On test: Aquaforest marine supplements

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The Aquaforest range is now available from Evolution Aqua stockists.

Polish company Aquaforest offers a comprehensive range of marine products. And on the strength of those I’ve tested so far, I think you’ll be hearing a lot more from them in the coming months, says DAVE WOLFENDEN.


EU made, and produced to laboratory standards, the Aquaforest range is being distributed in the UK by Evolution Aqua. Diving in to the products, it quickly becomes clear that we’re not talking about the odd supplement to be added here and there on an ad hoc basis. While there’s no reason why you couldn’t pick and choose from the range and use various media supplements or foods in isolation as you see fit (and no doubt many folks will), Aquaforest has clearly designed the range to be part of a complete system in its own right.

The packaging is sexy, and well designed in a distinctive purple. This gives it a professional impression, inspires confidence and I think definitely gives the range a big ‘grab factor’.

Perishable items are marked with an expiry date, and dropper bottles are of decent quality. Many aquarists like to know what they’re actually adding to their tanks, yet a lot of manufacturers are quite cryptic with the make-up of their additives. In this case there is reasonably clear information about the components of each product, and simple dosing instructions; I’ve certainly seen worse.

The range of products on offer is huge. It might seem bewildering at first, with various salts, foods, supplements, media, probiotics and bacterial products. The range isn’t just for hardcore ultra-low nutrient system (ULNS) reef aficionados (despite the slogan ‘colour your corals’ on the packaging of most products), and there really does seem to be something here for everyone. Aquaforest has set out a nifty guide suggesting which products to use depending on your system and goals.

The range is split between four categories, and these are:

Fish only: This comprises a basic salt (‘Sea Salt’), plus phosphate-adsorbing media and carbon, and bacterial additions with each water change.

Soft corals and LPS with fish: Includes ‘Reef Salt’ (with boosted calcium and magnesium), plus phosphate media and carbon, bacterial additions and calcium, magnesium and alkalinity supplementation accordingly.

LPS and less demanding SPS: As above, but with the option of using ‘Probiotic Reef Salt’, and extra supplementation or the use of a ‘Component’ system (a bespoke three-part Balling-style dosing regime).

SPS probiotic system: As you might expect, this ups the ante, and introduces bacterial strains and carbon dosing as part of the regime. Many folks will opt for further additives to achieve the pastel coral colours characteristic of ULNS systems. Some of these need to be used with care; ‘Coral E’, (a liquid nutrient preparation), for example, contains copper to inhibit zooxanthellae populations, allowing the coral’s fluorescent pigments to come to the fore. This is a tried-and-tested technique, but you’ll need to get dosing spot-on.

With each of these four approaches, various coral and fish foods and supplements are available. These include garlic oil and vitamin solutions, SPS and LPS feed, and even a specialised Ricordea food; you certainly can’t accuse Aquaforest of giving you limited choice. Having tested various products for a few weeks, I’m impressed — they do exactly what they say, last for ages and using them is straightforward.

How do prices compare? 

Well, they offer good value; the SPS/probiotic-focused products, for example, will give Korallen Zucht a run for their money.

ICP testing

On top of all this, Aquaforest will imminently be offering ICP-OES (inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry) testing of 36 elements to hobbyists — and this is a big deal. If you’ve ever used ICP testing, you’ll know what a powerful technique it is to really dig into the minutiae of the aquarium’s water parameters, allowing for measurement of elements in the parts per billion range.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the introduction of ICP testing is a game-changer. We need to be a little careful interpreting certain ICP test results, but it has the potential to flag up issues where corals are not doing so well because of imbalances in trace elements which we couldn’t detect previously, and highlight where, for example, certain heavy metals may be at toxic levels (or identify microelements which may need additional dosing).

When the corals in the company’s system started taking a dip, an ICP test was performed which revealed elevated levels of cadmium. This was eventually identified as being from people burning tyres locally to keep warm, and the resulting cadmium released into the atmosphere was being injected into the water by the system’s skimmers — who knew? Basically, you’d never pick that up from a hobbyist kit. 

For those running ultra-low nutrient probiotic systems, this is a powerful tool to help maintain ideal parameters and tweak chemistry towards the needs of particular coral groups; equally, regular ICP tests have a place in any system to check on parameters we can’t accurately measure with a test kit.

Aquaforest’s ICP testing will be available from around March. RRP is to be confirmed but early suggestions are that it’ll be competitive, and will include testing of a sample of the aquarium water itself plus the RO water used as well.

Verdict

A well thought-out and comprehensive range. Whether you’re running a simple fish only system, a full-on ULNS with eye-popping SPS or something in-between, these products are definitely worth checking out. 

More info: Tel. 01942 216554, or visit www.evolutionaqua.com