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FAQs on Calcium and Alkalinity in Seawater, Additives

Related Articles: Calcium and Alkalinity Explained by Anthony Calfo, Calcium, Biominerals, Using Kalkwasser, The Use of Kalkwasser by Russell Schultz, Calcium Reactors, Marine Maintenance, Marine Water Quality, Magnesium in Seawater, Strontium in Seawater, pH, Alkalinity, Marine AlkalinityLive Sand, Marine SubstratesReef Systems, Refugiums

Related FAQs: Ca/Alk 1, Ca/Alk 2, Ca/Alk 3, & FAQs on Calcium & Alkalinity: The Science of Calcium & Alkalinity, Importance, Measure, Sources, Troubleshooting/Fixing, Products, & Calcium, & FAQs on Calcium: Rationale/Use, Calcium Measuring/Test Kits, Sources of Calcium, Calcium Supplements, Dosing, Chemical/Physical Interactions, Troubleshooting/Fixing, & Calcium Reactors, & FAQs on Calcium Reactors: Rationale/Use, Selection, Installation, Operation, Media, Measuring, Trouble-Shooting, By Makes/Models, & pH, Alkalinity, Marine Alkalinity, Marine Alkalinity 2, Marine Alkalinity 3 Marine Supplements 1,

See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm http://www.reefscapes.net/ articles/breefcase/kalkwasser.html



Dosing vs. calcium reactor/Kalk top off     7/25/16
Hi all
Recently I have had a few issues with my aging aqua medic calcium reactor.
It has served me well but with a few panic Kalk additions because of low alkalinity I had a massive precipitation issue where the excess calcium baked itself to my system pump impeller wrecking it.
Not my finest aquarist hour I assure you. I have seen some advanced systems using dosing pumps for the maintenance of Kalk mg and ca (and it seems to be very precise and would assist me long term I feel).
<... the most appropriate, best available technology per your system, organisms....>
It is as you know a huge cost and I was wondering whether my existing setup is suitable enough or is getting a bit old school and I need to invest?
Btw my stock is large Euphyllias. Caulastrea and blastos plus some leather corals.
<.... the wife used to distribute Knop Products in N. Am. for five years...
I'd go w/ simple A/B additions here. Likely SeaChem's Fusion line>
Thanks muchly
<Pleasure. Bob Fenner>

Dosing Ca and KH       7/19/16
Thank you for taking this email.
I have a 110g reef tank of 3 months. Which is about my level of expertise, sorry. The tank has done well with many frags of coral, some fairly large.
A good number of inverts and a few fish. I use the Apex Dos system to do five 1g water changes per week. 2 days to get the replenishment tank filled and dialed in with salinity and temp. I currently dose Ca and KH manually every other day.
<Good. Am a fan of SeaChem's Fusion products, but Bob Starks, Sprung's copies C-Bal will do>
I maintain at the bottom of the spectrum...9/360. I am trying to work it up slowly,
<Also bueno>
I got behind do to ignorance. All other levels Ammonia, Nitrate, Nitrite, PH are 0. I average ph 8.3, temp 76, salinity 1.022-1.024.
<Mmm; I'd raise this to 1.025-6>
I may eventually buy another Dos, but in the meantime....could I dose up the levels of my replenishment tank(currently using Instant Ocean Reef Crystals which keep levels at 11/390) to the upper edges of the spectrum, say 12/420?
Given that depletion rate in the tank might bring it back to mid levels.
Sorry if this is a dumb question.
Ken Birgfeld
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

dKH and Calcium Balancing 3/2/12
Dearest Crew,
<Hello Joe>
Thanks so much for your ongoing volunteering of expertise, passion, and time!
 <You're welcome.>
Just a quick question today regarding calcium and alkalinity balancing. My 54 gallon corner reef is evolving into a wonderfully vital ecosystem thanks to your help! I do however have the ongoing problem of low dKH. Readings (from a new API test kit) usually read between 4 and 6 and I have an incredibly difficult time achieving any values above 6. I know that James often times recommends the European method of keeping DKH relatively low but I find that keeping it even at 6 is challenging.
<Yes, dKH readings of sea water near the surface average between 6.3 to 6.9 dKH so it is not considered relatively low.  This can make keeping calcium levels up a little easier and there is no danger of precipitation.>
For the system, I use Culligan RO water,
<Is this strictly RO or are there specialty resins in the system to soften water, etc.?>
mixed with Kent Reef Salt (SG kept between 1025 and 1.026), which is pre-buffered with about 1 teaspoon (per 3 gallons) of Seachem's Reef Builder. In addition, I supplement (only about 1 teaspoon per week) with Tropic Marin's Bio-calcium, which is supposedly a ionically balanced calcium/Alk supplement. James has warned against the use of two part solutions due to the long term additions of calcium chloride. I do not have a calcium reactor and do not plan on adding one to such a small tank.
Weekly calcium readings are extremely consistent, being almost always 420ppm.  dKH reading are usually about 5. I often increase dosage of Reef Builder to an additional 2 or 3 teaspoons per week but this seems to only bump the reading up to 6. It just seems like I'm dumping bi-carbonate into the system while virtually ignoring calcium additions and getting readings that point in the opposite direction! Many friends of mine in our local reef club use the Kent salt and do not have low dKH readings. I have used several batches of the salt and have had the same consistent tank test results.
<What is the fish load in this system.  Acids from accumulated waste can keep dKH levels down.>
Coral population consists mostly of several dozen heads of various Euphyllia and 4 medium-small Montiporas. Growth seems to be moderate but is definitely occurring within the system.
<Proper lighting can be a factor here also.>
Should I continue to use the Seachem and Tropic Marin supplements? What alkalinity supplement would you recommend? I honestly think that the salt is fine but am not sure where the problem is occurring.
<Are you using an efficient protein skimmer?  As to products, my
preferences are Tropic Marin Salt, and Sea Chem Magnesium, Reef Builder, and Reef Buffer.  Other than dKH and SG, you didn't give me any other parameters such as pH and NO3, might be helpful if I knew.  As a side note, It's a good practice not to dose more than one supplement per day.  I believe I have referred you here in the past,
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm,  but this article is very informative as well.  http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2006-06/rhf/index.php>
Any suggestions would be appreciated!
<You're welcome Joe.  James (Salty Dog)>

DSB, Calcium and Alkalinity 12/13/10
Good Morning Crew.
<Hello Sarah, but not a good morning. We have snow up the kazoo, it's 9 degrees out, and I need to blow out the driveway.>
I hope this finds everyone well. I have made it for a year with my 90 gallon saltwater tank learning and having a lot of fun along the way. Not to mention lots of mistakes in stocking. My system itself has worked for me. I'm still using a wet dry filter with skimmer rated for 300 gallons. Have a HOB power filter that I use to add carbon. Should I remove this HOB filter?
<Many hobbyists use these, canister filters, and media reactors as a means of chemical filtration. Why do you want to remove it?>
I know the wet dry is a nitrate factory but I have had luck with keeping them low and don't want to tear down the whole system to switch to my dream system.
<I would remove the bio balls over a period of two weeks if you are using such biological filtration media, it isn't necessary with live rock.>
That will come later. I do water changes of 10 gallons every Friday and also change the pad in the wet dry at that time. After reading about 5% water changes twice a week'¦.well I'm thinking about doing this Tues and Friday. It just sounds easier then what I am doing.
<Twice a week is overkill, once a week is plenty, and my schedule is 10% every two weeks.>
For the last month or so I have seen my Nitrates start to climb. Not high but staying on top of things. So I decide that a deep sand bed would be a good idea. I have 1.5 inches of crushed coral and started to add size zero white sand to the top, on one side. Thing is I added 1.5 to 2 inches on that one side before reading that I should have added ½ of that every two weeks or so. Are my worms, pods and all those good critters I saw going to make it or did I just wipe out ½ my sand bed?
<You should be OK here.>
And this is what is in my tank: Flower Pot Coral that is growing, Bubble Coral, Star Polyps, Pulsing Xenia, Eagle Eye Polyps, Mushrooms that don't fully open and have never looked great. Not sure why or what to do with them at this point. Lantern Bass, Yellow Tang, Bi Color Angel, Hippo Tang, Marron Clown, Sixline Wrasse, Ocellated Dragonet, Pistol and Watchman Goby . Cleaner Shrimp, Snails, Hermit Crabs, Feather Dusters, Urchin and Fighting Conch. Everything looks good and is doing well except the Mushrooms.
<Likely allelopathy issues here. May want to move any corals that are near the mushrooms.>
Here are my numbers'¦.PH 8.2, Ammonia and Nitrite 0, Nitrate 10 not really high but don't want to see it climb,
<Actually 5-10ppm of nitrate is beneficial for many corals and clams. I would not strive to keep it at 0.>
Calcium 440, Phosphate 0.5, just tested kH at 14.
<Too high, I'd try to keep around 7-9dKH.>
I had never tested kH before but decided to do so because I have been using Reef Builder, Reef Complete and Reef Plus in my tank for the last 4 months on the advice of LFS. Corals all are looking good and showing growth accept the mushrooms. Fish are active and have all shown growth as well. Chemistry is frustrating so I try to keep it simple....I was reading your article on understanding Calcium and Alkalinity and see that using Liquid calcium in not a good idea long term and kH being 14 in a little high. So with adding a deep sand bed and continuing to test, should I drop these supplements and switch to Kalkwasser? How do you add it?
<Actually, I'm not a fan of using Kalkwasser, it can create problems with pumps (excessive calcium buildup), and can dangerously raise pH if not dosed properly. What I've been happy with using the last year or so is Tropic Marin's Alka Balance. This product maintains calcium and dKH at acceptable levels, although I do supplement occasionally with a marine buffer. The only other additive I use is magnesium which is an important element to maintain when keeping stony corals.>
I really don't want to add a calcium reactor to this system.
<I don't blame you, the less to mess with, the better.>
You see I have this plan of upgrading this tank but won't be able to for another year or two for what I have planned. So I don't want to put expensive equipment into a system that has been working well without it.
Even though the Liquid supplements are easy to use and seem to work I don't want to see future problems from its use. What are your thoughts?
<Liquid calcium supplements are OK to quickly raise calcium levels, but I would not use long term.>
Thank you and stay well.
<Oh I will and you're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re DSB, Calcium and Alkalinity 12/13/10
<Hello Sarah>
Sorry to hear about your winter wonderland. Honestly I am jealous. Wish you could send it my way.
<I just got in from blowing out a 85'x16' drive. The temp is 9 degrees with a "feel like" of -5. Could you tell me what is so wonderful about that? Where do people get this "winter wonderland" from....must have never experienced it. HAH!>
I do have live rock and have thought about removing the Bio Balls but again the thought of messing with something that is working has stopped me. This is something I have been back and forth with for some time. I know some put live rock in as they remove the Bio Balls. Do you recommend this or leaving the filter empty?
<I'm not saying you need to do this, is entirely up to you. Wet/dry systems using bio balls are a nitrate factory only because the system is so darn efficient at denitrification. As long as your nitrates stay somewhere near 10ppm, as you say, leave well enough alone.>
Would it be possible to store a chocolate chip star fish in there? For harlequins in another tank : )
<Sure, as long as you ensure the starfish doesn't get sucked into the pump intake.>
I'm confused about your water change recommendation. WetWebMedia by Scott Fellman "The Perfect Water Change Regimen". Five percent twice a week.
Good for corals and happier fish.....is this not so?
<Yes, it is so, but I don't feel this is an absolute necessity to maintain a healthy tank providing the tank
is not overstocked, overfed, and an efficient protein skimmer is in use. Mmm, I don't recall you mentioning
the use of one.>
Also have tried to move the mushrooms away from corals but can't seem to find a happy place for them. Maybe its time to find them a new home.
I will check into Tropic Marin's Alka Balance. The less supplements or what ever I'm adding the better.
<Is exactly how I feel about it. It's unbelievable how many additives/products are out there, and all
promising to make your tank a dream system.>
Am I correct that only water changes will lower the alkalinity over time?
<Yes, is the safe way to do this although acid buffers will lower the dKH, and I would advise against
doing this.>
Thanks James, enjoy that snow.
<Grrrrrrrrr! Will NOT enjoy the snow, but you're welcome Sarah. James (Salty Dog)>
Re DSB, Calcium and Alkalinity 12/13/10 - 12/14/10

