The Triton "method": Separating fact from flawed assumptions...

Triton US

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As you read and hear more and more discussion about the Triton ICP-OES aquarium water tests and the “method” that Triton suggests, it’s very important to understand just what the tests and practices espoused by Triton can-and cannot- do for you. It would be easy for us as hobbyists to just accept on blind faith that what Triton is offering is this incredibly sophisticated, super accurate testing method, which is infallible and beyond doubt. Also, it would be incredibly easy for some very sophisticated scientists to cast aspersions on said accuracy and usefulness of the testing, based upon their understanding of the inherent difficulties in testing trace elements in saltwater via the ICP-OES method. In short, it’s easy to look upon the testing with some degree of doubt. The reality is that the accuracy of the tests is based upon the presumption of being “fit for purpose”, i.e.; high level aquarium water hobby and professional testing.


The problem, as it exists currently, is that we as aquarists have for decades accepted manufacturers’ claims about products without any real detailed explanations and proofs to back them up. Sure, a lot of products are “based on scientific principles” or can make claims of high accuracy. The reality is, we as hobbyists have made that most fatal flaw of assuming that we are getting what we are paying for, with little scrutiny and skepticism metered out as products come to market. Sure, you’ll get the usual “good ‘ol boy” questioning from the “old guard” hobbyists, many of whom are scientists- but by and large, most are given a free pass.


For example, it’s been hobby practice for decades now to use bottled trace element solutions or dry trace element delivery products as part of our regular husbandry in reef systems. We dutifully dose things that we may or may not have tests for, and which have not been independently verified as containing the very trace elements they supposedly have. We dose based on crude understanding of what is used by our animals, and how much. I’m not implying that we have been reckless, but we have been surprisingly accepting of many aquarium product manufacturer’s claims “just because.”


Is this a good thing, or not?


triton-tank-shot.jpg




Along comes Triton, with the promise of incredibly accurate trace element testing for a reasonably affordable price. We talk about a sophisticated machine to test for said trace elements on a level not previously applied to the hobby. All true. However, let’s be honest- the accuracy of the testing, many magnitudes better than anything we’ve had to work with before in the hobby- is still subject to debate among scientists specializing in marine chemistry. To the scientist conducting an academic lab experiment, the level of precision must be incredibly high, with little margin for doubt. In the business of analytical chemistry, there is a huge difference between some absolute focus on the most stringent scientific concepts of accuracy and precision, and a focus on "fitness for purpose" to the client.


What am I saying here? I’m saying that, for the purpose of enjoying the reef aquarium hobby and for aquarium professionals, what Triton does is provide results far, far better than anything we’ve had to work with before, with a sophisticated test protocol developed for the purpose of creating results that are useable and understandable to the hobbyist, and precise enough for the professional. In short, I suppose one might say that the results offer incredible accuracy for the hobbyist, and are precise enough for the aquatic professional.


It’s likely the most accurate analysis of trace elements we have had available, and that it will create an awareness level for us about what’s going on in our captive reef systems that we have not had before.

Triton is a highly accurate, professional product with a sophisticated scientific pedigree. It’s not part of a grandiose thesis-level research product. Although it utilizes some of the most sophisticated technology available, It’s not intended to be utilized in academic research. Rather, it’s designed for professionals and hobbyists who would like a higher level of understanding about the composition of their reef aquarium’s water, with very sensitive limits of detection. Triton's testing has been utilized in practice at public and private aquariums all over the world for the past 7 years- a testimony to the accuracy and usefulness of this product.


As for the “method” which Triton espouses, it’s based upon the fact that the average hobbyist wants the best possible results for his reef aquarium, with a reasonable amount of effort and expense expended along the way. The testing serves as a means to determine just where your reef aquarium stands in terms of trace element levels. For purposes of comparison, Triton utilizes natural seawater (NSW) averages based on samples taken from locations around the world, as the “baseline” to aspire to. The test results you will receive will show just how closely your system’s concentration of trace elements compare to NSW levels. Corrective actions are taken based upon this information, to attempt to replicate as closely as possible the trace element composition of NSW. Once your water chemistry (as verified by the test) approaches that of the NSW “baseline”, it’s all about maintaining this.


