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Water parameters of a Reef Tank and the chemicals that need to be added in order to maintain system

As a crucial part of keeping your reef tank healthy. Water testing should be a top priority to maintaining your reef tank

Here we will discuss all of the parameters you should keep an eye on and test regularly. Including Temperature, Salinity, pH, & more

by scott Shiles • March 14, 2023

Reef Tank Maintenance, All Corals

Maintaining proper water parameters is crucial for the health and well-being of a reef tank. In this comprehensive guide, we'll discuss all the essential parameters you should keep an eye on and test regularly. Additionally, we'll explore the chemicals and techniques necessary to maintain these parameters within their ideal ranges.


The ideal temperature range for a reef tank is between 75-80°F (24-27°C). To maintain temperature, a reliable heater is typically used.


Salinity is the measure of the concentration of salt in the water. The ideal salinity for a reef tank is between 1.023 and 1.025. To maintain salinity, a hydrometer or refractometer is used to measure the salt concentration, and a salt mix is added to the water to adjust the salinity level.


Maintain pH levels between 8.1-8.4, crucial for the overall health of your reef ecosystem. Add buffer solutions as needed to stabilize pH levels.


Alkalinity, which measures the water's ability to resist changes in pH, should be maintained between 8-12 dKH. Alkalinity buffers or supplements can help stabilize alkalinity levels.


Calcium is essential for the growth of coral skeletons. The ideal calcium level for a reef tank is between 380-450 ppm (parts per million). Calcium can be maintained through the addition of calcium supplements.


Magnesium is also important for coral growth and can affect the overall health of the tank. The ideal magnesium level for a reef tank is between 1200-1350 ppm. Magnesium can be maintained through the addition of magnesium supplements.


Nitrate is a byproduct of organic waste and uneaten food in the tank. High levels of nitrate can lead to algae growth and harm corals. The ideal nitrate level for a reef tank is below 5 ppm. Nitrate can be controlled through the use of protein skimmers, live rock, and regular water changes.


Phosphate is another byproduct of organic waste and can also contribute to algae growth. The ideal phosphate level for a reef tank is below 0.03 ppm. Phosphate can be controlled through the use of phosphate removers or through regular water changes.

Advanced Techniques for Nutrient Management:


Provide necessary inorganic nutrients through feeding, ensuring moderation to prevent excess.

Partial Water Changes:

Regular changes help replenish consumed elements and export excess nutrients.

Adjusting Parameters:

Fine-tune nutrient levels to create a balanced reef environment.

Additional Methods:

Utilize binding agents, promote macroalgae growth, dose carbon sources, and create anaerobic zones to support denitrifying bacteria.

Element Dosing:

Dose depleted elements to match a newly mixed batch of saltwater, ensuring stability.

Recommended Elements:

Focus on dosing phosphate, nitrate, alkalinity, calcium, and magnesium within recommended ranges.

Timing of Dosing:

Start dosing alkalinity, calcium, and magnesium when levels drop, ensuring proper replenishment.

Maintaining Stability:

Regularly test water parameters and adjust as necessary using high-quality chemicals and supplements designed for reef tanks. By following these strategies, you can create an optimal environment for the growth and health of your reef tank ecosystem.

Advanced Tips for Reef Tank Success:

Monitoring and Adjusting Calcium Levels:

Stability in calcium levels is vital for the well-being of reef inhabitants. When dosing alkalinity, it's essential to test and supplement calcium appropriately to maintain balance.

Managing Phosphate Levels:

Phosphate levels, often originating from food, must be monitored closely to prevent various issues. Maintaining phosphate levels within the recommended range is crucial for the overall health and balance of the tank environment.

Utilizing Nitrite Testing:

Monitoring nitrite levels can provide valuable insights during the initial stages of establishing the nitrogen cycle. Testing for nitrite is particularly useful for understanding and optimizing biological filtration in the aquarium.

Importance of Ammonia Testing:

Regular testing for ammonia is necessary, especially during the initial setup phase and significant events affecting tank conditions. Monitoring ammonia levels ensures the overall health and well-being of the reef tank ecosystem.

Ensuring Proper Tank Health:

To maintain a thriving reef tank, it's essential to establish a comprehensive maintenance routine that includes regular water testing and adjustments. By staying proactive and attentive to your tank's needs, you can create an optimal environment for your marine life to flourish.

It is important to regularly test the water parameters of a reef tank and make adjustments as necessary to maintain the ideal levels. Additionally, it is important to use high-quality chemicals and supplements designed specifically for reef tanks to avoid introducing harmful contaminants into the tank.

If you are looking to buy corals online make sure to look at our collections of LPS, SPS, Soft Corals & Zoanthids

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