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FAQs on Marine Alkalinity Products By Name/Manufacturer

Related Articles: pH, Alkalinity, Marine Alkalinity, Understanding Calcium & Alkalinity,

Related FAQs: Marine Alkalinity 1, Marine Alkalinity 2, Marine Alkalinity 3, Marine Alkalinity 4, Marine Alkalinity 5, Calcium and Alkalinity, Phosphate& FAQs on Alkalinity: The Science of Alkalinity, Importance, Measure, Sources, Use of Additives/BuffersTroubleshooting/Fixing, & FAQs on pH: Importance, Science, pH Measure/Test Gear, pH Controllers & pH Buffers/Buffering, pH Anomalies (Troubleshooting/Fixing), & pH Products by Name, Manufacturer,

Do read the labels of products you pour into your system/s. Do only pour in what you can/will measure (test kits...) Do be aware of the principal interactions between, amongst chemical species...


I've read that i can use baking soda as a buffer -- is this true and is it as good quality as the buffer sold in the shops.  It certainly seems a bargain 

Helen, by email

As with most chemicals Helen, there are stated and implied purities'¦ Reagent, Laboratory, Technical are common labels, the last costing less and containing some impurities but fine for most industrial uses. Baking soda, sodium bicarbonate as 'food grade' is fine for human consumption as well as aquarium use. However, it should be pointed out that commercial buffering compounds contain other materials of use; carbonate/s, sometimes borate/s and other compounds and anti-caking agents to prevent the materiel from clumping into a solid. Baking soda by itself can be of use in most systems, but it will not boost pH sufficiently in most cases, and its sole use calls for more diligent monitoring (daily sometimes) compared with an aquarium-use-formulated product.

If you intend to use baking soda by itself for adjusting and/or maintaining pH, DO blend this into water to be used for make-up, replacement for change-outs (i.e. don't add directly to an established system as a granular/powder), and DO monitor KH on a regular basis.

Alkalinity (SeaChem products) and Zoanthid Behavior 12/21/11
<Hello Steve>
I have a 46 bow front with a 120w LED fixture. I am currently turning over my water about 50x an hour using 4 power heads and a HOB protein skimmer. I have about a 3" LSB and 50# of LR. I have 2 clowns, 1 Green Chromis, and 1 Damsel. My coral consists of a colony of Clove Polyps, 2 Orange Yumas, a colony of Branching torch coral, a colony of Branching Hammer coral, and a small zoo colony. I also have several hermits and snails as well as 2 Peppermint shrimp. I noticed several weeks ago that my zoos were not opening. I tested my water and here were the parameters I got. Sal 1.027, PH 8.4, Alk 4.5 dKH, Cal 460, Mag 1600, temp 80.2F. I used several test kits to confirm my reading and they were accurate. I brought the Alk up to 8 dKH over a couple days using Reef Builder. Then I let the tank settle a few days and did a 20% water change which leveled out the Mag to 1280 and my salinity went back to 1.024. The problem is that I cannot keep my Alk up. It keeps dropping to about 4-5 dKH over the course of a few days.
<Is not dangerous in a well maintained system.  Might want to get the calcium down to 400.>
Now my Mag is slowly increasing again.
I have not been dosing with anything except when I raised the Alk.
<Reef Builder does contain magnesium and likely the reason your Mag is going up.>
 I have not noticed any precipitation. The owner of the LFS was baffled and did not believe me when I told him what my parameters were. Do you have any idea what could be causing this and what I can do to solve it?
<I would use Reef Buffer for raising the alkalinity in your particular system.  Reef Buffer has a higher pK (8.6) and allows for greater pH stability in a reef system where the bioload can be significantly more than in a fish only system.>
 I have looked through your website but cannot find anything that helps.
<As to the Zoanthids not opening, it is likely due to your high (50X) turnover rate, they do not appreciate high water flow.>
Thanks in advance,
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>
Steven Edmiston

