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Aquatic product
Glee 2006, UK
Best new product Aquaria, PetExpo 2006, Australia
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Questions? Problems? Suggestions? Write to us


Where should I locate my MAX?
How much live rock should I use?
Should I use substrate?
How much substrate should I use?

Technical issues
My tank keeps filling with thousands of
tiny bubbles.
I am having problems adjusting/fine tuning
the skimmer.
There is a dirty film floating on the surface
of the water.
The powerheads are running but no water is passing through them.
The water temperature in the aquarium is
going over 27°C/83°F

Common questions
Are the lighting and circulation in the MAX suitable for all kinds of invertebrates?
Why are the Max light tubes called T5
power compacts?
Can I use other light tubes instead?
Is the skimmer used in the MAX a Prizm?
Can I make changes to the filter media?
Can I make changes/additions to the
standard equipment?
I live in a hot climate – will my MAX overheat?
MAX user manual
Complete instructions on how to set up and operate your MAX, including information on saltwater and substrate preparation, cycling, rock curing, livestock selection and long-term reef care.

MAX user manual
MAX manuel d'utilisation
MAX Benutzerhandbuch
MAX Manual do Usuário
MAX Manual de Usuario
MAX Gebruikershandleiding
MAX Bruksanvisning
MAX user manual-Japanese

MAX maintenance log
Useful tool to help you monitor the health of your livestock and keep a record of your aquarium maintenance.

MAX Totem Cabinet installation guide

Q: Where should I locate my MAX?

IMPORTANT: The location of your MAX should be decided upon in advance because, once filled with substrate, rocks and water, the aquarium must not be moved. Consider the following parameters in choosing the location.

Tank weight and support
The tank weighs about 200 kg (440lbs) when filled with water, reef base and live rock. If you choose not to use the MAX Totem Cabinet, consider this weight when selecting an alternative aquarium support or stand. If the support you choose is not designed specifically as an aquarium stand, ensure that it can both withstand the weight and that it remains balanced and level; it should also be constructed from a material that is splash proof. The MAX, like all glass aquariums, may crack if subjected to sudden movement as a result of uneven water pressure on the glass walls.

When choosing a location, ensure that you have enough room to raise the main aquarium hood and remove the skimmer collection cup for regular maintenance. Make sure you can reach the power center switches located at the rear right side of the MAX and that the power center can be removed from its niche. Ensure that the area surrounding the aquarium is waterproof and consider moving away anything that water might damage.

Room temperature
Site selection is important for correct temperature maintenance. We recommended that you keep the ambient room temperature a comfortable and stable 22°C / 72°F. Avoid placing the tank in front of an air conditioner, heating vents or direct sunlight. A well ventilated room with moderate light is the best place to position the aquarium.

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Q: How much live rock should I use?
A: As a rule, you should add 1 kg / 2.2lb of live rock per 10 liters / 2.6 gallons of tank volume.
The exact amount will vary with the type of rock you choose, but it should occupy at least forty percent of the tank volume. For the Max this means approximately 11kg / 24lb of average density live rock.

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Q: Should I use substrate?
A: You can set up your reef tank with or without a substrate at the bottom. We recommend using substrate, ideally an Aragonite-based substrate as it helps keep the water chemistry balanced. As Aragonite dissolves slowly in water, it releases calcium ions and carbonates that help maintain proper pH and alkalinity for good coral growth. In an established tank, when the substrate matures, it takes on the characteristics of “live sand” inhabited by millions of microorganisms. These creatures promote a successful aquarium, aiding the biological filtration processes of nitrification, denitrification and the consumption/decomposition of uneaten food. The substrate also provides a natural habitat for small worms and crustaceans that help clean the tank from detritus and play a major role in the delicate ecosystem's food chain. We recommend using Red Sea Reef Base (included in the MAX Starter Kit).

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Q: How much substrate should I use?
A: We recommend a substrate base of at least 5-7 cm (2-2.7") in depth.

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Technical issues

Q: Why does my tank keep filling with thousands of tiny bubbles?

