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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.


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.

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. AquaLife Bio-Pro Plus Probiotic Health Supplement is an exclusive formulation, when used as directed, provides one million colony forming units (CFUs) of live probiotic microorganisms per drop. In addition, each drop delivers 1.25 mg of vitamin C (ascorbic acid), together with chelated iron equivalent to .08 mg Fe. Research has shown that feeding vitamin C along with probiotics improved fish health to a greater extent than resulted from probiotics alone. Separate studies have shown that iron in small amounts is an essential trace mineral in the diet of fishes, required for the formation of hemoglobin, for example.

S.E.L.C.O. Boost Food Enrichment is a high quality food soak to boost aquarium foods nutritional value and immune boosting efficacy.

HyperGarlic & Vitamin C have shown signs of preventing and curing some common ailments as well as speeding up the healing process for fish under treatment.

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.

Red Sea TRACE COLORS A | B | C | D supplements contain the 31 minor and trace elements present in the skeleton and soft tissue of all corals.
A – Halogens (I2, Br2, F2)
B – Potassium & Boron
C – Fe & 7 Complementary Metals
D – 18 Bioactive Trace Elements

The elements in each supplement are related by their biological function and are associated with the production of specific color pigments (Pink, Red, Green/Yellow and Purple/Blue) in the soft tissue of stony corals. All 31 elements are required by all stony corals irrespective of the actual color the coral displays.


Reef Colors ABCD 4 Pack 100ml Bottles



•• 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.

Because filtration methids vary and organisms use reef chemicals at different rates, water testing before and after the addition of supplements is highly recommended. In addition to ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH, you should be testing calcium, alkalinity, and magnesium.

Red Sea Reef Foundation Pro Multi Test Kit

See All Test Kits


• 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.

Kalk+2 Advanced Kalkwasser Supplement contains calcium, strontium, and magnesium in the same ionic ratios found in aragonite. This unique feature increases the usefulness of Kalk+2 to reef-building invertebrates such as corals, clams, calcareous algae, etc., and provides temporary alkalinity to help maintain pH within the desired range when used as directed.


• 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. 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.


AquaLife Reef Supplements
AquaLife Reef Supplements ensure the correct balance of important chemical components of seawater so crucial to the long term success of every marine reef aquarium. Of primary importance to the survival of corals, mollusks and many other reef invertebrates is the supply of calcium and carbonate ions. Without these components in the correct ionic ratio, invertebrates cannot deposit calcium carbonate in their skeletons or shells. Because organisms extract calcium and carbonate ions from the surrounding water, regular supplementation is necessary to replenish these ions.

Every reef aquarium is different in terms of the kind and number of organisms living in it, and therefore the rate at which calcium and carbonate ions are removed from the water. It is therefore impossible to give all-inclusive instructions for using this or any other liquid supplement product. It is necessary to determine by means of water tests, the calcium concentration, alkalinity and magnesium concentration of the aquarium. Once this information is obtained, it is relatively easy to calculate the quantity of supplement to be added. Typical ocean surface values for these parameters are: Magnesium1280 ppm; Calcium 420 ppm; Alkalinity 2.5 meq/L (7 dKH).
AquaLife Magnesium Part A
AquaLife Calcium Part B
AquaLife Alkalinity Part C



• 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.

Purple Up is an ionic calcium that immediately raises calcium levels in your aquarium water while at the same time, 10 micron aragonite targets the live rock surface delivering calcium, strontium, magnesium, and carbonate right where it's needed. Purple-Up also replenishes iodine, an essential trace element that quickly becomes depleted in closed systems.


• 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. 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.


Reef Dip by Sea Chem contains elemental iodine complexed to a protective slime coat for safely and gently disinfecting corals. It is effective against bacteria, fungus, and protozoans. It may be used prophylactically (without evidence of disease) or to remedy diseased specimens. It is safe to use with both stony and soft corals. It is also safe for anemones and polyps.

Reef Dip provides a protective slime coat complex that covers the coral, holding the iodine in contact with the infected site for extended periods of time. In addition, the slime coat prevents infection from rentering the site.

• 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 is a consistently reliable supplement.


• 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. PHYTO2 Multi-Pack is aunique blend of live phytoplankton and is a high quality food for a broad range of filter feeders. 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.