Is Borate In Alkalinity Boosters Harmful Long Term? -- 04/24/11
Most well regarded alkalinity boosters contain carbonate and bicarbonate, which makes sense in my limited understanding of water chemistry. But many of them also contain borate, which I believe is not native to sea water.
<<I'm certainly no chemist, Tim'¦but this statement is not exactly true. Most all known elements exist at some value in seawater. Borate compounds exist and are made up of such elements as Boric Acid, Boron, Sodium Borate (Borax), etc.>>
From my reading, borate acts as a pH buffer, so this is probably why it is included.
<<Mmm, indeed'¦ According to Randy Holmes-Farley (who 'is' a chemist), at a pH of 8, Borate provides about 'half of the buffering' even though it provides 'less than 3%' of the total Alkalinity>>
But if I regularly use one of these to maintain alkalinity, will the accumulation of borate be harmful?
<<Not likely with a quality supplement unless grossly overdosed (though the nature of these products would seem to limit this'¦re the 'marble analogy'). Borates do 'get used up' as a component of the calcification process and are also taken up by alga. The small concentrations utilized in quality Salt Mixes and Alkalinity Supplements should not be problematic. But do some reading and make your own conclusions. Here's a link to more information on Boron in seawater to get you started ( http://www.advancedaquarist.com/2002/12/chemistry ) >>   
Thanks, Tim
<<Happy to share'¦ EricR>>
Re: Is Borate In Alkalinity Boosters Harmful Long Term? -- 04/25/11

Eric --
<<Hey Tim>>
Thanks for that great link!
<<Quite welcome'¦Randy has put out some good info in past years, I really hated to see him drop from the aquarium scene>>
I suppose that because borate is such a common addition to alkalinity supplements, if it were seriously harmful to livestock we would be hearing a lot about it.
<<Mmm, maybe'¦ The problem is there is so much more anecdotal hobby information versus real tests/trials available'¦or at least, the former is more easily found (The BBs abound with such). A person really needs to 'look around' in their research and pull/evaluate info from more than one source (to include not making WWM their sole venue)>>
Still, it does concern me to be raising the level of an element a lot higher than it naturally occurs.
<<We are in agreement here'¦perhaps you should look in to 'simplifying' your Alkaline supplementation to pure Soda Ash (Sodium Carbonate) and/or Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate). Be aware the former will raise pH quite sharply and requires extra caution re. While the Baking Soda is easily obtained at your local grocery store, I've not had much luck finding the Soda Ash (also known as washing soda) locally. But it can be purchased in bulk at a reasonable price on the Net, here ( http://www.bulkreefsupply.com ) >>
Thanks again!
<<Always welcome, mate'¦ Eric Russell>>
R2: Is Borate In Alkalinity Boosters Harmful Long Term? -- 04/26/11

>> pure Soda Ash (Sodium Carbonate) and/or Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate) <<
Eric --
After a lot of searching I located a product made by Seachem (Reef Buffer) that raises pH and alkalinity without borate.
<<Ah yes'¦many good products from this company>>
It's probably just carbonate and bicarbonate, and I'm sure it's a lot more expensive than just buying the raw materials. But with the money I've thrown into this hobby, it's a small price to pay.
<<If you can afford it, you won't go wrong here with the Seachem offering>>
Thanks again!
<<A pleasure'¦ EricR>>

Alkalinity Additives (livestock injury'¦defective product batch?) -- 02/01/11
Hello Wet Web Crew,
<<Greetings Wendy>>
I'm having difficulty maintaining dKH in my 180 gal Reef (now @ 5.6 dKH) and growing a lot of hair algae.
<<Mmm, yes'¦often related>>
I've dosed with Seachem Reef Builder, careful to completely mix the solution, and added it in a drip to the pump area of the refugium in the evening, but noticed my fish itching and have skin erosions a couple of days later.
After that I did not add Reef Builder again until about 2 months later when I again tried dosing for 150 gal tank, one time, and again I noticed the same symptoms a couple of days afterward.
<<It would seem there is something amiss with the Seachem' product here'¦especially if you are closely following the manufacturer's instructions re the dosing/addition to the system>>
Now that I've seen it happen twice I'm feel certain there is no other cause for the symptoms I've seen in the fish (Hippo and Large Angel had minor skin erosions and itching on the sand).
<<Very likely so>>
The itching and skin erosions are already nearly gone just a few days later, but I'm wary of using the Reef Builder again.
<<Indeed'¦ At least not this bottle/batch. I am a big fan of, and do use, most of Seachem's product line but based the info provided here it sounds like you have a suspect bottle of Reef Builder. I would recommend you contact the company and recount your experiences'¦they are generally quite good at responding and helping to understand/determine any possible issues with their products>>
Can you recommend a safer additive or way to increase my alkalinity without the caustic side affects I've seen,
<<Sodium Bicarbonate (simple Baking Soda) will provide a less caustic alternative here. But, I do prefer a more 'complete' buffer (Bicarbonate plus Carbonate and Borate ions) for continued maintenance. The proprietary blends offered are usually quite satisfactory, with Seachem being one of the better in my opinion>>
and also confirm that this is possible side effect of this additive?
<<If misused, yes'¦ But if your test kit is accurate, and dosing instructions were properly followed'¦this product should not harm your fish in the way you seem to have experienced. As stated, something seems amiss here with the buffer>>
Inhabitants: Hippo, Blue Angel, Anthias, solar, 6 chromis, 3 gobies, 2 clowns, mandarin, Kole tang, 7 snails, 15 dwarf hermits.
180 gal Reef w/ 4" sand bed.
Refugium w/ 4" sand bed and macro algae and skimmer.
Water change 5-10 gal weekly.
IO Reef Crystals and RO used for all saltwater mix.
Thanks for your help,
<<Happy to share'¦ EricR>>

