What Is The Triton Method For A Reef Tank?

the triton method

The one very popular fact that the Triton Method has become well known for is the ability to run a saltwater aquarium without water changes. While this is not exclusive to Triton, it certainly has made them popular among the reefing community. It would not be unfair to say that the drudgery of regular water changes is probably one area in our hobby that has the potential to lead to tank failure. The repeated demand on your time, usually on weekends, and just the thought of doing it all over again. It can lead to a hobbyist becoming lackadaisical (an actual word that best describes the situation!) To overcome this scenario, we look for better solutions. One of them is running a tank without water changes. What is the triton method all about?

What is a triton Method sump?

A large proportion of the Triton Method is determined by introduction of a ‘Triton design sump’.

triton method sump design

Adding a refugium in the first chamber

The Triton Method sump is designed in a way that the first chamber is occupied by an algae bed.

  1. The algae bed or refugium should be between 10% and 20% of the volume of your display tank.

  2. They suggest cheotomorpha can be used as an algae to start off with.

  3. The refugium should be reverse lit to your display tank for 12 hours a day by a T5 blue/white mix.

  4. If you have the space in the refugium, it is suggested that you add a pump for extra flow.

  5. One or two pieces of live rock can also be introduced as a growing surface for the algae (cheato will not attach, but caulerpa does).

  6. No sand should be added to the compartment.

The second chamber

  1. Your skimmer would need to be placed in the second chamber

  2. A ‘common granular media filter’ or ‘reactor’ should also be placed in the second chamber to run activated carbon.

The return chamber

  1. Your return pump should be set to turn over x10 your display volume of water.

What is the point of a Triton Refugium?

The Triton Method is a way of simulating what we find in the sea. The addition of a refugium not only helps in naturally regulating nutrient levels, but also encourages the proliferation of macro fauna such as copepods and amphipods. These are essential in the overall function of a reef tank, in that they consume undesirables and feed fussy fish.

chaeto in refugium

How do you use Triton Core 7 Base Elements?

Triton’s Core7 Base elements provide a complete package for your aquarium. What is the Triton Method full package? It is designed to supplement and maintain near natural seawater parameters. Core7 Base elements are supplied in four bottles. The 4-part base elements are dosed depending on the loss of KH. Core7 Base Elements includes extra elements to encourage algae growth in your refugium.

Number 1 = Magnesium & Traces
Number 2 = Calcium & Traces
Number 3A = Alkalinity & Traces
Number 3B = Alkalinity & Traces

An automatic 4-head doser is required dose all four solutions. They do not need to be diluted, as they come ready-to-use from the bottle.

The initial dose is 2ml per 100L aquarium volume of each bottle. After a day KH should be measured, the target should be 8dKH. If the KH falls, the dosage should be increased to compensate for the reduction. If KH increases, the dosage should be reduced.

If your salinity increases with the use of Core7 Base Elements, you can refer to this calculator.

the triton method elements

How do you use Triton Core 7 Reef Supplements Flex?

Triton’s Core7 Reef Supplements are intended as a supplement for your aquarium. Core7 Reef Supplements can replace 2-part dosing methods and the Balling method. It can also be used in in place of a calcium reactor. The packaging can be identified by the ‘OTHER METHODS’ label on the box and can be used on systems without a refugium. Reef Supplements can be used without the need to follow Triton Method protocols. The 4-part base elements are dosed depending on the loss of KH.

Number 1 = Magnesium & Traces
Number 2 = Calcium & Traces
Number 3A = Alkalinity & Traces
Number 3B = Alkalinity & Traces

An automatic 4-head doser is required dose all four solutions. They do not need to be diluted, as they come ready-to-use from the bottle.

The initial dose is 2ml per 100L aquarium volume of each bottle. After a day KH should be measured, the target should be 8dKH. If the KH falls, the dosage should be increased to compensate for the reduction. If KH increases, the dosage should be reduced.

the triton method flex

What is the Triton ICP-OES test for?

