There are unique challenges to keeping a reef aquarium. To properly maintain this type of tank, you need the right reef aquarium supplements.
Best Reef Aquarium Supplements
Nothing quite compares to the beauty of a thriving reef tank. From colorful corals and invertebrates to beautiful saltwater fish, your reef tank is a thing you should be proud to cultivate. Setting up a reef tank can be a challenge but once you’ve cleared that hurdle, the real work begins – the work of maintaining your reef tank. Read on to learn some simple tips for maintaining a healthy reef tank and to see our top 10 picks for the best reef aquarium supplements to help you do it.
Best Reef Aquarium Supplements
If you want your aquarium fish to be happy and healthy, you need to maintain ideal conditions in your tank. Different species of fish have different requirements, so be sure to research the inhabitants you plan to keep in your tank, so you know what conditions you need to create. Here are our top 10 picks for the best supplements to help you maintain ideal conditions in your reef tank:
1. Editor’s Choice: Dr. Tim’s Aquatics Natural Aquarium Cleaner
This product is ideal for reef and nano aquariums to help prevent new tank syndrome. It contains 100% natural nitrifiers which start working instantly to remove ammonia and nitrate that can be toxic for reef aquarium inhabitants. Use this supplement when setting up a new reef aquarium, cleaning filtration systems, introducing new fish to the aquarium, or after a water change – it will make sure everything stays in the right balance.
2. Runner Up: Kent Marine Concentrated Liquid Calcium
Corals require a certain level of calcium in the tank water in order to sustain their growth and those calcium levels need to be replenished over time. This marine concentrated liquid calcium supplement comes in an 8-, 16-, or 64-ounce bottle and it is easy to use. It is very bioavailable, and it contains no EDTA. A word of caution, though – this product gets very hot when dissolved in water so keep an eye on temperature levels.
3. Best Growth Stimulator: Kent Marine Coral Accel Growth Stimulator
Another supplement you might consider to boost coral growth is this hard and soft coral growth stimulator. This reef supplement provides complex proteins to give your corals a natural source of amino acids and also contains rich marine lipids for optimal growth. It is particularly designed for use when fragmenting small polyped stony corals and propagating soft corals, octocorals, and colonial anemones.
4. Best Supplement: Kent Marine Strontium and Molybdenum Supplement
Strontium is a major trace element similar to calcium in its benefits within the reef tank environment – it helps corals develop strong skeletons. This strontium and molybdenum supplement provides the necessary elements for strong coral growth in both soft and hard corals.
5. Best Accelerator: Instant Ocean Reef Accelerator
This all-in-one aquarium reef supplement will have your flora and fauna thriving – it encourages the growth of corals and purple algae, and replenishes calcium, magnesium, strontium, iodine and trace elements to ensure both a healthy growth of reef and beautiful coloration. It will work great for reef tanks with corals, sea stars, clams, and tubeworms! The formula contains no nitrates, phosphates or silicates. Easy to use and dose, this all-in one supplement comes in one bottle for your convenience – use 5 ml of the liquid for every 10 gallons of aquarium water.
6. Honorable Mention: Seachem Reef Complete
This supplement contains a liquid ionic calcium source, making it essential for reef tanks where coral growth needs to be supported. It contains an optimized blend of ionic calcium to restore and maintain ideal calcium levels for soft and hard corals.
7. Best Trace Minerals: Seachem Reef Trace Elements
Over time, the inhabitants in your reef tank will deplete the trace minerals in your tank water. This reef supplement makes it easy to restore those trace elements in a single dose of concentrated vitamins and amino acids.
8. Also Consider: Kent Marine Essential Elements
This supplement helps replace biologically important trace elements as well, making it ideal for both marine and reef aquariums.
9. Best Starter Kit: Kent Marine Aqueon Starter Kit
If you’re looking for a simple way to get your reef tank started on the right foot, this reef starter kit is the way to go. It contains iodine, strontium & molybdenum, and liquid calcium supplements to make your reef tank ideal for coral growth.