Damaged B-Ionic 3/13/10
Dear Crew,
Thanks so much for you tireless efforts! I have an issue with B-Ionic calcium/Alk. supplement that I need your advise for. I purchased the gallon containers of this online recently from Marine Depot and the product arrived with the Alk. part partially solidified (the calcium part was fine). I've read about this occurring occasionally when shipping in colder weather and followed the defrosting instructions perfectly. I left the containers alone for a good 3 days as to not disrupt the defrosting cycle.
Upon diluting with RO water, I noticed that the Alk. part had very large amounts of precipitants in it as compared to the pure milky consistency that it should have had. My corals seemed completely unaffected by the precipitants. Marine Depot promptly sent me a replacement at no charge. My question is this: is it ok to continue to use the Alk. part that solidified in shipping? I would hate to waste 2 gallons of B-ionic if it is still usable. Will this hurt my reef in the long run? I was considering giving it to a friend.
<Angela, I would contact ESV re this query. Mail them at info@esvco.com.>
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Baking soda.... for Alk.  -02/27/08 Hi crew, My tank and the alkalinity as well as general hardness is getting a lot better. I am using crushed corals and a bit of baking soda. My question is this, do I add the baking soda every water change? Also, how much baking do I use each week, do I treat the whole tank or just the water I siphoned out? <You should test regularly and add it as needed (either to the tank or the new water or top off water-- however you want to do it). For every 50 gallons of water: 1 teaspoon baking soda will raise alkalinity ~0.4 mEq/L.> Lastly, is there a special brand of baking soda I should buy and are there any harmful materials I should look out for? <Not really... Arm&Hammer works just fine.> Thanks so much. I appreciate you assistance. Sincerely, Mike <De nada, Sara M.>

Re: Pickling Lime   10/20/07 I've asked Anthony his thoughts on the use of pickling lime as I was interested in using it. Jeremy from URI asked me about this on his reply to my query on T5 lamps. Thought you may want to post this in the dailies, if Anthony wouldn't mind of course. Hi Anthony, Know you are a busy boy but wondered if you had time to answer a question. I'd like to try using Mrs. Wages Pickling Lime. Should this be treated the same as Kalkwasser, does it have to be dripped into the tank. I'm also wondering what the mix ratio is per gallon of water. I'm thinking about two tablespoons...? Regards, James (Salty Dog) Heya, James (answering from a hotel in Madrid... yes, keeping busy :)) Many folks use pickling lime and have no problems... some do... all can in time. The issue is the grade of the reagent. Its low and has impurities. It can NOT be used for Kalk slurries, but it can be used better (but still not great) as Kalkwasser if you decant the supersaturated solution and never admit precip to the tank. In the big picture... I am an outspoken critic against using low grade reagents of anything in our aquariums. For the time and money we spend on our aquariums, the value of our creatures, etc... it makes no sense to me to save a few dollars on a supplement (versus buying Seachem or lab grad reagents) for a system that is worth thousands if not priceless lives of your captives). Moreover... algae issues are bad enough in well run tanks. No need to burden the challenge even more with impure low grade reagents. Kindly, Anth

Alkalinity additives 8/9/05 Dear Bob and Staff, I was having a problem raising my alkalinity. I am using a two part alkalinity & calcium A & B product by ESV. So I tried Seachem Reef Builder to try to bring my number up (calcium 400 alkalinity 2.5). I started adding the Seachem very conservatively but my alkalinity was not really going up? <It can take quite a large amount of buffer to raise the alkalinity.  I am pretty sure that both the ESV and SeaChem products tell you how much of the product is required to raise x of gallons of water by y mEq/l of alkalinity (or perhaps that each ml of product contains z mEq/l of alkalinity.  From that information, you can calculate how much will be required to raise the alkalinity in your tank to the target value.  You can always use more of the alkalinity component of B-Ionic to raise the alkalinity.> I called the tech support over at Seachem and the gentleman told me that when you add an A & B product you have to wait 24 hours between adding the two parts or they will cancel each other out. I was curious to get your take on this? Thanks again! <This is possible, but unlikely.  In my experience and opinion, it is better NOT to add both parts at the same time.  For example, the alkalinity component will significantly raise pH, so I always added that part in the morning when the pH was low and added the calcium component in the evening when I fed the fish.  However, as long as they aren't added within minutes, the risk is probably small.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>

