Just a few tips and tricks for those new to SPS and reefing....

Discussion in 'General SPS Discussion' started by SunnyX, Apr 2, 2010.

  1. Powerman

    Powerman Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the tips Sunny. I have 6 different Montis. Not all are fast growing, but I already am concerned with some of their placement. I have had to trim a couple already.
     

  2. TopNotchCorals

    TopNotchCorals Well-Known Member

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    I never said they pull out more organics but pulling them out as quick as possible is just as good right??
     
  3. Powerman

    Powerman Well-Known Member

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    Well sure, and I like some head room too. I have a K2 on a 90g. I think it will comfortably do 150g, but some say 180g. If something dies in my tank, I want the capacity to take it.

    But at the end of the day, if your system produced 4 oz. of organics, there really is no difference between a skimmer that took that out in 18 hrs or 12 hrs or 6 hrs. The one that took it out in 6 hours is just sitting idle for 18 hrs a day. Mine sits idle half the time.
     
  4. TopNotchCorals

    TopNotchCorals Well-Known Member

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    So why the bigger skimmer if it doesnt matter at the end of the day? Ok I think I read all this skimmer jibber jabber already.I like a bigger skimmer and think they are more affective and you dont but you kinda do and thats your opinion and that is mine goodnight.:tongue:I think I went through the same kinda thing when I was going from metal hallide to t5ho.....but thats a whole different story
     
  5. Powerman

    Powerman Well-Known Member

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    An oversized skimmer will take more room, cost more, use more energy, and worse, perform worse. A seriously oversized skimmer sits all day long waiting for enough organics to accumulate so it can push then up in the huge neck and puke a bit in the cup. Then it waits for more hours. A 160 on a 50g is not grossly oversized.

    But I don't mean to hijack. Lots of variety in this hobby. Sunny laid out a good recipe for success and a big well performing skimmer is certainly part of it. We just obviously have different opinions on "how big".
     
  6. Powerman

    Powerman Well-Known Member

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    So Sunny, how do you go about planning coral placement. I mean on mine I try to place them all in good spots, but when I see grown out tanks they are just jam packed. Seems eventually they are all going to be crowded.
     
  7. TopNotchCorals

    TopNotchCorals Well-Known Member

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    +1 on the hijack sorry sonny,I hear where your coming from Powerman and thanks for the additional info.I just agreed with sunny on a few of his tips that I myself find to be true.
     
  8. CoralBandit

    CoralBandit Well-Known Member

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    GFO or not to GFO? I like to keep my reef as simple as possible. I never ran GFO before I do run ROX carbon. I am considering it b/c now I have a bagillion corals, my PO4 reads 0 on API (dont really know how reliable that is) but some SPS bases wont color up like the edge. I.e. my Rainbow montipora has awesome blue edge but base is brown :( and a few SPS I have the tips are awesome bright colors but the base is brown, if I frag them and give them to others the bases get color.... Could GFO help me?
     
  9. SunnyX

    SunnyX Bonsai Reefer R2R Supporter Reef Spotlight Award

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    When placing corals I try to anticipate where and how the corals will grow out. It is important to know what the frags will look like once fully grown out. The faster growing corals are usually placed on the outskirts of the live rock, and the slower growers more to the center. The mixing of coral colors is very important as well. You want to make sure that there is a variety of colors and shapes in sections of the reef. Basically, don't put all the green corals in one spot. :p
     
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  10. SunnyX

    SunnyX Bonsai Reefer R2R Supporter Reef Spotlight Award

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    Now, I know that there are many more tips out there guys/gals. Lets hear them! :D

    I wanted to add another thing that I do:

    Since I run a bacteria driven system I cannot use a phosphate remover in my system. The bacteria need to be properly fed and I don't want anything to compete or hinder the bacterial growth.

    So, what I do to prevent any PO4 from getting into the tank is I run a Phosban reactor with ROWAphos in my water holding container. I run the ROWAphos for three days on any new saltwater that will be used for a water change.

    This way I can put less stress on my system and prevent any excess PO4 from getting into it.

    One other thing I feel that needs to be addressed is proper feeding protocol:
    From what I have seen and read, people overfeed their tanks. I feed my fish every other day. My fish are fat and happy, and I have never had any issues even with the Anthais I have. If you do not keep up with a means of waste export, such as PO4 remover, Bacteria/carbon dosing, or water changes you stand the risk of having reduced corals health and an algae outbreak.

    Now, how much you feed your fish is just as important as how often. Some people feed their fish five times a day and their systems look great. I suspect that they are feeding very small amounts of food, or that they are diligent about exporting waste. Unfortunately, not all reefers are as diligent and they quickly end up having issue related to elevated waste.

    For those who just cant get corals to grow or color up to the desired level I suggest that you rethink what,how, and when you are feeding.
     
