Salty Q&A: Calcium and Alkalinity Out of Whack

Question I’m having an issue with the calcium and alkalinity levels in my reef tank. Right now, the calcium is at 380ppm, which is at the low end of the acceptable range, and the alkalinity is at 10dKH, closer to the high end of the acceptable range. I’d like to get the calcium up over … [Read More]

The Best Beginner Small-Polyp Stony Corals

Upon entering the world of small polyp stony corals (or SPS), many people ask the magic question, “Which types are best for beginners?” In my opinion the most beginner-friendly choices are found in the genera Montipora, Pocillopora, Seriatopora, and Stylophora. Most of the corals I’ll discuss here are commonly available, so there should be a … [Read More]

Reefing from Afar, Part 3: The Bare-Bones Basics of Automation

In Part 2 of this series, I discussed some of the possibilities for automating your reef system based on your needs. Now that you have a few ideas of what you can automate, I’d like to offer a simple recipe and combination to help take care of your system when you’re away for a short … [Read More]

What to Consider when Converting a Fish-only Tank to a Reef System

“Caribbean Chris” and I are very frequently asked what it takes to convert a fish-only marine aquarium to a reef system containing corals and other sessile invertebrates. Can you just go ahead and add the invertebrates? Can you modify the existing system to suit the corals, or do you have to start the whole thing … [Read More]

Techniques for Maintaining Calcium and Alkalinity in Reef Tanks

Calcium and alkalinity are vitally important chemical parameters in reef aquariums. They are used by stony corals to build their calcium carbonate skeletons. A lack of calcium and alkalinity in the water will inhibit the growth of reef-building corals and invertebrates, which will eventually lead to health problems. What is calcium? Calcium is one of … [Read More]

The Role of Magnesium in Marine Aquarium Chemistry

One of the big differences in moving from freshwater systems to saltwater systems is a greater emphasis on water chemistry. There is a pretty steep learning curve to get a handle on all the different chemical parameters, and it can be a source of frustration for many aspiring reef hobbyists. In aquariums with an abundance … [Read More]

Marine Aquarium Antacid: Understanding Alkalinity

When I first made the switch from freshwater to marine fishkeeping, I was somewhat befuddled by the term “alkalinity” as it’s typically used on the saltwater side of the hobby. During all my years of keeping freshwater systems, I had always used the term “alkaline” interchangeably with “basic.” In other words, with respect to the … [Read More]

The Calcium Reactor: A Device Well Worth its Salt

A hobby like reef keeping has its fair share of intimidating technologies. I suppose it doesn’t help to call certain technologies sterilizers, fractionators, or reactors, which further instills a sense of complexity. One such device is the calcium reactor, and while I am a big proponent of having as simple a system as possible, this … [Read More]

A Closer Peek at Marine Aquarium pH

One of the many important water parameters marine aquarium hobbyists must routinely monitor is pH. But what exactly is pH, what should the level be in a saltwater aquarium, what does an incorrect pH level tell us, and what’s the point of testing for it anyway? As we mention in our post titled “Putting Aquarium … [Read More]

Putting Aquarium Water Parameters to the Test

It’s crucial to keep tabs on several key aspects of water chemistry if you want to succeed with a saltwater aquarium. That means you’ll have to develop the habit of testing certain parameters on a routine basis. But that doesn’t mean you need to have a background in chemistry or a laboratory at your disposal—just … [Read More]