Seachem Marine Buffer question I just bought a bottle of Seachem Marine Buffer and I do not see any expiration date printed on it. Does this product never expire? <Does not expire... very stable formulation. Bob Fenner>

Marine Additives Hi Anthony, <Cheers, my friend... or should I say, Buon giorno!> I'm from Milan; Italy and I have a question for you!  My tank is a 250 gall FOWLR in which there are 2 extra large clown trigger and 2 large Arabian Picasso. <Magnificent fishes... but indeed in need of a larger aquarium in time> I usually change 5% water tank biweekly with Tropic Marin salt. <Please also consider doing larger weekly water changes in the interim. %5 weekly is modest for these large messy feeders> I have Aqua Medic Turboflotor 5000 twin, the greatest A M skimmer. I try not overfeeding and water levels are: Ca 450mg; Mg 1250 Mg and 11 dKH. <Very fine chemistry> I'd like to have a lot of coralline algae on live rocks; I've read your posts about it, using Seachem reef calcium and Kalkwasser for maintaining alkalinity and for precipitating phosphates. <Yes... and in this case... the Sea Chem Reef Calcium (Calcium Gluconate) is really only good (quite good) for spurring growth in corallines. The Kalkwasser is the one really with the many other benefits (phosphate precip, supports Alk, raises Ca, enhances protein skimming, etc)> I've just bought Seachem Reef calcium but I don't know what I do. Have I to use Kalkwasser although my ca is high and my alkalinity is good to get phosphates out of solution or only reef calcium is enough? <I definitely would not use the Reef Calcium alone. Use your Kalk as a primary Ca supplement. Only back off of the Kalkwasser enough to allow a regular dose of Reef Calcium into the tank. You may find that the sugar-based calcium does little more than help corallines ;) We still need the Kalk> I need you help! Thanks a lot Lorenzo <Best regards, my friend. Anthony>

Seachem reef calcium II - 8/10/03 Anthony, thanks for your response, means so much to me , and others.   <always welcome> Maybe I didn't give you enough info.  Well I've had my corals for about a year and I consider myself to know they're "personalities" pretty good.   <understood and assumed> I have a 90 gal. with a calcium reactor, use some Kalk. too here and there as you say to do, all inhabitants are doing awesome and have been, even a Porites with x-mas worms (softball size), LPS and one clam.  My readings are CA 375; Alk 10 DKH; PH 8.25, all else is good, stable tank.   <agreed> I did only want to use this cause I read it helps out coralline, and that's the only reason for me to use it.   <but so often, at the same time folks decide to change something in the tank or add a product... they do something else at the same time that effects the system unknowingly. Like doing a water change or changing carbon after being slightly overdue which significantly improves water clarity, and in turn temporarily shocks coral> I called Seachem yesterday and they were surprised.   <agreed... it's almost impossible for sugar-based calcium to cause this or any like problem. Quite the contrary as a source of sugar. Your problems with Seachem or anybody else's brand of ca-gluconate is purely coincidental. As mentioned, before... there is something else concurrent at work here. Don't waste time chasing the calcium IMO> They told me to try again with a little dose but to mix it in some water from the tank and to pour it into the sump to disperse it better.  So I then used 2 cupfuls (under recommended dose again) and pre mixed it and poured it into my sump, within 2 minutes the same corals did the same thing, started deflating and the mouths on my bubble and pearl were visible.   <fair enough... how long for resumed polyps extension?> I know my corals very, very well and have never seen them act like this.  I do spend an obscene amount of time on my tank, <be careful on the latter... your hands in the tank more than once weekly IMO will literally prevent one from attaining a world class aquarium. Many reasons for this> and this is not like them at all to do this.  I would like to reap the benefits of this product , but I'm not going to use this bottle anymore, and I'm going to call Seachem again today.  Let me know what you think Anthony, thanks, Jamie <I really cannot convey my opinion any clearer, my friend. I am certain that this or any brand of sugar-based calcium used in proper doses cannot be anything but helpful. And even overdose are not soon problematic as with the overdosing of Kalk, Iodine, ozone, etc. I personally think you may be reading way too much into the response. Perhaps try another small bottle from a different supplier. Kindly, Anthony>