Triton labs offer the full solution for ensuring that your aquarium mirrors what we find in seawater. Their lab tests for macro elements, such as Boron, bromine and Strontium. They also check trace elements like Barium, manganese and Chromium. They also tests for unwanted metals like Aluminum and Lead.

With this information on hand you can utilise it by remedying what may be lacking in your system, or what needs to be removed. Information on the ICP-OES test can be found here. An ICP-OES test can be carried out whenever you want to check levels. Most reefers check two or three times a year.

Triton Labs ICP-OES Water Test- Full Panel of 32 Elements - Saltwater Reef Testing Kit
  • Testing Elements Include: Na, Ca, Mg, K, Sr, B, Br, S, Li, Be, Ba, Ti, V, Cr, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, Al, Si, As, Sb, Sn, Cd, Se, Mo, Hg, P (PO4), Pb, I.
  • The results of this test provide you with the most detailed analysis of marine aquarium water you've ever seen, enabling you to understand exactly what's missing, what's excessive, and what to do about it.

How long do Triton tests take?

If you send off an ICP-OES test for analysis, the results should come back in about a week. They have been known to take two weeks at times.

What does Triton Detox remove?

If you have had your ICP-OES test come back with raised levels of unwanted metals, the Triton Detox has been formulated to deal with this scenario. Triton Detox removes excess heavy metals from your aquarium such as Copper and Lead, while being completely safe to use in a marine aquarium.

Do you need to run activated carbon in the Triton Method?

The Triton Method enables the aquarist to run their aquarium without the constant need for water changes. By testing regularly, and sending water for analysis, they are able to keep tight control of what is happening within those four glass walls. With limited water changes comes the potential for a build-up of undesirables. Therefore, it is essential to run activated carbon to remove toxins and other unwanted molecules.

Reef Red Sea Spec Carbon - Aquarium Filter Media (2000 Ml/ 64 Oz), Black (37420)
  • Rapid removal of organic pollutants
  • High total adsorption capacity
  • Ultra-low phosphate output, ultra-low ash content

What is the difference between Triton Method and other methods?

What is the Triton Method then? The Triton Method aims to offer the reefer a ‘total package’ in which all needs in the aquarium are met.  The 4-part dosing regimen, with ICP-OES test analysis, and a refugium serve as a complete solution to emulate the conditions you find in seawater. The ability to go without water changes has become one of Triton’s selling points, but they do not actively promote it. Simply by meeting all requirements of your reef inhabitants with Triton, enables you to forego water changes.

Other methods, such as the Balling method, Red Sea’s Foundation program and other 2-part dosing methods do not focus on a holistic approach to reefing. These methods are primarily about control of parameters with chemical means alone. In fact, it could be argued that selling salt for water changes is more lucrative than suggesting they are not needed.

Running a system without water changes is not exclusive to Triton. You can achieve the same using any other method. As long as all inhabitants’ needs are met, that nutrient export is properly managed, and that major elements and trace elements are tested and dosed accordingly, you can stop doing water changes. Add in activated carbon to remove toxins and unwanted molecules and you are all set.

Can you use Triton Method without a refugium?

Yes, and no.
Triton, in their wisdom, have realised that they can accommodate those reefers who have refugiums and those that do not. If you are running the full Triton Method, with a refugium then you will be using Triton Core7 Base elements. This product includes elements that will help the macroalgae in a refugium grow. If you do not have a refugium, this could be detrimental to your system. You may end up growing unwanted algae.
If you want to run Triton on a system without a refugium, you can use Triton Core7 Reef Supplements Flex. These are the same as the Base Elements, but without the added refugium growth formula.

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What is the flow rate for Triton?

Triton suggest a flow rate of x10 of your main display volume

What should the sump size be for Triton Method?

Triton suggest a refugium compartment of 10% to 20% the size of your display volume.

Can I use filter socks with the Triton Method?

Triton does not recommend the use of filter socks/floss as they remove beneficial ingredients that algae require.

Is Triton Method expensive?

This can be a very subjective subject. However, when compared to other methods available they seem to be on a par.

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What is the Triton Method?

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