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A Tropic Marin Tank (7): Optimum Water Parameters - Part 1

This topic is quite a large one. Opinions and experiences vary greatly across the world. But this is how this example of an aquarium is run and why. This part will cover the parameters of nitrate (NO3) and phosphate (PO4). To be direct, the NO3 target is 1-2 mg/l and PO4 target is 0.1-0.2 mg/l.

Why such a low nitrate level? Research shows that elevated NO3 levels can lessen coral health and growth. At the same time elevated levels of NO3 can darken corals, and increase algae growth. Instead, corals can use ammonia (NH4) much better than NO3. It makes sense, since the natural coral reef has next to none NO3, but at whole lot of fish, which excrete ammonia from their gills all the time. And they live in or near coral colonies, which then soak that up as nutrition.

Why such a high phosphate level?

For many years, it has been proclaimed that the PO4 level, in reef aquaria, should be as low as possible. This reef tank will challenge that rule. According to newer research PO4 is not detrimental in the ranges that were considered high. This reef tank will run a PO4 of 0.1-0.2 mg/l. Official Tropic Marin recommendations are lower than this. Hans-Werner Balling has developed two new products that can help maintain such a PO4 level. Tropic Marin Phos-Feed and Phos-Start are two products which can do this with an innovative particulate phosphate source. These products are used to maintain this PO4 level after the cycle. Since these products are younger than the aquarium, the initial PO4 level was maintained with Tropic Marin Plus-NP.

We want this extra amount of PO4, in order to make sure the corals are not limited by a lack of PO4. The corals will still grow and look beautiful with this amount of PO4. If you are in doubt, try it out or follow along with this tank and see how awesome it gets.

Maintaining the elevated PO4 and reduced NO3 requires frequent testing. Until the desired PO4 level is reached, the aquariumd water is tested 2-3 times a week. Afterwards, when the PO4 is at 0.2 mg/l, the tests are done weekly. More on water testing later.

Next post will cover the minerals. Happy New Year! - Samuel Christensen

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