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Topics - Reefkeeping
Water Exchange, Additives or Both? Part II
Water Exchange / Additives - I

Minor and trace elements in reef tank with regard to water exchange (type of used salt) and use of additives.


Version 2012-III

Summary

Minor and trace elements in reef tank with regard to water exchange
(type of used salt) and use of additives
  Přirozeně koncentrovaná sůl Obohacená sůl
No additives
1
Low concentrations
Critical time: 12–22 months
2
Imbalance
Critical time: 12–18 months

Use of additives
4
Correct concentrations
Long-term stable environment
3
High concentrations
Critical time: 6–18 months
The critical time is the time span after which one would expect encountering serious problems in the tank.

Use of enriched salt

When using enriched salt for seawater make-up the main drawback is that its composition (trace elements concentration) is fixed and unchangeable.

Due to this fact it is not possible to react to specific divergent parameters of various tanks at a given time:

  • coral growth extent
  • coral types (soft / hard)
  • tank life cycle phase (small growing corals / large corals)
  • specific intentions of tank keeper (i.e. temporary cease of nutrients supply)

Furthermore the user of enriched salt deprives himself of the possibility to use the water exchange in order to remove parts of excess nutrients or to decrease the concentration of impurities – each water exchange with the use of enriched salt increases the mineral nutrient composition in the tank and widens the gap of the concentration imbalance of minor and trace elements.

A high element concentration in marine salt is not an advantage; on the contrary it is an irreversible disadvantage. It deprives the tank operator of the power to influence the chemistry of the tank in a flexile and complete manner.

 

Enriched Salt – No Additives

Situation with regard to the concentration of minor and trace elements
Critical Time 15 months (12 - 18)
Problems Concentration imbalance Steady state - critical deficiency of certain elements.
Steady state - critical excess of certain elements - toxicity.
Occurrences A combination of often contradictory occurrences, as for instance death of certain coral species, while at the same time others grow and prosper. Growth of undesirable algae and cyanobacteria.
Solution Water exchange No Water exchange while using the same type of salt does not solve the problem; it rather deepens the imbalance.
Use of sorbents No Decreases on one hand the high concentration of elements, but on the other hand decreases also the concentration of other elements, which were originally at correct or even low levels.
One-time application
of additives
No Increases on one hand the low concentration of elements, but at the same time increases also the concentration of other elements, which were originally either at correct or even high levels.
Switch-over to the use of naturally concentrated salt and regular application of additives.

Enriched Salt – Use of Additives

Situation with regard to the concentration of minor and trace elements
Critical Time 12 months (6 - 18)
Problems High concentrations Steady state - critical excess of certain elements - toxicity.
An excessive application of additives leads to the continuous increase of the concentration of certain elements - the critical time is reached faster.
Occurrences Growth of undesirable algae and cyanobacteria. Sudden tank collapse
- massive death of corals and other living organisms.
Solution Water exchange No Water exchange while using the same type of salt does not solve the problem; it rather worsens the situation.
Use
of sorbents
No It does decrease of the high concentration of elements, but each element to a different extent - the result is a concentration imbalance (see "Enriched Salt – Use of Additives" variant). The massive use of sorbents could lead to the complete elimination of minor and trace elements from the tank; it is undesirable shock interference to the living environment of the organisms - no possibility to create a stable environment.
Discontinuation
of additives
application
No This means in principle a switch-over to the "Enriched Salt – No Additives" variant with all related problems.
Switch-over to the use of naturally concentrated salt and regular application of additives.

Use of naturally concentrated salt

Naturally Concentrated Salt – No Additives

Situation with regard to the concentration of minor and trace elements
Critical Time 17 months (12 - 22)
Problems Low concentrations Steady state - critical deficiency of certain elements.
Occurrences The coral growth rate drops at first and may eventually sink all the way to zero; the corals then lose their natural bright coloration. Due to the fact that corals with a lower growth rate demand a lower supply of nutrients from seawater, their depletion rate also drops. Thus, this also leads to a prolongation of the critical time and the tank may stagnate without significant problems for a relatively long time, up to two years. In any case one should also bear in mind a higher coral susceptibility to diseases, which might manifest itself anytime.
Solution Water exchange No Water exchange while using the same type of salt would have results only if a 100% exchange of the tank volume would occur.
One-time application
of additives
No It will only briefly even up the elements concentration to the right level. Afterwards the concentration of all elements will again sink continuously.
Switch-over to the variant with regular application of additives.

Conclusions

Naturally Concentrated Salt – Use of Additives

Based on the facts stated in this and in the previous article it is evident, that the regular application of additives in combination with water exchange, produced using naturally concentrated salt, brings to the reef tank maintenance the following key advantages:

  • the possibility to create a long-term stable environment
  • minimal risk of reaching toxic concentrations of minor and trace elements
  • minimal influence of minor and trace elements from the side of the operator
  • the possibility to use water change as a tool for the fast decrease
    of the high concentration of mineral and organic nutrients
    and unwanted materials, without the risk of the consequent ion imbalance
 

Marine Salt and DOM (Dissolved Organic Matter)

Dissolved organic matter (DOM) is for the tank prosperity in comparison to minor and trace elements equally, if not even more important. It is therefore advisable to operate with DOM in the same manner as with minor and trace elements. This is why the optimal condition would be to use marine salt containing natural concentrations of all important compounds that constitute natural seawater, including DOM.

 

Testable and Non-testable elements and compounds

The exact measurement of the concentration of the vast majority of minor and trace elements and organic compounds in the tank is in common aquaristics practice infeasible, with the exception of the following minor elements:

  • I - Iodine
  • Sr - Strontium
  • B - Boron
  • K - Potassium

For these elements it is purposeful to measure their concentrations in the tank and adjust them accordingly with independent additives.

When it comes to trace elements and DOM it is in principle indifferent if mixed or individual additives are being used. A key element is the monitoring of the tank conditions and then adjusting the dosage of the related additives accordingly. When used responsibly the only risk is the increased mineral and organic nutrient content, which is responsible for the growth of undesirable algae and cyanobacteria. In such a case it is necessary to decrease the dosage of the related additives (alternatively even discontinue their application for a certain period of time) and wait till situation improves.

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