Die off driving down PH


New member
I have a sumpless 29 gallon that is almost 2 weeks old. I have 28 lbs of Haitian LR and 10 lbs of tampa bay LR. 38lbs total LR. Filtration is 2x HOB and a siphon driven HOB fuge with a 22watt CFL and some shells, ceramic rings, bits of LR and cheato. I also have a 2" DSB in the display
I am currently experience tons of die off on the Tampa Bay LR. It is starting to grow 'fragile' white film over bits of it. It easily comes off and under it is tons of nasty rot. I siphoned lots of it out, and it stinks.
Hitchhikers consists of bristle worms, asterina sp., barnicles, featherdusters, redcrabs, Caulerpa sertularioides(maybe), snails, stomatellas.
Sessile hitchhikers: Zoa sp., possible Actinia, aptasia, clam, Actinodiscus, possible Palythoa caribaeorum, possible Montastrea cavernosa,
Phyllangia, sponges and squirts.
I have added 3x blue leg hermits, 1xCBS (to help control the bristleworms) and 2x turnadae (cant remember species, but they burrow).

I noticed the possible Montastrea cavernosa is bleached/bleaching. Could be because it was half under a rock (before i noticed it), maybe too much light, flow, ammonia or really anything I guess. Well, I really like it alot and would rather not loose it.
Pic: http://i.imgur.com/YvU8y.jpg

My lighting currently is a T5HO 10,000k+actinic. It is temporary till my LEDs come in. My salt is reef crystals+tap water

Ph: Chems give me- 7.9-8.1 digital reads(model ph600 +/-0.2)- 8.0 with the lights on
dKH: 10.08
Grav: 1.025
Calcium: 520
Mg: no test kit
Ammo: 0.01-0.05 (on my seachem ammonia alert in-tank indicator; the only one I can read easily)
Nitrate: I see no real point in testing this ATM, I am partially colorbind and cannot see it, and no one is around to help interpret.

Is there anything I can add that may eat this die off? The hermits and bristles seem uninterested.

The tank (thats not calcium precipitate, it's just dust from the sand I never wiped off)


Registered Reefer
if you didnt cure the LR, especially the hatian, and added it direct to your tank, you are asking for trouble. your levels will spike, and 29 gallons is not enough buffer to counteract...no skimmer = more problems. you need to cure seperately before adding to your main tank.



New member
The hatian was cured at the LFS, I let it sit in a tank for a week. Then I got the TB LR and added it right to the tank (it was freshly picked), ya; not a very good idea. I have been able to keep things at a reasonable level with 2x 2.5g WC a day. The SPS I have is not taking this well at all. BUT it is on a piece of TB LR so we shall see I guess. I suppose my macros are keeping things from going nuts.


New member
Hi Chromis,

From the pics - looks like you have some nice life on the liverock and I suspect some of it will indeed make it through the cycle, though much will not unfortunately. You are experiencing the normal swings of a new tank with the addition of 'fresh' live rock. Your pH will eventually stabilize as photosynthesis begins to occur in a more robust fashion. This often happens as algae begins to bloom following the die off cycle. While ammonia and nitrite are still present - I wouldn't add any inverts to eat the die off/algae. As the cycle completes, you can certainly add some detrivores and herbivores to help with clean up (I like to mix a few different types of snails to accomplish this).

A few observations (not criticisms - just observations) that may help, depending upon your intentions for the tank (FOWLR, LPS, SPS, mixed, etc).

- Tap water is a no-no if you intend to keep stony corals. There is too much organic content in our water sources too effectively remove via filtration. Thus, nature will remove it for you - typically in the form of nuisance algaes. You might consider purchasing RO water (or distilled if not available) from the grocery store for your water changes and make up water to alleviate this potential headache.
- A calcium concentration of 520 at 10dKH would indicate to me a faulty test kit (either alk or calc) - else you should see precipitation. It may also be the regular water changes which are adding calcium while nothing is utilizing it. Worth investigating.
- A 2" sandbed is really not sufficient to accomplish the benefits of a DSB. If your desire is to add a 'filtration' source to remove nitrates, consider adding an inch or two (generally 3" is the bare minimum to obtain anaerobic pockets which are believed to reduce nitrates). If this is aesthetically unpleasing - perhaps add the DSB to the refugium.

Just some thoughts and I agree, no sense testing for Nitrate until Ammo and Nitrite are at 0.00.

Happy Reefing!


New member
Ok, cool thx. I added a mangrove to my fuge. I'm also adding iron to the fuge to help my cheato grow, there is carbon filtration leading from the fuge to the DT.

If a test kit is faulty I would assume it to be the KH test, it is very old. Some guy on craigslist gave it to me with a tank.

Would de-ionzed water work as well as distilled?

Any criticisms on my scaping? Can it be improved?