  11. SunnyX

    SunnyX Bonsai Reefer R2R Supporter Reef Spotlight Award

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    Here is a ton of info I found in other threads and forums over the years. Sorry but I don't have all the sources.Whenever I seen something of interest I copied and pasted it into a WORD document. If any of these tips belong to you please let us know. :)

    Here we go:


    This is a list from my local reef club. When I started it provided me with great ideas.

    1. First Get A Turkey Baster!!!! If you don't already use one, get a clean new TB; Jack of All Reef Tools! Blows detritus off rocks; sucks up unwanted "stuff"; use it to target feed corals; and the list goes on.

    2. Dog toothbrushes are a reefers second best friend (see above for the first). Get the kind with a large and small end are the best, 2 in 1.

    3. Want to vacuum the tank without having to do a water change?? Just get some 3/8" flex tubing....or whatever size you want and put a fine mesh bag or a nylon on the end of it and rubber band/tie it on. Then stick the end w/ the bag into your sump. Start the siphon as mentioned below and vacuum away! The bag will filter all detritus /flatworms/ valonia/ whatever and let the water pass right thru.

    4. Start your siphons by placing the submerged end of the hose in front of a power-head.

    5. Vinegar is good for soaking pump/power-head impellers--it dissolves the CaCO3 that tends to build up on the internals.

    6. If you have a venturi skimmer, drop the air tube into a cup of hot RO/DI water once a week to get rid of any salt creep into the venturi (remove the air line muffler if equipped).

    7. I stick a scotch pad (synthetic 0000 steel wool) between my magnets (on the inside of the tank) which I rinse out frequently when cleaning my GLASS TANK.

    8. The life of wooden air diffusers can be extended by heating them up in the microwave for 3-5 minutes. So when its time to change the diffuser,, pop it in the microwave and you'll be able to use it again.

    9. You can make spray bars out of PVC instead of buying return nozzles.

    10. Have clams for dinner. Wash shells, and use them to cover annoying algae patches on you rock...after a week or two the algae will be dead and gone for lack of light.

    11. When catching a fish out of a tank use a rose vase. One of the big one's, for dozen roses, which has a large opening curves down for the neck, and then open back up. Put in a piece of food and set the vase on the side at the bottom of the tank. The curve in the neck will stop the food from floating out. Once the fish is in put your hand over the opening and pull it out. Most fish swim away from your hand so even if you are not fast enough to cover it they will probably stay in.

    12. Place rubber matting underneath all of your equipment. It comes in 4 foot wide rolls at most hardware stores and is indispensable. It protects the floor beneath and helps isolate vibration. Its grooved surface helps control spills. You can curl it wherever it meets a wall to keep water from leaking out.

    13. Save all the disposable plastic containers you get, eventually you'll find a reef use for them.

    14. Put a piece of aluminum foil on top of your tank over your overflow to block light, keeps nuisance algae from growing in there and you don't have to clean gunk out of the overflow teeth.

    15. If you have a deep tank, invest in a small step ladder. (2 or 3 steps) Instead of having a chair around, use the ladder to access your tank.

    16. Finally, and this has been said before, keep a journal!! It doesn't have to be fancy or completely detailed, but one needs to record actions, observations, and perceived results. Water changes, livestock additions (or losses), bulb changes, etc, this things are forgotten and overlooked until something comes up, and then it's too late.


    - Invest in a quality controller! Ive had way too many heater malfunctions (heater won't turn off or simply wont turn on!) and now its nice to have a piece of mind that my controller will turn on the heater or Fans for chilling.

    - Change your filter socks as often as possible! I bleach mine and let them completely dry every time I wash then in the washing machine. Its also good to buy several so you can rotate them!

    - Let your skimmer overflow for about 2 or 3 seconds, this will clean your neck a little.

    - If you skim wet, test your salinity frequently.

    - ATO is the best investment! Stable salinity is a must! Buy quality ATO with a fail-safe! The last thing you want is a stuck float valve with no fail safe to turn it off.

    - Always have fresh saltwater and Ro/di water on hand! You never know when an accident might happen.

    - Try to limit the amount of times you put your hand in your tank! Im very guilty of this! My gf thinks I pet my corals!! lol


    - Keep all power cables as neat as possible, ZIP TIE everything! Label them also to know what your unplugging while doing maintenance!


    - Properly acclimate your sps, starting them off on the floor. Too little light is always better than too much light.

    - Invest in some type of automated Calcium/alkalinity device.

    - Buy quality equipment! Cheap equipment will cost you double in the future, do it right the first time.

    - If you don't have good equipment, do buy LE corals. Invest in equipment since that's more important. I can make a cheap sps coral look nicer in a system with good equipment vs an LE in a system with cheap equipment.

