sps secrets?

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sps secrets?

Postby stevenliu on Fri May 20, 2005 8:45 pm

hi all! currently I do not have any sps in my tank. Although I have success with lps and softies, I am kind of afraid to acquire any sps just cause every source I hear declare sps a "very difficult" to keep kind of stuff. And until I have learn the proper technique and the proper equipments, I don't want to kill any of them. So if you have sps, particularly acropora with success, please share some tips of minimum care requirements, what wattage is your lighting, water parameter, and finally dieting and fragging of the animal. Thanks!
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Postby Mark on Sat May 21, 2005 10:56 am

Hi Steven.

I don't claim to be any expert, but seem to have been blessed with good success with SPS. Some of my first frags came from MARS members :)

I do talk a lot, and as I type very fast that means I post very long-winded. Just because I write a lot of words doesn't mean I know that much.

I started with frags, and have pretty much added only frags as time goes by. It does take a while to get them up to size - but it seems to me that corals that I've gotten frags of are often fast growing, hardy, and fairly possible to color up nicely. They've sort of been selected to be easier by the fact that numerous people have failed to kill them so far :lol:

Anyway, right now I run a tank that's stony coral focused - with only zoanthids, a couple ricordia, and a single softie [yellow fiji toadstool]. I'm unsure which softies seemed to affect my SPS, or if it was something else ... but feel like my stonies [bubble, frogspawn included] did better without all the softies. Could have been just one, could be my mind.

IMO, most important is water quality.

Stable salinity, NSW Calcium and Alkalinity levels [or slightly above, though no reason IMO to boost way up].
Temperature swings minimal, zero nitrates/phosphates or darn close.
It seems to me as my skills at keeping my tank improve, the corals thrive more. Much of this seems to be water-quality related.
My tank I run at 1.026 SG, Calcium around 400-425, Alkalinity 8-9 dKh, Nitrates at zero ... I do test Mag and other things from time to time but only suppliment the Ca/Alk.

I was pretty happy with my success when running 175w MH's [I like 10k, the blue look is nice but I'd rather have the intensity + photosynthesis]. Over the winter I upgraded to 250's and run a shorter photoperiod now. Some corals needed to be moved down, like now I have `too much light' for some Acropora.
Lighting is important, but more is not always needed/better after a point - or so I think.

I run a lot of water flow in my tank. It's a 58, and I have two Seio powerheads [820 gph each], and a pair of maxijets [295 gph each] and my sump-return runs about 450-500 gph through an eductor which causes even more water flow. I'm in the 30x + tank turnover clan.
As above, more is not always needed/better ... but SPS seem to thrive more with good flow and I've found that tweaked high flow seems to sweep the crud out of the tank and to the skimmer nicely.

SPS = stability promotes success. Stonies don't like fast changes, they want water chemistry stable and quality high.
Acclimate them all to your lights, give them a few weeks in a lower intensity area before thinking of moving them up. Don't move them too much - I've done it a lot and find some corals take quite a while to re-acclimate to their new location and thus do little more than encrust for a month or two following a move. Given they grow slow ... when you've got a good spot, let it be.

Fragging I've learned by seeing it done, then reading more [Calfo's Book of Coral Propagation, other coral books/online]. I've had a few people over before when I was fragging - give my corals time to grow and we can do it again :)

That's just my experience with it. It seems like there's variety in how people achieve success - but you'll normally find all have great water quality and provide a very stable environment.

I try to stock my tank with fish fairly low and while I feed regularly I watch what I feed. I run a much oversized skimmer on my system and skim a lot as keeping nutrient levels as close to zero seems to me to have brought me the most success.

Come to some meetings, see as many tanks as you can. People get great water quality and success in a number of methods - and some livestock/reefkeepers IMO do better with one or another.

Good luck with it ... maybe stop by the frag swap and see if you can find yourself some good frags to start with. It's always nice to be able to ask their salinity, how far away from what lights they have it [so you can worry less about acclimitization] - where things from the store has been through a much longer travel with unknown lighting conditions.

Anyway - good luck ... and keep asking questions!
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Postby stevenliu on Sat May 21, 2005 10:49 pm

Thanks for all the pointers Mark! They are very informal and detailed. I was not able to attend this month's meeting but will try the best to make the next one. I have a nano tank and almost nothing to offer in terms of swapping frags although I am working on that. alot of my corals are growing quite speedy. So hopefully I'll have something to offer in the future to exchange some goodies with fellow members. At the meanwhile I guess I'll save up some money and update my equipment. To be honest with you I think it's like a miracle that my overcrowded corals are thriving even though I don't have a protein skimmer. I do babysit my tank alot though and perform byweekly quarter water change, so I guess that helps.
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Photoperiod Question

Postby Toddah on Sun May 22, 2005 8:56 am

Hey Mark,
What photoperiod do you run your 250 now?
I am thinking I am running mine to long and have been shortening it up a little each month. Just looking for some benchmarks I can use to judge if I am in the ballpark.
Do you ever wonder why the only thing common in all your dysfunctional relationships with others is you?
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Postby Mark on Sun May 22, 2005 12:02 pm

Well, with 175's I ran them for 9-10 hours [together] with actinics on for 12 hours.

I upgraded to 250's, and have ranged between 9 hours [each MH, on 3' tank so some areas covered by both] and about 6.5-7 hours. Right now my lights are like:
10am - VHO actinics on
11am - 10k MH on
1:30pm - 14k on
[1-6 pm vho's off]
7 - 10k MH off
9:30pm - 14k off
10:30 - VHO's off ... dark period

A few weeks ago, when we were having weekend visitors, I popped things up an hour to the present about 8 hours cycle [full period of MH 10.5 hours]. Probably will go back to 7 hours, just did it for guests and I left it there `to see what happened'. I figure about a month at this level and I'll see if any corals are showing new/better coloration, any are getting more pale - and what it does. Figured a little `extra growth' before the frag swap fragging would be a good idea.

But I am planning to cut things back to 7 hours each [still try for the 9-10 hours of MH's ... each MH running an hour or so alone on the beginning/end of day].

But with the upgraded lights - I'm still figuring it out. Until February I `wanted more light' ... and since then I've found out the corals that don't like that much light + that maybe what I wanted wasn't more light.
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