Back again.
<Hi Sarah>
I have experienced your snow. Lived in the UP for a long time.
Don't see as much as I used to but we still get it. I'm just one of those nuts who love snow.
<Nice to look at, that's all. I live in mid-Michigan and am quite familiar with the amount of snow the UP can get in one winter. UGH!>
Anyway, looking at the Tropic Marin Alca Balance. It is hard to find.
Looks like I would have to order it.
<Yes, much cheaper that way as well.>
It is supposed to keep Alkalinity at 6 to 9 and Calcium at a natural level?
<Yes, providing your tank is not overstocked and/or produces an excessive amount of acids such as uneaten food, nitrates, etc.>
That's about 420 correct?
<Well, that all depends on the dosing level, something you will need to monitor for a while until you
reach a happy medium, but I would try to maintain 380-400ppm. I'd start with the recommended dose and test weekly. You may have to increase or decrease the dose depending on your test results. Do ensure you magnesium levels are maintained. Briefly, calcium loving inverts need this to be able to absorb the calcium that is available to them.>
From all the reading I have done we should keep dKH at 9 to 12. Sea Water is 7 to 9.
So which is better and why? Should there be a reserve in our aquariums?
<In heavily/moderately stocked fish only systems, I would strive to keep dKH levels at 9-10 for a better reserve as pH swings can more easily occur in these type systems. In well maintained reef systems with a low to moderate fish load, 6-7 dKH is much better as it helps prevent calcium precipitation and creates a balance more akin to what is found on the reefs. I had asked Lou Ekus/Tropic Marin about this product as to maintaining dKH/calcium levels and I will post his reply here.
"Hi James, sounds like you're right on track here <as to the use of ALKA-Balance as the sole means of maintaining Ca/dKH>. The thing about the ALKA-Balance is that it will 'lower' dKH in time. I'm not sure that continued use of it as the only Ca source would 'maintain' a dKH of 7. Using it will certainly help take a high dKH and bring it down to that range, but 'overuse' might lower the dKH to the range you're in. It sounds like your plan is perfect. However, I would keep an eye on my dKH after going back to use it to see if it continues to drop. If it does, I would alternate doses with Bio-Calcium to help maintain that dKH around 7. Let me know how you make out.
Oh, keep an eye on that Ca level. Letting it get up to 550 will just cause you headaches!
Best regards,
Lou Ekus
Director of US Operations
Tropic Marin"
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog) >

Ca and Alk -- Two Part Additive Recommendations -- 11/09/10
Hello WWM crew,
<<Greetings Karl>>
I am currently cycling a new Red Sea Max 250 L: after learning many valuable lessons with a JBJ NC 24G.
After extensive reading one area I know I need to pay more attention to is ensuring I have my Ca and Alk at the correct levels and in check.
<<Indeed, but don't neglect the Magnesium as well. There have been many implications that inappropriate Magnesium levels will contribute to difficulty in maintaining CA and Alk "balance">>
Currently I do not have an automated dosing or an automated top-off system so I am trying to find out the best method and products to do this the "manual" method, i.e. testing and dosing myself on a regular basis (not afraid of the work I will treat daily no problem). It seems from my reading that I should be using the two part additive system for the manual method.
<<Though often pricey on larger systems, this can be a good way to go for the smaller to medium sized systems>>
This is where I am having difficulty, each two part system seems to claim it is the best out there and I am having trouble deciding and getting somewhat frustrated. Can you help me out with this?
<<Sure'¦ A couple I have used and trust include the offerings from 'ESV' and 'Two Little Fishies,' though to be fair this is something hard to "mess up" and I suspect most any of the offerings available would suit your purpose. You should also consider the products offered by 'Bulk Reef Supply' as a more economical alternative to the "prepared" solutions. 'BRS' can provide the bulk raw materials which you "mix up" yourself and dose according to their easy to use calculators>>
Red Sea provided a "Reef Grow Kit" system with the tank that has an Alk/Ca/Mg approach but I have found negative reviews on this system.
On your site the experts seem to often recommend Seachem products
<<Yes'¦ For the most part, I too heartily endorse the use of their products>>
which is great because I consider your gang to be top-notch,
<<Thank you>>
but then when I look at those products even Seachem provides different products to do this with...and again I am not sure which to choose.
<<The differing manufacturers are going to want to be "different" in some small way from one another -- and of course, convince you that their "difference" is for the better, But as already implied'¦most all will serve>>
So I would really appreciate your help, maybe down the road I will expand into more automated systems but right now I am just trying to find out what is best using the manual method.
<<Perhaps 'BRS' is the place for you'¦do check them out ( http://www.bulkreefsupply.com/store/)>>
And please rest assured I have spent considerable time trying to find an answer on this before bothering the WWM Crew.
<<No bother at all>>
Thanks for your time and as always your site is the best, really appreciate the knowledge and guidance it has provided over the last number of years.
<<Happy to share'¦>>
Have a great day,
<<And you my friend'¦ EricR>>

Calcium/Alk Question, KCl, CaCl2 anomaly 5/18/10
Hey guys,
I've been reading for a little bit a bunch of articles Anthony Calfo wrote on your site in regards to calcium, alkalinity, pH, and magnesium. I've been having issues with my LPS (I have no SPS) abandoning their skeletons and I can't figure out why (ammonium, nitrates, nitrites all at 0ppm, pH at 8.2). Well I suspected it was my calcium the other day so I tested it, it was at 540ppm,
<Too high.>
my Alk was at about 8dkh and my magnesium was well into 1500ppm.
<Also too high.>
I make a DIY 3 part solution, calcium is made from Prestone driveway heat which is calcium chloride based. Also I target feed all my LPS every morning.
<Yeeks, would not use industrial type products for aquarium purposes. They really aren't a good enough grade for such, can contain impurities.>
I have only done two water changes in the last year because my parameters seemed ok so I never thought anything would be an issue. Well, after reading an article by Anthony I've come to the theory that I have an excess of chloride ions because I've done nothing to dilute them over the last year. Could that be a possible reason why all my LPS are ditching their skeletons? Due to stress and an abundance of chloride ions in my water?
<The Prestone product does contain a small amount of potassium chloride and this could have a negative effect on your LPS corals if levels are high enough. Calcium chloride should not be used long term but for "quick fixes" of strayed calcium levels. I believe your two major problems are excessive use of calcium chloride, and two water changes in the last year isn't going to do much in the way of diluting the calcium chloride ions. Your other major problem is lack of water changes. Water parameters alone are not indicative of good water quality. LPS corals are a little more tolerant of water conditions than SPS, but still require good water quality and twice monthly water changes of 10% will dilute impurities and replace many of the trace elements these corals may/will require. Your LPS corals are telling you something and you need to react. As to parameters, you never stated nitrate levels. It would be interesting to know what they are.
James (Salty Dog)>
Re Calcium/Alk Question 5/18/10

Thanks for the reply.
<You're welcome.>
Nitrate levels were at 5 ppm about a month ago so I did a wet skim water change and the next day they were undetectable. I have a great fuge in my basement in a 100g Rubbermaid stock tank.
<Ah, wasn't aware of this, does aid in nutrient removal.>
Your reply is online with what I was theorizing. I will step up the water changes in order to dilute the impurities. Thanks for your help.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