First you need to identify the source of the bubbles.
To do this, turn off the protein skimmer via the external control panel and allow the aquarium to continue running for about 15 minutes to allow the filtration to acclimatize to the new conditions.

If the bubbles stop - see the Protein Skimmer section below
If the bubbles persist - the problem could be due to one of the following:

Air trapped in or released from the filter media
 Black filter foam - When inserting the filter foam, expel any air trapped inside it by compressing it underwater with your hands. Repeat the operation a few times until no more air bubbles are released.
 Carbon media - It is normal for new carbon media to release a lot of air bubbles. This will disappear naturally after a few days.

Insufficient water flow through the filtration chamber
This will reduce the water level in the chamber as water is being removed from the chamber by the powerheads quicker than it is entering through the inlet comb. When the waterline drops below the powerhead inlets, some air can be sucked in with the water and enters the aquarium as tiny bubbles.

The easiest way to identify this is to look or feel the depth of the water passing over the partition that separates the skimmer compartment from the heater compartment. If this is less than about 1 cm, or if you can hear the water gushing over it like a waterfall, then the water is not entering the filtration chamber quick enough.

Push the inlet comb shutter down to the fully open position
2. Clean the fine white sponge filter. This tends to get clogged up after a few days of operation, especially when there is a lot of waste passing through the filter, such as during set-up or after live rock is added. We recommend that you remove and clean the fine sponge every other day (rinse it in either RO water or saltwater) for as long as is necessary.
3. Some MAX owners, in an effort to lower the likelihood of blockages, reduce the mass of the coarse spongeby cutting it into a smaller block of about 10cm/4” in vertical height.

Air trapped in the powerhead nozzles. If the nozzles were pointing downwards when you filled your MAX with water at setup, air may have got trapped in one or both of the nozzles. This air is released over time in the form of small bubbles.

Turn the powerheads on and off a couple of times to clear them
2. Direct the nozzle/s upwards to release the air

Protein Skimmer
Red Sea released a small quantity of MAX aquariums in December 2006 / January 2007 with an incorrectly calibrated inlet for the MAX skimmer pump, which causes a lot of bubbles to be released into the aquarium. Most of these original inlets have already been replaced.
Click here to see if your model has been fitted with the original or the modified inlet. If you do not have the modified inlet, contact your Red Sea supplier to receive one.

The performance of protein skimmers is affected by small traces of chemicals in the water such as residues of silicon or glues from the production process (even smoking a cigarette next to a skimmer can affect its performace). Skimmers also need for there to be organic particles in the aquarium water in order to work properly. When there are no organic particles, i.e. in a new aquarium with new water and no livestock, the ability of the skimmer to retain the bubbles in the reaction chamber is reduced. Both these situations increase the surface tension of the water and cause a small proportion of the bubbles to escape from the skimmer instead of remaining in the reaction chamber. This is typical of new skimmers / aquariums and will cease naturally after a few days.

A large amount of detritus, or organic waste, in the water (such as when curing live rocks) may also cause bubbles to be released from the skimmer.  In this case, the bubbles leaving the skimmer are normally accompanied by overskimming, a situation in which the skimmer produces large amounts of a very wet foam.

Overskim until the skimmer has removed all the waste naturally
Change the carbon filter media

Artificial rocks, corals or other aquarium ornaments are also typical sources of contaminants that can affect skimmer performance. It you have any such items in the aquarium, removing them may reduce the bubble problem, though you may need to do a complete water change to completely clear the system of their affect.

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Q: I am having problems adjusting/fine tuning the skimmer

Firstly, remember that your skimmer will work only if the water contains proteins, as these proteins bind to the surface of the air bubbles and give the bubbles the structural rigidity they need to ascend the neck of the skimmer and settle in the collection cup. If your tank is clean, your skimmer cannot produce foam no matter how much you open the air inlet.

Once you’ve added live rock or fish to your MAX, it can take about an hour before the skimmer starts foaming. Start by opening the inlet valve half-way and observe what happens. After a while, you should see the top of the bubble column rise about half way up the neck of the collection cup. If the column is lower than this, open the air valve slightly; if it's higher, close it. A little later, you should see dirt starting to collect around the top of the skimmer neck and around the outside of it.

