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Am I Ready for SPS?


Snow_Phoenix

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I'm just curious, since I do want to tackle SPS sometime. I plan on starting off with something simple like Gorgs and the like, and then maybe moving on to Acros and Montis.

 

Currently I'm only using a 48W T5 fixture with one 10K Daylight and 1 Actinic Blue tube. My Calcium levels are 420ppm, Mg are 1350ppm, with Ammonia and Nitrite being 0ppm, and Nitrate being 5ppm.

 

Will my lighting be able to support some Gorgs and maybe small Acro colonies? They'll be placed midway of my 2.5' long tank (30G with a dimension of 30" x 15" x 15"). I'm running a 16G sump with a refugium full of LR, Chaeto and macro in it.

 

Tank is currently hitting the 4-month-mark and is stocked heavily with LPS and softies. Fish include 2 Occy Clowns, 1 Target Mandarin, 1 Sixline Wrasse, 1 Yellowtail Damsel and 1 YCG. Tank is overstocked, and I'm running a Weipro SA-2013 skimmer and keeping up with weekly water changes and element dosing to keep the trace element levels high. Feeding is usually light.

 

So should I, or should I not try my hand at some basic SPS?

 

I'm doing a lot of reading right now, and I'm also upgrading my lights to two 60W (120' optics) PAR38 fixtures in the future.

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You gonna need more light and just the water changes should be enough unless you're testing for it, there's really no need of dosing any trace elements. There's 3 main parameters you'll want to keep an eye on "Alkalinity, Calcium and Magnesium".

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IMO the keys to keeping SPS alive is stability of your Cal and Alk. You don't mention in your post what you are doing to keep your Cal, Alk and Mag stable. While your starting numbers are solid, it's really more important to know how you plan to keep the numbers there. By keep them there I mean on a daily basis, not a weekly basis.

 

IMO the keys to keeping colorful SPS is keeping your nutrients down and the lighting your provide. I strive for 0 phosphates and nitrates below 3ppm. Having said that, my tank is often at 5ppm for Nitrates without any negative impact. You don't mention your phosphate levels but this is an important thing to measure. Your current light is borderline for keeping SPS for any tank that is 48" long. That's not to say you can't do it, I would just plan to keep them high in the tank.

 

With all of this said, you have to start at some point. I was in your shoes at one point and got a small frag of Green Birdsnest. That piece of coral is still with me today. I would recommend you start with birdsnest, stylo, motipora digitata, montipora setosa or montipora cap. These corals are the most forgiving of SPS and can handle lower light.

 

Hope this is helpful. BTW - Gorgonians are not SPS

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I would get the nitrates down for any across or gorgs

 

 

Nitrates are perfect. What is your alkalinity? Hardy SPS like birds nest, digitata and montiporas are easier to start off with.

 

Thank you both. My nitrate levels fluctuate from 0 to 5ppm on occasion. I'll look into getting a birdnest or monti first in that case. :)

 

You gonna need more light and just the water changes should be enough unless you're testing for it, there's really no need of dosing any trace elements. There's 3 main parameters you'll want to keep an eye on "Alkalinity, Calcium and Magnesium".

 

Shall I wait until I get my new fixtures in and up then? I don't mind waiting a few more months. I'm nervous as heck trying to try out my very first SPS. Been keeping reefs for a little over a year, but am still quite hesitant to dive into the tougher areas. And my dKH is almost 10. Is that good enough for SPS, or do I need to beef it up?

 

IMO the keys to keeping SPS alive is stability of your Cal and Alk. You don't mention in your post what you are doing to keep your Cal, Alk and Mag stable. While your starting numbers are solid, it's really more important to know how you plan to keep the numbers there. By keep them there I mean on a daily basis, not a weekly basis.

 

IMO the keys to keeping colorful SPS is keeping your nutrients down and the lighting your provide. I strive for 0 phosphates and nitrates below 3ppm. Having said that, my tank is often at 5ppm for Nitrates without any negative impact. You don't mention your phosphate levels but this is an important thing to measure. Your current light is borderline for keeping SPS for any tank that is 48" long. That's not to say you can't do it, I would just plan to keep them high in the tank.

 

With all of this said, you have to start at some point. I was in your shoes at one point and got a small frag of Green Birdsnest. That piece of coral is still with me today. I would recommend you start with birdsnest, stylo, motipora digitata, montipora setosa or montipora cap. These corals are the most forgiving of SPS and can handle lower light.

 

Hope this is helpful. BTW - Gorgonians are not SPS

 

Thanks a lot for the last tip - I had no idea Gorgs weren't SPS. I'm pretty sure someone once told me in passing they were, but boo on me for not doing further reading. I'm so far dosing trace elements weekly (Marinium All-in-One supplements) and doing easily 20% WCs per week to keep the Ca and Mg levels stable. I haven't experienced massive dKH swings either, since I had the fuge up and running (and reverse photoperiod going on). No buffers are currently being used though. But I'm planning on switching salts to Aquacraft soon since their element levels are significantly higher.

