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Red Sea RCP, Zeovit, or Hybrid? Your Experiences?


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I've had this addiction for over 12 years and have had many ups and many downs. While my tanks have always looked 'ok', I have never had the ridiculous growth and color I really want and see in some other tanks. I want a mixed reef with a focus on SPS. I am considering starting either the Red Sea Reef Colors Program, the Zeovit system, or a hybrid implementation of either. Eight months ago, I bought the Reef Colors test kit and A,B,C,D additives, but after a week or so, stopped when I lost a couple SPS. I cannot guarantee it was due to the dosing or not, so I am certainly not blaming it and not opposed to starting it again.

I have searched the internet, but have not found a thread documenting their experiences with either system; pros and cons, before/during/after images, test results, etc. If you know of a thread, please link to it. If/when I start either system, I plan to document thoroughly.

I would like to hear from people using either program or a hybrid implementation of either and their experiences with them, why they chose the program, results, etc. If you have great growth and color without either, Id like to hear your secret if you're willing to share.

My current setup/process:


175 gallon Oceanic Bowfront with Inline BioCube 29

75 gallon sump

3 AI Hydra 52s

3 48" T5s

Apex Controller

ASM G3 Protein Skimmer

1/3 HP chiller/heater

Korallin Calcium reactor

I use RowPhos in a phosban 150

Active Carbon filtration

Red Sea Coral Pro salt

I have bought, but have not started using biopellets

Fish / Inverts

3 RBTA (could be 4 soon)

2 Black Ocellaris Clownfish

1 Blue Tang

3 PJ Cardinal

1 target mandarin goby

1 Lyretail Anthias

1 Melanurus Wrasse

1 Derasa clam (about 1 foot long and 8 inches tall)

-- I am about to add 3 more Anthias, a bristletooth tang (either Whitetail or Kole), and a Midas Blenny


Salinity: 1.026

PH: 7.8 - 8.2 (cant seem to get it higher and to not fluctuate so much)

KH: 8 and rising (CaRX ran out of CO2 and is coming back online)

Ca: 440

Temp: 77f -79f

Nitrate / Nitrite: Undetectable, but I have to assume there are some nitrates

Phosphate: Testing .085, but I have some algae growth, so I suspect it is higher

I feed dry New Spectrum pellets and Rod's daily and do weekly water changes (occasionally 2 weeks or more).

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I'm not sure I've got great colors or growth as that's somewhat subjective, but I'm kinda skeptical of the idea of a "program" that somehow is going to make my SPS faster growing or better color. I'm subscribing to water changes every few weeks (~20%), run carbon and GFO to ensure low phosphates, DBS + high powered skimmer for nutrient removal, and a calcium reactor to keep Alk and Mg up. That's pretty much it. LED's for lighting.

What is your Mg? I've noticed that when my Mg isn't fairly high (1400ish) my SPSs tend to not be as happy as they are when it's high. I've also noticed that keeping 1-2ppm Nitrates seems to help with their colors but that's completely subjective.

Try keeping your Alk around 9 as that also seems to anecdotally be better for me.

I would suggest that as far as growth, you may try raising your temp to 80-81. There's research that shows corals tend to grow better in that range.

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Thanks for the reply, Dan. I will look into raising my temps. What LEDs do you have and what are your settings? %age and PAR? I have not tested PAR since setting up the AI Hydra 52s, but am currently working on finding a PAR meter.

What is your Mg?

I stopped testing Mg after I started using RSCP salt as it always hovered around 1400. I'll see how old my test kit is and test it tonight to confirm.

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Zeovit works, but it's expensive and requires daily additions that cannot be easily automated. To me this is by far the biggest drawback with the system. It is as far away from set it and forget it you can possibly get. Zeo coral colors are also very pastel, and another drawback IMO is that frags from zeo systems do not initially do well when moved to higher nutrient tanks, they almost always quickly brown.