Seachem reef calcium III 8/10/03 Thanks Anthony for taking time out for me, <all good my friend... it is a learning experience for us all> I will probably get a bottle from Seachem and send this one back to them, <excellent> do you know of another brand you like, I don't know of any other brands.   <the solution is commonly available from lab/science supply houses in various concentrations. Seachem, however, is one of the very few companies with whom I hold in high regard for their long-standing history of QC. They are formulated, produced and sold by real men and women of science. We cannot say that about all or even most of the supplements on the market ;) Just quiz some of the salespeople of various popular brands at a trade show. The answer to intelligent and baited questions is amazing, if not humorous <G>, oftentimes!> You asked how long did the polyps stay like they did, well maybe half an hour, but still didn't open to original size before.   I'm not kidding when I say its noticeable , (looks like they do after the halides are off for half hour or so and the actinics are still on, you know what I'm talking about.)  I'll keep you informed, thanks. <will look forward to hearing your experiences/conclusion. Do give it a proper trial of weeks too my friend. No worries about polyp extension either... its not always a sign of health (or lighting for that matter) as it is a factor or water flow or hunger (as with corals panning for light to feed themselves in under lit systems or as bulbs age or become dirty/obstructed) The latter is commonly mistaken for a healthy or happy animal. Anthony>  

2 part buffer Hi Guys I have been adding a 2 part buffer and trace element supplement to my tank 2 little fishes stuff.  The "a" part when I add it to the tank kind of solidifies into a film in the tank. Not all of it but some. Why is that?? <you should add it to a fast moving stream of water (return outlet or in intake of pump in sump. It is the chemicals in there that does that .All a&b solution do it> Also, will a Halimeda plant help with nitrates and organics?? < yes> Joe Culler, <thanks for the question Mike H>

- Kent Superbuffer - Dear Bob, <Hello, JasonC here in Bob's stead.> This may sound like a daft question but I would like to clarify the instructions before I use this product. These instructions are cut and pasted from Kent Marine's website about their PH Buffer. I have a FLR setup and am trying to go towards a more reef type tank. "Description: pH Buffer and alkalinity or carbonate hardness (KH) builder "Directions: Dissolve one teaspoon of Superbuffer-dKH in a glass of fresh water. Add directly to tank or sump for each 20-30 gallons (80 liters) of tank capacity each day until the desired pH and alkalinity (carbonate hardness or KH) are reached. Wait 1 hour to re-measure alkalinity, but wait 24 hours for pH to stabilize, before re-measuring (full pH increase and stabilization may take up to 48 hours!). This product is designed for reefs and may be used in fish only marine systems also." Does this mean I add one teaspoon of Superbuffer per 20-30 gallons (in my case this will be between 5-7 teaspoons having 150G of water) each and every day until my desired readings are reached or am I mis-reading these instructions? <Sounds correct to me... or rather, is also how I interpret the instructions.> Seems an awful lot, which I would imagine would create a sudden drastic change in PH. <Not if you are Kent Marine trying to sell a lot of Superbuffer. I agree, though that you may want to meter this amount of buffer in slowly over the period of a day - not all at once.> I do apologize for asking such a question. I should know better, having kept marines for the last 30 years or so. (Mainly FO though) <No worries.> Thank you in advance Simon UK <Cheers, J -- >

Buffer Brands Bob: <Steven Pro filling in while Bob prepares to travel to Pittsburgh.> One more thing I promise. What brand of buffer(s) do you recommend I use on my top off water storage? <I prefer Seachem's Reef Builder and Marine Buffer. Aquarium Systems Seabuffer is also good.> Thanks again your a savior! Jim from FL <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: R.O. UNIT Question Thanks for the advice! I am sure that you have saved me a couple hundred dollars at least- I do appreciate your candor as well, I found it very interesting to know that companies are outsourcing their manufacturing needs which was something that I suspected anyways. <Yes, very common on big, specialized items like RO units, fluorescent lamps, etc. The equipment and processes to make such items is expensive and particular.> I love how they sell you a product like baking soda in a 35 dollar bottle called "Super pH Upper" yeah right I checked the label and it's straight sodium bicarbonate - I think that more hobbyists need to know about stuff like this... <I always like to see what is in the bottle. I tend to stay away from any product that does not have a list of ingredients.> PS - "Super PH Upper is a purely fictional product and any similarity to any other product is purely coincidental and meant to illustrate the purpose of this joke - thank you <Nice disclaimer. -Steven Pro>

