Edmond’s SPS Aquarium

Hello. My name is Edmond D.

It all started with a single fish roughly 13 years ago.

My wife and I with our then 3 year old son, had been frequent visitors at our local pet store on Kennedy Road. We liked watching the fishes and corals, and various aquarium displays. On a Sunday afternoon our son wanted to bring home his first pet from that store, a Betta fish. He was doing well on her own in a small glass bowl, however we felt, that she was lonely. I decided quickly to buy a bigger aquarium and add more fishes. That led to a bigger tank, then another one, and an other one, until came the decision that it would be nice to have an saltwater tank with live rocks and corals in it.

There were lots of ups and downs moments from that time on… The worst down time was 3 years ago when the Ice Storm hit South-Eastern Ontario and due to the 6 day power outage lost everything in the tank.

When I started building my new tank approx. 14 months ago, decided to give it a different look, with less live rocks, so the corals would have more space to grow.

January 2017

 

Aquarium Profile

Total Volume 688L, I calculate with  492L netto

90 Gallon Display Tank,  back wall from the outside painted with acrylic blue paint.

January 2016

Controller – Neptune Apex
Protein Skimmer – Vertex Alpha 170,
Return Pump – Vectra M1,
Lighting – Giesemman Futura S,
Water Circulation – 2X Neptune Wav, Gyre FX230 & FX 250
Doser – Vertex Libra & GHL Doser2
ATO – Tunze 5017
Reactor – Vertex 1.5L  (for ZEOvit stone)
KH/CA supplementation – Fauna Marin balling light
Salt – Tropics Marin Pro-Reef
Frag tank – 150L
Refugium – 200L

Water Parameters

Salinity – 35ppm using Hanna Seawater Refractometer
PH – 7.86 – 8.1  Neptune Apex Controler
Ca – 400-420  Red Sea Pro
dKH – 7-7.3  Salifert
Mg – 1300  Red Sea Pro
No3 – 0.50 Red Sea Pro
Po4 – < 0.02 Elos Expert Line / Nyos

I would specially want to thank to the guys at the Big Al’s on Kennedy Road, ReefSupplies.ca for their customer service and care, Canada Corals and to the Zeovit forum.

When the lights go out…

When the lights go out on our reefs, no matter how big or how small the ecosystems comes alive at night. When our Radion fixtures or t5 lights ramp up or down from dusk till dawn but who see what’s going on at night!

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The Orphek Azure light is just that. A 5w led flashlight in the 520 nm range, it allows us reefers to see all the little micro fauna that crawls around at night. The bioluminescence of our prized corals is absolutely stunning.

The Orphek Azure light has so much more to offer!!!

In my opinion the ultimate combo is Polyp Labs Reef Roids and the Azure light. Performing a night feed with Reef Roids! Will put your corals in a feeding frenzy and stimulate their natural feeding habits. Plus staying up late to check out all the crazy night time polyp extension with the Azure light is a must have reef tool. Especially if you’ve never witnessed this before it opens your eyes to a whole new world of color, polyp extension and feeding behavior.

It doesn’t end there the azure light is great for spotting pests as well. Nudybranchs that love night feed on your precious collector montiporas or zoanthids. Can be spotted and removed with a pipette.

Frag swaps and cherry-picking corals will never be the same again!

My question to you is? Do you know what’s happening in your reef when the lights go out?

Just added: Neptune Systems Energy Bar 832 – EB832

We are happy to announce that we are one of the first in Canada to receive the new EB832! The EB832 is the “Energy Bar” that come with the New Neptune Apex controller.

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This energy bar is NOT backward compatible with the classic Neptune Apex Controllers. If you need to add an energy bar to your classic, you will need the EB4 and / or  EB8.

This Energy Bar 832 was redesigned from the ground up. Not only does it have eight 120V AC outlets, but it includes an internal 100W 24VDC power supply as well. That power supply feeds three built-in 1LINK ports as well as two 24VDC accessory ports. Each individual outlet has power monitoring and there are individual LED indicators for each outlet.