 

I love birdnests and monti caps. Also love the look of Acros, but I heard they were tricky.

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Wait until after you make any planed changes (lights, salt, whatever). While you wait, look into a two part dosing solution like Bulk Reef Supply offers: http://www.bulkreefsupply.com/brs-2-part-calcium-alkalinity-total-package-bulk.html

Also, watch the video on that page. You should have a dosing plan in place (even if you don't need to dose initially). You can even hold off on buying anything until your levels start to drop (but keep testing).

 

For target levels when dosing, I like to pick a good reef salt mix, and just maintain those levels (then water changes will not cause swings). As others are saying, stability is the goal. As your frags grow, they will consume more calcium and alkalinity. You'll have to adjust your level of dosing to match consumption. I wouldn't attempt to elevate the levels (just keep maintaining them).

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Montipora Capricornis (Monti "Cap") is probably the easiest of all "SPS" corals to keep alive and is far easier to keep than most LPS and softies. That is probably the best place to get into SPS corals and you are definitely ready for one.

 

It is probably the most hardy coral in my entire tank and an extremely fast grower. It is the 3rd coral I ever got after some zoas and a ricordea. If you are keeping other corals of any sort alive, you are ready for a monti cap - even with less than optimal amounts of light and fluctuating conditions. It'll just be a deep, dark green instead of a nice bright green. The good thing is they readily adapt to anything and as your tank improves in equipment and conditions, the color will steadily improve until it is a super bright green with an almost whitish-blue growth ring and polyps that make it look like a fuzzy mat instead of a piece of stone.

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Like others said, your main ally is going to be setting up a routine and keeping your parameters stable. Do not try to chase the magic numbers! If your calcium is 20 ppm too low all of the time or your alk doesn't want to budge from 8, don't worry about it. Let the numbers fall where they want and keep them there. After some time you will have your sps growing like weeds.

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Wait until after you make any planed changes (lights, salt, whatever). While you wait, look into a two part dosing solution like Bulk Reef Supply offers: http://www.bulkreefsupply.com/brs-2-part-calcium-alkalinity-total-package-bulk.html

Also, watch the video on that page. You should have a dosing plan in place (even if you don't need to dose initially). You can even hold off on buying anything until your levels start to drop (but keep testing).

 

For target levels when dosing, I like to pick a good reef salt mix, and just maintain those levels (then water changes will not cause swings). As others are saying, stability is the goal. As your frags grow, they will consume more calcium and alkalinity. You'll have to adjust your level of dosing to match consumption. I wouldn't attempt to elevate the levels (just keep maintaining them).

 

 

Hmm...This is admittedly interesting. Thanks for chiming in, Seabass. I never knew that SPS required such extreme care to be honest. Makes me think I'm not really ready yet, but I'll probably get a small birdnest frag for starters.

 

Montipora Capricornis (Monti "Cap") is probably the easiest of all "SPS" corals to keep alive and is far easier to keep than most LPS and softies. That is probably the best place to get into SPS corals and you are definitely ready for one.

 

It is probably the most hardy coral in my entire tank and an extremely fast grower. It is the 3rd coral I ever got after some zoas and a ricordea. If you are keeping other corals of any sort alive, you are ready for a monti cap - even with less than optimal amounts of light and fluctuating conditions. It'll just be a deep, dark green instead of a nice bright green. The good thing is they readily adapt to anything and as your tank improves in equipment and conditions, the color will steadily improve until it is a super bright green with an almost whitish-blue growth ring and polyps that make it look like a fuzzy mat instead of a piece of stone.

 

Wow, thanks for all the info! :)

 

Like others said, your main ally is going to be setting up a routine and keeping your parameters stable. Do not try to chase the magic numbers! If your calcium is 20 ppm too low all of the time or your alk doesn't want to budge from 8, don't worry about it. Let the numbers fall where they want and keep them there. After some time you will have your sps growing like weeds.

 

Okay, gotcha. So the key to maintaining SPS is to keep the parameters in check. Got it.

 

 

What do you have for flow? This very important... Stability Flow Light Nutrient export

 

I have a Resun-2000 wavemaker for flow. It kicks out a 2000L/Hr flowrate and usually blows the sand off the base of the aquarium. I might pick up a WP-25 in the future though.

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Why not get a little frag and see how it goes? I picked up a 2 x 1 inch frags for $10 as a test. So far they look happy enough.

I agree. The first time that I tried montipora I was a bit over confident and killed it. This time around though they are faring much better and have actually grown too

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If it were me, I would wait a few more months... I just added my first SPS at 10 months old, and I still think I added it too early. Most people say you should wait 6-9 months to add SPS. It really prefers a mature tank. However, its your money lol

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I've grown SPS fine even in new tanks you just need to make sure you have the lighting, flow and parameters.

 

Monti's! DO IT UP! I love them! Acros are mostly meh though I think.

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Hmm...I'll get the PAR38s up and going first, and then get a small frag and see how it goes in that case. SPS are really pricey over here though - plus the last thing I'd want to do is kill anything in my tank. They've (the livestock - fish & corals) been doing really well so far.

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