The Lightning Project

The ongoing saga of the PNG Lightning Maroon Clownfish Breeding Project

Browsing Posts tagged pH

It’s been a while since I sat down and checked my water chemistry.  The corals are growing for the most part, and growing well.  Color still seems to be trouble, and in the last month, algal growth on the glass has picked up the pace.  With the pH probe on my Apex routinely starting to warn me about the pH hitting 8.5 (and shutting down all my lights to stop the rising pH) I finally sat down tonight and did some testing.  This time, it was quite clear that things were out of whack, for while my Apex was reading 8.50, the Seachem liquid test came back around 8.2.

And this is why you should keep the pH probe calibration solutions on hand.  I actually had to clean the probe with some vinegar, but once that was done, I got down to recalibration.  It’s an easy process, well explained in the Apex manual.  When it was done, my pH came out at 8.13; much more in line with my liquid test.  Of course, I’d been holding back on my C-Balance 2 part dosing due to pH “riding high”, but I may have been relying too much on the probe.  The water quality checked out like this after calibration.

pH probe – 8.13
pH (Seachem) – 8.2
Alkalinity (Seachem) – 2 meq/L
Calcium (Salifert) – 420 ppm
Magnesium (Salifert) – 1270 ppm
Nitrate (Salifert) – 50 ppm

Wait, yes, seriously, the nitrates have shot up to 50 ppm.  Great.  That very well could explain why my Hot Pink Birdsnests are brown, my Sour Apple Birdsnests are lavendar, and my Red Pocilloporas are looking more yellow with purple polyps (I call them Red Pocilloporas, but they came to me as a Red Birdsnest, and it seems that they’re growing without problems right into the Sour Apple Birdsnest, so the jury is out on what genus this coral belongs to right now!).  I did add a frag from John Coppolino, a very special “Hulk Milli” Acropora milleopora.  I’ve just been curious to see how other SPS will do under the Ecoxotic LEDs as well as whether the Foureye Butterfly would take it out or not.  So far it’s sitting there, and has obviously darkened, no doubt a direct result of the high nitrates.

I’ve been doing very low level Vodka dosing for a while, but perhaps not to the volume and consistency I should be.  Of course, I’ve also been pumping the tank full of food in an effort to push the clowns to breed.  Looks like some water changes are unavoidably in their future.

And that’s all there is to say about the Lightning Project right now.  It is still very much a waiting game.

Well, there’s a lot of random things to update on, sadly the only thing I really would love to shout about (a spawn) hasn’t happened yet.

Meanwhile, a followup on the last pairing trial, the third attempt at a “Female Flip”, pairing a loner white stripe maroon with the massively larger “Labrador” white stripe maroon.  The short story is that we’ll never know if it was going to work, as the Labrador Maroon Clown died.  What I suspect happened was the bowl, which was tilted to allow tank water to circulate through, righted itself and in the process, closed off enough of the flow to cause the fish to asphyxiate.  Of course, that could also not be what happened – this fish was probably a decade or more old, and may have just hit the end of the line.  Hard to say based on the circumstances I found the dead fish in.  Before it passed away however, the smaller maroon showed up simply torn to shreds.  The best I could determine was that perhaps the small maroon had entered the larger fishbowl, received a beating, and then left.  If that’s the case, it would mean that the “female flip” had failed (or at least had not worked yet).

On the water quality front, things are again driving me nuts in the Lightning Maroon’s tank.  The pH hit a record high of 8.7 last night, and was 7.94 this morning.  This, despite having not treated the tank with anything to raise the alkalinity or calcium levels (i.e. no dosing of two part) for a week.   The corals are definite not looking happy; the Australian Blastomussa that had gone from 1 head to 5 heads appears to have died, and earlier last week I removed the Dragon Soul Favia that had also been previously growing well.  The Frags of Aussie Pink Goniopora and Green Goniopora are failing to extend their polyps as well.  I’m feeling terribly limited in options to deal with this problem given the small size of the tank, and that normally, it is simply a matter of depressed pH that occurs in smaller tanks.  Time to hit the reef chemistry books yet again and see if I can’t figure something out.  For now, I’ve reprogrammed the lights via the Apex to start turning off (thus slowing photosynthesis) if the pH hits 8.4, and then again more shut off at 8.5.  Still, I’ve not yet programmed things correctly, as the pH is 8.46 right now and the light that is supposed to be off, is not.  GRR.  This simply cannot be GOOD for the fish, and I’m leaning towards water changes + buffer to at least help eliminate or reduce the low end of the swing – i.e. perhaps 8.3 to 8.7 is better than what I’m currently experiencing.

The final update, our club’s Apogee Quantum (PAR) Meter is finally here in working condition.  I got to test PAR readings out of the modified Panorama fixture.  With the 4 12K Gen 1 Panorama Units, 2 blue Stunner Strips, and 1 Gen 1 Blue Panorama Unit all running, it’s a total drain of 77 watts.  For that 77 watts, with a semi-dirty cover glass, I am getting PAR readings of 150 to 250+ in the upper third of the tank where I have the majority of the Seriatpora corals growing.  At the bottom, the readings obviously vary, but are generally 60-100 (i.e. the ORA Red Gonipora is thriving at a 100 PAR reading).  As most of you know, these levels are capable of growing just about all photosynthetic organisms we may desire to keep, with the possible exception of Tridacna clams (which, per James Fatheree, really want PAR levels more like 500+).  Right above the glass – 700+.

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