Use Your Reef Aquarium to Help You Sleep Better

How to Use Your Reef Aquarium to Help You Sleep Better

By Scott Dickey

Seasoned reefers and beginner hobbyists alike are well aware of the stress melting effect of staring into your reef aquarium. As you gaze into the serine aquatic ecosystem that sits in a glass box in your living room, are you thinking of returning work e-mails? Or that pushy customer? Or your grumpy co-worker? No you’re not! Rather, You are probably lost in the antics of one of your hermit crabs, or the subtle polyp extension of a healthy coral, or one of the other phenomenon that make this hobby so great. Physiologically, your brain waves are slowing from the stress inducing beta waves to relaxation inducing alpha waves, your heart rate slows, your arteries dilate, and you begin to breath slower and deeper. This is the same physiological response that deep meditation induces. The fact is that when utilized properly, this hobby can offer great stress relief therapy! Research has shown that people who care for pets can live years longer than people who do not. A major hypothesis for this phenomenon is that pets help people de-stress, which can add years to their life! While this research has primarily focused on people who care for dogs and cats, I would bet my pair of mated Picasso Clowns (Norman and Norma) that the same trend holds true for people who keep reef aquariums. That is, assuming that we know how to keep our aquariums from turning from a tool for relaxation into a cause for stress.

Despite our aquariums being a significant source of stress relief for us, unfortunately there can be lots of causes for stress in this hobby. We can all tell an aquarium related horror story about the time when the tank sprung a leak, or when you dealt with an outbreak of fish disease. Yet with proper equipment, planning and maintenance, the majority of these potential causes for stress can be controlled or eliminated. This can make the net benefits of caring for your reef aquarium a very healthy endeavor. For this article, I want to shed some light on your aquarium’s lights (pun intended), which may actually be a huge source of stress in your life and you don’t even know it. Did you know that your aquarium lights might be disrupting your circadian rhythms (your bodies natural sleep clock), your hormones and your health? Yikes! But don’t worry. I’ll tell you how you can fix this, and how you can even use your aquarium’s lights as a hack for better sleep and better health.

Lets take a foray back 20 thousand years before the first aquarium was ever installed in some Victorian era aristocrat’s living room. Our Paleolithic ancestors were every well attuned to the natural cycle between day and night. Late in the day, the sun began to set, and the sky turned from orange, to red, and then dark. As this happened, our ancestors began to produce a hormone in their brain called melatonin. This hormone drove their sleep / wake cycles, and when it was present their blood, it helped them fall asleep and stay asleep. When the sun rose in the morning, the sun’s rays, especially those in the blue light spectrum, inhibited melatonin production, and allowed for a different hormone called cortisol to take over. Cortisol is the wake-up hormone, and it helped our ancestors stay awake and alert. Cortisol remained the dominant hormone until the blue light in the sky began to fade late in the day, and the cycle started all over again.

Fast forward to present day. It turns out that our modern high functioning brains are still wired the same way as our Paleolithic ancestors. But unfortunately, our brains and hormone cycles are very confused by the light pollution emitted in the evening hours by our house lights, electronic screens and yes, our reef aquarium lights! Consider the typical reef aquarium lighting schedule. The day starts with actinic blue lights turning on first, then progressing through a sun-rise type of lighting scheme with the white spectrum lights turning on later and persisting throughout the day, then back to the actinic blue spectrum in the evening to simulate the sun-set effect before going dark. With this schedule, we spend much of the evening hours bathing our eyes in melatonin suppressing actinic blue light as we enjoy our evening reef tank fix. While this can be a stress relief in some ways, unfortunately it can also throw off our melatonin production, which can make it harder for us to fall asleep at night, as well as reduce the quality of our sleep. Since our bodies and brains need sleep as much as we need good food to heal and recover from the day’s stresses, this lack of sleep can have significant impacts on our energy levels and health if allowed to persist.