Many stores now carry AquaLife Reef Cafe, a revolutionary new feeding protocol for corals and other saltwater invertebrates. Customers can customize and vary their reef diets with Reef Cafe's unique blend of fresh, whole ingredient “shots.” The blends are recipes of Amino Shot, Phyto-Frappe and Zoo-Ka-Moka in proportions suited to the requirements of particular species. Ask your dealer about this great product.


In addition to Reef Cafe, AquaLife has developed a great family of reef nutrition products. CALA-fin Whole Marine Zooplankton and CALA-fin Fine Marine Zooplankton. These dried foods are perfect for feeding corals, other invertebrates, fish larvae, and fishes requiring zooplankton in the range of 2 to 4 millimeters and smaller. These copepods provide top-quality protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and anti-oxidant compounds important in the diet of marine organisms. Copeods are an important part of natural marine food webs. AquaLife CALA-fin LIQUID contains the same species of Calanus finmarchicus in a convenient liquid form.


AquaLife has developed three additional liquid nutrition products specifically for feeding corals and other marine invertebrates. AquaLife AMINO GLOW is a nutritional supplement and food soak that contains essential L-amino acids, simple sugars, and vitamin C. Unlike other products, AMINO GLOW contains only L-amino acids that are preferentially taken up by stony corals, according to recent scientific research. AquaLife PHYTO-fin is a concentrated blend of marine phytoplankton.á This superior natural diet is ideal for soft and hard corals, anemones, zoanthids, clams, and all other filter feeding marine invertebrates.á AquaLife Phyto-fin is rich the necessary proteins, carbohydrates and lipids for vivid color, vigorous growth and reproduction. AquaLife REEFeast Zooplankton and Phytoplankton contains crustaceans and marine algae that is the natural diets of wild corals and reef fish.á This blended diet is ideal for filter feeding marine invertebrates and is a natural source of Astaxanthin. Reef fishes, such as Anthias, chromis, pseudochromids, basslets, and most other reef compatible species also benefit from this nutritious diet. AquaLife REEF FEAST provides all the necessary proteins, carbohydrates and lipids for vigorous growth and reproduction. Ideal for: hard and soft corals, clams, sponges, anemones and reef fish.

See All Zooplankton
See All Phytoplankton

• Vitamins for Corals
Vitamins have proven beneficial to many corals, however they should be used carefully 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
Is your skimmer starving your corals? Traditional liquid coral foods can be removed from your tank by protein skimming. Why add something only to have it taken out by your filtration system? Corals actively consume amino acids and other nutrients from their environment. Thus, they benefit from supplementation in the reef aquarium.


HyperCoral GC is a new, unique, and revolutionary reef nourishment product, complete with essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals in the precise concentrations found on coral reefs. Use HyperCoral GC as a daily food for your SPS corals. It offers a complete nutrition management system for your reef tank. HyperCoral GC is a new, unique, and revolutionary reef nourishment product, complete with essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals in the precise concentrations found on coral reefs. Use HyperCoral GC as a daily food for your SPS corals. It offers a complete nutrition management system for your reef tank.


•• Water Clarifying
These are the flocculants 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.

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.

AquaLife Clarify 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).

View All Clarifying Products



•• 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 is the best available.

Activate is a natural organic formulation designed to accelerate biological filtration, cycle new aquariums, improve water quality, and reduce maintenance. ACTIVATE reduces ammonia, nitrite, and fish loss. With regular use, the blend of synergistic bacteria reduces sludge and phosphate, and it keeps aquariums clear. It is safe for all aquatic animals and plants.


•• 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, 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.



•• Mud Filter Additives


For creating "mud" filters it is important to create the proper base in the filter. CaribSea's Mineral Mud is a unique blend of sediments that duplicate tropical fringing coastal mangrove environments. Mineral Mud particles are in a size range compatible with soft, burrowing infaunal, macro animal assemblages. Ideal for mud refugiums, seagrasses, macro-algaes, and mangroves, Mineral Mud provides a variety of trace elements, chelated trace elements, plus calcium, strontium, iron, sulfur, and free carbon. In addition, Mineral Mud contains live marine bacteria, to complete the tropical ecosystem.



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