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FAQs about SPS Coral Systems

Related Articles: SPS Corals, Acroporid Corals, Dyed Corals,

Related FAQs: SPS Lighting, SPS 1, SPS 2, SPS Identification, SPS Behavior, SPS Compatibility, SPS Selection, SPS Feeding, SPS Disease, SPS Reproduction, Acroporid Corals, Agariciid Corals, Astrocoeniid CoralsMerulinid Corals, Pectiniid Corals, Pocilloporid Corals, Siderastreid CoralsStony Coral Behavior, Coral System Set-Up, Coral System Lighting, Stony Coral Identification, Stony Coral Selection, Coral PlacementFoods/Feeding/Nutrition, Disease/Health, Propagation, Growing Reef CoralsStony Coral Behavior,

Be aware and wary of certain hitchhikers. Ceratosoma tenue.

General Maintenance of SPS Tank       4/23/15
Dear WWM Crew,
Thanks for all the help you've provided me with in the past few months (Bob); I suspect my corals and critters would tell you they are very grateful for it if they could talk.
<You're all welcome>
My tank appears to be in a reasonable state and the various corals I have all show some signs of growth, although I suspect there is certainly room for improvement. I was thus wondering if I could ask some questions relating to general/long term maintenance of my tank, to see what I can do better.
First, a summary of tank conditions:
Main tank is 240L (60gal) containing 25L of LR (measured by displacement) and an SSB; with upstream refugium of 80L (20gal) containing a 4in DSB. It has been running for about 7 months since I moved it from its previous home. Tank is inhabited by a number of "SPS" colonies and a Diploastrea, along with 6 Lysmata spp. shrimp (keeping an eye on them) and a Centropyge acanthops (it seems to be settling in fine, is not nibbling my corals at present but will also keep an eye on
it), as well as some grazing and scavenging snails. I have large populations of filter-feeders (including many sponges/tunicates, mysids and feather-dusters) which are still increasing and particularly so in the refugium, as well as large populations of at least 15 different species of macroalgae. I do try to keep the latter trimmed but I think it is nonetheless a bit out of control since I have great difficulty removing enough to expose the LR and stop it touching my corals. That said, I do not have any BGA and my last Dinoflagellate outbreak was 4 months ago.
Flow is provided by three powerheads and a return pump servicing the refugium, main tank flow rate in excess of 12000l/hr and as "homogeneously chaotic" as I can make it, refugium turnover is 1500l/hr with an additional 2000l/hr powerhead to improve flow over the DSB.
Lighting is provided by a DIY LED system strong enough to grow Acropora. Nutrient export is provided by a Tunze 9006 skimmer, which I assume is within capacity as it does not skim all day (pattern is indeed diurnal but perturbed by what time I actually put food in) and produces no more than 150ml of dark skimmate per week; I do not use any chemical removers. I dose calcium and alkalinity using a 2-part method with an auto-doser (I also add NaCl-free salt) and on average change 7-15% of the water per week. Water parameters are: Ca 400-430mg/l; Alk 7-10dkH (2.5-3mmol/l); Mg 1300mg/l; NO3 always less than 0.2mg/l, often undetectable; PO4 never more than 0.05mg/l (yes, I'll say it for you: "chemo/photo-synthates need measurable levels of both" :) ),
<Heeeee! Good>

I don't have a DOC test, but there is a certain smell to the water and it definitely has a slight yellow tint, so I guess there must be some present. I feed a home-made ration to my tank, which I grind in a pestle and mortar after thawing. It is hard to say how much I actually put in there, but the water is on average noticeably turbid with food for about 0.5-1 hours a day.
Hopefully that's enough info!
I guess most of my head-scratching relates to the fact that I am concerned my poor corals still don't seem to be getting enough food, but yet, I want to balance this with not over-polluting my tank and suppressing the macroalgae a bit more (if this is possible). I have managed to get the answers to most of my questions from various places separately, but many of the systems referred to are quite different from mine (particularly with a low fish-load) and I must say I am having difficulty putting all the answers together to come up with a coherent maintenance strategy. Might you be able to help me with the following questions?
<I'll try>
1) First off, do you think I need to increase the amount of food I put in? If so, should I feed more frequently or is once daily enough?
<I'd try doubling the food by feeding the same amount twice a day>

I know increased frequency is generally recommended (although perhaps for fish more than corals), but might my corals not get their share if the food is too dilute/doesn't hang around long enough because of the other competition for food?
<Possibly... do you ever look... see if they're open/ing during the night? I'd delay the second feeding to when tentacles are open>
I occasionally try to target-feed, but only my Diploastrea really appreciates it and my Acroporas in particular seem to hate the combination of high-density food and low flow.
2) Is it worth thinning the populations of filter feeders manually (for example, easy targets would be the feather-dusters and visible sponges on the glass and rocks)?
<I would not thin here>
Alternatively, I actually have a few predatory organisms (e.g. Seastars) in the refugium that are consuming some of them (particularly the sponges): I currently get rid of the predators when I see them, but should I keep them instead and allow them to act as a more natural control mechanism?
<Yes; this is what I'd do>
Or would it in fact be better to nurture my filter feeders as much as possible to act as competition for the macroalgae and provide zooplankton?
<Mmm; as above>
3) On the subject of predation, I've also recently had an explosion of Vayssierea felis eating my significant Spirorbid population (I thought they looked cool and attached a couple of pictures;
<Very nice>
I managed to ID them because of their specialised diet). Are they likely to pose a risk to my tank when the population crashes in the near future due to lack of food?
<Not at all likely a problem>
4) I have considered reverse-lighting my refugium to see if I can get the algae to grow in there rather than the main tank but if I do this, will I lose the sponges, tunicates and other organisms living on the sand, rock and glass because of exposure to light?
<You will not lose them; and I would utilize RDP there>
If I do set it up, would it be worth buying in a specific alga for this purpose (e.g. Gracilaria) or should I simply leave the LR to grow whatever algae that comes in from the main tank?
<The latter>
5) Are there any relatively reef-safe grazers that would be able to tackle some of my macroalgae for me?
<Mmm; yes... though one or any might go further than you'd like. I'd try either a Salarias, Atrosalarias sp. blenny, or a Ctenochaetus tang>
I had thought my dwarf angel would do this, but I guess it doesn't eat enough to make a noticeable dent in the population. None of the smaller grazing organisms and fishes I've come across as part of CUC crews seem to consume enough macroalgae to be worthwhile or be "safe" with sessile inverts, and I guess my tank is far too small for any of the larger herbivorous grazers, such as tangs, for example. I suspect the answer is going to be no, and *I* have to do the grazing ("the time-honoured routine", as you say), but I'm being lazy and just wanted to make sure.
6) I know you already said in a previous query that raised DOCs are not likely to be harmful to my corals, particularly as both NO3 and PO4 are low, but would it still be worth trying to lower them a bit in terms of slowing algae growth?
<Not IMO/E>
I have considered using small amounts of carbon regularly, but would it contribute to my coral starvation?
<Not likely; no>
What about ozone: is my tank and bioload too small to consider using it?
<O3 is always worth considering using. ALL systems of "enough" worth (money, emotion) can/will benefit>
I was considering getting an ORP meter anyway, but then again, given that things seem to be okay, I wasn't sure I would actually benefit from monitoring RedOx.
<The more data the better>
7) I did tell myself I only wanted one fish (which I have now), but would a couple more help in terms of waste production, or is the extra pollution/risk of disease not worth it?
<I would add more; as stated above for grazer/s, and some others to add color, motion to your system, provide foods via wastes...>
I have no quarantine system, and appear to have gotten away with it for my Centropyge, so I guess more fishes might be tempting fate anyway. What about more LR; would this help, or can you have too much of it (given my low nutrient situation)?
<Add more LR in yearly, half yearly increments, but just a few pounds to augment diversity, solubility>
And finally, a slightly different maintenance question:
8) I have estimated my total tank consumption of calcium and alkalinity to average at 0.25mmol/l/d of CaCO3 equivalent (which is 10mg/l/d Ca and 1.5dKH/l/d Alk; for the whole tank, this corresponds to about 5.5g/d of Kalk) I have considered getting a Kalkwasser reactor/doser because I really can't dose this much manually (and is the reason why switched back to two-part - too much work right now),
<I vastly prefer the two part over Kalk, and calcium et al related reactors to all>
but I was also looking at calcium reactors and wonder if it might be a better investment in the long run,
<Oh! Tis>
particularly as after the initial set-up, they seem to be much less work. Do you think my consumption rate is high enough for it to be worth considering such a large investment/ongoing maintenance?
<Up to you... but I would get a large enough unit to service your next (bigger) system>
If not, in your experience, at what consumption rate would you start to consider such a calcium reactor worthwhile (if you can say such a thing)?
<Again; to and for me more a matter of "value" the aquarist puts into their experience>
I understand the basic principles of how calcium reactors work and the pitfalls associated with them, but can't work out if it would be worth it in my case: my system is small but I do have noticeable consumption.
Thanks for your help, and your time.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>


