Reef Labs is a new ICP water testing service which expands the number of companies offering critical examination of saltwater aquarium chemistry in the United States. The inductively coupled plasma machines are located inside of Reef Masters, a saltwater aquarium store in Bradenton Florida where they are operated by a bonafide physicist with a unique understanding of how ICP machines work.
ICP water testing has been one of the most transformative new services available to the reef aquarium hobby to help shine a light on our seawater chemistry. We’ve been able to test our own macro elements like calcium, magnesium, alkalinity and a few others for decades but ICP-OES and ICP-MS remain the only tool that reef builders have for determining the levels of beneficial minor and trace elements as well as the buildup of unwanted toxic heavy metals.
We just received our first batch of water samples back from Reef Labs and were pleasantly surprised by how clearly and easily we were able to gauge the most important parameters of our reef tank chemistry. At a glance we could see that the Macro, Minor and Trace elements were neatly organized with simple and intuitive color coding to assign them into groups of high, elevated, optimal and deficient concentrations.
The ICP tested water chemistry is reported with a preface of alerts but in our case we didn’t have to worry about them too much since these mostly informed us of a suite of trace elements which were low but not critical in their absence. Reef Labs has been refining their ICP testing protocols for a couple years, working in partnership with ACI Aquaculture to gauge their sensitivity of many different trace elements with regular additions of specific elements.
By testing the chemistry of ACI’s large commercial coral growing systems, adding a specific dose of specific elements, and then retesting the water Reef Labs has been able to hone and fine tune their ICP testing protocols with a high degree of confidence in their measurements, and high praises from the resulting improvements of the coral growth and coloration. The Reef Labs water test measures 35 vital elements for $44.99 and a 6-day turnaround time and is available wholesale from ACI Aquaculture and to end users from Aquaholic Aquaculture.