View Full Version : Iodine article in TFH magazine.

10/11/2000, 09:22 PM
Did anyone see the article by Bob Goemans in the November issue of Tropical Fish Hobbiest magazine about Iodine and reef tanks?

I was just wondering if any of you had opions on what he wrote.



Larry M
10/12/2000, 12:21 AM
Haven't seen it Doug. Can you summarize what he says?

10/12/2000, 07:14 PM
Hi Larry,

I will try to summarize this the best I can.

1 - Overdosing Iodine/Iodide can be dangerous to aquarium inhabitants. It can also kill good and bad bacteria by means of oxidation. Underdosing can be serious also and cause slow coral growth.

2 - It is hard to judge the amount of Iodide or
Iodate in the aquarium because of the constantly changing pH and redox. This makes measuring Iodine very hard.

3 - Positive effects are of Iodide seems to be noticed on soft corals such as leathers, mushrooms and Xenia. Negative effects of Iodine, when used improperly, can cause many problems with SPS, coraline algae, LPS, and the denitrification process.

4 - Dr Marlin Atkinson recommended the use of Iodide instead of Iodine solutions. Because of the lack knowledge the use of Lugos or tincture of Iodine should be avoided.

5 - There is a theory that use of vitamin C, to help improve health in aquarium animals, seems to be related to its ability to convert Iodate back to Iodide and not the Vitamin C itself.

6 - Some animals may bleach from a lack of Iodine. Iodine may also cause unwanted algae outbreaks and an increase in brown diatoms with excessive use. Julian Sprung was able to save a crashing Xenia colony be targeting the animal with a strong dose of Iodine.

7 - Plenum filters convert Iodate back to Iodide because of the low level of oxygen in the plenum substrate, which is good.

8 - He recommends a daily dosage instead of the weekly dosage that is recommended on most store bought products. Using Iodine must be adjusted according to your own system requirements and the type of equipment in use that removes Iodine such as skimmers and other filtration.

9 - Consider all test kits as a guide because they are not very accurate.

10 - Bob said, "All professional aquarists agree that Iodine has become one of the more important elements to monitor, especially in reef aquariums". He also says that all hobbyists should be giving more attention to this essential element.

It would be unfair to Bob and TFH if I say anymore but he does go into dosage amounts and a lot more detail than I have given.

I am not much of an additive person myself, with the exception of two-parts or buffers and calcium, but this article has caused me to re-think my stance on no-supplements. Maybe the reason that many of us have not noticed results using Iodine is because we do not dose the right amount. It seems that too little can cause problems just like too much can and I am hoping that a few others can add some more input here.

The reason that I asked this question in the first place is not to find out who does or does not use Iodine but to find out if you have seen results when using it, what is the procedure that you follow and does it seem to fit the scenario that Bob has described in this article.

Any input would be welcomed and appreciated.



Brad Ward
10/12/2000, 08:31 PM

First of all, there is nothing new here that I haven't been reading for the last 3-4 years on various lists, sites, or boards. I suppose he will be writing a book on this for Marc Weiss now. Lets see, " Live Iodine Secrets" Probably touting a new Weiss product like "Iodine Vital Platinum" :)

If you have Craig B's website address you will see that he did some tests a couple years back that were on AF site. He and Marlin Atkinson announced some of these findings that Bob mentions at the WMC in 98. If you feed your tank, you are adding iodine in some form. Ron has been saying that for the almost 3 past years that I have been on the reefkeepers list. The food study that he just did really hits home on additives that are a part of the foods that we feed. There are no accurate hobbyists test kits, so why bother to test. Iodine breaks down very quickly in our tanks and changes to different chemical forms. Can we test those? As for Julian adding iodine and saving a xenia colony... I won't even go there. Well, maybe I will. The Xenia more than likely had a bacterial or protozoan infection, and the Iodine acted as a probiotic and killed the bacteria by oxidation. But I am not ready to cannonize "Saint Julian" just yet.;)

I think I will just go on feeding my tank and forgoing more
useless test kits and worrying about iodine levels in my
systems. Don't even get started on Bob's plenums are the
greatest thing since sliced bread. Or how about his, our
plenums are magnetized stuff that he has been hinting about
coming out with a product for, for at least two years that will revolutionize captive aquarium keeping forever.

Please, no mas! :) :) :)

10/12/2000, 08:53 PM
yes iodide is needed but if you feed your tank you are adding it everyday. I don't dose and my xenia grows to fast.