Re: General Maintenance of SPS Tank       4/23/15
Dear Bob,
<Big W>
> Thanks for all the help you've provided me with in the past few months
> (Bob); I suspect my corals and critters would tell you they are very
> grateful for it if they could talk.
> <You're all welcome>
Thanks for the fast and helpful reply as before. I've sent over a small token of my appreciation by PayPal.
> 1) First off, do you think I need to increase the amount of food I put
> in? If so, should I feed more frequently or is once daily enough?
> <I'd try doubling the food by feeding the same amount twice a day>
> I know
> increased frequency is generally recommended (although perhaps for fish
> more than corals), but might my corals not get their share if the food
> is too dilute/doesn't hang around long enough because of the other
> competition for food?
> <Possibly... do you ever look... see if they're open/ing during the
> night?
> I'd delay the second feeding to when tentacles are open>
It's half and half. Some of them definitely are more expanded at night (after 1hr lights-off), but others tend to be almost completely retracted. I think the feeding responses also vary between different corals,
<Oh yes; and change>
for example, my Acroporas often retract the polyps (for whatever reason) and extrude mesenteric filaments, while my Pocillopora has very sticky polyps that do grab things and no such filaments. I guess as you imply, I'll have to figure out the best regimen to maximise responses in all of them.
> 4) I have considered reverse-lighting my refugium to see if I can get
> the algae to grow in there rather than the main tank but if I do this,
> will I lose the sponges, tunicates and other organisms living on the
> sand, rock and glass because of exposure to light?
> <You will not lose them; and I would utilize RDP there>
> If I do set it up,
> would it be worth buying in a specific alga for this purpose (e.g.
> Gracilaria) or should I simply leave the LR to grow whatever algae that
> comes in from the main tank?
> <The latter>
Excellent. Will give it a shot.
> 5) Are there any relatively reef-safe grazers that would be able to
> tackle some of my macroalgae for me?
> <Mmm; yes... though one or any might go further than you'd like. I'd
> try
> either a Salarias, Atrosalarias sp. blenny, or a Ctenochaetus tang>
> 7) I did tell myself I only wanted one fish (which I have now), but >
would a couple more help in terms of waste production, or is the extra
> pollution/risk of disease not worth it?
> <I would add more; as stated above for grazer/s, and some others to add
> color, motion to your system, provide foods via wastes...>
Oooh. I must admit, I wasn't expecting you to suggest any species in particular (or for that matter, more fish - you're usually saying the opposite!): it's quite exciting. I'd not considered Ctenochaetus because I was concerned the tank just wasn't going to be roomy enough for a full-size individual, but do you think it could work?
<... yes>
As for the blennies, your article mentions that they particularly like filamentous algae, and "These fishes are algae eaters par excellence, but not all algae... Often, with aging of a captive system, there will be a shift in the make-up of micro- and macro-life that predominates... and a valuable lesson for observant aquarists in the loss of fodder for such grazers as
these blennies". I was concerned that although I do have some hair algae on the glass, most of the rock is already colonised with macroalgae, so there might just not be enough edible algae around for it (most of it is some branching Rhodophyte and next most common is a couple of species of Caulerpa; I don't know if the blenny will eat such things). That said, now you have brought it up, I'll go off to do some more reading/research!
> 8) ... Do you think my consumption rate is high enough for it to be
> worth considering such a large investment/ongoing maintenance?
> <Up to you... but I would get a large enough unit to service your next
> (bigger) system>
Ahahaha. My "next (bigger) system". That made me LAUGH! Oh dear. I think I could do it. What do I tell the family when I turn up with my new tank? "It's not my fault: Bob Fenner made me do it." :P .
<Am glad to be this "excuse">

SPS set up     3/4/13
Hello Bob
<Big K>
Need for once more your precious help :):)
I finally completed (almost) the project of the SPS tank. So 120 L rimless (100 x 40 x 30 cm)  a heater that keeps the temp at 26-27 Celsius and 2 Tunze Turbelle 6015 along with LED lighting is the set up right now. Decided not to use a skimmer yet , and no filtration (external or sump).
<Mmm, will need good filtration of some sort; ahead of livestock placement>
 I mixed RO water with AquaVitro salinity. SG is at 1025 , Ca at 430 and Mag at 1300.
Yesterday filled up the tank with the ready mix (72 hours of mixing). I filled it up in the morning and till the night that I left everything was great. Today morning though the water was cloudy and ammonia was at 1 , tried some Seachem Prime (probably was wrong) and later(5-6 hours later)
Seachem's Clarity. Right now the water is crystal clear but ammonia is more than 3.
<Just wait... be patient>
I was thinking of keeping the tank without "life" but obviously I did something wrong. I somehow created bacteria that now are dead.
I would appreciate your opinion on that.
Best regards
<Patience. Wait till the ammonia is cycled out... add some substrate, water from a safe/clean established system, and the new filtration. Bob Fenner>
Re SPS system/Gk   3/4/13

Thank you very very much.
You just confirmed my biggest fear. :):):)
<No need to fear>
What type of filtration though?? Let's say that I can use an external filter. Carbon only?? Or will I need Siporax etc?
<... all covered on WWM. Please; again, don't write w/o looking/searching first. B>
Bets regards
... SPS sys., filtr.

Thank you again.
Yes I know , the last nights I am always reading on WWM , but there are so many opinions on some things that I need your personal experience , that is why I am sending you emails.
<... one/you need to sift through diverse opinions; decide for yourself what/which is pertinent for your application/s>
I really appreciate your replies and of course the help of WWM.
Best regards
Re: Help Needed!!   3/4/13

Will do !!! :):):)
Thank you very much once again!!
<Certainly welcome. BobF>

SW, circ. SPS sys.      3/1/13
Thank you for the many answers.
I will do as you instructed.
Now I am reading about the circulation of the water and the flow. I have read many different articles and opinions even at WWM and they suggest from 40 times the Litres of the tank to 60 times. What do you suggest. My SPS tank will be approx. 120 Litres and I also want to arrange the flow at one of my other tanks that it is 450 L. How many pumps do you suggest for each one of these 2 tanks and how many litres per pump.
<Two pumps are better than one...>
Thank you again for your precious info and of course your time.
Best regards
<And you, BobF>
Re: Help Needed!!     3/1/13

Thank you again for your answer. So 2 of them , but to your opinion how much
power should they have?? How many times the litres of the tank??
<This is gone over on WWM... a few tens of turnovers per hour, non-linear... B>
Best regards

DOC affecting coral color?       12/12/12
Hi crew!  I've been doing some research on your site on various subjects and I have questions.   I am having problems with my corals losing color, specifically a Montipora but they all more or less have faded.  I have recently upgraded my system from a 55 gallon to an 80 gal frag with a 30 gal refugium and so I need to upgrade my protein skimmer.  Currently I am using a Aqua C Remora but quite frankly I have never been impressed with the amount of skimmate that it produces. So I looked on WWM and read Mr. Calfo's recommendations on protein skimmers. I researched out Euro Reef which is now Reef Dynamics.  I went to their website to research out the protein skimmer I needed and I found under the "More Info" on the INS100 the following information: 
    IDEAL: The INS100 is ideal for  "SPS" aquarium systems with a total capacity of +/- 80 gallons with a heavy bio-load. "SPS" systems (aquaria with a focus on Small Polyped     Stony corals) benefit from a high rate of organic extraction as it promotes and enhances coloration in corals by limiting the nutrients available to the symbiotic algae     Zooxanthellae) living within there tissue. In addition, a high rate of organic and particulate extraction increases the clarity of the water which in turn enhances     the penetration of UV rays that stimulate the development of the corals colorful UV protective materials. Increased water clarity also optimizes the efficiency of the      Zooxanthellae a thus decreases the number of the protozoa required to provide the coral with the food (glucose) it takes up in exchange for the CO2 produced by the coral through normal biological processes.
Please tell me if I am reading this correctly.
<"Better" skimming does this>
 So basically if I have a high DOC this will prevent the Zooxanthellae from doing their job and in the end providing the UV material which produces the colors. I believe I have a high amount of DOC since whenever I clean the pads under the incoming water from the tank (in the refugium) they are usually dark brown within a couple of days.
<May need to be cleaned, swapped out daily. You may benefit from using activated carbon on a sporadic basis>
I do get a brown film (diatoms) on the sand and glass in the main tank but not in the refugium.  Could this be the reason my corals are fading?
<There could be many other influences. This might be a contributing cause>
 I have tested for Nitrates and they are at 0. Is there another way to measure DOC? 
<Mmm, not hobbyist kits as far as I'm aware, but there are means. How to put this Dissolved Organic Carbon is not often an issue in captive marine systems; in fact, the opposite: Many folks nowayears add C purposely, lest it be rate-limiting (see the Net re the various "pellets" sold to supply C). It's the kinds of molecules that include carbon that can be more often some source of troubles; e.g. "allelopathy">
Also in my research for measuring DOC on WWM I see where Xenia thrive on DOC...my tank is stuffed with Xenia.  I can't kill it.  I have to give it to the LFS so it doesn't over run my tank.
In the spirit of full disclosure I have written to WWM on the corals fading to which Mr. Fenner replied to maintain a proper amount of phosphate and nitrates which I have been trying to increase. Also for lighting I use T5s (5 AquaSun and 1 Actinic).  I am terribly sorry this email is so long.
Please let me know if there is any information you may need that I left out.  Thank you again crew! Jennifer
<I doubt that DOC is really an issue, but with the skimmer change, time going by, you may well see change here. Bob Fenner>

Reef Problems/SPS Systems/Health 3/7/2011
Hi all,
<Hello Liam>
This is my first post, so apologies if I miss anything that you may need. Firstly I will tell you sizes of my tank, sump, lighting and filtration etc.
Tank size is 72' l x 24'w x 18'h, sump is 60'l x 12'w x 15'h, filtration media in sump is 40kg of Florida crushed coral gravel with an Underworld Polyfilter and Alfagrog, return pump is via an Aquaone 1050 external filter. running through a Octopus flow screw and an ionizer rod <Useless>. Media in external filter is standard carbon and ceramic media
<Why ceramic media if you're using live rock?>
with a polishing pad.
<Would not use a polishing pad on a permanent basis, can/will be a nutrient trap.>
Skimmer is an Aquamedic 1000 multi-sl. I have 2 6000l/h circulator pumps, one at either end of the tank, and a smaller 2000l/h pump at the same end as the skimmer. My lighting is 2 x 150w 14k metal halides and 2 blue t8 tubes. Blue tubes on for 12 hours a day and halides for 10 hours.
I have roughly 60kg live rock with a couple of cm of crushed coral gravel.
My water chemistry is as follows:
ph 8.2 API test kit
ammonia 0 API test kit
nitrite 0 API test kit
nitrate 0-5 API test kit
phosphate 0 API test kit (also virtually 0 on a powder kit a friend has but can't remember what brand)
copper 0 (I always test this but I know I have never used it in aquarium, just precautionary)
KH 10dkh API test kit
<I'd try to maintain at 7-8 dKH in a reef system.>
sg 1.024
think that's everything you will need.
<Mmm, what about calcium and magnesium, both essential for SPS/LPS growth/health.>
Now for my problem. I cant seem to keep most hard corals or button polyps alive. I have pulse polyp, star polyp, toadstool, anenome's, yellow polyp, asparagus coral, bush coral, medusa coral, cabbage coral, finger coral and cauliflower coral. All of which are doing brilliantly. I also have bubble coral, torch coral, mushrooms and a snow polyp which are doing ok but could be better and I also have pineapple rock, moon coral, spiny brain corals which seem to be dying quite fast. In the past I have had Acroporas (three different types), Elkhorn and another sps that I cant remember its name which died very quickly. Oh and I have a Scolymia which is doing fantastically.
<Two 150 watt halides are a little on the weak side for a six foot tank. May want to read here and related articles/FAQs found in the header.
I feed all my tank with live home made plankton mix at least twice a week, which also contains rotifers and copepods and then I direct feed the corals that need it brine shrimp/Mysis shrimp/prawn (prawn mainly for the scoly)
<Mmm, may want to read here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/growingcorals.htm>
As far as my lfs say I am doing everything right. so why are my hard corals dying out on me all the time? I have struggled with acro's etc for quite a while now and just cant seem to keep them going for very long before they start losing the fleshy parts on the lps or bleach on the sps.
<I suspect low lighting is contributing to this along with the possibility of allelopathy. Suggest you read Eric Borneman's article found here.
I have no fish on there that are known coral predators, however I know that they cant all be guaranteed not to touch them, but I have also never seen anything attack them.
Please try and shed some light on what I am doing wrong?
<As above, and ensure your Euphyllia corals (Torch and Bubble) are kept a good distance from other corals as they are very aggressive in terms of allelopathy. I also suggest getting yourself a
reference book on corals. Eric Borneman's Aquarium Corals is an excellent source of information on all corals commonly kept in the home aquaria.>
Thanks in advance.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re Reef Problems/SPS Systems/Health 3/7/2011- 3/8/2011

