Today reef keepers have many, many options to run a reef tank. There are different methods available that require certain pieces of equipment and specific supplements and additives. There is no right or wrong way and folks have had success with many different setups.


The options can be daunting and sometimes folks end up chasing their own tail by trying different things employed by others who have achieved success. The thinking goes something like this: “That guy doses amino acids and has great colors with his SPS so that must be the ticket.” When that doesn’t work they add something else to the mix by trying a different supplement. Or maybe it’s equipment related. And sometimes changes are made on an impromptu basis, a risky proposition considering the delicate nature of captive reef aquaria.

A Rabbit Hole

I fell into this hole once and my mistake sent my tank into a tailspin, causing it to crash. It was many years ago and at the time there were these new double ended HQI metal halide bulbs getting rave reviews for their ability to grow and color up corals.  At the time my SPS were doing just ok so I figured it was worth it to try something new. I used the lights for a while and didn’t achieve the desired results so I was on the hunt for another solution.


Well, the guy at my LFS had a kick ass SPS tank lit by standard mogul metal halide bulbs and he didn’t have any glass lenses between them and the tank. He felt the glass decreased the PAR on the lights so he removed the glass, despite the risk of water splashing on a bulb and cracking it. Hmm, removing the glass lenses, now maybe that’s the ticket!


Unfortunately, the double ended HQI bulbs did not have the UV protected glass present on the mogul style bulbs. The UV protection was built into the glass lenses in the fixture and when I removed them I fried pretty much everything in the tank. All of my SPS died within a matter of hours and I even lost most of my fish. I didn’t do my homework and I paid the price.


Tank crashes


Less is Better

I was also making too many changes to the tank. Stability is a pillar to success for reef keeping so constant change is not good. Do your homework and come up with a game plan and stick with it. Simplicity is important as well. Over the years, I have found it more prudent to have fewer moving parts when it comes to keeping a reef tank. According to Wikipedia, “the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid) states that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complicated. So simplicity should be a key goal in design and unnecessary complexity should be avoided.”


My advice is to stick to this principle and avoid turning your tank into a science experiment with a whole bunch of components. The chances of something going wrong are greater when more variables are in play so I believe less is more. The same is true when it comes to additives and supplements. Having a complicated dosing regime can be risky if you are not in touch with how one supplement impacts another. Overdosing is a risk as well.


So practice the KISS method of reef keeping by following some basic tenants to increase your odds for success. And be patient and avoid falling into the trap of constantly searching for that magic bullet.


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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!