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Old 03/21/2015, 09:34 AM   #1
WmTasker
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TOTM - 10 Years of Reef Parameters

After 15 years of reef keeping, I find myself going back to the basics. Over the past year, I seem to have one problem after another. While there area many corals in my tank that grow no mater what, I still have several that I seem to never have any luck with. I have always had a simple philosophy when it came to keeping a reef aquariums. Water quality, water quality, water quality. There are so many people preaching this that it has to be true. Keep up with water changes and keep things consistent.

So I started looking around once again to make sure all my parameters are in line. Many parameters have broad ranges. Instead of starting another thread asking everyone what parameters they use or what they suggest, I did my own survey. I looked up the Tanks of the Months for the last 10 years and used my mobile app (Aquarimate) to chart the parameters of around 80 very successful reef aquariums. Although the majority of TOTM keeps their parameters about the same, there are still many that have beautiful reefs with wild parameters.

So this is how I collected the information. There are a few rules I followed:
  1. Not all TOTM submited all parameters, so I entered what they submitted and left what wasn't submitted blank.
  2. Many use ranges like Ca of 400-440. For these reefs I would use the middle of 420.
  3. If the range was small like Alk of 8-9 then I would use the less number of 8.
  4. For those that said a parameter was undectable then I put 0 (zero) for the input.

Salinity 1.025 to 1.027 dSG: Most people stayed pretty consistent here.
  • 53% use 1.026
  • 36% use 1.025
  • 6% use 1.027 or greater
  • 5% use 1.024 or less



Temperature 76 to 82: Here is the first parameter that I noted a larger shift between reefs. In addition, many reefs have different temperature ranges depending on the season of the year. Most TOTM ran a few degrees warmer during the summer. A few of them actually ran there reefs 84 to 86 during the summer. For the most part I collected that:
  • 2% are 82
  • 2% are 81
  • 22% are 80
  • 27% are 79
  • 25% are 78
  • 11% are 77
  • 2% are 76



pH 7.8 to 8.5 pH was pretty cut and dry.
  • 80% are 8.0 to 8.2
  • 14% are 8.3 to 8.4
  • 4% are 7.5 to 7.8



Calcium 375 to 450 ppm: The majority of TOTMs are SPS tanks. Many are mixed but the majority of them are dominated by SPS corals. For this reason I payed close attention to Calcium and Alkalinity. Although there were a few people that kept their reefs on either the high or low side of normal, the majority are in the same range.
  • 17% are 450 ppm or greater
  • 23% are 421 to 449
  • 51% are 400 to 420
  • 9% are less than 400



Alkalinity 7 to 11 dKH: Alkalinity had a pretty broad range. Only a few went outside the normal with about 80% staying between 8.0 and 10.0.
  • 1% was 12.0 or above
  • 4% was 11.0 to 11.9
  • 12% was 10.0 to 10.9
  • 25% was 9.0 to 9.9
  • 42% was 8.0 to 8.9
  • 12% was 7.0 to 7.9
  • 3% was 6.0 to 6.9



Magnesium 1250 to 1350 ppm: I was surprised to see how many people test magnesium but over 80% of the ROTMs tested.
  • 1% was 1600
  • 9% was 1400 to 1499
  • 32% was 1350 to 1399
  • 33% was 1300 to 1349
  • 12% was 1250 to 1299
  • 10% was less than 1250



Phosphates 0 to 0.003 ppm: This one seems to be a no brainer. 80% of the tanks were 0 to 0.03 and everyone else was less than 0.5 ppm.
  • 38% was 0 or undectible
  • 44% was in the range of 0 to 0.003
  • 18% was 0.003 to 0.5



Nitrates 0 to 0.2 ppm: This one is also best kept at zero but many keep theirs up to 5 ppm with no problems.
  • 8% was 5 or greater
  • 33% was 0.5 to 5
  • 59% was 0 or undectible




Conclusion: No one can deny that staying within the set parameters is important to a great and healthy reef. As the data shows, there are a few that go outside the lines and keep the same healthy beautiful reefs. So I believe it is safe to say that no matter what you keep your reef at, that it is just as important to keep it consistent and let everything acclimate to their environment.

As of writing this, my reef is starting to look great again with the following parameters:
  • pH 8.2
  • Temp 78
  • Salinity 1.026
  • Calcium 420
  • Alkalinity 8
  • Magnesium 1450
  • Phosphates 0
  • Nitrates 5 (working to improve this one to 0)



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Last edited by Misled; 03/21/2015 at 08:27 PM.
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Old 03/21/2015, 12:35 PM   #2
Sammykonga
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Wow, what a great resource you have put together. If I am not mistaken, I believe I saw a thread similar to this once. However, I believe it was a while ago, and obviously at this point, outdated. Thanks for sharing.


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Old 03/21/2015, 03:21 PM   #3
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Do you mean TOTM's?