Hi James
<Hello Liam>
Thanks for your help so far.
<You're welcome.>
I agree the ionizer rod is pretty useless but I was given it and thought if it does nothing I have lost nothing and if it does something I have gained for free. The ceramic media within the external filter was left in there purely as I was only using the filter as a type of return pump. I have now removed the polishing pad from the filter as I was unaware it would act as a trap.
<Only if not cleaned on a weekly basis. My motto has always been that the easier a system is to maintain, the more it will be maintained.>
My calcium level is 420ppm and my magnesium level is 1280ppm using Salifert kits. Thought I had put those in my first email sorry.
<No problem.>
If I were to change my two blue actinics for white marine 30w bulbs one at 12000k and the other at 9000k do you think that would be better?
<No, you really need to get another 150w metal halide, SPS corals demand intense lighting.>
I already have extra means for blue lighting.
I have looked into how close my corals are and I do not think it is allelopathy, but again I am not 100% sure how long the stinging polyps are on some of the corals.
<I only said the possibility of allelopathy. It's the sweeper tentacles that do the damage and it's usually in the evening when they are extended and can reach lengths exceeding
six inches.>
Is there anything else you would recommend I do that I have not mentioned?
<Yes, follow my advice in the original email and do read the links I have provided you. You state you cannot keep hard corals alive and these corals are the most light demanding.
Concentrate on improving water quality, low nitrates/phosphates are not necessarily indicative of good water quality. Replacing carbon with Chemipure will noticeably improve your water
Thanks again.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

SPS Lighting/Growing Corals 9/14/10 - 9/17/10
<Hello Mark>
Thank you for your reply.
<You're welcome.>
What is the best way to allow nutrients to build up.
<Mmm, a double edged sword here. Just keeping nitrates around 5-10ppm should provide all the dissolved nutrients some corals may benefit by.>
Should I turn the skimmer off for a few hours a day or slow down the phosphate remover?
<Depends on what your present nitrate level is. I don't believe you mentioned it.>
Is there any other product I can add to the water such as amino acids or something like the ZEOvit products that would be worth trying.
<ZEOvit is actually a probiotic and when used/dosed properly it accelerates nitrate/nutrient removal by
increasing populations of heterotrophic bacteria. It is wise to understand the purpose and use of these products before using. Some corals such as Acroporids and Pocilloporids seem to do better with less nutrients in the system.>
I am not really after a brand more an idea of what I should focus on dosing to get the nutrient level right. Or am I off the mark????
<Will all depend on the types of corals you keep. Most SPS corals will not accept food of any kind and
rely solely on photosynthesis to provide their food, while many LPS corals do better with a supplemental food source.
A good reference book to have and read would be Eric Borneman's book on Corals and/or Julian Sprung's Coral Reference Guide.>
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

SPS Polyp Extension/Growing Corals   3/17/10
Dearest Crew,
Thanks again for your tireless efforts! I greatly appreciate your combined experience, knowledge, and wisdom.
<You're welcome.>
Just a quick questions today regarding coral polyps. I have had great success with LPS corals in one of my reef tanks, most notably Euphyllia species among others. They are durable, adaptable and great water quality monitors- just a glance gives me a basic idea of water parameters. I have, on the other hand, not had phenomenal success with SPS corals (tank specs below). I chose all captive propagated frags to maximize success. Frags consist of 4 Acroporas, and 1 Montipora digitata. I have had the frags for 8 weeks and have not noticed any growth. In addition only the Montipora and one Acropora have polyps extended. I have never witnessed extension from the others. Is polyp extension an indication of coral health for SPS corals?
<Yes, can be.>
I believe that often (not always) it is a strong indicator for LPS health.
Secondly, how soon can one expect to notice growth upon a newly introduced captive propagated coral, assuming water quality is spot on?
<Actually will depend on the specie of coral, but you should notice some growth in three to four weeks. Your tank specs do not indicate your magnesium level. Do you supplement/test magnesium? Magnesium is essential for good coral growth as it's presence allows corals to better absorb the calcium that is available. Magnesium levels in NSW is three times higher than that of calcium. Your dKH level is fine, but your lighting is a little on the weak side for maintaining SPS corals as most require intense lighting whereas most LPS get by very well with moderate lighting which I consider your lighting to be. You can improve the lighting situation by replacing the actinic lamps with 10 or 12K lamps which will give you a little more intensity in the needed Kelvin range. Coral compatibility is another issue you likely have. Euphyllia species such as Torch, Frogspawn, and Hammer corals are very aggressive as to allelopathy as they do shoot out sweeper tentacles and will sting any corals the sweepers come in contact with. It is their way of protecting their space. Care must be taken that these corals are placed far enough away from other corals to prevent such, and this can be difficult to accomplish in a small system such as yours. Do read here and related articles/links placed in the header. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/growingcorals.htm>
Thank you SO much!
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)
Tank Specs:
50 Gallon Reef
SG 1.025
Temp. 78-79 F
pH 8.4 (am reading)
Ammonia- 0
Nitrite- 0
Nitrate- reads as 0 although present in tank
dKH 7 (working on raising)
Calcium- 420, Dose with B-Ionic
Lighting- 150W 14,000K HQI, 65w PC Actinic
Water Motion- 500 GPH Return, 2 Maxi Jet 1200's w/Hydor flo
M. Digitata
4 Unknown Acropora frags
3 Scarlet Reef Crabs
Misc. Snails
No fish presently  

Sump Based Refugium for SPS System 3/29/09
Dear Crew,
You guys and gals are the best! Thanks for everything you do!
<Thank you, I am glad we are able to help out.>
I have officially kicked my canister filter to the curb and by your recommendation, am replacing it with a sump/refugium on my 75 gallon soon to be reef tank. I would like to house mostly Montipora species in this system.
<Ah, nice.>
Now the dilemma: I have been given a CPR Aquafuge Pro by a friend who is getting out of the hobby. One of the features that I like about it is the relatively large 15 gallon refugium chamber (large in comparison to other sump based fuges). This seems to be a great unit but upon doing some research, it does not appear to be ideal. All of my system water will be traveling through the unit and from what I gather, refugiums usually do better with less flow. For SPS systems, a high turnover rate would probably be good but for this situation, it may not be ideal.
<Well, you will want your tank turnover to be on the high end, but there is no need to speed water through the sump.>
The pumps that I'm looking at are the Eheim 1262 (900 GPH) and the 1260 (635 GPH). I believe that the 1262 would be more appropriate for the tank volume (providing a turnover rate of 12 times as opposed to 8) however, I envision problems arising from this set up. For example, I'm almost sure that micro bubbles will be an issue with this much water velocity.
<Possibly...the first thing to look at though is your overflow setup to be sure it can safely handle the flow with some redundancy preferable.>
In addition, I believe the DSB that I plan to use may be disrupted from so much flow.
<Not really, in this situation it is more about how the flow is applied. If you have 700 gph blowing out a single pipe into the bed it would be an issue. But if you have it go into say a skimmer chamber and then it flows over the width of the sump it will be diffused enough to keep the sand in place.>
Finally, the question: IYO, would this unit work for the sump of an SPS system?
Would the 635 GPH flow rate be acceptable provided large amounts of supplemental display circulation (e.g. Tunze or Vortech pumps)?
<It is plenty through the sump.>
<Welcome, Scott V.>

Strange event in my SPS tank 02/18/09 Crew, I witnessed something pretty weird in my sps reef when I came home for lunch today. I was cleaning my remora pro when I saw a smokey, milky white substance coming from the back of a large live rock..The back of this rock is covered with a Macro algae(big green plant) that could be Halimeda (don't think that's spelled correctly). I've always just left it in the tank to grow assuming it would suck up any excess nitrates in the water. The milky substance looked to be coming from the white(appearing dead) part of the plant but it could have been some sort of creature under the plant that I cant see. <That would be my guess. It could likely be a spawning bivalve living in the live rock... or a snail you just can't see.> Anyways, this clouded up the tank a little and made all of my SPS retract their polyps pretty quick. Anybody have an idea of what this could be? <This does sound like a spawning. Of what I couldn't tell you exactly... but not the macroalgae.> This leads me to my next question. Are these large growing Macro Algaes "good" for my tank or should I cut it all out? <They are good. But, you want them to keep growing. Thus, you should be trimming them down on a regular basis. I would say take about 25% to 50% out at a time, wait for it to regrow, then repeat.> I always have Nitrate and Phosphate readings of 0(wonder if it's because of these Macros??). <It is quite likely the macro algaes are at least partly responsible for this.> I have trace amounts of bubble algae..other than that no other nuisance algae at all. Thanks for your help and opinion. Seth <De nada, Sara M.>