Re: Alkalinity question Many many thanks for the sincere advice.  <it is truly our pleasure> You are correct about my time in the hobby and other things that you mentioned. I went for colors and landed with some most difficult coral selections due to lack of knowledge and bad suggestions by the LFS.  <alas... too many of us learn this way. Here at WWM through our FAQs, articles and e-mail we aspire to prevent as much of this as possible and give you the tools to help yourself and others when it is not so> After all they made the sale and now I am doing the best in my limits to provide the best possible care for the corals. <I commend you my friend> How do I get these books that you mentioned in your reply. Would like to buy them as they sound like a wealth of information. - Book of Coral Propagation - Aquarium Corals <many online sellers (FFE, Custom Aquatic, Amazon.com, etc)... and if you care to have a signed copy, you can get mine through www.readingtrees.com Thanks kindly> I was able to bring down the alk to 13.3 today.  <excellent! Indeed 7 or 8 to 12 is a safer zone but no worries on getting there in a hurry. Safe and slow> This is an improvement from the past where it almost ran 15dkh.  <agreed> Will do phosphate test tomorrow and post the results for you. I was leaving light on for longer periods of time as well and have made adjustments in that side as well. I am still adding the ESV part 2 and also using Turbo Calcium to the tank.  <whoa! Houston... we have a problem. I personally do not ever recommend Turbo Calcium for significant delivery of calcium. It really screws with the Ca/Alk dynamic in the long run (months via chloride accumulation). It also does not help with saponification or phosphate precipitation like Kalkwasser does. And Kalk indirectly supports ALK as well by tempering natural acids with its caustic nature. Kalk is actually great is used properly> Just started this yesterday and will do Ca test tomorrow to see the chemistry change. Will try to maintain alk at 8-12. Getting there slowly and should have the desired levels within another 3 days. Not making any drastic changes.  <very wise> Will resume alk dosage after these levels fall within acceptable levels. <agreed... and use the time as it drops to chart and test your daily demand for ALK. Will be helpful for figuring a buffer dose later> All fish and corals seem fine at this time. Will keep close eye on them. Should I just take some of the corals you mentioned back to my LFS and try trading for something else ? <Hmmm... that depends on if you like them enough to meet their needs. You have some beauties there. Give the husbandry sections of our books a good read through and see if you care to accept the challenge>  I am in Indianapolis. Razi <I'm not aware of a specific reef club in your area, but might I suggest you post on one of the big message boards like Reefcentral.com with an inquiry. You sure do have some great marine centers regionally in Tropicorium (Romulus MI), Inland Aquatics and Harbor Aquatics (IN) each with 30K gallons of seawater. Best regards, Anthony>

Alkalinity too high Dear Bob, <<JasonC today, greetings.>> We have a marine reef tank and I've checked ph, phosphates, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, calcium...everything checks out fine....but the alkalinity is reading 4.5. <<In dKH, that's a 12.6, so while on the upper end of practical it isn't really 'that' high.>> I've done partial water changes, added magnesium, but still cannot control alkalinity. <<I would stop adding anything [Kalkwasser, buffers, calcium, etc.] for a little while, perhaps consider how/why you are adding all this stuff beyond partial water changes.>> Calcium is at 450 ppm - (dosed with Kalkwasser) PH is at 8.2 Rest checks out to 0 to trace ppm <<Well... with the calcium and alkalinity both towards the higher end of the scale, you are on the precipice of a calcium precipitation event. I would stop with the Kalkwasser for a little while and examine other additives to make sure they aren't also boosting your alkalinity.>> What are we doing wrong? <<Hard to say without a little more information, like what else you add to the tank and how much, how often. I would also consider the possibility that your test kit is off so testing with another kit can at least be a good sanity check.>> Please advise... Drex <<Cheers, J -- >>

Re: Alkalinity too high Dear Jason: <<Good morning.>> We were informed to add magnesium with the sea salt at water changes because there is not an adequate amount of magnesium. <<Sure... but by how much are you deficient? Are you testing for magnesium or did someone just tell you this? Regular tests will be a good guide for how much you should be adding - or perhaps not adding.>> We also add Coral Accel daily, Coral Vite weekly, Essential Elements weekly, strontium weekly, and iodine weekly. <<Yes, but how much? Do you test for any of these things? They shouldn't just be added as directed on the bottle but also tested against so you know if you are adding too much or too little of something. Again... I'd stop this regular schedule of adding 'stuff' and let the tank come into balance on its own.>> Thanks, Drex <<You are welcome. Cheers, J -- >>