10/12/2000, 11:03 PM
Hi Brad and IR,

Thanks for the input.

I agree that Ron and Craig give us great scientific information but I am trying to find some information from our members who use it out of the lab. My intention is not to prove anyone wrong but I am interested in hearing more in depth information from people that do use it and is it simular to what Bob is describing in this article or do they have a different approach.

We get many questions from members who ask should I use Iodine or not. The most common responses are "don't use it you don't need it" or "I use it and my tank looks great because of it".

I am interested in finding out who is using it with success, what kind of improvement they have seen and what procedure they follow as far as dosage amounts and testing.

I am by no means trying to start a world is flat - world is round debate but I would like to hear from some others that have used it and feel that their tank is better because of it.

Thanks again for you help.


Brad Ward
10/13/2000, 09:21 AM

I think that the point I was trying to make was: no hobbyist that I know can accurately test for iodine and it's subsequent chemical changes without spending the equivalent of what they have invested in their tank, or more on equipment. So, all you are going to get here I am afraid is ancedotal comments which mean about as much as...Bob Goemans article means to the hobbyist. Although I am sure that iodine's inclusion in our water chemistry is as important as, let's say Strontium, overall it's my humble opinion that if you feed your tank a small quantity of food daily, no supplementation is needed.

And since you are looking for personal experience... I have used various iodine products and even made my own "Lugols" solution out of concentrated soulutions in the past 12 years that I have been keeping reef tanks. I can say without a doubt that nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing changed, died, or melted ( that I could see ) when I quit adding it as a supplement. This was my experience while taking care of over 40,000 gallons of reef tanks at the time I quit dosing ( this at an AZA institution ). These reef tanks covered quite a variety of different life from a wide selection of coral reef areas around the world.

In conclusion, I understand the need that we have to make our systems better, but additives like iodine really are not needed unless you A). Never feed you tank, or, B). Never change any water.

If you do neither of these, I wonder what your tank looks like?


10/13/2000, 10:01 AM
I have not read the article so I don't have the inside on it, but I do dose Iodine, I also dose Strontium & Moly., Magnesium, and a few other things. The only reason that I dose is basically it's a security blanket. When I started reefing I was told this coral need that and that coral needs this. With all of the things I add to the tank I don't really know if it is helping but I know it's not hurting anything. As Brad stated about testing kits, yeah I have them but I use them as a gauge for what's going on. I hardly ever test unless someone askes "hey what's you Ca at?" The only thing that I have noticed a difference in with dosing any product is when I started dosing with Tech M (magnesium) my corraline took off like wild fire. That is the only thing that I can tell directly. And as with the xenia, I have directly dosed a green open brain with iodine when it was munched on by a pygmy angel. It really healed fast, within two weeks full tissue regeneration. So I may try not dosing anything once the bottles are empty. If I see no change in the life of my reef than that money will go elsewhere. eric

10/13/2000, 10:53 AM
Thanks Brad,

Your personal experience is exactly what I was looking for.

I know that many things can be proven in the lab but I just like to hear input like yours based on your hands-on experience. I am even interested in anecdotal evidence.

Thanks again.


10/13/2000, 12:42 PM
Let me save you some time. I'm willing to bet that given enough responses you'll get anecdotal evidence saying that iodine is everything from a miracle cure to the equivelent of the plauge. But then I'm only guessing.

10/13/2000, 02:04 PM
No quantitative data, but my green metalic mushrooms seemed to get much brighter colored after I started using an iodine supplement. And my results with an iodine test kit have been fairly consistant - from an initial reading of zero which gradually climbed to my current reading of about 0.04


10/13/2000, 03:10 PM
I have not used Iodine in atleast 2 years. And I saw no difference in how the tank looked after I stopped adding it.

I've seen real nice tanks that use it and real nice tanks that don't use it. For myself, the people that add Iodine haven't a clue why they just do. And the folks that don't know exactly why they don't.

For the people who say "XXX looks better after adding XXX" that means nothing. Just about all of our corals look better over time anyway. Metal Halides made my shrooms brighter than Iodine ever did.

10/13/2000, 04:43 PM
I dosed ESV iodide for the first six months or so my tank was setup.
When I stopped dosing my bryopsis crashed. I'd say if you want to keep bryopsis flourishing, dose iodine :eek:

10/13/2000, 07:35 PM
Well not exactly miracle to plauge but the last three posts at least weakly support my earlier thoughts. My guess wasn't so bad.

