Ask the WWM Crew
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One of the most popular questions on marine
forums are “how can I get my corals to grow faster”. How corals
grow and multiply is very complex and is a science by itself. What
we will give you are the requirements SPS corals need for accelerated
growth rates and no degree in Marine Biology is needed.
Corals form and grow skeletons by absorbing
the elements they require from the surrounding water. This process
is called Skeletogenesis whereby the coral combines the water’s calcium
and CO3 ions (carbonates) to form Aragonite (CaCO3). Other minor
elements are also needed and absorbed by the coral and these include
calcium fluoride, strontium carbonate, calcite and other trace elements.
When these elements are not available in the correct ratio, a coral’s
growth rate will be limited. When elevated levels of these
elements are in place, a more positive ionic pressure is created which
allows the coral to more efficiently transport and relocate these
elements into its tissue. Low levels of magnesium and/or strontium
will cause the skeleton to become more brittle and more easily damaged.
Low magnesium levels can lead to alkalinity drops which limits
carbonates that are required for proper skeleton growth.
There are many products on the market
claiming to provide the elements corals need to grow quickly. Many
of these products work well and some may be “snake oils” so it is best
to research before investing money to ensure the product(s) you select
are proven performers. Red Sea, Brightwell Aquatics, and Tropic
Marin are likely the most popular companies that produce these products.
Many aquarists may prefer to dose these elements individually through
dosing pumps operated by aquarium controllers or timers.
To increase the growth rate of juvenile
SPS/LPS corals, coral frags, and clams, Orphek recommends that you
maintain the following water parameter levels:
Salinity – 35ppt (1.026)
Note: Orphek recommends and uses Seachem’s Aquavitro salt.
pH – 8.0-8.3
dKH – 12.0-12.5
Calcium – 450-465ppm
Magnesium – 1370-1390ppm
Strontium – 8.5-10ppm
Note: Multiplying your desired calcium
level by 3 will give you the magnesium level needed for the proper
balance between calcium and magnesium.
It is very important to maintain these levels
as stated above and this will require frequent testing until a proper
dosing level is achieved.
Is that all there’s to it? No, with pristine water quality and proper flow rates established, the paramount need is for proper lighting of the correct spectrum and intensity (PAR/PUR). Orphek Power Reef and the DIF series of LEDs are specifically designed, tuned, and tested to meet the lighting requirements corals need to grow and thrive.