Micro Nutrients in the Reef Aquarium

Today we are talking about Micronutrients also known as trace elements, and they are the building blocks for corals in your reef tank. These include Potassium, Iodine, Kalium, Iron, Strontium, and Fluorine just to name a few. While there are many other these are the most important and necessary. These elements are the most important when it comes to coral coloration. Each of these elements brings out a certain color in the corals. 

Kalium brings out pinks, Iron intensifies the greens, Iodine is very good for zoa growth as well as blue colors, Potassium brings out yellow colors, Fluorine helps to improve blue and white colors, and Strontium is slightly different in that it helps improve skeletal growth rather than intensifying a particular color. 

There are several test kits that allow you to test for these nutrients, however, unless there are issues in your tank they are typically not necessary to test for. If you are performing semi-frequent water changes then you most likely will have enough nutrients for your coral, if you are not doing frequent water changes but dosing with a sufficient dosing supplement such as red sea, aqua forest, or triton then you will most likely have enough of these micronutrients from the dosing supplements. 

However, if you have a very large and demanding tank, or just want extra color out of your corals you can dose these supplements together through the use of a trace element supplement that most reef product companies sell. Many companies will also sell these elements individually in order to increase the concentration of a single element.

I hope you have learned something, and have enjoyed this article and will check out the next one. Trust me you won’t want to miss it!

Decoding the confusing world of Macronutrients in the reef tank

Macronutrients in the aquarium, what does that even mean? What are macronutrients? How do I get them in my tank? How do I figure out how much I need? These are all questions I had, and questions that you probably have too. So let’s start here, Macronutrients are the elements calcium, alkalinity, and magnesium. While these elements are referred to as macronutrients they make up a very small percentage of not only the water but even it’s content in the salt is less than 10%. These nutrients are required by stony corals for skeletal growth. 

These nutrients are prevalent in salt mixes and fresh saltwater. For tanks with a small number of corals, water changes are sufficient enough to replenish the used up nutrients. However, for tanks with a less rigorous maintenance schedule or more corals dosing or the use of a calcium reactor is required. In order to determine which method is best for you, you will need to test your water. If you begin to notice your calcium is under 380 and your alkalinity is under 7 in between water changes then you will most likely need to dose your aquarium. 

When it comes to dosing I like the easy to use Seachem Fusion 1 and 2. This is an easy way to begin dosing with just two bottles that are hard to overdose. The general rule of thumb is to use half of the dosage that is recommended to begin and test two days after and then again two days after the first test. Based off those results you will determine if you need to increase or decrease your dosages. It is typically recommended that you dose once a week, however in more demanding tanks you may need to dose more frequently. 

Now that we have talked about Macronutrients we can talk about Micronutrients in the next article. Stay tuned and also check out our coral on the rest of the site.

What is the most important part of saltwater? SALT!

The next aspect of your water is salt! If you are attempting to create a reef tank it is good to use a salt that is targeted towards a reef tank. When mixing it is Ideal to have your mixing container filled with circulating water then add the salt. This allows the salt to dissolve quicker and allows you to add salt slowly. It is always easier to add more salt than to add more water. For circulation, you can stir with something as simple as a net or your hand, or you can use a small utility pump in order to create a continuous and powerful current. Salt also dissolves quicker in warmer water, it also can be harmful to add cold water to a tank, and can lead to a sudden temperature spike that will cause stress to you inhabitants, and possibly even death.

In order to maintain good water, you must have a basic knowledge of salinity. Salinity is the amount of salt that is in the water. It is measured in PPT which stands for parts per thousand, and specific gravity which is measured in density. Specific gravity is more common, and the way it works is it determines the density of the water, 1.00 would be pure water, its density is one of itself, a specific gravity of 1.025, which is the ideal specific gravity is 2.5% denser than freshwater. In PPT the desired number is roughly 35 PPT. In order to maintain this, you will need a measuring device. The most common being a hydrometer, however, these devices are very finicky and inaccurate. A far superior device is a refractometer, these devices use light in order to calculate salinity. You can get a cheap one for about twenty bucks on amazon. 

Once you have a measurement tool you need to maintain your tank. One common mistake is that people will only fill their tank with saltwater, however, when water evaporates from a tank it is only freshwater leaving the tank. Since the salt stays as you top off the tank with saltwater the concentration increases and the salinity will increase. In order to maintain salinity levels, you must add fresh water when you are replacing, and you should only add saltwater when you have removed saltwater.

A necessity when it comes to keeping good water quality is to perform consistent water changes. While there are several often fad systems that claim no water changes these methods are typically not successful when it comes to new tanks. When I started I thought that a water change meant changing all of the water. Luckily this is not the case, and a water change typically only requires 10 to 20 percent of the water to be removed from the tank twice a month. 

These water changes serve to not only remove unwanted nutrients, but also to replenish the nutrients that have been used up by your corals. They are necessary and extremely important they are not only an important part of regular maintenance but can also act as a get out of jail free card. If you see signs of stress from your corals or fish it is highly recommended that you do a large water change of roughly 30-50% in order to remove any impurities or major pollutants. There will be another article tomorrow about the next aspect of water macronutrients. 

Red Sea Coral Salt
TRSC Uses Red Sea Blue Bucket

The MOST Important Aspect of a Reef Tank

If you’re like me you’ve seen amazing years old tanks that are stunning and take your breath away. You’ve probably also seen established tanks that are far less than spectacular. I want to dig in and try to help your tank become one of these spectacular tanks. I myself have had several sub-par tanks, and now feel that I have been able to describe and demonstrate what it takes to make a successful tank. 

Many people think that the more money you spend the better the tank, and while money is beneficial and can simplify many aspects of a tank it is not a necessity. After several years working in a saltwater store, I have seen hundreds of tanks all across the spectrum from tens of thousands of dollars in equipment alone to a few hundred dollars even after adding livestock. What I have found is that the key elements for success are knowledge and passion. And if you are reading this then you have a passion and are developing knowledge so go ahead and pat yourself on the back. 

I want to outline the steps that you should take in order to attain the goal that almost every reefer has of a beautiful established fish tank. The first step is getting water, A mistake many people, including myself, have made is not using RODI water. While some people believe they can use tap water that is conditioned this is not the case and will lead to algae. A common misconception is that you can just use well water without having to filter it. While well water does not contain the sterilizing chemicals that are found in city water it does contain minerals and occasionally pollutants that can also add to algal growth. 

You might be thinking what is RODI water, it is water that has been filtered through a reverse-osmosis de-ionization filter. What that means is that the water passes through a sediment filter, a carbon block filter, and a reverse osmosis membrane, and finally a de-ionization media bed. If that is as confusing for you as it is for me then you most likely don’t have a degree in chemistry, so for a normal person what that means is that a RODI filter expels pure water. This water is 100% pure, with no TDS or Total Dissolved Solids.

When I was starting my first saltwater tank in 9th grade purchasing a $150 RODI machine was not an option and I thought the only option for me was conditioning tap water, however, what I didn’t know is that the local fish store which was five minutes from my house sold not only RODI water but also pre-mixed saltwater. For anyone who has a tank that is less than forty gallons, I would highly recommend simply purchasing saltwater and freshwater from your fish store. For me, it was not worth the hassle of mixing my own water and purchasing a RODI filter until I purchased my 75-gallon tank. It also came in handy when I was setting up my 150-gallon tank as I was not forced to carry 30 buckets of water to fill up the tank. Tomorrow I will be continuing this article with part two: The Salt.