After a day or two you should see thick, dark, gunk in the collection cup, though you're not likely to get much more than dirt in and on the skimmer neck until your tank is properly stocked or you’ve added some new live rock. If you find the cup filling with bubbles or very watery waste, close the air valve slightly. If there’s thick goo in the skimmer neck but none on the outside of the neck or in the cup itself, open the air valve.

If you've just introduced live rock, or something else that’s generated a lot of organic waste in an otherwise clean tank, you might find that after a couple of days the skimmer is no longer producing foam. This means that your water is probably clean by now. Once the skimmer is consistently producing gunk, leave it running all the time - but check it regularly to keep it in tune with changing aquarium conditions.

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Q: There a dirty film floating on the surface of the water.
A: The dirty film is simply detritus, or dead organic matter, that has risen to the surface of the water and is held there by surface tension. Under normal conditions, surface detritus is drawn into the filtration system. However, if your MAX is filled right up to the base of the rim (i.e. so you can't see the waterline from the outside), then the surface of the water will actually be above the level of the filter inlet grill, meaning that it does not get drawn into the filtration system. There is no easy way around this, other than to lower the water level (permanently or temporarily) so that the waterline falls to below the top of the inlet grill, or to increase surface turbulence by repositioning the powerheads.

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Q: The powerheads are running but no water is passing through them.

This can be due to two reasons:

Airlock. During setup, small pockets of air (airlocks) can get trapped inside the impellor chamber of the powerhead, causing it to spin freely without pumping any water.

Carefully remove each powerhead from the glass partition to which it’s attached
2. Invert the powerhead body inside the water of the chamber. Shake it gently to release the airlock

Inlet tube blockage. One of the corners of the bio media mesh bag has got sucked into the inlet of the powerhead and is blocking it.

Push the bio media bag down so that its corners away from the powerhead inlet

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Q: The water temperature in the aquarium is going over 27°C / 83°F

Check the ambient temperature in the room in which Max is installed and see the answer to the question “I live in a hot climate and I’m worried my MAX will overheat” below.

Due to a lack of ventilation in your room you may find that the ambient room temperature has risen or is not in synch with the temperature in the rest of the house. If possible try to reduce the ambient temperature by increasing the ventilation in the room.

Most homes and offices are heated or air conditioned to a comfortable 22–24°C / 72-76°F so the addition of the optional rear water cooling fan should be sufficient to keep the water temperature in the desired range.

Very soon we will be offering a cooling fan add-on kit for the MAX. In the meantime it is possible to make one at home from readily available standard parts; you will find the pop-out fan housing located in the rear top frame of the aquarium. If you are interested in a DIY solution please contact a Red Sea office for specification of the parts required and detailed instructions.

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Common questions

Q: Are the lighting and circulation in the MAX suitable for all kinds of invertebrates?

In long-term tests we conducted on the MAX in our laboratory, we found both the lighting and circulation sufficient to grow all soft corals (Sarcophyton sp.; Lobophytum sp.; Sinularia sp.; Xenia; Cladiella sp., etc.); all LPS (Large Polyp Scleractinia, like Euphyllia sp.; Plerogyra sp.; Nemenzophyllia sp.; Trachphyllia sp.; Caulestra sp., etc.); and some SPS, such as Stylophora sp. and Seriatopora.

The MAX was designed and equipped with a single clear objective: to make reefkeeping easier, more enjoyable and more successful for the beginner as well as the more experienced enthusiast. Compactness, ease-of-use and affordability were no less important design considerations than lighting and circulation performance.

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Q: Why are the Max light tubes called T5 power compacts?
A: Regular power compact lighting has a tube diameter of 6/8”, which is known as T6. T5 tubes haves a smaller diameter (5/8”) and produce a higher intensity output. The T5s used in the MAX are custom made power compacts that enable us to provide 55 watts of light in a smaller footprint than the equivalent (2 x 24 W) regular T5 tubes would provide. Regular power compact are often powered by magnetic ballasts, but the Max T5 power compacts are powered by an electronic ballast to guarantee consistent high performance.