SPS/lighting question 01/18/09 Thank you in advance for your advice. I'm running out of ideas on why my corals are growing weird. I have 120 gallon (4'x2'x2') with tons of water flow with two Dart pumps, one used as a closed loop with a total of 11 returns between the two providing turbulent water flow. I have a calcium reactor, sump, and attached refugium. My lighting is 2x250w with 14k spectrum and 1x150w 20k spectrum in the middle approximately 10 inches above the water. My corals consists of various sps corals, probably over 35+ Acro frags at various levels in my tank. They are growing fairly quickly, however, they aren't growing up, they are encrusting. All of them are! Wherever I have placed the frag, I have huge blobs that have encrusted over the live rock. Now, I know some can encrust also, but all of them? Several of my frags are ORA frags and have seen pictures of parent colonies, however, mine never grow the same, same colors, but I don't have "trees", I have blobs! <Weird! I'd love to see some pics of this...> I feed my corals quite regularly, with Cyclop-eeze, DT's oyster eggs, and Selcon. Any ideas? <Hmm... not yet. Do you think you could send in some pictures?> The only ideas I have left is that I have too much light, but that doesn't make sense to me, especially when I got my lighting recommendation from this site. <I'm not so sure it's your lighting. It might be your water flow.> Any ideas? <Right now I'm suspecting your water flow, but I think I'll have a better "guess" if I can see what you're talking about. The corals might just be anchoring down before they start growing up, especially if the water flow is really, really turbulent (as you say).> Thank you, Brian <De nada, Sara M.>

SPS no light!  10/11/08 Hello there! I am in the process of upgrading, or possibly upgrading <?> my lighting for my SPS tank, replacing the Coralife Aqualight Pro (150 HQI x2, 96 PC x 2) to the PFO Solaris. Now I say possibly because I feel it's still up in the air whether this new LED technology is better than our old fashioned metal halides. <Will be in time... till it's supplanted...> Unfortunately, due to bad timing, I found out my light will not be shipped for another few days, Tuesday, for another five days. As I expected delivery to be for today, I no longer have the Coralife unit. How long can I sustain my SPS without the MH? <Mmm, best to borrow some for the intermittent period> I can feed it phytoplankton as I culture my own. I do have a PC 24 watts but I doubt it has any use. Any suggestions? Thank you! <Your LFS, other hobbyists in the area... Bob Fenner>

Question about Salt Creep Burn to SPS   8/12/08 Dear Crew, <Andy> I am looking for a little information but wasn't able to find an answer on WWM. I cleaned my overflow this weekend. When I put it back on my tank, I dislodged a very small amount of salt creep which fluttered down and landed squarely on my beautiful Merulina amp. I immediately blew the undissolved creep off the coral using a turkey baster, but by the time I ran to get the baster and the time I blew off the coral the damage had been done. <Yes... burns almost instantaneously> The coral immediately started excreting mucous, and 12 hours later there was--and is--a dime-sized white spot on the coral. Can anything be done to heal this area? <Mmm, best to "do" nothing... will repair on its own in time> I'm worried that this damaged area may spread or that RTN may ensue. <Mmm, not likely> I have some MediCoral, which is basically Lugol's but did not want to do anything without checking with someone who may have experienced this. Thanks in advance for your help. Andy <I would use the/this Iodine compound... Bob Fenner>

Lighting a 48x24x24 SPS Tank 2/20/08 I am setting up a 120 gallon reef that will be SPS dominated. Assuming I maintain stable water parameters ( a big assumption I know) I want to provide the best lighting for growth and color. I will be using metal halide but am not sure how many lamps to use. I can either go with two 400 watt lamps or two 400 watt and two 250 watt lamps. Would the four lamp system be overkill for a 24" deep SPS tank? <Yes it would be overkill here. The two 400W lights can work, but is too much also, in my opinion. Do consider simply lighting with two 250W lamps.> I also intend to keep some clams on the sand bed. <This will be fine either way.> Thank you for your advice and I much appreciate the help you provide. Matt <Welcome, have fun setting up, Scott V.>

Lighting requirements of Scleractinia   Reef Lighting 10/29/07 Dear Sir or Madam, <Hello Mike> I would value your opinion on the lighting requirements of a small reef aquarium I am currently preparing. The intended coral inhabitants of this aquarium are three or four small captive bred 'frags' of the Order Scleractinia, species specifically being considered are Acropora millepora, Seriatopora guttatus, Stylophora pistillata and Porites cylindrical. I have read several books containing advice and information on this subject (notably publications by Tullock, Nilsen, FossÃ¥, Calfo, Fenner and Borneman), which have been enormously helpful, but the dimensions of my own tank are giving me pause for thought. The aquariums gross measurements are 36 x 18 x 16.5 inches (LxHxW). Allowing for rock and sand displacement the net volume is likely to be around 40 US gallons with the deepest parts of the tank around 15' below the surface of the water. Unfortunately lighting packages I have found do not seem ideally suited to such light dependent corals within what is essentially a 3ft long, rather narrow vessel. I have narrowed potential lighting down to the following (specific make/model in brackets): 4 x 39 Watt, 34' T5 tubes -- mixture of white & blue/actinic (Giesemann Reflexx) 6 x 39 Watt, 34' T5 tubes -- mixture of white & blue/actinic (Giesemann Reflexx) 1 x150 Watt metal halide (14,000k) and 2 x 24 Watt, 22' T5 actinic tubes (Arcadia Series 4 pendant) 2 x 150 Watt metal halide pendants (Giesemann Nova II) It would seem from several posts on WetWebMedia that metal halide lights over such shallow water would not be suitable, <Not that shallow, generally, tanks over 18" in depth will require metal halide/HQI lighting for the corals you want to keep.> yet I note that in 'Natural Reef Aquariums' by John H. Tullock (Jan 2001) that two 175 Watt pendants are utilised over an aquarium of similar dimensions to my own for sustaining similar livestock (Page 72). My current line of thinking is to make use of the Arcadia Series 4 and keep the aforementioned corals fairly central and high up on the rock, whilst considering the use of other corals in the lower wider areas (Genus Caulastrea and/or Favia). I would greatly value your input on this issue. <All the corals you have in mind require high to moderate lighting. Your choice of the Arcadia pendant should do the job depending on how high the fixture will be from the surface of the water, and keeping in mind your coral placement positions you have stated. Two 150 watt HQI'/14K lamps, with no other supplemental lighting, would be my choice for a tank size you have. Have you read here? Never mind, our site is not responding now, but do search "Reef Lighting" on our site, plenty of info and related links here.> Kind regards, <Thank you, James (Salty Dog)> Mike

Can't get the BLUES... color coral sel...  07/28/07 Hi WWM Crew! I have a 1 year old 75gal mixed reef, which is slowly becoming SPS dominated. I run 2x175 Iwasaki 15K MH bulbs, supplemented with 4x96watt PCs (2 67K and 2 Actinics). MHs are on for 7hrs a day, and the PCs are on different times of the day for a total of 10 hours. My SPS that are pink, red, purple, green, and orange are doing great in growth and coloration. However, any SPS that has blue coloration quickly turn brown, although they grow just as well as my other SPS. Currently I have an Oregon Blue tort, and ORA blue tort, and a German-blue polyp digitata. All 3 of these are turning brown. Do sps that have blue coloration require higher temperature bulbs? <Not necessarily. In fact, they may require less. Or it might even be what you're feeding them or something about your water parameters. Even in academic arenas, coral coloration is very poorly understood. (Maybe because, in these perilous times, coral researchers don't really care so much if corals are blue or brown so long as they're not dying.) In any case, your best bet is to find a blue colored coral that has been kept under lighting exactly like yours for at least several weeks (better if months). Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/spsbehfaqs1.htm> Should I add more actinic lighting? <Likely the only thing that will do is make everything *look* a little bluer.> I have all 3 of the blue SPS species at the highest part of my tank directly under the MH bulbs, but still they are browning. <So move them down and see what happens. It's something of a myth that corals only brown from lack of light. They can also brown from too much light (or for some other as-of-yet unknown reason). But in any case, the coral can still be very healthy, just not as pretty. If you just want some blue in your aquarium, you could think about a blue crocea clam. :-)> Thanks for any advice you can offer, Jonathan <De nada, Sara M.>

Feeding a dwarf lionfish and thinking of stocking SPS, sys.    8/26/07 Hey guys, First, I just bought a relatively small dwarf lionfish from the LFS and am wondering what would be a good food to use to wean him off of ghost shrimp. <Mmm, "start wiggling" most any smallish meaty bits (frutti di mar package?) on the end of a "feeding stick"...> I bought some fresh shrimp from HEB, the white gulf shrimp, and used a needle to thread some fishing line through a small piece and dangled it in front of the lionfish just after lights-out. He didn't seem remotely interested. <Takes some practice, starving... a modicum of patience> It has been close to a week since he's fed so I thought he'd be hungry enough to take it. Is there something else that he would prefer to eat other than the gulf shrimp? <Maybe not... Perhaps some other live food for a bit... like baby livebearers... still expensive and inconvenient...> Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated. <You have read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dwflionfdgfaqs.htm and the pertinent linked FAQ file above?> Next, I'm thinking of getting some Acropora but before I did I wanted to some advice first. I have 2 175 watt MH lights over a 75 gallon aquarium. The color temperature is 14000K. Is this good lighting for SPS? <Likely so> I have a 20 gallon refugium/plenum and a protein skimmer all being run with a Mag 9.5 and a have another 300 GPH powerhead going against the flow in the main tank to cause some turbulence. Would this be sufficient? <Maybe, but I'd add to...> My tank parameters are pH 8.1, DKH 12, Calcium 420, with no detectable nitrates, nitrites, phosphates or ammonia.  I add Fiji Gold twice a week and that's all. Also, I have some Asterina stars in my tank and your website seems to think they are fine but GARF.org thinks otherwise stating that they are carnivorous feeding on sessile invertebrates and should be removed immediately. Any thoughts on this? <I would not sweat these small stars> I have noticed the occasional zoanthid polyp decline, possibly this was the cause. One last thing regarding my sump: I was thinking of removing the filter sponge and instead running the pipe down about an inch or two from the bottom of that chamber in the 20 gallon and filling it up with live rock rubble. This way the water would flow up through the live rock. Would the rubble, combined with a thick layer of Chaeto algae in the refugium section eliminate the need for the mechanical filter sponge? <Try it and see> Also, do I need any chemical filtration such as a carbon bag? <Perhaps periodically... would likely help with water quality, clarity... Again, this is all archived on WWM> I currently have a bag of carbon that the water goes through directly after the sponge and before the refugium. If needed, is that a good spot for it? Whew, I think that's it. Sorry about how long this turned out to be, once I started I just couldn't stop. Thanks a ton you guys! <Be reading. Bob Fenner>

