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I was changing out my water yesterday and noticed I didn't have as much polyp extension from some of my sps corals and it got me thinking. I'm sure my issues were me messing around in the tank and with the water but I wanted to know your thoughts.
What is the first indicator that your sps corals might be in trouble?
image via @bubbaque
So yesterday, I started this thread on how big a tank a new hobbyist should start with. You can join that discussion here: https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/g...he-best-sized-aquarium-for-a-beginner.598213/. Today, let's talk about lighting...
How do you approach lighting for someone just getting started? How much should a new reefer plan to spend? Should they jump in with both feet, start with some lower end lights and upgrade later? How do you recommend they do it?
Feel free to also talk about whether they should jump straight into LED's or should go with T5 or metal halide.
Since we are going in to a weekend and stopping by your favorite LFS to check out what's new is so irresistible, thought it might be fun to see just how far you are willing to travel to get to your favorite LFS. Also curious if you pass by others to get to the store of your choice.
Do You Know Your TDS?
I do not know if everyone tests their TDS. I do. This does not mean it is important to everyone’s system, but if it is, I am sharing my recent experiences. My primary intent is to make a recommendation to those who buy RO/DI water or saltwater from a store: if want to start with pure water, test the Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) yourself. I assume if you have your own RO/DI system in your home or business that you check it, or have meters in line, but perhaps you do not?
First off, I am blessed with several local fish stores (LFS) near me. I live 30 minutes north of Manhattan and there are many options in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. Most I have seen are good stores with clean tanks, beautiful corals and healthy looking fish and inverts. I have generally found staff to be quite helpful and knowledgeable.
Additionally, in my area, we start with excellent tap water. I have lived in three cities in Westchester County and the TDS of the tap water has been between 35 and 45. NYC and the Bronx I have seen reported about the same or even lower. I have read some local water reports and could almost use my tap water directly. The big problem with that is the Phosphate level runs very high at 2-3ppm (several years of API testing).
Over the past couple of weeks I have visited four of my favorite LFS nearest me to purchase RO/DI water. In each case I was surprised by the TDS level of the water. In two cases, I called before going in and was told the level was 0. One seemed surprised I asked, saying “it’s RO/DI water.”
Here are the numbers from the four stores in ascending order:
Okay, 253 is nuts, but it is correct. I will talk more about that in a minute.
Two things jumped out to me right away:
- if you buy RO/DI water or saltwater from a store, you should test the TDS yourself, and
- these LFS are likely using the same water in their own displays, and in a couple of these cases this was a little scary.
The two lowest samples I collected, the 7 and the 14 TDS, I further tested for Phosphate. In both cases the result was barely detectable. That led me to use them as intended as change water for some dry rock I am curing. The LFS that tested 14 told me they do replace their filters every month since they go through a ton of water and I believed them. I understand that filters, membranes, resins, etc. can degrade quickly with constant use.
The sample I got that was 41 TDS I dumped out. It was higher than my tap. I speculated at first that maybe they filled my jugs with tap. I gave them the benefit of the doubt after speaking with them. The person felt terrible and offered me store credit. Their store is pretty new and I considered maybe they had not yet changed out their filters since the initial setup. They followed up with me and noted they had replacements on order. I still wonder how long they have used it in their own system.
The 253 TDS number was shocking and baffling. I tested multiple times while also testing other known sources to confirm. I obviously dumped this one right out. After much speculation, my best guesses are the person (a newer employee) somehow gave me the waste water from the system, or the collection containers themselves were heavily soiled. Perhaps it was some fluke or mistake. It does not really matter. The point is if I had just used it without testing I may have had issues.
I firmly believe that it is ultimately my responsibility alone whenever I add anything to an aquarium. That is why I test no matter what I am told. I urge everyone to test all pure water they purchase or make with a TDS meter.
A good TDS meter can be purchased for $20-30 and the test is fast and easy. Just dip the probe in the water. Some areas have terrible tap water to begin with and there is only so much an RO/DI system can accomplish. In these areas it seems crucial to test.
My research so far has shown me two things:
- the TDS of the RO/DI water available from local stores was regularly higher than I expected, and
- none of the stores themselves (to be fair the staff who helped me) knew the actual TDS of their RO/DI water and, when I asked, none knew the TDS of the tap water they started with.
I said in the beginning of this thread, I consider all of these stores good, clean, honest and helpful. RO/DI water sales are a very small part of these operations and their system’s filters degrade over time. They probably all go through a lot of water. My point is not to bash anyone (and I do not care to name names). I only want to suggest anyone regularly buying RO/DI water or saltwater from a store should test the water themselves. If you buy saltwater, then ask them if you can test their RO/DI water or buy a small amount if you feel weird asking.
