Is your Reef Tank "MATURE" and how long does it take?

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Would you consider your tank to be a mature reef?

  • YES (tell us why in the thread)

    Votes: 170 41.4%
  • NO (tell us why in the thread)

    Votes: 170 41.4%
  • Not Sure

    Votes: 68 16.5%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 3 0.7%

  • Total voters
    411

G Santana

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8 months to maturity.
First two months smooth sailing, then Dynos and lots of snot algae closely followed by the battle of GHA and finally coraline algae taking hold on bare rocks.
I was never disappointed, seen it before and read people's horror stories here.
ZomboMeme 12102021114633.jpg
 

czoolander

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My tank is two years old and even just recently I have had red cyano , GHA , and right now some diatoms ....... so no I don't think my tank is close to mature.

I do have Coralline algae all over my rocks and back wall and in my sump on the glass and rocks too so hopefully im getting close

But I have a tank of mostly LPS and softies and my corals are not doing well. I have 1 rock with zoas on it that are thriving spreading and growing new heads but other then that my corals are either receding or dying and I didn't think this would be happening 2 years in........

Kinda lost and frustrated .......
 

Gogol_frag

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Thanks to @jfoahs04 for the QOTD idea!

We hear the term "mature reef" thrown around a lot within reefing discussion and it seems that the maturity level of your tank is a level in which good or bad things happen. What types of livestock you can keep, whether or not you have to keep fighting algae, etc. But what makes a tank mature and how do you know when you get there? Let's talk about it!

1. What does having a mature reef tank mean and how long does it take?
For me having a mature reef means:
  1. Having a captive-reef with either thriving populations or a continuous supply of microfauna/microflora and bacteria, such that the tank can feed itself and clean itself; and
  2. Having a captive-reef that is self-sustained by design and can handle atleast 2-3 weeks of being left alone without human intervention barring unusual circumstances like a Light,heater/pump bust etc.
The time required to achieve reef-maturity can be shortened if you know what you are aiming for - eg: which bacteria/microfauna/microflora/macroflora/macrofauna to employ. My best guess is that maturity can be achieved in 7-8 months, if the goals are very clear and on-point.

2. Would you consider your tank to be a mature reef, why and why not?

I believe a mature-reef also requires a mature-reefer as it steward, which I am aiming to become, but am not there yet So my reef is not mature because of my shortcomings.

I made some rookie mistakes while generating and automating my microflora and microfauna cultures - which have since gotten back on track. Also, some of my initial experiments with beneficial bacteria - like Purple NonSulphur Bacteria, did not achieve good results. I use Mictobacter 7, Prodibio and Microbacter Clean now. And the results have been quite promising.

My tank is around the 6 months mark. My guess is that it will take another 6 months to mature. However, I strongly believe that maturity can be achieved under a year as well.

 

Gogol_frag

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Over 2 decades. Mature.

For me, mature means that the rock and sand can completely finish the nitrogen cycle by turning no3 into nitrogen gas.

Secondly, there is enough micro fauna in the tank to keep ich and other tomont-type of parasites at bay - not eradicate, but significantly cut down like in nature. When the tomonts drop off the fish, they don't stand much of a chance in a mature tank with micro and macro fauna looking for a meal. In the olden days, this is why people had you wait until your tank was about a year old to add tricky fish since the ecosystem could help them out... but that calculus all changed with BB tanks and dry rock/sand tanks that might never get that microfauna introduced. Now, people have created the perfect breeding ground for ich in their lifeless sand.

Lastly, coralline everywhere to a point where you hate it... absolutely hate it.

I tell people in general that if they think that their tank is mature, then it is not.
Word jda! Thank you for that wisdom.
 