Optimal SPS lighting?  Coral Competition and Lighting Issues   6/13/07 Dear Crew, <Hi there! Scott F. at the keyboard tonight!> I have a 75 gal mixed SPS/LPS system lit by two 250w MH's- about 12 inches off the surface. <That's a whole lot of light for this sized system!> The tank is over a year old; has optimal water reef water parameters including Ca=450 and dKh=9. Bioload is light with just a pair of clowns. Corals include 3 Acropora (placed shallow), one Montipora and 2 Euphyllia (Torch and a Hammer, placed deep). I originally had 10K bulbs but noticed my coralline algae growth was sparse, so my LFS owner recommended I change to 20K bulbs. <I see..> So I changed the bulbs about four months ago and, sure enough, the coralline growth was good, but here's the thing: although the SPS growth is mostly positive (a staghorn Acropora and the Montipora grow like weeds while my A. echinata and another unidentified Acropora has barely budged) but the Hammer and the Torch corals have shown recession. The Torch, in particular, is dying off. I increased the frequency of direct feedings with Cyclop-eeze, but with no effect. The recession may have been there prior to the color change and I possibly did not notice it. Questions: 1. Aesthetics aside, and all things equal (wattage, etc...), in terms of growth what's the optimal color for my SPS?... 20K, 10K or something in between? <To be quite honest, the optimal color temperature bulb for the Acropora would be a 6700K. Daylight "flavored" light is generally what works for most of the high-light demanding corals. On the other hand, it may simply be too darned "yellow" for you from an aesthetic standpoint. I suppose that a 10,000k bulb is the optimum combination of useful color temperature and aesthetics, IMO.> 2. With regards to the LPS, is the color wrong? Or, as I suspect, just too much wattage (6.6 watt/gal)? <It is a lot of light. These corals come from rather turbid water in nature, where light can be diffused somewhat. This is a really unnatural combination of animals, that could result in lots of problems down the line (assuming the Euphylliids make it), in terms of allelopathic competition. These are strong producers of such compounds, which can really damage the Acropora down the line. Bottom line, I'd dedicate a system just for them.> I'm currently cycling up another tank (20 gallon nano system with 65w PC lighting) and am considering moving the sick LPS into that tank. <That would be a good move, IMO!> Thanks. Russell in KY <Best of luck to you! Regards, Scott F.>

Re: Optimal SPS lighting? Lighting Systems- Do You Get What You Pay For? -- 06/14/07 Scott, thanks for the quick reply. <Glad to be of service...> I agree, my system (6+ watts/gal) has potentially a little too much lighting. However, the lights, hood and ballasts were obtained used for a great price, sold by a college student heading for the Peace Corp... so it was price vs. perfection. <I've made that call be fore, myself!> One quick question; I've noticed that the pricing for metal halide lights is all over the place. Are the more expensive, German manufactured lights worth the price compared than the cheap Chinese imports? RB <Well, I'm certainly not an industrial engineer, but I have seen quite a few of the lighting systems that are out on the market today, and you can really tell the difference in quality vs. cheap units. There are some nice lighting units made in Asia- not all of them are poorly made and unreliable. I must say, however, that most of the German-made, European, and American units out there are very nice. The pricing can be a bit skewed at times, but in my experience, the vast majority of the high-end lighting systems are worth the money. The old adage about "getting what you pay for" generally seem to apply with lighting systems. In the end, you need to find a unit that fits your needs, budget, and quality requirements. HTH. Regards, Scott F.>

New SPS Tank'¦Will It Do? -- 06/08/07 Good day crew, <<Good evening Matt!>> First of all thank you for all the years of help your website has given me. <<Tis truly a collaborative effort'¦quite welcome>> I have a 60 gallon acrylic (18" tall x 48" long) and it's being setup for an SPS tank. <<Neat>> I have a Mag 9.5 as the return with approximately 45x turn over rate in power heads and a Korallin 1502 calcium reactor. <<Wow, that's a LOT of flow'¦do be sure to check that those powerheads are not blasting the flesh right off your corals>> I have a Tunze 9010 as the skimmer. <<Good stuff'¦those Tunze products>> Right now I am running 2x175 watt halides with Spider reflectors and my tanks levels are as follows: Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate <5ppm, Calcium 460, DKH 14.7, Temp at 76. <<Be careful of trying to maintain both Calcium and Alkalinity at their upper ranges as they tend to be mutually exclusive as is very well explained by Anthony C's 'marble analogy''¦please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm >> My questions are these. Is my lighting sufficient for Acro's and Monti's or should I upgrade to 250 watt bulbs? <<What you have will be more than sufficient for this tank>> Also, are the rest of the parameters and equipment in my tank sufficient to run the most demanding of SPS? <<The equipment/et al will be fine my friend, but there is so, so, much more than 'equipment' involved in being successful'¦with any genus/species. Please start reading here, following the links in blue at the top of the pages'¦sooooo much more to know/to be absorbed than can be covered or passed in this short exchange>> Thank you for your consideration. Matt <<Regards, EricR>>

SPS lighting and skimmer questions   4/21/07 Dear Crew Love the site. Most of my knowledge in the hobby has come straight from you guys, so I'm of course very grateful. <Here to help> Now on to the good stuff... I'm in the planning and development stages of a SPS dominated system with LPS's near the bottom. I'm new to SPS's and would like to do it right the first time to avoid costly mistakes. I've bought the tank already, a 225-gallon acrylic show tank, 72" wide by 30" tall by 24" deep. <Olly's jealous Heehee> I plan on using two 3/4" sea swirls on the front corners and two stationary nozzles on the back corners running 24 hours a day, fed from the sump return pump. Then a closed loop with two spray bars behind the rock and two 3/4" nozzles positioned in the front/middle of the tank pointed at the rock, tied to an Oceans Motions 4-way (version 2) device that will turn on and off when the lights turn on and off to mimic tidal movements. <Sounds a very good set-up; of course try and aim the varying outputs at each other to create added random displacement> Sand bed will be about four inches, with lots and lots of live rock. First up is lighting. I would think that three 400-watt metal halides would be perfect; problem is my canopy lid is split down the middle into two separate lids. So to have a symmetrical look I'll need to install four bulbs. I know SPS corals like a lot of light but I'm concerned I might bleach some corals with 1600 watts of metal halides, not to mention four 96-watt PC actinics that I was thinking of using. <'Not to mention' electric bills> I'll be running a very powerful chiller and although the canopy is low, clearance is 8.5 inches; I'll be installing fans in the canopy and two vents directly behind the canopy with fans on the roof that will pull humid hot air up and out of the room. <Depending on the fixture used then the clearance may be reduced significantly, I imagine you will be left with around 5-6 inches> This should combat the intense heat produced by four 400-watt bulbs. So my question is, what combo of lighting would be best for the corals? Should I consider two 400's and two 250's? Or will four 400's be ok? <I personally think 400's are often used unnecessarily and a normally overkill. A tank with a depth of more than 28' is when they come into their own. For this reason I would use the combination of two 250's and two 400's. Or if you installed retrofit and read up on the many articles on ballast/bulb and reflector output then I think four 250's would work fine http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2007-04/jb/index.php> On to my skimming question. I was sold on an ASM G3 but now I'm thinking... why not over skim a little and go for the G4? I have room for it, question is, is it really possible to skim TOO much? And how much is too much? The G4 is rated at 350 gallons, the G3 at 250. My Tank is 225 and I figure the sump/refugium will be around 75. But actual water volume will be much lower. I don't want a crazy amount of fish but would like to be covered in case I over do it a little ;-) <I have no experience with this brand but looking over their products and ratings; I would go with the G4 as over skimming is a very influential part of many successful SPS systems. Also like you say, this covers the odd indulgence in future> Looking forward to hearing from you. Sincerely, Chad <Hope to have helped. On the lighting issue -- I believe that part of being a Conscientious Aquarist involves striking a balance between taking from nature and maintaining what is already there. Using 400-watt halides isn't normally necessary unless you're striving for quicker enforced growth, and this often doesn't materialize. However you will significantly increase the amount of pollutants affecting the wild reefs with excessive energy consumption and also spend more on this electricity which could be used to further benefit your tank from other additions. I'm not trying to sway you ^grins^ but I'd stick with 250's -- save energy, benefit your tank, feel better with yourself! Cheers and that wasn't a lecture at you, it an opinion that I wished to share and found my incentive. Hope I've helped, Olly> Transition to Shallow Water, Stony Coral, Display  - 04/05/07 G'day Crew <Dan the Man'¦you've heard that before right?> I am currently running a 6', 22" deep 110gal reef  with 4 x 96W PC lighting. <And let me guess'¦.you're looking to upgrade?> My current Cnidarian residents include a Heliofungia, Catalaphyllia, corallimorphs, zoanthids, Duncanopsamia, and a few leathers. <All can (sounds like they are) do well under power compact lighting, though I too would prefer a few different types of systems first.  The rate at which PC's decrease in their lumen output, makes them, for me anyway'¦appear uneconomical.  Their color in comparison to standard fluorescents, VHO, T-5, etc. '¦is also sub-par.> All is going well so far and everyone is happy. <Good.> However, I have unfortunately(?!) been bitten by the SPS bug <Mmm'¦those colorful shallow-water Acroporas.> (maybe it came in on a piece of live rock). I would like to introduce some acropora species in particular, they are just stunning. <Do be sure to do your research on these.  They are 'keep-able' but are shall we say less forgiving than what you are use to keeping.  Also, whenever you can attain captive reared specimens over recently wild collected.  Your nutrient levels will need to be kept at a minimum and you'll want mucho mucho mucho (lots) of water-flow if you do not already have it. I'd suggest 'Corals' by Eric H. Borneman for text guides and here are a few articles: http://www.advancedaquarist.com/2007/3/aafeature1 http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acropori.htm '¦much more research on WWM, net in general to be had.> The opportunity has come up to purchase some metal halide lighting but I have a number of questions that my LFS doesn't seem to be able to provide satisfactory answers to. <I will attempt to comply'¦> 1) Is it possible to keep LPS and soft corals with SPS or are their light needs too different? Would MH lighting be too much for the guys already in there, or could they be acclimated/moved to lower lighting areas. <The lighting needs are but one concern when mixing cnidaria life.  It is true that some of your current animals my have difficulty n adjusting to more intense lighting but with proper acclimation it is typically possible (though for some there is such thing as too much lighting).   Having said that I do not recommend mixing this type of cnidaria life long-term. There are chemical-warfare (allelopathy) issues to be considered'¦simply put it's not a good idea. And you can see some notes on that here ( http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2006-02/snn/index.php ) as well as gain some other opinions/research on WWM and the net.> 2) If I stay with my PC lights I'm considering adding some additional actinic tubes for aesthetic reasons. <Yes but it would not do much of anything in the way of P.A.R. rating or intensity.> Could any of the Acros  be kept right at the top of the tank with this lighting configuration? <Very few, you would have to compensate elsewhere'¦lots of water flow, highly stable water quality'¦supplemental feedings'¦.I would not recommend this for someone with relatively little experience with these animals. This lighting could work in the shallowest of settings/depths but if you do go ahead with this'¦I would recommend changing all of your lighting to the 6500k to 10,000k range (which it doesn't sound like you want to do.> 3) On a totally unrelated matter, I was talking with Brandon about keeping 2 Centropyge angels (flame and coral beauty) which I've decided to probably have a go at. <Not to contradict Brandon but I would not try this in tank unless it was at least 180 gallons, and surely not in a tank with such an array of invertebrate and cnidaria life at risk.> Could I quarantine them both in an 80L QT if separated with a piece of glass, acrylic or other material? <You could'¦..I wouldn't.> Thanks for your feedback! <Of course.> Since finding your site the frustration levels are lowering and the enjoyment levels are rising! <Awesome.> Dan in Sydney, Australia <Adam J in California.>

