Enhanced Coloration or Accelerated Growth?
// Published: 03.09.2014

It is widely accepted that there is a narrow spectrum of water conditions that are suitable for keeping corals.

Red Sea’s unique research into the biochemistry of corals and their relationship with the surrounding seawater resulted in the development of the Reef  Care Program. Highly advanced yet easy to implement, the programs empower hobbyists with the knowledge and materials to understand and control the fascinating environment within their aquarium.

 

Red Sea’s research into the long term physiological demands of SPS, LPS & Soft Corals in the reef aquarium has shown that enhanced coloration and accelerated growth require significantly different water conditions.

image-of-Sharon

All coral build their skeletons by absorbing the major, minor and trace elements that they need from the surrounding water. Unlike the natural reef environment, where there is an immense reservoir of the foundation elements, the reef aquarium has limited resources that are quickly depleted by the aquarium inhabitants. Therefore, in order to enable sustainable coral growth it is necessary to maintain higher than natural levels of the foundation elements.

 

Original research carried out in Red Sea’s laboratory has shown that in a closed system (an aquarium) a specific ratio between the foundation elements of calcium, magnesium and carbonates (alkalinity) is necessary for coral vitality and the formation of a robust aragonite coral skeleton. This ratio must be maintained especially when increasing the levels of the foundation elements above the natural sea levels.

Corals need to invest energy in transporting the foundation and other elements necessary for skeletal growth from the surrounding water through their soft tissue. Elevated levels of the foundation elements create a more positive ionic pressure making this process much more efficient (less energy required per gram of skeleton).

 

Therefore balanced, elevated levels of the foundation elements will result in accelerated coral growth rates.

 

Red Sea Coral pro salt contains 45 of the minor and trace elements presents in reef water & together with the other components of the formula, guarantees optimal levels of 57 elements. This salt mix is ideal  for reef aquariums, encouraging accelerated, healthy growth and enhanced vitality of corals.

 

It is relatively easy to maintain the conditions for accelerated coral growth. Maintaining the conditions for enhanced coloration is more demanding in that it requires a higher level of attention to the water parameters.

 

Red Sea’s research has identified 31 minor and trace elements that in addition to the foundation elements are present in the skeleton and soft tissue of all corals. These elements  are also associated with the production of specific color pigments in the soft tissue of stony corals. These pigments can only be produced if the specific elements required for the bio-chemical process are available in the correct concentration. All 31 elements are required by all stony corals irrespective of the actual color the coral displays.

 

It is theoretically possible but not recommended to achieve both accelerated growth and advanced coloration simultaneously as the system will always be on the edge of instability.

The complete Reef Care Program provides advanced reef keeping solutions for all levels of hobbyists, with detailed instructions on achieving optimal water parameters for all types of reef aquarium.

 

Recommended Usage of Red Sea Salt

Recommended Usage of Red Sea Salt

Recommended water parameters for accelerated coral growth

Algae nutrient levels
NO31-2 ppmMaintaining a relatively high population of Zooxanthellae that will provide enough energy to the corals for growth.
PO40.1 ppm
Foundation elements
Alkalinity12.6dKH – 4.5 meq/lBoosted and balanced levels of the Foundation Elements to properly utilize all of the extra energy
Ca465 ppm
Mg1390 ppm
Minor and Trace elements – Coral Colors
I20.06 ppmAvailability of the minor and trace elements (Coral Colors) taken up by the corals during growth
K410 ppm
Fe0.15 ppm
Coral Nutrients – Reef Energy
Reef Energy A2 ml per 100 Liter/25 galSufficient coral nutrients (Reef Energy) to supplement the energy supplied by the Zooxanthellae
Reef Energy B2 ml per 100 Liter/25 gal

Recommended Water Parameters For Enhanced Coral Coloration

Algae nutrient levels
NO30.25 ppmMaintain a reduced level of Zooxanthellae, reducing the brownish tint of the that the coral needs to receive from the environment.
PO40.02 ppm
Foundation elements
Alkalinity8.2dKH / 2.9meq/LReduced levels of the Foundation Elements to lower the energy demand from coral growth .
Ca430 ppm
Mg1310 ppm
Minor and Trace elements – Coral Colors
I20.06 ppmAvailability of the minor and trace elements (Coral Colors) used in the soft tissue for increased coloration.
K380 ppm
Fe0.15 ppm
Coral Nutrients – Reef Energy
Reef Energy A4 ml per 100 Liter/25 galIncreased coral nutrients (Reef Energy) to provide the additional energy that the coral needs to receive from the environment.
Reef Energy B4 ml per 100 Liter/25 gal

Sharon Ram

Chief Scientist, Red Sea