2 Part Calcium/Alkalinity/Supplements 4/23/10
<Hi Mandi>
I have a 2 month old 75 gallon reef aquarium. Recently, in a matter of 2 weeks, my calcium dropped from 420 to around 340. So...I headed out to buy a calcium supplement. My LFS (dirty word...I know) sold me the 2 part calcium/alkalinity set. After a 20% water change and a little dosing....calcium is now holding steady at around 400 and my coralline algae is finally starting to form.
Here's my dilemma...do I need to dose the second part of the set? My pH is currently 8.2-8.4. My KH is 13.
<Too high here, try keeping around 7-8. High dKH can precipitate calcium.>
If I don't dose both parts in combination...will things get out of whack later on?
<This is exactly what I do not like about two part additives. No, you do not have to dose both parts, dose as needed and not necessarily every day.
Testing should dictate a dosing schedule for you.>
Obviously I'm totally new to this hobby and I just want to make sure I'm educating myself as much as possible. I've found answers (contradicting or otherwise) to every other question I've had....but this one is eluding me.
<May want to read here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm>
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Safely Increase Calcium & Alkalinity   1/26/10
Hello, <Hi Beth>
I recently had a meltdown, <I remember - cleaning chemicals>
I mean my 75g aquarium had a meltdown, but the other is true as well so I'm keeping this statement as is. Anyway, I had to transfer coral to two smaller tanks, a 14g biocube and 20g long tank. A big THANK YOU to Simon
for his help during that stressful time <No problem Beth, I assume these cnidarians are all still ok?>.
I just tested the water in my 14g tank and the Calcium and Alk seems to be low as well as phosphates and nitrates a little high.
Ph 8.0
Alkalinity: 2.5 mEq/L <On the low side, but within acceptable range>
Calcium: 375 ppm <You are actually ok here as well>
Phosphate: 0.4 <Indeed this is very high, and needs addressing>
Nitrate: 20 <Borderline too high>
<A great writer IMO, but I seem to remember there are several different articles in this series> and he suggests using Kalkwasser, a calcium reactor or a 2 part supplement. <Yes, I myself use his recipes/ directions for all three>
I do not have any Kalkwasser, cannot afford a reactor and really do not want to use a supplement.
<Mmm, but you have some stony corals I seem to remember...>
My tank, barring all the mishaps at the beginning, has always had excellent water parameters. The water is changed almost every week and I keep my filtration unclogged and cleared of debris. I am guessing that the addition of the coral skewed my water parameters <not likely to any degree>. I currently have a large Mushroom rock (Yumas) a Sun Coral, a Sea Pen and a pipe coral. Along with two 6 line Wrasse. I am feeding the Sun Coral every other morning (Mysis shrimp) and at the same time add a small amount of DT's and Oyster eggs for my Sea Pen. I also added some vitamins to their feedings as well
<Ok, but you might need to step up the water changes with this feeding regime as shown by your high nitrates & phosphates>.
Are the new additions soaking up the calcium and lowering the Alkalinity at the same time? <Yes>
If I add some new live sand (CaribSea) will that help raise the Calcium and Alkalinity levels?
<IMO not to any helpful degree, no. And be wary of paying more for this packaged 'live' sand than for the dry equivalent. This is not 'live' in the true sense, just has some nitrifying bacteria inside, of which you already have plenty>.
My 20g tank is also having problems. I haven't completed all the tests but will tomorrow morning. The Calcium level is 510ppm and the Alk is 2.2 mEq/L.
<This is unbalanced. I would suggest a re-test, if the tests are the same then a large water change followed by another re-test a day later. Have you read RHF's article re: correcting these problems? The box on the graph is
the one to look for:
http://www.advancedaquarist.com/issues/nov2002/chem.htm . You are in zone 4 here>.
I am mentioning this now, although incomplete, so that I can address it tomorrow within a response.<Ok Beth!>
Grateful as Always, Beth <Simon>

Re: 26/01/2010. Safely Increase Calcium & Alkalinity -- 1/28/10
Hello Simon,
<Hello again Beth>
I just got back home and performed the tests on the 20g tank.
Using an Instant Reef test kit, which relies on colors(very subjective) the tests are reported as best as I can read them.
pH: 8.2 <Good>
Spec. Gravity: 1.025 <Good>
Nitrate: less than 10mg/l <Ok>
Phosphate: less than 0.20mg/l <High>
Calcium: 480 mg/l <High>
Alkalinity: 2.5 mEq/L <Mmm, this is ok if a bit low>
I use only DI water and I did perform a 10% water change 3 days ago.
Also, about 13 days ago I changed the substrate from crushed coral to live sand. I placed about 8 cups of the old substrate on top of the new sand.
Should I proceed with baking soda to raise the alkalinity?
<You are not too far off here really, so I would not be too worried. You could add some baking soda to raise the alkalinity and let the Calcium drop with it over time, but not too much. Baking soda will lower your pH, especially in such a small system. You might be better off doing a 50% water change, especially since your phosphates are high you would have an added benefit here. Make sure the saltwater is pre-mixed, heated, aerated & buffered first>.
Thanks Again
<No problem>

28/01/2010. Safely Increase Calcium & Alkalinity  1/29/10
Morning Simon,
<Good Morning Beth>
Thank You for the response Simon. I should have been more clear about the color tests, they do not record a zero phosphate/Nitrate level. Their lowest color recording is 0.20 mg/L for phosphate and 10 mg/L for Nitrate.
<?Really? Your phosphate should show as a minimum 0.03ppm, and you should be able to measure nitrate more accurately than 10ppm also>
The phosphate color test was clear, to my eye, <ok> but without a color chip to determine 0 phosphate or even 0.1 phosphate, I wrote that it was less than 0.2 phosphates. The Nitrate test that I performed did have a slight yellow tint result, but again it was not the exact match to the lowest Nitrate color chip provided which is 10mg/L. Which is why I stated that it was less than 10 mg/L.
<I do encourage you to re-read the instructions to determine if there is a more accurate way of determining results with these. I also encourage you to purchase Salifert for these two tests in future>.
The only test that I can be positive about is the alkalinity, because it has to be titrated from blue to yellow green.
Even their Calcium test is subjective, to me, because of their use of the word blue as the end result color. I'm supposed to titrate to a blue color. To me the endpoint is violet. I performed the test four times. Titrated to 3 different color changes, a deep purple, the next to a violet, the next to a blue. To reach the blue color, I had to use an obscene amount of titrant and the numbers ended at over 1000 mEq/L.
<Check the date on your test kits>
So using my 3 vials as a color reference, I titrated the fourth test to a violet color which gave me the result of 480meq/L.
I hope I did not confuse the heck out of you.
<No, I understand well here.>
I need to invest in beakers, stir bars and a Mettler stirrer. Almost half joking, but at the least, I should invest in a more accurate marine test kit.
<Agreed. I would use Salifert here for all of these tests instead of the 'Instant Reef'>
Thank You
<No Problem, Simon>

2-Part Calcium additions (Sorry James!)   12/28/09
<Mmm... James isn't here presently. RMF at your service and will place this in his in-folder>
Dearest Crew,
I hope that you guys and gals had a great holiday and thanks so much for keeping up with dailies, even on Christmas!!
<Ah yes>
I had a question today regarding 2 part calcium/alkalinity solutions (I'm assuming that James is gritting his teeth if reading this- don't worry, I'm saving up for a calcium reactor!)
I usually dose these products in my sump for convenience and to dissolve the solution better, but recently had the concern that the concentrated solution may be hard on my return pump.
<Mmm, not really a worry if these products are applied per instruction... slowly, one at a time (not poured in together in concentration)>
Do you know of any reports/research regarding these products and pump problems?
<Myself only speculation and anecdote>
I would assume that calcium particulates would react and/or collect within the pump. Might it be better to add one or both products directly to the tank?
<Mmm, no... best to put in one at a time (hours apart) in a sump... where water is rapidly mixing/moving>
My last question: Bulk Reef Supply (a great company!) offers a brine shrimp hatchery product to dose these 2 part solutions. This would be a great way to slowly add the solutions separately and consistently (and not have to mess with dosing every day) however, I was under the impression that the they MUST be shaken vigorously AND diluted with freshwater to work correctly? Any comments?
<From the bottle/concentrate, these products should be vigorously shaken... but when diluted and put into the doser, they're fine>
Thanks so much crew!
<Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Clams And Calcium -- 06/30/09
Hey crew,
<<Hey Al'¦Eric here>>
I have a bit of a problem coming my way very soon,
I ordered some clams online: three crocea that are three inches each, got to get em while I can, anyways I already have a two inch Maxima and a four inch Derasa.
<<Okay'¦don't see any problems yet>>
I have a 40 breeder tank and I am able to keep calcium at about 420ppm by dosing Kent nano A+B and doing water changes.
<<There are better two-part products to use, in my opinion'¦but, okay>>
Now I know this is very likely to change with the addition of the new clams and I have already made plans to sell a few but I am stuck with all five for at least a week or so.
<<Again, I don't see a problem here. Water changes alone (done frequently enough) could keep the clams supplied with the bio-minerals they require'¦and with proper testing and dosing of a two-part product you certainly shouldn't have any issues re>>
My question for you is what can I do to keep calcium and Alk stable and at proper levels besides adding a calcium reactor?
<<As already stated'¦ But before you get too worried, let's see what happens with the addition of the three new clams. I don't expect your water parameters to experience the sudden and radical change you seem to be expecting. But even so, some increased diligence on your part along with your current routine (possibly modified a bit re frequency/dosage if necessary) should suffice here>>
I've thought about dripping Kalk water but I'm not sure if there is something else I can do.
<<This is a possibility'¦but it is very likely not necessary here>>
Do you know if Kent's Liquid Reactor would be a better alternative?
<<I would stick with a 'two-part' Alkaline/Calcium additive>>
Or is there some other 2 part calcium buffer you would recommend?
<<Indeed'¦ ESV Bionic or Two Little Fishies C-Balance>>
Thanks in advance for your insight!
<<Happy to assist'¦ By the way, have you seen this article? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_4/V4I3/Tridacna/artGotTridacna.htm EricR>>