Triton’s main way to achieve this is to continuously dose a 4-part calcium/alkalinity/balanced trace element solution, called “Base Elementz", much as we have relied on 2-part or 3-part solutions in the past. The difference is that you can now have very detailed information as you go to see how far your aquarium water is off of the aforementioned “baseline” NSW parameters, and this four part solution gives you a very good starting point. As far as adding additional trace elements are concerned, once you are on the dosing regimen, you’d only add the exact elements that your water tests indicate are deficient, nothing more, or nothing less. The test results will provide specific recommendations based on your system’s requirements- not sweeping generalities and vague, “one size fits all” solutions.


In future installments, we will address some of the other husbandry practices and system design ideas that Triton recommends. You will find that most of them vary little form the practices which you have been utilizing for years. In the end, you may very well find that this seemingly complex system is, in all actuality, among the easiest methodologies you’ve ever utilized to manage a beautiful home reef aquarium.


Triton is not a “magic bullet”, your ticket to Easy Street, or the “Holy Grail” of reef keeping. Rather, it’s a way of managing a reef aquarium based upon a very accurate testing regimen and a specific husbandry protocol. It is not the only way you can run a successful reef aquarium. However, it is, in our opinion, an efficient, effective means to help you achieve a beautiful, thriving home reef aquarium, and we believe it is among the best methodologies available. Even with the empowerment provided by Triton’s accurate test information and quality protocols, there is no substitute for the passion, skill, and effort of the avid reef hobbyist-and that WILL always be an absolute!

Scott Fellman and Joseph Caparatta
Triton US




triton-tank-shot.jpg
 
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ronnie

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Have you had any discussions about how to lower trace elements that are too high? That's the part I don't see working well with most salt mixes.
 

kidtango

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Awesome. Thanks for the clarification, Scott. When will the products/services be available through Triton-USA? I would like to be among the first to try this out. I think doubts are healthy, and smart people should learn to remain skiptical of all things. Question all things and question even your own questions! haha. that's how I live my life. But I never let my skipticism or "doubts" stop me from trying out new things and be open to new ideas.

So let us all be skeptics but do not let us be complacent with our reefs!

Kid Tango
 
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Triton US

Triton US

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Awesome. Thanks for the clarification, Scott. When will the products/services be available through Triton-USA? I would like to be among the first to try this out. I think doubts are healthy, and smart people should learn to remain skiptical of all things. Question all things and question even your own questions! haha. that's how I live my life. But I never let my skipticism or "doubts" stop me from trying out new things and be open to new ideas.

So let us all be skeptics but do not let us be complacent with our reefs!

Kid Tango
Hi Kid,

The test debut for retail sale on October 15th, and the Triton Elementz and other products will follow just a few weeks later. We are super excited about this stuff. It's truly a quantum leap forward in accuracy and professionalism, and has been proven in Europe over 7 years. There is a reason why public aquariums around the world have embraced the testing- it's incredibly accurate and very sophisticated, with results that are obvious!

We can't wait to see some Triton tanks in the USA!

-Scott
 
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Triton US

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Have you had any discussions about how to lower trace elements that are too high? That's the part I don't see working well with most salt mixes.
Hi Ronnie,

Yes, there are some ways to do that, and we will definitely be covering them in upcoming discussions. You'll find that Triton will give you unprecedented control over many aspects of your aquarium water chemistry. It's a great time to be a reefer!

-Scott
 

Diesel

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Following can't hurt.
 
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Triton US

Triton US

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interested in ease of use, and consistency. Real-time monitoring (like a temp probe) would be an invaluable holy Grail. Definitely following.
Yes, we really think that it represents a major step out of the days of "dump-stuff-in-your-water-'just-because'-and-hope-for-a-good-result..." A very exciting time to be a reefer!