Luckily however, with the significant advances in reef aquarium lighting technologies, specifically with highly programmable LED lighting units, we have a great tool that we can use to both light our aquariums in an aesthetically pleasing way, and give ourselves doses of the right kinds of light at the right times of day to optimize sleep and health. To do this, ideally you will need LED units that offer a high degree of programmability as well as a number of different color channels. Specifically, the ability to custom program the red, blue, white and ultra violate light channels is required to implement my healthy reef lighting protocol. I really like the LED units produced by Aqua Illumination and Echotech Marine because these brands allow for the activation of each color spectrum independently. If you’re looking for a good excuse to pick up a nice set of LED lights for your aquarium, look no further! Tell yourself, or your spouse, it’s for your health J. Bellow I will outline my healthy reef lighting protocol that will help optimize your sleep / wake cycle.

  • Morning: To start the day, have your aquarium lights ramp up over the course of 60 minutes from a deep blue spectrum to a nice white spectrum. The intensity should be low at first, allowing your fish and corals time to wake up and adjust to the light, but then you will want to ramp the intensity up good and high, allowing lots of that white / blue light to flood your living space. The more light that your are exposed to in the morning, the more melatonin production will cease, and the more awake you will feel. This morning influx of bright light is critical to setting your sleep / wake cycle timer. You will want to strike a balance between flooding your living room with bright light and not over-exposing your aquarium to bright light, as too much light can be stressful on your aquarium’s inhabitants.
  • Daytime: During the day, we should try to expose ourselves to as much natural light as we can in order to keep our circadian rhythms on track. Exposure to bright light during the day will actually help you sleep better at night. Did you know that your house or office can be 100 times less bring than outdoors during the day? Probably not because our eyes are amazingly good at adjusting to different light levels allowing us to see in dim conditions. Spending most of the day in dim light conditions can be hard on our eyes, and throw our circadian rhythms off nearly as much as exposure to blue light in the evening. A reef aquarium can be a great natural light substitute for the indoor environment. If you’re like me and you have to leave your home reef aquarium to spend most of your days in an office, perhaps it is worth installing a small reef tank at your place of work to get the benefit of those bright lights during the day. Innovative Marine makes great all-in-one aquarium kits that would be perfect for an office tank. Your employer may be very amenable to footing the bill for a work place aquarium if you volunteer to handle the maintenance.
  • Early Evening: For the early evening, beginning around 4 PM, I recommend programming your lights to ramp down in intensity slowly over the course of 60 minutes, with the blue and UV light channels becoming dominant. This way you will get to enjoy your aquarium in the early evening as it is lit in that beautiful actinic blue color that we all love so much. The UV spectrum will help bring out subtle fluorescent colors in your corals and fish. I recommend only allowing these lighting conditions to persist for a few hours in the early evening so as not to disrupt melatonin production, which typically begins around 7:00 PM.
  • Late Evening: Around 7:00 PM is when you should stop exposing yourself to blue and white light. Light in the red spectrum does not interfere with melatonin production in your brain. I recommend shifting your aquarium lighting to use low to moderate amounts of red light in the late evening to create an interesting twilight lighting scheme. You can add a touch of UV light to make the fluorescent colors of your coral and fish pop, but don’t use too much UV light, as it too can suppress melatonin production. In addition to helping you sleep better, lighting your aquarium with red lights in the evening may allow you to see the behaviors that your tank in habitants display at night. Red light is absorbed by water, and thus does not penetrate to depths beyond about 10 meters in the ocean. Because of this, many ocean creatures actually cannot see in the red spectrum. Therefore, as far as many of the creatures in your aquarium are concerned, red light is as good as no light. Using red light in the evening will allow you to trick your tank inhabitants into thinking it is dark, while still allowing you to see what they are up to. This can make for very interesting evening aquarium viewing!
  • Overnight: As you would expect, overnight while your are asleep, your aquarium should be pretty well dark. Save for perhaps a small moonlight that mimics the natural lighting of the moon found in nature. This should be no more than a few small LEDs so as to not allow for much light pollution in your home while you sleep.

Thanks so much for reading. Please share your ideas and photos of your lighting schemes! I am particularly interested in the red-light dominated twilight lighting schemes that people develop for their evening aquarium viewing.