Larry M
10/13/2000, 07:46 PM
I respect Doug for starting this thread. I think we should all periodically re-examine what we are doing. Who said this: An unexamined life is not worth living
:) I also understand the point of view of those who see no benefit in adding iodine (or numerous other chemicals) because IME I have come to the same conclusion. I know that Doug has too. But if we don't open our minds from time to time to the possiblity of change, then maybe we miss out on something. As we all know, reality can be a subjective thing. What is "real" today might not be tomorrow.

Think of this: What if someone came out with an affordable test kit that could accurately identify iodine levels in our tanks? Would you reconsider adding it? I know that I would.

Thanks Doug. Very proud to have you as a moderator here. :)

10/13/2000, 10:29 PM
I recently started dosing kent iodine 1 drop every other day for some shrooms and a large finger leather.All i got was horrible algae in about 2 weeks.I will stick to bi weekly D/I water changes.All these so called wonder products remind me of those oil additive commercials.You know where you can drive your car with sand in the motor!When all you really had to do was change your oil every 3000 to get the best perfomance out of your engine.

10/14/2000, 12:54 AM
Hi Everyone,

Thank you for your input. I really do appreciate all of your thoughts.

I have also been a non Iodine user for about a year now and have not noticed any change in my corals since I stopped. But because of the test kits available to us I may have not been using it properly. I tried three different brands of test kits and was never able to get any readings. All of the test kits read zero. The most noticeable effect that Iodine had on my tank was the increased growth in bubble algae and it is also the main reason that I stopped using it.

What I did find interesting is what Don said:
No quantitative data, but my green metallic mushrooms seemed to get much brighter colored after I started using an iodine supplement. And my results with an iodine test kit have been fairly consistent - from an initial reading of zero which gradually climbed to my current reading of about 0.04.

What Don has said here seems to be on track with what Bob Goemans was talking about. Now my simple thoughts on this information is maybe by keeping the level of Iodine constant, which seems to be almost impossible for most of us using our test kits, that it can have a positive impact on our aquariums. Don, if you see this could you tell me what brand of test kit you are using?

It is also interesting that Eric saw an improvement in his GOB when using Iodine. Now Brad said that the results that Julian Sprung saw with the crashing Xenia could have been the effect of the Iodine treating a bacterial or protozoan infection and even if that is the case it would seem that Iodine did have a positive impact in that situation and maybe also in the situation that Eric had.

Now this also brings up an interesting question about those of you that had bad results with Iodine usage. Could the problems, that many of you saw in your tanks, have been caused by too high a level of Iodine. Maybe or Maybe not.

Larry has summed this up for me better than I ever could have myself and has also seems to have found my ulterior motives for this question. I was not looking to prove Bob G. or anyone else wrong about Iodine usage but was looking for the type of information provided by all of you on both the positive and negative effects of Iodine that you have actually seen in your own tanks. Also the information provided by Don and Eric on the positive effects that they have seen are making me more interested. Even though dosing Iodine seems to be useless to many reefkeepers maybe it has a purpose in the treatment of sick corals because of its oxidative properties that Brad had mentioned. Also, many of our members are biologists and scientists who may also be able to influence the development of accurate and affordable hobbyist test kits if they feel that there is a chance that Iodine could be useful to the reefkeeping population.

So am I going to start adding Iodine to my tank based on the directions off the bottle? No, but if the brand of test kit that Don uses proves to be as accurate for me as it was for him I am willing to try it. Also, if I have a sick coral that I am likely to loose anyway will I try a shot of target Iodine to save it? Yes I most certainly will because at that point I have nothing to loose.

I want to thank all of you for helping kick start my old brain into thinking again and am grateful for all of your input.


10/14/2000, 01:49 AM

10/14/2000, 02:49 AM
Well if your using c-balance, part a I believe has iodide in it, not sure if B-ionic does. Brad's right on though keep it as simple as possible, keeping a reef tank is complicated enough why make it more difficult if you don't have to?

I persoanlly use reef plus at the moment once a week which is half the dosage, I figure it can't hurt, might even help the tank a little, but I'm also keeping mostly softies at the moment. One way to know if your dosing too much is add a shrimp to your tank, if it molts once a month or whenever it should than your not overdosing, if it molts too much than your overdosing. No test kits to sell here.

10/14/2000, 06:33 AM
Last time this subject came up with the Dr Ron and Craig Bingman wasn't Craig doing some iodine assays on tanks? Has he published any further information yet?