Salifert -All in one con ASM Media reactor chem media use f'  6/28/09
I've been thinking of switching to Salifert- All in One from ESV -B Ionic as it says that you only have to add this once a week , compare to ESV's everyday dosing. I've been searching the accuracy of this product in your site and could not find, if this really work as stated on its label...or this is just one of those advertising gimmicks?
<Really any Ca/Alk supplement can be dosed once a week. But think of your coral's needs. The more they use, the larger the swing in your water make up when you dose once a week. Dosing daily keeps your water much more consistent.>
Also, I have purchase a media reactor (ASM med 1000) , and I'm wondering if I could use Chemi pure with this?
Just take it out of the bag and pour it on the reactor chamber?
<I would leave it in the bag to keep it all together.>
The instruction said to use pump that has a 150 gph , do you think I can get away with Maxi Jet 1200 w/ a 140 gph?
<Yes, but the MJ 1200 is rated for 395 I believe. You may wish to choke this back a bit with a valve, but not life or death with the Chemipure left in the bag.>
Because I have 2 of these units that I have in my garage (used this long time ago before the Hydor's came along).
And lastly, does the media has to be sandwiched by the two foams ?
<Not if left in a bag.>
And where is the best way to place the intake and out take tubing?
<Ideally intake before your pump return chamber, outtake in the pump return chamber.>
I have a 30g sump and 100g main tank.
Pls advise...and thanks in advance. KEEP ON REEFING !
<Welcome, you too, Scott V.>

Dosing Pump With ESV B-Ionic 2-Part Solution - 06/05/09
Hi WMM team,
<<Hiya Rob'¦Eric here>>
I'm a constant user of the ESV B-Ionic 2 part alkalinity/calcium product and it works very well, if a little expensive.
But . . . I buy two one-gallon bottles that are something like 60% full and then add RO-DI water to make a full gallon.
<<I am familiar with/have used this myself'¦>>
The alkalinity part is very hard to mix and it sounds like there is still some un-dissolved solids there even after I shake it vigorously.
<<Indeed'¦ The product label does make mention of the possibility of the solids precipitating out of solution'¦and supplies methods for resolving such>>
So, before I add my 50 ml each day of each part, I shake the bottles to be sure its properly mixed.
<<A good practice>>
I'd like to automate this routine process and use a peristaltic dosing pump.
<<Hmm'¦I seem to recall seeing such "double-container" dosing units just for such two-part solutions available on the Net>>
I bought a Sentry and it looks to be a nice instrument. This would be very nice to be able to count on when I'd like to go away for a long weekend and not worry about declining CA/ALK and then a spike when I get back and start again.
<<Yep'¦or even just the automation/consistency/freedom of "every day" use>>
But now I'm worried that if I dilute and mix up this gallon in advance, that as it sits in the feed container, it will separate and I will be feeding part very strong and part very weak product as the level of the feed container goes down with different strengths of this solution at different levels of the tank.
<<A valid concern I think>>
I bought a stirrer that I can put on an electric drill to be sure that it is VERY thoroughly mixed but I'm still hesitant.
<<Mmm, yes'¦still only provides an "initial" mixing>>
What about an air pump to bubble through the feed tank and keep it gently stirred?
<<Not vigorous enough'¦in my opinion>>
What do you think of my dilemma other than to suggest I might get a life?
<<Hee-hee! No worries mate'¦I do think you have a point>>
Surely some other reefer has had this concern.
<<Indeed'¦ There are several options (magnetic stirrers, etc.), but I think the simplest would be to place a small powerhead in the dosing container and put this on a timer to "mix the solution" for a minute or so, a few times a day. A little experimentation should easily determine the duration and frequency required>>
My little private part of my diving world is exquisite and a joy to me every day.
<<Ah, very good...I do share your sentiment>>
And thanks for your FAQ's which I lurk on a regular basis.
Rob West
Osprey, FL
<<We are pleased to provide/share'¦ Regards, Eric Russell'¦Columbia, SC>>

Alk/Calc Dosing 12/14/08 Ok, I've spent an hour looking for an answer to this question and have not found it. I figure that's a reasonable amount of time to search before asking a question. The number of repeat questions among these FAQs is ridiculous. <For some Qs, yes...> I dose calc and Alk w/B Ionic two part. Up to now, I've been doing it directly into the sump once a day (it takes about 25 ml of each per day). I find hand dosing to be kind of a pain and have come up w/a DIY drip. My question is: do I need two drips or can I get away w/one for a while <If you're using a 2-part solution, I would keep the two parts separate to prevent precipitation.> and, if so, which one should I drip and where (sump or top off container). <Either/or should be fine... whichever is easier for you.> I'd like to drip the Alk 24 hours a day and just add calc directly to the tank in the morning. <Sounds fine> Or should I drip the calc and add the Alk directly to the top off or sump. I don't think I can add enough Alk to the top off container to adequately supplement the tank or maybe I added it too fast. I wonder how much Alk and/or calc it takes to supersaturate a one gallon container of RO water? <I don't honestly know how much two-part solution it might take to saturate a gallon. I know it only takes about 2tsp Kalk... so, likely, not much for the 2-part solution either.> Anyway, I know these are a lot of questions, but hopefully you get the idea. I'm just not sure where and which chemical to use with the DIY drip. I do plan on making another one is a few weeks, but would like to get this one going to see how it works. <Have you considered just simply switching to a Kalk drip?> Thanks for any insights!! <De nada, Sara M.>

CA and ALK... dire need to read, understand  -- 10/02/08 Hello :) Tank details 500Liter display with 3-5" DSB, sump and one crappy skimmer. 2x150W MH (one 14000K and one 20000K). 1 Vortech MP40W for circulation in addition to a sump return. 80Kgs premium live rock Inhabitants are 2 sunk <Skunk> clowns(one pink and one orange due to screw-up at the LFS), <Mmm, you may want to switch one out for another of the same species... these won't mate> 1 blue Linckia (successful for almost 10 months now), handful of snails, 1 moon coral, couple of Shrooms and cpl of Palythoa. I have been seeing my Alk drop regularly by 0.5 to 1 meq'l every week so I read on WWM and started adding Baking soda. <Mmm, this alone won't likely "do it"...> It is NaHCO3 (Sodium hydrogen Carbonate). I read on WWM that it can replace adding of Calcium Hydroxide. I did not understand how. <Mmm, not replace... are very different chemically> I do understand that very high Alk will drive down CA levels but how can baking soda compensate for Calcium Hydroxide?? <Can not, will not> Will it be a problem if I dose both with a few hours gap between both ? <Likely not> What I do is add one teaspoon of NaHCO3 in the sump, wait for it to dissolve and add the next spoon. I have dosed 3 spoons like this yesterday night. I test Alk before dosing and 24 hours after at approximately the same time. I saw a small increment (currently at 3Meq'l approx) and so added 2 spoons today to being it to 3.5. <Okay> I also started dripping Calcium Hydroxide yesterday night at 1 drop a second. 1 teaspoon per 1.5 liter of water. I see a LOT of white stuff that does not get dissolved. <Dangerous...> IS this too much for the quantity of water? <Mmm, not likely an issue of supersaturation as is a matter of the solubility of the product you're using... I would MAKE SURE whatever supplement/s you're using are thoroughly dissolved (clear solution) in water BEFORE adding them to the main display... see below> I do discard the white sediment and use only the decanted solution. <Good> I do not test for MG. Should I dose Epsom Salt in maybe small quantities? if so, how much? <... need to test for... and read re whether there is a need or no. See... WWM re> Cheers Ranjith <Lastly, a comment/concern expressed to you and browsers: I would NOT go this route, of treatment of a biological system... for alkalinity, biomineral replacement, management... too likely to induce imbalances... My input re adequate means/moda here are gone over and over in articles, FAQs, book segments... posted on WWM. Bob Fenner>

Re: CA and ALK- follow-up   10/3/08 Hi bob I don't understand what you meant by dire need to read and understand :( <What part?> I do understand the use of calcium hydroxide and have read the site, Anthony Calfo's books etc. <Then...> I saw one faq where a crew member said baking soda can substitute calcium hydroxide. <... this reminds me of childish arguments of "s/he said"... IF you can cite where you read such, let's discuss, I'll amend (place some information near)... but this is patently absurd...> Since you guys are the experts I thought i was wrong and hence the mail to confirm if I missed anything. Maybe he meant something else? <I have no idea w/o reading the original... in context> I do understand baking soda is only one (major) element of buffers. <Yes... for seawater, there is at least the need for carbonates... bicarbonates alone will not elevate or sustain high enough reserve, pH> Calcium hydroxide is a calcium additive and due to its caustic nature it will precipitate some elements out of the water when mixing. Thus both are totally different items (obvious from the compositions) I wanted to be doubly sure as once I had made a fatal mistake. <Not fatal, but not as helpful as other approaches...> What I do NOT know is how can I make out if the amount of calcium hydroxide I used (1 teaspoon for 1.5 liters) is proper. <Proper?> Is the sediment the result of precipitation OR I used too much quantity? <Could be either, both, neither... see WWM re the use of Kalk... > The brand I used is MERCK and the grade is GR (supposed to be better than lab grade). This says a min assay of 96% <You could try more dilute solutions... again, I am not a fan of Kalk use by and large... for hobbyists, hobby systems... My opinions, input are posted re. BobF> Cheers and thanks as always :) Ranjith

Supplementing Limestone Flour?   8/14//08 Hello Crew, After Googling my head off, I'm having trouble finding an answer. When searching for calcium carbonate alternatives, I've come across a product called limestone flour. Can this be used, dissolved in water, as a calcium/alkalinity supplement? <Mmmm, nominally, yes... practically? Not likely... just not very soluble> "Chemical" supply companies seem to have better prices on "high purity" ground limestone than dedicated marine suppliers. Would this also help supplement the biominerals deficient in calcium chloride? <Mmmm, no... not really... as in other than calcium and bicarbonate... there is nothing else in Limestone... Where would Magnesium for instance come from?> I Googled limestone flour/ground limestone in conjunction with calcium carbonate supplementation and didn't get a conclusive answer that it's a viable alternative. Would this be approximately the same solution to the Tropic Marin Bio Calcium? <Is similar in principle make-up, but...> My setup includes a 120 sps reef with two 110g basement sumps. The first one is filled with live rock that flows over into a second one (filled with a DSB, some rock, and Chaeto) and back up stairs. Just always looking for a better/less expensive way to add calcium without the investment in a reactor. Thanks as always for your help. Without your site...success would be more of a delayed gratification. Jeff <Would like to make a few statements. The use of finely ground CaCO3 can/could be useful, economical IF you had a large, let's say commercial grow-out system of high biomineral use, along with supplying other needed materials. In practical terms however, for the small volume/need you have, the best (cheapest, simplest, most-reliable) method of supplying alkalinity and biomineral content is some sort of reactor... can be DIY made... I would NOT just supplement (alone) this flour... but it's worth experimenting to prove to yourself the value in using "balanced" means of supplementation. Bob Fenner>