RED HALLOWEEN SYNDROME – Cyano and Algae in your Display Tank

Written by WallyB

“The RED HALLOWEEN SYNDROME”

PART 1 (Lessons learned for One Success):
You will find plenty of articles, posts and advertisements with Stories and Photo’s of Spectacular Reef Display Tanks. I personally have read many, and tried to do everything that those people have successfully done. There are some really good tips in those “Here is how I run my Beautiful Tank” stories. However what you’ll find sometimes missing, is the not told stories of mistakes, failures and adjustments, to Eventually Get Things Right. Everyone is a rookie, in whatever you start doing in life. Reef aquarium hobby survival/success is no exception. Far from it!!!

My personal (learned) philosophy toward this fascinating hobby which I really love and sometimes hate is to learn as much as a can before taking on too much risk. Especially from learning hands-on making mistakes. Not on purpose like turning your water heater to 100 degrees to see what happens, but by knowing a heater thermostat can fail (even the best you can buy) and you need to have a means to notice and deal with the failed heater in time.

Over the last 20 years in this hobby I think I’ve done everything possibly wrong. Many things have gone accidentally wrong, and that has made me better Reef Tank Custodian. Mistakes, and accidents have honed my skills to avoid catastrophes or be prepared for the next event or challenge, and be able to respond quickly. If you don’t fail early (with many small learning mistakes), chances are you’ll fail eventually in some way, form, or manner (unprepared), and the more you’ve invested into your Display tank equipment and contents (over that lucky period of success), the greater the pain that failure will be.

I know from personal experience (my worst mistake ever), is that not doing proper quarantine when introducing an exciting new fish can wipe out your complete livestock in a matter of weeks. Never happened once in those 20 years of adding fish, but once it happened, and I lost all my fish including my 15 year old Power Blue Tang. I’ll never make that mistake again since it was too painful and sad.

This is my original Tank when I entered the Reef Aquarium Hobby, which I started over 15 years ago. Many changes over the years, many struggles. It finally “clicked right” about late last year, and just keeps on getting better each day.

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Finally “One year” of positive progress “Zero Issues”.
Nov 2016
( Photo Above ).   Oct 2016 ( Photo Below ).

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I could spend a lot of time telling the stories of Countless Lessons Learned (Over a Decade) with that 90 Gal Kitchen Mixed/LPS Tank Above, however this is not what this article is about.

PART 2 (The SPS-Only Tank [Cyano/Algae Disaster] Journey):

This story is about a 2nd 60 Gal tank that I decided to restart in my office wall two years ago. I felt I had the experience under my belt to tackle a greater challenge.  To succeed in an SPS Only Tank.

I knew that there would be new learning and new lessons. I expected some failures along the way from what I researched and read.  However what happened was certainly nothing I expected.

In hindsight, I could have avoided all that grief by not making one key mistake, however that journey has taught me a lot.  Sure there was lots of grief, but I have no regrets, since my confidence is much higher to start again (just like I re-started the other tank a few times).  However, hoping this time it won’t take as many tries and 10 more years.

The tank started with some baked and aged hand me down live rock that was dead and stored for a year. A couple of live coralline covered pieces were added from my mature tank to get things started.  I bought the cheapest SPS frags I could get since I anticipated some learning losses.

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Over six months it slowly matured, while I meticulously kept proper maintenance and rock-solid stable parameters.

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I had patience, but when comparing to other folks timelines, my coloration and growth was pathetic.

I tested the water, especially for Low Enough Nitrates and Phosphates which SPS folks swear by is key to success. But I wasn’t getting any Phosphate readings. I even purchased a Hanna Phosphate kit (0.00 ppm).  Then got a Hanna Phosphorous kit and barely got a (2.0 ppb or 0.01 ppm), which was insanely low.

So after reading and much research, realized I was starving my SPS corals. I was simply too clean.   Who would have guessed such a thing, when I spent 10 years trying to nothing but keep my tank crystal clear and Parameters Perfect.

I didn’t want to jump in and buy more fish for nutrients, since QUARENTINE would take time. I took the approach of feeding my corals.  I started slow, and as I noticed some improvements, and ramped up more and more feeding.  The photos below showed the drastic change in coloration after just one month.

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These close ups clearly show the quick improvement that happened. Yup, I got excited, and you can guess what I did.

