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FAQs on Marine Alkalinity Troubleshooting/Fixing 1

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

Related FAQs: Troubleshooting/Fixing 1, Trouble/Fixing 2, Trouble/Fixing 3, Trouble/Fixing 4, 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/Buffers, Products by Name: & FAQs on pH: Importance, Science, pH Measure/Test Gear, pH Controllers & pH Buffers/Buffering, pH Anomalies (Troubleshooting/Fixing), & pH Products by Name, Manufacturer,

There are actually only a few interactive chemical/physical considerations that go into understanding and manipulating alkalinity... When/where in doubt "do" nothing, but read

2 Part dosing concerns. RHFarley recipe     2/11/14
Evening crew
Approximately 1 month ago I decided to try my hand at 2 part dosing utilizing Randy’s 2 part recipe 1
<... as detailed here: http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2006-02/rhf/
I take it you followed the proscribed "recipes">
3 days ago I tested and found my alkalinity at 12.5 dKH and my calcium at 224 so followed the directions and added a bunch of calcium (half of what was required)
<... a bunch; half...>
The following day I retested and found a small change but nowhere it was supposed to be so discontinued dosing altogether
I just checked again today and the alkalinity has actually increased 13.104
What am I doing wrong? What should I do to correct it?
<Can't tell w/ the information provided... but you have some sort of unbalanced system of alkalinity vs. alkaline earths mix here... You can/could fix this in a few ways... my best advice (if this were the last time we communicated) would be to do at least one massive (like half) water change, or a few consecutive daily ones of 20-30% to dilute whatever compounds are present, and THEN to measure all factors, utilize enough "Part 2" to precipitate out the excess alkalinity... over days time, through additions of bolstered change out water>
Test kits being used are Hanna
PH travels between 8.1 and 8.2
Let me know and thanks in advance for your assistance
<Have you read on WWM re? Try this: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm
and the linked files above. The reactions, interactions of the chemical species here are actually quite simple to understand. Bob Fenner>

Does Kalk dosing bleach coralline algae? Can 01/13/10
I recently started dosing Kalk wasser with the objective of raising pH, alkalinity and calcium levels as all have been low for several months. My coralline algae is now turning white.
In case you are going to post this, I will refrain from the entire equipment list, as I realize those posts can be very chewy. I'll just give the basics:
*1.5 year old system with approx 375 gallons of system water (280G MDT, 55G 7inch DSB (sugar fine) fuge and 90G sump that has approx 40G during run time).
*FOWLR with 1-2 inch medium substrate, approx 200lb live rock.
*Good turn over via 2 return pumps and power heads in MDT - turn over 15+ times an hour.
*I run carbon and D-D Rowa Phosban in TLF reactors
*Gigundo recirc skimmer which is a Warner Marine knock-off (18 inch diameter, 3 foot tall, 3 Sedra 9000 pumps).
*Fuge has Chaeto macro and a few rocks in addition to the 7 inch DSB.
*400W PC (half actinic and half 10K)
*No mechanical filtration used in the way of socks, pre-filters on pumps, etc.
*Only 10 fish totaling approx 30 inches. I haven't added any new fish in 6 months, because I wanted to get my green hair algae problem under control which has not yet happened - but that GHA issue is not the objective of this request.
parameters before Kalk dosing started approximately 2 weeks ago:
temp 79.0
Salinity 1.025
phosphate and nitrate give me 0 readings but I know false - locked up in the piles of GHA I have been battling for months now
pH 7.85
Mag 1300
Alk anywhere from 4.0 to 7.0 KH (depending on how long after last water change and how much buffer I added)
calc anywhere from 390 to 350 (goes with the Alk - I think I understand the marble analogy)
I started dosing Kalk because my pH was chronically low <Ok, but, generally, you don't use Kalk to increase pH (though it can help). Do you have a lid on this tank? It might be that you have high CO2 in your water... not enough aeration.>
and I have always used Alk buffers (Kent) to raise Alk / pH following my weekly 65-100 gallon RODI based water changes, but not only was that getting very expensive, it was not keeping my alkalinity in check and therefore pH constantly wavering and always ending up toward low acceptable end. For the first year or so the tank was established, I only use to do 35G weekly water changes (always RODI which is tested with TDS meter) but once the GHA kicked in, I stepped it up to 70G (2 Rubbermaid), and at one point used 3 (105 gallon). I think it was around the time I increased the water changes to 100G per week that my Alk (and pH) took a nose dive? I aerate the RODI fresh water for a couple days before adding salt mix (Oceanic) and then aerate salt water another few days before water change.
I do not buffer the water change water before using.
<You should. A buffer *maintains* pH.>
Every time I have tried to buffer the water change water (either before adding salt mix or after adding salt mix) the entire contents turn milk white, so I don't do that anymore.
<Ok, there's no real need to aerate the change water before adding the salt. If it were me, I'd add the salt and buffer to the RODI, then aerate for a few days. By then, the water should clear up and everything should be nice and buffered and aerated.>
BTW - the massive weekly water changes had no impact on GHA whatsoever (maybe I have a super strand), so I now do more like 40-50G water changes per week.
<Have you checked to make sure your RODI filter is working properly? Do you have a TDS meter?><<See above. RMF>>
So back to the objective of this dissertation: I wanted to find a cheaper solution to my low Alk / low pH problem, so I scoured WWM for dozens and dozens of hours to try and educate myself. I settled on dosing Kalk, because I thought I had a good handle on how / why / what it would do for me. I believe if I can ever get my pH to stabilize above 8.0, then the 7 inch DSB of aragonite sugar fine sand SHOULD help maintain decent Alk levels right?
<Unfortunately, imo, this is a bit of bad info that has managed to linger on WWM... sugar fine aragonite will not help maintain your Alk levels to any appreciable degree.>
That's why I am going down this path anyway. So now for approximately 2 weeks, I have been mixing up 2 teaspoons of the Kent Kalk mix in RODI water in a 1 gallon milk jug, shaken vigorously, and capped for at least 7 hours before slow dripping to high flow area of sump. I use 2 of these 1G mixes per day
<For 375g system, you might need more than this starting out.>
and only at night time when MDT lights off and only drip the super saturated portion. Since I have started my new parameters are:
pH 8.05 to 8.10
Alk 8.0 KH
<These parameters are probably ok.>
calcium 340-360 - going down marginally??!
Mag 1400 (I have dosed some Mag a couple times since starting the Kalk dosing with hopes calcium would increase)
I can live with these numbers although I assumed they would be higher and I don't understand why calcium levels are actually dropping a little?
<There could be lots of reasons for this... it might be settling out or being taken up by invertebrates...>
I have 2 different calcium test kits and they are both giving identical readings. I even brought water to LFS and they have confirmed.
But regardless of the new parameters, now all of my coralline is bleaching out!
<Hmm... maybe it's being out bid for nutrients by the green hair algae?>
That's the coralline on the live rocks, on the back and sides of MDT, in fuge and skimmer, etc. I have also noticed clumping of the sand in the DSB of fuge. I should note that the DSB in fuge has only been in place for 4 or 5 weeks. Previously, the fuge only had a 2-3 inch medium grade aragonite substrate.
Is this bleaching normal? Should I stop dosing the Kalk?
<I don't think you should stop dosing Kalk. It's possible the coralline didn't appreciate the "sudden" change in parameters (but if that's the case, it should come back after the system has been stable for awhile).
Regardless, something seems a bit "wrong" about your system in general.
Where are all these nutrients coming from in a 375g tank with only 10 fish?
Seems odd. What are you feeding the tank?>
Thank you very much for your invaluable resources / service you guys offer here by the way!
<Our pleasure.>
Not to mention, thank you for spending half your night reading this lengthy post, and I really hope you can further educate me as to what might be going on here.
<I'd test your RODI water with a TDS meter... and try to figure out why you have this algae problem. What are you feeding the tank? What other supplements are you using? Are you sure you have enough aeration in the system? Do you have the "right" invertebrates for clean up, etc.?
Because, despite your respectable efforts, your system is "off balance."
Something isn't quite right somewhere...>
Sara M.>
Re: does Kalk dosing bleach coralline algae? 1/14/10

Wow - that was fast. Thanks very much for the input. To answer some of your questions, here goes:
Yes I do use a TDS meter and change my RODI filters out as soon as I get to 10 ppm. The meter typically reads 0 ppm.
I do not have a lid on MDT, nor on sump, nor on fuge. I may indeed have high CO2 as this is an in-wall display (and 2 year old home) with fish room (that has no exterior windows),
<Yikes... this might be part of your problem if the air around the tank is essentially "sealed off." I would definitely think of some way to remedy this (put a vent in the wall if need be).>
but I tried keeping window open and running series of fans from it to fish room for most of the summer and although my pH did increase a bit, it was not appreciable.
<What are you calling "not appreciable?" Mind you, every 1 unit change in pH is actually a 10x change in concentration of H+. So if your pH went up from 8.0 to 8.1, that might not seem like much, but it is.>
I have a TON of aeration going on. The return pumps alone turn over entire system volume 8x an hour, and I let my 1.5 inch drains (2 of them) splash a decent distant above sump water line. I also have fuge draining into sump, and external skimmer draining into sump, each allowed to splash (drain pipe above sump water level). Not to mention a bunch of powerheads in MDT and fuge with some pointed to water surface to really agitate.
<I'd keep the door to the fish room open, or cut out a vent in the wall...>
I can try buffering water change water again, to see if this time it yields any differences from prior attempts.
<It's worth a try, imo.>
I don't know why I have such a terrible nutrients problem to be honest, and could write an even longer diatribe about my battle with GHA and all of the efforts (and thousands of dollars)
I have invested into trying to address that. I can say that I put a large clean up crew (50+ hermits, 50+ snails, etc) in MDT a few months after start up, and within a month of adding trigger and wrasse they were basically all gone. So I have always speculated that their mass die off (whether eaten by the fish, or refusal to expose themselves for fear of meeting same fate they saw their buddies meet (picture wrasse banging hermit against live rock for a snack)) introduced a huge nutrient spike?
<That's possible.>
I also had a fish die and fall into live rock structure that by the time I tore the rock mass apart to get his decaying body out (a week or so later)
it was gone! Apparently my clean up crew was working really well??
Lastly, I also had an under powered skimmer for a while. So all I can come up with is that I had this huge nutrient build up early on, and am still paying the price because I have been so diligent for the past 9 months I am 100% positive I should be pulling them out faster than I am putting them in. I do not dose anything beyond alkalinity buffers previously and now Kalk. Very infrequently, I dose magnesium (as in 3 or 4 times a year). I feed only once a day, and am very judicious about amounts (food never hits the substrate, because the amounts I add are snagged immediately by the team). I even abandoned Selcon soaks thinking that may be cause. I use high quality seafood (raw), Nori, etc. I never dump thawing water in tank.
I have read every article on WWM and other sites about controlling nutrients, and I practice every suggested method religiously. So again, I have NO idea why I have this GHA that just won't go away. I continue to assume I have the super strand that no one knows about :>)
<Hmm, not likely though. If you're up to trying (yet again), I can tell you what I'd do. This is a huge system, I know, but I'd:
1) start pulling out the GHA itself--granted, this won't be easy, but I'd start scrapping it off and sucking it up as much as possible
2) dump out 3 to 4in of this 7in DSB you've got in your fuge (imo, the added utility of a sand bed declines exponentially after 4in)
3) Use the extra space in the fuge to grow more macro algae in the fuge/sump --try a different type or two of macroalgae besides the Chaeto (maybe even use a better light on the fuge if you think you need it)
4) get some tough, competitive soft corals like xenia and Zoanthids (specifically ones from friends or LFS that you know are resilient, fast growing and bullies in the aquarium). >
But are you saying my high nutrients can somehow play havoc with coralline - but only with the introduction of Kalk?
<No, I'm saying that, maybe your GHA is out-competing your coralline.
Coralline algae needs nutrients too. If the GHA is sucking them all up, then there won't be much for the coralline. More likely though, I think it was just the sudden change in Alk and pH that upset the coralline algae. I think it will come back after your tank parameters stabilize.>
Coralline flourished until I started adding the Kalk.....??
<Yeah, exactly.>
Again, thank you very much for your time and knowledge sharing!
<I wish you luck... you know, this is often a game of hit and miss. You just have to keep trying different things until you figure out what works for your system. It's frustrating, I know. :-)>
Sara M.>
P.S. I'd also get rid of the crushed coral (or "medium substrate") in your display... this stuff is of little to no use to anything (and, imo, often just traps fish poo). Put in a layer of sand or just go BB. Again... just my opinion here. - Sara M.

KH/KH/Kalk Dosing 11/24/09
Hi Guys
<Hello Ian>
My KH has dropped "fairly" suddenly (from 12 to 6 over a 2 week period). I am not sure that my Kalk unit is working properly and want to know that if this was discharging at a higher rate/or more concentrated than normal would this affect the KH reading.
<Yes it can. James (Salty Dog)>

Substrate question Mystery of the dissolving substrate. SW Substrate Replacement Alk still falling like a stone. 9/22/2009
Sorry for the delay but it took me a while to get it all together.
<No problem, My apologies as well - Once again I was sent off to points north for an extended period of time.>
Main Tank:
PH Lights on: 8.4 / Lights off: 8.00
Nitrate: 5-10
Nitrite: 0
Ammonia: 0
DKH: 6.5-7
CA: 340
MG: 1150
SG: 1.026
Phosphate: .01 but some sequestered in algae/life for sure. <Certainly.>
Temp: 78 Degree's F(Never changes from that)<Excellent.>
Water Changes (About 40-80 Gallons per week depending on how heavily I have fed)
PH: 8.4 (Always buffer before adding to tank so I know that isn't the issue)
Nitrate: 0
Nitrite: 0
Ammonia: 0
DKH: 10
CA: 360
MG: 1500
SG: 1.026
Phosphate: 0
Temp: 80 Degrees F
<All good here as well.>
Top Off Water (About 10-15 Gallons per week, auto top off from 5 stage
RO/DI - so completely stripped down 0.00 ppm of anything in it. I check
and adjust tank weekly for SG when water changes are done)
PH: 7.9 <Do make sure your top off water is pH adjusted to the tank water -
API makes a product called pH 8.2 that works well.>
Nitrate: 0
Nitrite: 0
Ammonia: 0
DKH: 0
CA: 0
MG: 0
SG: 0
Phosphate: 0
Temp: 87 Degrees F
CA Reactor Effluent:
Test # 1
PH: 6.8
CA: 340
DKH: 10
Test # 2
PH: 7.4
CA: 670 <Yikes!>
DKH: 38 <Wow....>
Test # 3
PH: 8.0
CA: 340
DKH: 6.5
Denitrator Effluent:
PH: 6.8
CA: 340
DKH: 6.5
<How much flow do you have through the denitrator?>
Carbon/Phosban/Skimmer/Chiller Output:
PH: 8.0
Nitrate: 5-10
Nitrite: 0
Ammonia: 0
DKH: 6.5-7
CA: 340
MG: 1150
SG: 1.026
Phosphate: .00
Feeding consists of the following mixed and matched through out the week. They receive about 2 table spoons of any combination 2 or 3x daily for the anthias and butterfly's mainly.
DT's Phyto (Daily)
DT's Oyster Eggs (1x Weekly)
Nutrimar Ova (Lobster Eggs)(Daily)
Red & Purple Julian Sprung Seaweed / Selcon / Garlic Guard Drops on
Seaweed Sometimes (3x Weekly)
Mysis Shrimp (4x Weekly)
Baby Brine Shrimp (When available)
Reef Nutrition Rotifers (Daily)
Reef Nutrition Cyclops (Daily)
Reef Nutrition Pods (Daily)
Spectrum Pellets (Breakfast)
Coral Frenzy (2 x Weekly)
Frozen Cyclops (2 x Weekly)
Rarely Chopped Table Shrimp/Clams/Vegetables
So something is obviously wrong with my CA reactor. I just ordered new Media and refilling CO2 Tank (Appears to be full still ?? ). Its spitting out random results every time I test. So its working only sometimes - no clue what the issue might be so replacing everything except for the actual reactor. I suspect the media is on the verge of being used up or not being agitated enough by water movement. I'm guessing that the malfunction is only partially to blame for the rapid 'burn up' of ca. Hopefully I'm missing the obvious here!
<The reactor is definitely suspect. I don't recall how you have your reactor set up, but if it is solenoid controlled, you may have a bad solenoid that is sticking open.>
<Try adding some substrate as you originally planned - the additional natural buffers certainly will help. I suggest the following:
1. Add more substrate
2. Make sure your top off water is buffered and adjusted to a pH of at least 8.2
3. Turn the reactor off and dose a A\B Calcium and Alkalinity solution for a week and test again.>
Thank You,
<My pleasure, MikeV>

Re: Substrate question :-) 09/24/09
Hi Bob,
I was wondering if you could take a look at this one. The original issue was alkalinity (dKH) dropping like a stone. The readings out of the Ca reactor were off, so she shut it down and is dosing with A\B supplements.
In the course of a year, she has lost about half of her substrate. I recommended replacing the substrate -
<<Wow! Must have boiling/bubbling the CO2 in!>>
she has a 300 gallon reef, so she will need to balance adding new substrate in and around established corals.
Beyond this, I am somewhat at a loss.
<<Let's see>>
Re: Substrate question Mystery of the dissolving substrate. SW Substrate Replacement Alk still falling like a stone. 9/22/2009
All good! We are all busy with life :-)
<Ahh yes, It can be a pain, but at least I am still gainfully employed, so I won't complain too much!>
My top off water Ph is always adjusted to exactly 8.4 with Seachem Aquavitro 8.4 liquid.
<Ahh, ok. so the readings you were giving me were before you adjusted.>
My denitrator is recirculating about 380GPH and effluent is about 2 drops per second back into tank. So its very negligible amount here. I really don't think the thing works at all honestly. No noticeable difference
<I've never been convinced they work personally. They need a super low flow to work plus supplemental 'feeding' to keep them going.>.
I forgot to mention that I use the Prodibio system weekly. I don't think they would do anything like this but most people have never heard of it so hard to find other peoples reviews of the products.
<I've heard mixed reviews myself - Some tout it as the next holy grail of reef keeping, others claim it is snake oil.>
I have added 50 Lbs of substrate as that was my initial though that I didn't have the buffering capacity needed for all that water. So pretty sure that's not the issue as it hasn't made any change whatsoever.
<50 pounds in a 300 gallon tank isn't going to make too much of a difference. I would add another 100 pounds or so - As I recall, you had lost about half of your substrate in the last year.>
I have also removed the CA reactor completely from the system. The setup was a dual chamber reactor w/ solenoid and 50 lbs co2 tank. 75 Lbs of media consisting of ARM and Zeovit mg media.
<<Jumbo size!>>
<Ok, so the biggest alkalinity consumer has been taken out of the system.>
I thought the solenoid may be the issue but I have checked it and the bubble rate seems perfectly fine and consistent. Is that the correct way to gauge if its functioning correctly?
<I would a lot with solenoids in my 'real' job - They can 'stick' - where they stay activated after they have gotten a signal to turn off. I don't know how you have yours set up to run - The test would be if it is running for a period of time when it is supposed to be off.>
After the substrate was added and CA reactor removed I moved to manual dosing.
I am adding 10 Tbs of liquid alk, 3 tbs powder alk, 15 Tbs of liquid calcium, 8 Tbs liquid mg, 1 powder Tbs Strontium daily to maintain levels.
<Are you really consuming that much calcium, magnesium and strontium per day?>
I have been able to get the CA up to 410 which seems fine to me and dKH at 6.5-7-8 level. Very hard to keep the Dkh constant without sitting there and testing and dosing all day and all night long. Completely unstable and relies on huge doses of supplements daily.
Any further ideas what may be causing this? This issue has persisted for ever and well - I don't know whats causing it!!!!!!!
<I still think you need to add more natural buffer - substrate\rock etc. I am going to refer this to Bob and see if he has any opinions as well.>
I think I've pretty much gone over my entire system with you. Anything I may have left out? I skim very aggressively about 1 sometimes 2 gallons per day of very wet skimmate. That wouldn't be removing minerals would it? I like to feed heavy so it makes things easier.
<My pleasure as always. MikeV>
<<Mmm, well... am not a fan of the ARM media... do look into just aragonite... or Korallith of larger grade... And I do suspect that too much carbon dioxide was being utilized here... I'd be checking the effluent pH... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/calcreacop.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Alkalinity Stays Constantly low...9/12/09
Hello WWM crew, thanks for all the good information you have on the site for us.
<Hello Eric, and you're welcome.>
My question today is about my alkalinity being constantly low around 5-6dKH if I don't dose anything in my 55 gallon tank. I've done a lot of reading on this site but have not come across anything that could be a fix
for this issue. Here's all the details of my tank, maybe it can help some.
My water param.s are: ph 8.4, nitrate 15-20 ppm, Ca 400 ppm, ammonia/nitrite 0 ppm, and SG of 1.024.
<Mmm, what about magnesium, very important to maintain, allows corals to absorb calcium.>
Water temperature between 80-82 degrees Fahrenheit.
For equipment/livestock I have a skimmer rated up to 120 gallons, 1/4 hp chiller with a Mag 7 pump, and a Vortech mp40w for a powerhead. I have no sump so everything is directly in the 55 gallon tank. There is about 60 pounds of live rock, and 120 pounds of live sand which makes the sandbed about 4 inches deep. For live stock, I have a Yellow Tang,
<Tank will eventually be too small for this fish, if not already.>
<<... ? No... A Zebrasoma flavescens is fine in a 120 gallon volume.!!! RMF>>
Two Ocellaris clowns, Gold Head Sleeper Goby, Lawnmower Blenny, sandsifting star, and a Banggai Card. I have about a couple dozen corals mostly frag sized. Softies are Pulsing Xenia and a small colony of Zoanthids. For SPS's I have various species of Monti's, Acro's, and Birds Nest. LPS's consists of a couple Acan's, Hammer coral, and Green BTA. I feed PE mysis and the Spectrum Thera A+ pellets 2 times every 3 days. My tank is also covered in coralline algae colors ranging from purple to pink to green and it grows faster than I can scrape it off the acrylic.
I've been dealing with low alkalinity for about a month now. A few weeks ago I had Ca up around 600ppm which I brought down to 380-400 ppm from a couple water changes. Now its under control but alkalinity still drops. I have no idea how or why my dKH drops. Oh, and I use the Oceanic salt mix.
It's Ca is 420ppm and alkalinity of 12dKH. Even when the dKH is low all my livestock looks healthy, only that the corals grow at a much slower pace.
Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.
<Eric, your dKH isn't really that low. Europeans are keeping their reef systems right around the same dKH as yours and report better results in their systems (Personal conversation with Lou Ekus, Tropic Marin). I would not allow it to drop below 5 dKH. Your nitrate level indicates excess dissolved nutrients in your system, and this can/will gradually lower dKH.
Do read here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm>
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Kalk, Alk Help -- 08/13/09
Hello Crew.
<<Hey Wayne>>
It's been a while since I've written to you. My tanks been running great until about 2 weeks ago.
Searched your archives, and still need help.
<<Let's see if I can'¦>>
I have a 210 gal, mixed reef. Mostly SPS with a 55 gal refugium.
<<Very nice>>
It's been up for about a year and a half. And has done very well. Good coral growth and coloration. I don't run a calcium reactor, nor do I dose 2-part. I use a Kalk Reactor from Precision marine
<<Nice product'¦ I use one of their older model Calcium reactors in conjunction with a 'DIY' Kalkwasser reactor>>
...once I month I fill it with 2 cups of Kalk powder, and use this solution for my top off water. I do weekly 30-40 gal water changes. Water is not buffered. This has kept my Calcium around 350, Alk a bit low at 3 mEq/L,
<<Mmm, actually this is not bad at all (anything from 2.5 mEq/L -- 4 mEq/L is acceptable)>>
and Magnesium also a bit low usually around 1100 - 1200ppm.
<<With your Calcium/Alk readings, this too is acceptable>>
pH goes as high as 8.35 during peak lighting (3x250MH), and as low as 8.1 during the night (have refugium on opposite light cycle).
<<Very good>>
All of a sudden, 2 weeks ago, I replenished my Kalk reactor (2 cups of powder), did my 40 gal water change, hooked everything back up, and my pH hit 8.6 after my Kalk dripped for about 20 sec. I was amazed how quickly it spiked.
<<Indeed'¦ What aspect, if any, of your maintenance/husbandry changed I wonder>>
So I over-filled my sump with fresh water before I went to bed, and hooked up the Kalk to drip overnight.
<<Akin to 'adjusting the skimmer' just before bedtime'¦dangerous>>
I was comfortable this would keep the pH below dangerous levels.
<<I don't see how'¦considering the spike you just witnessed>>
Well...I was wrong.
I woke up the pH was 8.75 and there was a snowstorm in the tank. All inhabitants looked fine, corals had good polyp extension, and fish were eating well. After the snowstorm ended, I tested the water and got Calcium - 300, Alk - 2 mEq/L, and Mag - 1000ppm.
<<Fortunate'¦could have been worse>>
I slowly dosed, and am still dosing to get these numbers back up.
<<I would revert to water changes for this, myself (safer/less chance for miscalculation)'¦and then resume the dosing as a maintenance process>>
Going slow. Today, Calc is 350, Alk is 3.4 mEq/L, and Mag is 1200 ppm. I now have 2 peristaltic pumps and 2-part solutions in the mail. 2 part will be my Cal/Alk strategy going forward. After I got the Alk back above my usual reading of 3 mEq/L, I hooked up the Kalk reactor, and after a 20 sec drip, my pH went from 8.1 to 8.3.
<<Something amiss>>
My questions...
Why am I having this trouble with pH spikes when I dose Kalk, after a year of consistent readings?
<<Hard to say'¦perhaps a change in the particular product you use. Or maybe something with the reactor function>>
Do you think I'll need to dose Kalk after my 2 part system is up and running?
<<Only your test kits know for sure'¦ (but likely not)>>
Thanks for all your help!
<<Happy to share'¦ EricR>>

