I like to keep a slightly “dirty” tank for SPS and to do that I rely on a high import/export system. I target 2 to 5 ppm for nitrates and .03 to .07 ppm for phosphates.

 

On the import side, I like to keep a good number of fish and feed them heavily. I believe fish poop is beneficial for corals. For export there are a few things I plan to do with this tank to keep nutrients in check.

Export Road Map

One is to use macro algae, a natural means of exporting both nitrates and phosphates versus using a chemical such as Granular Ferric Oxide (GFO). GFO can bind not only phosphates but valuable trace elements as well.


Another downside with GFO is that it will not export nitrates, just phosphates. GFO can also shock SPS and cause them to stress out and fade if used too aggressively.

 

My intent is to use chaeto with a Pax Bellum ARID algae reactor. Using LED’s, algae reactors promote the growth of algae inside a chamber and will absorb nitrates and phosphates.  Typically, you will have to dose nitrates and other trace elements such as iron to aid chaeto growth.

 

pax bellu arid algae reactor

Mechanical Filtration

For mechanical filtration, I have ten nylon filter bags in my Dreambox that will help to eliminate organic matter, like fish waste, before it can break down. They vary in size in terms of microns, with the larger micron size bags catching bigger particles before they make it to the smaller micron bags. These bags are cleaned once a week with a small garden hose attached to the faucet in the slop sink.

 

filter socks

Removing Detritus

A big key to maximizing the effectiveness of these filter socks is having strong flow in the display. Strong flow will not only be beneficial to SPS (more about this in a subsequent chapter), but it will also help to keep detritus elevated in the water column so it can make it to the filter socks.

 

Some detritus does settle in certain areas of the tank, but it is siphoned out once a week. Detritus is also siphoned out of the Dreambox. It is really important to prevent detritus from accumulating in a system since it can lead to algae outbreaks.

 

royal exclusiv dreambox

 

The skimmer, a Royal Exclusiv Bubble King Double Cone 200, will also help a lot in terms of removing organic matter and controlling nutrients. I did adjust the baffle in the Dreambox up a bit to keep the water in the skimmer compartment level, which allows the skimmer to produce a really consistent skimmate.

 

royal exclusiv dreambox

 

Another key component for nutrient control will be water changes. I change out 10% of the water on a weekly basis. This not only helps to keep nitrates and phosphates in check, but it also helps to replace valuable trace elements.




Chemical Filtration

As for chemical filtration, I use activated carbon in a media reactor to remove dissolved organic compounds that can give water a yellow tint. With clear water you can also maximize the PAR from the tank’s lights.

 

Finally, RO/DI water is used for water changes and to replace evaporated water. Using RO/DI filtration is really important since it takes out phosphates and other impurities from the water. RO/DI units also remove silicates, something that can start diatom blooms.

 

 

Shop GHL/Royal Exclusiv/Reef Octopus/Pax Bellum Equipment

 

 

If you would like some help with a new tank build, including help designing a custom aquarium, or help re-configuring your current setup then you can visit this page for more information. And if you are looking to add some equipment, I do sell GHL, Pax Bellum, Reef Octopus Calcium and Kalk Reactors and Royal Exclusiv products, including Dreamboxes, which is the equipment I use and recommend.

 

As for additional insights and information, please explore my many other reef tank and SPS related articles as well as my YouTube channel. For an even deeper dive into reef tank care you can check out my Reef Keeping Master Class. This online course is an immersive and one of a kind educational tool designed to help reef aquarium hobbyists build and maintain a beautiful SPS reef tank. The course is a series of video presentations with some supplemental video from my YouTube channel. There are also quizzes to help students retain and understand the information presented in the course.

 

Need some frags…..I can help with that as well 🙂 Please shop both my fresh cut and WYSIWYG frags to see what is available.

 

Happy reef keeping!