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PART 3 (The First Disaster “Cyano”):

I started feeding the corals daily, more and more. The corals kept getting better. Growing faster.  It was great!!

Then one day some “Cyano” appeared. Been there, done that in the other tank.

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Those reddish brown patches, with the little bubbles that come and go with lighting. I hate Cyano!  Made that tank look not as pristine.   I then did the worst thing possible. I used a power head and started blowing the stuff off the rocks, rather than sucking it out of the tank.

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The Cyano spread like wildfire!! Nothing like ever before!!!

I had experience with Cyano from the past. Cyano which I thought before is not Algae, it’s a bacteria.  I tackled the situation with frequent water changes (sucking the stuff out), and treating the tank with Zeovit (Cyano Clean or ZeoBak mixed with Coral Snow).  Of course Cyano also needs time to go away.

My patience and persistence paid off. The Cyano went away after a few weeks.

The interesting part was the corals never got damaged at all, and when the rocks showed up again, they were nicely covered in Coralline. The tank overall colored up.

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I felt great I succeeded, but if you look closely at the picture above, another disaster was brewing on its way.

PART 4 (The 2nd Disaster “Green Hair Algae”):

As the Cyano was subsiding, I did notice small patches of Green Hair Algae appearing. It was easy to pluck and it never really concerned me since anything was better than Cyano. I was dead wrong!!!

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The Algae spread like wild fire, just like the Cyano.

I thought during my Cyano distractions, my NO3 & PO4 parameters went bad, and fueled the Algae. But nothing was particularity off.

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I couldn’t keep up with the Pruning. I tuned down the lighting and I looked for some help.  CUC (Clean up crew).

I got everything I could find that would eat Algae. Varieties of snails and hermit crabs.

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To make a long story short. Yes the CUC did help, but even they couldn’t keep up, or didn’t particularity have an appetite for the string stuff.   SPS corals started getting damaged.

And as shown below repetitive algae pruning kind of helped, but it was a lost battle within the tank, since I couldn’t make the algae completely go away, as the Cyano did.

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I had to resort to tearing the tank apart and do some serious cleaning. It worked. The tank recovered with some corals surviving and some replacement frags were added.  Yet, I was quite behind on normal progress of a two year tank.

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More importantly, why did these two significant outbreaks happen?   They were extreme, and kind of un-explainable.

I THEN FIGURED IT OUT, it was something I did after Last Halloween a year ago.

PART 5 (Halloween 2015, The Red Lighting Theme and the RGB LED Effects lighting strip.):

It may have not been the cause for the Cyano. I think that was the initial over feeding.

But I’m pretty confident that the Rapid Extreme Algae Bloom was caused by too much Red lighting.  I say this since when I made the discovery and removed the excess Red lighting from my tank, the Algae got under control.  The Tank Clean up was simply speeding up the waiting time for the Algae to recede naturally.

So how does Halloween fit into this?

I got a RGB 5050 LED Strip with an remote-effects controller to help the kids decorate the house a year ago

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The LED strip hung over the Front door and flashed. After Halloween, I played with the RGB LED strip over my tank.

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I had no intention to keep it on the tank, till I mixed all 3 colors (Red, Green and Blue) and got White.

The white look dimmed down, was nice for lighting up the tank without the Main MH lights on. Saved electricity, and more viewing time.  I kept it and used it daily on a timer for hours at a time.

PART 6 (The Probable Cause of the Extreme “Cyano” & “Algae Bloom” ):

To cut to the chase, I didn’t realized that turning on the Red LEDs to 100% intensity across the whole LED strip, turned my tank into a Algae Making Machine (technically an Algae Scrubber).  Maybe this may have not happened alone, but combined with High 250W MH lighting, and the high nutrients I put into the tank by overfeeding, I created The Perfect Algae Storm.

I confirmed this with a person selling LEDs for aquarium lights. People often add too many RED LEDs when building their fixtures (since Red look great) and they cause similar Algae blooms.  He recommends lots of variety BLUE LEDs, and some WARM WHITE LED’s to get some Red in.  Very few if any REDS.

PART 7 (Moving forward):

Yes, I learned a lot during those last two years. No regrets.  Really hoping I succeed this next time on an SPS only tank!