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Old 03/21/2015, 03:27 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr.maroonsalty View Post
Do you mean TOTM's?
Yes, it should be TOTM. I saw ROTM in the sticky before posting and it just stuck in my head. To bad I'm pass the edit time.


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Old 03/21/2015, 03:28 PM   #5
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I'm guessing he surveyed winners of the Tank of the Month contest. It's good work and helpful to know the "sweet spot" for all of these tanks. My only question is: after 15 years of keeping reef tanks, how could you not have tested for Mg. If Mg drops too much, alk and calc go out of whack and the corals won't be growing.


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Old 03/21/2015, 03:39 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric45 View Post
I'm guessing he surveyed winners of the Tank of the Month contest. It's good work and helpful to know the "sweet spot" for all of these tanks. My only question is: after 15 years of keeping reef tanks, how could you not have tested for Mg. If Mg drops too much, alk and calc go out of whack and the corals won't be growing.

I never really worried about it till recently. I always stayed up on water changes and dosed calcium and alkalinity as a two part. Then I always added my mag after using a bottle of each. Randy's two part supplement has always just worked for me. I had a recent bryopsis algae take over my aquarium and had to use Kent tech-m to get rid of it. Since I had to maintain a mg of greater than 1800 to kill the algae, I decided to start testing.


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Old 03/21/2015, 08:28 PM   #7
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Very cool. Man you'd be my hero if you did this on lighting. It'd be awesome to see a breakdown of type of light, bulbs, and photo period.


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Old 03/21/2015, 08:28 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WmTasker View Post
Yes, it should be TOTM.
See if I got them all. That was a lot of work. I'm sick, so don't do it again!!!

Nice work!!!


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Old 03/21/2015, 08:33 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Misled View Post
See if I got them all. That was a lot of work. I'm sick, so don't do it again!!!



Nice work!!!

Thanks. I do appreciate it. Hope you get feeling better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ViktorVaughn View Post
Very cool. Man you'd be my hero if you did this on lighting. It'd be awesome to see a breakdown of type of light, bulbs, and photo period.

I was reading about the lights as I collected this information. Determining the type of bulbs would be easy enough but when they come on should be difficult. Today full spectrum LEDs just slowly turn on then back down. Many TOTMs have combination of many different color/types of bulbs that come on and off at different times.


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Old 03/22/2015, 06:37 PM   #10
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AWESOME work!!! Thanks so much for taking the time to do this!!!!


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Old 03/22/2015, 06:41 PM   #11
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I can get them from you Friday when I see you next.


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Old 03/22/2015, 07:10 PM   #12
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Interesting read, thanks for the work there. Puts some insight on my levels and how I had felt that mine have been off, but it looks like I'm not too bad.


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Old 03/22/2015, 08:09 PM   #13
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Interesting!


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Old 03/22/2015, 08:15 PM   #14
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Cool! This is good info, thanks!


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Old 03/22/2015, 08:59 PM   #15
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Great work. Very useful.


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Old 03/23/2015, 04:48 AM   #16
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Many thanks for sharing!!


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Old 03/23/2015, 06:06 AM   #17
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Congratulations! and many thanks for sharing. This is the kind of quantitative and scientific analysis that I would like to see more often, instead of "many tanks use…", " the majority of tanks do well with…".

It's true that each tank is a world in itself, but you have more options to keep that "world" thriving maintaining parameters within certain ranges. You have nicely demonstrated it.



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Old 03/23/2015, 01:17 PM   #18
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Great information.


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Old 03/23/2015, 05:14 PM   #19
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great job researching all that info , Thanks


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Old 03/23/2015, 06:28 PM   #20
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Yea nice work from a fellow ohioian


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Old 03/23/2015, 06:41 PM   #21
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Good read, thanks


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Old 03/23/2015, 07:38 PM   #22
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I find it hard to believe that the TOTM with nitrates 25ppm in mid 2011 also had alk lower then 8. That doesn't really jive with they way its "suppose" work. Nitrates that high should of stopped coral growth all together.


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Old 03/23/2015, 07:44 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jminick2 View Post
I find it hard to believe that the TOTM with nitrates 25ppm in mid 2011 also had alk lower then 8. That doesn't really jive with they way its "suppose" work. Nitrates that high should of stopped coral growth all together.
August 2011 TOTM is a Non-Photosynthetics system. Its a great read about a beautiful reef that goes against most conventional thinking. When it comes to alkalinity, I was surprised to see how many are below 8 also. Especially those keeping SPS Corals.


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Old 03/23/2015, 07:45 PM   #24
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Thanks everyone else. I hope it helps everyone find the sweet spot for their reefs.


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Old 03/24/2015, 09:37 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jminick2 View Post
I find it hard to believe that the TOTM with nitrates 25ppm in mid 2011 also had alk lower then 8. That doesn't really jive with they way its "suppose" work. Nitrates that high should of stopped coral growth all together.
Natural seawater is around 7 dKH, so i get that

Also, a lot of SPS guys dose carbon so anything higher than 8 can lead to burnt tips. I run mine at about 7-7.5


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