So you set up equipment for your brand new reef tank, added water, rock, sand, etc and have patiently waited for it to go through the cycling process. Ammonia is 0, nitrites are barely detectable and nitrates are coming down. You add some fish to help along the population of nitrifying bacteria, a practical yet pleasing step since you get to see some actual life in the tank!

 

Next step is corals, right? Well, before you jump in it is wise to make sure you have all of your ducks in a row regarding your calcium and alkalinity supplementation system. Whether it is a two part dosing systemkalkwasser or a calcium reactor, have a vision of the types of corals you want to keep and plan accordingly in terms of how much you will need to supplement.

 

I have used all three methods but currently I am dosing two part via a GHL Doser 2.1. I keep SPS dominated tanks but I like to start a new tank off with LPS to make sure my doser is doing what it is supposed to be doing. For my latest tank I began by taking some baseline readings of calcium and alkalinity to determine how much I would need to adjust those levels to accommodate my planned LPS additions. The initial test for calcium was 480 ppm while alkalinity was 5.7 dKH, much lower then the 8-10 dKH range I prefer.


 

My calcium reading was on the high end but it didn’t concern me too much since I always focus much more of my attention on alkalinity, which needed to be bumped up. Not only do I strive to maintain it in the proper range, but I obsess over keeping it stable, a critical component in keeping a thriving SPS tank. An alkalinity monitor/doser is a great way to automatically monitor alkalinity and supplement levels if necessary.

 

 

Anyway, it took only a couple of days to get my alkalinity above 8 dkh so when it hit that level I was ready to rock and roll. Here is a video of the first LPS corals (the majority are frags) I added to the tank, including the unboxing and placement of the corals.

 

 

My plan was to observe these corals for a couple of weeks to see how they do and then add more LPS or even a clam. Once I was satisfied with their health I would move on to the next stage and add some SPS frags….my favorite!

 

Overall, it is really important to have patience during this process and not rush and add corals before the tank is ready. Instant gratification is a reef keeper’s enemy so let mother nature do her thing.

 

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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. And if you are interested in purchasing affordable SPS frags that are pest-free and homegrown, you can visit my SPS Frag store.

 

Happy reef keeping!