Cell

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I think during years 2 and 3, the average reef tank really starts to mature. First year is finding the balance, both the keeper and the tank. By year 2, the tank chemistry/biology should be settled in and the maintenance routine's should be established. It's at this point, things really start to take off for most, I think.
 

elorablue

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I believe every tank is different in regards to maturity and well, everything else too.
mine is coming up to 7 months and while I have lots of coralline and the fish corals and inverts are all doing well I definitely wouldn’t consider it mature. This was made abundantly clear to me this past week as I missed a weekly WC and one day of 2 part and things went a little wonky ;Facepalm
 

Bpb

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Thanks to @jfoahs04 for the QOTD idea!

We hear the term "mature reef" thrown around a lot within reefing discussion and it seems that the maturity level of your tank is a level in which good or bad things happen. What types of livestock you can keep, whether or not you have to keep fighting algae, etc. But what makes a tank mature and how do you know when you get there? Let's talk about it!

1. What does having a mature reef tank mean and how long does it take?

2. Would you consider your tank to be a mature reef, why and why not?


image via @MJC
MJC.jpg

How long it takes depends entirely on your rock and sand. I’ve learned most of what I believe on the topic through my own experiences and various experiments on the matter with my own tanks.

In summary, I call a mature reef one that can easily grow any manner of healthy corals without issue. If you put something in the tank, be it a GSP, or a difficult shallow water Acropora, and it immediately grows without a hiccup, the tank is mature. That’s my metric.

I have yet to experience that level of maturity in any tank less than 1-1.5 years aged in its current state (without rescaping, sand swapping, or otherwise making any major changes to the bio filter). To me it has little to do with testable parameters. It’s just what I’ve observed. Intangible by any way I can explain. In my 3 tanks I’ve owned that has been the constant.

Even in my current tank, I dark cured my dry rocks for 2 full years. Seeded with rubble and media from my previous 10 year old sps tank. Still…upon pulling those rocks from the curing vessel, and putting them in the new tank with fresh rinsed sand, it didn’t work like a real, uninterrupted 2 year old tank would. I still experienced all manner of ugly phases and now 6 months later, still cannot get a single sps to survive, and even many lps struggle. Measurable parameters are all where I’ve kept them for the better part of a decade, yet the corals struggle. Algae is gone, sponges and feather dusters are flourishing, fish are fat and healthy. But all sps just struggle and die.

The only reason I can point to is the tank must still be immature. Adding light and moving around the rocks I believe has set the clock back to zero. The dark cure only served to let me fully stock it with fish immediately on setup. Otherwise, the tank is still an infant. Tracking along like clock work with every tank I’ve set up previously.

I’ll try some acros again a year from now and see if my hypothesis reaches the same conclusion it always has before. I expect it will
 

shakacuz

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i don’t believe my tank is mature. still stocking up on my copepods population, coralline algae still forming/growing, corals still growing. my tank was set up at the end of february so it is still under a year old.
 

reefz

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Kind of depends, but my tank is 1.5 years old and I think it's very mature. Its a mixed reef soft/lps/sps. Never have I had a system that my coral grow so fast. I have a Linkia starfish which is considered one of the hardest to keep starfish, and Its been happily living for 2 months. Also note that my tank surpast ich by itself! All of my fish are so healthy the ich couldnt even survive in the tank. No QT!
 

Dburr1014

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IMO it’s when the tank reaches an equilibrium of creatures that it becomes stable. Bacteria cultures, pods, sponges, etc. When a tank reaches maturity it’s much easier to keep corals alive and thriving. There are differing opinions on when that occurs but I’d say in general, 1 year for tanks started with live rock and 1.5-2 years for tanks started with dry rock. Yes, I consider mine to be mature.
This sums up my thoughts
 

Reva_loution54

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I’d say it’s mature, it’ll be 2 years in April. I don’t do anything but dose AFR 35mil a day at the moment. I do water changes once a month and it’s only to clean the sand bed and change the carbon on the same day. I have a reefer 250 with a trigger systems sump, filter sock, chaeto, and 24hrs skimming. Very low maintenance and parameters are always in check.
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MARK M. DAVIS

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My tank is seriously overgrown. It's a SPS dominant tank. The only time things die is when things touch and sting each other. My parameters are stable. The tank has been set up for around 4 years. I don't add anything anymore - No more room. Plus, lighting is limited due to growth. My equipment still breaks down but, I oversee things regularly so no issues. When someone starts neglecting their tanks because they think it's mature, then the time for a reset is nearing.
 