    - Weekly water changes of only 10 percent or 15 percent maximum. Huge water changes are too stressful for sps.

    - If your doing kalkwasser watch your PH!!! Drip it slowly or get an ato that's very sensitive to evaporation.

    Overplan your reef, take your time building it, spend the extra time and money on finding the right equipment because you will eventually redo it with the right equipment

    UNIONS with ball valves - on every pump. Will save you a mess when it is time to remove it

    Use a John Guest valve on your pumps with drains to save you a mess when changing them

    Rock. Plan for flow under and behind your rock, use a little because it will grow when you add corals, use enough for your fish to hide.

    Make one change at a time in your system so you can account for positives and negatives.

    Keep a journal by your reef to ducument dates for changes of lighting, names of corals (and origin, lineage), addition of equipment

    Keep your method for at least a year. Don't jump on the bandwagon of the month. Watch it, see what happens when others do it, be patient. Only bad happens fast.

    Don't underestimate the importance of stability in your RO/DI, brand of salt, PH probes, and meters.

    Don't put any chemical in your reef that you cannot test

    -T5 Lighting 10 hrs
    -Temp 80
    -Clean the sump and water changes every week
    - I clean everything I feed the fishes with RO water
    - In Water changes check TDS every time
    - The day after a water change check some parameters just in case
    - Clean Power heads,overflow, weekly
    - Clean the glass twice a week
    - Have a good water movement
    - Feed once a day
    - Dose in the morning with lights off
    - Dip every coral I get with Revive
    - Change filter sock every 3 days
    - visual inspection on every coral
    - Great skimmer
    - consistent alkalinity
    - MORE water movement than you think you need
    - failsafes to avoid temperature spikes
    (fans, temp controllers for heaters, auto light shutoffs )

    -Keep your skimmer neck clean to keep it's efficiency up.
    -If you can picture some part of your setup potentially causing a catastrophic failure, you may want to change it.
    -Try keeping your hands out of the tank for a week straight instead of constantly tinkering. The corals like to be left alone.
    -If a heater sticks on will it cook your tank? Sometimes two small heaters are better than one big one.
    -More light isn't always better.


    GFI outlets a must! If they aren't now I'm sure they will be sometime in the future..

    Go buy your own toothbrushes, cooking strainers, bowls, tongs, knifes, scissors, bowls, kitchen/bathroom towels- don't use your wifes.

    Whenever you buy new equipment that goes in your tank, wash it first before you put it in. You dont know if the person packing it up had soap,perfume, etc.. on their hand prior to that..

    When doing your monthly tank maintenance, just don't clean the poweheads etc..clean and inspect your entire system (pipes, seams, etc...) so you can catch a potential problem before it happens.. Also soak your test vials in a vinegar bath and clean them as well..

    If you use a nylon/mesh bag to hold carbon, once a week shake it to keep particles out and maximize surface area/asborbtion

    I have always ran a powerhead in my sump to keep detritus suspended. I also have a small powerhead I use to blow off all the rocks individually if I can get to them every couple of weeks. You'll be amazed how much comes out if you've never done it. You can also use a pipette to get down in the cracks, or holes in the liverock. Even if you do this every couple of months, it better than not doing it at all.

    For those of you that arent able to get gravity to work with you when doing sump W/C...A simple method it to take 5/8 tubing/hose and a maxijet powerhead to export the water out of your sump.

    If you have Cheato in your refugium w/out a powerhead, shake this out as well as it holds alot of detritus in it.

    If you want to stay in the hobby, for everything you buy you must buy your wife at least one thing as well

     
    PatW, Zagreus, reeferbuddy215 and 6 others like this.
  12. SaraB

    SaraB Well-Known Member

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    Excellent suggestions and ideas!
     
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  13. Powerman

    Powerman Well-Known Member

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    My question is what are some of the basics for keeping SPS?

    I would really appreciate some advice. I have sold some of my LPS. My tank is now SPS dominate. I want healthy colorful growing corals as most do. I recently did a small adjustment to Alk and might have burnt a Purple Plasm. I also got a second reactor and run carbon and GFO constant now. Perhaps I ran more GFO, but not much.

    So now I want to concentrate on the basics and stability.

    I never had a problem with nitrates or algae even before the fuge. My Cheato grows pretty slow. PO4 and nitrates are very low. PO4 .008 with Merck and nitrates .2 with Seachem. I dose BRS 2 part. Alk 9, Ca 430, Mg 1375 as of today. Took alk up to 10 but Plasma took a turn. Was stable at 9.6 then adjusted it. Now I lowered to more conservative numbers. Auto dose.

    2x250w Phoenix 14k over a 90g run for 6 hours with 12 hours of Dual actinics nd 8 hours of darkness. Have a good skimmer at 1.5x tank, fuge, GFO and Rox 24/7. I do a little less than recommended and change a little sooner. Going with 2 weeks for carbon and 3 weeks for GFO.

