In the second installment of our Top Reefkeeping Myths series, we discuss some commonly held misbeliefs about reef equipment. While product innovation is at an all-time high, having the latest equipment is not required for a successful tank. And while some hobbyists may succeed with a particular piece of equipment or method, that does not mean everyone must follow the same approach. In the end, there are many different ways to keep a successful system, and as you grow within the hobby, you will learn what techniques and equipment work best for you.
Myth #1: Reef tanks require expensive equipment
With all of the marketing and excitement created by the release of new products, it is easy to think that you need top-of-the-line equipment to keep the reef tank of your dreams. That is simply not true, as a successful reef aquarium is possible without constantly splurging on the newest and most advanced products. For example, lighting is essential for maintaining the majority of corals, and there are plenty of high-end options available. However, most soft corals, LPS corals, and lower light requiring SPS corals will grow perfectly well under an inexpensive reef light that produces between 50 and 150 PAR. There is no shortage of expensive equipment that you can choose to add to your system; however, before making any purchasing decisions, we recommend carefully researching how it will improve the environment you are providing for your corals. The bottom line is, don’t be intimidated by all the high-dollar equipment as there is a high likelihood that you can achieve your reefkeeping goals without breaking the bank.
Myth #2: Dosing is required for all reef aquariums
As corals grow, they utilize specific elements within the water that must be replenished. Dosing additives containing calcium, alkalinity, magnesium, and other necessary components, is generally the most popular way to maintain proper levels; however, it is not the only way. Conducting frequent water changes can also be a great way to replace these key elements and nutrients, especially for most nano tanks and predominately soft coral tanks. However, for larger tanks, especially those with many LPS or SPS corals, dosing is generally required as the consumption of calcium and alkalinity is usually too high to keep up with by just doing water changes.
Myth #3: External sumps and protein skimmers are essential tools for reef aquariums
Having an external sump may be the most common way to keep a standard reef aquarium. However, it certainly is not the only way to do so. In fact, for many all-in-one aquarium systems, the filtration is built into the back of the aquarium, so having a sump isn’t even possible. These all-in-one systems are popular among some hobbyists as they reduce the chance for leaks and reduce the cost of an external sump and filtration system. Without an external filtration system, these all-in-one set-ups do not need a sump and can be placed on a desk, counter, or another piece of furniture. Many beginner hobbyists also enjoy using these systems to simplify the filtration process since everything is self-contained.
Protein skimmers are widely considered to be an essential tool for removing excess nutrients; however, if you have alternate means for exporting nutrients, they are not always necessary. And in some cases, running a protein skimmer is not an option due to the lack of a sump or space to fit a hang-on skimmer, especially for nano and smaller aquariums as well as many all-in-one systems. Some alternatives for skimmers include canister filters and UV sterilizers. Increasing the frequency of water changes can also be a substitute for the lack of a protein skimmer. While external sumps and protein skimmers are great tools to improve your reefkeeping experience, their use is not required for all reef aquariums.
We hope this article has put to rest some of the most common myths associated with reefkeeping equipment. Keep your eyes out for our analysis of more common reefkeeping myths, where we hope to help hobbyists decipher fact from fiction when learning to keep a reef aquarium. If you encounter any pressing questions or you need a recommendation, please contact our support team.