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We constantly monitor temperature, pH, and salinity, we frequently test Calcium, Magnesium, Alkalinity, and periodically test Strontium, Potassium, and Iodide.
Finally, once a month we send our water out to be tested so we can see all major, minor and trace element concentrations. We maintain our system parameters to within +/- 0.5% for temperature and salinity, and +/- 2% for all other parameters.
The salt mix we use has nearly the same parameters that we run our systems. Since we use dosing to maintain major element levels, there is no need for us to use a salt mix with elevated levels of these elements. The only thing we need to do is add a small amount of alkalinity and Calcium to bring the levels up to where we keep our systems.
For Calcium, we use straight Calcium Chloride. Our alkalinity mix is 10 parts sodium carbonate to one part sodium bicarbonate. We find that the corals have slightly better growth rates with a moderate presence of sodium bicarbonate. The tricky bit with this mixture is to keep the amount of sodium carbonate far enough below the saturation point in water as not to precipitate carbonate salts when the sodium bicarbonate is mixed in. A maximum ratio of 1 gram of sodium carbonate to 10 ml of water at room temperature is a safe concentration of sodium carbonate. For Magnesium, we use a mix of 2 parts Magnesium Chloride to 1 part Magnesium Sulfate. We do this as to not drive the Sulfur concentration too high in our system like it would if we were to use just Magnesium Sulfate, this seems to keep it at a stable level.
We periodically dose relatively small amounts of Strontium, Iodide, and Potassium, but this is on demand rather than daily. Those elements are consumed at far lower rates than the 3 major elements so there is no need for constant dosing.
The other aspects of water quality we pay close attention to are nutrient levels. We run very low nutrient levels in our systems. We find that it doesn’t take very much to get very good results. Our phosphate levels in all our SPS tanks are virtually undetectable and stay below 0.01 ppm of phosphate. We keep our nitrate levels in all our SPS tanks between 0.1 and 0.2. We add amino acods and phytoplankton once a week to ensure healthy polyp extension and to improve tissue health.
Our LPS &Zoanthid systems have slightly higher nutrient levels than our SPS systems do. We maintain a 0.25 ppm level of nitrate and 0.01 ppm level of phosphate in those systems. The LPS and Zoanthid systems receive periodic target feedings of larger food stuffs like chopped Mysis and other foods in very small pieces about twice a week.
The other invertebrates in those systems help clean up the excess food and waste.