Re: Kalk, Alk Help -- 08/22/09
Thanks for your reply below.
<<Quite welcome>>
Just thought I'd give you an update on what's happening.
<<Thank you>>
As you wrote below, I was lucky that my Kalk overdose wasn't worse. So I was hopeful. After all, the cal, Alk, mg, pH wasn't too far off from how my tank normally runs, and all the coral looked fine at the time.
Well...as of today, all of my Acros are now dead, my Zoas, star polyps, haven't opened in a week, my Monti cap is half bleached, and my hippo tang is scratching himself until he's all raw, my yellow tang has what looks like rust on his fins, and my tank is overtaken by diatoms
<<Would seem that something is 'poisoning' this tank>>
...oh yes...and here's the kicker, I just found my Bubble tip anemone dead this morning. He's been shriveled up since the Kalk OD (2 weeks now), and the way he was settled in the rock, it looked like he was still attached (which indicated to me he was still alive). But he wasn't attached at all. It was a rotten mess.
<<Ah'¦and very likely the catalyst for your current problems>>
I thought it was strange that all my across were dying so rapidly from a minor Kalk OD.
<<This is/was a contributor'¦directly or otherwise>>
All my param.s have checked out, with the exception of nitrite/nitrate. What was odd was that my nitrite and nitrate kit was giving me a "gray" color. A reading of zero on both nitrate and nitrite is slightly pink. I called Seachem, but they had never seen anything like this. I tested the kit and confirmed the kit was working fine. Now it all makes sense....my BPT poisoned my tank! What do you think?
<<Agreed'¦and in combination with the other stressors, was the 'last straw' for some of your tank's critters it seems>>
In the past 3 weeks since my Kalk OD (and my BTA shriveled up), I've done about 5 x 40 gal water changes on my 210gal.
<<A good move>>
The water is always murky,
<<Do stop any Kalkwasser/Bio-mineral dosing for now>>
and none of my corals seem to be getting better. The fish now seem to be behaving oddly, and are showing signs of stress/poor health (scratching, discoloration).
<<I'm sure'¦removing them to a 'clean' hospital/recovery tank should help>>
The only good news, is that I actually got a normal nitrate/nitrite reading this morning...it was actually pink (both registered zero), and that my fish are still eating well.
Is there anything I can do to remove the poison from my system, if you agree that this is the culprit?
<<I do think 'something' is poisoning your system. Aside from stepping up the use of Carbon, I would also recommend adding a small canister filter filled with cut-up Poly-Filter>>
If you think it's something else, please share, and give me some pointers on how to remedy. I plan on doing water changes as fast as I can mix water. That's about 40 gal, every 3 days. And running as much carbon as possible.
<<Based on the information here, dilution and increased chemical filtration as you are doing now seems to be the best plan of action>>
Thanks -- Wayne
<<Welcome'¦I hope your system recovers soon. EricR>>

R2: Kalk, Alk Help -- 09/01/09
Hi Crew...continued update, and hopefully the last.
<<Hi Wayne'¦Eric here again>>
My Monti Cap is dead...basically all of my corals are dead now from my last email.
<<Sorry to hear>>
Shortly after receiving your email, I tested my nitrites with a reading of 2!
Must've been from the massive die off in my tank.
<<Likely, yes>>
Yesterday, my nitrite reading hit zero! My yellow tang is just about dead, although he seemed to do better today. I almost euthanized him yesterday. We'll see how he does; I don't think he'll make it.
<<Given a clean/fresh environment, you would be surprised at the powers of recuperation/regeneration of many fishes>>
The good news is the rest of my fish seem to have made a turn for the better. The Hippo, though still not out of the woods, seems to be clearing up, and his appetite is stronger than ever. Strangely, my prized Powder Blue has made it this far without showing any signs of illness. Knock on wood. I've managed to get the water clear again through water changes, (5x40 gal changes since my last email), and changing carbon frequently.
It was constantly murky after the snowstorm cleared. At this point I basically have a FOWLR, + 1 clam. My Favia, star polyps, and trumpet coral look like they'll be dead within the next few days.
<<These too could come back given a clean environment in which to recover>>
One piece of good news is that my Cyano problems are completely gone.
<<Mmm'¦but hardly consolation I'm sure>>
Sand is pearly white, and I never have to clean the glass. My water param.s today are...Nitrate 2, Nitrite 0, Ammonia 0, pH 8.2, Cal 400, Alk 8.4, Mag, 1125 (a bit low).
Here are my questions:
How do you know when green star polyps are dead? Polyps haven't been extended in about 3 weeks. The purple base of the polyps still has that "rubbery" feeling. I'm guessing when it's dead; the purple base would probably turn into a decaying mess. Am I correct?
<<Yes'¦though maybe at a slower rate than 'softer' specimens>>
When SPS die (or coral in general), do they release toxins into the tank?
<<Indeed'¦ Any organism that perishes will release contained chemicals/metabolites to the surrounding environment'¦though I would put most 'SPS' corals toward the lower end of the scale as far as toxicity among the many noxious organisms many hobbyists keep>>
If yes, should I just remove the few corals I have that are in question?
<<Unless very large colonies, I suspect any declining SPS coral to be of minimal concern>>
Can these toxins harm fish?
<<As a whole, yes'¦many corals contain elements toxic to other life'¦including fishes and humans>>
I highly suspect my dead anemone, and dying Zoanthids as the main culprits for poisoning my system.
<<Ah yes'¦both much more of a concern here>>
I removed the Zoanthids before I was certain of their death. Seems like I did the right thing, as my fish appeared to make a turn for the better shortly after its removal.
<<Very telling indeed>>
How will I know when it's safe to add sps again?
<<Hard to say'¦but I would not be in any rush here>>
My fear is that the anemone toxin and Zoanthid toxin are still in the tank.
<<These will break down/be metabolized by other organisms with time. But continued water changes and chemical filtration will help to expedite things. I would use the return/development of the smaller planktonic organisms to your system as a guide>>
Like I said, I've done about 200gals worth of water changes. The tank is a 210, and with LR and a 55gal refugium, I'm guessing I have about 200 gals of total system volume. All of the critters that my system used to sustain seem to be gone.
<<Then like I said'¦use the renewal of these as a measurement of the systems health and suitability for restocking>>
I used to clean tiny serpent stars out of my filter sock every week (I'd get at least 10-15 of them), all different pods and such also. Now, all I get is detritus. I still have 2 turbo snails, and my large serpent star in my refugium is still very much alive. Lastly, I'd like to convert my tank to bare bottom so I can maximize flow for any future SPS that I keep. Will I harm my fish if I remove sand from the system while leaving the fish in the tank?
<<Not as long as you have sufficient biological filtration otherwise'¦and none of your current livestock requires such a substrate for their continued health/vigor (as in wrasses that sleep in the sand)>>
I was very good about partial sand vacuuming about every 2 weeks. Thank you for all your help during this difficult time.
<<Quite welcome>>
I tried to research all I could, and felt I had a good thing going...but I guess this is why Kalk must be used with much caution.
<<Yes'¦ Kalkwasser is a very useful supplement'¦but one that must be respected and understood. In fact, I do think Bob believes its downsides/dangers outweigh its benefits'¦any many instances>>
I've now experienced my first tank crash...I sure hope it's my last.
<<As do I'¦ Eric Russell>>

Alkalinity 2/209 Can you tell me the best way to lower alkalinity. My LFS is experiencing the same difficulty, he says it is our tap water. I'm running a RO unit that according to the LFS contributes to the problem. <What? No... reverse osmosis devices remove almost all molecular contribution to alkalinity... given they are working!> Any advice would be greatly appreciated as always. Thank you very much, Pat <Mmm, dilution with water of lower alkalinity (GH, dKH)... Bob Fenner>

Re: alkalinity 2/3/09 This is a marine reef aquarium. Is there any sort of reactor (calcium or carbon) that I could run that would lower alkalinity levels? <?... No. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/mphtrbl.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

dKH Levels Berserk 1/24/09 I am currently running a 12.5 gallon open top tank. Filtration consists of 1 HOB filter with Polyfilter, a sponge in the overflow, 12 lbs of mature liverock and 8 lbs of 3.0 mm aragonite sand (about .75 inches deep). Additionally I run a phos X pad in the overflow for phosphate control. Livestock consists of 1 tank bred black and white Ocellaris clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris), 12 small Nassarius Snails (Nassarius vibex), 1 Banded Trochus Snail (Trochus sp), 2 small Nerite Snails (Nerita sp), 1 Zebra Turbo Snail (Turbo sp.) and 8 Dwarf Red Tip Hermit Crabs (Clibanarius sp.). Other than microfauna (pods and worms) that came in the rock and a few real small feather dusters there are no other inhabitants in the tank. Tank is skimmed heavily with a large Berlin 60 Skimmer, which generates a about a half a cup of every 2 to 3 days. Lights consist of a 100 Watt 14K MH which is run for 12 hours daily. Water top is a half gallon daily of distilled water. Parameters of the tank at latest test show (tank has been running 5 months) Ammonia - 0 Nitrite - 0 Nitrate - 0 Alk - 350 ppm|7 meg/l pH - 7.8 SG - 1.29 @79F Tank Temp - 79F I am wondering why my ALK is so high, yet my pH is so low. I don't dose any 2 parts or buffers in the tank, yet the Alk level seems to stay high and the pH won't break 8.0. I get some hard green algae growth on the tank walls, but no Coralline growth despite having many different strains present in the tank on rocks and the invert shells.) Flow rate is around 80 gallons per hour using the return pump from the overflow diffused. Surface water moved by return from HOB filter. Is there anything I can do to lower the Alk yet raise the pH to level closer to 8.2? It is my goal to keep SPS corals in the tank (reason for the lighting), but I'm worried about adding anything until I can at least witness some Coralline growth (to show calcium and carbonate able to be effectively used) and I can find a more stable balance between Alk and pH. Any ideas? <How are you dosing calcium, and what are your magnesium levels? Being a major element of seawater, this needs to be maintained at 1280-1300 to allow calcium loving organisms to absorb the level of calcium present in your water, and is likely why you are not seeing good coralline growth. An example here is that if your measured magnesium level was 640ppm, which is one half of the normal level found on the reefs, then only one half of your measured calcium level is available for absorption by the animals. In your case, 175ppm Ca. The 3 to 1 ratio needs to be maintained by supplementing with magnesium just as you would with calcium. As to your high alkalinity problem (19dKH), this is very unusual. First I'd suggest taking a sample of your water to your LFS for a dKH comparison test to insure your test kit results are in line with his. Secondly, I suggest reading here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alkalinity.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm Do get back with me on the above questions I have asked you. James (Salty Dog)>

Re: dKH Levels Berserk 1/25/09 James, <Stef> I appreciate the quick reply. <You're welcome.> As a follow-up, a test using different reagents showed that in fact my Alk levels and pH were showing incorrect numbers. Additional tests yielded a pH of 8.1 and Alk of 300ppm. Up to this point I have not been dosing calcium or using any additives except Sea-Lab #28 blocks. I removed the remainder of the Sea-Lab block from my tank and have begun dosing smaller doses of ECO (Balling Method) CALCIUM 3-Part Supplement, which is a buffer (A), trace element (B) and Calcium/Magnesium (C). <Yes, I'm not in favor of the blocks primarily because I want to have control of individual additives administered to my tank rather than fixed amount of three of four. I'm not familiar with the ECO "balling" method but hopefully it's contents are not calcium chloride as this is not recommended for long term use. I'm betting that Leng from Ecosystem would not use such.> I will test and monitor the levels and see what kind of Coralline growth is experienced and adjust dose as needed (dosing instructions was 1 ounce per 30 gallons, since it's a 12.5, I rounded down to 10 gallons, and used a dose of 1 ml of each part, to be gradually raised as needed and reflected by growth and tests). Again I appreciate the response and keep up the great work that you lads do for us addicted reefers out there. <You're welcome and do keep us posted. James (Salty Dog)>

dKH Too High...Why? 1/17/09 <Hello JM> My 5 year old 72 gal bowfront reef ready system is experiencing pH and dKH readings higher than normal. The readings are consistent day or night. Salinity is 1.024 by hydrometer. dKH reading by fairly new API test kit is 14. <Have you taken a water sample to your dealer for a test comparison?> pH reading by fairly new Hanna instruments meter is 8.5 and 8.6 <Was the unit calibrated with a pH test solution before using?> I have not added any buffers yet to bring these readings down until I hear from you. <You're readings pose no threat to the animals in your system if they are indeed correct. You likely will have calcium dissipation problems with a dKH that high.> I have a Kent Hi-S RO-DI water system with 40 gal fresh water storage tank that does not have these high readings before adding to tank. <OK> All systems including skimmer are running as normal..no new changes. The salt used is Reef Crystals for last two or three months. <A good mix.> The only additions made to the tank in past three or four weeks are the calcium powder additive made by Tropic-Marin called Bio-Calcium which also includes in it many trace elements. This has been dosed according to directions, except not on a daily basis, but dosed once every two or three days based on calcium testing trying to keep calcium at approx 400-425. <I use this same product and have had no high dKH problems, in fact I have to buffer.> How do I bring this pH and dKH down and maintain it down? What is causing it? Or are these readings really that bad anyway? I do wish to have the colored calcerous <calcareous> algae growing on tank/rocks. <Let's get a sample of water to your LFS and verify his dKH reading with yours. If you haven't calibrated your Hanna unit, do get a packet of test solution, they run about a buck at most etailers that carry electronic pH monitors. For calcareous (coralline) to grow as with corals, the measured calcium in the water must be made entirely available to them. This process can only be carried out to the fullest extent by maintaining proper magnesium levels (1280-1300ppm). Magnesium is a major element of sea water and you mention nothing of their measured levels in your query. Do read here re calcium/alkalinity. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm> Thank you for your input ! <You're welcome, and do get back with me on your test results. James (Salty Dog)> JM

Re: dKH Too High...Why? 1/26/09 Thank you for your assistance! I look forward to your input as well. <You're welcome.> As you suggested I took water sample to LFS and I also took my testing apparatus along also. We both tested my water and their water with each or our own test kits. Just as you thought, the pH meter was in need of calibration as it was reading .3 too high and has now been calibrated properly. So the actual pH reading for my tank is 8.3. <Good.> The dKH reading was correct before and confirmed..my water is at 14. You asked about magnesium, we tested at LFS with a reading of 1360. I also bought a new test kit for this. That night ( one week ago 01/17/09 ) I performed a water change approx 25%. Next day approx 18 hours after water change I tested all parameters again with the following readings: PH 8.2 Temp 79.8 dKH 12 magnesium 1320 nitrate 10 ppm spg 1.024 calcium 420 then one week goes by, the readings are on ( 01/24/09 ) : PH 8.3 temp 79.7 dKH 15 calcium 450 nitrate 10ppm spg 1.026 magnesium 1320 So again the dKH has risen <Mmm, so has the SG, did you intentionally increase or are readings not repetitive with your SG measuring device.> so I am frustrated thinking I can not get coralline algae to grow (there are some rocks with small amounts on them and I have spread tiny chips throughout that was given to me from LFS a couple of months ago, yet no growth on glass or rocks. The question is why is the dKH rising ? How do I keep it down to grow coralline? During this week, I did use Tropic-Marin Bio-Calcium , I did add twice a small dose of an additive suggested at LFS called Kent Purple Tech. ( I can not attribute dKH rising due to this additive since it was never used before this week) <I wouldn't use this product until the dKH gets under control.> The only thing in my sump other than heater/pump/foam block filter is a small bag rated for 40 gal of CHEMI-PURE which has been in there for two months. <I suggest not dosing any calcium supplements for the time being. The high dKH level will prevent the calcium ions from rising. Now getting back to lowering the dKH. One method that is safe is using seltzer water, also called carbonated water. This will in turn lower the pH because it contains carbon dioxide which reacts with the buffer and lowers it. The dKH will go down and when that happens, the pH will go down as well but for a very short time as the CO2 is quickly neutralized by the buffer and here is why we need to minimize these swings to avoid stress on the animals. For every 20 gallons of water in your tank, add one ounce of seltzer water, and do not exceed four ounces at a time regardless of your tank size. Do take dKH/pH readings before dosing and 60 minutes after adding the seltzer water, and do this each time noting it on paper. We do not want to see the pH drop more than .2 after adding the seltzer. If it exceeds .2, and/or your dKH measures lower, cut the dose by one half, we want to do this slowly. Do not dose the seltzer water more than once per day, and when dosing the seltzer water, slowly add it to your sump or tank. If you have to add directly to the tank, be sure the seltzer water does not make direct contact with any of the inhabitants. The amount of dosing needed to lower the dKH to the proper level will depend on the make-up of the buffer you use as they contain many carbonates, bicarbonates, borates, etc., and depending on which one is more prevalent will determine how much dosing is required. This is a safe way to lower dKH if done properly, and since I have no control over how you use this method, I cannot take responsibility. But if done correctly, and swings are minimized, it is totally safe. I have used this method in the past with no problems. If you are not comfortable in trying this, using Tropic Marin's Alca-Balance will gradually lower you dKH while supplementing calcium at the same time. See here. http://www.tropic-marin.com/web/english/homepage.html> Thanks for your assistance !! J <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Alkalinity too high 6/25/08 Hi crew, <Hello!> I am sorry if this is a repeat but I read and read and couldn't make sense in my head. <That you tried is more than enough! Many thanks!> My alkalinity is 4.5mEq/L and my PH is 8.0 I also have the white powder (precipitate) on my substrate and pretty much everywhere. In my reading I saw the precipitate is very bad so I quit reading and asked the question what do I do. How do I get rid of the precipitate. Will dissolve, settle out with time, so long as more isn't created.> I created this problem by doing a water change with tap water, conditioner, Oceanic salt, and Marine buffer. <There's the problem: If your tap water is like the rest of the worlds', it is fairly hard. Salt mix has buffers, and you added more. This was just a high-calcium, high-alkalinity soup. I'd recommend testing your tap water before you use it again, and keeping an eye on your mixed salt to see if buffering it really is necessary.> My ammonia and Nitrates were high so I did the water change and now they are back to 0 but I have this problem. My tank is a 57 gallon tall, Aqua Clear 70 filter, heater set at 77F, about 10 pounds of live rock, two seahorses, a skunk cleaner, one harlequin shrimp, two chocolate chip sea stars (one being eaten and one in the refugium for later), one feather duster, a toadstool leather coral, and several hermit crabs and snails. My tests are Ammonia-0, Nitite-10, Nitrate-0, PH-8.0. Any help would be so appreciated. <How long has this aquarium been running? If you have ammonia and nitrite there should not be livestock in the tank! Nitrogen cycling needs to be established before stocking.> I have only been doing the aquarium for 4 months and this is my first bump in the road. <Read up on wetwebmedia.com re salt water mixing, do water changes as recommended. Problem will correct. Benjamin> Consistently High dKH In My Nano Reef Tank -- 06/02/08 Hi crew :D <<Howdy Carolyn>> Sorry to keep emailing with questions, but your advice is just so darn good! <<Okay'¦flattery 'will' get you somewhere>> Am slightly concerned about the dKH level in my reef tank -- it's consistently reading around 14-14.4 using the Salifert dKH/alkalinity profi test. <<Mmm'¦a bit high, yes'¦but do verify with a new/another brand test kit>> Calcium is 400ppm, so I don't want to risk messing with the chemistry too much... <<I would allow this to fall a bit>> What I need to know is if this high dKH will be a problem in the long run? <<It is not likely to have a malaffect on your tanks inhabitants of its own, but along with the high Calcium load, you may be running the risk of a precipitous event'¦and this 'would' be a problem for your tanks inhabitants>> I live in an area with very hard water (so high pH anyway, DI/RO doesn't seem to get it down), and as it's a nano I do frequent small water changes (approx. 5% volume every other day)... <<Mmm, these frequent additions are probably a big part of the Alkalinity problem'¦especially in a very small volume of water. Aside from the fact that newly mixed saltwater is irritating to marine life (the every-other-day additions are probably very annoying to your tank inhabitants), the frequent additions of this still chemically active medium is not allowing your tank to find its own chemical balance. I would suggest you reduce the water changes to no more than 5% every two weeks'¦give this a try for a while and see how things go>> Thanks for your help in advance :D, Carolyn <<Happy to assist. EricR>>

Re: Consistently High dKH In My Nano Reef Tank - 06/02/08 Thanks Eric :D, <<Quite welcome, Carolyn>> As usual, very helpful answer! <<Ah'¦am pleased you think so>> The only reason for the many many water changes is that there was a bit of a crash a week ago which lost us two fish and a shrimp :( <<I see>> The tanks only 70l, and the skimmer broke overnight, nitrite peaked... end result sadly inevitable. <<Mmm, I would expect the loss of the skimmer through the night to be more of an issue with lessened oxygen content'¦not a resultant 'spike' in Nitrite. I think there may be other factors involved>> Nitrite now 0.15-0.2ppm, testing daily <<As a result of not having the skimmer running? Strange'¦ Is this a new (too new) tank? Another possibility is the Nitrite is being introduced through your salt mix and/or make-up water>> (ammonia 0ppm, nitrate 5-10ppm)'¦will keep a close eye on things and limit water changes as recommended... On behalf of all my aquatic beasties many thanks! <<Unless this tank is grossly overstocked, I think there are other factors at play here other than a broken skimmer'¦as already mentioned. Do make sure the Nitrite is not being introduced from a source outside the tank. Regards, Eric Russell>>

Dropping KH in Marine Tank 4/23/08 Hey there, I have a 55G Salt tank, with fish, inverts and some soft corals. Tank has been running for a year and a half now, and everything has been going pretty good considering this is my first attempt at keeping a salt tank. I have noticed lately though that my KH has dropped.........it has been reading between 6 & 7 the past couple months. I started adding Kent's DKH Buffer, and it is not helping. My calcium was reading 300-320,and I was adding Seachem Reef Complete <I'd ditch the Kent's product and look into SeaChem's line instead... better, more complementary> to get the calcium numbers up above 400 as I was thinking about getting a clam for the tank. Now everything has been put on hold until I figure out what's up. Could adding the extra calcium be bring my KH down? <Mmm, possibly> I read that it possible that my Magnesium may be low? I have a Mag test kit & Mag additive on the way just in case. <A good idea to check> Also, I was battling nitrates for a long time, but since installing new lights & adding a HOB fuge the nitrates have dropped to 0. Could the new growth on my soft corals (and algae), also cause a KH drop? <Of a certainty, yes. This is the most likely "source" here> Appreciate it very much if you could help me out. Regards Eric <Do take a re-read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/xeniidarts.htm scroll down to the sections/tray on biomineral, alkalinity... Bob Fenner>

pH Buffer, Burned Livestock, Marine 4/13/08 I have a BIOCUBE 14 system with a few live rocks, two clown fish, one six line wrasse, a banded coral shrimp, two red leg crabs and two snails. I also have a daisy polyp colony (purple with green dot) and a green mushroom coral. <OK, plenty of fish for this tank, stop here!> I was checking water parameters, Ammonia 0, nitrite 0 nitrate 0, phosphate 0 alkalinity 3.5 and ph 8.0. I wanted to boost the PH a bit and added Seachem ph buffer, 2 little spoonfuls as per directions. <OK> I simply sprinkled it on the water surface. 10 minutes later, I observed that my daisy polyps had closed completely, my mushroom corals were secreting mucus ands areas of red coralline began to turn orange......did I do something wrong??? Ken <Hmm, yes. Directions state one tablespoon per 20 gal., necessitating at most two teaspoons for your system, once the rock is accounted for. The directions also state to mix with freshwater then add to your tank. This is your error. By not mixing first, the granules fell onto your livestock, essentially giving them a chemical burn. Give it time, the livestock you list are fairly resilient. Good luck, Scott V.>

KH Issues 3/26/08 Hi, thanks for taking time to read this in advance. <Hello, you are welcome.> I have a 75 gallon reef tank mostly soft coral under 310 watts VHO actinic, and 300 Watts 10k Metal Halide lighting. Tank is doing great and I recently added a Aqua-c calcium reactor. My problem is that my KH is actually decreasing, along with ph. <Not good.> Currently it is too low at 7KH and calcium at 380ppm. Ph has steadily decreased over last week in the tank to about 7.9 with pinpoint probe. I stopped using the reactor and went back to Kalkwasser drip for now as things were getting dangerously out of whack. <It is good to have this to fall back on.> I have laboriously tested the ph and KH of effluent and experimented with the CO2 bubble rate. Currently from what I have read mostly on this website is that you want KH of effluent around 16 and ph about 6.8. <The PH is fine, the effluent KH can possibly be higher, it is not set in stone.> The calcium level in the tank is remaining constant. Always about 380ppm or so. I am not dosing any other product at all with reactor use. Not sure what could be causing the KH to decrease. Is it more likely I am somehow depressing the KH with addition of too rich an effluent (some kind or over saturation/precipitation) or that I am just not getting rich enough effluent for the growth in the tank? <Likely the latter.> Also I have noticed that you don't like the CaribSea ARM product which I use. Just ordered some Knop Korallith. <A better way to go in my opinion.> I will use that product from now on. Maybe my results are from the inconsistency of the ARM media. <The media can certainly make a difference.> What is your take on all this mess? My ph problem is also of concern, I tried running effluent through my protein skimmer to "blow off" the co2. Perhaps that also contributed to depressing the KH by precipitating out the calcium carbonate. I'd like to think I should be able to achieve 400pmm calcium, 10 DKH and about 8.0-8.2 on my ph with this reactor. <You should.> Just need some advice before I proceed to crash my tank with it. Thanks for your help. <You may want to consider adding an Alkalinity additive to get your numbers balanced, then tune the reactor to keep them there. Also, be sure to test your Magnesium level in your tank, low Mg can make it tough to achieve the proper KH. I would work out the KH issue and then check your PH, go from there. Welcome, good luck, Scott V.>

