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BadgerReefing

Testing Nano Reef Water

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BadgerReefing

I've maintained massive to small nano freshwater planted tanks before, but I've never kept a saltwater reef long term before. I figure Ph and salinity are pretty important, but I'm not 100% sure on what I need to be testing for consistently so for the more experienced nano reef keepers:

 

  • What parameters are you testing for?
  • How often should you be testing these parameters?
  • What are you equipment/testing kit are you using? 

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Opotter

I’m definitely not the most experienced person on here, but I can give you my 2 cents.  The short answer is it’s complicated and you are probably gonna get a different answer from every reefer.  There isn’t really a standard.  You test as much as you need to to keep the tank heathy and maintain parameters.  That is going to vary substantially as you go through the process of maturing the reef.   I will try to break it down to the bare basics I guess, but there will be exceptions to the below at times.

 

In the beginning, while your tank is cycling.  You are gonna need to test ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate pretty much daily.  PH too will be needed during cycle, but not daily.

 

Then when you start adding coral and livestock nitrate and phosphate becomes more important.   You’ll test really frequently for a while and then less frequently as you more livestock.  Speaking personally, I got to a point where I could tell by how the coral looked if I needed to test.  I feel like this is pretty common from what I’ve heard other reefers say.

 

As you get more coral and the tank starts to fill, you will start to worry more about alk, calcium, and magnesium. You will test daily to figure out what the tank is using.  If your corals are using more than water changes can replace, then you will need to supplement the tank with them.  When you get to that point, you should test every time you add something (until you reach a stable point where you are comfortable with what the tank is consuming.. and again.. testing will space out more).  

 

Clear as mud?  Everyone approaches this topic very differently.

 

As far as salinity, in the beginning I checked it daily and topped off with RODI water to maintain.  Then I got an auto-top off system.  Now I might check it once a month or less, because my top off keeps it very steady.  Or I test if I suspect a problem.

 

Which kits-  basically not API.  I like salifert.  Loads like the Red Sea kits.  The Hanna checkers are great too.. little more pricey, but that digital read out exact number is really nice.  It’s my go to for the ones I have to do most frequently now.   Matching colors to cards (like salifert and Red Sea kits) can get tiresome for me if I’m in a hurry.

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Garf

I test weekly alk and salinity at minimum. I will test other params as needed, depending on what tank is telling me.  But the main param I am testing is for alk, if that is stable, then Ca, Mg and PH should also be stable.  I have salifert test kits for pH, No3, Po4, Ca, dKh, Ca, Mg and Hanna checker for dKh.  Of course at the beginning, I was testing most of everything every few days after the tank finished cycling. I never tested nitrite, or ammonia. 

 

For now, I am concerned about nitrates and phosphates too low, so I have been testing those every other WC.  I will test the big three, dKh, Ca, Mg every few weeks. 

 

As I am also dialing in dosing, so I have been testing dKh daily.   

 

When I open a new bag of salt, I will test the first few weekly water changes for Ca, Mg, dKh for my saltwater mix, to establish a baseline I can rely on. Then I will test each new batch of WC saltmix for dKh, to make sure it is still close to that baseline. and of course salinity. I test tank salinity prior to my WC, then anything else after the water change.  This way I can adjust WC salinity if needed.  

 

 

 

 

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Clown79

 

 

When starting out weekly testing is important.

After cycling, n03 and salinity.

 

once corals start getting added, alk and ca should be added to that.

 

Once the tank starts maturing, testing everything less often is ok although alk and salinity I think should be weekly.

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BadgerReefing
10 hours ago, Clown79 said:

 

 

When starting out weekly testing is important.

After cycling, n03 and salinity.

 

once corals start getting added, alk and ca should be added to that.

 

Once the tank starts maturing, testing everything less often is ok although alk and salinity I think should be weekly.

Thank you for the insight. This is the general gist of what I’ve heard from reefers but I wanted more clarification.

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Clown79
28 minutes ago, BadgerReefing said:

Thank you for the insight. This is the general gist of what I’ve heard from reefers but I wanted more clarification.

When I started up my tanks I tested ammonia and nitrate daily for the cycle.

 

Then weekly- nitrate, ca, alk

 

After I got to know my tank, the signs and its usage of elements, I have tested less often.

 

At 4yrs my schedule is this

 

Alk after waterchange and mid week

 

Ca - monthly. I dose 2 part so I know it's fine

 

N03- every 3 weeks or so

P04- every 2 weeks or more. Depending if there is an issue.

 

Mag- haven't tested in months

Ph - never test. It's a fluctuating parameter and if alk is fine, ph should be too

 

 

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BioCube Newb

+1 for the Hanna Checkers, matching colors is for chumps j/k lol

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