I've been trying to keep my calcium and alkalinity up to par 6/13/08 Hi everyone, Thanks for all the help. I've needed a lot lately. I've been trying to keep my calcium and alkalinity up to par. I have been measuring by a carbonate hardness test. I have been told about two different methods. I first started by adding Kent Marine Superbuffer powder. I was told I should be using this at water changes. <Yes> I started using it, and the day after the water change, my hardness was at 12 dKH. Then i would measure it again in three days, and it was at 9dkh. So I would treat it again. Is it normal for it to sway this much from just a couple of days? <Mmm, can, yes... depending on factors like use by life in your system, filtration methods, other chem/phys. properties in your system> Then I was talking to someone at the pet store, and I was told that this buffer does nothing for calcium levels. <Correct... in fact, can limit this, other alkaline earth matters... e.g. Magnesium> So I was told to use Kent Marine's two part liquid buffer. <Mmmm... I smell a sale> I was also told you can't use both the liquid and the powder together, that they will cancel each other out. I have been trying to research it on your website, and my head has still not stopped spinning, but from what I gather, the powder raises the hardness, and the liquid maintains this. Is this correct? <Mmm, can...> If not, what's the best method of buffering the water. <Let's see... would be better to start a bit further back in this discussion... Do you know/understand what alkalinity is? What biominerals like Calcium, Mg are, how they interact? Their principal sources in captive systems? A good deal of what goes on here has to do with your initial set-up... the substrate, rock used (is it calcareous? To what degree soluble?)... Your salt-mix choice... they're not all the same... What sorts of life you have, what you're doing with it, foods/feeding... Other factors include filter gear choices... good skimming, use of ozone/high/er RedOx...> Now, I'm sure this is important to know also, I have a 75 gallon tank, with 80 lbs of live rock, 2 inches of substrate, <This may be an easy avenue for improvement... increasing depth here with a useful material... see WWM: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/index.htm scroll down to Marine Substrates> a remora pro protein skimmer, <Ahh, a good choice> and I do weekly 15% water changes. <Also good> For fish, I have a chalk bass, a Firefish, three green Chromis , a African pygmy angel, a lawnmower blenny, seven assorted soft corals, and an assortment of snails and crabs. And I'm going to be adding a Kole Tang, and hopefully two skunk clowns. As long that it's not too much of a bioload for my tank. <This should be fine> If you could help me again, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you, Marc <We can "solve" this and other issues Marc... with a bit of reading and going back and forth here... I do encourage you to switch from the Kent line to SeaChem (see the latter's website for their line of alkalinity and biomineral products... much more useful/complete than Kent's), and to look into adding a sump/refugium, more substrate there or in your main system... Bob Fenner>

Re: I've been trying to keep my calcium and alkalinity up to par 6/13/08 Thank you for your help. I actually had less substrate before, and after reading about the benefits of a deeper sand bed, I added another 20 lbs., but I will now add more. <Good> I did lose two fish when I added the sand, but they were only a couple days old when I did so. I must have added too quickly, and the bag stated no rinsing needed, and I think it was a mistake not to. <Agreed> Now as far as salt goes, I use Oceanic natural Sea Salt Mix, <A poor choice... lacks substantial (added by other lines) to purposely excessive alkalinity, biomineral content> I do want to switch to Sea Crystals or Instant Ocean, I've read good things about both on your website. My question is, is it safe to just switch right over to this salt at my next water change, or just I slowly switch over, maybe using half and half? <Is fine to switch carte blanche... just the percentage change out that you usually do> I am very interested in utilizing a refugium, i really need to research it a lot further first. <Much, MUCH posted on WWM re... as well as the Reef Invertebrate tome by Anthony Calfo and I> Now, a little off subject, I had a Sea Clone Protein Skimmer , and then after advise from your website, I went out and purchased the Remora Pro. At first, I would get a lot of thick dark skim mate, then about two weeks ago, it stopped producing it almost all together. <May well not have much to/that it can further skim for now> I clean the prefilter, and the cup every water change. My nitrates are always at zero. <Very good> I know that sounds unlikely, so I bought a second test, and had it tested at a store. Same results. I was just wondering if it's possible that with my bioload, and without heavy feeding, that I don't have enough organic materials in the water, and that's why there's no skim mate. <Well-stated. Likely so> Which would be great, I just want to know if I should be worried about the skimmer. <Mmm, no> I was actually at the fish store when you responded, I was purchasing my new Kole Tang. It's gorgeous, almost full colored, and was there for three weeks and eating well. I did by more of the Kent Marine Superbuffer and Kent Marine Calcium Plus. <I'd return these... exchange...> So I will have to wait till next time to purchase the Bio-Chem Products. <SeaChem> Thanks again, I take all of your information as gospel. <Stop! I would NOT do this... I and all others here, everywhere (even the Pope) are not infallible...> You all have been a great help. Very unbiased and it is greatly appreciated. Marc <Welcome my friend and fellow petfish sufferer. BobF>

Calcium / Alk Question   2/5/08 Hello, <Hello Bryan> I have a calcium / alkalinity question. I have a 330g tank with a 70g sump, newly setup (in December) with daily 3-4g water changes with reef crystals mix using R/O D/I water. The tank is currently lightly stocked and doing very well. Before I continue stocking I want to have proper alk/ca levels, so I have added a system for automated Kalk dosing. However before I begin dosing I have checked my alk/calcium levels, and they are currently at dKH of 12 and calcium of 275-300. This sounds like an imbalance to me as I have understood.<Your Alk is too high. Adding Calcium to the water to raise the level over 400ppm will lower the Alk naturally> I am afraid to begin dosing Kalk as my alk level is already at 12. Would you recommend I increase calcium with other means to get a balance or begin doing some very large water changes to bring alk down? While I have used buffer supplements in the past, I have used very little to no buffer in the past few weeks.<Never add a buffer or supplement without first seeing a deficiency or taking tests to know whether or not the additions are needed.> My other issue is my pH has been trailing down the last week or so. While I may have some elevated CO2 indoors, I don't see why the indoor CO2 level would have increased over this time period, if it was depressed due to indoor CO2, I would think it would be constant as it has been. Last few days data: 2/4/2008 high: 8.17 low: 8.09 2/3/2008 high: 8.31 low: 8.15 2/2/008 high: 8.36 low: 8.18 2/1/2008 high: 8.41 low: 8.20 1/31/2008 high: 8.47 low: 8.21 (my sump light is left on 24x7) <pH is fine. You must understand that this reading will vary throughout the day and night and will NOT be constant. To maintain a reef tanks chemistry the TOP 3 tests need to be ALK/Ca/Mg. These 3 are interlinked and seek equilibrium. If one is out of whack then the others will follow. Alk should be maintained between 8-10 DKH, Ca between 400-480ppm, and Mg at 1350+ppm. This will provide an environment for corals and corallines to thrive. I believe your tank is too new to need Kalkwasser. I usually start after 4 months. Another test to be concerned with is PO4 (phosphates). I highly recommend a PO4 removing resin be employed ASAP. BTW my reef crystals is mixing up to about 9-10 dKH and 350 CA. <If Instant Ocean is cheaper, use it. You will be adding Calcium and Alk buffers as the tank matures. As the tank gets older and more corals are stocked the Ca/Alk demands will increase. Therefore, Instant Ocean will be fine. HTH, Rich...aka...Mr. Firemouth> Bryan

Re: B-Ionic Dosing Pump   12/25/07 All right so I have looked into magnetic stirrers for the Calcium my only other question is does the Alk part of the B-Ionic 2 part solution need to be on a magnetic stirrer before it is added to the tank, or may it remain stagnant? AJ <Mmm, don't see it/this mentioned on ESV's site: http://www.esvco.com/prod6.html But likely not an issue... see BobS. doser diagram... BobF>

Alk, Mg, Ca, Low Calcium/Alkalinity...Supply Not Meeting Demand? -- 08/16/07 Hello everyone! <<Hiya Sebastian!>> Hope you are having a good "hump" day! <<Is Thursday now, but yes...was fine>> Let me begin by thanking you once again for your dedication and support of this hobby. <<We're happy to be here>> Eric? <<Tis I my friend>> I finally received a reply from Boyd Enterprises regarding ChemiClean, <<Excellent>> they did inform me the active ingredient is "another" type of antibiotic. <<Yes>> So you were right. <<Somebody write that down...>> However, they declined to say which kind exactly. <<This seems silly (or maybe just underhanded?) to me...aside from the fact this is still something you don't want to administer to your display tank...why would consumers/hobbyists want to use a product that doesn't (or won't!) say what it is/is comprised of?>> On a different note, I have managed to run a successful reef as of late, my weekly 10% water changes have gotten rid of all the cyano and all my SPS frags are developing a base and starting to grow. <<Very good to know>> I have been struggling with my Calcium and dKH however, I did some tests last night that showed dKH at 7 and Ca at 320. <<Not bad really...though the Calcium could use a bit of a boost by a few tens of ppm>> I have been adding 2-part (Kent) as well as topping off with Kalkwasser and I seem to have trouble keeping high levels. <<Do check your Magnesium readings>> Would this be an Mg issue? <<Possibly>> I purchased some MgCl from Kent and also a test kit. <<Very good...and for small/infrequent adjustments simple Epsom Salts will do just as well as any of the proprietary hobby products>> On the other hand, am I just not dosing enough? <<Considering both your Alkalinity and Calcium are at the low end of the spectrum this may very well be the issue. Try boosting the amounts a bit and see>> I have about 12 acros, 3 more SPS, hammer, candy cane etc, is my Ca consumption just high? <<I don't remember for sure but wasn't isn't this tank less than 100-gallons...this may very well be true then>> Coupled with the fact that my tank runs bare bottom? <<Mmm, yes...lack of contribution of any Earth elements re>> Any help is appreciated. Sebastian Nunez <<Try increasing the 'two-part' dosage...and/or try a better/different brand (E.S.V., Two Little Fishies, or even the new AquaC product). Cheers, Eric Russell>>