Water Chemistry Help! Mg... KH interaction, fixing 3/15/08 Good Day Crew!! <Hello again.> As suggested we bought a magnesium test kit and tested our magnesium...it was around 1000 yesterday and I'm not sure if I am just having a hard time understanding or reading the directions on the tech-m bottle from Kent, but it says " test magnesium in aquarium, then add tech-m at the rate of 1ml per gallon aquarium capacity per day to bring the level to between 1250-1350ppm, this will raise the level by 18.3 ppm per day'. Fine...so does that really mean that for my 180gal I have to add 180ml? Seems like A LOT....?! <Yes, one ml per gallon is correct as per Kent's directions, it does take quite a bit of this product to get the magnesium up to an acceptable level, less of it to keep it there.> Not sure, anyways I only had 70ml left so I put it in slowly yesterday (around 1:30pm) our levels were: dKH 14,phosphates 0, nitrates 30 (water changes needed more frequently to lower right?), <Yes, to aid the reduction of KH also.> calcium 360, magnesium 1000, ph 8.2, total Alk 5.5 mEq/l. <Test your mixed up water for these levels also to be sure the levels are more balanced (lower KH, higher Ca and Mg).> After I tested I added the equiv of 100gal of the tropic marine calcium powder, topped up my sump ( right now its just tap water but we have an R.O unit...is going to be installed when we move in 1.5 months) added the 70ml of magnesium and that's it. <Test your tap water for nitrate also, if it is the source then water changes will do you no good in that regard.> This morning around 10:30am I tested again... magnesium 1000, total Alk 5meq/l, calcium 340ppm, dKH 16, nitrates 30ppm, ph 8.2 and then changed to 8.1 by the end of testing. This morning I fed the tank some Cyclops, rotifers, brine shrimp (all 3 of those mentioned were frozen) and a small amount of phyto (bottled). Any suggestions to make things equal out? <You need some water changes to bring down the KH. With a good quality salt this should also raise you Ca a bit, as well as Mg. Do test your makeup water, I do suspect the tap water could be making your KH numbers so high.> I'm having a hard time interpreting the results, kind of late but we're just really starting to get into the testing and real understanding of water chemistry..... and yes, the purple up is gone!!! <Great! Keep reading and testing, you will get the hang of things with vigilance and time/experience. You are not too far off here. The magnesium definitely needs to come up, 1250 or a bit more. Also, bring your KH down, as well as the nitrate. Good luck, Scott V.>

High Alk -01/30/2008 Hi, Your website is so resourceful; I should thank you guys for all the efforts. I am sure you should have heard this question quite a few times. I also saw it in your website, but just wonder if my situation is different. My alk is at 13 DKH, Ph at 8.1. My Ca is 400-450PPM. I add Seachem Total to raise Calcium. <What is "Seachem Total? Does it have an alk booster with the calcium? If so, switch from this to a calcium supplement without alk booster (such as calcium chloride).> I need to reduce my alk. Is there an easier way to do this? <Maintain your calcium without adding to the alk, and just wait...> the other answers but I am not able to add Ph buffer because it keeps raising my Alkalinity. <So stop adding the Ph buffer.> Also my PS (ASM G1) is skimming more or looses it sometimes. Is it because of the Ca that I am adding through Seachem? Because they were a problem with the AquaC products. Why would my PS overflow from time to time? <It happens... water protein composition/concentration can vary at different times.> The only thing that I added extra from the time it was working normal to the time it started to overflow is ass Seachem Total to raise Ca. Is that the reason or just my luck? <A calcium/alk supplement is very unlikely to affect your skimmer.> Thanks in advance. Regards, Kash <Best, Sara M.>

High Alkalinity 1/16/07 Hi, <Hello Kash.> This is my first question to WWM. <Welcome to WWM.> I had a 60G before and I moved to a 90G with 10-15G sump (water level). After moving I had to get some salt water from my LFS who uses tropical marin salt. After everything I took a reading of my Ph, Alk, CA after a week's operation. I added some Right now Bacteria. So I didn't use a skimmer for a week. Ph was falling 7.6 to 7.8, Alk was at 16dkh and Ca was at 400PPM. Ammonia and series were 0. Phosphate was low. I read online and thought there could be a lot of CO2 in my system and so I turned on my skimmer (ASM) and removed the collection cup. The aeration was left for 3 hours and my Ph came back to normal. 8.0 to 8.2. <OK> The system has been running for a week and the skimmate was high for the first week which is expected. <Yes.> But the Alk is still at 16dkh and Ca is at 400-450PPM. Can I do something to get this Alk back to normal condition? <You can wait it out, supplementing the Ca as the alkalinity comes down. The better choice would be water changes to bring your levels back to normal. Do test the alkalinity of your make up water, it should not be that high without adding additional supplements. Good luck, Scott V.> Regards,

Acro ID... and high alk. -12/26/07 Good Morning team. Pierre here. <Hi, Sara here.> Just obtained some nice Christmas frags and wanted your help in identifying one of them. Here are two pictures. The second shows it in better focus in the upper left corner of the monti. <I'm sorry, there's no way I could ID these corals without a very good, close up picture of the bare coral skeleton. Sorry, that's just the way it is with most Acropora family coral IDs.> Also wanting my Acros to color up a little better but fear my carbonate hardness may be wreaking havoc. <Don't worry so much about color right now, worry about polyp extension and overall health. Coral colors can change, but we still don't know exactly why or how enough to intelligently try and consistently induce one color over another.> I've been trying to bring it down doing weekly water changes with Instant Ocean mix, but the fresh mixed water's alkalinity is high (over 10dKH) when I test it. <Why aren't you using RO/DI water?> Fresh water is mixed and circulated for 24hrs before change is performed. I tried bringing it down using the club soda/seltzer water method but it didn't seem to work. Any ideas? <Hmm... this is one reason why most all reef aquarists use RO/DI filtered (or distilled) fresh water to start with.> The tank is 125 gallons with a 55 gallon tank as a sump that houses my skimmer, which flows through a bubble trap into my refugium (which is on a reverse light cycle), then into my return. Lighting is 2- 400 watt 20k Hamilton Metal Halides placed about 10" above the water's surface. Temp control is with a 1/3 hp Current Prime chiller. Here are my parameters. ph 8.4 day/ 8.2 night alkalinity 12 dKH magnesium 1500 ppm calcium 400 ppm nitrites 0 nitrates 0 I also don't have a lot of fish so my nitrate stays undetectable, could this also be leading to the lack of color from my Acros? <Hmm, no, as far as I know, most Acropora sp. we get for the hobby prefer low nutrient environments.> My tank has been set up and running and most of the coral added since April of this year. <Usually, it's recommended you wait at least a year before attempting to keep Acropora sp. coral, but that's not a hard rule and I guess you're close enough.> I also have some beautiful Monti Capricornis and Pocillopora Damicornis which are colored nicely. Circulation is provided by my return head Rio 2500+, with head pressure running around 400gph and an in tank Rio 2100. Growth from all species is decent but not stunning. <Please feel encouraged to search the site for more detailed information on how to best care for all these animals.> Thanks crew. Look forward to your answer. <Best, Sara M.>

Re: Acro ID 12/26/07 Thanks for your reply Sara. I did forget to tell you that all my top off and water changes are made using RO/DI water from my own home system. <Huh... that's odd. RO/DI water should be nearly pure and not have any alkalinity to speak of.> I also have a TDS meter that monitors the output. All the cartridges and filters are less than a month old. I also dose Kalk with my top off although I've cut down on the amount while trying to fix my alkalinity issue. <Ok, that should help.> I've also noticed lately that the Instant Ocean mix has been rendering a high alkalinity. I'm at a loss trying to get these numbers back down to normal. <Hmm... if you suspect the salt mix, maybe try a different one. Instant Ocean, is notoriously inconsistent. One bag might be great, the next maybe not so much. In fact, you might even just try getting a different bag of Instant Ocean. Or better yet, have you tried Reef Crystals? It's made by the same company as IO, but it's formulated a little better for reef tanks.> The alkalinity test I'm using is a Salifert and I've tested it on completely fresh RO/DI water and it reacts immediately reading 0 dKH. <Oh, I'm sorry, in the previous email I thought you were saying that your freshwater was starting out at 10dKH (which just didn't make any sense). Sorry about that... so, now I would especially suspect your salt mix.> The tank itself has been set up for over two years. At that point I had minimal PC lighting (384 watts) and was just housing some soft corals and mushrooms. I've just started keeping SPS and LPS since April when I had the metal halide lighting situated. I'll wait for the corals to seek their own ground with coloring. <Good idea... if you want my personal opinion, I suspect that feeding also affects coloration (perhaps as much, if not more so, than lighting).> Should I not waste any more time with the club soda method to try to bring my alkalinity down? <Yes, I'd stop that for now and try switching salt mixes. Do water changes with half old and half new salt first though (to "acclimate" to the new mix). See if that doesn't help.> Polyp extension has been very good with lights on or off. Thanks again. You ladies/gents are fantastic and I love the site. <Thank you :-) Best, Sara M.>

pH woes, need a calcium reactor adjustment? -12/14/07 Hi guys, This is my first time asking you questions, so I hope I haven't overlooked the answer in the research I've already done. If that's the case, then I apologize. <Apology accepted :)> Right then, here we go......... At work, I'm in charge of our coral system. I'm having some trouble with a low pH and have officially ran out of ideas! I'll try and give you as much info as I can. The total system volume is 1500 litres, and because of the position of it, it's basically set up as you would have a reef system at home (weir at one end, sump within the stand underneath). The tank itself has approx 200kg of live rock with the corals on colour coded stands amongst the rock. The sump contains some fine filter wool to remove particulate matter, a bag of UltraLith, aqua C protein skimmer, phosphate reactor, and calcium reactor. <The calcium reactor might be the problem (or part of the problem). Try adjusting the CO2 flow rate. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcreactors.htm> I'm in the process of organizing Miracle Mud in there too. Over the last week or so I've got some fairly constant (as constant as you can get using additives!) water chemistry. S.G.: 1.025 NH3: 0 N02: 0 N03: <5 dKH: 11 P04: <0.03 Ca: 450 Mg: 1375 Now forgive me if I'm wrong (hopefully I'm not!), but I would expect a reasonably good pH with those results, <Huh? Why? You can have all those same parameters within pH range.> yet when I come in in the mornings the pH is around 7.95, rising up too about 8.05 at the end of the lighting period when I go home again. Do you think it could be any of the following? a) the fact that there is no sandy substrate in the tank, <nope> b) lack of water movement <This is a possible cause if consequently you have poor aeration.> c) lack of other inhabitants (fishes, etc.) <The opposite would be more likely-- if you had too many inhabitants, that could raise CO2 which can drop pH.> Thanks in advance! <Adjust your calcium reactor (carefully!) and see what happens...> R.B. <Good luck, Sara M.>

pH And Alkalinity 10/22/07 Hi, <Hello> I was wondering how my pH could be low and my alkalinity could be really high? Also, do these numbers effect <affect> fish? Starfish? What about hermit crabs and turbo snails? <It can affect fish, and especially starfish. Read here and linked files above for a better understanding of pH and alkalinity. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm James (Salty Dog)>

Re: ph and alkalinity 10/23/07 Thanks for the link. <You're welcome.> I'm still unsure if a really high alkalinity is harmful if the pH is good. If so, how can I bring down the alkalinity while maintaining the good ph? <You do not say what your alkalinity really is. What's too high, what is the reading from your test kit? James (Salty Dog)>

Re: pH And Alkalinity 10/23/07 I'm new to the whole thing, but I think it is 9 meg/l. The high end was supposed to be 4-5 meg/l. <Wowsie, something has to be wrong with the test kit or test methods as this relates to about 25 dkH. Have you added any alkalinity buffers in this system? Do read the instructions for the test kit and make sure you didn't add too much/too little of the reagent, make sure the test was done properly. James (Salty Dog)>

Mr Alkalinity.. the trickster 10/19/07 Good afternoon crew :-) <Good morrow to you Dunne> I was hoping you could shed some light on this. I do not have an issue just a topic I am not completely understanding. <Okay> I have a 75 gallon tank with mostly softies and a couple LPS. My calcium is constantly at 450ppm daily and decreases very slowly. My Alk however each day drops from 9.6dkh to about 8.5 dKH daily. <Measured about the same time of day? You are aware of the effects of lowered DO, higher CO2, the cessation of photosynthesis, continuous respiration?> Each night, when I add top off water, I add buff and bring the tank back to 9.6. <Mmm, I would not do this nightly> I do weekly water changed and my new water has an alk of 8.6dkh. I add buff to the new water, aerate for 24-48 hrs and proceed with water change I have solid coralline growth, which tells me I am doing ok with my parameters. I know there is a unique bond <Not unique> between calc and alk and proportionately with a 20ppm drop in calc there should be around a 1meq/l drop in alk. <Generally something like this, but not necessarily, no> My alk seems to drop but my calcium stays the same. Other then the coralline and inverts calcium consuming life is minimal. I do not see any precipitate. A calcium reactor is a great tool to stabilize Alk however I do not need to add calcium to the system. Are there systems used to only stabilize alk? <Mmm, yes... means of adding, boosting alkalinity... the addition of carbonates, bicarbonates mostly... Like you're doing... but...> I was thinking maybe automating the top off and drip about a gallon each day. Dunne <Try it and see... I don't think you will have trouble in any case. Bob Fenner>

Re: Mr Alkalinity.. the trickster 10/19/07 Thank you for your response!!! <Welcome> I have read about the effects of DO and C02. I have a Salifert DO test kit coming in the mail today, ordered last week.. along with a refractometer... Cant wait!! This was my first thought and immediately ordered the kit. If you don't mind why is it bad to add the water in the evening? <Not the water, the buffer on a daily basis... if this is part of the make-up water... no worries> I'm clearly wrong and would like to fix it asp. <Mmm, not so sure there is really much to "fix" here> Thank you for pointing out. My thought process was if my Alk is dropping through the day and at its lowest in the evening my PH may have a larger variance with the low Alk at night when the lights go out. <Yes... of a certainty> I should clarify that by evening I mean roughly 5ish in the afternoon. The lights are still on. They go out at 8pm. <I see. BobF> Lowering alk? 3/23/07 Hello guys, I've spent many evenings reading through your FAQs. Found a wealth of information including ways to help raise alk, but I haven't found any thing about lowering it. <Mmm...> It seems that I have an unusual problem. I first started testing the alk about 2 1/2 months ago. At that time it was over 18 dKH. It is slowly coming down on it's own. <As it will> Very slowly. Still at about 15. I know that you say the desired range is around 8 - 12, and beyond that I've been told that the lower end of that range tends to be better for SPS, <Mmmm... disagree. Best balanced with biomineral content, other factors> (which I do have) so I just wanted to see if you have any suggestions of ways to help bring that down a little faster. Thank you Roger <Best accomplished through regular water changes with water of lower alkaline content... And do "check the checker" (your test kit) here... just to be sure. Bob Fenner> High Calcium and Suspect Salt Mix -- 03/15/07 I have been battling high calcium 550 to 650 for the past month doing constant water changes but seeing no drop. <<Mmm, have you validated the accuracy of the test kit? Perhaps trying a fresh kit and/or different brand (Salifert, Seachem, Hach)>> Noticed my toadstool, zoanthids, and 4 week old xenia slowly shrivel up over last week. I couldn't understand with a ph of 8.4, dKH 10, nitrates .10, alk (now I can't remember, but I do remember it was a good range), <<dKH is your alkalinity reading. The acceptable range is generally 8 -- 10 dKH, though with your calcium level you are better of letting this drop to 7- 8 until you can identify the problem and make corrections>> phos. 1, <<Pretty high phosphate level, I would strive to get this reading down to .02 or less>> why, with so many water changes, the calcium was sky high? <<Likely the source water or salt mix>> Decided to test my R/O water with Instant Ocean salt mix (kept in a 50 gal. Rubbermaid container) and it, too, reads 550-600. <<I'm hearing more and more of concerns/problems re this brand of salt mix...very disconcerting considering this has been my absolute favorite and most recommended brand for three decades...>> The only thing I add to my R/O water (that I buy from Wal-Mart Culligan machine) is Seachem buffer 8.3, (I just started that) before I add the Instant ocean mix. <<Hmm...I wouldn't think it would matter, but try omitting the buffer and see what your test reads. Also, test the water from your R/O unit 'before' adding the salt mix to rule out a bad membrane/high calcium levels from the source water>> This is the first time I've ever had a problem with high calcium. Snowstorm galore! <<Indeed, yikes!>> However, I had added some calcium to my tank a few weeks ago, but since then have done water changes that should have brought it down. <<Not with a calcium reading of 600 mg in your change water>> Could I have gotten a bad batch of Instant Ocean? (I order from Drs. Foster & Smith the 160 gal. bucket.) <<Maybe so...I've had some questionable samples myself lately...and makes me suspicious re the ever-dropping 'sale-price' of this product lately>> I have also been battling green algae and red hair algae. <<Your high phosphate reading isn't helping here>> I bought two more powerheads to help with the algae. Blew off some of the live rock with turkey baster, and made a storm out of that. (geez) Seems like after I did that, the algae blooms were worse and the corals started looking bad. <<Hmm...do you have any purposeful chemical filtration? Adding a small canister filter with carbon and Poly-Filter will help...you should probably also consider utilizing an iron-based phosphate remover to get your phosphate level down (the Poly-Filter will help with this too)>> The live rock looks like it has sand lightly sprinkled on it and my snails and one cleaner shrimp has died and as I said before, the few soft corals I have do not look well at all. <<All a result of the chemical imbalances your tank is experiencing>> Fish are doing fine. I feed them twice a day, but only enough for them to be able to eat within 1 min. My tank is a 100 gal., 6 mos. old, with wet/dry trickle system - bio balls having been replaced with live rock, Super Skimmer by Coralife, <<Do make sure this skimmer is working well>> 5 powerheads, 1" of live sand, although, with all the vacuuming off the top of the sand due to all the algae, I doubt there is even an inch left! 1 Blue Hippo, 1 yellow tang, 1 Midas Blenny, 2 clowns, 1 PJ cardinal, some snails, 1 turbo snail. Things just seem to be out of control. Almost out of salt, so just ordered another bucket. I hope that will test out better than the one I just finished with the high calcium. <<Do let me know>> I have no idea how to lower my calcium other than water changes and not adding anymore calcium or iodine, and just stick to straight out water changes, although, when my replacement water tests out of the calcium level of 550 +, I can't even do that. <<Agreed...>> Any help would be greatly appreciated...I have read so much on your website, that I am dizzy. I've read everything on calcium, alk, phosphate, and different salts to use, all the algae sites. I need some personal help. Thank you ever so much...what we any of us do without this site? I've tried the chat site, but seems like too much guess work going on there... a lot of people like me trying to help people like me! (Oh Geez!) ha-ha Sometimes I've been lucky to get a pro, but not of late. Thanks for your help... Linda in GA <<Well Linda, at this point I would try a different salt mix (Seachem, Tropic-Marin) to get things back in balance...and quickly! And do also employ the chemical filtration I have suggested. Make these changes and then give me a shout back if need be. EricR in SC>> Alkalinity Trouble 3/7/07 Hi, I could use some good advice and you've been very helpful in the past. I'm having an alkalinity problem, it's too high - 17dKH or 6 meg/L, my PH is steady at 8.3-8.4. I was reading a ton of FAQ's on your site and realized that I haven't tested my premixed salt water for a while so when I did that I noticed the alkalinity was even higher (19.2 dKH or 6.75 megs/L) than in my tank, I pre mix the IO salt <Instant Ocean? What does your source water itself read?> water in a separate tank with a powerhead and a heater at 80 degrees and let it sit for 3-7 days before making water changes. <Good> At this point I am assuming that the problem is coming from the IO salt mix, <Mmm, not by itself, no> my main question: is it feasible that this instant ocean mix has changed since I bought it 2 months ago? <No... not in this way> Have you heard of inconsistencies like this with instant ocean before? <Unfortunately yes... in recent times> I am assuming that I should run out an buy another bag, mix up some and test it ASAP and if it tests fine proceed with a 50% water change? Potentially unrelated but today I had a juvenile percula jump out of the tank, I was not there to save her. (depressing) but this is what lead me to test everything within the tank and the alkalinity was the only thing off. My other juvenile perc is fine? Could the alkalinity be the problem with that or is this a rare unfortunate occurrence with fish in general? <This species, and most all others... can/will "jump" out w/ little provocation. I don't think the salt is at play here> I apologize for the long question(s). Tank tests: ammonia 0.0 nitrite 0.0 nitrate 3 ppm phosphate 0.0 calcium 370 Ph 8.3 salinity 1.025 (kept a bit higher because of a bubble tipped anemone) Thank you Shawn <Your tap/source water... and test kit... I'd be testing them here. Bob Fenner>

Re: Alkalinity Trouble - 3/7/07 Thank you for your quick reply, I should have included that info before but the RO water I use tested at 2.2 dKH, 0.80 meg/L. I used the same test kit as was used to test the tank and make up water. How would you recommend testing the test kit itself? Is it as simple as buying a new kit? Shawn <Better to have the LFS use theirs. BobF>

Re: Alkalinity Trouble 3/13/07 I have gotten to the bottom of my boggle. The local fish store that I purchased the kit at had just received a shipment of kits, I took my kit and a sample of my water to the store. <Good...> They tested my water and it tested fine, 8 dKH. They then used my kit and it again tested extremely high, they also tested a couple of their other test kits that they had received at the same it and found a similar problem with all of them. It looks like it was a bad batch of test kits. They were siefert <Salifert likely> alkalinity tests. Thank you for your advise <advice> , just wanted to let you know what the resolution was. <Thank you for this follow-up. Bob Fenner>

Re: Frustrated Over Alkalinity Readings -- 02/22/07 Sorry again I emailed you an incomplete message. <<Ahh, ok...I was just trying to sort through/make sense of it. I will delete the first correspondence then, and address your questions here>> I am doing water testing and my alkalinity test read that .4ml of my titrate means that I have a reading of 6meq/l. <<This is too high. Alkalinity in a reef system should be in the range of 2.5 meq/l to 4 meq/l >> Which makes no sense to me? <<...?>> I am working to 6-8dKH <<8dKH should be your 'minimum'...in my opinion>> and the test kit suggests that I reach 4-5 meq/l. Then when I convert that I get something like 16dKH. <<Mmm, no...would actually be a range of 11.2-14 dKH> Could you set me straight? <<I shall try [grin]. The test kit is actually 'more' correct re the proper desired alkalinity reading than you are here. Look at it this way... 1 meq/l = 2.8 dKH. Thus, the often suggested alkalinity target range of 2.5 to 4 meq/l converts to 7 to 11.2 dKH; though most authors agree a slightly higher dKH of 8 -- 12 is fine/recommended>> Thanks a ton, Cathy <<Happy to assist...do let me know if this is not yet clear. EricR>>

Re: Frustrated Over Alkalinity Readings -- 02/23/07 Thanks so much. <<A pleasure to share>> I am having difficulty maintaining calcium and alkalinity. <<I wonder Cathy...do you understand the correlation between the two? If you are dosing supplements to establish/maintain these elements I suspect this is where your problems lie. Without more specific data I'm at a loss to provide meaningful assistance re but will tell you this...most any system of about 150 gallons or less...unless very heavily stocked with calcifying organisms...can easily maintain its balance of earth/bio-mineral elements through generous frequent partial water changes with a quality synthetic salt mix>> The advice you offer is priceless. <<Hmm...you keep talking like that I may have to ask the boss for more money (just kidding Big-B! [grin])>> Thanks again, Cathy <<If I can be of further assistance you know where to find me. Eric Russell>>

R2: Frustrated Over Alkalinity Readings -- 02/26/07 That makes perfect sense. I have been overdosing with Kalkwasser and buffer for alkalinity and that probably depleted my magnesium. <<Overuse/abuse of the buffer will depress calcium as well>> I always buy Reef Crystals with the proper calcium...and everything. I should have been trusting it all along. <<Indeed...frequent partial water changes should fix/maintain your necessary bio-mineral elements>> I am surprised I did not figure this out a year ago. <<[grin]>> Although, I have continually lost a few corals every once in a while. <<Clues>> I have a very stressed tank right now and will slowly replace with just correct change of water. <<Mmm, perhaps a 40% water change to get things going is needed here>> One more question if I may. <<Certainly>> I have to raise pH with buffer since my water is at about a 7.8 after the Reef Crystals are added. <<Strange that it would be so low...though I have seen some worrisome queries of late concerning the Aquarium Systems salt mixes>> I have two types of buffer. SeaChem and Kent Super Buffer. Do you have a preference? <<I surely do...the Seachem products are my definite choice. And a couple things worth mentioning re making up seawater...try adding the buffer to the water "before" adding the salt mix...and do be sure you are adding the salt to the water, and not the other way round...>> Thanks again, Cathy <<Is a pleasure>> And please do ask for that raise! <<Hee-hee! We're all volunteers here...your continued success is reward enough. Eric Russell>>

