The reef aquarium with hard corals (SPS) is the desire of many an aquarist. The sight of pictures on the internet and in books only serves to increase that desire. With modern aquaria and equipment, plus the knowledge gained over recent years, this desire can be met, and more easily than some suspect.
It is taken as read that the need for high water quality is understood. High water quality means a proper and stable pH, between 8.0 and 8.4, nitrate less than 10 ppm (parts per million), phosphate preferably undetectable, but no more than 0.03 ppm, and ammonia and nitrite undetectable. Equipment should include a properly sized and efficient protein skimmer. Water movement, which I consider a part of water quality, should be vigorous and chaotic. There is also a need for strong lighting, the best of which is metal halide, supplemented by actinic T5 fluorescents. A greater number of T5 fluorescents can be used without a metal halide, as many as can be fitted into the aquarium including their reflectors. The T5’s should be an equal, or as near as possible equal, mix of marine white and actinic. However, at least in my opinion, the halide lighting is the best option.Read more →