A hybrid works to some degree but requires very careful planning. Much of the zeovit system is designed to put a lot of nutrients back in the tank, and the zeolite prevents ammonia from breaking down in the first place. So without running the zeolite in a reactor, it's hit or miss whether you can create a balanced system. I'm concluding at this point that in a 50 or larger tank, NO3 is relatively easy to deal with, but PO4 is not by any means, and even using GFO has significant consequences when using it too quickly or incorrectly.

One thing you might try doing is using just zeostart and see if you can get your NO3 and PO4 levels down and somewhat balanced. The imbalanced ratio of these 2 is what leads to cyano and excessive algae in my experience.

I will say that stable Alk is the single most important factor to healthy SPS, with the exception of the very obvious stable salinity, temp, reasonably high Ca, etc. Beyond that the No3 and PO4 levels and the specific ratio of NO3 to PO4 would be #2.

Off the top of my head I don't think I have any before and after threads bookmarked, but i have a bunch of zeo and ULNS threads bookmarked, I'll see if I can find a relevant one to post.

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4x Kessil A360WE

5x 12" BML 20K

2x 36" Reefbrite Blue

I run the Kessils for 12 hours, ramping from 15% to 100% over 2 hours, then from 100% to 15% for the last 2 hours, so 8 hours at 100% intensity, varying between 50-60% color.

The BML and Reefbrites run 10 hours.

The par seems to be maxing out at around only 300 directly below the Kessils. I'm planning to get a good mapping on the par this weekend.

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I'm skepical of the color programs too except for Zeo, but that's too much work and money for me to have nicely colored, albeit pale, corals. Too much can go wrong with it too as I've seen a decent amount of posts about I overdosed this or that bottle of the zeo program and it wiped my tank.

I dose aminos 2x/week and that's it. Good par, good flow, all parameters in range, and steady alk. I think having a good fish population is helpful as well but it needs to be balanced out with a higher nutrient removal.

Here are the numbers I aim for:

Ca - 420ppm

Alk - 7.5-8.0 dKh

Mg - 1500 ppm

NO3 - 5-10 ppm

PO4 - 0.03 ppm

Just come check out the tank the next time you're ready to stock some more and you can check out the colors again in person. I think I finally found a sweet spot with the LED/T5 conversion from my long days of MH.

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FWIW, I run full lights for 8 hrs, with 1 hr of dawn/dusk of only blues.

Par values are about 500-600 at the top of the rock structures, 350 in the middle, and 100-200 on the sandbed, though this was measured with the older apogee sensor and not the one that Dan has that is geared more towards LEDs. Actually, come to think of it, this is without the T5s either as I added the 3- 60" T5 bulbs to the lighting rack as well after I took the readings.

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  • 2 weeks later...

My Red Sea Magnesium test kits were definitely expired and testing way low. Jake at RCA tested and it was 1350 and confirmed that he had some old Red Sea Mg kits that also tested low.

I am leaving town next week, so I am not making any drastic changes this week. I will continue with weekly water changes with Red Sea Reef Energy dosing (aminos). I have added a new bristletooth tang and 3 anthias and am feeding 2 times a day to increase bioload. Since some softies ,lps, and sps placed near the bottom are also faded, I suspect nutrient deficiencies - specifically Nitrates since I don't have that many fish compared to other tanks I have seen. I am still looking for a Midas Blenny and Dejardin/Sailfin Tang. I'll stick to this strict regimen for a few more weeks then make a decision to go ULNS with either RS CP or Zeovit or some hybrid if I don't see significant results. FWIW, ZeoVit does seem a little too 'daily hands-on' for my schedule.

There have to be some reefers on this forum that have used Red Sea Coral Program or ZeoVit and/or hybrid implementations of either. I would like to hear your opinions/experiences if you're willing to share here or via PM.

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I run Bio-Pellets with ZeoBak and a few Zeo foods and elements.

HC GFO and Carbon in a dual reactor

Temp 78-79

Alk 7-7.5

Salinity - 35

Ca 400-440

Mg 1350-1400

Na Undetectable

Po4 - currently at .09 which is darkening some sps but it was time to change my media anyway

I run my levels as close to natural sea water as possible, and try to keep it there.

Stability and light is everything....

You can achieve the Zeo acro colors without running Zeo.

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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