Lighting Options For An SPS Tank   1/6/07 Hello, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> I am starting an SPS reef tank.  Either 75 or 120 gallon reef. I have a chiller, skimmer, sump, and all the bells and whistles from my previous tank. My question is should I use 400 watt or 250 watt lights, along with T5?  Cost vs. effectiveness.... <Well, if you're looking for "bang for the buck" with light-demanding SPS corals, I'd be inclined to go with 250 watt halides. T5 supplementation is optional, IMO. I am currently running a large array of just T5 lights on a new system, with good results, but I question its value as a supplement with halides, myself, unless it's purely for aesthetics.> Do you suggest the Aqua Medic combo sexy series, or PFO Acrolights? <I have heard good stuff about both of these makes/models. Ask some fellow hobbyists on the message boards and get a feel for what people who use them have to say.> I know I will use 10K bulbs along with the actinic supplementation.... <Or 10k by themselves, if you like the color.> Thanks so much. Ronnie Shingelo <My pleasure! Regards, Scott F.> Halides for SPS   12/27/06 <Hi Matt, Mich here with you.> Just wanted to ask a quick question, in your opinion what would be a preferred color temp halide to maintain the color and growth of SPS corals?  I have read that most suggest 10000K - 12000K, would this be correct?   <Bulbs in the 10,000 K range tend to have a more complete color spectrum.  Here's a resource you may find helpful http://www.reeflightinginfo.arvixe.com/> Thanks for your time.   <You are welcome.  -Mich> Matt

SPS corals... lighting a 3' deep marine sys.   12/22/06 Hi,       Thanks for all the help through the years. I am looking to add SPS to my system. My tank is about 6' long and about 3' high and 3' wide. <Wowzah... hope you have long arms!> I have 2 65watt 10,000K pc's and 2 65watt actinic bulbs PC's. I was wondering if I could just put 4 10,000Kbulbs <...? How many watts? I don't think the changing of temperature of the lamps will make much difference here> in and add SPS <?...> or if I just need to kick-up the wattage to a 96watt bulb system. Or, do I need some MH bulbs. <Reading...> I would like just to use PC's since I have them, or do I need the full MH system. Please help.      Thanks and happy holidays!!!      Jeromy <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/mhlgsysfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Calcium and SPS 11/01/06 Hi crew, <Hello> What will best meet the calcium demands in a SPS setup, a Kalk reactor or calcium reactor? Thanks Mohamed <Hands down a calcium reactor.  It is not so much the calcium, but more so the alkalinity.  SPS can have perfect calcium, but without the proper alkalinity levels, they cannot utilize the calcium.  Kalk doesn't raise calcium in a system, but rather maintains it.  Over time, Kalkwasser will begin to drive the alkalinity levels down, thus defeating the purpose.  I'm not saying it can't be done with Kalk, but it is not the best route to go in my opinion.  Cheers! -- Dr. J>

SPS Lighting    9/22/06 Hey Crew, <Adam>    Planning on a 40g breeder tank with 4 inch sandbed. Would 2x96 pc be enough for any SPS, or should I get 4x96. <Most Montis/acros are going to require moderate to intense lighting, putting you on the borderline here. Bubble, galaxy, brain, etc, would do well under 2x96 as well as all softies.  The 4x96 would allow you to keep most anything.  Read here and linked files above.  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm>    Thanks <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>   Adam SPS... mainly lighting/sys.  9/6/06 Hi, <Saludo> I have done reading on SPS coral and have a few questions. My calcium 500ppm, <A bit high...> KH 8, magnesium 1450ppm, nitrate 0, nitrite 0, ammonia 0, phosphate 0.5, iodine 0.2,  ph 8.3, water circulation 14 000lph on 800l, 1 litre activated carbon used per month in an under stock tank, par reading is 100 <! under a skylight?> using a bit of filtered sunlight and T5's. I am trying to get the same colour out of my SPS at the time I purchased them. Nitrate seems to be an important factor when it comes to SPS coral and it is one of the factors that contribute to colour. My nitrates sit close to the 0 mark. Will the food that is fed not help SPS to receive the same benefit that they receive from nitrates or what will without raising the nitrates? <Yes, will> I do get undesirable algae growth with detectable nitrates. Lighting also seems to play a very important path to the SPS well been for both health and colour. Light is rated in terms of watts per litre but what about a PAR rating. <Mmm, in the nineties... w/o getting a bit further than we can here> What will be an ideal low and high PAR rating for SPS to keep them healthy and bring out those colours? <92 on up...> Will 6500K bring out more colours from SPS? <Than what? Sunlight is the "ideal"... some folks endorse higher Kelvin rated lamp use, mixes... 6,500 is fine IMO> If one notice bleaching in SPS is it better to move the coral to less light and gradually move it back to strong lighting once it recovers or no sign of progressive bleaching is seen, what is the best way to help the coral? <Depends on the cause of the bleaching... this is a generalized response to unsuitable conditions... Bob Fenner, who has recently sorted the SPS FAQs files on WWM> Thanks      Mohamed.

SPS lighting   1/30/06 Crew- <Craig> Quick question: I am planning on putting some SPS about halfway up the rockwork in a 300 gallon tank (31" high). I am also planning on trying different lighting schemes throughout the tank. I would like to leave some recessed lighting on the ends so that private entreats exist for more reclusive fish to feel comfortable. Since I do not want the whole thing lit up like the midday sun, I am only planning on putting 400 watts of 20K metal halide on the middle third of the tank (a length of about 32"). If the SPS are put directly below the fixture 1-2ft deep, would this amount of light likely suffice? Let me know if this is ill-advised. <Sound be a pleasing effect, no worries my friend, sounds good.> Thanks as always, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Craig

Give Those Acros Some Breathing Room! (Coral Placement)   2/2/06 Hi! <Hiya! Scott F. at the keyboard tonight!> I just had a quick question regarding SPS coral placement. How far should most Acropora be placed from each other? I do prune them and make sure they do not touch each other. Is a distance of 3-4 inches enough? Thank you so much! Sheen <Well, Sheen- everyone has an opinion on this one, but I would allow almost 6" plus between specimens. I've done it closer, and trust me- given time and the proper conditions, they'll still eventually grow into each other! Try at least 6", be patient, and you'll be rewarded with larger, healthier, and more colorful corals...Assuming, of course, that you can provide for their other environmental needs! Best of luck to you! Regards, Scott F.>

Lighting For SPS....Buying the right light  - 5/17/2006 Hello crew, <Hi Tim> First off I want to thank you guys for taking the time to look at this e-mail.  I am trying to get the right light for my reef tank.  I am planning on upgrading to metal halide lighting.  My display is a 75 gallon tank that measures 48" long x 18" wide x 18" deep (from the sand).  I already have a couple Acropora frags as well as two Stylophora pistillata specimens.  This is the kind of coral which I primarily wish to house.  I plan on using balanced lighting, most probably in the form of both 10,000K and 20,000K bulbs.  I was looking at a fixture that has two 250 watt HQI and one 150 watt HQI and assume that this would be overkill as it comes out to well over 8 watts/gallon. <More than needed.> Another fixture I saw had two 150 watt HQI and one 70 watt HQI.  This comes out to almost 5 watts/gallon which I believe is close to a good target value.  Is this correct.  Will this second fixture be sufficient for the more light hungry Acropora that I wish to grow?   <Tim, with your 18" deep tank, I'd feel more comfortable with three 150 HQI's for the light loving corals you intend on keeping.>      Also, I was wondering if you guys have any preference in fixture brands?   <I think Current USA makes a nice fixture for the money. In bulb brands? <I like Ushio lamps.>  I know that some metal halide bulbs are clearly better for gardening and was wondering if the same holds true in reefkeeping.   <Some brands such as Ushio have a more accurate color temperature and a little more intensity.  You may want to check this company out.  They carry the new Odyssea light fixtures that I've heard are nicely built and a bargain.  There is an error on this link, they state three 175 HQI but I'm sure they are 150's as I have never saw 175 HQI's.  See here... http://www.aquatraders.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=275  Do keep in mind I have had no experience dealing with Aqua Traders.> Thanks for the suggestions. Thanks for the help, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Tim

Lighting/SPS Corals   7/24/06 Great site.......you have helped me greatly in the past. One quick question. I have a 100g tank with 2 65w 10,000K bulbs and 2 Actinic 65w bulbs. Can I grow SPS corals with this lighting, <No> Or do I need MH bulbs? Please let me know and if I need MH bulbs, which ones do you recommend? <If you tell me your tank dimensions, I can better answer your question.>    Thanks, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>    Jeromy

