Automated Reefing

We've been trialling a new method of reefkeeping here at Yorkshire Reefs over the past two years. It's minimal effort, zero water changes, and much less testing than ever! All we need are some nifty bits of kit to get going. This is the system we run on our 6 foot Acropora display tank here at Yorkshire Reefs, so pop in and take a look if you'd like to see it all in action. 

When we do a water change in a saltwater tank, we're doing it to bring nutrients down, or dose macro & micro trace elements in. If we can keep our nitrate and phosphate stable and in-range, and keep elements in the water through dosing (and regularly checking these with ICP's), there is no need to do a water change - we'd be changing out water for water which is chemically the same (or worse, as the nutrients are lower).  

Using a Reef Factory KH Keeper Plus, we can test the KH of the water as regularly as 24 times per day. We can keep track of everything Reef Factory in our Smart Reef app, which shows the measured KH, history of all equipment, as well as being our hub for setting up each bit of kit. 

The KH Keeper then communicates with the Reef Factory Pro x 4 Dosing Pump on 'actions' - things we have told it to do based on what the KH value has been tested at. 

If the KH Keeper has tested our KH value as being too low, our dosing pump will dose more. If it's told it that the KH is too high, the dosing pump will lower or skip the next dose. Every day, our dosing pumps will dose different amounts of our consumables based off of the KH consumption. 

If we use a proportional dosing system - this is something which has all our macro, micro & trace elements mixed in to be consumed at the same rate in each bottle - our KH value will raise and lower at the same rate as our calcium, magnesium, and other elements. We set up the KH Keeper to adjust dosage of the other bottles of consumables at the same rate. So, if we skip our next KH dosage by 50% on our actions, we set all doses of other liquids to be reduced by 50% too. 

This means that we have absolute stability of KH to the number we set it at (we have set ours to a dKH of 8.0), and the other elements follow suit. 

Our favourite proportional dosing systems are...

...the Modern Reef RKS  set - a 4 bottle set of consumables, which includes KH, Calcium, Magnesium, macro & micro trace elements, and amino acids, carbohydrates, and sugars for coral food. 

...and the Reef Zlements pH Plus or Complete sets, which are a 2 bottle set of consumables, which includes KH, Calcium, Magnesium, macro & micro trace elements. 

When we run this system, the most important things to do are check your nutrients (nitrate and phosphate), and keep them controlled using whichever method works best for you. Whether it's through using nitrate and phosphate dosing to keep them in range, carbon dosing to keep them both lower, or phosphate remover to keep phosphate down, ad long as they stay in range, you do not need to do water changes

An ICP every month is an absolute must, and we like to use the Reef Zlements Advanced ICP as it tests nutrients as well as other elements not included on the standard test. Elements should stay in range, or close to it, but it's important to dose these individually if they are too low. Every tank uses different elements at different rates, so this dosing will be completely unique to you. 

We'll always be happy to set up the actions on your KH Keeper Plus if you've bought it from us, as well as interpret ICP's. It can be a bit tricky at first to understand how these methods work, but we'll always be ready to help you through it. Once the system is running well, you can sit back and relax as your tank and coral thrives with absolute KH stability. 

Shopping list: 

Reef Factory KH Keeper Plus

Reef Factory Pro x 4 Dosing Pump 

Additives such as Modern Reef RKS or Reef Zlements Complete/pH Plus 

ICP's (enough for one per month) 

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