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11. Supplements & Additives

With all the chemicals and additives on the market it appears that either manufacturers are eager to find something to sell or they are on the cutting edge and making this hobby easier. The truth probably lies somewhere in between. Many good products have been developed based on sound biological and chemical principles that have lived up to their claims, while others simply play into our need to 'do something' to our tanks. The following list is a recommendation of those products which have proved beneficial in reliable studies both in our own facilities and by nationally recognized aquatic biologists and institutions.

Remember, many products are beneficial at less frequent or lower doses than the manufacturers state. Experimentation is encouraged in reef tanks in order to find the ideal balance between nutrients and coral production without algae growth. Do not exceed product recommendations without specific instructions from an experienced aquarist. Overdose at your own risk.

Supplements & Additives are broken down into the categories listed below. Note some freshwater products are mentioned for added information, clarity, to identify them as freshwater only, and for hobbyists who keep both freshwater and saltwater tanks.

•• Fish Health
These are the products that are designed to help keep fish healthy by either providing valuable nutrients that fish get from the wild or by providing a nutrient that helps strengthen the immune system in the captive environment.

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The vitamin and nutrient group of products includes products designed to enhance the immune system, color, and longevity of fish by providing nutrients that may be missing from their captive diets. This group also includes the Omega fatty acids. Studies are constantly underway to enhance coloration, resistance to disease, spawning behavior and to alleviate controversial ailments like Lateral Line Disease. One thing is clear - fish would be most healthy if their diets were duplicated from the wild. The best way to attempt this is to vary the diet with quality frozen foods as much as possible. Some supplements, like VitaChem and AminOmega have shown signs of preventing and curing some common ailments as well as speeding up the healing process for fish under treatment. Tropical Science Fishkeeper Saltwater Formula helps nourish and balance saltwater systems with a healthy blend of beneficial bacteria.

Other products in the group are classified as “probiotics” and are designed specifically to enhance the health of captive fish by making them immune to specific disease. They may or may not be natural substances that fish come in contact with in the wild. Immune Plus for freshwater and Marine Max for saltwater are often the difference between success and failure in some tanks. Garlic is formulated specifically to fight and help cure disease. They are most specific for parasites in ?reef? tanks where treating directly in the tank with the best medications is not an option.

Next in the group are the products that provide Trace Elements. Fish get most of their trace elements from the food they eat. Some more delicate species are more easily kept and show better color and growth when the trace elements of their natural habitats are more closely duplicated. Often these elements are stripped away from foods by carbon and other chemical-type filtration. Eco NF Metal work well for more delicate saltwater fish. Some of the products in this category, like Cichlid Grow, that is great for African cichlid fishes, are for freshwater only.

•• Reef Additives
The most extensive and controversial group is reef additives. The reason is because so many hobbyists have tried such a wide range of products and claim great results. This group includes some types of products that are mandatory for keeping invertebrates and corals.

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- Calcium
There are plenty of choices in this category. Everyone likes something a little different. The bottom line is reef tanks need calcium between 400 and 500ppm with an alkalinity of 2.5-3.5 meq/l or 7-10dKH.

Calcium Hydroxide, or "
kalkwasser" is considered by many reef keepers to be the best way to add calcium. Kalwasser is used with R/O water to make a solution that is used for topping off or replacing the evaporated water from the aquarium.

- Calcium Chloride
The products containing this calcium have several advantages - easy to use, dissolve easily, and do not alter the pH drastically like Kalkwasser can. They do not tend to support pH and alkalinity and should be used along with
Reef Builder. Some have balanced amounts of strontium and magnesium which are needed in proper proportions to calcium for coral growth. They can be used along with occasional use of kalkwasser or as the main source for calcium in the aquarium. Reef Complete is an excellent product and it has balanced proportions of strontium and magnesium. Precision Calcium is another great product that is easy to use. It should be used along with Precision Strontium and Precision Magnesium are great products that is easy to use. The advantage of using individual supplements and not mixed products is different amounts of individual chemicals can be added to best suit the needs of the livestock being housed.

If magnesium levels are low, supplement with Aquavitro Ions. This products, only sold in local stores, not online, delivers fully dissolved magnesium without introducing ammonia, a typical manufacturing by-product found in many other magnesium supplements.

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- Calcium Gluconates
This concentrated and highly bio-available organic calcium will not deplete alkalinity and is easily utilized by corals. It promotes vigorous proliferation of coralline algae. Although many people have shown concerns for the long term effect of these types of products in reefs, they have their place. They are great for accelerating coralline growth and are good products to jump start corals. Use them but not as the sole source of calcium and not all the time.
Reef Calcium is a good product and Purple Up may help tanks with parasite disease problems.

- The Others Calciums
- The Others Calciums
All the other calcium products fall into hybrids of the above products. Some have raving fans, a number of others, a select few.
Aquavitro Calcification, only sold in local stores, not online, delivers fully dissolved calcium and is an excellent choice.

- Strontium
This minor element occurs in seawater at 8 to 10 mg/l and is found in the skeletons of many organisms. Like calcium, it aids in the growth of coralline algae, corals, and clams. Acropora species, and many like it, cannot be kept without it. Dosing levels beyond sea water levels have proven to increase the growth rate of many corals. Many of the combined products or trace element products contain strontium. Strontium specific products should be used in all reefs. Use
Strontion by Brightwell Aquatics.

