Coral Beauty

coral-beauty-240px-Centropyge_bispinosa_1We recently added a Coral Beauty to our 180 display tank.

This is a beautiful fish and a great addition.  She picks more algae off the rocks than tangs and makes a noticeable difference as a clean-up critter.

Although only LPS and soft corals in this tank, so far, the Coral Beauty has not picked at any of the corals.

From the outset, no conflicts with any other tank members.  No one bothered the Coral Beauty and vice versa.

Lastly, this fish is NOT yet eating from the water column and appears to be content picking from the rocks.

Water chemistry

For those following our KIS system, you will remember that the idea is to remove and/or turn-off every gadget and gizmo possible.

Also, we don’t “test” the water all that carefully.  On occasion, we check salinity and pH.  Nothing seems to vary and the Big 3 (ammonia, nitrates, nitrites) are always zero.  Temp reaches 80 in summer and 74/76 in winter.

We do a 7 to 10% water change weekly. Big external fuge with a gob of chaeto, a low bio-load, and “easy” critters in a mixed reef.

Everything has always survived.  Survived but maybe not thrived is the way to put it.  No additives of any sort though.  Consistent water changes and RODI top off of about a gallon per day.

What has not done well for us — zoas.  For whatever reason, the few we tried have not really opened all that well and appear to be elongated as if reaching for the light.  We have tried different lights, changing salinity, and different tank locations.
No luck, so we really don’t try any longer.  Like many aspects of this hobby – who knows?  We do have one basic green zoa that has been “surviving” for many months now as described above.

Remember LFS2?  While there, we are talking with a tech about best practices and both of us mention that we don’t use auto-top off.  Anything that can leak, or flood, or overflow we both agree should not be used.  In general, we don’t like  to leave water running anywhere.

Now, the tech mentions in passing the key words that hit us with the a-ha moment, we know it, but we don’t yet see it clearly.  For some reason,  the tech says, RODI has “zero pH”.  Why he mentioned that, we don’t even know.

The LFS2 comment still in our heads.

We test our water again. Somewhere between pH 8.2 and 8.4 on the card but hard to read.  Not an exact match on the color card for 8.4 but very close.  Or is that wishful thinking?

So we test some LFS2 water from the wrasse bag.  A-ha.  An exact match on the 8.4 color card.  A clear, translucent popsicle purple.  We hold a pH test vial of our water side-by-side against the white background in full sunlight.  The colors are very different but still our tank water has to be at least 8.2.

We throw one cap full of AquaVitro 8.4 into our system.  It hits the sump with a white flash.  Within the 30 minutes, you guessed it.  Remember  the zoa?  Wide open and vivid green!  The water, always clear, with a recent exception where we had cloudy water in the late afternoons, is now crystal clear– as if there is no water in the tank.

Can a cap full of buffer change 250 gallons for the better in a few minutes?
Can an almost neglible pH difference (lower than 8.4) be the solution to the zoa problem.

OK, we now test our tank and compare it to the reference LFS2 water.  They are now an exact match.

Now, here’s another part of the mystery.  We use the same NSW that LFS2 uses and sells.

Here’s the take-away.  Test your pH, buffer, target 8.4 and no lower, and use a verifiable reference sample.  Don’t rely on your eye to accurately read the card.


180 Mixed Reef System

Our 180 gal Starphire build is now operational and in maintenance mode.  The over-riding theme will be “simplicity” and as natural as practical and possible. A variety of “easy” fish and corals with a low to moderate bio-load.

We start with the absolute minimum hardware, methods and procedures for stress-free, thriving inhabitants. Over time, we will increase the complexity while always looking for a significant return on investment (ROI) as a result.  If little or no return, we will remove that piece of the puzzle.