As the saying goes “If you can’t beat them, join them”.  That’s exactly what I did from this experience.   I learned that the power of RED spectrum light, with a touch of BLUE is ideal for Algae growth.   So I purchased a small Algae Scrubber, which is a simple device that grows Algae in your Aquarium system, but out of the display area.  It strips the elements that grow algae out of your water column. Kind of like an Algae Magnet.  When I saw it working I built my own DIY larger version.  It has been recently installed into my Tank Sump and working quite well.  Hoping my next restart on this tank will be totally Algae free.

One other thing that I took advantage of during that Algae bloom,  is I used the Algae Plagued tank as a set to make a Fun Animated movie. An Algae Star Wars Parody.  For my Son’s applied knowledge (graphics course at school).

PART 8 (Conclusion and Some Advice):

I don’t feel that there is any  “bullet proof advice”  on Reef Aquarium Success, since so many things can go wrong and everyone’s tank setups are so different.  However as mentioned a few times, I have learned over many years a lot of what can go wrong, and that I’m willing to share these few tips:

– If you take on the challenge of running a reef aquarium expect it to be a learning journey.

– Make only one significant change at a time, or else you won’t know what caused your issue.

– Know that things that “can go wrong”, “will go wrong”,  so do the best you can to mitigate any significant catastrophes..

– Livestock Quarantine is a Must, if you like the fish you already have.

– Start small and work your way up slowly.  Have lots of patience since biology, chemistry take much time to balance.

– You’ve hear this many times, and I’ll stress it again. “Don’t over feed your aquarium (Fish or Corals)”.

– DIY is fun, educational, and saves money sometimes, but you run risks compared to buying a product from a company with the resources to research and build something safe and properly designed (unlike my ” Halloween LED Strip” ).

AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST…Don’t give up too easily after any setbacks. Keep trying, since with each thing learned, your chance of success keeps improving.  This hobby is worth a few tries, since when you succeed, it feels pretty darn good!

In closing, I’ll give you proof of what the “Don’t Give up” attitude can do for you.

This happened to me about a decade ago. Totally out of my control.

It happened overnight.  I went to bed, all things fine.  I woke up to a Molten Coral mess.

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It’s my currently successful tank, the same tank as in the photo at the beginning of this article.

That “Frogspawn Coral” in the center, that looks dead in the 2nd photo above, is one of the few corals that survived.  It’s descendants are “Three Large Frogspawns” in the first two photo’s in this article.  Even sold a few pieces since it grew too much.
You can succeed even from “Rock Bottom”.  Just keep learning, have hope, and never give up.

PE Mysis Saltwater Pellets

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pe-mysis-pellets-saltwater

Mysis were introduced to Okanagan Lake in 1966 to provide forage for decreasing salmon populations. Adversely, the Mysis began competing with juvenile salmon for the same food source: zooplankton and phytoplankton. By harvesting PE Mysis, Piscine Energetics is allowing native salmon populations to return to healthy levels. Piscine Energetics is committed to providing the world with environmentally sustainable, naturally sourced, and nutritionally complete aquarium food.

Click here to purchase.

A Keep-It-Simple Guide To Dosing Magnesium

By Scott Dickey

Search the Internet and you will find an abundance of articles, forum threads, on-line calculators and YouTube videos that describe the importance of maintaining appropriate calcium and alkalinity levels in your reef aquarium. And rightly so, because these parameters play a critical role in maintaining the healthy pH that is vital to the wellbeing of your fish and invertebrates, as well as in providing the chemical building blocks necessary for corals to grow. Anyone who is well versed in their reef aquarium chemistry theory also knows the importance of maintaining appropriate magnesium levels. Magnesium plays a critical role in preventing the precipitation of calcium carbonate crystals, which can lower your aquarium’s calcium, alkalinity and pH. Magnesium is also crucial to countless biological processes within your aquarium, including being incorporated into the skeletal structure of growing coral, being a critical component to chlorophyll which is used by corals and algae to generate energy from light via photosynthesis, and being an important mineral to the health of fish and invertebrates (as it is within your own body).

