Q.           I have a biologically mature aquarium, how do I start implementing the Reef Care Program.

The best way to understand the Reef Care Program (RCP) is to read through the manuals that we provide with the products.

There are 4 manuals to read, 1 for each of the Foundation, Algae Management, Nutrition and Coloration programs. The manuals give a simple explanation of some of the biology/chemistry of what is going on in a reef aquarium and how the various products and programs work together to maintain a vibrant reef. The manuals also give a clear recipe for dosing the supplements. There is no guesswork required as all supplementing is based on measured water parameters.

The Foundation and Algae management programs are definitely the place to start as these are responsible for creating and maintaining overall water conditions and therefore it is probably best to start with the 500ml liquid supplements of Foundation A,B & C and NO3PO4-X. You will need the Nitrate Pro test kit and the 3 Foundation kits to dose these properly.

Depending on the corals you have in your tank you may want to implement the Nutrition and Coloration programs fairly quickly thereafter. Just for clarification the Coloration program is not a coral “paint box” but is our name for a set of 4 minor and trace element supplements that are regularly taken up by corals.

Q.               Can I use NO3PO4-X in freshwater systems?

NO3PO4-X was developed specifically for saltwater systems. At this point in time we cannot make any comments about the performance or long term effects in freshwater systems.

Q.               How long will it take before I see a result with NO3PO4-X?

Within a few days there should be a measurable drop in Nitrates however it takes longer for a drop in Phosphates. Over time the nitrate and phosphate reduction will balance out, achieving the levels stated in the instructions. When moving from accelerated growth to enhanced colour parameters there will be a noticeable difference in the appearance of the corals within a week.

Q.               Will NO3PO4-X affect my refugium.

We recommend maintaining minimum levels of 0.25ppm Nitrate and 0.02ppm of Phosphate. These levels are good for the Zooxanthellae and other micro-fauna however they will not support the macro algae in a refugium. The purpose of NO3PO4-X is to manage nitrate and phosphate levels without other reactors or chemical media and gives absolute control to ensure the ideal conditions for the corals.

Q.           My Nitrate is already less than 0.5ppm and my Phosphate is less than 0.04, can I start using NO3P04-X?

With these values of Nitrate and Phosphate you probably already have an effective nitrate and phosphate reducing system in place. Before converting to using NO3PO4-X you will need to stop using the current system. The only exception to this general rule is, if you have a denitrtator that uses a liquid carbon source you can keep the denitrator running but use NO3PO4-X as the carbon source.  

Q.           Can I use NO3P04-X with the Zeovit system / Balling Method ?

NO3PO4-X will provide a controlled reduction of Nitrate and Phosphate in all marine aquariums and can be combined safely with all other methods of reef keeping. Read the NO3PO4-X instructions carefully and stop using alternative methods of Nitrate and Phosphate control.

Q.           Can I use chemical absorbers whilst using NO3P04-X?

All chemical absorbers should be removed from the water before starting to use NO3PO4-X.

Q.           I am using NO3P04-X and my Nitrate/Phosphate levels are where I want them, do I still need to do water changes?

Regular water changes are part of the overall water maintenance program even when all water parameters are at the optimal levels.

Q.           My Nitrate has reduced to 1 ppm in 10 days using NO3P04-X but my Phosphate has not gone down at all, why is that?

The Nitrate reducing bacteria colonies develop much quicker than Phosphate reducing bacteria and therefore it is just a question of time before you will see a noticeable effect on the Phosphates. In our instructions we do not even recommend checking Phosphate levels until the Nitrate drops below 1ppm and even then it is only to prevent overdosing of the NO3P04-X.

Q.           My Phosphate has gone up since taking my phosphate remover out of the system; should I put it back until the NO3P04-X starts working?

The NO3P04-X works from the first time it is added to the aquarium however it can take a few weeks for the NO3P04-X induced natural phosphate reducing process to produce a measurable reduction in the phosphate. This is a once only transition so bear with it and once removed do not return any chemical absorbers to the system.

Q.           I have been using NO3P04-X for some time and do not see a reduction in Nitrate, should I increase the dosage?

Check that you are using the maximum dosage for the total volume of the system (i.e. 3ml per 100 liters) and that you are using a reliable test kit. If after 15 – 20 days you do not see any reduction in Nitrate please contact us directly to help identify the cause of the problem.

Q.           I have noticed a drop in pH since using NO3P04-X is this normal?

You will always notice a slight drop in pH values after adding the NO3P04-X especially if your pH probe is in the sump or close to where you add the NO3P04-X however after a short time the pH will return to normal. When first using NO3P04-X and until the system reaches its equilibrium the pH may be slightly lower than it was before. This is not a cause for concern.

Q.           After a few weeks of using NO3P04-X my aquarium has become cloudy / I have sludge appearing on my rock work, is this normal?