- Iodine
Seawater is 60 parts per billion. Iodine forms include iodide, iodate, and organically bound iodine. Iodine is extremely important for many of the soft corals. Some Xenia will not live without this supplement and anemones benefit from its use. It has been linked to pigmentation in some corals and should be used in all reefs that use protein skimmers or carbon for maximum coral growth. Use lower doses or dose less frequently if hair algae is a problem. Use either
Iodion by Brightwell or Precision Iodine by Blue Life. Both can be used, but not at the same time. Alternate one month then the other one the following month. Experienced hobbyists prefer either Lugol's Iodine.

Aquavitro vibrance™, only sold in local stores, not online, is a highly concentrated (10,000 mg/L) naturally stabilized potassium iodide source for reef aquaria that will restore and maintain iodide levels to those found in natural sea water. Our proprietary stabilization process makes vibrance™ the most stable iodide supplement available. It’s also the most concentrated and comes with a pipette for precision dosing. It is formulated to provide a safe source of iodide that will not convert to toxic free iodine under storage or reef conditions.

- Coral Dips
Coral dips help treat damaged corals and remove any pathogens that may be infecting or traveling on them. Corals should be dipped before introduction into the aquarium. They should also be dipped if signs of stress, disease, or damage due to propagation are seen.
MediCoral Dip.

- Other Reef Trace Elements and Micro Elements
Many products are developed for replenishing trace elements. Many are replenished with water changes but in aquariums with skimmers, carbon, filters, etc., how many are depleted between water changes is unknown. Not all of the supplements are created equal. The highest grade products are difficult to produce consistently from all but the best companies.
Replenish and Koralle-VM are consistently reliable supplements.

- Foods for invertebrates
All the liquid foods for reef and other invertebrates are designed to replace what the organisms usually filter or trap from the ocean and are beneficial provided they are not over dosed polluting the aquarium. Some species of non-symbiotic animals require supplemental foods to thrive. Since different manufacturers include different ingredients and particle sizes, more than one type of food is usually required. Most contain different types of phytoplankton, zoo plankton, yeast and an organic base.

Yeast based formulas, while not from the ocean, are more beneficial to Tridacna and other clams because of the smaller particle size. Use all the products sparingly if algae is a problem. Micro Vert is an excellent food for Gorgonians and clams. DT's Phytoplankton unique blend of live phytoplankton and is a high quality food for a broad range of filter feeders. Reef Bugs is a plankton that hatches once in the aquarium.
PhytoGreen is a superior blend of phytoplankton with a particle size of 2-15 microns making it an excellent food for hard and soft corals, tube worms and clams.
ZooPlex, 800 micron zoo plankton is ideal for many invertebrates and planktivorous fish, particularly Mandarin Gobies.
Reef Snow, along with Micro Vert, to clams, feather dusters, crabs and larger filter feeders.

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- Vitamins for Corals
Vitamins have proven beneficial to many corals, however they should be used sparingly to prevent excess algae growth in reef tanks. Use
Reef Plus for best results without causing algae problems. Use it as an occasional supplement for added hard and soft coral growth.

- Coral & Invertebrate Growth Accelerators
Most of the other products fall into this area. They are hybrids of different products, with some for specific purpose. Most notable are
CoralAmino and Restor, which is particularly helpful when fragmenting small stony coral polyps and propagating soft corals and anemones.

Aquavitro fuel™, only sold in local stores, not online, is a comprehensive carbohydrate, vitamin, amino acid, polyunsaturated fatty acid, and trace element supplement developed to address nutritional requirements commonly associated with corals. fuel™ contains ascorbic acid in a base of chlorella, which contains a rich assortment of amino acids and vitamins. The health benefits of chlorella are widely known and while spirulina, a similar algae, has been regularly used in the industry, aquavitro™ is the first to utilize the vastly superior chlorella.

•• Water Clarifying
These are the coagulators and bacteria cultures that solve or prevent a temporary problem with water clarity. The coagulators usually work quickly and help clarify a problem fast. The bacteria products usually take longer but their results are more long term. A coagulator can be used prior to using a bacterial product for enhanced results.

Biomagnet, a coagulant safe for all saltwater tanks, clears a tank quickly.
Algone eliminates excessive nutrients from the water leaving existing algae spores with nothing to feed on. Conventional treatment products introduce chemicals to the tank, which would not otherwise be found in a natural aquatic environment.

Clarity is the ultimate clarifier for both fresh and saltwater. It employs an advanced polymeric flocculating agent that is both reef and plant safe. Clarityª is the only clarifier on the market that does it all! Clarityª will clear all types of clouding: bacterial and other biological type blooms, chemical clouding, and particulate clouding (i.e. stirred up gravel bed).
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•• Water Quality
This group is made up primarily of bacterial cycling products. These beneficial bacteria help with ammonia, nitrite and sludge removal. There are more products in this category for freshwater than saltwater. A greater variety of these products is available for freshwater for making up R/O water and duplicating aquatic ecosystems from the wild. Saltwater aquariums are completely conditioned to duplicate the ocean with the synthetic sea salt. Of the bacterial products for saltwater in this category, Activate Saltwater and Marine Aquarium Starter are the best available.
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•• pH/gH/kH Products
Although the large number of products available may be daunting in freshwater, only a few need to be considered for saltwater. First of all gH products are not needed for saltwater aquariums. pH is controlled in fish only aquariums with Marine Buffer, Buffer Plus, Reef Buffer in reef tanks. For alkalinity/dkH, use Reef Builder or Brightwell Alkalin 8.3.

AQUAVITRO offers some exciting products for reef tanks.  They work well and are worth reading about. These products are not advertised on the web. You may pick them up locally, call to order, or email a request for information and pricing.
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•• Mud Filter Additives
For creating “mud” filters it is important to create the proper base in the filter. Products are available to 'seed' a substrate from CaribSea or complete products that are ready to go.
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