I think at the advanced level, the unknowns become make or break


New member
Hi, by advanced I mean most reefers that have the main params under control and a some talent at keeping their tank in good shape. But then, what are the differences that make some of those tanks look amazing? A chemist buddy of mine has been testing or tank water at the lab and over the past few years we noted, all tanks can have very different element levels, and those levels can vary quite a lot from one month to the next. However, for the most part the tanks in question always look more or less fine. Our initial goal was to attempt to mix and match salt brands to come as close to NSW chemistry as possible. We are now thinking, as said by Julian Sprung " the bottom line is that an aquarium environment is not the same as an ocean environment".
I was strictly against adding elements to enhance coral colors since this would alter the water chemistry further away from NSW. But after nothing spectacular happening in months of attempting to keep everything in reasonable limits. I started adding a drop of Fe a few times per week. Greens became greener, then a bit of iodide here and there, my pink birds nest looks more pink. I raised K to 430 ppm instead of 400, blues got bluer. So I guess a tank is not a miniature copy of the sea but something similar with certain important differences. I also believe after seeing these analysis the idea of 0.00 PO4 and 0 NO3 is a bad idea that some are now also starting to notice.


New member
Here's one of my last lab analysis that I used to correct to NSW, I have since given up because higher levels of certain elements produce better colors IME.

Salinity-35 ppt
Temp. 79.5-80°F
Alk-7.5 DKH
Mg-1300 ppm
NO3-0.0 ppm
PO4-0.01 ppm

Ag <0.2 ppb
Al* <10 ppb
As 2.4 ppb
B** 5190ppb
Ba* 23.1 ppb
Be* <0.4 ppb
Bi** <0.1 ppb
Cd* 0.4 ppb
Co* <0.4ppb
Cr* 2.1 ppb
Cu_63 7.1 ppb
Fe* 7.2 ppb
Hg He 0.3 ppb
Li* 312 ppb
Mn* 0.9 ppb
Mo* 6.2 ppb
Ni60* 1.1 ppb
P** 29.7 ppb
Pb** 0.3 ppb
Sb 1.3 ppb
Se 1.1 ppb
Sn 118* 2.1 ppb
Sr** 8970 ppb
Te* <0.2 ppb
Ti* 5 ppb
U* 0.6 ppb
V* 2.3 ppb
W* <0.9 ppb
Y* <0.2 ppb
Zn66* 10.3 ppb
Zr* <0.5 ppb


Grizzled & Cynical
Not sure I agree with your premise. I think most tanks (novice or advanced) are a function of consistent husbandry. OK, no question a newbie is going to run afoul of things an expert takes as second nature, but my observation of expert tanks in decline is that the reefer failed to maintain a consistent maintenance schedule, for whatever reason.