Re: Low Calcium/Alkalinity...Supply Not Meeting Demand? -- 08/19/07 Good and VERY happy Friday Crew! <<Sunday night now, the weekend is over and I'm bummed'¦>> Hey Eric! <<Hey Sebastian! Sorry for the late reply'¦been working hard on a very important and extensive 'honey do' list>> Eric, once again I thank you for all your assistance with my system. <<Is my pleasure, mate>> First of all, you were correct (again) my system is a 90-Gal with a 20-Gal sump, half full, so I always dose supplements assuming a 100-Gal water volume. <<Okay>> I did a headcount and I have a total of 18 hard corals, 12 Acros, 1 yellow scrolling Turbinaria, 1 green Montipora digitata, (very fast grower). <<These would all classify as 'hard' corals'¦and all would be putting a demand on the Alkaline/Earth elements in your system>> This last coral has quadrupled its size in 5 months, honest truth. <<I believe you'¦M. digitata grows extremely fast under good conditions, and does so at the cost of its skeletal strength. I'm sure you have noticed how the slightest 'bump' can break it apart>> I have a 5 ½-Gal RO/DI reservoir for top off with an ATO device keeps water level constant. <<Very good>> The reservoir water consist of heavily aerated water with 2 tsp of Kalk, <<Per gallon of mixing water'¦yes?>> I allow it to sit in a bucket and remove the supernatant (clear) solution and add to reservoir. <<Very good again>> I discard the precipitates on the bottom of the bucket. <<Actually you might try just adding more water once, mixing and decanting as before'¦is likely the 'slurry' is good for at least one more round (testing can confirm)'¦and will save you some dosh on Kalkwasser in the long run>> Sounds appropriate to you? <<Thus far, yes>> In addition, I dose Kent's Tech-CB, as previously stated, I have been dosing 30ml of each at morning time or at night with at least 24-hour intervals. A couple of nights ago I began attempting the "Kalk slurry method" (Seachem Kalk) in hopes to solve my low levels of Ca and dKH (7dKH and 300 Ca). <<This method has its uses/benefits but is also very easy to abuse'¦do keep a close watch on your pH>> I mixed 3 tsp of Kalk in a cold glass of RO/DI water and poured into system, a lot of particles floating around and some settled of rock, however, after a few minutes all was dissolved and there was no trace of any precipitation. <<Yikes'¦3 tsp is too much here with this method in this size tank!>>>> Did I add too much at one time? <<Indeed, yes'¦best to start with about a quarter-teaspoon and work your way up until you determine what maximum amount will NOT raise your pH more than two-tenths of a pH unit (e.g. -- when pH 8.2 jumps to pH 8.4)>> I am at a loss. I tested Ca and Alk again this morning and they same results. 7dKH and 300 Ca. Could my test be wrong? <<I'm thinking this is so>> I have ordered new set of test kits from Seachem, for Ca, Alk, and Mg. <<Excellent>> Or, given my bioload, is my Ca intake just large? <<Would depend on the size of the colonies'¦if these are large then maybe so>> Another question if you don't mind, I bought some Reef Buffer by Seachem also ( I like their products better than Kent) <<As do I>> and I was wondering if I can use this to buffer freshly aerated RO/DI water for making water changes before I add salt and how much do I add for a 5-Gal bucket of water? <<Yes you can'¦just follow the instructions on the container until you reach the desired readings>> The instructions only indicate 1 level tsp per 40-Gal to increase pH by .02 and dKH by .05 mg/liter <<Ah, I see what you mean. Start with 1 tsp per five-gallons, test, and adjust accordingly>> I am going to attempt a different approach by switching salt mixes to Reef Crystals instead of Instant Ocean. <<Mmm yes, seem to be noticing problems myself with Instant Ocean of late'¦will be making a switch to Seachem with my next salt order>> I hate to be spinning my head with all these questions and I wonder if I worry more than necessary and fail to enjoy my reef. <<Probably a little of this last my friend'¦you did say your corals were growing (and doing well?), yes?>> In the end, all the corals look great and healthy and polyp extension is very good. <<Ah well'¦there ya go! But do use those new test kits when they arrive to confirm>> On your advice I have purchased a wide array of frozen foods and now have gotten into the habit feeding regularly instead of starving my reef. <<Very good to hear my friend'¦your tank will be so much the better for this>> I am mixing daphnia, Mysis, krill, along with Cyclop-eeze flakes and the fish and corals seem to enjoy it. <<Indeed! Do consider some Mysis shrimp and glass worms as well'¦oh yes, and don't forget the vitamin supplements (Vita-Chem/Selcon/Selco)>> I wish I could do away with expensive 2-part supplements and just dose Kalk, I have come to enjoy messing with it and do not really mind the extra work. <<I see'¦then step up the dosage (following Anthony's guidelines re the 'slurry' method) and see how things go once those new test kits arrive>> If I wanted to change to Kalk, do I need to add buffer also? <<Not usually'¦frequent water changes may suffice, but test to be sure>> Which would you recommend? <<I prefer the Seachem product line>> Thanks again and hope you have a nice weekend. <<Quite welcome'¦and I did, even with the 'work' (much prep for my upcoming 50th B-Day party my wife is throwing for me [grin]) >> PS - I hate to single anyone out, the only reason I always greet Eric is because it just so happens every time I write he is the one that replies. <<Aw man! And here I thought it was because I was good! [BIG grin]>> I am aware there are many hard-working contributors to this valuable forum out there. <<Indeed there are!>> Thank you all again for helping me get a better understanding of reef-keeping. <<We are ALL happy to be of service>> I am originally from Honduras and have enjoyed diving and snorkeling many times along the reef and I have a deep appreciation for its significance and beauty, as well as the ecosystem it supports. <<Wonderful! Perhaps you will join us on a diving excursion some time!>> What you all do is open people's eyes that perhaps have not had the opportunity to dive among corals and such. <<Indeed... Not all among us are divers'¦but we all have a wish to inform/give folks the opportunity to learn to preserve/maintain the captive life we keep. It is our earnest hope, desire, and even our stand, that the service we voluntarily provide does indeed lead to the increased survival of these organisms>> I firmly believe that fostering this appreciation also encourages a conservation spirit among reefers. <<I am in agreement, but appreciation alone is not enough'¦knowledge is key'¦and this site contains a wealth of knowledge available for the reading>> This is the main reason I have so much respect for what you all do. Thank you again and have a great weekend. Sebastian Nunez <<Be well my friend'¦and please do let me know how those new test kits read. Eric Russell>>

R2: Low Calcium/Alkalinity...Supply Not Meeting Demand? -- 08/25/07 Buen Dia! Wet Web Media Crew! <<And a Good Day to you!>> Hey Eric! <<Hey Sebastian!>> Thanks for your last reply, like always I find myself taking notes after reading your emails. <<Excellent my friend>> I discovered that I was not adding enough of the 2-part additives, as I tested my Mg with my new test kit and it read right around 1250. <<Ah'¦>> As a result I have started to increase to 50ml daily of both and dKH has gone between 9-10 dKH and Ca around 360. <<Very good>> I have noticed also that as a result on this increase in dKH some of my frags seem to have "accelerated" their encrusting process as I can visibly notice a broader base and upcoming branches :) <<Mmm, indeed'¦have now something to 'work with'>> I do, however, have another issue as of late. <<Oh?>> I am sorry, it seems to be an endless pit of foes, however, nothing is dying so I consider my issues not as terrible as they could be. <<Mmm'¦or maybe not really 'issues' at all'¦>> I have this brown algae that grows in circles in my live rock. <<I consider most all alga in a system as being beneficial as long as it is not 'taking over.' This brown algae you see is likely home/food for beneficial micro-fauna'¦and may even be feeding upon/depleting substances from your system that if left unchecked otherwise might cause bigger 'issues.' I guess what I am trying to convey here is'¦ 'Alga' is not our enemy>> It first appeared on the plastics cover of the overflow in my tank, it is brownish, yellowish and it looks almost encrusting. <<Perhaps a species of Coralline algae>> You can see clear filaments coming off of it. I took off the cover on the overflow and tried scrubbing it under hot water and it did not come off. It does not seem to affect corals, however, it has replaced a lot of my coralline algae that passed away when I upgraded to MH lighting. <<Mmm, yes'¦changes to environmental conditions favoring one species of alga over another>> I will include a picture so you can get a better idea of what I am talking about. http://i217.photobucket.com/albums/cc307/GRENDELSN/FishTankPics062.jpg Please let me know what you think. Sebastian Nunez <<I don't think you need be concerned here'¦ As you state, this is not malaffecting your corals'¦and it is likely the imbalance of Earth elements had as much effect on your Coralline algae as anything else. Esté bien mi amigo. Eric Russell>>

R3: Low Calcium/Alkalinity...(Unusable Picture) - 08/25/07 My apologies, here goes the pic with the algae again, you can see it surrounding the coral frag. Any ideas as to what it is and how to get rid of it are appreciated. Sebastian Nunez <<Mmm, nothing here I could open/use/see Sebastian (but did see link/reply in previous exchange). For future reference please send pics to us as jpeg files...no more than a few hundred KB in size. EricR>>