treef-supplies-magneesium

Most advanced aquarists are likely well aware of the importance of magnesium. Anyone keeping stony corals (SPS and LPS corals) successfully likely already runs some form of magnesium supplementation as a compliment to dosing two-part, or running a calcium reactor. For these ‘hands on’ reefers, testing calcium, alkalinity and magnesium, and adjusting dosing regimes is a weekly if not daily regimen. If you have the time and money, I recommend investing in calcium, magnesium and alkalinity test kits and testing for these parameters weekly. The Red Sea Reef Foundation Pro Multi Test Kit is a really great cost effective package for this. You can use your test results to calculate the amounts of calcium, alkalinity and magnesium supplements that you should add to your aquarium to maintain optimal levels. Red Sea has developed a really great intuitive program for this that you can read about here. While this ‘hands-on’ approach to maintaining calcium, alkalinity and magnesium is extremely effective, it may not be realistic for the time-strapped ‘keep it simple’ reefers, like myself, who just want a simple and practical solution to keeping our aquariums healthy. Enter kalkwasser, or kalk for short. Kalk is simply lime, or calcium hydroxide powder (CaOH), and is the simplest way to maintain good calcium and alkalinity levels in your aquarium. A number of great brands make kalk supplements, and it is all essentially the same stuff. I have been using the Twolittefishies kalk supplement for years with success. My favorite way to use kalk is to stir it into my fresh water top off (about 2 teaspoons per gallon), and add it slowly to a high flow area of my aquarium every day or two to top off evaporated water.  It works great in conjunction with an auto top off system too, as long as you clean the build up off your auto top off pump once a month or so. The main drawback of using kalk however is that it does not maintain any other important minerals or trace elements, such as magnesium. In-fact, using kalk can actually lower magnesium levels by causing magnesium to precipitate out of solution as magnesium carbonate (MgCO3). Thus maintaining adequate levels of magnesium is crucial when dosing kalk.

Magnesium can be depleted in your aquarium as your corals grow and trace amounts are absorbed into the coral’s skeleton. Additionally, some magnesium will precipitate out of solution as magnesium carbonate. Generally however, magnesium is not depleted to the same extent that calcium or alkalinity are as corals grow, so maintaining good magnesium levels is relatively easy, and here are two simple ways to do it.

1) Water Changes

The simplest solution to maintaining adequate magnesium levels is frequent large water changes. A weekly water change of 20% of your aquarium’s total water volume should do the trick, 10% if you do not keep any stony corals. This is great for reefers with smaller ‘nano’ aquariums. Keep in mind that not all salt mixes are created equal, and some brands have lower magnesium levels than others because magnesium is one of the more expensive elements to refine for commercial use. You’ll want to select a good brand of salt formulated for reef aquariums that has appropriate levels of calcium, alkalinity and magnesium. I like Red Sea Coral Pro and Instant Ocean Reef Crystals. For those with larger aquariums, doing large water changes every week may be a bit laborious, and result in more than a few un-wanted doses of saltwater to your living room floor. Rather option number 2 may be a more practical solution for reefers who maintain larger aquariums who want to do less frequent or smaller water changes.

2) Using a Magnesium Supplement

A magnesium supplement can be dosed between water changes to maintain appropriate magnesium levels. Keep in mind however that excess magnesium can cause problems that are just as bad, or worse, than insufficient magnesium, so you don’t want to over do it.  Choose a good magnesium supplement. I would go with a good low ammonia powdered magnesium supplement that provides a blend of magnesium sulfate and magnesium chloride like Seachem’s Reef Advantage Magnesium. Other supplements may come in liquid form, but if you use a powdered supplement you will get more bang for your buck, as you are not paying for shipping the water that the magnesium salts are dissolved in. Start by using half the supplement’s recommended minimum dose once per week. For Seachem’s magnesium supplement, this corresponds to one teaspoon of the supplement per every 20 gallons of the aquarium’s total water volume. If you’re using a powdered supplement, you will want to first dissolve the powder into some freshwater (about 1 cup of freshwater per teaspoon of supplement). Dosing the half minimum dose will likely be sufficient to maintain adequate magnesium levels for most aquariums