I have been keeping reef tanks for 25+ years and during a good chunk of that time I tested calcium, alkalinity, nitrate, pH and salinity on a regular basis and that was about it. I hardly, if ever, tested for magnesium or phosphate and my SPS were healthy and happy.


ReefBum Reef Tank March 2011

225 Gallon Reef Tank Maintained With Minimal Testing


Was I lucky? Is the minimalist approach the right way to go today in terms of testing? Not necessarily, but is the other extreme a better way to go? Today many folks, including myself, use lab-grade tests like Triton to measure such things as boron, lithium, potassium and strontium.


Triton analyzes the water and gives a hobbyist a complete roadmap on what is lacking, what is on point and what is too high. Supplements can be dosed to hit the recommend targets.

Information Overload?

A system like Triton is a great way to get a complete picture on the state of a reef tank but sometimes you have to be careful when you have too much information. For instance, is it really necessary to dose iodine if Triton shows levels to be deficient? What about lithium? Should a hobbyist take action if lithium levels are too high? To many, the answers to these questions are no.


And don’t underestimate the power of observation. Use your eyes to help gauge the health of a tank and avoid chasing numbers by targeting very specific data points. Instead, seek parameters within acceptable ranges.


Problems can also arise if too many changes are made too often to a tank. You see, our captive reef ecosystems do not like change, they prefer stability, so course corrections should be done in moderation.



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If you are looking for additional insights and information, please explore my many other reef tank and SPS related articles as well as my book, A ReefBum’s Guide To Keeping an SPS Reef Tank: A Blueprint For Success. Additionally, you can see all of my reef tank videos online now as well as my Live HD Webcam.


Happy reef keeping!