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What kinds of things should I be dosing if I am going to do no/minimal water changes?  I have little coral now, mostly LPS and a few encrusting SPS.  

My water parameters are good, as far as I can tell, and water changes suck, so I'm going to try to avoid water changes unless something appears to be a problem, but I know I need to replenish some of the elements that the corals use.  

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Probably the biggest thing I see drop in my own tank is alk.  I even use a salt with a high alk in it. I tend to mix it at a higher specific gravity 1.025. The calcium tends to stay stable and even runs on the higher side. I'm not really sure why since it is calcium carbonate that makes up the coral skeleton and I would have expected them to both drop equally.

I'm curious to see what other's experience is.

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Well I suppose, start with the big 3 (calcium, alk, magnesium).  Most use a calcium reactor or 2 part to supplement those.

Beyond that, to get the other trace elements there are allot of options.

Some add nothing and count on trace elements from the Calcium reactor media.

Some use triton testing and supplements, its a very valid option.  Just take a look at @Lexinverts tanks.

I have been running Tropic Marin balling light part c for about a year or so along with a calcium reactor.

It is basically reef salt minus the sodium chloride.  So in theory all the elements.

All the usual caveats apply such as 'don't supplement it if you cannot test it',  YMMV. 

Find a good local reefer with a nice tank (longer term success) that does not do water changes and interrogate them FWIW..


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10 minutes ago, zondebok said:

I'm hoping I can find that in this thread :D

Yes, it's key!  The difference between knowing someone virtually via forums and for-real is huge when it comes to reefing!  

But when you see someone's tank in person and are like "OMG I want that success", then start asking questions and copy away if they are nice enough to share :) 

Forums are a great way to get some opinions for sure, i just take every opportunity to reinforce hanging out with successful reef buddies....  This forum is a great way to make reef buddy local friends!  When locals sell frags for example...

Well, just sharing for what its worth, hope it helps!


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4 minutes ago, zondebok said:

Unfortunately I don't really know anyone in person, beyond just having met at the meetings and such, so I have to go with doing absurd amounts of research...

Haha, well that is understandable too.  Hopefully you get some good info from the replies!


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besides two part I would do some research on iodine.  i just read a great article by randy Holmes farley about strontium and basically came away with don't worry about it. 

honestly though, while there are people that don't do water changes typically their tanks are large and VERY mature.  regular water changes are an easy way to keep things in check.  There is a,reason that almost everything "what's wrong with my tank" threads start with the advice.. do a water change. 

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I understand that water changes can restore some balance, but math suggests that they're not as effective as people make them out to be. I'm certainly not opposed to doing them as a means of solving a problem, but at this point it seems like the only problem they would solve is adding minerals. 

Also, my main parameters are currently flawless, and have been for some time with no water change. Everything is happy and healthy... 


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Well :laugh: I dose alk and cal only...................tank has been running for a year now and well I have only done one water change of 20 gallons or so.................tank is a 100 with 25 or so sump..........corals all look great growth is good I cant complain. I am a simple reefer...........last check was at Christmas on parameters :shock: yeah I should probably check a little more often but.............

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There are some amazing reef keepers that don't do water changes.

I don't fit in that category, but I don't do water changes unless something went wrong such as an overdose.

@mattv owner of the very successful stumptown corals and arguably an SPS master started me on this path years ago (2013).  His post was lost in the site crash, but I had a copy locally.  Here is is for reference.  Mattv will have to update us all to see if he is still recommending this path.





supplements I use

I have been experiencing growth and color of sps in my system over the last 7 months that have amazed me! Most of us look at our tanks multiple times a day and dont notice the daily changes. I was shocked when I was looking thru some pics to see the growth that was obtained in less than a year.


My system is aprox 350-400 gallons(sorry but I have never tried to calculate total volume) Led lighting over the display is a diy of cree 3 watt

cool white, blue, royal blue and uv. running 600 par mid tank.

I run a modified MRC skimmer that should be good for over 650 gallons, two BRS media filters for carbon and one for GFO and a large calcium reactor. I do not use a ro/di unit only a floss type prefilter, catalytic carbon filter and a large canister of DI resin. (zero waste water)



I dont do water changes (only top off) so I feel the need to add supplements to keep things healthy. My system goes through aprox 30 gallons every 14 days for top off.





my mix for 350 gallons once a week.

Amino 5mill

mag 10 mil

iodine 5 mil

vitamin C 5 mill

advanced vitamin & trace 15 mil

potassium 10 mil


My last test done with sulfert

calcium 450

Alk 8.6

phosphate 0

mag 1200

nitrate 0


I am a lazy reefer and maybe have my water tested once a month. This method works for me and if it's not broke don't fix it!





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yes, if you are trying to dilute something like phos or nitrate or coral toxins that is true.  But you had asked about adding trace elements and a water change will do that.  

It's all good, there are many ways to keep a successful reef tank.  I have only seen maybe 6 tanks that I thought were amazing and they all did regular water changes. 2-3 of them, i can't remember has auto water change systems.  

regular water changes just seems an easy way to ensure micro elements are at satisfactory levels.  But I have a super sick water mixing setup so they are easy. 

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I certainly am not trying to say that water changes are bad, but if I can add the trace elements in the right amounts, that seems like a better approach for my situation. 

Obviously do whatever is working for you. I may very well be making a mistake and learning 😁

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This is almost like talking politics. Lol

I'm still a firm believer in the Dutch Method of supplementing verse changing water. I have been doing this for years and will continue to do so as it works well for me. 

I too have had my fair share of issues this last year but that was due to Portland changing its water supply and flooding my system with high tds and me not keeping an eye on my tds meter when making top off water. Funny thing is when everything went south I scrambled for answers and even sent out for a full triton test that came back almost perfect.

Remember what works for some may not work for you. 

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