10. Best Advanced: Brightwell Aquatics NeoNitro
Recommended for advanced reef aquarists for maintaining low nutrient reef aquariums, this high-quality nitrogen reef supplement lowers phosphate concentration without using chemical filtration or polluting. The dosing and usage are a bit complicated – but so is maintaining a low-nutrient reef aquarium – as it takes a few days to adjust the dosage according to the results you get. One ml of this reef supplement will increase the nitrate concentration in 1 gallon of water by ~5 ppm, so adjust depending on your tank’s needs.
Simple Tips for Maintaining a Reef Tank
Many aquarium hobbyists will agree that saltwater tanks are more challenging to keep than freshwater tanks. Not only do you need to worry about maintaining the proper salinity, but there are other subtle aspects of water chemistry you need to keep an eye on, depending on your tank inhabitants. Of all the saltwater aquarium environments, reef tanks are the most challenging.
Here are some simple tips to help you maintain your reef aquarium:
- Test your tank water weekly. The quickest way to know whether conditions in your tank are ideal is to test your tank water – you should test for pH and alkalinity at least once a week.
- Keep an eye on your calcium levels. Many reef aquariums incorporate live corals which means that they’ll be sucking calcium from your tank water. Check your calcium levels weekly and supplement as needed to maintain the ideal concentration in your tank water.
- Check your ammonia and nitrate levels. As your aquarium fish eat and grow, they will excrete waste which breaks down into ammonia. Ammonia is toxic for fish and it eventually converts into nitrite then nitrate with the help of beneficial bacteria. None of these things are good for your fish, so check your levels often.
- Test your phosphate levels monthly. All living things require phosphorus to survive but excess phosphate in your tank can inhibit coral growth. Test at least once a month to make sure your phosphate levels are in the proper range.
- Keep up with regular water changes. Water changes are required to remove waste products and to replace trace elements. Plan to perform a small water change at least every two weeks, up to 20% of your tank volume.
Maintaining a thriving reef aquarium can be quite the challenge. With the right supplements, however, you can keep the conditions in your tank ideal for your tank inhabitants. Take what you’ve learned here and give some of our recommended supplements a try.
What supplements do corals need?
In nature, corals get everything they need to thrive from the ocean, but it’s a lot different when you grow and nurture corals in an aquarium. This means having to mimic, as closely as possible, the natural environment of a coral reef, including the minerals and trace elements that a coral needs – hence the supplements. The major elements you’ll need to supplement are calcium, strontium, carbonate, and magnesium, and the minor include iron, iodine and iodide, molybdenum, as well as general saltwater trace elements.
What to consider when choosing reef supplements?
Reef tank chemistry is a broad subject and creating an optimal environment in your reef tank will take some effort, starting with maintaining the perfect levels of different elements in the water. The first thing to consider is the element supplementation with major and minor elements, meant to ensure that your reef thrives and stays healthy. Next, you’d want to consider reef-enhancing supplements that could accentuate the color of the reef and bring out the best out of your flora and fauna. Of course, before using any supplement, be sure to double-check if it is compatible with the species you have in your aquarium.
How often should I use reef supplements?
It all depends on the supplements you are using – most are formulated for daily use, but there are those that should be used only once a month. However, it’s important to stick to the specific instructions and supplement according to them, whether it’s multiple times a day or every few weeks. It’s important to maintain optimal balance in a reef tank, so don’t neglect the need for supplements.
How much supplement should I use for my reef tank every time?
Dosing reef supplements can be tricky, as you want to achieve optimal levels of elements, and not all tanks have the same environment. Not to mention that different formulations will have different dosing instructions! With that being said, there’s no universal rule about the amount of supplement you need to use for your reef tank. You should test element levels in your reef tank and adjust supplement doses according to these levels and manufacturer’s recommendations.
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Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor's degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.
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