Reef Aquarium Water Parameters by Randy Holmes-Farley <-- Click here to read more


Table 1.  Parameters critical to control in reef aquaria.

Parameter: Reef Aquaria Recommendation: Typical Surface Ocean Value:1
Calcium 380-450 ppm 420 ppm
Alkalinity 2.5-4 meq/L
7-11 dKH
125-200 ppm CaCO3 equivalents
2.5 meq/L
7 dKH
125 ppm CaCO3 equivalents
Salinity 35 ppt
sg = 1.026
34-36 ppt
sg = 1.025-1.027
Temperature 76-83° F Variable2
pH 7.8-8.5 OK
8.1-8.3 is better
8.0-8.3 (can be lower or higher in lagoons)
Magnesium 1250-1350 ppm 1280 ppm
Phosphate < 0.03 ppm 0.005 ppm
Ammonia <0.1 ppm Variable (typically <0.1 ppm)


Table 2.  Other parameters in reef aquaria.

Parameter: Reef Aquaria Recommendation: Typical Ocean Value:1
Silica < 2 ppm, much lower if diatoms are a problem <0.06 - 2.7 ppm
Iodine Control not recommended 0.06 ppm total of all forms
Nitrate < 0.2 ppm Variable (typically below 0.1 ppm)
Nitrite < 0.2 ppm typically Variable (typically below 0.0001 ppm)
Strontium 5-15 ppm 8 ppm
ORP Control not recommended Variable
Boron < 10 ppm 4.4 ppm
Iron Below Kit Detection Limits (additions OK) 0.000006 ppm

General Acclimation & Quarantine Guide

Quarantine Tank for any new livestock is Highly recommended ! )

  1. Turn off aquarium/quarantine tank lights.

  2. Dim the lights in the room where the shipping box will be opened. Never open the box in bright light - severe stress or trauma may result from sudden exposure to bright light.

  3. Float the sealed bag in the aquarium for 15 minutes . Never open the shipping bag at this time. This step allows the water in the shipping bag to adjust slowly to the temperature in the aquarium, while maintaining a high level of dissolved oxygen.

  4. After floating the sealed shipping bag for 15 minutes, cut open the bag just under the metal clip and roll the top edge of the bag down one inch to create an air pocket within the lip of the bag. This will enable the bag to float on the surface of the water. For heavy pieces of live coral that will submerge the shipping bag, place the bag containing the coral in a plastic bowl or specimen container.

  5. Add 1/2 cup of aquarium water to the shipping bag.

  6. Repeat step 5 every four minutes until the shipping bag is full.

  7. Lift the shipping bag from the aquarium and discard half the water from the bag

  8. Float the shipping bag in the aquarium again and proceed to add 1/2 cup of aquarium water to the shipping bag every four minutes until the bag is full.

  9. Net aquatic life from the shipping bag and release into the aquarium/quarantine tank.

  10. Remove the filled shipping bag from the aquarium and discard the water. Never release shipping water directly into the aquarium/quarantine tank.

  11. Some fish exhibit strange behaviors—rapid breathing, lying on their sides—during acclimation and after first being introduced into your tank. Don’t panic. They will soon settle in.

  12. Many invertebrates will lie motionless during acclimation or when first introduced into your tank. Again, don’t panic.

  13. As a general rule, invertebrates are more sensitive to changes in water parameters than fish. So, when acclimating invertebrates think slow and long—a slower drip rate, and longer period of acclimation.

  14. It’s a good idea to quarantine & dip any new corals with a quality coral dip. Quarantine & dip coral total of three times, once every two days. This routine should take care of any pest & break egg cycle before introducing them into your tank. Ask us to help you select the right product for your needs.

  15. When new corals are first placed in your tank, it’s a good idea to place them low in the tank. Then, over a period of several days, move them closer to the light (depending on the lighting needs of each type coral you have introduced).

  16. Most corals will take days to fully open. Be patient.

Remember: If you have questions, just call us.