The cloudiness / sludge are caused by excessive bacterial flocks that are caused either due to a lack of protein skimming or an excessive dose of NO3P04-X. Recalculate your aquarium volume and dosage and check that your skimmer is sufficiently aerating the water. At the first sign of cloudiness reduce your NO3P04-X dosage by 50 % until the water returns to normal clarity.

Q.           Can I use carbon when using NO3P04-X? 

We recommend the use of good quality activated carbon as part of reef filtration and confirm that it does not affect the efficacy any of the RCP supplements. This is because activated carbon acts as a fine mechanical sponge that traps large organic molecules and then starts to adsorb negatively charged organic molecules (such a phenols) that are an end product of the decomposition of organic matter. There are no organic molecules in any of the RCP supplements that can be trapped or adsorbed by activated carbon.

Q.           Can I use the Nitrate Pro and Phosphate Pro tests kits on R/O water?

The Algae control test kits are calibrated to give accurate results for water within the physical parameters of seawater. The kits can be used to give a qualitative (not quantitative) result with R/O water. The colors achieved may be slightly brighter than the color scale and may have an error of approx +/- 5%. This however is more than sufficient to determine if R/O membranes need replacing.

Q.           Can I add live phytoplankton and zooplankton whilst adding Reef Energy A&B?

The Reef Energy A&B will provide all of the nutritional needs of your corals however adding phytoplankton and/or zooplankton in addition to Reef Energy will not do any harm however be on the lookout for any signs of overfeeding.

Q.           Why do you recommend different salinities and levels of Foundation Elements for different types of aquariums?

Unlike the natural reef environment, the reef aquarium is an artificial environment that is constantly affected by the chemical changes that take place in the relatively small volume of seawater. Our recommended levels of Foundation Elements and salinity is based on our research that has shown that the optimal levels of the foundation elements differ according to the variety and maturity of the specific coral population.  

Q.           Is there an average dosing regime for the Foundation Supplements?

The Reef Care program is based on supplementing according to a measured uptake of the elements and therefore we do not give any recommended average dosing instructions. As a guideline for estimating the quantity of supplements required the following are the ranges for daily elemental uptake; Calcium 5 – 30 ppm, Magnesium 1 – 5 ppm, Alkalinity 0.25 – 1 meq/L (0.7 – 2.8 dKH) 

Q.           Can supplements be diluted or mixed together for use with dosing pumps etc.

Apart from Reef Energy A&B, all supplements can be diluted. Reef Energy A&B can and should be mixed together immediately before use but cannot be kept mixed for more than a very short time. In general, the other RCP supplements should not be mixed together before use as this will cause undesirable reactions between the chemicals. The only exception to this rule is Reef Foundation A&C and Reef Colors B (calcium, magnesium and potassium) which will not have any adverse reactions if mixed together.

Q.           My Magnesium is very low and it will take weeks at the recommended maximum daily increase to reach the optimum levels, can I increase the dosage and what damage will it cause if I do?

In general it is best not to exceed the recommended maximum daily dosages however our instruction manuals err on the side of caution. In particular, adding a large amount of concentrated magnesium supplement at one time can damage individual animals that may come into contact with the concentrated supplement before it is properly dissolved throughout the full volume of aquarium water. Multiple doses of 10ppm can be added to an aquarium during a day provided a few hours are given between doses to allow the supplement to dissolve properly.

Q.           Why can’t I just use Foundation ABC+ without using the individual Foundation A, B & C supplements?

Reef Foundation ABC+ is formulated according to the expected Foundation Element uptake of an “average” reef aquarium. In practice no 2 aquariums are identical and therefore the actual uptake will differ from the ABC+ formula however the differences will only be significant over a period of time. Using ABC+ reduces the number of supplements that need to be added on a daily basis but it is still necessary to do a weekly adjustment with all of the individual supplements to keep all of the Foundation Elements at optimal levels. 

Q.           Why is there a maximum rating on aquarium size for the powder supplement Foundation ABC+?

ABC+ contains both calcium and carbonates which need to dissolve in the aquarium water without causing a precipitation of calcium carbonate and therefore we do not recommend adding more than 60g of ABC+ at one time. Since the idea of this product is to make dosing easier we do not recommend using it in aquariums that would require more than the maximum single dosage. The true definition of the maximum size of aquarium should be an aquarium that has a maximum daily uptake of 9g of calcium. This definition is useless to most hobbyists so we do not use it. A well stocked 300 liter SPS aquarium with water parameters set for accelerated growth will have a daily calcium uptake of approx 9g hence the rating we give.  

Q.           What will happen if I don’t add any of the Reef Care supplements for 2 weeks e.g when I am away from home?

Ideally you should make arrangements for whoever feeds your fish to continue dosing all of your supplements as normal or as frequently as possible. It is imperative to continue dosing the NO3:P04-X as failure to do so can destroy a large proportion of the bacteria colonies that will then take time to restore. If your aquarium parameters are set for enhanced coloration then