just invested in an RO filter from Amazon which I plan to permanently plumb into my home to give RO water on demand, from which I can then make my own salt water. This should encourage me a little more!

I also test regularly using the API Master test kit, results are sometimes difficult to interpret but I find it better than the strips

So, why am I here?........

Recently I had another outbreak of cynobacteria, covering all my rock and sand. I keep trying to water change, clean the rock, etc etc and have spoken to my local fish shop who have given me some test kits for Kh (something not previously covered) and corresponding buffer, yet to see results.

Honestly I feel like Ive plugged lots of cash into this, which is fine, but it can be disheartening when I don’t see the wonderful results of other tanks and my corals in particular always seem to die. About a month back I introduced another Gobi and she pretty much disappeared overnight, never to be seen again. I don’t want to give up but feel like I must be doing something fundamentally wrong?

The internet is at times a minefield, currently Im seeing lots of recommendations to remove the stock mechanical filters and replace with live rock rubble? I also want to upgrade the skimmer as I find it a pain to set, but maybe one for the Xmas list.

I have reduced the amount of live rock since purchase, im sure I started at around 20Kg, but took perhaps a ¼ out as it was difficult to clean around the glass with that amount of rock resting on it. Some rock removal allows me clearance around the glass that I can scan a magnet over when required.

I appreciate a lot of info here, but if anyone has any pointers or can see something obvious that I’m doing wrong I be most appreciative of any advice?

Thanks guys!


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Reply #1

Hi @BarriCA welcome to ReefBase.

I know how you're feeling mate, it's rough ploughing in time and money and not getting results!

These problems could be down to a few different things TBH, but let's get back to basics and make sure the water is okay.

What are the results from your API master kit?

Can you put up a pic of your tank so we can see what we're working with?

What corals are you trying to keep?

Are the tests in date?

Has your refractometer been calibrated recently?


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Reply #2

Hi and welcome ,I agree with Andy , test results would certainly help , looking through your description and equipment how are you tackling phosphate (po4) ?
Tests to check would be nitrate and phosphate , excessive levels of either will cause corals to strip , and  with tests for salinity , pH , alkalinity , magnesium and calcium for water stability .
Some people remove the mechanical sponges and replace with rock rubble as it can home nitrifying and denitrifying bacteria over a sponge that can only house nitrifying bacteria .


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Reply #3

Hi Guys,

Bit of an update...

Deep clean last night on the tank including strip of powerhead, skimmer and return pumps - they were really crudded up and something that i;ve clearly been neglecting! :sleepy:
My flow is loads better now, so im hoping this will help.

I've ditched the plastic bio balls and the skimmer for now - I've always found the skimmer pretty useless so will look to upgrade when i have the cash (or would make a great present!)

Stopped by the LFS last night and picked up a couple of cerith snails, a cleaner shrimp and some small coral frags, just trying to build the CUC up again.

Checked the parameters too, as follows;

Temp - 25degrees
High Range PH - 8.2-8.4
Ammonia - 0ppm
Nitrite - 0ppm
Nitrate - 15ppm
Kh - 0.45/8.5dkh
Salinity - 1.026

Im still waiting for my phosphate test kit to arrive, will check this when it does.

I've added some photos too, apologies they are a little dark as time was getting on, but gives some idea of my setup. (Oh, and ignore the floor, we are having some work done!!)

Any other thoughts are most welcome - thanks


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Reply #4

Your lights look quite white. On the AI prime you can lower the red, green and white channels under 10 which will lower the spectrum of light that the algae like to grow. The corals and fish will be happy enough with a fairly blue light.


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