10/14/2000, 07:20 AM
I use to dose iodine and stopped dosing several months ago.
nothing changed except it seemed as if the acropora polyp extension during the day was much better.
But it could of been because of a whole lot of other changes I did.
Just resently one of my fish I have had for nearly 2 years came down with some sort of stomach bacteria.
I thought it would not do any harm to start adding some iodine.
Over a week I tested with the salifert test kit bringing levels up to 0.04 ish.
I did notice that my acropora's polyp extension was not as good as normal I added iodine when the levels dropped from 0.04 after about 4 days to bring it up again and still the polyp extension was not so good as normal.
the fish recoverd for some reason don't know why and I stopped adding the iodine solution again over the next few weeks My acropora's polyp extension have come back to normal and the one that that had stopped completly extending its polyps is just starting to show them again.
tests on the salifert test kit now show zero.
Well I suppose it could of been anything causing the polyps to not come out so well but it is strange it happend when adding iodine to keep levels near 0.04ish for just over two weeks and coming out better when the reading went back down too zero.
I could of brought the levels up to fast or the test kit could be giving a wrong reading.
But I was squeezing Racemoser for about 4 days when the fish first showed signs of an infection and adding it to the tank then stopped?
But none of the other SPS corals where effected like the Acropora's the other SPS corals where the same as always.
Sorry for the ramble Brad And J Newton.

[Edited by Martyn on 10-14-2000 at 07:45 AM]

10/14/2000, 09:24 AM

Ramble away. It's just more support for my guess above :)

10/14/2000, 09:54 AM
With so many variables it will be hard to say if iodne is needed or what levels are best fora closed aquarium.
From experience I have seen many people get thier corals to color back up after they bleached by using iodine. I also played around with it. I would say to save from over dosing and to get benefits from it would be to directly dose it on the coral. Softies will show the most results. You can try it out on one coral and see what you think.

10/14/2000, 02:12 PM
Thanks for the additional input.

YZ, You have a good point about the two parters. It does seem that many of them contain extra elements which is a bit of a problem. If you have to add large amount of the two part products to keep up with CA/Alk demand you may also be adding too much of the other elements without knowing it. When I was using C-balance I had to use near double the recommended dosage to keep with the CA/Alk demand in my 90g tank. Now this could be a potential problem if the amount of other elements contained in these products are toxic based on dosing too much. I guess they to follow the directions for a reason. I have taken a different approach and have been using a combination of calcium chloride (Kent liquid calcium) and carbonate & bicarbonate & sulfate & borate salts (Pro Buffer dKH). Now the Pro Buffer says that it includes trace elements but I have feeling that they may be a by-product of the buffers and not directly added to the product.

As far as the shrimp molts, I have noticed that since I stopped dosing Iodine my shrimp do not molt as often as they used to. Before I stopped using Iodine my shrimp would molt every two - three weeks and after I stopped they only molt about once every two months. They had not been any impact in the health of the shrimp from what I can tell and it is possible that the molts have slowed down from age and not my stopping the Iodine. This is just an observation and I can't back this up any other way.

Simon, I looked at Craig's' site but I could not find any new information other than his 1997 article. He did have many un-answered questions that I wish he would revisit.

Marty, that is some very interesting info that you have given us here. One of the things that I found interesting is that you said your acropora polyp extension was not as good. Craig B. made a note that a sudden shift in Iodine/Iodide concentration could also cause issues when raising the dosage from near zero to near NSW in a short period of time. Bob G. also said that he follows a procedure of small daily additions of Iodine instead of the recommended weekly large amount. Please, like John said "ramble away". You may have just answered one of Craig's' questions which is good for all of us.

John, I also agree with you said in a prior post and you make a good point.
Let me save you some time. I'm willing to bet that given enough responses you'll get anecdotal evidence saying that iodine is everything from a miracle cure to the equivalent of the plague. But then I'm only guessing.

Could it be possible that adding a weekly large dose of Iodine is what caused some reefkeepers to say that it has caused problems for them where as the ones who added a small daily amount have had good results? Again this is just a guess here.

Smpolyp, You have another good point. Maybe the reason that the corals colored up after bleaching is like what Brad mentioned above about the oxidative properties of Iodine. Is it possible that the corals bleached because of some kind of bacterial infection and the Iodine use cured it? So maybe the use of Iodine to treat unhealthy corals is something that can be used if all else fails.

Thanks again.