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 When encrusting and calcified algae start colonizing the tank: time has come to begin stabilizing it. Brown or Diatom Algae develop the fastest and are essential to feeding 'Pods. They will cover the whole tank with a BioFilm that disappears at a fast rate with 'Pods constantly eating it away !! So no worry here. At the same time various colours of Coralline and Encrusting Algae will enhance the Coral Sand Bed and Rockwork. From Turquoise; to Pink; to Purple; to Red; to Tan and Ochre.

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Man made live rock such as this ecoLiveRock are an excellent support for Coralline and Encrusting Algae. Their natural properties contribute to a consistent level of calcium and carbonate hardness that further accelerates their development !! Diatoms, because of their fast rate of development, neutralize Dynoflagellates and slow GHA growth considerably by stealing their nutrients away. But they need Minerals in doing so: which brings us to a different management of maintenance at this point.

TWO Things:

- Change of Top-Off water method

- Change of Salt Water mix


From the start we used tap water and standard Salt Water Mix (pick your brand) to cycle and balance the tank. This allowed for the development of Cyanobacteria and Zooplankton. We must now switch the food source of Zooplankton and modify water chemistry: this will become the permanent maintenance procedure from now on.

Top-Off Water preparation

No more direct tap water will be used to replace evaporated water because we need to reduce pollutants and phosphates for the Diatoms to take over. They have a calcified skeleton like Calcified Macro Algae but need a special addition to thrive. All SBMarine tanks are covered with glass which prevents rapid evaporation and prevents fish from jumping out or escaping... So Top-Offs are minimal: the following method uses Bicarbonate Powder in it's mix. So if your tanks have severe evaporation you will have to reduce the doses considerably: the cumulative effects of Sodium BiCarbonate in higher concentrations could have a disastrous effect.

1) Fit a 5 gallon pail with a biological sponge filter at bottom (powered by a standard air pump). Cover with Crushed Coral. Fill with tap water and add 2 tablespoons of pre-mixed Sodium BiCarbonate followed by  two caps of 3% Peroxide. Initially it will take a few weeks for the Biological Filtration to begin. Afterwards the Top-Off mix can be used after 48 hours on a regular basis. This will eliminate chlorine/chloramine; Phosphates and Pollutants; it will also destroy any pathogenic bacteria. The Hydrogen Potential (pH) of soft water will increase so will the carbonate hardness. This Top-Off will give a Kick Start to Brown Algae and maintain their growth at all times.


Salt Water Mix

This method of pre-mixing Salt Water replaces the RO2 procedure recommended by some Salt manufacturers for mixing that applies to the Sterile Tank approach (Berlin Method). In my experience Reverse Osmosis is a temporary state of water that reverts back to it's normal state after 24 hours at most... It eliminates pollutants Nitrates and Phosphates and Chloramine. But there are other ways of doing this that are more appropriate to the Marine Biological System. And it is cost effective and easy !!

We use an old bare 33 gallon tank

1) Fill tank with tap water and add one cap of 3% Peroxide for every 10 gallons

2) Place a Powerhead with aeration venturi in tank

3) Run it for at least 24 hours

This will eliminate Chlorine/Chloramine; Most pollutants and Phosphates; it will still produce Nitrates but we need those for the REAL GREEN Macro-Algae (which we don't find in sterile tanks)


THEN (24 hours later)

1) Add the required amount of Salt to reach a density of 1,025 (the actual density will only read correctly after a minimum of 48 hours)

2) Run the Powerhead for a minimum of 48 hours before doing a partial water change

3) Simply replace the siphoned water with same amount using a plastic hose fitted to the Powerhead


NOTE: we use a Natural Reef Grade Salt Mix (not synthetic). It has a higher Magnesium Content which is invaluable to a Marine Biological System and other properties to maintain a healthy carbonate hardness level... SBMarine never uses Additives in it's tanks: Regular Partial Water Changes maintain a high level of all 67 essential components of Sea Water. Atlantic Crushed Coral has a very high Stronthium content and quality Live Rocks maintain a consistent and stable Mineral balance....

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UPDATE (Médoc)

(June 21 2016) 

Kiss of Death

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June 18: Two arms were completely grazed upon their entire surface (overnight)... Since Starfish show different signs or symptoms of degenaration due to poor water quality or microbial infection: it seems possible that Aegis was responsible

( see Ophiuridae).

Unfortunately it is impossible to relocate an ailing starfish for obvious reasons... Médoc thrived in ideal conditions for two months. Specific tanks are a must for most starfish !!

Mea Culpa !!

please take note: Ophidiasteridae Tamaria reach a considerable size and as they grow: they incorporate small Anemones and various invertebrates in their diet.