Marine Buffer 8.3 - as sole buffer additive  3/30/07 Hello, <Hi there> I have a F.O.W.L.R. tank and was wondering if it was safe to use Seachem's Marine Buffer 8.3 <Mmm, their Reef Buffer?: http://www.seachem.com/products/product_pages/ReefBuffer.html> as a regular buffer additive. <Mmm... well, as stated... if your pH is not problematical... However... it would be better to utilize their (SeaChem's) Reef Builder additionally... and BEST to have a basic (okay, pun intended) understanding of the general water chemistry here> I have a 58 gallon tank and need to add about 7 tsp weekly to maintain a kH of 10.  My pH is steady at 8.2 and I find that the Marine Buffer 8.3 buffers better than Seachem's Marine Builder. I really don't need to raise the pH when I buffer, but this product does not set the pH above 8.3. <Correct... due to the kOH), alkalinity product constants of the components...> The only issue I was wondering about is that unlike the Marine Builder, the Marine Buffer also contains borate - which I thought I read on your site that it could contribute to the kH reading thus making it inaccurate (?) <Mmm, no... not a practical consideration> - but then isn't borate a buffer itself (and why it's buffering better). <Mmm, no... not much... is added for other purposes...> I believe I also read that it was something good to have in the tank.  Would using the Marine Buffer 8.3 as the sole additive buffer cause there to be to much borate in the system? <Mmm, no... with regular water change-outs... is diluted> (I figure no because I'm assuming the borate is used up as the other buffers are and that it's in the proper percentage in the mix.) I thought I read that Mr. Salty Dog uses it as his buffer additive, but perhaps I am wrong. <Will wing this by James> I thought about baking soda also, but do not want to cause the system to become ionically imbalanced over time. <Can, but unlikely...> Appreciate the advice. Thank you for providing so much free information. Sincerely, Richard <Mmm, there are no satisfying, "complete" explanations of said water chemistry on the Net as far as I'm aware... but there are such in printed works... I encourage you to get/read Hans Baensch's Marine Atlas V. 1, or Fossa and Nilsen Modern Coral Reef Aquarium... not hard to grasp... but a simpler operant understanding here is unacceptable to me. Bob Fenner> pH and alkalinity I've sifted through a bunch of FAQs all over the web, but I can't seem to find a specific answer for my situation.  First, I have a confession.  I am a lazy hobbyist.  I mean really lazy.  I have a FOWLR tank that's been running for 2 years without a water change.  It would have been 4 years without a water change, but I moved and the only acceptably lazy option was filling up with new water.  ;-) <Wow!  I consider myself lazy, but you have me beat!  There is a certain amount that can be said for a relatively "hands off" approach, but I have to say that I am in favor of at least occasional water changes.> To my credit, I keep very few animals and they've all been with me from the beginning.  I have a 120 gal tank with a 45 gal sump/refugium.  I can't remember how much live rock, but there's quite a bit.  My substrate is about 1.5 to 2 inches deep in both the tank and sump, and it's all live sand.  I have a purple tang, mandarin goby, Flameback angel, cleaner shrimp, and a peppermint shrimp.  I have the resident snails and hermits, and a colony of polyps that hitch-hiked in on some live rock and multiplied rather nicely.  The newest addition to the tank is a queen conch.  She was one inch long when I put her in a year ago.  She's now nearly 5 inches long and will be donated to the public aquarium next week. <You definitely have benefited from having a relatively light bioload.  Actually.... probably a very appropriate bioload, just light by hobby standards.> I pretty much never test my tank, but I've been thinking about delving into corals.  I have a PC/MH fixture, so I know I'm set on lighting.  I also have an extremely healthy 'pod population.  I began testing my tank this week (all Salifert), and here is where I'm at: Ammonia - 0, Nitrite - 0, Nitrate - 0, Iodine - .06, Calcium - 410, dKH - 5.1, pH - 8.0, (I don't have a phosphate test) The pH looks a bit low, but the alkalinity is really low.  The odd thing is the pH is constant.  I tested when I first setup the tank, and it was always at 8, with dKH at 12.  After I moved, I tested again for a while b/c I was unfamiliar with the water out here, and it was always 8 (don't remember the dKH).  I have an RO/DI unit; I have no idea if that has anything to do with my pH or not. <RO/DI leaves the water fairly pure so that the pH and alkalinity are determined by the buffers in the salt mix.  A pH of 8.0 is a bit low, but should come up with higher alkalinity.  Your alkalinity should be corrected weather you pursue keeping corals or not.  A higher alkalinity will help limit pH swings in case of some unpredictable event (pump failure, etc.)> So here are the million dollar questions: <Stand by for my $.02 answers!> should I try to raise the pH, and if so, what's the best way to do it? <Try raising your alkalinity first, and the pH should come up a bit.  If you don't have a protein skimmer, consider more water movement/aeration to help remove CO2> Will I be forever dependent on artificially altering the pH? <Alkalinity is always "consumed" and as such will have to be replenished, but there are many ways to accomplish this.> Should I be concerned about the dKH? <Yup, particularly if you plan on keeping corals.  IMO, alk is more important than pH or calcium (especially in the short term).  Most corals simply will not tolerate low alk.> Kalk isn't an option for me because it goes against all things lazy. I'm also not crazy about keeping the necessary ingredients on hand as I have a 7-year-old who loves to play chemist. <Kalk is not one of my favorite options anyway.  Consider two part additives like ESV's B-Ionic, Kent's tech CB or Two Little Fishies C-balance.  SeaChem and others also offer separate dry alkalinity and calcium products, and Tropic Marin offers a dry combined product.  You will have to correct your alkalinity first, and then supplement calcium and alkalinity in a balanced fashion.  All of the products I listed are pretty safe (esp. compared to Kalk), but like anything should be stored out of the reach of curious young hands.> Please let me know if there are any natural or easy and non-messy ways for me to resolve my pH.  If there are not, is it possible to keep corals in a tank with a constant pH of 8.0? Thanks, Becky McAlister <As stated above, treat the alk and the pH should follow.  There really isn't any "natural" way to accomplish this short of a very deep sand bed and very low stocking levels (both extreme beyond what is practical).  Two parts are a bit expensive, but offer a great deal of convenience, and some brands come with or can be fitted with child proof caps.  HTH.  Adam>

Kalkwasser Question Dear Bob- Hello, I have been reading your articles and FAQs and have come across some varying opinions concerning the boosting of ca and alk to a tank from what others have informed me. I have a 46 gal FOWLR and have decided to partake in corals. My questions are: what would be the best product to supplement ca and alk? Also, what is the best way to administer the supplement? Are mechanical dosing pumps necessary? How do you in the beginning stages boost the ca levels without harming current inhabitants? I recall Kalkwasser being high on your list while others have told me Bio Calcium by tropic Marin is more beneficial to a system.  Only one problem is the budget-I know that you favor calcium reactors and have heard of their wondrous contributions to reefing but under monetary constraints I am unable to purchase this machine. I plan to save up and eventually purchase one but the coral bug has bitten earlier than expected.  I understand that I hit you with quite a few questions but any insight would be greatly appreciated. Sincerely, Steven Marandola <Well-stated opinions here. For most (the vast majority) of small, home-based systems "two-part" supplements (like B-Ionic) are best IMO... they provide sufficient/excess alkalinity and biomineral content safely and reliably. I do not endorse the use of Kalkwasser generally... too toxic, unstable to use, easy to get "out of balance" (with magnesium, alkaline make-up) in general... But, Kalk can be a very useful adjunct to other means of boosting, maintaining conducive water quality, particularly with situations where folks have similarly boosted lighting, and a concurrent desire to enhance growth, biomineralization. Reactors are still the best available, most appropriate technology, but I agree with you re their cost. Perhaps a marine club near you will have a "do it yourself" reactor get-together (many do) and you can make your own, find a CO2 cylinder (still the most common types in the U.S. use carbon dioxide, though there are other moda), regulator, needle-valve... at a low price. Considering what folks "put into" their systems, mainly electricity, but also supplement, and livestock cost-wise, reactors are not expensive. Bob Fenner>

- A drop in the bucket - <Greetings, JasonC here...> I know, not the Alk/Ca question again. <No worries.> Have read the articles. Thanks for all your wisdom.  Here's the question.  Tank is 220g, 150g sump, 70g refugiums).   Southdown 9" DSB in Refugium, 4" DSB in Sump. ETSS skimmer, pulling like a horse.  150 lbs LR( all about 7 years old) 10% water changes every 3 weeks.  Just setup this tank after taking down a 180g.  Nitrites .001, Nitrates 2 ppm, Mag 1200, pH 8.5 day 8.3 night. Temp 78.  Now the problem children  Ca 230 Alk 5, Ouch.  Have been adding Kalk via the Slurry method.  Got an American Marine pH monitor (calibrated regularly)  never move the pH more than .1.  Been adding one tablespoon of Kalk in the morning and one at night.  Adding one tablespoon of baking soda midday. These move the pH up/down by the .1 as stated, but Ca/Alk is going nowhere.  What gives? <At the amounts you are adding, you're never going to move calcium or alkalinity in any direction. Given the fact that your system volume is over 300 gallons, you need to add much more than a tablespoon to affect a change.> As this is a new setup I don't have much in the way of corals. (2 clams, 3 small Acropora frags).  I used to control the Ca using Tropic Marin Bio-Ca, but read this was CaCl, so since this was a new setup with almost all new water thought I'd switch back to Kalk. <I would go for one of the two part systems like ESV B-Ionic or better yet...> Driving me nuts, want to add a Ca reactor, but want to get to 400 Ca 10 Alk first. <I would go directly for a calcium reactor - don't pass go, don't collect any Kalkwasser.> Any ideas? <Cheers, J -- >  

- Calcium and Buffer Additions - <Good morning, JasonC here...> Should I have to add calcium and buffer daily to keep the levels at 400ppm cal and alk at 9 or 10 even though I add Kalk slurry twice a day. <Yes.> The tank is a 125 gal reef that has been running 8 years. <You are probably due to replace some of the rock and substrate - this also give up calcium through natural processes and unless you augment it yearly, you are way overdue.> Its heavily stocked and every thing is doing well. I do a 25 gal water change every 2 weeks. It seems like the cal. and alk fall off quick. <Your buffering capacity is probably shot - again, think about replacing a goodly amount of sand.> Is this normal or is there something I can do to reduce the buffer and cal. additions. <Consider a calcium reactor - you didn't mention anything in your system that specifically requires high levels of calcium...> You have been helpful in the past and thanks in advance for your help this time <Cheers, J -- >