High Alkalinity - 06/04/05 Greetings WW Crew I hugely appreciate WWM and all the effort you put in to sustaining a well informed , thoughtful, AQ community. Your work is important and should accompany every tank sold as required reading. <<Wow, high praise indeed...the Crew thanks you.>> I have recently ( 3 mo.s) taken over husbandry of a 100 gal reef tank with the following population: Live rock, 3" aragonite bed, two open brains ( 3" dia) , one hammer coral , 10 or so small Caulastrea polyps , two small mushrooms , one large mushroom (3"), some zoo's, two clowns in a green carpet anemone , 1 blue damsel , 1 watchman goby, 1 Pseudochromis and assorted cleanup critters. It has a Turboflotor 1000 skimmer and about 10x/hour cycling through the system with an additional 10x flow from a second current pump. For the past 2 months I've been wrestling with getting my Alk / Ca balanced , well , a little more balanced. <<Should not have to "wrestle" with this. Let's see what we can do...>> Ca hovers around 300 ( never lower , sometimes a little higher, Seachem test) and my Alk is consistently in the 14.5 - 15.5 range (Salifert test) , varying up and down over the course of 10 days. <<Have you tried a different test kit for both? Either a new kit or even a different brand, just to validate your readings.>> I use Instant Ocean salt and commercial R/O water for 20 gal water changes every 2 weeks. <<Very good.>> R/O water tests as almost zero alk. I haven't added Kalk for a while (once in last month) as I assume it'll push the alk even higher. <<Maybe...but should be of little concern if monitored and applied correctly.>> I've trawled through the FAQ's and while there's a wealth of info on raising ALK there seems to be a dearth on how to lower it. <<"Raising " does seem to be the more common problem.>> Everything in there seems to be doing fine and seems stable. <<Yes...your readings (if accurate) are not as bad as you may think...stability here is the key.>> However I'd like to be able to raise the Ca and slowly steer the tank over the next year toward SPS rather than the mixed population it has currently but am not sure how to proceed safely. Any advice or a redirect to a good source of info would be very welcome. Let me know if you need to know more about my setup. <<I'd start with a large (70%) water change. Be sure to aerate and BUFFER your R/O water before adding your salt mix. You might want to test this before adding it to the tank to see what is going on here. Test your calcium and alkalinity after the water change and see if things are more "balanced." Considering your current stock list, once balanced, you should be able to maintain your calcium and alkalinity with the water change schedule you mention. As odd as it may seem, not buffering your R/O water may be what's throwing things askew. You can use simple baking soda for this, though I like to mix mine 3 to 1 with Seachem's Reef Buffer for the added boron. I'd also having a peek at the Reef Chemistry Forum ( http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?s=&forumid=112) on Reef Central...lots of good info to be found.>> Thanks, Dan <<Regards, Eric R.>>

Water so hard you can chew it - 4/12/05 Hi Crew, I hope someone responds quickly in case I need immediate action. <How's this?> I prepared two five gallon containers of salt water a week ago for a small water change. I checked the pH of the mixed salt water and it was slightly low as was the Alkalinity in my tank, so I added buffer to the two containers of pre-mixed salt water. <Good to use the buffer to address low alkalinity... but not pH alone.> I mixed well and aerated with a small power head and added to the tank. The buffer evidently was not dissolved and the entire tank clouded up. <As in "went milky" with cloudiness? It sounds like you had an imbalance in calcium/alkalinity -- calcium too high for the water to be able to support this additional input of carbonates. The result? The whole darn lot falls out of solution in a self-perpetuating reaction.> I mixed 3 teaspoons in each five gallon container (instructions were 1 teaspoon per 80 liters of water). <This is a lot of buffer to add to five gallons of water.... too much.> I have added before to make up water without any problems, but this time it did not dissolve. I know the salt water was well mixed as it was aerated for a whole entire week. My tank is 250 gallons in total capacity. I have added carbon to try to clean, but do you think I have a big problem? It seems to me I heard somewhere that if buffer does not become soluble, it can precipitate something and cause a big problem. I used Kent super dKH buffer. Please let me know if I really messed up. <Do you add calcium supplements? If so, you do need to be testing for calcium in addition to alkalinity. In addition, you should only add an amount of buffer that the water can support -- whether this be your change water or the tank water.> Thanks for your quick response. <I would let the reaction run its course. Once the "cloudiness" has disappeared altogether, you will likely find you have very low calcium and alkalinity. A series of water changes will help to bring them back up. Steven <Best regards, John>

Water so hard you can chew it - II 12/5/05 John, Thanks for your quick reply. <Welcome!> Update: water cleared completely and I checked the Alkalinity and ph. The alkalinity is a color chart (no numbers) and it read almost exactly the color that is the highest alkalinity. Ph is right about 8.3, this is also with a color chart. I have a reagent style Red Sea test kit which is relatively new. <Sounds good. You need to get some decent (reagent or electronic) test kits> I added a calcium, iodine and strontium supplement as you indicated my calcium may be low. I don't have a test kit for calcium; however I will try to get one tomorrow. <I think you misunderstood my previous response... an imbalance of alkalinity or calcium is what is causing you these problems. You need to be testing for both calcium and alkalinity.> Any chance this event was toxic to the fish, snails, or crabs? They seem to be acting "normal" grazing off of the live rock and ate some sea veggie sheets I fed after the water cleared. <Unlikely> I had thought it was normal to buffer pre-mixed salt water, but I guess not the case here. I am assuming there was too high of a calcium level in the salt water I mixed to sustain the buffer as you indicated. I will buffer in the future if needed using the top off water, as I have never had any problem doing so. The water is double carbon pass, double RO pass, double UV pass, and then deionized so it is doubtful there was an issue with the water. <Yes, it is normal to buffer it slightly.... but three teaspoons per five gallons is an insane amount of buffer to add to pre-mixed saltwater.> In any case I hope all is well here and with you. <Very well. Thanks for writing... John> Thanks, Steven

When adding sodium bicarbonate fails... seesawing alk. and Ca concentrations - 4/11/2006 Dear Crew <Mike> Thank you so much for the Knowledge you have given me. I have gathered tomes of information in my first year as an aquarist. Thank you! Now for the fun part :) <My fave> I have heard that if you use baking soda (cautiously) you can increase your dKH levels. <Mmm...> I have tried this method to no avail. Even when putting a teaspoon of baking soda (Arm & Hammer brand - 100% sodium bicarbonate) in a gallon of water (from a water change) and testing that gallon one hour later, the results show (for both my test kits) 0 dKH. How does that work out? My tank is suffering from 0 dKH. <0?> Specs are as follows: 55gal nitrate, nitrite, ammonia, phosphate, all at 0. calc is 475ppm <... source of precipitation of your alkalinity> trace silicate (< .1ppm) My PH varies wildly (as I would expect) but always on the high side. night readings in the 8.3 area - day readings nearing 8.8 No corals (yet), livesand 4" deep, 1 maroon clown (in QT now, soon to be added), few crabs and snails, lots of live rock. I do not use an RO/DI unit as my tap water is near perfect. It has no phos, nitrate, nitrite, or ammonia, and has high calcium (in fact, I don't dose calc and still maintain 475ppm). Is my lack of water filtering perhaps the problem after all? <Mmm, not likely> I have tried mixing my make-up water (my weekly change - 10%) with two teaspoons of baking soda (as prescribed by the forum members and LFS) but still haven't seen an increase in dKH. I was previously using Kent Marine Superbuffer-dKH in the same fashion with the same results. I've Been doing this for about 2 months now. What else can be done to increase dKH and stabilize my PH? <... a bunch> One other thing that might be worth mention (suspect #1 on my list) is that fact that I am not sure what material my sand bed is. I originally bought a cheap sugar-fine type of white sand (specifically for marine tanks - not "play sand") though, sadly I do not recall the brand name. Would slowly adding a few more inches of an aragonite sand help my issue? Thank you again for your time, effort, and inspiration. Sincerely, Mike Price. <... Mike, please take a read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm and the linked files above. You are "this close" to the momentum/understanding... and Antoine's article ought to bring some light. Bob Fenner> Coralline Algae/Alkaline Precipitation/Ca Reactor Tuning - 12/07/06 Hi Eric, <<Hey Ken!>> I hope all is well with you. <<Indeed it is...thank you>> Things have been going well with the tank, but I have a few questions. <<Ok>> The tank is set up 6 weeks now. The few soft corals and star-polyps look good. <<Excellent>> I did buy a clean-up crew about 10 days ago. I feel like I should put the snails on the payroll. In the first two days they cleaned all of the greenish algae I had on the rocks. <<Cool!>> The tank looks good. My nitrate is less than 1-ppm and phosphate is zero using LaMotte Colorimeter. <<Very good>> The pH is usually 8.10 to 8.20 and ORP has been about 415MV. <<More good news>> I also have gotten more and more pink coralline algae on some of the rocks. My first question has to do with that in the last couple of days I am getting areas of a burgundy color on the rocks. <<Coralline algae comes in "many" colors>> It looks to be more on the areas that have some of the pinkish coralline. <<Conditions in those locations are likely "optimum" for both species...everything competes for space on the reef>> Also I notice the burgundy color is all of a sudden on a lot of the turbo snails. <<Very common>> Is this just another color coralline? <<Indeed it is>> I am hoping that it is not like red Cyano or something. <<Can usually tell the difference>> I don't see this on most of the rocks and none on sand, powerheads, sand etc. I tried scraping it off with my fingernail and it does come off somewhat. It doesn't seem as hard as the pink coralline algae. <<Differences in structure/composition>> I'm not sure if this is coralline or not. <<Likely so>> I would say that I see this burgundy color mostly on places that had pink to begin with pretty much. My next question has to do with my AGA Mega Flow. Their isn't really any algae on my rocks or tank, but I do have some thick greenish layers of it in the overflow box only. Should I leave it their, or manually remove it, or can I put a couple of my turbo snails in there to eat it. <<Can remove or leave, whichever you prefer...I would not put turbo snails in the overflow box (will probably get there sooner or later anyway, but...) as they will get in to the overflow pipes and restrict/block flow>> I thought about snails and overflows but the Durso pipe and the return pipe are sealed unit and nothing could get in there. What do you think? <<If you have some kind of "screen" on the Durso then this may be fine>> By the way, if I manually remove the algae will anything? <<...?>> I don't want to spread it around the tank? Also is it possible that this algae is in its own "container" and it can act like a refugium in a way? <<Sure...on a very small scale. If nothing else, it is removing nutrients...but I'll bet close observation will reveal some tiny crustaceans living there as well>> My last question and most perplexing and bothersome to me has to do with my calcium reactor. I have an MTC Pro-Cal calcium reactor. I don't run it all of the time as my tank is only 6 weeks old and there isn't much in the tank to take up the Alk and Ca. When my alk gets down to 8dKH, I turn on the CO2 and run it at 1 bubble per second and the effluent at .02 ml as per the instructions. This is their starting point. <<And as good as any>> I will shut of the CO2 once the alk hits 10 or 11 dKH. My Ca usually is in the 410 to 425 ppm range. The strange thing is that once I run the Ca reactor for a day or so, I see some of the rock (usually more evident where the coralline algae is) start to get a whitish tone to it. It does not blow off. Also, and more importantly, when I take a turkey baster, I can blow off what almost looks like ash. <<Sounds as if you may have some carbonaceous material falling out of solution>> This has happened all three times I ran it. <<You may want to consider experimenting with different reactor media>> I was wondering if it was calcium precipitate, but how could it be? <<Easy enough...the water can only "hold" so much material. Maximizing alkalinity (11dKH) and calcium (425ppm) over saturates the water with carbonaceous material. Try test your alkalinity AND calcium after one of these events...likely BOTH have fallen as a result>> All of the parameters are in check. I am not using limewater or any additive and I do 20% water changes weekly with Reef Crystals. Do you have any ideas? <<The reactor is probably "too large" for the system (right now anyway) and is producing to much alkaline and calcium reserve than the tank can "use." I would turn to one of the two-part alkalinity/calcium supplements for now. Based on your future stocking levels/specimens, you may find you don't need the reactor>> By the way, I am using CaribSea Geo Thermal aragonite for the media. <<Mmm, I see...this product is likely soft/more soluble than others...try adjusting the reactor effluent to a pH of about 7.0 the next time you use it and see what results>> I did buy a Kalk stirrer and plan on using it with my dosing pump and float switch for top off water once I have the time to set it up in a few days. <<Proceed with caution here...for now anyway>> I appreciate your help. Regards, Ken <<Always happy to assist. EricR>>

Re: Coralline Algae/Alkaline Precipitation/Ca Reactor Tuning -- 12/07/06 Hey Eric, <<Ken>> Thanks for the reply. <<Welcome>> With regards to the calcium issue, is it possible that my magnesium could be too low? <<Testing would tell...but no, this is not the reason your alkalinity rises so fast when the reactor is operating>> If so, what supplement do you recommend? <<I prefer the Seachem product...though 'small and infrequent' adjustments can be made using simple Epsom Salts>> By the way, the person at MTC said that I should switch to Instant Ocean instead of Reef Crystals. <<tomAto-TOMaTO...made/distributed by the same company. But the Instant Ocean will be fine (is what I use) and will save you a few bucks to boot>> He said why use salt with all of the extra ingredients in it when you are supplementing the tank anyway with a Ca reactor? What do you think? <<The difference in the mixes is of small consequence here...in my opinion>> Also, I have been doing 20% water change per week. <<Ah...though water changes are the single best function you can perform, you might consider reducing this to every 3-4 weeks to better give this 'new' tank time to stabilize/reach a balance between these changes. Once the tank has 'matured' for a year or so, and if stocking levels warrant, you may find you need to 'up' the frequency>> Do you think this is too much at a time? <<Too much too often at this stage, yes>> I can tell you that after the water change, the corals close up for a while and my ORP drops quite a bit. <<The salt mix is quite 'reactive' and irritates the corals/fish...best to let newly mixed salt mature for a week or two while being aerated/moved around with a powerhead>> All goes back eventually of course. <<But not without exacting a 'toll' in energy used/lost>> With regards to a two-part supplement, what do you recommend? <<E.S.V. or C-Balance>> Do I need to use both parts together to make it work? (Sorry for the dumb question). <<Yes...do follow manufacturer's instructions closely>> Lastly, wouldn't the addition of limewater as top off and no further supplementation or Ca reactor work for me at this point as long as I watch the alk and don't let it go over 11 dKH? <<You need to monitor both alkalinity AND calcium...these elements are mutually exclusive at the high end of their ranges, which is why you experience the precipitation events>> I am at 7.5 dKH right now. <<A 'tad' low>> Why did you note to proceed with caution? <<You are already having problems with high alkalinity and calcium when running the Ca reactor...utilizing Kalkwasser in conjunction will compound the issue>> By the way, I evaporate approx 4 or 5 quarts per day right now. Thanks again. Regards, Ken <<Cheers mate, EricR>>

R2: Coralline Algae/Alkaline Precipitation/Ca Reactor Tuning - 12/08/06 Hey Eric, <<Ken>> All noted. <<Cool>> You did mention that I had high alkalinity but the testing doesn't bare this out. <<...?>> It was high when I first set up the tank, but has been in the 11-12 dKH range ever since. <<And this is the "high" end of the acceptable range...couple this with calcium levels above 400ppm and you have the "potential" for precipitous events>> I waited until the alkalinity hit 7-8 dKH before turning on the CO2. I measured morning and night. The alk never hit 8dKH but I still got the precipitate. <<Mmm...pretty sure you stated in a previous query your alkalinity had reached 11dKH and with calcium at 425ppm>> Something is odd here I think. <<Hmm, maybe...though likely much to do with the newness/instability of the system>> Oh yea and Ca was about 415 ppm. <<Again, on the high end...>> I didn't even have the CO2 running for 24 hours? <<I'm still guessing the reactor needs more tuning/backing-off on bubble/effluent rates>> I am definitely confused. Good thing that I can rest on the fact that this is a relaxing hobby. :) <<Ha! Indeed...>> Regards, Ken <<Be chatting, EricR>>

R3: Coralline Algae/Alkaline Precipitation/Ca Reactor Tuning - 12/08/06 Hi Eric, <<Hey Ken>> I did have alkalinity at 11 dKH and calcium at 425 ppm, however the alkalinity was at 8 dKH when I turned on the reactor. <<Understood>> I was just confused at the precipitate in the tank. <<As previously explained...I think (?)>> I also thought that 1 bubble per second and effluent of .02 ml was not a lot. <<Is all relative...may very well be/appears to be too much for "your" system>> I guess I am wrong? <<Just new...and learning...>> Anyway, I ordered a new solenoid as the one I have now I cannot adjust under this amount of 1 bubble per second as it doesn't seem to be too fine. <<Mmm, I see...might have been able to use a simple pinch-clamp on the hose in conjunction with the current solenoid/metering valve>> Also from what the Ca reactor maker said, it should be running all of the time and not off and on. <<Bull...how can the "maker" know what your system's needs are/what's best for your tank? Only by testing can you/anyone determine if the Ca reactor needs to be fed CO2 on a full-time basis. To help with pH swings, I have my Ca reactor on a timer that turns off the CO2 when the lights come-on on my vegetable refugium (refugium is on a RDP)>> I will try it at maybe 30 or 40 bubbles per minute and watch the tank and test morning and night for a few days and see what happens. <<Once you reduce the bubble-rate, adjust the effluent until the effluent pH is about 7.0 with the CaribSea media>> If I still have issues, should I use something like ESV two-part or Kalkwasser (watching pH of course) until my tank has more of an alkalinity and calcium demand? <<Try the two-part over the Kalkwasser for now...but honestly...with your current stock list/stocking density, monthly 20% water changes should be quite sufficient for maintaining the tanks earth elements>> Also the Ca reactor maker recommends aragonite for his reactor, is this a good choice? <<It is, most all reactor media is a "form" of aragonite. Do look in to the larger "European style" (10mm nominal) medias as carried by 'Premium Aquatics' and 'Aquarium Specialty' (the latter is owned by a friend of mine). Scott at Aquarium Specialty also has a Magnesium granulate that can be added to the CA reactor and may help with maintaining this element as well>> Lastly, I will cut back on my water changes as per the last email. <<For the best I believe>> What percent and how many times a month do you recommend? <<With the tank so new and lightly stocked, I think 25% per month would be just fine>> Thanks, Ken <<Always welcome. Eric Russell>>

R4: Coralline Algae/Alkaline Precipitation/Ca Reactor Tuning - 12/12/06 Hi Eric, <<Hello Ken>> The tank looks good, but I am still trying to figure out the Ca and alk deal. I haven't added anything to the tank in a week. <<Good>> My alk was 9 dKH and Ca was about 385 ppm last night. <<Both excellent values>> I changed about 5% water last Friday. <<...thought we agreed to cut back on this and let the tank find its "balance" *grin*>> Right now I guess there is no need to do anything. <<Agreed>> At what reading do you think I need to take action? <<As long as alkalinity stays within 8-12 dKH and Ca between 350-450 ppm; and keeping both from being at the high end of their respective range at the same time, then you need do nothing. If any adjustments do need to be made then make "small" ones>> I don't want to get involved in that two-part addition additive. <<Ok>> I have the Ca reactor and the Kalk stirrer and I would rather go that route when the time comes. <<Indeed...both are better methodologies. And you could probably go ahead and use the calcium reactor...with a different (harder) media and "fine tuning" of the reactor effluent>> By the way, I had checked my Mg and it was somewhere between 1230 and 1260. So this doesn't appear to be low. <<Nope>> You mentioned about a larger media for the Ca reactor. What would the purpose be for using this over the CaribSea aragonite that I have? <<Slower dissolution...as it appears now, the calcium reactor is overwhelming your system> By the way, I did get myself a better Co2 controller for better control over how much is added. I will hold off on the reactor until for the present. <<I would try a different media, crank-back the output, and see what happens now>> With regards to the Kalkwasser stirrer, can I dose some amount with my top off water? <<You can...if the system will handle it...>> I have a Liter Meter and it administers is whatever you want to set it at. It just takes that amount you want to deliver in a 24 hour period and divides it into 150 doses. <<Understood>> That looks to be a dose each 9.6 minutes. So if I dose as per my evaporation rate of a gallon per day, this would mean it would dose .85 of an ounce every 9.6 minutes. I could also set with a timer and only have it dose for the 12-hour lights-off period. I would then tell the Liter Meter that it doses 2-gallons a day so that it can dose the 1-gallon in that 12-hour period that is needed. <<Mmm, better to run 24/7 for better system stability if will be your only means for top-off>> I could also use a timer and have it dose 1/2-gallon in 12-hours with limewater and then does the other 12-hours with just my ro/di water. What do you think? <<Ah, even better to run/dose separately. I would set the meter to add the fresh top-off water (minus whatever volume of limewater you decide to dose) throughout a 24-hour period, and then set the limewater to be added during "lights out">> Getting back to my "ash" debris on the rocks. I had mentioned previously that I noticed this after I ran the Ca reactor. <<Maybe another indicator that the CaribSea media id being dissolved "too fast">> However I have not run it in a week and I still noticed it when I blew off the rocks the last few days. <<Likely the material will not go back in to solution and is resettling...along with detritus in the tank...this is not uncommon/unusual>> Maybe it is not from the CO2 reactor and maybe not calcium precipitate? <<Possibly detritus>> It's hard to describe what it looks like on the rock except debris. Almost looks like blowing ashes. <<Does sound like "precipitate"...hmm or maybe...you haven't added a flocculent to your system have you?>> It is not powdery like what I get when I use the turkey baster and blow out the holes in the rocks. <<I see>> Could the rock be breaking down at all? <<Doubtful>> The tank itself looks good. The two tangs and the few soft corals/star-polyps look good. Phosphate is still zero and nitrate is .15ppm using LaMotte. <<All good>> Thanks and regards, Ken <<I'll wager everything will "settle in/stabilize" with time and less "fiddling" of the system. Regards, EricR>>

Tropic Marin Bio Calcium ... alk. anomaly 11/28/06 Hi guys/gals, <Laura> I have been using tropic Marin bio calcium (powder) for 7 weeks as a way to boost calcium in my 75 SPS tank. I add 1.5 teaspoon per gallon of Kalkwasser for evaporation hooked to a auto top off. <Good methodology> Before using the new product I measured calcium at 365 and alk at 4.0 meg/l. After first week calcium was at 380, and alk is 5.0meg/l. <I would stop here> I am adding the dose described on the jar, I scoop per 5 gallons. Problem is my alkalinity is soaring it is now 6.0 meg /l and calcium is still at 365-370 after 7 weeks. I need help, I emailed tropic Marin and asked if bio calcium raises alk, and they quick reply was no. <Mmmm> Something is not right, I have not added anything else to the water except for Kalk. <Not so... new salt mix... and Kalk> I use IO salt and add a little magnesium as IO is lacking it. I fail to believe my 75 SPS is using 40ppm of calcium a day. Any advice? thanks Derick <I would slow to stop the use of the Bio Calcium product... allow the alkalinity to drop on its own. Bob Fenner>

Low PH and High Alkalinity 6/2/04 I've been having low pH and high alkalinity problem in my tank. Ph is at 8.1 and Alkalinity is at 5.0 meg/L. <usually a large water change or two will make this more even keeled unless a very high ALK source water is the root cause (easy enough to test and confirm)> Just a month ago the ph was 8.3 and alkalinity was 4.5 meg/L. I've been adding SeaChem Reef Advantage Calcium and Reef Calcium and Ph dropped to 8.1. So I added one dose of SeaChem's Marine Buffer and Ph stayed at 8.1 and alkalinity went up to 6.0 meq/L. <Yikes! Please be careful to avoid the see-saw effects of such dosing. You may very well need some large water changes here to get your chemistry back on par. Do also read the article we have in the wetwebmedia.com archives called "Understanding Calcium and Alkalinity" (do a keyword/phrase search with the google search tool on the home page)> Recently alkalinity came down to 5.0meq/L. Calcium is at 380mg/l, magnesium is at 1500mg/l and strontium is at 7.5 mg/l. Right now my tank is fish only tank but I want to slowly turn it in to reef tank. At first I wanted to get some calcareous algae growing in the tank, so I started on calcium. <precarious and unnaturally high levels of biominerals are not needed for good growth. Stability and consistent levels go much further.> I tried to find same case on your site but it was all High ph and Low alkalinity problems. <the see-saw works both ways <G>> I know that ph of 8.1 is not that big of a problem <actually... it is a problem in the long run for many corals. Some will not tolerate a night time dip much below 8.3... requiring a daytime pH of 8.4-8.6 > but I wanted to know if this kind of trend could mean there is some thing wrong with water chemistry. <yes... skewed slightly from the mis-dosing> Right now there is no sign of ph going lower than 8.1 but since the beginning the ph was always at 8.3. I real would appreciate your insight into this matter. Thanks, -hsk <do check to see that accumulated CO2 in the (well-insulated) home is not depressing your pH. Aerate a glass of tank water in the garage or outside for 6+ hours. If the pH increases over the period, then you have accumulated CO2 in the household atmosphere. Common and discussed at great length in the archives if you are interested. kindly, Anthony>