    I got away from doing WCs, but might go back to smaller weekly ones again. But I don't need it for nutrient reduction. Only thing left is food and supplements. Started using RN oyster eggs and Rotties, WM Marine snow and Aminos. I might drop the Aminos.

    I guess I said all that to say this, where should I concentrate on better stability and getting the most out of the basics. I have no desire right now to look at carbon dosing or a whole regiment of supplements. I don't target feed. I stir up the sump every now and then, marine snow, eggs and rotties...

    Can you give some advice on getting the most out of the basics to a rookie SPS dominate reefer.
     
  14. johnanddawn

    johnanddawn Well-Known Member

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    the basics have been and always will be
    light, flow, and water quality

    your lighting seems fine - be careful when changing bulbs and keep them and your reflectors clean

    you didn't mention flow - sps like a lot, but it has to be properly placed to insure your not directly aiming at corals. there are a lot of ways to do this today but high flow pumps like tunzes, vortechs, koralias, are most popular today. controlers are nice for variing direction and strength. i have around 100x but most get by with less so long as it is effectively placed.

    water quality and stability. i do weekly small water changes and test ALK every weekend because i top off with KALK and use 2 part to balance. i personally don't use GFO anymore. i prefer to let the fuge take care of export. The thing about GFO is it is very effiecient and seems to affect ALK or at least SPS sensitivity to ALK. I try to keep my ALK around 9. seems to be the most forgiving value
    other the CA/ALK/MG the other element a like to dose is Iodine - small amount daily

    i do vodka/bacteria dose

    as far as feeding - i do not directly feed my sps but do feed my fish and LPS. i think they get theirs from the leftovers/bacterial and protozoan plankton/and any microfauna and larva grown in the fuge

    mainainence -never let detritus build up anywhere make sure the DT and fuge are properly cleaned and your skimmer is set correctly and working well. if you have sand it has to be maintained. ssb need a lot of care and dsb need to be properly set up

    time - systems tend to balance themselves with time as long as your not constantly changing things. everytime you change something the system has to rebalance. it may take a full year to reach that inertial stage where you get your routine dialed in and can just watch it grow

    hope this helps
     
  15. Powerman

    Powerman Well-Known Member

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    Thanks a lot. This thread has been great.

    I have a MP40 and a K3 fro flow. The K3 points to the back glass to keep flow through my rock. I take a power head to them every now and then but there is never anything that comes out. MP40 is on reef crest.

    I cleaned my sump out with water changes, but have decided to do the power head in the sump and keep it clean. Goit a sand sifter star to help out the fuge. I have a WM K2 that runs well.

    My tank is 2.5 years old. I have had it for a year and a half. Done changing things and building. Now I'm just letting it grow.
     
  16. Antonias1391

    Antonias1391 Well-Known Member

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    Hello i just got done with building my 75g sps dom tank. im running a vertex IN-80 skimmer active carbon, i have 2 250w phoenix 14k DE. i didn't know about the power head in sump idea im going to have to do that asap. my cal is 380 but im working on raising it into the 400-450 range. how often should i test my alk? it was 9 on the dkh scale last time i checked which was 5 days ago i plan on dosing vodka after i get my cal, mag and alk in line. any advice??
     
  17. soccerbag

    soccerbag Chalices did this to me!! R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Spotlight Award

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    Until you get your alk settled, I would check it every 2 -3 days. Just keep in mind that if you make an adjustment, it may take 2-3 days to see the difference in the test kit reading. Just take it slow with your alk adjustments. That may be really elementary, but I'm posting the latter part of this to those who may be newer to SPS keeping.

    I check my alk about 1 / month now. When my tank was first up and running, I used to check it daily (mainly because I have OCD). Now that I have my 2-part being dosed via Litermeter III, I know that it will remain steady. Make sure your Mag is around 1300-1400. You will have a lot of issues keeping Ca and Alk stable if your Mg is low.
     
  18. SunnyX

    SunnyX Bonsai Reefer R2R Supporter Reef Spotlight Award

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    If you plan on dosing Vodka I would not go over 9 DKH. Anything above 9 usually stress corals out when dosing vodka. Also keep in mind that by compensating for the low calcium your ALK will also be affected.
     
  19. Antonias1391

    Antonias1391 Well-Known Member

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    you where right sonny my CAL is at 420 but my alk went up to 10.4 im trying to lower it atm by holding off with the dosing of Cal for a few days. are there any ways to lower alk??
     
  20. Powerman

    Powerman Well-Known Member

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    And why is that? What is it about LNS or sugar that makes higher ALK bad?

    I am running bio pellets and was curious if it is the same.
     
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