Raising Calcium and pH 5/22/03 Hello again, I'm not sure how to tell who is responding to the emails today. <Anthony at bat> I have a 75 gallon reef tank with 20 gallon sump, about 90 lbs of live rock and 270lbs of Southdown sand. Nitrite is 0, Ammonia is 0, Nitrate is about 5, hardness is 9dkh, Calcium is about 330, ph is about 8.1, specific gravity it 1.024. <your calcium and pH levels are flat/low... do increase water changes, buffer and testing... some more Kalkwasser likely> I need to get my Calcium and ph up but have been conservative with adding Kalkwasser, about 1/4 tsp per night mixed in freshwater and poured into a high flow area. <Doh! answering mail too fast today <G>. Yes, agreed. Do a keyword search of our archives with the google.com tool on the home page for "Kalkwasser slurry excerpt". On one of the FAQ pages, I excerpted this dosing strategy from my book. Helpful perhaps here> I have a bubble coral, leather, green star polyps and a yellow cup Turbinaria. Also two fanworms, a yellow tang and various snails and hermit crabs. The current problem is that the yellow cup coral had a small section of die off on one edge when I purchased it and it now seems to be spreading. I am feeding the cup and bubble nightly with whole Mysis shrimp do I need to try and feed each polyp of the cup? <helpful but not necessary... smaller foods though needed here> Would whole Mysis shrimp be too large for this coral and I should blend it instead? <yes, my friend> The bubble seems to be doing fine. <agreed... a large, hungry and easy feeder> I have the cup coral high up in the tank and in a high flow area (laminar unfortunately) I'll be getting a couple of PowerSweep powerheads to try and break up the laminar flow. <critical yes... laminar flow can literally denude the flesh off of some corals> Can you suggest anything to try and recover the yellow cup coral? <more appropriate water flow, continued good feeding and water quality to compliment time/patience> The guy at the LFS recommended breaking it off and gluing the broken edges to seal them. <not necessary or recommended. The coral can/will reclaim that part of the corallum> I really don't want to do this and would prefer to help it recover. I am going to increase the Kalkwasser addition but don't want to make a mess of things. <understood... simply test for pH in close concert (never add more than will raise your pH by .1-.2)> I have Caulerpa growing in the sump and know that I have to trim it before it completes a full life-cycle can you let me know how long this usually is? <never trim or cut Caulerpa, bud... simply thin out fronds (remove whole strands). Cutting cause the leaching or sapping of the cell. The life cycle for these algae is typically 3-6 months. If you thin aggressively every 2 months or less... you will likely be safe from events of them going vegetative> I think my next purchase will be some mushroom corals or elegance. Thanks for the help <best regards, Anthony>

Calcium dosing and vacations 5/26/03 Bob (or Anthony), <Howdy> I am now adding Kalk slurry in a cup of cold water after my nightly top off.  Is it okay to use Amquel-treated water, or should I just use cold tap water for this purpose?   <plain tap water is fine... distilled or DI even better> I'll admit that I started very conservatively because I hadn't gotten my pH meter yet.   <do be careful> I now have it, but with no manual, so I am waiting on some answers from Milwaukee prior to using it.   <actually... you can use it now... for the Kalk slurry, you simply add no more than will change the pH by more than .1 to .2 (within an hour or so). Calibrated or no, the meter will tell you this and you can employ it to keep up with the daily loss/drop in the meantime. You just will not know how low you are and where you need to go on the digital scale (still... use your liquid reagents for a ballpark)> For example, I don't know how often to calibrate, recalibrate, or even if I need to calibrate it prior to the first use. <a few times yearly would be nice> When I make up my saltwater for aging, I have been adding Amquel to the barrel.  Should I hold off on that and add it to the buckets I haul the water in as I get ready for the actual change?  Or does it really matter? <if you must use it (Chloramine in the tap water?), then it should be used first on raw tap water> As you recall, my saltwater showed large pH swings when exposed to an airstone (it was low and then swung up about .9 after aeration).  Does this mean anything like that I need to buffer the water?   <hmmm... the question needs to address Alkalinity (hardness) and pH... check your alkalinity to see if you need buffer, my friend> This is all confusing to me because the water shows a decent alkalinity of about 3 or 4 meq/l out of the tap. <Doh! sorry <G>... I should have read further. Ahhh... no worries. A fine ALK level. Your pH issue is related to CO2/carbonic acid more likely. Simply aerate heavily> Also, I am set to go on a few mini-vacations and one 1 week vacation this summer.  Can I leave off the daily Kalk dosing and just pick up where I left off when I return?   <usually yes.... it will fall slowly down... and be sure to bring it back up slowly and all will be fine> I am worried that the slurry method is to prone to misuse by a house sitter.   <very much agreed> I do have some Kent Tech CB 2 part additive.  Is this a safer bet for the sitter?   <yes... very much so.> I know that both parts have to be dosed separately.   <correct> Silly question maybe, but how long do you wait between dosing each part? <Day/night would be nice... but in this case, why don't you have the sitter dose each part on alternating days (set them aside in medicine cups and mark them by day so that there is no confusion)> Also, can I use the Tech CB to raise the Ca to begin with? <yep> My Ca is now about 385 and alk is 3 meq/L.   <both numbers are fine and balanced. No need to struggle to reach some ideal extreme end of the scale. Stability at these numbers would keep a healthy tank> I've only been dosing Kalk for 1/2 week.  I am worried that I should be rigging up a semi-auto top-off system with Kalkwasser for the vacation.   <too easy to foul up... skip it IMO> I would do this with a two gallon container with airline and a pinch valve sitting over the sump. My tank loses about 1 quart/day to evaporation. <calculate the loss in advance and simply have the sitter dose measured FW only. No new/complicated drip systems for safety> My display tank is 35 gallons, with about 15 gallons additional in the back of the tank sump, 5 gallons of which is Caulerpa algae refugium.  I have no corals, but want to promote healthy coralline (I have quite a bit).  Oh, I am also adding iron/manganese dosing for the sake of the macroalgae. Thanks, Linda Swenberg <all good, my friend. Best regards, Anthony>

- Alkalinity Test and Kalkwasser Dosing - Thank you for the prompt reply! <My pleasure.> I have an alkalinity test on order so hopefully this will provide some additional clues soon.  Actually I do have test strips that include an alkalinity test but this reading has always been off the chart (I think this particular test on my test strips is intended for freshwater only).  I quit using test strip soon after I setup my aquarium because they were too difficult to interpret and I questioned the accuracy.  <Strip tests are notoriously inaccurate.> The alkalinity test I have ordered is from SeaChem.  What is your opinion on SeaChem tests? <Should do you just fine.> My main curiosity now is regarding your original reply - you said my Kalkwasser use is not optimal.  When I said I use Kalkwasser in all of my makeup water, what I meant by this is my makeup water is made by dissolving 1 tsp of Kalk in 1 gallon of RO water, then pouring-off the clear solution into a makeup water container, from which I add approx 1 - 1.5 gals/week to my main tank.  To me this sounds like the same approach you mentioned. <Same but different... unless I misunderstood your top-off method. Typically, well at least in my tank, the top-off water sits for days and days before the container needs to be refilled. Kalkwasser won't work like this because it will settle out of solution - it needs to mixed and used within 12 hours or so.> Does my clarification help or did I misunderstand your description of optimal use of Kalk? <Perhaps we are both misunderstanding something...> I have read about adding acetic acid to the Kalkwasser mix to enable higher levels of Ca to be dissolved ( http://www.reefscapes.net/articles/breefcase/kalkwasser.html ).  Is this more of an optimal use of Kalk? <Uhh... not in my opinion. Even though acetic acid is weak, you can still do some harm to the buffers in your system, and once they are gone, they're hard to get back. Do read though our Kalkwasser FAQs, as I do believe Anthony Calfo lays out his "slurry method" which I think you will find useful. Also, here's another article for some background: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm > Greg <Cheers, J -- >

Calcium and Alkalinity 10/6/03 Ok Ok Calc/alk question again. <OK> 1) Does Kalk help to raise alk or just maintain it while increasing calc. <the latter... but very well> 2) Same question yet applying to calcium reactor. <raises Alk indeed... but lacks many Kalkwasser benefits> 3) How and when would one use polygluconate calcium in conjunction with Kalk...as my plan is to use a Nielsen reactor along with polygluconate for favorable coralline growth. thank you <do not rely on sugar based calcium for stony coral growth... simply add it to your present Ca dosing regime and employ it short term (less than 6 months IMO) for the support of growing corallines. Best regards, Anthony> Calcium and Alkalinity sagas 10/6/03 Hello, <hello again> I am in the final stages of setting up my reef system and prop tanks. <Okey-dokey> My question is that I will be maintaining alk/calcium via a Nielsen type system, and was wondering if the Kalk slurry method (Calfo) can also be incorporated to give a boost when needed...in addition to the Nielsen maintenance so to speak. <yes> Having said this, how does one typically incorporate the use of calcium polygluconate as well. <treat is simply as a superfluous supplement for stimulating coralline algae growth and nothing more> I would like to use this product for its effect on coralline.... yet does it effect alk? <no> do you use it reach elevated levels of calcium? <nope> For example can you over shoot the calcium levels past the 400-450ppm range in order to get nice rich coralline... since it does not effect alk? <no need to do so... stable Ca levels are far more important than unrealistically high levels (over 400 ppm)> Or do you use it to simply reach the upper end of the allowable stage. Confused? <regarding where to be on ranges... please read or re-read my article on wetwebmedia.com titled "Understanding Calcium and Alkalinity"> For example lets ay ça/alk are at the upper acceptable ranges... can you still add the gluconate to go further, or do you still stay within the typical ranges. <please stay low/safe> Do all test kits read or recognize the gluconate as actual available calc levels or is it some other derivative not related. <not all read/recognize it accurately. Anthony>

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