WARNING: Mineral depletion by algae scrubbers.

Discussion in 'Biological/Natural Filtration and Deep Sand Beds' started by Broder, 19 Oct 2009.

  1. Broder

    Broder Mudshark

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    I've been running a skimmerless mixed reef aquarium for a year now. Prior to that it's been running for 2 years with a skimmer. I religiously do 15% water changes with NSW on a weekly basis. In the last 3 months I started having problems with my SPS corals, resulting in the loss of a millepora colony and an acropora granulosa colony. Last week my prized staghorn, which I grew from a frag, started showing signs of stress, ie. no polyp extension. On friday STN started on the tips and at the base, typical of iodine depletion. The same symptoms as the other 2 losses. I've done a 15% waterchange followed by a 25% waterchange this weekend, and dosed the tank with iodine solution. This seems to have slowed the necrosis down.

    [​IMG]
    This is the coral that is dying.

    I'm not confident about this coral recovering, but I would just like to point out to scrubber users out there that this form of filtration comes with hazards. Very few of us measure our total iodine consumption and dose accordingly. What about other minerals that the algae is consuming along with nitates and phosphates? Iron, potassium, magnesium are consumed as well. Are there others? Even with my waterchange regime, some or all of the trace elements have been depleted to dangerous levels. I'm expecting an iodine test kit this week and will post current levels, although they will not reflect the level that caused the onset of STN/RTN in my corals.

    I'll test as many of the trace elements as I can. Mg is at 1375ppm, so that's ok. Others will have to wait untill I can find test kits. I've been useing a scrubber for a year now, and am by no means a scrubber basher, but please be aware that there may be serious shortcomings to this system. If anyone can hopefully point me towards other possible causes of this problem, I'd be very happy indeed.
     
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  3. RiaanP

    RiaanP Moderator

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    Keep a container of the water today, and test it as well when you get the test kit. So that you can see the level. (should have kept a glass before you started Iodene)

    I have loads of Hermits, and not hard corals. But seen no problems with them yet. And my scrubber been up since January. And I'm growing Cheato.
    Also doing my 10% per week every week.

    Let us know the outcome.
     
  4. dallasg

    dallasg Moderator MASA Contributor

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    its hard to compare the results between NSW and salt mixes, the salt mixes have far more higher concentration of elements then NSW due to it being artificial, and replacement via water changes, it could also be your source of NSW is low on iodine.

    Algae is a huge user of iodine, Chemistry and the Aquarium , try getting loguls solution as its water based, where as iodine tincture is alcohol based, both are are ok and i use both to suppliment my systems
     
    Last edited: 19 Oct 2009
  5. dallasg

    dallasg Moderator MASA Contributor

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    but yes i agree, all forms of nutrient export will remove the good and the bad
     
  6. leslie hempel

    leslie hempel Moderator MASA Contributor

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  7. RiaanP

    RiaanP Moderator

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    Yes understand Leslie, but a closed vial that can not evaporate, and just float it next week to get the temp same. Would be interesting to know what Iodine levels is today when Mudshark realized the problem, and the results after one week of dosing. So instead of using next week results as your base, or starting or reference point. Have a point where only the water changes are taken into account should give a better reference point to refer to in future.

    should have kept an example before starting dosing. But that is OK.
     
  8. leslie hempel

    leslie hempel Moderator MASA Contributor

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    buddy i have tested water for years while working at a LFS and i can tell you that the values will alter by the time the test arrives.. what the point of testing water that isnt taken out of the tank and thus will lead to a suspect conclusion with too many what if's? i see what you are aiming at but it will lead you more astray than just testing the water straight from the tank.. its counter productive in my opinion as the values will not be worth the time and effort spent on the test..;)
     
  9. dallasg

    dallasg Moderator MASA Contributor

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    i agree with leslie, not to mention that the air in the jar/container will also react with the water and elements, unless in space with perfect vacuums etc the values will be wrong
     
  10. Nemos Janitor

    Nemos Janitor

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  11. Broder

    Broder Thread Starter Mudshark

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    Heavy reading indeed. I would tend to argue that algae scrubbing is a far more aggressive export means than caulerpa harvesting as nutrient uptake is optimalised in a scrubber. The hypothesis that is proven by this study, is that there is a cumulative buildup of toxic heavy metals in a typical reef aquarium, which none of the means of export currently available to us can effectively counteract.

    These are not exactly the results I was expecting at all. In fact, according to this study, more iodine is accumulated in an average tank than depleted. If I'm reading the data correctly, caulerpa is exporting the least, with xenia and skimming having far higher values.

    A very interesting read nonetheless, albeit with a sense of dread at the long term prospects of my tank. It really shows that our DSB's are potential timebombs.
     
  12. ml

    ml

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    thanks so stick to the old sumps they work for Rodd and Me and My dad no dsb and chrushed coral in my sunp with leka live in it songes growing every were.
     
  13. Mike

    Mike Retired Moderator

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    Put the skimmer back in and get rid of the snake oil dude.
     
  14. RiaanP

    RiaanP Moderator

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    I see this study was done in 2002. Are there any follow up information available?

    Seems if the heavy minerals are not removed, then the build-up is in the substrate and live rock. So should we replace the live rock every 3rd year? Same for DSB and display tank substrate? And throw the old live rock away? (Expensive - and I do not know anybody going to chuck 50KG live rock on the rubbish heap.)
     
  15. Mekaeel

    Mekaeel Moderator MASA Contributor

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    Hey Broder, this is a good time to ask Santa Monica what his thoughts on this ;)
     
  16. IMarine

    IMarine

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    Hi bra pls change to a good salt mix and by doing weekly water changes you should be replacing every thing your scrubber removes and temp for sps is very,very important ,and i will rather opt for a good skimmer,but as we now the scrubber is working for you,just my advice
     
  17. Mo_G

    Mo_G MASA Contributor

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  18. Broder

    Broder Thread Starter Mudshark

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    Thanks MO G. I had this link from another of your posts. That's how I recognised the symptoms of depletion.
     
  19. Broder

    Broder Thread Starter Mudshark

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  20. dallasg

    dallasg Moderator MASA Contributor

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    well i dont see what all the fuss is about, ATS work well and of course there will be depletion of minerals etc, where the surprise comes in is that its "new", we all know skimmers remove good and bad and we all know what they are, now we know the iodine is used in the photosynthesis of algaes etc we can now fix the prob.
    its the same as users using mangroves, they remove the bad, but also strip out magnesium, same as the other algaes we get eg red bamboo and halimeda they use calcium and magnesium...

    its all a learning curve and i dont think at all does it discredit the ATS and i am sure Mudshark will agree.
     
  21. clinton stanford

    clinton stanford

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    very interesting thread...
     
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