Marine buffer precipitate Greetings. I have a bit of a problem with a new reef tank. It is 135 with a 70 gallon sump. I used a SEACHEM product called Marine Buffer to "raise and maintain" my pH to 8.3 as I was filling the tank. Problem is my pH probe was not working properly and I added too much of the stuff. probably about 6-8 times the recommended dose. It put a white film on everything, including the glass from the area where the water line was when I added it to the top. I can't seem to get it off! First thing I did was do a big water change and that seemed to make it easier to scrape off but there is some that still won't come off. I have tried scrub pads from my LFS and a credit card but they don't seem to work well. Any suggestions? <Only way that I am aware of for removing the stains requires an empty tank. They should go away on their own in time. I you happen to have an empty tank, and vinegar should break the stains down.> Secondly, I recalibrated my pH probe and it now reads 8.03 but it wont go higher than that no matter how much Marine Buffer I add. It will rise for a few minutes but settles back down to 8.03. Want to hook up my calcium reactor but I wanted to get my pH and calcium stabilized before I do. Any suggestions? By the way, this white film covered the probes also and I soaked them in vinegar overnight and scrubbed them with a toothbrush to get it off. I noticed my pH probe reads .30 less when the ORP probe is submerged. What's up with that?  <Could be that the buffer is not raising the PH higher than 8.03, or the probe is still off. Does the probe measure correctly at other PH levels? Do you have any other ph tests to compare with? What type of source water are you using? Demineralized water is unstable and usually has a low pH, which is why you should aerate it before buffering and salting. There is some good info on raising ph at the link below. Good luck, Gage http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphfaq2.htm>

Alkalinity/calcium I have a question about alkalinity: <OK> During the last two or three weeks I have begun using B-ionic to raise the alkalinity and calcium. Tonight, I tested the water for the fourth time. I am some what befuddled by what I discovered. <you may not need to be confused. A common problem with these 2-part mixes is that aquarists do not shake the calcium part vigorously before every dose. The product stratifies in the bottle and all components do not then get dosed equally or in balance. So what happens in a short time is that the Ca/ALK dynamic gets skewed. Any doubts, simply put the calcium part in a clear glass bottle and let it sit overnight. You can see the stratification> It took sixteen drops of alkalinity fluid to get the color from pink to purple. The kit states that one must multiply the number of drops by ten and that will produce the carbonate hardness. Using this method, the carbonate hardness of the water is 160 mg/l. In order to get the meg/l (which is an often referred number in aquarium literature), one must divide the 160 by 0.02 Using this measure, the mEq/L is 8. Isn't this scary high?  <Doh!!! yes! At risk of precipitation!!! Please confirm this reading on another brand of test kit and if true simply do water changes to bring down> I'm thinking no more calcium or alkalinity additives until this number gets down to about 2.5-5.0 Am I in the ball park?  <Oh, ya!> I really want to get the dKH but I can't find how to measure this. Can you tell me how to find the dKH? <dKH is carbonate hardness... which makes up most but not all of GH (general hardness). No worries here... just use the conversion factor in the test kit (all have)> Now. . .the calcium level just isn't moving at all. I don't have very many calcium using animals, but I am feeding the corallines, Halimeda and a bubble coral. Every time I measure the calcium, it stays between 260 and 280. What do you suggest? <this is low because of the high ALK... they are somewhat mutually competitive/incompatible. One cannot naturally have high Ca and high ALK. One should be moderate while the other approaches the higher end. Aim for 350-450ppm calcium and 8-12 dKH but not the high end of both> Ph is a solid 8.3 Lights 420 watt VHO are on for twelve hours each day. All of these test were performed with a fairly new Hagen test kit. <hmmm... not exactly known for high quality/accuracy. Do test on another for redundancy> Thanks for the help gentlemen. I am somewhat concerned about all of this. . . Dave D. <no worries, water changes will dilute and get you back on track. Best regards, Anthony>

