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Old 04-06-2008, 12:55 AM   #1
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Ideal nitrates for corals?

Can someone please post the ideal nitrate levels for corals - particularly new frags? I've read some various articles that have some discrepancies and I want to make sure I do this right. I don't have any wiggle room in a 24 gallon nano. Second question - how much wiggle room does my son have in his 90 gallon? He tends to be a bit more relaxed than I am with testing and water changes. I'm taking over maintenance of his tank in the fall. I could use a little advice. Calcium should be around 450 - right?

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Old 04-06-2008, 08:22 AM   #2
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Ideal nitrate is 0, but up to 10 is OK for corals.
Calcium should be around 420 ppm, but 450 is OK even tho the higher levels will not have any affect on growth. The corals won't grow any fast because the ca level is higher.
Don't forget about alk and magnesium. All 3 work hand in hand and all 3 get used by coral and coralline. If your tank is consuming calcium, it is consuming proportionate amounts of alk and mag.

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Old 04-06-2008, 09:43 AM   #3
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Thank you for the quick response. My 24 gallon runs around 5 for nitrates. I do test for alk but not for magnesium. I'll look for a test today. Do I follow the test recommendations or do you guys have a specific level you shoot for? Is the magnesium in my water a part of the trace elements? Will I maintain it by water changes? Or do I need to buy a supplement? I do 20% PWC about every 7-10 days. Trying to save myself a trip to the lfs!
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Old 04-06-2008, 12:00 PM   #4
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Unless you are heavily loaded with corals/clams a PWC every 7-10 days should maintain all trace eleements. Ca levels depend on the salt you use. Ca of 380 -450 is recommened for corals though many here like to keep Ca over 400. I have not read any scientific evidence that anything over 350 is really necessary. Keeping it at 380 give you a little room between pwc's for depletion.

You may want to read Calcium for Dummies for more info on the relationship of Ca to Mg, pH and alk.
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Old 04-06-2008, 12:10 PM   #5
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My API test usually reads 0ppm of Nitrates. I ordered the Salifert Nitrate test kit Because as far as I know it will read Nitrates down to 2ppm where the API only reads down to 5ppm. I also wanted to check my Nitrate with another test just to confirm, And I hear Salifert is the way to go. I also bought a Salifert Calcium test kit to confirm my API results. Here is some good info on tank parameters Reef Aquarium Water Parameters by Randy Holmes-Farley - Reefkeeping.com

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Old 04-06-2008, 12:47 PM   #6
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The Salifert test will actually go down to 0.2ppm. If you read the color through the side of the container you divide the color scale that comes with it by 10 - so the lightest shade is 0.2ppm. If you read the color looking down from the top, you use the scale as it is - so the lightest shade is 2.0ppm.

Just a heads up for when you get the kit!

Oh... and I agree - 0.0 is the "ideal" for nitrates. But that's not going to happen because you're going to pick up a trace amount from your salt mix. Even though Reef Crystals is "nitrate-free" I consistently test it between 0.2 and 0.5 ppm, starting out with DI (0.0ppm nitrates) source water. Also agree that magnesium should be OK if you're doing 20% water changes every week. I've seen various targets for magnesium, but the one I use seems easiest to remember... your magnesium should be 3x your calcium levels. So if you're running 400 ppm calcium, shoot for 1200 ppm magnesium. Of course, those are "round about" numbers! Think my last test numbers were 1160ppm, with around 400 ppm calcium.

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coral, corals, nitrates

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