Thursday, November 28, 2013

What are the "best" reef aquarium supplements?

I hope everyone is having a great Thanksgiving!

Being a foodie, I LOVE to eat. Thinking about what I will be cooking and eating for the holidays also has me thinking of what I feed to my tank.

One question that we are frequently asked, and always have trouble answering is "what is the best supplement for my tank?" Just like going into your local supermarket and asking the associate "what is the best cereal?" The answer really is "it depends." Are you looking for the tastiest cereal, the least fattening, the most nutritious, or the one that will keep you full the longest? Adding to the difficulty is that everyone has different preferences and are usually taking multiple criteria into consideration.


A similarly long laundry list of criteria exists for a reef aquarium supplements. Are you looking for supplements that will give you the fastest growth for your zoas and palys or the best color for your SPS? Or are you looking for supplements you won't have to dose too often? What about supplements that will keep your corals the healthiest?

As different corals have different requirements, the mix of corals you have in your aquarium will also influence your decision on what to dose. Further adding to the complication is that your water quality and how frequent you perform water changes will also affect what you need to, or should, add.

Here are what I feel are the "best" supplements for my reef tank:

Starting with the basics, I am using the AquaMaxx Synergy Plus to maintain my calcium and alkalinity levels. Brightwell Magnesion and Strontion are used to maintain optimal magnesium and strontium levels.

As my reef aquarium is a mix-reef with both soft and hard corals, I also add RedSea Reef Colors A (iodine) for my soft corals, the Reef Colors B, C, D to improve the colors of my hard corals. One of the issues I battle regularly is that I probably have more fish than I should have and I LOVE to keep them well-fed. The RedSea NO3:PO4-X, my over-sized protein skimmer and regular water changes help to keep my nitrate and phosphate levels in check.

From time to time, you will hear that corals can just live off of fish poop. This may be okay for some of the easier to keep corals, but definitely not the ideal. Just as I can probably live off of eating just chili cheese fries—but probably shouldn't. There are much better, healthier foods available. There is also a lot more than just fish poop floating around in natural coral reefs.

The Brightwell Reef Snow is one food that simulates natural "marine snow" flocculants. Certain corals, such as the goniopora and dendrophyllia corals, require being target fed and will not survive otherwise. Polyp Lab Reef-Roids and Two Little Fishies Gioniopower are both powder foods that are scientifically engineered to provide the ideal particle sizes and correct nutrition. 

In additional to providing the required nutrition for my goniopora and dendrophyllia corals, these foods also help to boost the health and growth of all my other corals. One important consideration that you should make note of is that food equals organics. Over-feeding your corals will lead to elevated nitrate and phosphate levels.
The last of my supplements include the Salifert Coralline AminoAcids that helps to improve skeleton formation and Salifert Trace Hard to help replenish trace elements consumed by my corals.

These are the 14 supplements I feel are "best" for my reef. Since your tank is different from mine, the best supplements for your tank will be different than mine.

First, make sure to have all the basic reef tank parameters within range (pH, nitrate, phosphate, calcium, alkalinity, magnesium). Next, select supplements for your corals that will help you achieve the effects you are looking for. Doing so will ensure your corals are as happily fed as you are during this holiday season!

If you have questions about supplements, leave a comment below or call 1-800-566-FISH (3474).