Triton Method EXPLAINED: How It Works and Interpreting Lab Test Results

ICP water testing gives you a very accurate glimpse of what is inside your aquarium water.

But what good is an accurate test result if you don’t know what it means or how to fix it?

Triton Applied Reef Biosciences is a German based company that has developed, through extensive research, a series of services and products that help overcome the limitations of home aquarium test kits and put the power of keeping a stable and thriving reef tank in your hands.

Triton Labs

Triton Lab, located in Dusseldorf Germany, developed a way to affordably measure 35 seawater elements using Inductively Coupled Plasma – Optical Emission Spectrometry, or “ICP” for short. ICP is a high-tech analysis technique that uses really really hot (18,000°F) plasma to split the water sample into individual ions. The result is a snapshot of the elemental make-up of your tank’s water.

To get started with Triton, you need to order a Triton ICP Test kit from our website.  When the kit arrives, register online to receive your unique customer ID by email.  

Once you’re issued an ID, complete the registration.

The test kit  includes two water sample vials with unique bar-codes. These bar codes are entered into the website, linking them to your aquarium.

When entering your reef tank’s details online, it’s important to provide an accurate estimate of the amount of water in your aquarium in order for Triton to make detailed recommendations for you.

Fill the vials with your tank water, place them in the shipping envelope, add postage and drop it in the mail.

The water samples will be analyzed in Germany and you’ll be able to get the results online in 7-10 days. An email notification is sent when the test result is available. The results can then be viewed on their interactive website or downloaded as a PDF.

The PDF download provides a simple outline of the test results but you really want to take advantage of the very powerful Triton website in order to interpret these results and then take action.  

You will be served with helpful tabs that explain what the results mean and then how to correct and maintain each element or water parameter.

Based on the data collected from thousands of aquariums around the world, Triton has also created the “Triton Method” specifically for reef-keepers and spite popular belief, it is quite simple and here’s how it works. 

  1. Test the aquarium water using ICP analysis
  2. Evaluate the results
  3. Take action when it strays from Natural Sea Water conditions.

It’s the “Take Action” part that that makes the Triton method unique. With each Triton Lab water test result you will get specific instructions for how to correct and keep your saltwater as close to natural conditions as possible. 

Triton will provide simple action plans, specifically for your aquarium, using the Triton Reagents. The Triton reagents are simply the Triton brand range of additives and gives Triton the ability to provide you with very specific instruction.

The Core7 base Elements are the super concentrated foundation reagents with all major, minor and trace elements of natural sea water. The Core7 range includes x4 individual solutions that are intended for daily dosage into your aquarium. Think of this as a complete and balanced dosing system that lays the foundation for the Triton Method to meet your tanks demand. 

One important note here is the CORE7 elements are available in two different formulations. The CORE7 Base Elements version is designed for tanks that are running the complete Triton Method, with a large refugium, and the CORE7 Reef Supplements are best used on any other tank not adhering to the Triton Method approach to reefkeeping.

After implementing the Core7 elements, periodic ICP testing coupled with home water testing can effectively monitor and log the stability of your aquarium water over time. The tests will also identify and provide instructions for removing any harmful contaminants that may have built up in your system.

For example, you might notice calcium levels are a little low and phosphates are elevated.  In this case, Triton would suggest changes to your CORE7 calcium dosing as well as provide you an action plan for lowering the phosphate levels using the Triton AL99 Phosphate Remover.

Here at MD we stock the Triton ICP test kits and the CORE7 elements which will get you started.  The individual trace and macro element reagents can then be used for making element specific adjustments along with the Triton brand carbon media and phosphate remover.  

The Triton Method doesn’t just test the water, it creates a customized action plan to keep your reef tank balanced. The method does not advocate chasing numbers but rather maintaining a stable environment that mimics natural seawater.  

In addition to ICP testing and developing a unique dosing regime, the Triton Method outlines a specific filtration method required to keep waste levels under control as well. Thankfully this filtration system is not all that different than what many of you already employ.  It entails a sump with a large refugium area, protein skimmer, and of course the return pump.

This large refugium area is crucial and essentially the heart of the Triton method.  It should be 10-20% the size of your entire system volume.

The idea is to sustain a sufficiently sized macro-algae population for complete nutrient export, without the need for water changes!   As macro-algae grows in a refugium, nutrients are consumed and removed from the aquarium water keeping nitrates and phosphates within an acceptable range.

When applied correctly and conditions are stable, this holistic approach to reefkeeping aptly called “The Triton Method” is so efficient that many users find regular water changes can be eliminated with no adverse effects on the tank.

As hobbyists, the Triton services can be useful in a number of ways and you can really take advantage of whatever Triton Service you see fit for your aquarium and create a sort of formula that works for you.

The highly accurate ICP water testing with Triton Labs can help dial in your dosing regime or identify contaminants in your water.

Maybe you are just looking to simplify your additives, the Core7 elements are an excellent option to maintain all major, minor and trace elements in your tank.

You might be hearing rave reviews of the “Triton Method” and want to give it a shot on your aquarium.  In this case you will be adhering to the triton methods of filtration, sending off regular ICP water tests and using the full line of Triton Reagents.

I think for most of you, you will take these methods, learn from them and develop a system that works for you and your tank.

The cool part is no matter who you are as a hobbyist, Triton offers a service that can benefit you and your reef tank, and we are proud to have Triton services available here at Marine Depot.

Some exciting news we learned while working with Triton is that they are building a new US based Triton lab which means that future Triton users will be able to get an even faster turnaround time.  

We are also looking forward to the new ORGANICS line of additives and n-DOC test kit from Triton which is a brand-new system designed to look at Nitrogen, Carbon, Phosphorous and Alkalinity which is an exciting advancement for those of you looking to micro-manage nutrient levels in the aquarium.

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