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Q: Can I use other light tubes instead?
A: Regular power compacts will work in the MAX, however due to their tube diameter and overall length it will be difficult to fit them inside the hood. We strongly recommend using only the custom made MAX tubes.

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Q: Is the skimmer used in the MAX a Prizm?

The Max Turbo Skimmer is based on the effective convergent-divergent technology reaction chamber developed for the Prizm / Prizm Pro skimmers, but here it is employed in a completely new way.

The Max Turbo Skimmer is designed to operate as an “in-aquarium” skimmer only. The skimmer pump, featuring a new air injecting impellor design, is dedicated to the job of mixing the air and water inside the skimmer - and not pushing water through the skimmer. The skimmer pump inlet is located underneath the skimmer, so it’s constantly sucking in a mixture of new water flowing through the complete filter section and recycled water that has just exited the skimmer. The air / water ratio is such that the skimming effect is far superior to that achieved by the Prizm Pro. The pump cycles the complete volume of aquarium water 3.8 times per hour through the skimmer. It is guaranteed to work, trouble-free.

For the sake of comparison, the Prizm Pro is designed as a hang-on skimmer with a single pump that must perform the dual functions of pushing water through the skimmer and injecting the air into the system. The rating of the Prizm Pro is for cycling the aquarium water once every 2 hours, which in reality is no longer in line with our current awareness and philosophy on the role of skimming in a reef aquarium.

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Q: Can I make changes to the filter media?
A: The Red Sea MAX has been designed to cater for different reef aquarium filtration methodologies. In factory standard guise, the MAX includes full mechanical, chemical and biological filtration, providing the ability to stock fish and invertebrates without live rock and with a high bio load. For more advanced hobbyists who follow the naturalist “Berlin” style, which relies on live rock, live sand and efficient protein skimming and circulation, the MAX allows you the option to exchange or reduce some of the filtration media, such as replacing the bio media with crushed live rock or reducing the height or density of the sponge filter material. The filter media affect the water flow through the filter system and therefore the effects of any changes in media should be monitored carefully.

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Q: Can I make changes/additions to the standard equipment?

The MAX heater has been manufactured with a power cord that is the correct length to fit between the heater compartment and the power control center. The head of the heater has been designed so that the thermostat settings can be seen from above; and the heater’s diameter allows it to be inserted into the heater compartment. Be sure to take these points into account when selecting a replacement heater.

The MAX powerheads were selected for their specific flow rate, physical dimensions and reliability. The flow rate of the pumps dictates the water flow through the entire filter system; this rate is finely balanced to ensure efficient protein skimming even when aquarium water levels drop due to evaporation. The powerheads are held in place through the smoked glass partition by custom designed adjustable outlets nozzles and the power cord length has been customized to reach the allocated outlets in the power center. If you are looking to increase the water currents within the aquarium it is best to do so by adding additional powerheads, the power cord of which can be run out of the back of the aquarium through the removable chiller access panel.

After extensive long-term testing, we found the circulation rate to be more than sufficient. We recommend that stick with the standard powerheads for the first few months of operation, giving your MAX ample time to settle and adjust to livestock levels, before adding any additional powerheads.

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Q: I live in a hot climate and I’m worried my MAX will overheat.

For optimum conditions a reef aquarium should be maintained at a stable water temperature in the range of 24-27°C / 76-81°F - the stability of the temperature being more important than the exact value. Slightly higher temperatures can be tolerated for short periods of time as long as the change in temperature is steady and not sudden.

When the MAX is run-in, in an environment with a steady ambient temperature of 22°C / 72°F or below, no cooling is necessary. In an ambient temperature from 23–25 °C / 73-77°F, the optional water cooling fan at the back of the aquarium will keep the aquarium water below 27°C / 81°F. If the ambient temperature is above 26°C / 78°F a water chiller of approximately 1/10 HP should be used.

It is important to consider the ventilation in the room where the MAX is to be kept as the hood is fan cooled and expels the heat generated from the light tubes into the room. In a closed room without ventilation, the ambient temperature can slowly rise. 

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