Important Reef Keeping Parameters
Here is what we at Kraken Corals feel are some of the most important parameters in your system, these are not in a particular order because all are important in their own ways, there isnt one more important than another and all of these should be checked on a regular basis.
Remember: Regular Water testing is an essential part of reefkeeping
This is one of the first things you check as a reef keeper and is very important when setting up a new tank especially. Once a tank is cycled unless theres a serious problem with your system you should always see values as close to 0 as possible. Ammnit is toxic to the aquarium inhabitants and shoudl be removed by the bacteria present in your system after cycling.
Ideal Level : 0ppm
NItrite like ammonia should generally not be seen in your aquarium after the initial cycle and shoudl remain as close to zero as possible at all times. Bacteria converts ammonia to nitrite before futher bacteria converting this to nitrate. Its toxic to your aquarium inhabitants
Ideal Level : 0ppm
After cycling is complete a value of nitrate shows that the bacterial functions of your system are behaving correctly. Wihin the first few months of your tank this level may rise and fall as the system settles but long term you will want to keep the values of this lower.
Some fish are quite tollerant of higher nitrate levels for periods but we would avoid having periods where nitrates are above 50ppm. We would reccomend that nitrates are kept less than 20ppm for a fish only and softies tank and if your looking to keep hard corals then even less.
Imbalanced levels of nitrate can cause unsighly algae issues so keeping on top of these levels will help your aquarium long term. There are several ways of controlling these levels. Skimming and water changes along with bacterial function are the primary methods.
Ideal Level: 2-5ppm
A Stable PH is essential for your reef, PH levels do change during the day and at night but we try and keep these changes to a minimum, large swings in PH can be of detrement to your livestock. Generally we do not avocate the use of PH buffers to control PH levels, we instead look at water surface movement in your tank, and other levels such as Calcium and KH which in turn can have an effect on ph.
Ideal Level : 8.1-8.4
The salinity of the aquarium water is imporant for your marine fish and coral, depending what your keeping and what your trying to acheive then different salinities can be used. Generally we suggest a specific gravity of 1.024-1.026 for general reef keeping.
It important to note that some shops and quarantine systems which may be as low was 1.010 which is why acclimatisation of fish is so important when you return home from the shop.
Ideal Level: 1.024-1.026 sg
Often overlooked the temperature of your tank should remain consistant as much as possible. Most thermometers have thermostatic shut offs to help maintain temperature, you can however get more advanced temperature controllers with probes to help you maintain the ideal temperature.
Ideal Level: 23 - 25.5 celcius
The Alkalinity of your tank is very important even in fish only systems. Primarily the alkalinity is the waters ability to resist PH change, but the carbonates that form this alkaility are being absorbed by life inside your tank. Hard corals need good stable alkalinity to help them uptake calcium and magnesium and other elements in order to grow, as they do so they deplete the alkalinity of the water. Lowers talkalinity reduces the buffering capacity of the water and can cause PH fluctuations.
If your running a fish only or simply coral system then anywhere in the reflected range is acceptable for KH however if your going to be keeping SPS coral we generally reccomend keeping a lower KH of 7-8.5 rather than the higher ranges (although im sure many successfull reefkeepers do well at the higher ranges)
Ideal Level: 7-12DKH
Calcium is an element essential to the skeletal growth of coral. This is an element you should regularly test for if your keeping LPS and SPS corals. We generally reccomend you get your caclium levels in the correct range before buffering any KH because the calcium levels can have an effect on the alkalinity of your water.
Ideal Level: 400-450ppm
Magnesium is another important element use by corals to grow and should be maintained to maintain stability.
Ideal Level: 1350ppm
There are many other elements and levels that are important to your reef system which are not covered in this blog such as iodine and we may cover these futher in other posts.
To ensure your levels are all correct we reccomend regular testing and even a controlled laborotory ICP TEST