Coral Lighting   8/21/06 Hi gang, great site it's been a source of information for me for many years. <Glad you enjoy/learn.> I am in the process of planning out a new 125 gallon SPS reef.  I've had a 55 gallon Zoa tank set up for the last 2 years and I've been very successful with it and now I'd like to upgrade to something a little more challenging.   That being said, I have a few questions on lighting. I had initially planned to go with 3 250watt MH HQI (10000k) and also use 220 watts of VHO 20000k for some additional color.  However, I was told that I'd need to go with 3 400watt MH HQI for Acro frags. <Who told you that, Edison?> I question this; it seems like an ungodly amount of light for a tank of this depth and I worry it would overwhelm even the most demanding corals and I wanted to get your thoughts on it. <Three 175 MH's should work fine providing they are not pendant lights.> Second, I plan to use my old 55 as a fuge with a remote DSB and would like to place some of my more colorful Zoa colonies in the SPS tank (probably more towards the bottom) for additional color.  I run activated charcoal regularly to help maintain water clarity and I skim aggressively, with that said, do you see an issue with the zoa's in a SPS tank? <I'd filter with Chemi-Pure in this regard.  You will have some chemical aggression taking place here and we want to minimize the chemical content in the water.  If you are going to mix corals, stay away from the potent types like Galaxy, Elegance, etc.  Do search our site and others for Allelopathy/Chemical Aggression.> Thanks, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> John Question: I have a 125 gallons reef with a 55 gal sump. There are approx. 30 different stony corals most being SPS. I use approx. 1.5 gallons of Kalkwasser daily with a calcium reactor for Ca and KH . My problem is that I am having a difficult time getting the Ca>360 or KH >9.6. All the rest of my parameters are good and the corals seem fine but not growing like I've head they should. The pH range is 8.1-8.45. Any suggestions would be appreciated. BTW love your column. Bob's Answer: Hey Mike, thx for the plug! IMO your parameters are fine (both are near ideal and closely mimic the range of what's found in "the wild"). Also IMO boosting or inducing artificially high growth rates is not altogether a positive experience. Such animals are unnaturally "soft" and seem less hardy than ones that are cultured near wild rates. My advice? I wouldn't change a thing that you've listed. You're doing mighty fine.

SPS Grow out Tank Hi Bob, Thanks for your guidance in the past, it is truly appreciated. I am setting up 29gal tank for use as an SPS grow out tank. I plan on purchasing frags, and smaller corals, letting them grow somewhat, then transferring them to my 75gal show tank (it gives me an excuse to have another tank!). <All sounds good> For lighting, I have purchased a 192watt PC unit, should give me plenty of light, and will use various powerheads for random circulation. My question concerns filtration. Is live rock needed in a tank with no fish (I would plan on some snails, etc. to control algae)? Do the corals alone need biological filtration? <LR a good idea, and biological filtration needed in all biological systems> I plan on utilizing an EHEIM 2213 canister filter I had left over from my freshwater tank days, for mechanical filtration. In the EHEIM, I was planning to run just the Ehfisynth and the Ehfifix, the fine and course media. <Add a pound or two of Ehfi-grob to the bottom, the ceramic macaroni bits...> With the amount of light I have (the tank is approx. 16 inches deep) the corals should be able to sit (most of the frags I've seen come attached to a piece of live rock) right in the sand. I was planning on some live rock, just for biological diversity , and because it looks good. But it is expensive. Would you still recommend it's use, and would you follow the 1.5 to 2lbs per gallon rule in this set-up? <Yes, recommended, and yes to the "rule of thumb". BTW, a friend is about to come out with his book on "frags and fragging"... Bob Fenner> Thanks again. Steve

SPS Polyp Question - 8/20/03 Howdy Guys and Gals and anything else... <whassup :)> I have a quick question about Acropora frags.  I have a few types of Acro. frags as well as 1 small Acro colony.  They tend to extend their polyps only in the evening, which I read is normal. <indeed... they feed on micro/nano zooplankton and 'tis the time such matter comes out to play> Is there a way to have them extend during the day?   <tweaking water flow can help... but a timed refugium (cycling with display on a dedicated loop only by day and then simply circulated and batch treating water by night) would do the trick. We talk about such aspects at great length (more than any other book to date) in our new work "Reef Invertebrates" (Calfo/Fenner)> The PH is about 8.44 in the day and around 8.19 or so in the evening.  Is this too much of a fluctuation?   <slightly so yes... but has little to do with polyps extension> Should the daytime be higher than 8.4?   <I suggest a night/day range of 8.3-8.6 with a fluctuation of not more than .2 within it> My 90G tank has about 1900GPH of flow, <excellent> none of the frags are receiving any direct flow from the returns.   <as it should be> Calcium is around 400, dKH 9.  No ammonia, nitrites, or detectable nitrates. <all fine except the nitrates. SPS and most corals in captivity need a small amount (a few ppm) of nitrate to feed on - they will starve slowly without it. Color is affected too. European aquarists have taken to adding a sodium nitrate solution (.1% Knop) to nitrate starved tanks> The 1 colony I would have its polyps out for the first few weeks it arrived, but it does not anymore.  They all seem to be growing fine as well.  I have never seen any of the fish bother them, but then again, who knows what goes on when I am at work! Thanks, Paul <maybe they are bashful. Or instead... perhaps they are modest - you haven't been walking around the house buck nekid have you? You may have embarrassed them. SPS have delicate sensibilities. best regards, Anthony>

SPS Polyp Question II - 8/20/03 As always, thank you for the reply Anthony.   <very welcome, mate> I do have the Reef Invertebrates book, excellent.  Kudos to you and Bob and the rest of the contributors.   <ahhh... thanks kindly <G>> I have been wanting a refugium but have not had the luxury of space based on the location of the tank.  BUT, now that we are doing a house remodel/addition, I will be adding a "fish room". <outstanding :) > The tank will be in the wall on one end, in the fish room on the other.  That will give me the needed space to add, or should I say "hide from public view" an upstream refugium, not sure what "flavor" though.   <no need to hide it bub... can certainly be groomed and made very attractive with various colored macros and a lone mangrove growing uniquely out of it with its own spot/track light <G>> Anyways, in my previous email, you mentioned trying to maintain an 8.3 - 8.6 range for my PH as opposed to my 8.19 - 8.45 range.  How do I go about achieving this higher range, without a refugium at this point?  As a note, I do the "slurry" in the morning, usually raising PH from 8.19 to about 8.39.  Four hours later when the lights come on, it climbs to its high point.   <many folk have a problem with poor gas exchange in the well-insulated and sealed homes of summer (and winter) which depresses pH. Check this first by aerating a glass of water vigorously outside or in the garage for 6-12 hours to see if the pH rises. It shouldn't... but I suspect yours will, indicating a problem with lingering CO2 in the aquarium. Much in the WWM archives on this topic> What kinda of problems could arise with my pH range?   <nothing immediate... just lack of vigor/growth... higher incidence of disease (especially with fishes)> I have been reading that SPS corals do need a bit of nitrate, I will need to get a better test kit then those little dip sticks to make sure my results are valid.   <heehee... I'm not sure if you are joking or not about the test strips. If serious, do take my word that they are categorically unreliable. Not recommended IMO> Is there problems adding a sodium nitrate solution?   <no really... like anything else (Ozone, iodine, fish food for that matter) it can be abused or it can be helpful. > I thought I read somewhere this could be difficult or problematic?   <only if misapplied> And finally, I don't think the corals are modest about my buck nekkid walks, (doesn't everyone do this) they are just jealous when they see such a fine specimen of man... or maybe not!!   <I'm not touching this one with a ten foot fishing pole> Wow, this will really sound strange without the context of the previous email. <heehee... lets hope they get archived next to each other <G> Thanks again and best wishes, Paul <and to you in kind, my friend. Anthony>

Lighting on a 125 and SPS color 3/13/03 hello there- <Howdy!> I have a 125 gallon AGA aquarium.  The tank is filled with LPSs and soft corals on the lower half of the tank and SPS corals towards the upper half of the tank. The lighting is 3-175 watt Aqualine 10K bulbs with 4-96 watt power compact actinics.  I currently have the bulbs oriented parallel to the tank with flat reflectors.  I am looking to get more light out of my bulbs and want to purchase PFO optimal reflectors (similar to the spider reflectors- parabolic spectral reflectors).  Do you recommend switching to these reflectors?  I have read good reports of them on the website.   <If they are similar to the spider reflectors, they will be very fine> The reflectors are designed to be mounted perpendicular to the tank.   <indeed... MH lamps should be this way... amazing but true> If I mount the halide bulbs perpendicular to the tank, because of my hood configuration (front 1/3 flips up) I would have to have all 4 power compact actinics in the front.  Would this be a problem? <I don't think the pc.s are contributing much beyond aesthetics here (lack of ability to penetrate water at depth)... no worries> I currently have 2 in front of the halides and 2 in back of the halides.  I am worried that if all the actinics are the front, my SPS, which are primarily at the back, will loose even more color than they have.  To my next question, what factors affect the coloration of SPS corals?   <coral pigmentation is not clearly understood and the factors that influence that we do know would take pages to recite to you. Just a few: water clarity (yellowing agents), food sources (nitrogen), proteins that reflect weak light into a coral... and proteins that refract bright/excess light away from a coral, water depth...> I have lost some color in my stonies since putting them in.   <frankly... we see this all the time with aquarists that mix LPS, SPS and softies in one tank. Most aquarists can run a tank like this for a year or two... but in time, the unnatural mix (different needs of corals from a wide range of reef niches plus unnatural chemical aggression) catches up and the problems begin. My advice is to focus on only one group of corals > A pink Acropora has turned more of a brown pink, the purple coloration is not as vibrant, and the yellows are not as vibrant.  Is this due to needing more actinics?   <not likely... high DOC or nitrate levels however are a common cause (organic fertilizer for the brown symbiotic algae)> Is this due to the Kelvin rating of the metal halides(10k)?   <if your bulbs are less than 2 years old, the lamps and lenses are clean (no dust/debris) and your water is clear (weekly carbon or use of ozone)... then I don't believe the lights are a problem here. AB brand 10K;s are excellent lamps> Is this due to calcium/alkalinity issues?   <not an issue, my friend. Do check water chemistry and clarity first> Thank you for your help and time. Josh <best regards, Anthony>

