Jump to content

Heres how u can help your colors


Recommended Posts

So i came across this and thought that it may help a few people out.


Highly dependent on Nitrate and PO4 levels. Of course all SPS colors are highly dependent on lack of N and P so I wanted to start with probably the easiest color to get, yellow. Yellows are sort of you baseline; yellows will tell you a lot about what is going on in your tank, what is needed and what is overdosed. Nitrate and/or PO4 reduction is most important, either through technical means such as nitrate/phosphate reducers or biologically through DSB, Carbon dosing and/or water changes and fuges. Basically, if you want to do SPS, I would suggest starting with an acropora that is yellow. If you can get it to say yellow for several months, you should be ready for something else.


Greens would be the next easiest color to tweak. Most green coloration can be achieved through the addition of an Iron Concentrate (Kents is what I use, however Iron is Iron). You must be very careful with Iron because it is also an Algae accelerator; this is why it is so important for you to get your yellows colors first (your N and P will be lowered).

Additionally, I use my yellows as indicators for my greens and blues. You'll notice a deficiancy if your greens are brown color or they are paling in color. I start off by dosing Iron at about 1 drop per 50 usg twice a week and take note of what happens, color changes, Algae growth, until my yellow acroporas display a green shimmer (it won't be a solid green but a shimmer of a green/yellow).

Please note, a sign of overdosing is a darkening of tissue, when this happens you have added too much iron or too much iron is being added. Another sign of overdosing is Algae growth, stop immediately and possibly do a water change if necessary. Like everything else reef, go slowly.

Blues and some purples

This is mainly for blues but I have found is can also have an effect on purples. The supplement for this is Potassium Iodide Concentrate or Lugol's solution, ESV Potassium Iodide Concentrate will also work; don't just get something that says Potassium because that is a little different. Dosing should be done when blue colors become less intense. Again, using yellow corals as indicators, stop dosing when yellow corals display a green shimmer.

Reds/Pinks and some Purples

Primarily for coloring reds and pinks in Montiporas, Pocilloporas, Birdsnest, other Stys and Seriatoporas. The supplement is Potassium (not potassium iodide). If you are using a high potassium salt mix such as Oceanic, Tropical Marine Pro and you are doing regular water changes, you are more than likely not going to need to supplement this much.

For dosing you can use your monitporas, especially caps as indicators. Supplementing is required when Montiporas display slower growth and appear washed out to grey appearance. Indicators on Stys and Pocs are when they look like they have been exposed to air. Polyps are completely withdrawn and colors are light. Other indicators of potassium deficiency is when the pinks turn into a light brown and when acroporas loose their color and get lighter and pale. A major potassium deficiency is seen when tissue is lost, mostly starting from the base opposed to spotting (patchy look). And overdose can lead to tip burning so don't mistake tip burn for new growth. Tips burns will be white with no polyps.


Probably one of the hardest coloration of all acroporas from my experience since it is a combination of several variables.

First and foremost is water clarity, which means Carbon and/or filter socks. I have also had good result from biological filters such as using cryptic zones, which produce seasquirts, sponges and other filter feeding animals. Zeo Sponge Power, which can be used in any system, feeds sponges. Sponges are great because they can filter a mass amount of water for better water clarity.

From what I have noted, increased water clarify will first effect SPS tips but not the complete base. I have seen nana and valida with really nice purple tips but brown/tan/white bases. I have seen the same nana and valida in another's tanks, which met all other parameters with a full purple from base to tip.

Second being lighting. From my observations of my own tank and others, purples seem to love 420-440nm range light spectrum, those found in actinics and 20K halides. Some of the best purples I have seen are in tanks that have 440nm blue actinics (ATI Blue+, Giessman Actinic) or 20K Halides (Radium, XM 20K).

Third, supplements such as Iodide and Potassium (see blues and Reds/Pinks). Again, make sure your greens are green and yellows are yellow. Your blue should be bright with depth. Iodide will also help if you have tip burn.

These are just my observations through testing and I am sure in the future other factors will be seen and added. Please feel free to comment with your own observations, data is very important to moving forward.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you don't dose iron, then your yellow's have a green hue to them due to excess NO3 or PO4. I find this happens with my yellow millie when I overfeed. Work to lower excess nutrients and that'll bring your yellows back up out of Greenland!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Ok Jeremy I took your advice and went and got some ESV potasium iodide to try and color up my montipora. I didn't realize until afterwards that you actually recommend potasium and not potasium iodide. Well it worked anyway. The colors of my monitpora have never looked so good! My sunset monti in particular went from a light yellow to a golden yellow. Its also very inexpensive to dose and worth every penny, 25 ml once a week for my 500 gallons.

Here are some monti pics



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Brightwell says that potassium can be depleted in zeolite-based filtration, just FYI.

They also say this...

In natural seawater, potassium is a non-conservative major element with a concentration slightly lower than that of calcium (~399 ppm vs. ~413 ppm, respectively). It is a component of aragonite, and regular dosing has, within the past several years, been implicated in improving the blue coloration of numerous varieties of small-polyp stony corals; the benefits of potassium supplementation are potentially two-fold, then: provision of an element that is 1.) incorporated into the skeletal material of corals and other reef-buidling organisms for purposes of growth, and 2.) incorporated into pigments that (presumably in the presence of adequate ionic iron) enhance blue coloration of small-polyp stony corals. The importance of potassium to marine organisms is most apparent when beginning to dose it in aquaria with depleted potassium concentrations and/or in which the sea salt mixture used is potassium-deficient; in such cases, changes in the appearance of many corals may be observed within the first weeks of regular dosing.

Maintaining potassium within a range of 390 - 410 ppm is sufficient for long-term health, growth, and coloration of corals when all other physical and chemical requirements are met. The rate at which potassium is extracted from the water is determined by the stocking density of potassium-depleting livestock, characteristics of lighting and method(s) of filtration employed, and other biological, physical, and chemical conditions; therefore, each aquarium will have different requirements for the rate of potassium supplementation. Once the rate of potassium uptake in the aquarium has been determined (see opposite), the proper dosing rate of this product can be easily calculated. It is recommended that a quality salt mix with the proper (not augmented) alkalinity and concentrations of major, minor, and trace elements be used to establish natural seawater parameters in marine aquaria, providing a stable ionic foundation on which to build.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I've been dosing potassium for almost a month now using the instructions on the bottle which is 25 ml for 550 gallons once per week. Since I don't like dosing anything that I'm not testing I went ahead and ordered a potassium test kit from BRS. I finally got around to testing my tank today, even with dosing my potassium is still a little low. Seawater is 390 mg/l and my tank was about 350 mg/l. I just thought that I would pass this info along, odds are if you aren't dosing potassium then it is probably going to be low. I don't think this is critical but I'm positive it does effect the color of at least montipora.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Folks, the first paragraph of that information is the most critical in having good colors. You MUST get your phosphates below .04 mg/L to stand any chance of having nice colors in your SPS. If you don't meet this very basic criteria, you can dose all the potassium and iron and buy all the 420nm and Radium lamps you want and you will still be disappointed. This is one of the few things that I have become very convinced of as I have wrestled my old tank into what it is now. I am still not a SPS guru, but I do believe the nitrate/phosphate thing to be gospel.

All that said, when you do get them down, Pohl's Xtra Special is good for reds and purples and a little iron goes a long way!

Everyone be safe New Year's Eve,


PS. This is my tank at .03mg/L phosphate. I'm still not to zero, but getting it down under .04 really helped the tank turn the corner.


Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...