-Scott
 

Sangheili

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Have you had any discussions about how to lower trace elements that are too high? That's the part I don't see working well with most salt mixes.
One idea would be to either use a synthetic salt such a HWMarineMix (assuming they have lower amounts of trace - which may not be the case) or to make your own salt such as GlennF does with the DSR method that specifically excludes trace elements.
 
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Triton US

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Scott, first, do you have a website? And secondly, what distributors will you be using?
We do have a Triton US web site...Right now, it's mainly functioning as a landing page...We have video and other content being edited for the site, and will be creating a more user-friendly experience there soon. Right now, we are using this forum and the Triton US Facebook page as the official points of contact and interaction with our consumers.

https://www.facebook.com/tritonLA?ref=hl

The Triton US landing page: Triton-LA - Empowered Reefkeeping - Call Today - (707) Triton8 As far as distribution in the U.S. is concerned, right now the official source is Unique Corals, where you can purchase the tests. The other Triton products are expected within the next two weeks and will be available for purchase shortly thereafter...we have a large shipment en route! Look for more product announcements, pricing, and other information on both this forum, our Facebook page, and the Unique Corals website! Ultimately, we plan on making the Triton products available at retailers throughout the country. Right now, we are concentrating on getting product into the country, priced correctly, and proving customers the support they need to bot purchase and understand the products as they become available. You can always call us with questions at 1707TRITON8.

Thanks for your interest and following as we build Triton US into a major hobby force!

-Scott and Joe
 

Dextereef

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In your research/testing what is the average number of tests a subject had to go through to reach the NSW "Baseline" ? I ask because I am confused as to how the tests can effectively help us achieve parity with natural seawater in a reasonable amount of time. I do not doubt the accuracy of the tests but am concerned with the time it takes to receive results. If we should allow two weeks for the shipping/testing cycle to be completed how can the test results be relevant to the current state of our water parameters? To me it would seem that the tank husbandry/current dosing regimen would have to remain incredibly consistent for the system to work. It's what we all strive for but, in all honesty, does that consistently happen across the reef-keeping population?

I agree with your assumption that we all want the best possible results within a reasonable amount of effort/cost, so if there is a two week lag what is the average time/# of tests it takes to hit the baseline and what number of tests, say annually, is needed for the maintenance phase?

Please take this criticism positively as I would love to utilize the service...just seeking to understand the big picture. I abhor the titration testing that is currently available and would love for someone to take this part of the hobby off my hands :) If there is other information I missed out on in another thread/site please let me know. Super excited about this!
 

TJ's Reef

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I too am very excited for what this might do for us Reef Keepers in maintaining the water within our little glass boxes. As Dexter ^above^ I also would love to understand 'The Big picture' to have a better grasp on just how this will impact/improve my husbandry practices. I am and have for past 4 years utilized a similar approach by using our fairly crude Titration Tests to see what known elements needed dosing and only doing actual WC's every 3-4 months. As said I'm very excited that you and Joe brought this State side and truly hope for the best in its roll out and ultimately plan on being a customer.

Cheers, Todd
 

NanaReefer

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I see how this could become very expensive. Trace elements change I'm sure from week to week if not day to day. So how will a one time testing help? I suppose like with many things in this hobby, there will be some who can afford to have this done on a weekly bases. But for the average reef keeper, such as myself I see having my water tested once would be a waste. Or is it the goal here to have a water sample sent in 1x a week for say 4-6wks at $49.00 per test/week to get the best and most accurate readings?
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

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One idea would be to either use a synthetic salt such a HWMarineMix (assuming they have lower amounts of trace - which may not be the case) or to make your own salt such as GlennF does with the DSR method that specifically excludes trace elements.
I'm not sure most salt makers add trace elements. Even if you add none, there are a lot present as impurities in the main ingredients. :)
 

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