If you read our 2-part Reef Restorations series in UltraMarine magazine late last year you may recall that we’d undertaken a rescue project on the Digital-Reefs test tank. Basically, due to crippling time constraints, our maintenance schedule has seriously slipped and as a result we’d seen a nasty hair algae bloom in the system. Unfortunately we had to break up a really nice large Seriatopora hystrix as algae had invaded its core and caused extensive recession. In the second part of the series, we’d implemented several restorative measures, regaining control of water quality and ultimately eradicating the nuisance hair algae. Thank God for that!
However, we still weren’t particularly happy with the colours shown by our corals, particularly our remaining SPS (some of these colonies had come from our original tank where they had shown strong colouration so we knew that something must be amiss). Once we knew that all our parameters were where they should be, and stable at those levels for several weeks, we decided to investigate trace element levels as a potential cause for this pale colouration. For this analysis, we used a Red Sea Coral Colours Pro Test Kit and, thanks to this, discovered that we did indeed have apparent deficiencies in both Iodine and Iron levels.
Sticking with Red Sea, we decided that bringing these levels back to their optimal levels was going to be necessary. Even if this didn’t restore colouration (we realise there are lots of factors that can influence this), at least we would be able to potentially rule out trace elements as the cause. To achieve this we decided to follow Red Seas Coral Colour Programme and to use their full range of Coral Colour supplements, a 4-bottle package which consists of:
■ Coral Color A: A complex of halogens (Iodine, Bromine and Fluorine). The halogens act both as antioxidants and oxidative agents within the soft tissue and mucus layer of corals, reducing the possibility of coral bleaching. In active reef systems, these elements are depleted quickly due to their high oxidative abilities and reactivity with organic materials. Iodine and bromine are related to the pink chromo-protein (pocciloporin)
■ Coral Color B: A complex of Potassium and Boron. Potassium plays an essential role in the transportation of coral nutrients within the soft tissue (including the nutrients provided by the Zooxanthellae). Potassium and Boron significantly affect the alkalinity of a coral’s soft tissue and the formation of aragonite in its skeleton. Potassium is related to the red chromo-proteins.
■ Coral Color D: A complex of 18 trace elements. These 18 elements (out of all the trace elements in NSW) participate in the metabolic processes inside a coral’s skeleton and soft tissue. D elements are related to the blue/purple chromo-proteins.
■ Coral Color C: A complex of 8 “light” metals that includes Iron, Manganese, Cobalt, Copper, Aluminum, Zinc, Chrome and Nickel. These micro-elements are essential to many bio-chemical metabolic processes, including respiration, production of energy, chlorophyll and photosynthetic catalysts. C elements are related to the green/yellow chromo-proteins.
In order to calculate the proper dosage level of each component we also brought Red Seas combined Calcium test kit into play, and used this to calculate the systems Calcium demand (which turned out to be approx. 5ppm per day… by the way, look out for our review of this kit, coming soon). This allowed us to establish an accurate dosage for the trace elements and crucially, to avoid overdosing. Overall what initially seemed to be a daunting and complex task actually proved to be pretty easy to implement and also proved to be give us a far greater appreciation of the processes going on within the system. After about a month we had successfully attained optimal levels of these key trace elements to match other parameters.
But did it actually work we hear you ask? Well, yes and no. For us, the programme of dosing was successful in that it restored the chosen elements to their recommended levels. The product itself was well packaged and came with instructions and extras that made its use very simple too. We did notice a very slight intensification in our large green Acropora sp. and coralline algae growth seemed to accelerate, but other than this we can’t say that anything significant was observed either positive or negative. As we’ve already mentioned, we were able to discount trace element depletion as a significant cause for the situation. Keep your eyes on the blog for the next phase of the project where we introduce a targeted feeding regime for our corals to complement our trace element supplementation.