Lighting Hi <Hello DW> You guys are providing a great service to the aquatic community. <Much appreciated> I am confused on some lighting issues.  My tank is 96x24wx26h for 240g with a  center bar.  I will keep only SPS and clams.  They will be placed at  all levels. I have noticed a trend in your recommendations toward  higher wattage for SPS corals.  My choices are 4x400w, 6x250w, or 4x250w MH  in the range of 14K.  I will not use actinics.  The ballasts will be  IceCap. <For clams and SPS corals, I would go with the 6x250.  This will give you a little over six watts per gallon, and that should be great for your clams/SPS's.  James (Salty Dog)> Thank you for the help. <You're welcome> DW

Lighting An SPS System Hey WWM, <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> You guys have been so helpful in the past I thought I would run this all by you since I am getting mixed stories everywhere I go. I am in the process of constructing my new 40G reef tank. I am just finishing my making my Canopy which is about 10" tall off the top of the tank so lighting would sit roughly 10-12" from the water surface. I would like to be able to house SPS corals/Clams as well as softies and anemones and instead of the just surviving really thrive. Most people have told me the only way to house these type of creatures would be with a MH fixture, some telling me 2 175 MHs, I personally saw the 2 MH fixture as overkill being as the tank is only 36" long. <Well, it's more a function of what types of animals you intend to keep, and the depth of the water. I would not discount the need for metal halides with many SPS corals. It may not be a bad idea to use double-ended HQI bulbs in the 150 watt size. Good "bang for the buck" in terms of energy consumption and lighting capability. Sure, you could perhaps use T5 fluorescents or VHOs, but I think the efficiency of halides makes 'em hard to beat, IMO.> What would be the best route for these creatures to really thrive.? <Again, I'd consider the double-ended bulbs as mentioned above.> I had thought that one 175 W MH in the middle of the canopy would be ample, wasn't even going to supplement actinics, as from what I have read is a more cosmetic thing than beneficial. <That's my personal opinion, too. Besides, some of the metal halide bulbs available now days are especially attractive on their own, such as the 14,000k bulbs manufactured by companies like Hamilton, Phoenix, and Aquaconnect> Please provide me on what you feel would be the best route, thanks much. James <Well, James- you have my take on it. Do consider the need to properly ventilate your system and replace evaporated water caused by heat of these high-intensity bulbs. Also, remember that animals will still require acclimation to new lighting regimes. Do a little research out on the web, talk to some fellow hobbyists, and make the decision based upon your animals' needs. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>  SPS Lighting I realize you folks must deal with a ton of questions pertaining to lighting a reef and, of course, here is another one. I have four 175 watt metal halides over my 46 bowfront, 36 inches by 15 inches. Presently I am using two Sun Aquatics 10K and two Sunbursts 12K, however, I read somewhere the idea of mixing much different lamp types to cover as much of the spectrum as possible. My question is whether you feel the 10K with two XM 20K will allow for best coral growth and coloration on SPS? Thank you for your time and the wealth of knowledge that you so freely give. Matt >>>Hi Matt, It's really a matter of PAR more than Kelvin to be honest. Having said that, I see better color rendition the closer you get to 20K. The down side is that you get less PAR with 20K bulbs sometimes. Given your situation, I would run 2 and 2 as you have suggested. :) I run two 250W 20K HQIs (similar to running 400 watt moguls) on my 150 and LOVE it. I'm done with 10K's, they look too yellow for my tastes after a while, and I'm not an SPS nut anymore. Good Luck! Jim<<<

SPS tank Hi there, <G'morning> I have a 72 gallon bowfront aquarium, 48" X 18" X 22", I currently have a CSL PC light, with 2 X 65 watt Actinics, and 2 X 65 watt 10,000K bulbs. What Lighting should I add to this tank to light it up so that I can keep SPS corals in it? <Mmmm... could just switch out the two actinics for two more 10k's...> I was thinking a pendant, would that work? <Could> Would it work "as is"? Currently what I have in the tank is a Sailfin tang, and 3 fire shrimp, these are all compatible, correct? <Should be> For filtration, I have a 30 gallon sump, with a skimmer, and I am going to try some Seagel filtration in there, have you used it before, does it work well? Thanks for having the great FAQ site. Thanks, Josh Breeds <Don't have experience with Seagel... Much more written/archived on these set-ups... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm - see under "Set-Up" the area labeled "Reef Systems"... and under "Corals..." the "Set-up" articles and Related FAQs. Bob Fenner>

SPS Lighting I have a 72'x28'x18' tank, planning to keep SPS .I already purchased 3 HQI MH ,Giessemann,250 watts, 20,000k. Do I still need Actinics or that will do the job? Their blue color is amazing though. Thanks. >>>Greetings, Great choice on the lights! The Giesseman fixtures are second to none. You never NEED actinics, and with your 20K bulbs I see no reason for them even if you like the "blue look". Your color rendition should be fantastic with this setup. Cheers Jim<<<

SPS Ques Good day Antoine or whoever is out there today! <James today, David> Hope you and the other guys and gals are fine and dandy? <As well as I can be> I have a couple of questions re location of SPS and proximity. My setup is a 120g tank (UK) 60x24x24 with 2 x 250W MH 10K bulbs and a couple of 30W Actinic and a 3-4" DSB, underneath an 80G sump with combined 30G fuge. Combined due to space constraints and the wife;) <I looked up "wife" in my glossary of terms and couldn't find anything so we can eliminate that problem:):)> I am planning on adding some SPS to my tank in the next couple of months likely Acropora sp, Montipora sp and maybe another type of SPS, yet to decide maybe Porites sp or Pocillopora sp. Do you reckon these guys should be placed in the top third of the tank with my current setup? <Yes, with the lighting you have> Would 9 to 12" apart be a good start for separation? <Depends how large they are.  Allow room for sweeper tentacles so they don't touch other corals.> Finally how many of each if I have three of the above would be a good number or should I just stick to one of each? <I'd start slow, see how things go as these are a little more difficult to keep than most corals.> I do have your book of Coral Prop, and I am slowly getting through it. That's all, must go and dry off, not because the UK is wet but because I have just tipped a full cup of coffee over my desk and laptop. <As long as it wasn't your lap.  Dave, you might want to check out  Anthony Calfo/Bob Fenner's book on Reef Invertebrates.  Very informative.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks in advance, DaveG <You're welcome> Corals out of water - 9/14/05 Hi Mr. Fenner! <Paul here to help> Thanks for the last reply! I only forgot to ask about SPS and the water line. I know one should initially place corals 4" below surface and that is what I did. My Pocillopora is now noticeably growing. When I do my weekly water change it gets very close to the lowered water line. Within months I wont be able to do water changes without having part of the coral emerged. So is it bad to have a SPS coral (Pocillopora and Montipora species) partly out of the water for (at the worse) 30 minutes each week? <OK. Well, I have the exact same issue with the exact same corals. The short answer is for a short time, I would say I haven't experienced any issues with bleaching or color problems or anything of that nature. Any longer than that though, I would have to think you might see some issues. Now all this depends on the water replacement, health of the coral, lights on or off etc. I use raw natural seawater from Monterey Bay, I feed my tank a mish mash of Mysid shrimp, Cyclop-eeze, enriched brine, and other stuff, and I do try to water changes with the lights on but not always. Of course there are many more factors that I am sure could be an issue and/or might affect the corals ability to be above water for a short time. For some corals in the surf zone this isn't an issue, but the corals you mention aren't technically surf zone corals. Try and see. Let me know what you find. ~Paul> Thanks again!!! Dominique

Kalkwasser Automation...Coral Feeding - 12/28/05 Hey Crew, <<Hey Jennifer!>> Happy Holidays! <<And to you...>> My 50 Gallon SPS reef tank is doing well.  I dose B-Ionic 2 part   DAILY!!  I drip ESV Kalk nightly for evaporated water...  This has been becoming difficult, as I am a touring musician. <<Mmm, you could possibly get by on the drip only...and even do this "'round the clock"...thus eliminating the need to have to start the drip nightly.>> Should I get a reactor or Kalk reactor on such a small reef tank,   or can you suggest other options so as to minimize the daily   maintenance to the system??? <<Maintenance is part of the hobby.  Automation can be helpful to a point, but is no substitute for your own daily observation of the system to ensure all is well.  But saying that, if you have an automated top-off system you could easily add a Kalk-reactor to facilitate leaving the tank for a couple days at a time.  Anything more than a couple days and I suggest you find/orient someone to come check on the tank to perform necessary maintenance/feedings...or resetting that tripped breaker <grin>. >> Thanks for your time.  Also, SPS doing ok, but growing slowly.  I understand many factors are involved.  Besides water motion/quality, lighting, what else helps??  Feeding? <<Feeding is very important in my opinion.>> If I feed I get phosphates and brown stuff on the sand.  My Phosphates are generally around .03-.04... <<Don't be so afraid of a bit of algae that you are depriving your tank by not feeding.  There are measure you can take to limit this (all found on WWM) while still providing the nutritional requirements of your charges.  Very few, if any, corals are truly and completely autotrophic...SPS corals need to feed...>> Thanks! Jennifer  NYC <<Regards, EricR>>

Re: Kalkwasser Automation...Coral Feeding - 12/29/05 Hey Eric. <<Hey Jenna>> Will my ALK go to high if I drip Kalk all day? <<Mmm, not so much a concern for Alkalinity as for pH...you will need to experiment/start out slow until you can determine the maximum you can drip without boosting your pH too high.>> If I do, do I still need to dose B Ionic? <<If you are performing frequent partial water changes (20% bi-weekly) I think you can do away with the supplements.>> What should I feed the SPS and clams? <<Do you have any fish?  One of the best foods for SPS corals in my opinion is the food you feed your fish...after it is processed by the fish.  I also like Cyclop-Eeze (the frozen offering), Selcon, and vitamin supplements (Boyd's is my fav), as well as the pack juices from the frozen cubed fish foods...though the latter is feared by some aquarists as rocket fuel for algae growth.  Another food which I have yet to try but hear very good things about are the oyster eggs offered by DT's.>> I have gotten so many answers to this question, but I trust you guys! <<We appreciate the vote of confidence!>> Thanks, Jenna <<Regards, EricR>>


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