Let’s face it.  Keeping a reef tank is not a simple chore but there are some basic tenants one can follow to optimize the chances for success.  With over 20 years in the hobby I have learned a lot from both my successes and failures.  Below are My Top 10 Tips For Keeping a Successful Reef Tank dominated by SPS.  I dive much deeper into each item in my book, A ReefBum’s Guide To Keeping an SPS Reef Tank: A Blueprint For Success.

The List

  1. Stability – It is critical to have stability for parameters such as salinity, nitrate, magnesium, and calcium. And perhaps most important in my book for SPS is keeping alkalinity at a consistent level.
  2. Strong Lighting – I have had a lot of success using 400W metal halides but others have done well with other types such as LEDs and T5s.  This is a big area for debate in the hobby but I still prefer the extra giddy up I get from metal halides.
  3. Calcium and Alkalinity – SPS suck up a lot of this stuff so it is critical to have a very strong calcium and alkalinity supplementation system.  I have had a lot of success using a calcium reactor.
  4. Good Flow – There are a few reasons why this is important. One is to keep detritus from collecting at the bottom, which helps to keep nitrates and phosphates from building up in the tank.  Strong circulation also helps to deliver food and nutrients to corals and helps to prevent problematic algae from taking hold in a tank.
  5. Keep a “Slightly” Dirty Tank – My philosophy is to run a high import/high export type of system and have barely detectable levels of nitrates and phosphates.  On the import side, I feed my fish a lot to ensure they are fat and happy.  On the export side I believe in frequent and significant water changes as well as heavy skimming.
  6. Patience – If you don’t have any then this hobby is not for you.
  7. Good Husbandry – Keep up with maintenance on equipment, perform regular water changes and observe your tank on a daily basis to make sure things are okey dokey.
  8. Knowledge – Read articles, books and converse with other more experienced reef keepers to tap into their knowledge base.
  9. Avoid Stress – Avoid constantly dipping your paws into the tank.  It will stress out your fish and corals.
  10. Be Prepared – Curveballs will come your way at some point.  Be prepared for such things as power outages or potential equipment breakdowns.

If you are looking for additional insights and information, please explore my many other reef tank and SPS related articles. And you can see all of my reef tank videos online now as well as my Live HD Webcam.


Happy reef keeping!