Alkalinity drop 7/23/04 I had been using Rowaphos for a few months with no problems. Unfortunately while on vacation, my Calcium Reactor output hose clogged up and the alkalinity dropped from around 10 to 6 ! This severely stressed out several of my favorite colonies including: Tri-Color Acro - this is the worst one hit but there are some live branches with many polyps under the dead white tips. Hydnophora - looks like this may recover from the bleaching Baby Blue Acro Frags- have many of these so not a biggy Blue Acro tortuosa - Tips are turning white, not sure if it will make it. One of my more expensive and most favorite pieces. <I am not convinced that a drop in alk to 6 would be enough by itself to cause this. How sure are you that nothing died while you were away, causing an ammonia spike and how sure are you that your temperature did not rise more than about 4-6 degrees above normal?> My questions are: What is the difference between bleaching and RTN ? My colonies did not all die in a matter of hours, but instead are bleaching slowly....although now that I have stabilized the water parameters (Ca = 430, Alk = 10) the bleaching has slowed but still continues. <Bleaching is the expulsion of zooxanthellae. RTN is a condition where the coral "self destructs" and the animal itself dies and the tissue sloughs off of the skeleton. I agree with your move to correct the alkalinity, and recommend carefully monitoring temperature, alkalinity, pH and other parameters and focus on STABILITY! I would not try to aggressively correct any other parameter unless it is dangerous (ammonia?).> Should I remove the affected colonies ? <I would not. Moving them would be another undue stress.> Should I frag the affected colonies to save what I can, or leave them alone and hope they recover ? <I would leave them alone.> Thanks in advance for any help you can offer. <In the mean time, I would recommend lowering your light levels a bit. I would do this by reducing intensity first (fewer lamps running, raising lamps higher above tank) and only shorten the photoperiod if you don't have any other choice. After a week or so, work your lighting back to normal over a week or so. Best of luck! Adam>

- Alkalinity Drop - Hello Crew, Sorry to bother you again but I need some advice. I have a 125L with 120lbs live rock and 100lbs crushed coral, 2 250W metal halides and 2 95W VHOs. The alkalinity in my tank is dropping. It has dropped from 11dkh two weeks ago to 8 last week held a few days and then to 6.4dkh last night. Calcium is 480 which is a little high I know. It had been holding steady at about 440 until the alkalinity started dropping and it started raising. PH has dropped a little from 8.4 to 8.2. Nitrates 0, nitrites 0 ammonia 0. I am dosing with Kalkwasser which has been working great for months. I can not afford a calcium reactor right now which I hope to some day have. I do a 10 gallon water every week. Once in awhile I will skip a week and do 20 g the following week. I have coralline algae growing all over the rock and keeps me busy scrapping the sides of the tank. All of my hard corals are still showing good growth and I very much would like to keep it that way. Please. Other then alkalinity dropping the only other thing new was the seeing of what I believe is Halimeda growing from a colony of pulsing xenia and I put in the tank about 3 weeks ago. I first noticed it last Thursday and it has almost tripled in size or the weekend. From what I have read this is suppose to be good and only thrive in good conditions. If I stop dosing with Kalkwasser and only top off with RO water for a few days would this allow things to even out? <Depends on your RO... you should be adding some form of buffer compound opposite of the Kalkwasser... baking soda will do, but there are also aquarium-specific products that will do the same job. At the very least you should add this to both your top-off water and the water you use to mix up your salt.> Please a little advice on how to bring these back into balance. Thank you for you help A Worried but not frantic Norm <Cheers, J -- >

- Low pH, High Alk, Follow-up - <Hello, JasonC here this time.> Adam please you answered my question just days ago so to follow up when I do water changes I clean the substrate which is weekly generally but the last few times it has been especially clean more so than usual which I'm putting down to hermit crabs, small starfish, etc doing a fantastic job and also my bacteria coping wonderfully with the biological load could this fact be an indication of the low ph problem? <Not likely... it is the presence of such excess detritus that brings down the pH - efficient reduction of such wastes would lead to high nitrates, not a drop in pH.> Is all the poo, excess food and algae being eaten what is lowering my pH, if so should I remove some hermits or starfish or what? <I'd be looking in other places.> I only clean the canister filter every three months and it doesn't get very dirty should I clean it more often anyway? <I'd clean the canister at the least every week.> I have a wrasse of some description about 2 inches long fairly young self collected which hides under the substrate all the time like I mean it never comes out unless I scare it out (could be coming out while lights off I suppose) have had these fish before my early tank disaster and I recall they only used to come out for an hour a day at lunch and never saw them eat either. How long would it take a fish to starve to death? <A couple of weeks.> It doesn't look thin at all and it has been two weeks now (had the others longer than that and they never looked thin either) so I'm thinking he is eating something, either detritus on bottom or in substrate or algae at night are the only options. <How about small crustaceans like amphipods and copepods?> Any ideas about this fish's strange behaviour or if it is related to my ph problem? <Well... without knowing exactly what type of wrasse it is, it's hard to say specifically, but if it hides in the substrate, it is likely just wary of predation and feels more comfortable this way.> Now with the co2 idea does this mean I should aerate the water like get airstones for the water or another power head for water movement or do I need a protein skimmer along with removing covers to tank (only problem is I risk fish jumping out have two confirmed jumpers in the tank and kiddies putting fingers and god knows what else in there) or what? <A cover on the tank is always a good idea, although it doesn't have to be glass, it can be eggcrate or similar material that allows gas exchange but keeps the jumpers in the tank and little people's fingers out. The skimmer likewise is always a good idea and I personally can't imagine running a marine tank without one.> Does the co2 just make the ph look lower or is it actually lower by this I mean am I raising ph higher than it is reading is the ph even an issue or will sorting out the co2 problem fix the ph readings? <I'm guessing Adam was referring to CO2 accumulation in the home - this would actually lower the pH of the tank, and your readings would be accurate.> Bit confused about co2 and ph relationship. <CO2, when mixed with water creates a weak acid - carbonic acid, and this would lower your pH. Modern homes, by virtue of their high R-vales - Tyvek wrapping, insulation, and double-pane windows tend to have issues with fresh air - they hold air in the house, and this air becomes CO2 laden over time by virtue of the exhaled breath of the humans living there. Best way to address is to open some windows.> I have tested ph over a day and night and it seems to remain constant 7.9/8.0 when tested every two hours during the day and every four at night so this has nothing to do with it. Neither ph up nor KH up have ingredients on them so don't know if borate is an issue. So in summary ph can be 8.3 at beginning of week after all weekly maintenance, over the week it will drop gradually to 7.9 by end of week and when I do water change etc it goes up but not quite enough so I add 1 or 2 ph buffer tablets and it drops over the week till next maintenance. <Sounds like you should be adding something during the week, in between maintenance periods.> Should I keep doing this or is the drop over the week a problem hasn't seemed to bother the fish so far. <It will in time increase stress which will lead to other problems.> Also to remind you my source water has ph 8.3/8.4 and top up water is 8.0. Should I look at doing larger water changes to get pH up naturally without adding chemicals each week or am I most likely looking at a co2 problem and if so why would this be occurring in my tank. <All of the above.> I have no great algae problem only one live rock if that makes a difference. Look forward to any further advice/ideas you might have. Regards Nicole. <Well... if your home fits the above description, start by opening some windows. If this has no effect, then I would most certainly try to address this in your source, make-up, and top-off water - keeping all inputs in the ideal range, and then at the high end around 8.4. Cheers, J -- >

Water Chemistry learning curve 8/5/04 Hi--thanks again for your quick response. <always welcome my friend> I am trying to get up to speed--just bought Bob Fenner's book and will get yours shortly. My latest problem is the alkalinity. The kit just arrived today and all the other water parameters have not been alarming, so I expected the same with the alkalinity. It was 7.2 when I tested it tonight; pH was 8.2. What causes this? <Alk, pH and Ca are similarly influenced/quasi-related but not dependent on each other. Your source water, sea salt and supplements have varying influences on these> I had a red sponge growing on live rock and it has totally lost all color (within a day). How can I bring the alkalinity down? <Hmm... I assumed that 7.2 was your dKH (and is a whisker low if so). However, if this is meq/l... then 7.2 is staggeringly high. To correct it, test your newly mixed seawater to confirm that is not the source of high ALK and then do a large water change or two. Misdosing supplements caused it then> The fish don't seem to care, but I don't know if there will be long term effects with them. <there is a serious risk of a precipitous reaction here... Calcium falling out of solution in your tank like snow and crashing the pH... perhaps the whole system. Rather serious> I put the carbon filter back when you suggested it... Also, there is a lot of red algae in the tank. It isn't stringy, and is deep red in color. It's on the rock and glass. I don't think it's coralline algae. It's pretty but I'm worried it shouldn't be there. <if its slimy, mat forming cyanoBACTERIA (AKA - BGA), the its a sign of excess nutrients and/or inadequate water flow. Do take the time to read more in our archives here at wetwebmedia by doing a keyword search form the home page on the Google tool for "red algae" and "red slime algae"> Could this somehow be related to the alkalinity problem? Thanks!! R/Janet <not really. Anthony>

Chemistry learning curve II 8/11/04 Thanks, Anthony. Sorry to have left the units off-- <no worries> it was 7.2meq/l and I was surprised at how high it was. <yikes... it is so high that I'm not even sure its an accurate reading. Has this been confirmed on another brand/type of test lit? DO check with a LFS or another aquarist> Ca = 460; pH = 8.2; hardness is 12 deg dH. <I'd feel more comfortable if Ca was not pushing the high end too... 425ppm or slightly lower is fine> Phosphates are at zero, as are nitrates and nitrates. <do allow some nitrates in the future for coral health/color... just a small amount like 5-10ppm via fish food/feces or dosing with Sodium nitrate (see Knop clam book or my Book of Coral Propagation for reference)> We think it is "snowing" in the tank. <with an ALK that high, it should be... yet it is unmistakable if so... hell breaks loose in 12 hours and the tank crashes usually> What do we do about it? <you have to let a snowstorm finish, else any water changes or supplements will feed the reaction. When its done, do an immediate and large water change. 2 or more 50% water changes in the next week would be on par> We just did a 20% water change today. We stopped adding the 2 part calcium buffer about a week ago. When should we resume? <when the water changes bring the numbers into a safe/flat and balanced range> Should we test every other day or so and when Ca starts to dip, should we then start adding the 2 part solution again? Thanks!! R/Janet <unless you have a dozens of large stony corals in the tank needing lots of calcium, I'd like to see you simply rely on small (say 20%) weekly water changes instead for a while to replace trace elements and minerals while diluting the bad compounds. Much better than the see-saw you are on with the random supplements. kindly, Anthony>

"Let it snow, let it snow" NO! Hi Bob, <Craig> I have a strange phenomena with my tank at present. I am still in the cycling stage of my new 66 gallon cube tank here in New Zealand. I accidentally added baking soda in the plan of raising my pH. The books I have read that this will happen. However as you probably know it does this indirectly as it actually increases the DKH. <Mmm, "accidentally?", "indirectly?"... not indirect... it's sodium bicarbonate...> My Ammonia is 0 Nitrite maximum nitrate 10 Calcium 380 kH 17DKH!! <Yikes! How much soda did you add?> Magnesium 1350 My MH 14k 250watt light comes on at 2PM and off at 10PM Actinic on at 1PM and off at 11PM The Phenomena: 6AM water extremely clear. 8Am water becomes cloudy, (as if calcium is precipitating). 10Am through until around 8PM continual clouding along with disgusting yellow water which catches in the mechanical filter very easily. 9PM water clarity starts to return. 10.30PM water extremely clear with no yellow!! PH remains stable at 8.2 throughout each 24 hour period. I am using activated carbon in my sump which is only 4 days old. Next morning same again. It has done this for 3 days! I have not fired up my skimmer yet, as have been told to wait until finished cycling. I currently have 4 or 5 small/medium rock pool shrimp which are extremely happy. I feed them a tiny pinch frozen fish mush every 3 days or so. ANY IDEAS? I AM STUMPED!! Kind regards Craig NZ <Yes... change a good part of the water... now... to dilute the excess alkalinity, and DO turn on your skimmer... Do this NOW. Bob Fenner>

Re: High Alk., no skimmer, SNOW! Bob, The Skimmer is on (1250 Deltec) Alkalinity back to 15 Water crystal again. Aahhh...It had me worried there for a bit. <Me too!> Soda>?.......Heaps too much!!!...Oooops. <Heee!> I have learnt!! Cheers Craig <Ahhh, now if I could only become disciplined to the point of cutting back on beer and wine consumption... Bob Fenner>

dKH help - Alkalinity too high 1/30/05 I have a 55 gallon fish only tank, with a few crabs and tube worms, etc. In the past my DKH was around 12 or so. <excellent... no need to go higher> It was stable so I didn't check it all the time. I checked it this morning and the DKH is over 20, I stopped at 20 drops. Yikes, I figure that it was adding too much buffer to top off water. <yes... indeed too much buffer if this reading is accurate. Do test the accuracy of your test kit against the raw tap water and new mixed seawater. If they read (expected) lower, then perhaps something in t he main tank is skewing the readings. Either way... do two large water changes (50%+) in the next 7-10 days to dilute the agent/issue causing the high Alk readings here> I read through the FAQ's and I can't seem to find if this is a problem for the fish, they seem to be alright. I have maroon clowns, Bar gobies, dragonet, green Chromis. I also can't seem to find out what I should do to drop it, or should I even bother? <20 dKH is dangerously high (risk of precipitation)> One other question. I have brown stuff that is about the consistency of bread crumbs that forms in the bottom of the tank and in a specimen container that I have going to raise Amphipods, what is this stuff? Protein? <no idea my friend... need more information than "brown bread crumbs" to go on here ;)> Thanks, Randy <best regards, Anthony>

High Ca/Low Alk Hello there, Hope all is well with you. <thanks, wish hope you are in good health and spirit as well> I am a little concerned. <me too... pomegranates have been so expensive this year! $2 each in my hometown... last year they were only $1. Must have been a bad growing season> My 55g tank is over 9 years old, but the current set up with 55 lbs of LR (45 Fiji, 10 >Atlantic) has been running since June of this year. There is tremendous coralline algae growth, as well as snail shell growth (about 20 snails). Right now my Ca is near 600 (according to SeaTest), <inaccurate likely, unless you have been abusing liquid calcium supplements. A dangerous level indeed over 450ppm> and alk is close to 2.0 meq/l (?)... <hmmm... you have indeed misdosed liquid Ca. It has precipitated your carbonates> I haven't added any supplements since first week of November (I use a two-part called Oceans Blend). <a common problem with these supplements is that aquarists don't mix them vigorously before every dose. The components of this clear solution stratify and get dosed out of proportion which causes an imbalance in the Ca/ALK dynamic> Early November, the measurements were about 500+ for Ca and about 2.2meq/l for alk. <Yikes... still way too skewed. The other problem with the two part mixes is that they will carry any imbalance you start with. You must have a tank in balance (large water changes will do the trick) BEFORE you begin dosing two part liquid supplements> I stopped adding the two-part at that time hoping to lower the Ca. I am preparing to do a 10% water change this week, followed by another next week. <wow... 10% weekly for normal maintenance is not enough in a healthy tank when using liquid Ca supplements (chloride ions build up and need to be diluted). In a problem like this... you need a few large water changes... 25% on the low end, weekly or better for a few weeks> What could have cause the increase in Ca? <starting with a tank out of balance and then not mixing the solutions vigorously before dosing to reiterate> Could it be the LR dissolving? <nope... its happening, just not making a difference here> I have noticed that the rock has "shrunk" a little... <Oh yes... dissolves in time. And your tank would benefit from some fresh rock for certain. But it will not help the alk issue> some pieces are not as big as when I first put them in. I don't think it's due to settling as holes in the rock have gotten noticeably bigger and rocks stacked upon other rocks are not covering the same amount of area as before (could my eyes be playing tricks on me?). <nope... you are correct. They dissolve chemically and from internal organisms/activities> I was doing weekly water changes for the first 3 months, then bi-weekly, tri-weekly since then. <ughh... stick with small weekly. Best (IMO)> I have been using Purified water sold at the grocery store for changes and top off...it says on the bottle that it is ozonized and de-ionized. I aerate the water overnight, buffer it the next, then add Instant Ocean the day after that. <perfect my friend> I have a corner overflow with polyester filter floss which flows down under the tank over Chemipure and Polyfilter, goes into 10g sump housing Aqua-C Urchin, and returned by Mag9.5 (throttled to about more than half way opened). <the prefiltration is severely limiting skimmate potential/production. Please never prefilter water before a skimmer... only raw. Prefilter afterwards> >I have: >1 Kole Tang >3 Damsels >20 Astrea snails >2 keyhole limpets >10 blue legged hermits >1 unidentified crab >4 inch Brown Acropora >1 green open brain >1 colony yellow polyp >2 colonies of green star polyps >3 rock anemones (will be trading in soon) >1 bubble tip >7 blue mushrooms >1 Pink carnation All seem to be doing well for now, no deaths since earlier this year. <a very strange mix of corals... ultimately incompatible. Too long to explain hear. but very different light and feeding requirements. Under your standardized lighting and care... some will thrive and some will die prematurely in the 10-18 month picture. Study this issue more my friend.> Fish are getting bigger, corals are solid in colors and multiplying (except carnation...it seems to have lost some color and shrunk a bit...I may trade it in soon). <your carnation coral is starving to death.... please do not re-buy until you understand their very specialized needs> I feed Sweetwater zooplankton, Mysis shrimp, Nori, flake food. For the Acropora, I blend (in a blender) phytoplankton, zooplankton, Mysis shrimp, clam and lightly squirt polyps with a turkey baster. <hmmm... some issues here (particle size/usability). Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fdreefinverts.htm and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/growingcorals.htm The parameters are ammonia=0, nitrite=0, nitrate=0-5, pH=8.2,temp=76-78, SG=1.026.Thank you, RY <best regards, my friend. Anthony>

"Swingin' alk" Hello crew, it's me, Margaret. (sorry for the twisted title reference) <no worries... I'm feeling Swanky tonight and this is likely a Shagadelic question> I've been trying to dose Kalkwasser regularly, and in short, the result is that my alkalinity rises too high after a couple consecutive days of dosing. <and that has little or nothing to do with Kalkwasser my friend. Kalkwasser is Calcium hydroxide. In solution it provides A) usable Calcium... and B) alkaline hydroxide that can temper acids that eat up system buffers... but IS NOT buffer (ALK) in and of itself. So basically... whatever you use for alkalinity (SeaBuffer, baking soda, deep sand bed, Ca rector, etc) is what's too much at present. More importantly... do you know what your systems daily demand for calcium is? (Namely... have you gone 3-4 days without dosing calcium and tested the readings before and after, then divided by the number of days to determine what your tanks needs from Ca doses). This will tell you how much Kalkwasser or other Ca supplement to dose> I have experienced the same phenomenon when dosing B-Ionic- there's no way I could dose equal parts, as the amount to sustain my CA causes my alk to rise quickly and to borderline-dangerous levels (5-5.5 meq/l). <agreed on the levels... but it sounds like your system is starting with an imbalance before using the 2-part mix (necessary to be balanced before using else the imbalance is carried over). Also, if you do not much the two part supplement before every use, it gets dosed disproportionately. The same problems with alkalinity occur if one uses liquid calcium as a primary calcium supplement (never! its just a temp fix) for several months or more. Eventually a chloride imbalance occurs and Alk/Ca is skewed> So, I've been dosing imbalanced amounts of the 2-part for quite some time, at first regularly while I got my magnesium levels up to par (1380 w/ CA of 425, alk of 3.5 meq/l, pH8.1 last test, Salifert and Seachem tests) and then correctively after a couple days' worth of Kalk has caused my alk to climb to about 4.5 meq/l. In this corrective case, I add only the CA part and no Alk supplement. <it is a slippery slope to dose imbalanced 2=part. Simply do large water changes to dilute the system and get balanced... then resume dosing a balanced mix> Alk falls down to 3-3.5 meq/l within 2-3 days with no water changes and I begin dosing a lowered amount of Kalk. <which sounds fine... it is unsafe and unrealistic to try to keep ALK and Ca on the high ends of the ideal simultaneously> From everything I've read, this propensity for my alk to climb quickly seems irregular. <agreed... but you may also have lower than normal rates of calcification in the tank lending to this condition (low coral load, high phosphates, having used liquid calcium for more than a couple months prior, etc)> If you have any insight as to why and how to correct it, I'd be most appreciative. I just read Anthony's article here on WWM, and have read many others, but none have addressed this specific issue. I'm currently dosing 1/2 tsp of Kalk per day (46 gal tank w/5G refugium) and watching my alk slowly rise and CA slowly fall. <that is a lot of Kalkwasser to use. Are you sure that this amount does not spike your pH. I'd be surprised if it didn't. Besides... you would literally need to have 30-40 head of SPS coral (if they fit!) together in this tank to need that much Kalkwasser daily. Way too much of a good thing here. A digital pH meter will confirm this> FYI, my Kalk dosing method is to mix the 1/2 tsp into a gallon of RO water (no buffers), shake vigorously, then drip in after 3 hours. My DIY dosing container allows the fallout from the Kalk to rest below the tubing, so that stuff doesn't (presumably) end up in the tank. <indeed... I feel better knowing this is a decanted solution and not a slurry. Still... test for Ca and match with dosing in accordance to the limitations of a pH jump (less than .2)> Thanks for any insight! <best regards, Anthony>

Re: High Alk? The water I use is from a commercial RO system that supplies water to a company camp. The water comes from a natural spring and is supplemented when necessary with two shallow wells. The water is very hard and is softened before it goes through the RO membranes. A quick check of the system verified a problem with the system. <indeed... purging R/O product water of 16 dKH!> I purchased a gallon of Culligan water from Wal-Mart and tested it. Alk is less than 1 mg/L, and pH is 6.7. <OK> Is the other high alk water safe to use in my system? <dangerously high as it is (risk of precipitation/"snowstorm" of carbonates> Can I mix it to around 4.5 mg/L with lower alk Culligan water <or a little lower. 8-12dKH is a safe range> or should I dump the 100 gallons or so I have on hand? <no need... but dilute slowly> Also, I had a Caulerpa crash several days ago and in the process I yanked all the nasty stuff from one of my fuges. <what a dreadful plant for the casual aquarists. Many benefits and dangers to this genus> Could the Caulerpa crash have been caused by the high alk? <probably not... more likely reached critical mass and lacked nutrients to support its growth or simply went sexual (3-6 month life cycle for most species)> Checking the stored water I have on hand I think this problem has been around awhile. I have done several large water changes recently, at your recommendation, trying to resolve a low calcium issue. The large water changes only increased the alk, which finally got me wondering what was going on. While yanking the Caulerpa I disturbed the deep sand bed now the water has a hint of H2S. <heehee... this is starting to sound like a Jerry Lewis skit> I need to do several water changes quickly, I know, but do you recommend anything else in dealing with the H2S? <simply water changes and good aeration> I Can't win! Out of the frying pan into the fire." <no worries... you are gaining a fantastic education in the process. Kindly, Anthony>

Calcium / Alk / PH question Hi guys!, <Hey Brian!> I am having trouble understanding how to get my tanks levels at correct levels. <You aren't alone my friend!> I have a 55g tank with 65lbs live rock and 50 pounds fine sand.. Been up and running for about two months. I have been doing 10% water changes every two weeks with Instant Ocean salt mix. and everything looks healthy. I ordered some Salifert tests and found my PH around 7.7, Calcium 270 ppm and Alk 8 dKH. So while I try and figure out this Kalkwasser drip / slurry / reactor stuff, I thought I would use the Kent products for now. I have been adding the liquid Calcium daily. directly into tank and also adding the Superbuffer dKH daily to raise my PH. After about five days my PH is exactly the same, my calcium is 320 ppm and my Alk is 13 dKH. I am afraid if keep adding the Superbuffer my Alk will go way to high. Is there a reason my PH isn't moving? Or maybe just moving very slowly... Should I be doing something different? <Okay Brian, I would test your magnesium and correct that if needed. Depressed magnesium will contribute to lowered/difficult pH. I suggest Seachem products as they give you a stated dose per volume of water to get a desired result, no guess work. Right now I would suggest dosing a Kalk slurry of about 1/2 tsp in four cups of RO/DI water added to your tank in the early AM just before or as your lights come on, into an area of high current, slowly. (about 30 seconds is all). This will give your pH a boost and replace calcium, while you maintain alk with buffer, probably weekly. Make sure you aerate and mix your change water 12-24 hours before use to stabilize pH, test before use as RO/DI water usually requires some buffing. For a very comprehensive article on understanding what is actually happening with your water, read Anthony Calfo's great article at WetWebMedia.com, search Kalkwasser using the google search there. Understand that calcium depresses alkalinity and vice-versa, with all hell breaking loose if both are too high at the same time, so perhaps just dose with Kalk slurry for now (daily) to maintain calcium at 375-400 verified by weekly testing.> I have also noticed my only coral. a green finger coral doesn't open anymore. any ideas?... I am worried I am making things worse. thanks for all your help! Brian <See if it doesn't open after dosing with Kalk slurry in the AM and perhaps magnesium after testing. This should help. Craig>