Alkalinity & Hunger strike Greetings, I have a 72 gallon FOWLR tank with 80 lbs live rock, 2 false perculas, and 2 shrimp. I decided to keep my water I use for water changes in a 40 gal Rubbermaid trash can. I aerate and heat the water continuously. My specific gravity is 1.023 using Instant Ocean. I continuously added Seachem's Marine Buffer to raise my pH to 8.3. I also added Seachem Reef Calcium to get my calcium to 360 ppm. Using a Salifert alkalinity test kit I then measured my alkalinity at 20dKH! Do I need to scrap this batch of water and start over using Kalk to raise the pH or would it be safe to use this water since I have no corals? <You simply used too much of this fine product. For a frame of reference, I start with deionized water, heat and aerate, add salt (Instant Ocean or Reef Crystals), and then add about 1/2 teaspoon per five gallons of Reef Builder and Marine Buffer. After that, My new water is generally right on. The simplest way to deal with this is to make up some new water, do not add buffering compounds to this water, and blend with the high alkalinity water. In effect diluting it down.> On another note, my larger false percula (1.5 in) has gone on a hunger strike the past 3 days. It's color is still great with no obvious parasites or other signs of illness. It seems to spend a lot of time digging a hole in the substrate (moving back and forth, displacing the substrate). <This is fairly typical behavior for clownfish.> The smaller false percula, who is eating fine, seems to visit this hole from time to time and rubs himself in it as well. Both of these fish were purchased about 1 month ago from separate dealers. Could they be building some sort of nest? <They are building something. I would not call it a nest. They sometimes clear away sand from an area that they are considering spawning around.> Could this explain why the larger one is on a hunger strike? <Not likely. If they wanted to spawn, they would need to feed heavily. If they already had eggs and were guarding them, they may be reluctant to leave to eat.> I attempted to stimulate the larger one's appetite with brine shrimp but no luck. <I would double check all aspects of water quality just to be sure and keep an eye on the situation. It is unusual for a clownfish to ignore brine shrimp. All fish love it even though it is worthless nutritionally.> Thanks, Jeff <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Question on buffering water Hi Bob! <Howdy> I just took some readings on my tank yesterday and found the following: pH = 7.2 Nitrate = (approx.) 30 ppm GH = (approx.) 107ppm KH = (approx.) 36 ppm I am satisfied with all those parameters except the KH. I'd like it to be higher to avoid unstable pH. I'm trying to stabilize the tank with soft water and neutral pH. I want to get skilled at keeping these conditions because I want to set up a discus tank one day. I'd rather not learn by killing such beautiful, sensitive fish, so I'm practicing on hardier fish that can handle a wider range of parameters. <Good ideas> Questions: What do you recommend I do to increase the KH without increasing the pH? <In your case, most cases, either some higher dKH tapwater or simple baking soda, sodium bicarbonate... slowly, in pre-made solution... dripped in...> What's your opinion on using a neutral buffer? I have heard that some of these buffers contain phosphate, which can lead to algae problems. <Some of them, yes... try the baking soda...> If you think buffers are OK, will you please recommend a neutral buffer product? <Hmm... I would rather not... as the formulations do change... and am posting this to our website: www.WetWebMedia.com... for an indeterminate length of time...> I've heard that you can add baking soda to increase KH, but does this also increase the pH? <Yes, slightly... but this should be fine... in the case of using captive bred, reared discus...> Thanks, Doug <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

KH units I have a question for you and that is how do I lower my KH.? I have bought a new test and my reading is 240 mg/l thanks in advance, dab <I am unfamiliar with this scale. I have only ever seen alkalinity measured in German degrees of hardness (dKH) or milliequivalents per liter (meq/l). What brand is this and are there any conversions given with the kit? -Steven Pro>

Re: KH this is a Hagen carbonate and general hardness test and now I see there is a conversion chart it was hidden in the flap in the box you multiply reading times 0.02 to get meq/l I have a reading of 3.2 this is bad I think or at least very low? <not very low... in fact, just barely on the low end. Really nothing much to worry about. If you have a full reef tank... get the alkalinity up with regular additions of Seabuffer (tm) or two part liquid calcium mixes. Have faith, my friend. You're fine. Anthony>

Re: KH one final question <always ask...> if I use Kent SuperBuffer dKH and Kent turbo calcium will I be o.k. for now  <ehh... a bad habit to depend on calcium chloride for calcium unless you do an unbelievable amount of water changes (accumulated chloride ions can skew the dynamic with carbonates). Properly applied Kalkwasser has far more benefits. The buffer is fine... most brands are quite similar as tri-buffers (borate, carbonate, and mostly bicarbonate)> I have a full blown reef set up{55 gallon} well sort of not all the gadgets} and a 54 gallon mushroom tank <yes... do use Kalkwasser and consider a calcium reactor in addition in the long run. Much better and safer than chloride products. Especially so to protect the considerable investment that you have in the reef system (s). Kindly, Anthony>

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