Water quality is pretty important to the life in our systems, so I felt I should share my own limited observations. What do you think? I am honestly unsure how concerned people really are with the purity of their water. These threads seem to suggest many are, but what is the reality. Do a lot of folks use tap? If you buy your water do you test the TDS level? Does the store you buy from test it? How high a TDS number is acceptable to you? If you have your own RO/DI system, do you test? How high do you let it go before swapping out filters? I would love to hear other’s thoughts and experiences. Thanks!
Makes me rethink my whole approach!
How long do you run your lights at maximum intensity during the day? I know this can vary greatly dependent upon species kept in the tank, but just looking for an average. Many people also ramp up and down on either end, but just looking for time the lights are at their max.
As a follow up to yesterday's poll, it appears that 60% of the respondents prefer to pack their own DI when when it comes time to replace it. At the suggestion of @Crabs Mcjones, let's look at the preferred methods of setting up your DI. Are you using one DI resin or creating your own combination to deal with your specific water conditions. Multiple answers allowed in this poll.
Reefers, we're calling one of you this Thursday, November 1st (8pm CST)!
Not only that, but we're broadcasting it LIVE on YouTube. You won't want to miss it!
Your experience matters here and I want to hear from you is based on that experience. Please don't answer these questions based on what you heard or what company has the best marketing. I want to hear about what has worked GREAT for you!
Are you confident in the reefing equipment you currently use (vote in poll) and what brand or model would you suggest to others? (tell us in a post)
Please be as detailed as possible....
- Tank Manufacturer?
- Sump Manufacturer?
- Reef Tank Lighting?
- In Tank Water Flow/Wave Maker Pumps?
- Protein Skimmer?
- Aquarium Return Pump?
- Aquarium Heater?
- Aquarium Controller if any?
- Aquarium Test Kits?
image via @MarineDepot at www.marinedepot.com.
So most of us started keeping a reef tank for the pure enjoyment of the hobby, watching fish swim and corals grow etc.. But after it being a hobby, for some, it has morphed into other things like a business, fame or even a stimulant for health reasons etc. No matter the reason it is always rewarding to be able to grow a mature, beautiful reef. But for others the reward is more than satisfaction it is a way to get paid or a way to earn benefits etc.
No matter how you slice it the opportunity to capitalize on your hard work is there for anyone desiring to gain more than just a good feeling for growing a beautiful reef. So what are are some of the ways you can capitalize or be "rewarded" for being a successful reef grower?
- Satisfaction in a job well done.
- Notoriety among your peers.
- Notoriety within the industry.
- Free or reduced cost product and equipment from companies.
- Free or reduced coral and fish from companies.
- Payment for photos of your mature reef to be used for product packaging.
- Free travel to speak at industry events, frag swaps, club meetings, etc.
These are a few "rewards" that come to my mind but I wonder if I am missing something and how you feel about being "rewarded" for your hard work.
So do you want to be rewarded and how might that look to you?
image via @server10 at Aquaforest! Check this thread out.
Okay SPS dominant guys and gals at what level do you keep your alkalinity at and why? Have you always ran it at this level or have you changed it to another level? I would like this to be a discussion on what you keep your alkalinity at and why.
The reason I ask is that I recently had a spike to 9.3 dkh in my system which has led to some tissue loss. With this incident I have lowered it to around 7.0 dkh and I have some Acropora with polyps extended that have alway had very little polyp extension. I know everyone does reefing differently and I'd like to see what other heavy SPS users are doing.
I'm curious what my fellow reefers like to see in a build thread. I do my best to keep my thread updated, fun, varied, and full of pictures but now I want to know what you would recommend to someone starting a new build thread if they would want YOU to follow it.
I'm asking that you only pick your top 4 preferences so we can establish some kind of ranking.
I am in the process of setting up my 140G red Sea reefer peninsula 650 tank. It will be a barebottom SPS only tank with tons of flow.
The question I have for all the SPS experts is:
Do you keep all your powerheads on at high flow all the time or do you reduce flow at night?
If you reduce flow at night is it mainly to give the fish a break while they sleep or is there some benefit to corals? (I know there is probably no "proven" answer to this question)
I'm likely looking at a Gyre near the bottom of the tank to keep the bottom free of detritius and two mp40's. Build thread coming soon just trying to plan everything.
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