Another Exciting Alkalinity Question! I have a new tank that has recently completed its cycle from my first shipment of live rock. My question is this: I use my tap water which I filter with carbon and PolyFilters and let it sit for a week with water movement. After I mix with salt my alkalinity is about 6.5 meq/l. I know this is high but is it high enough that I need to do something about it yet? Does a fully functioning reef tend to lower the alkalinity over time? My tank (and my tap water after salt addition) have ph: 8.2 alkalinity: 6.5 meq/l calcium: 350 Should I use a water source with 0 alkalinity for topping off and continue to use my tap water for water changes? I hate to ask another alkalinity question but I have looked and looked and haven't found any like this. Thanks! Luke Burns <Hi Luke, your alk should be between 3.5 and 5 meq/l. 6.5 is too high. I would use RO water for new water. It is possible to use the 6.5 water for your top off that supplements alk, (yes, reefs use carbonate alkalinity to build calcium carbonate skeletons) but for Kalk or calcium dosing I would use RO water, not the tap water. The high alk of your tap water will certainly affect your tank alk, calcium and pH, test carefully to maintain a nominal level as above. The tap water may also contain other minerals or elements that may be a problem. Craig>

Carbonate Snowstorm Hey guys, Sorry to bother you, but again I have another problem'¦ to make it simple my tank looks like giant snow ball. I have read over the FAQ and I think that I should do a water change since my calcium levels are very high, but when I mentioned something to my LFS they told me that it could be parasites like ich or something like that. I really need to ask you guys what you think, right now my tank has tons of small while 'particles' floating around they also attach to the glass and I need to scrape them off with a razor (that's why I think its not ich ) I have 100 gal tank with about 110 lbs of LR and 30lbs LS the coralline purple algae looks great, and even the water would be ok if not for the white stuff. Now I have just set this tank up and the rock has been in for about three weeks and condition begun about two weeks ago. My skimmer is still overactive and the only thing that I have added to the water is marine success buff form red sea. I'm going to have my tap water tested to see if it could be a cause but other than that I'm clueless what to do. <Welcome back Pavel. From your description I believe you are experiencing a snowstorm of precipitated carbonates. You will have to ride this out. Performing 10% water changes over the next few days would help to stabilize the chemistry. In the future I would recommend that you measure both calcium and alkalinity with a good test kit and add buffer and/or calcium to replenish what is lost. You are looking for 350-450ppm of calcium and 8-12dKh of alkalinity. Good luck, Don> Once aging think you for your help. Pavel

Re: Alkalinity and Calcium out of whack. What to supplement? Sorry about the "dots". <No problem, just a BTW/FYI> But as I mentioned my water changes are fine, and any mix with Instant Ocean is fine, but how do I match my top-off water parameters? I just tried again and I started with 5 gallons of purified water, aerated, add 1/2 teaspoon of buffer, aerated, and parameters are PH 7.4, Alk 9.8 and calcium 120. By adding this top-off water daily I am severely declining my PH... I would think. I am missing something here? Thanks again <I would not suggest that you try and match both alkalinity and calcium in top off. One or the other and then dose the tank to bring the other component up based on need. For example, Use a buffer to bring dKH to 8-12. Then use Kalk to dose the tank for calcium needs. To raise pH in the top off, I would recommend more vigorous and longer aeration to drive off C02. More frequent water changes (5% twice weekly) may be necessary as well to find stability. Hope this helps with your problem, Don> -Brian

- High Alkalinity Low pH - Hi WWW Crew, <Good morning, JasonC here...> Help! Please tell me what to do. <I will try.> I recently bought the Seachem Buffer. My alkalinity tested >7.2meq/l (which is the max my test strip will show), and the pH was 8.1. <7.2 - that is very high alkalinity, I wouldn't be adding anything in the form of buffer at this point.> I added a pinch of the buffer in. I must have pushed the alk over the limit because my camel shrimp died. <That could also be coincidence... but I am sorry to hear of your loss.> The pH had remained unchanged. Now, 2 weeks later, and with a few water changes, my pH is at a constant 7.6, but my alkalinity is still showing at the test strip's max at 7.2meq/l. <Time for you to take a water sample to the store and get a second opinion on your tests... > Water changes with Tropic Marin salt is not doing any good because the fresh sea water's alkalinity is also very high. <I also use Tropic Marin, but have not had issues with high alkalinity... you might want to test your source water.> Could you please tell me what I should do to lower the alkalinity so that I can buffer the pH to 8.3? <You might want to look for other sources that would pull down your pH - an alkalinity so high wouldn't necessarily drag the pH with it, but it should make the pH quite easy to maintain at an adequate level. Seems to me there might be something else - low pH of your top-off water, Should I test my calcium and add calcium chloride to lower the alkalinity? <I wouldn't try to lower the alkalinity that way, I would just let the system come into its own balance - let it be for a little while, don't add anything, and perhaps slow down your water changing regimen... and as I mentioned before, now's a good time for a sanity check by asking your local fish store to run the tests for you. As well, do test your source water and look for other things in your tank that might be lowering the pH. Lastly, after you run all those tests, consider doing a large - 50% - water change.> Thanks ever so much for your help! Serbrina <Cheers, J -- >

Too High Alkalinity! Hello tonight, <Hi Dave, Don here today> I have a few questions for you tonight regarding alkalinity. I have a 110 gallon marine tank with about 100 lbs of live rock coupled with a very capable skimmer. The water chemistry parameters have all been within normal ranges for some time. <I know it sounds picky, but having actual values for chemistry parameters helps a lot, just for future reference> After bringing home several new fish this evening I noticed what looks like calcium precipitation on some of the live rock. Through a series of likely problems (using B-Ionic additives for the last month - and not realizing until reading your FAQs that I needed to shake the bottles prior to use, along with what I have determined is a inaccurate alk test kit) <Darn the luck, eh? Actually, shaking the bottle is more for the calcium part, but shaking both can't hurt.> I went to the LFS and purchased a new alk test kit. Sure enough the new kit indicated a reading of about 7.5 meq/L. I know the normal range should be somewhere around 3.5, so my questions to you are the following: I have the fish in a small quarantine tank for the evening, but probably not large enough to hold them for an appreciable amount of time thereafter. <Another day, week, month?> If I take a day or so to acclimate the quarantine tank water to that of the main tank will this be enough time for the fish to safely transition? Probably a stupid question, but is there any real harm to the fish in putting them into the main tank after a brief acclimitization? <The moving and out of whack chemistry will stress the fish. The longer this can be drawn out, the better. Your call here> What can I do to drop the alkalinity of the main tank quickly and safely? <'Quick' and 'Safe' are mutually exclusive in this hobby. Time is your best friend in this situation.> Is doing a water change the only safe method? <In my opinion, yes. Make sure the water is aged (at least 48 hours) and well aerated> If I did a 50% water change, would that harm the main tank inhabitants because of what would hopefully result in more normal alk levels in such a short time span? <Not knowing what inhabitants are there, (snails, shrimp, hard/soft corals, etc) it is hard to say. Again, slow and sure is the best bet. I would be comfortable with a 25-30% change per day at this point.> Is there guidelines to how quickly alkalinity can safely be raised or lowered? As always, thanks for all your great help. <In this case, I would shoot for around 1 meq/L per day. Take 3-5 days to drop the alkalinity and you should be OK. Don> Dave

The Ultimate High (Alkalinity Way Up) I have a 125 gallon FO aquarium. it has been running for 4 months. I have noticed that after water changes the fish seem sluggish and are gilling more. Prime, Cycle, and Stress Zyme are used to dechlorinate and neutralize tap water. Instant Ocean is the salt mix. <Are you testing your source water? Could be a problem there. Also, do you use RO/DI water...perhaps some impurities or contamination from pipes, etc? Worth investigating. Do you have a lot of circulation/aeration in the tank?> I test for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, calcium, ph, and alkalinity weekly. A 25% water change is done biweekly. <All good husbandry practices, particularly in a FO tank! When you are changing significant quantities of water at one time, do make absolutely certain that the characteristics of the replacement water (i.e.; specific gravity, pH temperature, etc.) are as close to those in the display as possible> Tank contains: spiny box puffer, Xanthurus Cream Angel, yellowhead sleep goby, tomato clown, and a Regal Tang. <A large tank, I hope! Some of those guys can get pretty big!> All readings are fine...but ph is 7.9-8.0 <A bit low, but acceptable in a FO tank, IMO...Did you check in peak daylight hours, or in the dark?> Alkalinity is 8 meq/L according to my SeaChem kit. <Unusually high...> Temp is 79 degrees Salinity is 1.021 I have read that adding calcium or a compound like Kalkwasser can help lower alkalinity readings, but I can't seem to find anything on high alkalinity readings and what to do to fix them. Can you help me with what to do? Please email me with any suggestions. Lynn <Hmm...an unusual "problem". We get lots of emails about low alkalinity/high calcium situations (the classic reef tank dynamic, and a sterling example of "you can't have your cake and eat it, too!"), so this is not all that common, IME. We also hear of low alkalinity and high pH... Usually, we like to see alkalinity at or above 3 meq/L, so you're WAY ahead of the curve here! Sure, improperly dosing Kalkwasser can deplete alkalinity, but I can't say that it would be a good idea to deliberately overdose Kalk just to "help" deplete the alkalinity! Think for a second about what alkalinity is: In its most simple definition, it can be stated that alkalinity is a measurement of the water's ability to neutralize acid (the "buffering" capacity of the water). In a FO tank with aggressive, heavy feeders that give off a lot of organic waste, lots of buffering capacity is a good thing! I'd basically check two things...Number one- do check that alkalinity a few more times at regular intervals, and verify the freshness of your reagents and the test procedure. The Seachem kit is an excellent one, but double-check yourself again nonetheless. Number two- check your source water...I wonder what the alkalinity reading is...All in all, unless your fishes are showing distress or exhibiting health problems, I would not be overly concerned. Yes- numbers are important, but they don't tell the whole story...See how the tank looks as a whole...If it looks otherwise okay, I'd simply keep an eye on things, test the water regularly, and take appropriate actions if you notice any disturbing trends. The only thing that I would be particularly concerned about here is the rapid breathing that your fishes are exhibiting after water changes...I'd consider using RO/DI water and preparing it for use as outlined on the WWM site. Other than that- keep doing what you are doing! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

dKH dropping... Thanks as always for your great help. This might be long winded. <I'll keep my fingers crossed!> I have a 90 gal reef with 90 lbs Kaelini rock (adding 36 lbs of Tonga deepwater soon) with aprox 3" aragonite fine sandbed (will be increasing to 4+") up and running since 1/10/03. I have 1 coral beauty and an asst of Turbos, scarlet and red tipped hermits. Lighting is 2 VHO actinics and 2 175w MH left on for 11 hrs/day. There is a 20gal sump with a protein skimmer producing 2-3 cups fairly dark skimmate weekly. I use one magnum 350 with carbon and it is changed every 2-3 weeks. I change 10 gals of water 2 times a week. For evaporation I use ro water not buffered. I have a 2nd mag that I will be using in a qt tank and then in my main tank when not needed for qt. Return is 1 Quiet One pump running continuously and 1 little giant 4 md that I run aprox. 4 hrs per day. <Not sure I understand why that is, I assume for extra circulation during the day?> Every 2 wks I add 1 capful Kent essential elements. For the water parameters. Temp- 75 degrees, sg- 1.0235, phos- finally 0, nitrate- 0, nitrite <0.1, ammonia- 0, salinity- 33 and calcium 400- 425. I use tropic Marin bio-calcium to keep up the level. My dKH was at 14.5 in Feb.. and has steadily decreased to 9.5 this Sunday. <Likely because you're only adding calcium and no buffer. Try one of the many 2 part balanced calcium and alk supplements (b-ionic, tech cb, etc).>Is this going to be or is it already a problem? <Right now it's not a problem, but it will be> I have SeaChem reef buffer. Should I be buffering my evaporation water and would that keep my dKH up? <Do it up!> Do you see anything else that I am doing that will be a problem in the future? <Not really, the temp is a little low, but I wouldn't go changing it now. Good luck! -Kevin> Thanks again dKH Dropping part II thanks for your help. I forgot to mention my ph- 8.4. will buffering my evaporation water increase my ph? <Likely, ESV makes a b-ionic for tanks that run at a higher pH, check it out: http://www.esvco.com/prod14.htm > called Should I always only add buffered water to make up for evaporation? <Only if your pH was usually low, since it's nice and high don't worry about it.> What is the dKH range? <A dKH from 8-12 w/ a calcium level of 400-450 is desired but everyone has a different saturation level.> I will be using shortly a LaMotte alkalinity kit. <Excellent kits> What range should that be? And finally you said my temp is a little low. What is the optimum range? <Nowadays we like to see it around 78-80, you can raise it a degree or so every few days until it's 78, all the while watching for any stress.> Thanks again <Good luck -Kevin>

- Low kH and pH - Hello again!! I am searching for more answers if you great peeps can help me out a bit. <Great peep Kevin here today ;) > I have the 180 gallon acrylic w/60 gallon acrylic below. Both have numerous SPS and LPS stonies w/some softies here and there for looks <Haha, isn't it all for looks?!> and also a few clams and about 15 fish. I have had the tank running for about 15 years and have not noticed any allelopathy between corals as I keep the corals away from each other. <Great success!> My tank parameters are: calcium 425, pH 7.9 if I don't add Kalk for a couple of days and 8.3 after daily doses of Kalk slurry per Mr. Calfo's book of coral propagation. <I think I've heard of that shady character...> kH as of last night was 5 and 4.9 using the Tetra Test kit and the Sea Test kits respectively. On the very low side. Sg. stays at 1.024 with the use of RO/DI by way of a switch and pump system I have been using for several months now. No nitrates, nitrates or ammonia. I use 2x400 watt metal halides and 4x110 watt VHOs for the lighting. <What 400w lamps are you using? I used to run 2x400w Iwasakis and have recently changed to 10k Ushios. The Ushios put out a beautiful crisp white light that really pops w/ VHO actinics.> CPR SR9 skimmer with ozone and ORP controller. I am using a Knop C calcium reactor with newly introduced Carib Sea ARM reactor media. I have found that it works great for keeping my calcium levels up. The effluent is putting out 600ppm calcium and my effluent pH and kH are 6.68 and 28 respectively. Does any of this tie in with why I can't keep my pH from dropping rapidly after I dose the Kalk slurry at night? <Likely just excess CO2 from the reactor and/or poorer buffering ability from aged live rock. 7.9 is not a big deal.> Usually drops .1 within 1.5 hrs. after dosing Kalk. With a kH of 28 from the reactor will my tank kH come back up after a while of using the new reactor media or do I need to dose more often with Seachem's Reef Builder to bring up the kH and keep it up around 10-12? <Sounds like your Ca and alk levels are simply a little off balance. If you have some on hand, I'd bump the kH up with the reef builder just this once and you should be all set.> I raised it up today before I left for work to 8-9 kH. I am running 4-5 CO2 bubbles every 15 seconds and 90-110 effluent drops every minute to get an effluent pH of the 6.68. Any suggestions here? Please let me know if any of you (please feel free to discuss amongst yourselves) have any ideas. <Once you balance out your calcium and alk situation, you may want to richen the effluent a little by adding a little more CO2. Either that or add more Kalk slurry. It sounds like you're in good shape though, Good luck! -Kevin> Thanks again for all of your help!! It is truly appreciated. Jeff

Message not sinking in... pH & Alkalinity 11/1/03 Thanks for the response. So what can I do to bring the pH down ? <Hmmm, how to say this without showing my frustration? Had you read the links/articles referred to you in previous e-mails it would be clear my friend. I assure you again: a pH of 8.6 is not a problem... and all this assuming that your pH test kit is not reading high (common)> Alk is or seems to be skewed to the high side. <I cannot confirm or deny that without knowing what your actual reading is. If it is under 12 dKH, no worries. If under 15dKH... simply allow it to stray down by natural acidifying processes> I say alk is high due to the fact that 1. ph is so high, 2. climbs to 8.8-9 when not buffered 3. if you adjust the ph down to around 8.2 with HCl, the pH climbs back to 8.6 within hours. <no need to ride this roller coaster mate... a pH at 8.8 at 3.5 pts over NSW avg. 8.45 is MUCH safer than being 3.5 pts lower at 8.1> Alk also registers high, don't know the numbers right now am at work, on colorimetric test. I have tried 1 damsel on two separate occasions within the past two weeks (not while adjusting pH, was constant at ~8.6, and both croaked within 24 hrs. <not from high pH I assure you> NH2, NO2, and NO3 were not detectable. Although I haven't tested it, DO should be high and or sufficient to sustain fishes, I would tend to believe that ph would be lower if DO was low. Am running supplemental aeration on the water supply lines to the wet/dry return. There are currently no creatures in this tank, only rock and sand. I also wonder when and if I get fish in this tank if Clownfishes for instance fanning the bottom with there tails and moving sand will produce a ph spike and kill everything. Just extremely frustrated right now. <please take the time to help yourself Frank with the concise articles and FAQs we have on this subject at wetwebmedia.com. Also... test your source water and determine if it is the source of your pH/ALK concerns. This is a very simple problem to diagnose... it can only be one of three things: 1) your source water is high and is being bolstered higher by salt mix/supplements, 2) you are using supplements (Ca, ALK, buffer, etc) incorrectly (causing seesaw effect or spikes)... or 3) your test kits are not accurate. No worries... this can be diagnosed my friend. Anthony>

- Procuring Test Kits, Follow-up - WWM, Hello. I finally received my Salifert Calcium, Magnesium, and KH/ALK test kits. Here are my results: Magnesium- 1410 KH/ALK- 16 dKH Calcium- 450 I also tested last week with slightly lower calcium. I added SeaChem's Reef Advantage Calcium to raise it slightly. The magnesium also seems good to me. About the ALK....HOW DO I LOWER IT? It seems WAY too high? <It is high, but not dangerously so.> A few weeks ago (before I had test kits) I added two capfuls of SeaChem's Reef Carbonate, which I believe caused the tank to become very cloudy. Could this cause the extremely high dKH? <At the very least a factor if not the direct cause.> For additives I have SeaChem's Reef Advantage Calcium, SeaChem's Reef Builder, SeaChem's Reef Trace, and Epsom salts. I have only added a small amount of Reef Advantage Calcium to raise the calcium slightly. I have not used the Reef Builder or the Epsom salts. How often should I use the reef trace? I have a feather duster, toadstool leather, polyps, mushrooms and 80 lbs of HI rock live rock in a 75 gal tank. <At this point, I would add nothing - no additives - except regular water changes. Give your alkalinity a chance to come down a notch or two.> Also, I am considering upgrading my lighting to Custom SeaLife Power Compact with Moon-lite 4x65. I can't afford VHO, and this seems like a good alternative? <Yes, is a worthwhile fixture.> Thanks <Cheers, J -- >

Too many mushrooms or high Alk? 1/30/04 Hi crew,, <Hi Cory. Adam Here. I moved some parts of your question around a bit so that the answers stay with the questions.> I have been searching/researching and asking lots of experts this question. Can you have too many mushroom coral in a system. I have a 38g tank, established and stable for 6 yrs. I bought some (6) single, unattached mushrooms from a friend and they have naturally propagated to well over 100. Some larger 5" head, some small .25" most in between. I recently sold 4 rocks to LFS to lower overall count of mushrooms. As of now, I cannot determine the impact of this. <Congrats on your success! It is always nice to sell things back to the LFS!> The problem I have is I recently changed PC bulbs. I went from 10K's to 50/50's. Now the tank has a sweet smell to it, the mushrooms are not reproducing and I am growing green algae dust by the minute. I noticed the mushrooms took several weeks to adjust to the new lights. <It sounds like the new lights are probably much brighter than the old ones. This would explain the algae growth and the response of the mushrooms.> I have a light load in the tank. Water parameters are: Am = 0; nitrites = 0; nitrates = <12; Sal = 1.023; Temp = 78F CA =?, Alk = 30 dKH..; I recently have been researching and decided to look into this possible Alk problem. I add 2 ml Iodine every 3rd day, I dose Kalkwasser 1tsp mixed in tank water 1 time per week; <Kalkwasser should be dissolved in freshwater and added to the tank, never directly to the tank.> RO/DI water exclusively, 5 gal water change every other weekend, Buffer on water changes. BTW, through minimal testing I found the source of the high Alk, my LFS RO/DI water is 10 dKH before salination or other additives. I will be switching sources immediately. <First thing... If your alk is high, quit adding the buffer <g>! Also, something is wrong if their RO water has such high alkalinity. Either it isn't RO, the membrane is bad, the source water is *extremely* high in carbonate hardness or some combination of the above. I would test both the RO water and your tank with a new kit. My first hunch is that your test kit is not reading accurately. Do verify the reading before taking drastic measures. If it really is that high, water changes performed with normal alkalinity water will be the best way to correct it.> Question - Do colonies of mushrooms secrete something that is polluting my tank, i.e. causing the sweet smell and the rapid nuisance algae growth. I test everything I can, I don't know what mushrooms secrete that might be causing this. Is the elevated alk contributing to this. Although, this all seems to have occurred after I changed the bulbs. <You hit the nail on the head. The lighting is probably responsible for the algae growth and irritation of the Shrooms. I would correct the alkalinity through water changes which will have the added benefit of reducing your nitrate. The smell could be from secretions from the Shrooms, but I am not sure (could it be something on the lamps?).> Every suggestion I have had to date is treating the symptoms. I would like to understand the problem. <Water changes will help lots here. Nitrate, alkalinity and metabolites/secretions from the Shrooms will all be reduced. Look for improvement in the Shrooms with time as the acclimate to the new light and water changes reduce the amount of their own waste that they are living in.> Any help would be greatly appreciated. <Hope this is helpful. Adam>

Re: too many mushrooms or high Alk? Adam,, I appreciate your responses.. I would like to clarify a couple of items.. <Hi Cory. Clarification is always good. We often have to make assumptions on unknown or unclear info.> As far as the base RO water from my LFS, I didn't know this until recently.. I will be and have switched to a new, verified source.. I have not added additional buffer since I determined this issue. <Great. I actually figured you would have taken these steps, but better to mention them than risk it.> As far as the lighting, actually the 10K's were much brighter than the 50/50's.. I assume there is something in the frequency of the light that is causing the algae.. Is that a fair assumption? or.. Could the extremely high Alk be causing the Algae? <The visual appearance of the lamps is often a poor indicator of how much PAR (Photosynthetically active radiation) is reaching corals and algae. This is determined to a large extent by the spectrum. High Alkalinity will not lead to algae growth.> I have purchased enough new, verified RO/DI water and mixed/aerated to change about 75% of the water over the next several days. I am looking forward to a reduction of the algae. My tank looks terrible all the time except for an hour or two after cleaning. Again, thanks for the help.. You and your staff are a great help. Cory Huey <Always a pleasure Cory. The water changes should bring your Alkalinity in ranged. I suspect that if you test your Calcium, it will be on the low side after all of the water changes, and supplementing it with calcium chloride will probably bring your Alkalinity down that last little bit. Best of luck. Adam>

Lowering KH My tank is 55 gal. I have some pieces of live rock, and 4 fish-the most "glamorous" of which is a purple tang. I just ran a complete set of test on the water: S.G. 1.022 Ammonia 0 Nitrite 0 Nitrate <5 pH 8.18 KH 230 mg/L repeat 15 dKH Phosphate 0 Calcium 240 mg/L <Mmm, a bit low> Iron 0 My analysis was that the Calcium seemed low, and the KH - tested with two different kits, seemed high. <Not too high... I wouldn't fool with it here... or the calcium directly either... for the livestock you have you're doing fine> I hope this answers your question. Thanks Again George p.s.. I absolutely admire your book "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist." I have had mine for several months now, and my copy has numerous parts that are highlighted. A friend of mine who was hospitalized has been an aquarist for almost 30 years now, and "knows all" read my copy wile he was convalescing, and is now going to receive his own copy (from me.) Great job!!!! <Thank you for your kind words. Much appreciated. Bob Fenner>

Lowering KH After months of fighting low pH problems, I bought a KH measuring kit. The 20 dH! <Lots of places nowadays with water this "hard" (and harder!)> I am using an RO system, and that water mixed with artificial sea salt is 7 dH The water from the RO is 0 dH I do not understand how the carbonate hardness got this bad. I have been using SeaChem's Marine Buffer 8.3, and this is not supposed to effect the KH. <Mmm, no. Please see here: http://www.petmeister.com/item1461.htm This product does contain calcium carbonate...> However, I was having trouble controlling the pH before I started using the buffer, therefore the problem probably started before that. Any ideas? <Lots... depending on what sort of system (components), livestock, desires you have. There are other means to adjust and stabilize pH as well.> How do I lower the KH and not kill the fish? <There are a few techniques, possibilities... once again, please reply to the items above> ps. I do a 10% water change weekly. <Good> Thank you George DuFour