Reefjockey

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Mature is another hobby term that could mean anything, depending on the context in which it is used. The aquarium constantly changes from being almost sterile to dismantled and sterilized again. In between large organisms come and go. Long lived organisms outgrow the aquarium space and are relocated or partially harvested. Microorganism populations change with what is happening at the macro level, increasing as the macro organisms grow, die or are harvested. Change is constant :)

With this perspective, the term “mature“ might be linked to the point where the aquarium inhabitants reach a density that is near to the maximum point of sustainability and will need to be harvested soon. Before this point, the term might be linked to the point where maintenance work has leveled off.

Applying the notion of stages to a system on a continuum of change does not seem to be very useful, the term “mature” being meaningless.
Constant state of flux. Stable is nice-but change is the only parameter I have been able to "dial in" in almost 20 years.
 

sixty_reefer

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I find that the word “mature” doesn’t fit in the hobby, I prefer to use the therm “stable” as it’s more accurate.
Once something Matures it stays like that forever there’s no going back, our tanks are stable, eventually something will make it reset and Start the process of getting it stable all over again.
 
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StewL6

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Hard one for me my tank is 10 months old so I was going back and forth whether I would consider my tank mature. I finally decided no not mature but definitely getting there. The landscape rock was mixed between new, cured, and live and is about 80 % covered coralline now. Almost sad to see that bright emerald green stage turn purple. All my LPS are growing really well acans, candy canes, hammers, and torches really taking off three months ago. The easy SPS were added 4 weeks ago and growing good the stylos and Digies have new branches, caps are getting thicker with growth rings. Starting to battle coralline on pumps and glass. Also starting to switch to dosing pumps. switching to weekly and monthly water parameters testing except Alk which I will still do daily. Still do weekly 20% water changes but feel ok if I go two weeks now. Getting pretty close to auto pilot mode in say another 4 to 6 months. Last week i placed a Red Planet in best spot in tank and have my fingers crossed. So after a lot of trials and tribulations in first 6 months of this tank I am pretty happy with this tank at the moment. I learned a lot.
 

SC017

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Secondly, there is enough micro fauna in the tank to keep ich and other tomont-type of parasites at bay - not eradicate, but significantly cut down like in nature. When the tomonts drop off the fish, they don't stand much of a chance in a mature tank with micro and macro fauna looking for a meal. In the olden days, this is why people had you wait until your tank was about a year old to add tricky fish since the ecosystem could help them out... but that calculus all changed with BB tanks and dry rock/sand tanks that might never get that microfauna introduced.
What's your reccomendation for acquiring that sort of fauna in a dry dock tank without access to live rock?
 

AVVITT

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Having only been in the hobby for 10 months I'd definitely not consider my tank mature.
From what I've learned, and other people have touched on the same points too, I'd consider a mature tank to have a well balanced eco system whereby it practically runs itself.
I know the jury is often out as to whether no water changes are a good thing and I'm not saying that's everyone's end point but I believe the test of a mature system would be one you didn't have to do water changes on so basically everything runs in a full cycle. (Though no 2 reefs are the same so not saying it would work in all cases)
All waste becomes another's food. Corraline algae is another point a lot of reefers want to get too and I believe this also shows a degree of maturity as it doesn't appear until you get some reasonably stable parameters.

I guess once you have stable parameters for a long time and even sudden changes in the tank doesn't cause a big swing, I'd think that is the ecosystem dealing with whatever is thrown at it and therefore maturity.
 

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