Whether you have a freshwater or saltwater aquarium, rising temperatures in the summer time can be a cause of concern. Aquariums shouldn’t be allowed to get hotter than 83°F, or dissolved oxygen levels in the water will start to diminish. This triggers a competition between fish and invertebrates for oxygen leading to a very stressful situation, and possibly even death, for your aquarium inhabitants. Detailed below are some tips to help keep your aquarium cool when temperatures rise. Read More »
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Iodine is one of the most misunderstood, and misused, elements in the marine aquarium. Iodine is both essential, and toxic, so understanding your aquariums needs, and proper use, is critical when using Iodine supplements.
What is Iodine?
That is a complex question. In nature, the element Iodine can take many forms, and is one of a group of elements called essential elements. Many are unstable, or play only minor roles in what is relevant to maintaining your aquarium. The forms of Iodine that are most relevant and form the vast majority of Iodine present in the ocean are Iodide (I), and Iodate (IO3)
Iodide is an inorganic form of Iodine. Concentrations of this form increase with depth in the ocean, and it is considered the most biologically available form of Iodine. It is also the safest form of Iodine to use in the aquarium, and most of the Iodine supplements use this form of coral dip to kill invertebrate parasites, bacteria, and other pathogens.
What is Iodine used for in the aquarium?
Iodine is a critical element for cellular function and the transfer of nutrients within cells. Larger organisms require Iodine for proper thyroid function, production of hormones, and regulating metabolism. Iodine is utilized by corals for the synthesis of pigments, which allow them to adapt to varying light conditions and provide their tissue with protection from UV radiation. Invertebrates with exoskeletons (primarily shrimp and crabs in the aquarium) incorporate iodine in to exoskeletons and require iodine for molting and forming new exoskeletons as they grow.
Testing for Iodine
As I mentioned above, Iodine is in many forms, and testing for iodine is a complex issue. Some test kits measure “total Iodine”. Some test kits don’t tell you what exactly you are testing for at all. Quality test kits, like Salifert, will test for both Iodide and Iodate, allowing you to fully understand what your iodine landscape looks like. Natural seawater has a total Iodine concentration of .025ppm-0.08ppm, depending on depth and location. It is important to monitor the Iodine levels in your reef, as low levels may inhibit the important biological processes that have been discussed. Iodine is also a toxic substance, so levels above natural seawater concentrations can be toxic or fatal for invertebrates, and very high levels can kill fish and other vertebrates also. The standard level to shoot for in the marine aquarium is generally recognized as about 0.06ppm.
Whether you need to actually dose Iodine or not is a topic of debate amongst reef experts. The answer lies mostly in the type of system that you are running. Iodine is present in salt mix, many additives, and most importantly many foods that you put into your tank. One of the myths that has grown in the hobby is that you HAVE to dose iodine if you’re keeping soft corals and molting invertebrates. While it is absolutely true that these animals demand Iodine, it is also true that Iodine is highly toxic if overdosed, and blindly supplementing with iodine additives can be quite dangerous. Just because you keep these animals, does not automatically require that you dose iodine.
Iodine levels are lowered or depleted by protein skimmers, chemical filtration, and biological processes. If you are running a heavily stocked, heavily fed fish only (FO) or fish only with live rock (FOWLR) aquarium, you may find that you are maintaining natural seawater levels of iodine simply through water changes and feeding alone. If you are running a low nutrient, coral dominated, lightly fed aquarium, you will most likely find that supplementation is required to maintain optimum Iodine levels.
There are a number of quality Iodine products available from manufacturers who specialize in marine supplements, like Brightwell Aquatics, Kent Marine, SeaChem, Red Sea and others.
Hopefully you found this helpful, keep an eye open for upcoming blogs about the roles of other supplements for marine/reef aquariums.
In Part 1 of this article, I talked about Carbon Dosing, and the principals and some of the products on the market that are being used in this method of natural nitrate and phosphate control. You can read the first article for all the details, but for a quick review of what carbon dosing is all about, here are the basics.
By providing (dosing) a usable carbon source, the aquarist can increase the uptake of Nitrate and Phosphate by bacteria in the aquarium, and reduce the overall level of Nitrate and Phosphate in the aquarium to desired levels. Maintaining this low nutrient system, improves the overall health of the system, eliminates nuisance algae, and promotes brilliant coloration in corals. Another benefit to this increased bacteria population, also referred to as bacterioplankton, is that it serves as a supplemental food source for corals and filter feeding invertebrates. Carbon sources that are used for dosing have traditionally been vodka, vinegar, sugar or commercially available products like Brightwell Aquatics Reef Bio Fuel, or Red Sea’s NO4-Px. While effective, these sources of carbon must be added on regular basis (every day in most cases) and dosage levels are achieved largely on a trial and error basis. Read More »
Over the last couple years, I’ve heard much debate over the use of LED lighting for reef aquariums. Has the technology really advanced to the point where LED is a viable option for lighting a reef aquarium, or is it just a fad that has no real substance? Most of the opinions on the subject are heavily influenced dependent on which side you are looking at the technology from. I have been told many times that LED cannot sustain photosynthetic corals. Some believe the light production is not of adequate quality to keep a reef tank long term. Not surprisingly, this has mainly come from manufacturers of traditional lighting sources (T5, PC, Metal Halide), and some have been highly critical of the LED technology. On the other hand, the manufacturers that have invested in LED technology are adamant about the quality and validity of LED lighting. Those on each side of the fence are understandably trying to defend their own interests in the debate between traditional vs. LED lights for use on reef aquaria. Read More »
Live rock has always been a controversial topic within the aquarium hobby. Rock harvested from oceanic reefs has been a staple for reef enthusiasts for many years. It’s hard to replicate the look of a coral reef in a closed environment without the use of natural live rock. The problem is, it takes a lot longer for the live rock beds to recover than it does for dealers to harvest it. Removing natural rock reduces the amount of locations for new corals to settle and develop, so collection threatens the existing coral reefs as corals have less suitable area to colonize. Read More »