Calcium/dKH levels Hey guys, First off, let me start with the obligatory 'great site' comment. I'm relatively new to the hobby and have enjoyed your site and found it rather useful! Huge amounts of info in one place - what a treat! Now for my problem - I recently got my reef tank going - cured the live rock for 4 weeks, and have had the tank up for another 4 weeks. 4 weeks ago I did a 100% water change, and another 50% water change 2 weeks ago. <Why the large water changes? Not that I am against them. I have had reason to perform such large changes before.> I was wondering if you had any thoughts on why my Calcium and dKH readings are so low (see below). I've been through the faq's on these, and I've found info on how to raise or maintain levels using reactors/Kalk/2-part additives, but can't figure out what can cause them to be low. I'm using RO/De-Ionized bottled water, <And aerating or circulating it for a day? Or using it straight out of the bottle? Please aerate/circulate prior to use. Many FAQ's are filled by Q&A's on the subject.> so I can see that I'd lose a little Ca there, but shouldn't there be enough Ca and buffer in the salt mix (Instant Ocean) that after two weeks these levels shouldn't be so low? I'd prefer to maintain the levels through routine water changes, but if I need to dose, then I need to dose - but I'm worried there may be some cause for the low levels that I can remedy rather than having to dose. I have a 20 gallon tank with a pseudo ecostyle/CPR DIY HOT refugium with grape Caulerpa, spaghetti grass and some red algae (Gracilaria tikvahiae) & Kent bio-sediment (4inches). I'm also running an Aqua-C Remora skimmer & carbon and have 2-36W power compacts - 1 actinic, 1 6500k (12 hr photo-period with refugium on an alternating/overlapping 14hr cycle). There is 25lbs live rock, 1 Percula clown, 1 yellow watchman goby, a cleaner shrimp, a BTA, and various polyp/soft-coral/mushroom cuttings in the tanks (not to mention various snails and hermit crabs) Water parameters are as follows: Salinity - 1.021 @ 80 degrees Temperature - 80 degrees pH - 8.3 Alkalinity - dKH = 6 Calcium - 250 Ammonia - nada Nitrite - nada Nitrate - 2.5ppm All water quality parameters tested using Red Sea test kits. While I have you on the line - let me through one more question your way - there are a couple of dead spots (low flow presumably leading to low oxygen) in my refugium where some Cyanobacteria have sprung up - I've siphoned it out, and was hoping that the other algae would out compete the Cyano for nutrients, but I'm not holding my breath. Short of cranking up the flow (running a Rio 600 right now) through the refugium, are there any other things I can do about this? <Take a lot at the extensive FAQ's on Cyanobacteria.> Thanks for your response and a great site-Matt <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Calcium, Alk, & Coralline Algae now that I have figured out kH and was given good info on what to do on how to keep my calcium levels up. I had a question on coralline algae, my tank has been set up for a little over a year when I started the coralline grew like crazy but now it has started to turn white and now to a green color. I have been testing my calcium now for about 2 weeks. when I started it was about 280 ppm I have gotten it up to 320 these past 2 weeks but have had no color changes is this just a problem that will right itself when I achieve 400-450 ppm? <Yes, given all other conditions appropriate; lighting, nutrients, etc.> parameters 55 gallon long tank 330 watts pc lighting 110 watts 50-50 110 watts 10 k 110 9650k ph 8.2 ammonia 0 nitrite 0 nitrate 0 calcium 320 ppm kH 10.64meq/l sg 1.023 temp 79 degrees f still haven't found a alk. test kit <Salifert makes a nice, affordable kit. What a minute! How do you know what you KH is? Alkalinity is measured in two scales. One is German degrees of hardness, dKH, the other is milliequivalents per liter, meq/l.> Skilter need a real skimmer 2 power heads <Everything sounds ok. Calcium and alkalinity need to come up, but you know that.> inhabitants rose anemone 1 now gave one to friend maroon clown above buddy button polyps two colonies pagoda coral yellow star polyps encrusting gorgonian red tube worm colony 8 different color zoanthids 2 large candies 2 small candies pom-pom xenias 5 colonies long tactical Xenia getting big branching hammer large branching hammer frag branching frogspawn 1 green 1 brown flower pot 1 pink 1 tan Nephthea branching torch 4 large star colonies 3 colony pipe organ started with 1 medium cabbage was the size of the tip of my little finger Galaxea 4 colonies rose leather red moon? toad stool leather mushroom leather bubble octo bubble sun coral cloves daisies 10 Christmas tree worms 2 serpent star fish 1 Scopas tang multiple crabs {hermit} multiple snails and a partridge in a pear tree <Wow, that is a pretty well packed 55. -Steven Pro>

Alkalinity and pH Problems Hello Bob and Co., Bob and Anthony; I have CMA and the Book of Coral Prop. Both are great, thanks. Now onto my problem. I have an 8 gallon reef tank, LR, sand, and a sump with some sand and LR as well. Total water volume is approx. 10 gallons. I have 2 tomato clowns, 2 cleaner shrimp, one pistol shrimp, one emerald crab, one sand stirring star, <Tank is far too small for this starfish. <<Or the Clowns. RMF>> Will starve to death in time after eating all the live parts of your livesand.> a few blue leg hermits, and a few snails. I also have one Capnella, some brown button polyps, anthelia, and some green star polyps. The tank has been set up for almost two years, however it was changed from a crushed coral substrate to live sand about 4 months ago. There is a Seaclone skimmer hanging on the sump, and an airstone in the sump (the airstone is a new addition). I have two 36watt PC's (one 6300K and one blue) from AH supply. About a month ago I started having a lower than normal pH. I was typically running between 8.0 and 8.1. I wanted to raise that up to an average 8.2 so I added the airstone in the sump. About the time I added the airstone, pH readings were down to about 7.8. I cut back on my calcium supplements and tested a few days later and pH was down to about 7.7. Calcium levels were higher with each test, now at about 500ppm. I stopped adding calcium at this point. At the first sign of the lowering pH, I started using NatuReef's hardness plus and alkalinity plus. I felt that a balanced two part additive may help. After my pH reached 7.7, I stopped adding the hardness plus and have only been adding the alk. plus. I should also mention that I did a water change with day old, aerated water (4 gallons over two days). Alkalinity before I started the water changes was 9dKH. After each water change, and an addition of alk. plus, alkalinity has not changed. It is still at 9dKH. Oh by the way, my Mg was low at the time pH was discovered to be low, hence the water changes. I have also added some Mg additive. Why, with a significant water change, addition of a buffer and Mg has my alkalinity not been coming up? <Are you sure that your new water has the parameters you want?> I tested alk this morning; 8dKH. Added two ml of buffer about two hours ago. Just now tested alk again; still 8dKH. <Do make up more water as before; aerated, heated and such. This time confirm that the pH, alkalinity, calcium, and magnesium levels of this new water is in the ranges you want. -Steven Pro> Confused in Florida, Mark (spearo) Joseph

Constantly low alk. Hello, I have written to you a while ago and appreciated the help then. All has been good with my tank until the last 4-6 weeks. The tank is a reef, 72 gal with skimmer, live sand/rock and moderate to light coral (all soft/mushrooms) and fish load. Tank is about 9 months old. Lighting is 260 watts pc with bulbs just replaced 2 months ago. I cannot keep my alkalinity above 2 mil/eq/litre. I have tried a couple of different buffers (two little fishes 2 part system and Kent). <FWIW... I have seen product tests that put ESV B-Ionic twp part mixes at the top of the pack for efficacy and concentration> I can get the alk up to about 2.5 but then within a day or two I am down to about 1.5 if I don't add the maximum amounts recommended each day. Ph remains about 8.2, which is a little low. Everything else tests out ok. Nitrate/nitrite/ammonia is 0, phosphate is almost undetectable, calcium stays about 400 ppm, temp 80. <overall... reasonably good chemistry> I did check for magnesium last month and found it was extremely low (800 ppm) and have raised it since to about 1200-1300 ppm. I also was using marine enterprises reef blend salt, but have since switched to reef crystals and did a 15 gal water change 2 weeks ago and will do another one this week with the new salt. <yes... a good move IMO. Even the regular Instant Ocean would be fine> The only effects the tank/livestock show is a small amount of hair algae on one rock, and the glass gets a green film within 2-3 days that needs wiped off. Back of tank is covered with coralline algae. No fish or corals have really showed anything, but I did have green polyps that have been noticeably better since adding the magnesium. Any ideas what to check for, or what would have caused this to be happening. I was told elsewhere that the salt I was using was low in Mag. and therefore switched. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks in advance. M Koran <the solution for you may be as simple as adding a small amount of Baking soda daily to supplement the two part mixes until you get into the desired range (then only two-part mix from then). Add slowly. 1 X may be good, but 2 X is not necessarily better. And test concurrently to see that the bicarbonate is giving desired results. If that doesn't work, I vote for several large water changes with the new salt mix to dilute the system and return balance to the Ca? Alk dynamic, then carry on with B-Ionic or a calcium reactor. 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 -- >>

Low Alk Sigh. hi again. How are you? <Just fine thank you! I am guessing the same could not be said for you.> I'm confused (way too regular of an occurrence). I use Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Tap Water Purifier for my water. The pH of that water is 7.0 (or lower). The alkalinity is very low also. I've used Aqua Lab pH-Guard (claims to raise and stabilizes pH at 8.3 and adds trace elements) while I aerate the water and that seems to get the pH to 8.0 (maybe 8.2). The alkalinity reads 1.4 meq/l. <Pretty low> I have Kent Marine Pro Buffer dKH and I'm using it on my main tank. It seems to stabilize the pH but the alkalinity doesn't seem to go up. I have no fish thus far. I've only used it for a few days thus far. The tank has been running with 60 lbs of liverock in a 55 gallon for 2 months. Could the tank not have cycled yet and does that affect the alkalinity? <The cycling process creates acidic compounds that do have an effect on your alkalinity.> BTW my nitrite, nitrate and ammonia are all 0. <If they are staying at those levels, your tank is cycled.> I'm guessing it hasn't cycled but does that affect the alkalinity levels? <Yes, kind of, but not much more than the everyday nitrogen cycle.> Anyway what is the best procedure to treat my purified water? <Aerate for one day, then add salt mix, mix for another day, then test pH and alkalinity and adjust as needed.> What products? <I like Aquarium System's brands of salt and Seachem Reef Builder and Marine Buffer, but there are plenty of other good products.> Two part and SeaBuffer? <Two part additives would be too expensive for me.> Whew made it! Thanks sooo much. Justaguy ;) <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Carbonate Hardness Dear Bob, <cheers across the pond... Anthony Calfo in your service> I own a 70 (UK) gallon system, fish only, which I set up in May. I now have five fish who all look very happy & healthy, a good filtration system (protein skimmer, UV sterilizer etc), but high KH. According to the Hagen test kit, KH should be between 105 - 125 mg/l, but my reading is approx. 225 mg/l! <for marine aquaria it may not be a problem as long as your calcium is also not on the high end. No worries though... let's test your tap water to see how high the KH is there. If necessary you could dilute your "very hard" tap water with RO or DI water if necessary> Previously when I was testing weekly it was always slightly higher (140 -170), but my stockist told me that was nothing to worry about. <agreed.... likely little or nothing to worry about> I do 10% water changes weekly, using Aquarium Pharmaceuticals tap water filter, my SG is usually around .20, and my ph is around 8 - 8.1. How do I solve this problem, if it is a problem? I have KH buffers, but I don't need to increase the alkaline, and my stockist doesn't seem to be too clear about this area. Once again I'm turning to you guys! Thanks, Hamish, UK. <again... in the big picture not much to worry about. Use fish health as n indicator and look a little closer at the source water... temper if needed. Best regards, Anthony>

Re: Heliofungia Actiniformis, Dilution is the Solution to Pollution: High ALK I will try what you suggested to revive the plate coral. I mentioned my water chemistry was good but I hadn't checked my calcium hardness and it is WAY too high. I have checked it twice and it is reading over 20dKH with a LaMotte kit (it actually reads it as CaCO3 at 4515 ppm). <YIKES!> My pH is steady at 8.2 and Alkalinity is 2.75 meq/L. I have a calcium reactor hooked up filled with Korallith and water flowing through it but I have yet to connect the C02 tank. When I originally filled the tank I overdosed on Seachem's Marine buffer to the point that a precipitate formed all over everything (I am still trying to remove it). <ahhh, yes... I see> I did a water change but have been adding Marine Buffer to replacement water (RODI) to bring pH to same level. <agreed... but do aerate before any buffer or salt> Any suggestions on what I should do next? <indeed... a string of large water changes. As they say, "Dilution is the Solution to Pollution."> Sorry to hear the trip to Mexico fell through. It sounded like it would have been interesting. <yes... I was dreadfully sorry to miss it. We were so surprised to get a call 2 days before the event!> Thank you again. Regards, Gerardo <my pleasure, Anthony>

High alkalinity To whom it may concern, I have had my aquarium going for about 2 months now. I tested my saltwater on 10/10/02 and my alkalinity is 7.0. I had an expired alkalinity test kit and I kept adding Seachem buffer to raise the alkalinity and the calcium. I recently bought a new alkalinity test kit and it was high. My current readings are Ca-315, Phosphate 3.0, Nitrite 0, Ammonia 0, pH 8.0, Nitrate 0, and Alk 7.0. We have recently started getting green hair algae and have had 3 turbo snails die. How do we get our alkalinity and phosphate to an acceptable level, and calcium to a higher level. <Forget about the additives and just perform water changes (with water that is at the appropriate levels) to get yourself back on course.> We have been putting liquid calcium and have raised it from 275 to 315. Can you please help me? <Sure, see above> I do not want to lose any more fish or invertebrates. I also have 2 sandsifting stars and 4 hermit crabs. PLEASE HELP!!!!!!!!!!! In desperate need, Parri Carr <I can tell you are panicking a bit there. I would just focus on the water changes for now. I strongly prefer RO or DI water and a high quality salt mix, so you can be assured the new water is clean. Please refer to the www.WetWebMedia.com archives for further guidance. -Steven Pro>

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>

- High Alka...linity... - Hi there fish gods <Egads, that seems a bit extreme.> Here is the low down I got some alk issues. I finally got myself some quality test kits here (red sea test kits are really a guessing game) so here are the problems here 2 tanks first tank 75 gallon FOWLR wet/dry with live rock and Caulerpa instead of bio bale (correcting some high nitrates) light over the wet/dry 24 hours here are the readings Ph 8.3-8.4 constant alk 4.46mq Ca roughly 400-450 (another great re sea test testing only by 50ppm!) ammo 0.0-0.25 nitrite.01 nitrate 30-50 (down from well over 70ppm if not higher) phosphate over 2.0ppm (yeah got the algae machine working here bad source water related: just got the RO/DI to correct this problem maybe you have a suggestion on bringing this down quickly beside the obvious water changes and nutrient control also the reason for the Caulerpa in the sump. <There are several filtration options available work as a phosphate sponges and remove nearly all of it - just put inline somewhere in your filtration loop.> Now i also have a 37 gallon reef newly set up running for about 2 months a little better off than the FOWLR readings are: ph.8.3-8.4 alk 5.26?! ca :400-450 nirite:0 nitrate:0 ammo:0 phos:0.2 With the new RO/DI water I tested some pre/mixed heated and aerated for 24 hours readings on the pre mix was ph 8.3-8.4 alk 9.96dkh ca 100-150 ppm using reef blend salt I know RO/DI removes ca. but this seems pretty low to me but happy with the alk compared to the tank probs. Additives are B-Ionic 2 part daily and iodide every other day. What can I do to bring this alk down with out using the Kalk which I just got but have not dosed yet because of the ph and ca being on the high side as is so didn't wont to cause anymore problems than what I'm dealing with already. <Hmm... give it a couple of weeks. This tank is pretty new and needs to settle out some more. I wouldn't worry too much about the high alkalinity, but I'd stop doing to B-ionic for a little while.> Please help! <Cheers, J -- >

Alk/Calcium Balancing Act? Here's another bazillion dollar question for you. Tank: 75 gal, 95 lbs. LR, RO. water, two skimmer's 5' and smaller one both CC, 1300 gph flow main tank at head, plenum, 30 gal sump/fuge, attached 20 also fuge, both fuges have 4" DSB, some Caulerpa and other non-Caulerpa macro algae. Calcium 250-300, alk is 4.8-5.2 mg/L, pH 8-8.2 at lights out, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate undetectable, phosphate undetectable, silicate's 8. I dose one gallon of Kalkwasser each night and add ESV two part every morning before lights on. I am also using Anthony's method of chilling about a teaspoon of Kalk and adding it directly to the tank to raise calcium and pH twice a week. I have read everything on your site about alk, ca, and ph. My problem started when my calcium etc. precipitated out of my mixed, stored, water change water. The precip coated my heater powerhead and mixing can with a white gritty film. Over a period (while I was trying to figure out what was causing it) my calcium levels in my tank dropped to between 200 and 250. To make a long story short I contacted all the salt manufacturers for help on this problem and they of course couldn't tell me what was wrong. They said my problem is very unusual and they and couldn't help me. Anyway, I then purchased a Tropic Marin hydrometer and found my salinity level was 1.028. I slowly dropped the salinity back down to 1.025 using buffered RO. water. Since then, I have been fighting high alk and low calcium, and a little hair and Cyano mixed. <If this is one of the plastic hydrometers, they all differ, but usually within an acceptable range. I like mine to read zero with 78F RO water. It will likely read correctly or close enough at that point. Your calcium problem is related to high alkalinity. You don't mention what you use for source water. Is it RO, tap, etc? With so much silicate it sounds like tap water. I would get an RO/DI unit that removes silicates (and alk) from the make-up water. Your water may also be high in alkalinity to start which could precipitate your calcium.> >The algae are isolated to the left front of my tank in an area about 6" by 12" long, right in front of the AGA overflow. I have a powerhead located right above it angled toward the front to provide water flow to this area of the tank. So far it has not expanded to any other area of the system. The Cyano seems to ebb and flow with the lighting, receding as the timers reduce light. The hair alga is not as much of a problem, but it is mixed in with the Cyano and only stays in this area. Would the high silicates contribute to the problem algae? I do not have any other problem algae of any kind. Neither of the fuges have Cyano either. Steven recommended a couple of large water changes to get everything back to normal then continue using the two part and Kalk to keep things in check. <Excellent advice. I would advise you use the Kalk to supplement calcium and b-ionic at half strength as directed on the bottle. To get your calcium up from there I would use Seachem Reef Calcium (it can be used to raise calcium levels up to 25 mg/l per day.) Raising it to 380-425 will take a few days while using Kalk at night. Once you get to 38-425 then return to Kalk using b-ionic or preferably just a marine buffer to maintain alk at 3.5-5 meq/l. It is 4 now which is ideal.> I just finished the massive water changes two days ago although it helped, my alk is still 4.8, pH 8.1 and calcium 300. The calcium did not precipitate out of the water change water this time. I mixed the water with two powerheads and heater for about 16 hours then changed the water. What am I doing wrong? Do I need more Kalkwasser? I am building a calcium reactor. However, it will not be done for at least several weeks maybe longer. From reading at WWM it won't help much unless I can get things centered. I am getting tired of banging my head against the wall. Any help would be much appreciated. Oh! And by the way thanks for all your help and may God bless all of you for your unselfish service to us all. <You aren't doing anything wrong. High alk and high calcium work against one another. This is like sugar and cream in coffee. You are trying to mix it at a specific ration. There is only so much sugar and cream coffee can hold in suspension. If you add more sugar there will be less coffee and cream compared to sugar. If you add more cream there will be less sugar and coffee compared to cream. You want to test it and determine a system of regular supplementation that get's it just right. You may need to use a bit of another calcium supplement (or your new reactor) to keep your calcium up while replacing only 1 gallon of evaporation a day. Be careful of the b-ionic, it is a balanced alk/calcium system and the alk portion needs to be factored into your situation. Each time you add alk (b-ionic or buffer) you make your coffee hold less calcium in comparison to alk. All that is necessary is to add more calcium by comparison. Anthony wrote a really good article on this subject, you can read it at: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm This should help! You aren't as far off as you think! Craig>

Low Alkalinity Hello Bob, I have a problem (I think) with low alkalinity. I looked through my books at home and your site, but couldn't find anything on my situation. I have been testing my water every day to try and find the answer. Here goes... I use Salifert tests for all readings. <Good test kits> When I first noticed my alkalinity was low (2.51 meq/l), pH was 8.0, I started adding Kent's ProBuffer (Liquid form). I added the mfr's. recommended dose each day. In the following days, my pH have risen .1 each day. pH is now at 8.3. However, my alkalinity has remained below 3.0. It read 2.74 on the second day, then dropped to 2.51, then back up to 2.74. <Yes, this is a bit low...> My calcium has remained a steady 425 - 450. I use Kent's liquid calcium. I add it to my "NURCE" (automatic top off device). So I assume it adds a little calcium each time top off water is added to the tank. My water always tests at 425-450. <Some of this supplement is taking the alkalinity with it...> The only other additive I use is Kent's Tech-I Iodine, which I have since stopped using on the advice of my LPS. <A serious hobbyist. You're now listening to Large Polyp Stony corals, Dr. Doofishle? For laughing out loud, I know you mean LFS> He (and I) have had a problem (small) with brown algae. He recommends Lugol's which I'll try in a week or so. Everything in my tank looks great! (so why am I complaining, right?). <Human nature, lack of real involvement in your work, easier than adventitious behavior... you got me> Thanks in advance for your help, Tony <Ooh, but there's more...> ALSO..... I just saw a new product, "Black Powder" in a magazine. Have you heard/seen anything on this product? <One of Weiss' re-inventions... don't know nada... or actually do know nothing about it. Bob Fenner, who wouldn't become obsessed over the alkalinity deficit (apparent in readings), but would still be aiming for the much cheaper (believe me before the supplement company's put a hit man on me) and safer, more stable calcium reactor route... And will refer you to the pH, alkalinity, biomineral sections in Baensch Marine Atlas v.1 as the best work up of these topics available in English.>

Re: Low Alkalinity Thank you once again. And YES, my LPS corals talk to me....don't they talk to everyone?????? (I'm ok....really) <Too much java juice for both of us today!> If I stopped adding the calcium altogether, could that solve the problem? Maybe use half of what I've been using? <Perhaps, and it's worth a try for a few weeks... Are you still tinkering with the home built calcium reactor idea? Back to the Lah bore ah torreee!> Hope all is well, Tony <Yes, thanks. Bob Fenner>

EGAD -- KH and GH Off the Charts!!! Hello Bob! Glad to have you back (though I truly appreciate Lorenzo's efforts, too!). <He was and is fabulous... a gentleman, computer scientist par excellence, and a pet-fishionado> Hope you had a wonderful trip! My tank is in it's 5th month. All of my fish stock are doing very well. I have: 1 false percula, 1 blue velvet damsel, 1 bicolor angel, 1 tomato clown, 3 fire fish, 1 blue damsel, 1 falco hawkfish and 5 very tiny hermit crabs (6mm width, maybe). They all seem to get along very well. I recently lost my bubble-tip anemone (just never seemed to adjust well to the tank) and my pencil urchin (he seemed very healthy, then up and died. Upon inspection, it looked like something was picking between his spines). <Possible> A quick rundown: 55 gallon long marine tank, crushed coral and live sand bottom, soon to house live rock (as soon as I can afford a protein skimmer), with a Fluval 304, 2 Penguin powerheads (1 - 550, 1 - 660), Venice-styled power compact lighting. My parameters are pH = 8.2, Nitrites = 0, Nitrates = 7ish, Ammonia= 0, Specific Gravity = 1.023. I clean my sandbed weekly, but make sure to leave some stuff for the crabs and the angel. I do water changes using well water that is pre-adjusted with salt, tap water conditioner and stress coat. The salt that I use is purported to have very low mineral content. I recently went and bought a test kit for KH and GH. Well, much to my dismay, these figures are OFF THE CHARTS! I literally used 1/2 bottle of the GH test drops without turning the water color to get a reading. KH was readable, but about 5x what it should be according to the charts in the test kit. <Wow...> So, my question is, what is the best way to adjust my water hardness down. <To ascertain the source (likely your source/tap water), and dilute the old water with new made up of much less dissolved solids (if it is the source water, you may want to look into a reverse osmosis unit for your drinking and cooking uses as well). Have your tapwater checked out, and your test kits through a sample tested at your local fish store> I was contemplating doing 15 percent water changes 3x a week, but if my water is too hard, this won't make a difference. I've seen that there are softener pouches, but wasn't sure if these would hurt my fish. Will adjusting it too quickly hurt my fish? <No need to make sudden or large adjustments here> Also, why have these extreme water hardness conditions not seemed to affect any of my fish? <They're remarkably adaptable, much more in ways than humans credit them> Their fins and scales are very healthy, they all have voracious appetites and are constantly out and about in the tank. Could it have contributed to the deaths of my urchin and anemone? <Yes, much more so than the fishes> Any help you could give would be great. Thanks a million! Deb Colella <As I stated, have your testers tested, and your tap... if these are not faulty and to blame, let's continue with this discussion. Bob Fenner>

High ALK but Ca is Ok. Clown comments. Hi Bob, You'll remember me as the one who you are always threatening to get a bigger tank. I'd have to sell my first born, if I had a first born. :-)) <Hmm> I'm confused again by the Ca and Alk tests. I was getting low pH (around 8.0) so I my LFS, and this is one I trust, suggested I use buffer everyday until it gets to 8.3. This was done. However the buffer I have is also a dKH regulator. I didn't expect it to spike the Alk. Anyway this is what happened. <A pH of 8.0 is not problematical... > The pH reads at around 8.2-8.3. Ca is 490. Alk is 6 mg/L (I think you multiply by 2.8 so it would be 16.8?) I think this is too high?? <Are you sure this isn't "milliequivalents per liter"? Otherwise a bit high, yes... will "come down" on its own...> But the Ca is ok and pH is ok. BTW, everything else is ok. Last time I tested: Ammon. 0; Nitrites .0; Nitrates trace (well under 10); Phosphates .0 I'm using SeaTest and FasTest. Anyway, should i be buffering with something that doesn't effect the ALK perhaps? Also I'm using an Ecosystems, not sure if that has anything to do with this. I think the pH tends to be low as I am using DI water. <Would at the very least use less of what you're utilizing... no need for the high values in all you report... Cut back on supplementing.> I just picked up two False Percs from a LFS that is going out of business to do only tank maintenance. This must be a booming career. :-) <Yes, in many places> Anyway thanks to you I knew how to handle things. I put them in a quarantine tank (where they will stay for three weeks minimum) and dipped them in buffered H20 and Methyl blue. I would not have had a clue otherwise. <Hmm, again> In the excitement of great prices I forgot to ask if they were tank raised or not. (So at least I didn't do *everything* right! :-} ) I did later and found they were not :-(. Still doing ok, but that was only Saturday. I sort of assumed they were as they were all in a tank together, and seemed pretty happy with the arrangement. I assumed wild caught Clowns would not like this. Anyway just a comment that I guess that assumption isn't the case. <These are social animals when small... with lack of competition for anemone host/s... become territorial with size/growth, differentiation (the "winner" will turn into a decidedly larger female)... Bob Fenner> --Jane J, beta testing life

