Reef Care Program – RCP is a method of aquarium management offered by RedSea. The basis on which the principles of RCP are founded is the focus on the individual needs and goals of each aquarist. According to RedSea’s research, an aquarium in which one cares about the greatest possible growth of corals should be supplemented in an entirely different way than one in which corals are to be beautifully colored. In addition, the relationship between the basic parameters (KH, Ca, Mg) was taken into account when creating the recommendations, rather than just their actual value. 

Aquarium supplementation in the RCP method was framed as a large process, which was then divided into four stages and specific products were assigned to each of them. With this approach, we take care of every aspect of life in the tank as a whole, rather than on individual areas treated separately – macronutrients, micronutrients and biology. Here are each of these areas:

  1. Reef Foundation Program – taking care of the right value and the reality between KH, Ca and Mg
  2. Algae Management Program – taking care of the correct value of NO3 and PO4 in the tank
  3. Coral Nutrition Program to take care of coral metabolism
  4. Coral Coloration Program – taking care of the correct level of trace elements in the aquarium

Reef Foundation Program

This is the basis of the method suggested by RedSea, namely KH, Ca and Mg supplementation. It is a three-element dosing system consisting of:

  1. RedSea Reef Foundation A Calcium+ – containing calcium and additionally strontium and barium, which are designed to strengthen corals and contribute to faster growth
  2. RedSea Reef Foundation B KH Alkalinity+ – containing carbonates, which are the basis for the growth of corals 
  3. RedSea Reef Foundation C Magnesium+ – containing a combination of magnesium salts that also promote coral growth

To determine the dosing schedule next, we need to determine the population and maturity of the tank. Adequately to the input data, we have different recommendations for the target level of KH, Ca and Mg and salinity in the aquarium. This means that, depending on the population of our tank, the value of Ca will be:

– domination of soft corals – 430 ppm

– dominance of LPS corals – 440 ppm

– dominance of SPS corals – 465 ppm

On the manufacturer’s website it is possible to enter the basic data about the tank and get the recommended values of KH, Ca, Mg, as well as salinity, NO3 and PO4. Each product is available in powder and ready-to-use liquid form.

Algae Management Program

RedSea highly emphasises the comprehensiveness of its method. Therefore, in addition to basic supplements, they offer a means to help regulate biological processes in the marine aquarium. By this is meant the maintenance of adequate levels of NO3 and PO4 and the correct relationship between them. Uncontrolled growth of nitrates and phosphates is harmful to corals and leads to rapid growth of unwanted algae. By taking care of the right amount of bacteria in the tank, we are able to control the amount of NO3 and PO4 in the marine aquarium. 

The agent NO3:PO4-X or popularly known as NOPOX is designed to stabilise the biological processes described above. According to the manufacturer’s description, this agent is the only solution available on the market that is safe for corals (even in case of overdose), reduces NO3 and PO4, does not disturb the relationship between nitrates and phosphates and is cost-effective in the long run. 

Depending on the tank’s population, we will get recommended amounts for daily dosing. It is also important to test NO3 and PO4 levels regularly and use a skimmer to maintain proper water oxidation levels and prevent excessive bacterial growth.

Coral Nutrition Program

According to coral research, vast majority of the soft, LPS and SPS species take about 85% of their nutrition from light, which develops the above-mentioned zooxanthellae – symbiotic algae. These then absorb nitrates, phosphates and carbon compounds from the water and convert them into carbohydrates, amino acids and fatty acids necessary for coral growth. This leaves 15% of the food that corals take directly from the water through tissue, without the involvement of zooxanthellae. In addition, there are species of non-photosynthesizing corals that feed exclusively in this way. 

For this reason, RedSea has created an agent called Reef Energy Plus, supplementation of which is aimed at providing corals with the 15% of nutrition they take from the water. The agent firstly promotes the development of polyps and soft tissue, which increases the absorption capacity of the animals, and provides vitamins and amino acids of natural origin so that the corals will have fuller colours. 

As the manufacturer emphasises, the advantage of Reef Energy Plus over phytoplankton or other supplements used is the complexity of the supplied food and neutrality to the biological cycle taking place in the aquarium. In addition, the supplied food is completely consumed by the corals.

Recommended dosage rates for Reef Energy Plus can be obtained from the RedSea website.

Coral Coloration Program

The final component of the RCP method is a program dedicated to taking care of proper coral colouring. Knowing that there are about 70 different micronutrients in seawater, RedSea decided to study which of them have a real impact on the life and development of corals. Through this research, they selected 31 micronutrients that are important for the development of animals in the marine aquarium, and learned about the effects of each on coral growth and the direct connection to specific pigments in coral tissue (pink, red, green/yellow, purple/blue). Each micronutrient was then linked to a specific pigment, and based on this, four groups of micronutrients were created, forming the four components of the RedSea Trace-Colors product.

Ingredient A – based on iodine

Ingredient B – based on potassium

Ingredient C – based on iron

Ingredient D – a set of the remaining 18 micronutrients

As the manufacturer strongly emphasises, each coral, regardless of its actual color, needs each of the 31 micronutrients to develop properly, or in other words, we always need to dose each of the four ingredients.

The dosage of micronutrients has been linked in this method to the dosage of calcium, so for every 10 ml of dosed RedSea Reef Foundation A Calcium+ we dose 1 ml each of RedSea Trace Colors A|B|C|D.

The above recommendation should be enough to replenish the micronutrients consumed by the corals, but it is possible that it will not be enough to maintain the recommended micronutrient levels. Therefore, a complement in the dosing of RedSea Trace-Colors are very high precision tests that examine the presence of iodine, potassium and iron. By performing these tests, we are able to monitor the level of micronutrients on an ongoing basis and possibly adjust the dosage to meet the needs of our aquarium. 

RedSea recommends daily dosing of micronutrients and testing a minimum of once a week. Recommended micronutrient levels can be found on the manufacturer’s website.


The above description approaches the RCP method as a whole, and RedSea presents it as such, but what should be noted is that each of the four elements of the method can be used separately. This will require adjustment of dosages and more frequent testing, but it is definitely manageable. It is worth noting that the core of the method is the Reef Foundation Program (dosing of KH, Ca and Mg) and the Algae Management Program (NOPOX), and the other two programs are add-ons to ensure better coral growth, but are not crucial to coral development.

So I will try to identify the advantages and disadvantages of the RCP method.


– comprehensive approach to marine aquarium life – it takes care of macronutrients, micronutrients and biology, and at every stage supports both growth and better coral coloration

– the method is based on studies of coral behaviour and many years in an unchanged form exists on the market

– no general recommendations for any type of tank, a nuanced approach that takes into account different stocking (soft, LPS, SPS) and different aquarists’ goals (better coral growth, better coral coloration)

– Can be dosed manually and via metering pumps