Alkalinity follow-up Hi, >Alk is 6 mg/L (I think you multiply by 2.8 so it would be 16.8?) >I think this is too high?? ><Are you sure this isn't "milliequivalents per liter"? Otherwise a bit high, yes... will "come down" on its own...> Yes, you are probably right. All those m/l whatever's are confusing. <Easily done...> >>I would not have had a clue otherwise. ><Hmm, again> BTW, did you know you are saying hmm to everything lately?? Are you going for your shrink license? <Will resist... can't Mmmm, now, that's better.> Repeat and happy customer and admirer :-), <Be chatting. Bob Fenner> --Jane

Alkalinity, pH, Buffer Robert, <<JasonC here giving Bob time to pack for his upcoming dive trip.>> Because of your website, I have begun to study the issue of pH, alkalinity and buffer in seawater. As one step in applying this info I've bought an alkalinity test kit with the following result: ~5-10 ppm carbonate From what I've read this is too low for a fish/reef tank. However, absent the test data, I would say my tank is in perfect harmony! <<so far, so good>> Here are my particulars: 100 gal icecap 660 driving 3 x 48" NO full spectrum and 1 actinic (upgraded a month ago from NO) < .05 ammonia, pH 8.4-8.6, my pH has been the same for years. salinity right on haven't tested nitrate/nitrite in a long time don't know calcium but the Halimeda is beautiful and large, 4 happy fish ~3" one open brain coral (1 month old) <<this one would love to have more calcium>> lots of Halimeda, Caulerpa, modest live rock monthly water change of 5% My questions: Should I be concerned about alkalinity as my pH has been fine? <<if not today, then tomorrow for certain - yes you should be concerned>> Should I be concerned if I want to add more hard coral or zooanthids sp.? <<most definitely for any stony coral or Tridacnid clam. But sure, even soft corals with their Sclerites need some calcium to grow.>> If I should be concerned do I adjust it with 1) off the shelf elixirs 2) mix up my own with soda ash and baking soda (see Moe) 3) add new substrate 4) increase frequency of water changes ? <<if you have the necessary equipment to precision mix yourself a batch, then who am I to stop you? On the other hand, do you want to experiment on THIS tank? Is the difference in cost worth it to you if you have a small accident - after all, Martin Moe has a lot of tanks to play with. I would personally just use Arm & Hammer baking soda - should be more than sufficient to boost your Alk. Regular [roughly every six months] substrate augmentation will also go a long way to helping. As for the water changes, this is really just a personal choice but I would do a 10% change every two weeks - probably won't affect your alk either way.>> Is the reduced alkalinity due to consumption by the Halimeda or the drop off in production by the substrate/rock in time? <<I would say consumption by the brain coral, secondarily by natural cycling in the substrate - unless this tank is over a year old. How long has the tank been running?>> Sorry I missed the last SDMAS meeting as I understand from the group emails that it's a testament to modern technology! Maybe I'll make it to one in the near future. Thanks for all your help! <<Cheers, J -- >> David A. Bidwell

Re: Alkalinity, pH, Buffer JasonC, Thanks for the quick reply. You guys are amazing. <<well thank you very much, *blush*>> To answer your question, the tank is 7 years old, but the enhanced lighting and the brain coral are new. I have added new substrate only once (and have never vacuumed the bottom - maybe that's why the algae are happy). I'm due for some augmentation? I'll try the baking soda. Could you recommend a dosage? Thanks again!! <<well, there's not really a "patent dose" as it were, as different tank condition will yield different results. My recommendation [always] is to add a small amount and then measure a couple of times over five minutes or so, and then if needed, add some more and measure again. This is exactly the way I do it on my own tanks, and granted I'm using an electronic pH pen to speed the tests, but it will keep you within tolerance if you take you time in this fashion. For the 100g tank, I'd guess a quarter to a half teaspoon at a time would be a good start, and make sure you measure pH constantly. Also, as a final note recall that a tank's pH shifts throughout the day. You might want to spend a day taking measurements to get an average reading before you start trying to shift the pH/alk. Good luck, J -- >> Dave

Messed up tank Hi Bob, Merry Christmas! I need help with my 60G reef acrylic tank .. I was stupid enough to dump too much buffer (water+Kent buffer) into it last week and half of the front glass is now coated with "white stuff". <Yeeikes!> I tried scrapping it off with my credit card and with the cleaning pads but still there is a lot of "white stuff" left. Good thing is I am actually moving this weekend so I would get a chance to give it a good clean. Do you know of any good way to get the "white stuff" off? <Not w/o emptying the tank... gently wiping with dilute acid (like vinegar, acetic) on a sponge, or better, swishing successive washes of it (white is better) onto the panels... Or letting time go by... it will wear off... Don't scrape! Bob Fenner> Thanks again! Brian

Ph/alkalinity Hello & (Thank You!) to the tag team answering Bobs fish tank e-mail questions, many of us greatly appreciate this effort. <Appreciate it... hehe, we're grateful that folks are tolerating it <smile>. Seriously...thank you. Anthony> My question is about Ph. I started running a calcium reactor about 8 weeks ago and had the effluent ph set at 6.8 (after reading Bobs faq's on this topic). My tank ph always hovered around 8.2, never below 8.0 or above 8.25. <indeed... a nice piece of equipment and your pH needed to be a bit higher> I'm still wondering, after reading the stored FAQs on this topic, how I can raise the ph to be in a more acceptable level. My dKH now, after refilling the reactor with Carib sea ARM and some old coral skeletons on top is 20 dKH in the tank. <whoa!!! Please retest your alkalinity with another test kit. You are in a very dire straight (no... not the band Dire Straights, although now I have "Sultans of Swing" in my head which is not likely to leave anytime soon) if this is even accurate! Natural seawater is 6-7 dKH, but most reefs fare better at 7-10 dKH (Sprung/Delbeek) and SPS dominant tanks can even be a bit higher (towards 12 dKH). You are in serious risk of precipitating free calcium from the severe imbalance of carbonate in your system (like a reverse snowstorm from the common crystalline carbonate precipitation from Kalkwasser abuse). If this happens, you just might kill most of the living creatures in your tank within 24 hours of a precipitous event. But do not make a knee jerk reaction either... back off of the reactor (what is your bubble count on the effluent?) and do some small but frequent water changes until you get down towards 12 dKH. It isn't easy to maintain high free calcium concurrently, but at nearly 400 ppm you have managed to do so and are at great risk for it> I've slowed the drip rate from the reactor to bring this high dKH down. <brother...this has to be monitored closely from go for the first couple of weeks until you get it tweaked> Calcium by the way is at 396. Before the Calc. reactor the DKH was always around 14 but the ph was 8.0-8.2. <agreed...something had to be done with the pH> The tank has been up and running 6 months and the specs are; 110 gal with 30 gals in the sump. The main tank has about 115 lbs of live rock and about 2" of aragonite "sea floor" from Carib sea. <see other posts or write back but a 2" substrate is problematic in the long run... not deep enough for anoxic activity (denitrification) but too deep for aerobic activity. The rule is 1/2 inch or less or three inches or more... never in between> In the sump I have ~ 30 gals of water with ~ 15 lbs live rock, 20 lbs of a pre packaged live sand and 3lbs of Red Gracilaria (?spelling) "Tang Heaven" algae. <cool> I run a Turbo flotor 1000 Multi and inject ozone for an ORP in the main tank of 340 - 400. <nice...and reasonable> I change 5 gals of water every week that is aged using RO water and Tropic Marin salt mix. <hmmmm perhaps the source of your original low pH problems: did you aerate the R/O water for 12-24 hours before buffering it (mixed completely) and then later salting it. If not, you wasted buffers in the salt mix by not off-gassing or neutralizing carbonic acid from R/O water... and your 2" sand bed is hardly a significant buffer> I add 10mg of Seachem iodide every other day <very good> The livestock in the tank is; 2 juvenile false perc clowns, 2 fire fish, 2 juvenile Heniochus, 1 juvenile Hippo tang (2"), 1 yellow tang(2"), 1 small bubble tip Anenome, 1 serpent star, 1 long spined urchin and 2 nice sized corals; elegance and hammer. with 3 small frags of Acro. The water parameters are: ammon=0, nitrite=0, nitrate is non detectable using FasTesT, 0 phosphates, dKH =20, Calcium= 396, Temp 77 degrees. <I'm not a high temp fan... but you could come up a bit higher...78-82F> I feel as though the alkalinity is sufficient enough to hold my ph to a desired level but getting it the desired level is the problem for me. <yes...above comments> I always feel I'm too generous with the food but the fish go nuts, acting as though they are starving to death. Only one looks thin, a "heiney" but not sickly. <honestly...feed small portions freq and as much as you can without causing nuisance algae and nitrates> the poly filter I have around the over flow pipe shows no sign of excess food and is changed weekly. Sorry for the length of this e-mail but I wanted to give you the full picture so you be well informed before offering your much respected advice. Any help would be greatly appreciated. <you have your work cut out for you, my friend. Anthony>

And Steve's Reply to the above question... Hello & (Thank You!) to the tag team answering Bobs fish tank e-mail questions, many of us greatly appreciate this effort. My question is about Ph. I started running a calcium reactor about 8 weeks ago and had the effluent ph set at 6.8 (after reading Bobs faq's on this topic). My tank ph always hovered around 8.2, never below 8.0 or above 8.25. I'm still wondering, after reading the stored FAQs on this topic, how I can raise the ph to be in a more acceptable level. My dKH now, after refilling the reactor with Carib sea ARM and some old coral skeletons on top is 20 dKH in the tank. <This is pretty high, about twice as high as it should be.> I've slowed the drip rate from the reactor to bring this high dKH down. Calcium by the way is at 396. Before the Calc. reactor the DKH was always around 14 but the ph was 8.0-8.2. The tank has been up and running 6 months and the specs are; 110 gal with 30 gals in the sump. The main tank has about 115 lbs of live rock and about 2" of aragonite "sea floor" from Carib sea. In the sump I have ~ 30 gals of water with ~ 15 lbs live rock, 20 lbs of a pre packaged live sand and 3lbs of Red Gracilaria(?spelling) "Tang Heaven" algae. I run a Turbo flotor 1000 Multi and inject ozone for an ORP in the main tank of 340 - 400. I change 5 gals of water every week that is aged using RO water and Tropic Marin salt mix. I add 10mg of Seachem iodide every other day The livestock in the tank is; 2 juvenile false perc clowns, 2 fire fish, 2 juvenile Heniochus, 1 juvenile Hippo tang (2"), 1 yellow tang(2"), 1 small bubble tip Anenome, 1 serpent star, 1 long spined urchin and 2 nice sized corals; elegance and hammer. with 3 small frags of Acro. The water parameters are: ammon=0, nitrite=0, nitrate is non detectable using FasTesT, 0 phosphates, dKH =20, Calcium= 396, Temp 77 degrees. I feel as though the alkalinity is sufficient enough to hold my ph to a desired level but getting it the desired level is the problem for me. I always feel I'm too generous with the food but the fish go nuts, acting as though they are starving to death. Only one looks thin, a "heiney" but not sickly. the poly filter I have around the over flow pipe shows no sign of excess food and is changed weekly. Sorry for the length of this e-mail but I wanted to give you the full picture so you be well informed before offering your much respected advice. Any help would be greatly appreciated. <It is not unusual for people to experience lower pH levels when using calcium reactors due to excess carbon dioxide in the display tank. Dial your reactor back to allow your alkalinity to come down to an acceptable level. At the same time, add calcium only products to keep your calcium level when it is. You are going to have to monitor your conditions closely. Once you have both where you want them, slowly increase the CO2 to maintain these levels. Hopefully, then you will no longer have excess CO2 in your display. Also, look up the excellent writings of Craig Bingman on the topics of calcium, alkalinity, reactors, and Kalkwasser. -Steven Pro>

High Alkalinity and Calcium Yep...test kits were bogus Anthony, <Greetings fellow blueberry eater> Thanks for your response. i had my water tested today by one of the local dealers with completely different testing equipment and the results are as follows. Ca 560, PH 8.0, Mg 1900, ALK 7meq/l . i guess the test kits i have are worthless. What do you suggest for remedies? <yes... not a surprise from the previous numbers reported. The solution is not crystal clear considering the complexity of balance with dissolved organics in seawater. However. step by step, we know that your calcium is artificially and dangerously high, and that the pH is rather low. Alkalinity is not terrible, but a bit on the low side as well. Lets begin with a relaxation on calcium supplementation and enough dilution from water change(s) to bring your calcium closer to 400. When water changes get your readings for calcium between 380 and 425 ppm, and alkalinity between 8-12dkh...start using a two part liquid calcium/Alk supplement as per directions. In most cases you should be able to resume a more traditional chemistry. Wane off of the two part if you prefer dosing separately. But know that the 2-part mixes are quite ideal for balance and their only disadvantage is price <smile>.Don't worry about the pH during the process too much... it should fall into place naturally with the correction. Best regards, Anthony> Chris

Re: High Alkalinity and Calcium Anthony, Thanks for your expertise, I will follow your directions as noted... however you said that 7meq/l was low? was that correct? isn't that like 19.5 dKH? <Ahhh, my apologies good sir.... I read through that part of your last e-mail too fast and thought the reference was already to dKH. Indeed, you are not at all low...but rather a bit high! Thank you for keeping me on my toes <G>> ONCE AGAIN THANKS!!! CHRIS <my pleasure. With kind regards, Anthony>

Ph, Alkalinity, Oh my!! <cheers, Sean... Anthony Calfo working, thinking and ...er, lost my train of thought> Hi to the fine folks answering the questions with/for Bob. I know I would be a slime algae farmer by now if it weren't for this site and chat forum!! Many thanks!! <very welcome> I have a problem with low ph. It hovers around 8.0 (+ - .5). <rather low indeed> In addition, my alk is usually pretty high--14dkh. this is down from 20 dKH I "achieved" through improper calcium reactor operation (I guess). <agreed> Anyhow, I can not get my ph to be higher. I've aerated the RO makeup water and use Tropic Marin salt mix. I recently bought Anthony Calfo's book (very informative and helpful), <thank you!> to add to my library of Bob's CMA (great!) <awesome...very informative> and Julian Sprung's Vol 1(very good) <an old stand-by and wealth of info> among others and feel I have a good understanding of the intricate dance these elements do, however I cant get them to "dance" properly in my 6 month old 110gal (hopefully) reef tank. The facts: (other than I can't spell) <hehe... that's OK, I can't sing... but I can dance> Lights; 2 metal halide 250 watts on at 9 A.M and off at 9p.m. <a bit long for halides especially 250's... ever notice that some. many of the corals "close up" early?> At 6pm last night ph was 8.17 dKH - 11 calcium - 320 <get this up with Kalkwasser towards 400ppm and watch your pH follow> nitrates< 10mg/l Phosphate < 2mg/l Redox 327mv Temp 79 1 sohal tang 3", 1yellow tang 2.5", 1 hippo tang2.5", 2 -3/4" inch clowns, 2 blennies, 1 Heniochus 2", 2 bubble tip anenomes (it just split 2 nights ago), some Acro frags, green star polyps and a few polyps of xenia on a snail shell. My theory: I feel as though my mistake with the calcium reactor raised the alk to such a high level that it precipitated out other essential elements aka magnesium (a ph helper?). I haven't tested the magnesium level (cant find a test kit locally) but have noticed my once widely growing coralline algae has stopped growing and is disappearing. <possibly... but your free calcium level isn't thrilling, and if that way for a while, more likely the cause of poor corallines> I think it would still grow despite the lower calcium levels albeit slowly. I'm thinking that I'll have to add Kalkwasser to raise both the ph and calcium but I really don't want to do this unless I have to. <you are correct, and it really isn't that bad. Refer to the section in my book on simple dosing by direct slurry with careful pH testing/confirmation... a $40 pH pen would come in handy... or a meter, better yet> I bought the calc reactor to avoid this supplement routine/cost/ tedium. <please remember that reactors are for raising alkalinity, NOT calcium. Even Daniel Knop (or the Knop reactors) admits Kalkwasser supplementation of reactors is desirable/helpful> I currently have the Calc reactor at a 10bubbles/min. <what is the pH of your effluent?> Also, I feel as though I am maniacal about tank husbandry, now stingy with the food (for which I feel bad but just cant tell when enough is enough), 10% water changes weekly, ozone injected (which should help ph but not in my case) skimmer emptied daily, and overflow pre-filters wrapped in poly filter stuff changed weekly. The water is pristine, colorless, beautiful to look at! I want to add some macro algae to suck up any extra CO2 <shouldn't be necessary or even possible if you have sufficient aeration and water movement in display...besides, they can be noxious to some coral> but I have no luck in sustaining it. It quickly dies and my water quality is shot!! <because your water quality is too good...<smile>> I doubt there is that much problem CO2 in my system but something is depressing the ph. <agreed... confirm by testing pH of glass of aquarium water, aerating it, and then testing again...if pH does not raise, you have little/no residual CO2> Questions: What is the usual (your experience) ph of RO water out of the purifier? <very acidic... well under 7.0> What is depressing the ph? <you may have a case for using some baking soda...carefully> Actually it is about 8.2 at the time salt is added and aged. <too low... aim for 8.4-8.6> Stop the Calc reactor for 2 weeks or so and see how things progress? <nope...ne knee-jerk reactions, please. Likely to make things worse> If ph isn't improved what to do then? <punt> Add the Kalkwasser for a while? <yes...most definitely> What are your thoughts?--I'm lost <that's OK...I've been lost for years. I can't even find my tukus with both hands. Anthony>

Alkalinity and pH Control Bob: <Steven today.> Recently I purchased a large calcium reactor secondhand from a local marine store (MTC Pro-Cal). I set it up on my 58 gal. reef (small in size compared to the reactor's capabilities!). I had it running for a couple days with very low input into the tank in order to avoid a sharp change in pH. However, within a couple days I noticed that most of my soft corals had closed up, with one torch coral looking like the tips had been burnt off! I also noticed a dead shrimp and some snails that were not moving, starfish with holes (lesions) in them, and mucus sloughing off the corals. My purple Montipora bleached out in a day. I am afraid I have done irreparable damage to the tank inhabitants. The catch is, I cannot determine the exact cause. The fish have not been affected. I did a partial water change with little improvement to the inhabitants. At the same time that I started the reactor I also added a product called "Stop Parasite", because of an Ich outbreak. The manufacturer says this product is completely safe for reef aquariums, and it can be added directly to the aquarium. I only added one dose (less than 1 teaspoon) and stopped because of the reaction of the corals. [By the way, would a UV sterilizer be the best method for eradicating Ich?] I placed activated carbon back into the sump. In any case, because these two things occurred simultaneously, I am having difficulty assessing which one caused the problem. I have a pH monitor on the tank. I noticed the pH range to be between 7.9-8.2 (could have been a time I didn't noticed a dramatic drop, but I have been adding more buffer in the hope to preclude a swing in pH). I just measured the alkalinity in the tank and it seems to be good (4.0 meq/L or 11.2 dKh). Could a dramatic increase in alkalinity cause this type of reaction of the invertebrates? The alkalinity in the tank before I set up the reactor was around 2.0 - 2.5 meq/L. As a note, I haven't calibrated the pH meter since I bought it (I know, a bonehead move). I will do so shortly. <Your information about pH is completely useless when measuring with an uncalibrated machine. It is utterly impossible for me to say if the readings are accurate, significantly lower, or higher than the numbers you gave.> Do you know anything about this "Stop Parasite" product that is supposed to be so safe in reef systems? Aside from purchasing a UV sterilizer (another expensive purchase), I have tried unsuccessfully to get rid of Ich in my tank. Could a dramatic swing in alkalinity cause an "acid-like" reaction where the corals and other invertebrates appear "burned"? <I do not know which caused the problems in your tank. Whenever first hooking up a calcium reactor it is imperative that you watch the calcium, alkalinity, and pH very closely for the first several weeks until you have the unit dialed in correctly. Secondly, I would not use any Ich medication on a reef tank. It is much better to quarantine all new arrivals prior to putting them into your main display. Unless, the Ich broke out and you have not added any new fish for several months. Then you may have even more problems.> Thanks for your response. Tim <With more and accurate information, perhaps I can be of more assistance. -Steven Pro>

Calcium/Alkalinity Dance Hello again. I have been having a problem that I hope you can help me with regarding the calcium and alkalinity in my tank. I have read over all of your FAQ's and articles on the subject, perhaps there is something that I am missing. My tank: 90 gallon FOWLR-- 25% water change every 2 weeks 3 clown fish; 1 regal tang; 6 small mushrooms; 145 lbs of LR. pH-- 8.25 to 8.45 Alk. 11 dKH (pretty stable) cal. 250 ppm Over the past 6 months I have been dosing Kalk via the slurry method and adding SeaChem Marine Buffer. This has resulted in excellent coralline growth and other growth on the LR. I used to add 1 teaspoon of Kalk before lights on every day and alternating: 2 teaspoons of Marine Buffer and 3/4 teaspoons of Kalk at midday (Kalk one day, Marine Buffer the next). The reason for adding Kalk twice on one day and once on the next day was to not spike the pH too much). 2 months ago my calcium was a stable 340 ppm and my alk. was 11 dKH. Wanting to slowly bring up my calcium levels (around 400 ppm) I started dosing 1.5 teaspoons of Kalk everyday before lights on and alternating-- 2 teaspoons of marine buffer and 1 teaspoon of Kalk at midday. I slowly increased these levels over a period of 7 weeks (I test weekly for cal. and alk.) One would think that this would result in increased levels of calcium. NO! Now it is lower, 250ppm. I have not had a snowstorm. Nothing else has changed in the tank over the last 6 months. Is my tank suddenly consuming more calcium? Or is there something possibly wrong. My magnesium is around 1200 ppm, if that helps. Thanks. <Well, it seems to me that you've got a pretty good read on what's going on in the tank. It's a real balancing act, as you know, to keep both high alkalinity AND high calcium levels (in fact, down right impossible for most people). I think that this is one of those cases where you'll have to be glad that you have good alkalinity, and accept the calcium where it is. The fact that your coralline is growing so well is a testimony that you're doing something right. If it were me, I would not get overly frustrated about it...Just keep doing what you're doing, monitor the water parameters, and enjoy your tank! Some might disagree with my assessment, but I think that you're fine here. Maybe not the technical answer you might have expected- but it seems to me that you are getting fine results...just not the number you want to see on the test kit...I'd relax...Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

By The Numbers.... Dear Crew, <Scott F. your Crew Member tonight> I have a new 20 gallon minireef with 20 lbs. live sand and 20 lbs. live rock. It completed cycling 2 days ago, and I go back for 20 more lbs. LR and the cleaning crew tomorrow. I use DI water and Coralife salt mix. I have salinity at 35 and SG at 1.026 (in an attempt to mimic natural seawater as best I can). My salt mix tests out at a pH of 8.0, alk of 3 meq/L (or approx. 8.4 dKH), with a Ca level of 510 ppm. <Wow! That's really high....> This last figure seemed a bit high to me, but I thought maybe it will work out well once I put my LR and LS and critters in. (I ran the system with just the salt water for three days before adding anything to get a good feel of all the equipment, evaporation, etc., as this is my first marine and reef tank.) The current tank water tests out as follows: ammonia - 0, nitrite - 0, nitrate - 4 mg/L, Ca - 500 ppm, pH - 7.95, alk - 3 meq/L. I am concerned about that high Ca and relatively low pH. Hangers-on with the rock included several species of sponge (including a beautiful 3.5" pink vase sponge, orange ball, various encrusting and boring, red finger), several anemones (sponge, turtle grass) as well as a gorgonian of some sort and several other little mobile creatures (snails, crabs, etc.) and sessile things as yet unidentified. I lost a couple of the sponges in the cycling, but want to keep the rest. Anyway, I am afraid to use a 2-part Ca buffer to raise pH since my Ca is already so high. <Well, the alk is quite adequate...And is a good indication that your system can hold it's pH to a certain point...When did you take the pH reading? As you know, it is often lower right after the lights come on...> One more thing -- I have only been running my lights 5 hours per day until the cleaning crew arrives, so I know that is a factor. Should I do anything at this point to raise the pH? Just leave it be for a little while longer? <Yep- I'd leave it be...> I would use Kalk but w/ the 20 gallon and no sump, this would be really difficult. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much! Erin <Well, Erin- you're doing a great job with regular testing. However, if it were me, I'd do exactly what you're thinking...Give things a bit more time, and wait until you can ramp up the lighting for a longer photoperiod. Also, don't get overly fixated on specific "numbers", as we hobbyists tend to do...Yes, it is important to achieve certain minimum water quality targets, but it is not worth you tearing your hair out! Just relax and let your animals "talk" to you...If things are out of whack, they'll tell you in many ways- believe me! Perform aggressive and appropriate regular maintenance (water changes, etc). Just hang in there- You're doing fine. I'll bet that the pH will correct itself in time...If not let's talk again...Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

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