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FAQs on Calcium, Supplements involving Calcium, Troubleshooting/Fixing

Related Articles: CalciumThe Use of Kalkwasser by Russell Schultz, Understanding Calcium & Alkalinity, Live Sand, Marine SubstratesReef Systems, Refugiums

Related FAQs: Calcium, FAQs 1Calcium, FAQs 2Calcium FAQs 3, Calcium FAQs 4, Calcium FAQs 5, Calcium FAQs 6, Calcium FAQs 7, & FAQs on Calcium: Rationale/Use, Calcium Measuring/Test Kits, Sources of Calcium, Calcium Supplements, Dosing, Chemical/Physical Interactions, & Calcium and Alkalinity, Calcium Reactors, & FAQs on Calcium Reactors: Rationale/Use, Selection, Installation, Operation, Media, Measuring, Trouble-Shooting, By Makes/Models, &   Kalkwasser& FAQs on: The Science of Calcium & Alkalinity, Importance, Measure, Sources, Use of AdditivesTroubleshooting/Fixing, Products,

When, where in doubt, "test your testers"... Kits are notorious for being "out of date" with their reagents...

And remember the great good of water changes if all else is mysterious

excess Ca in reef tank       1/14/16
<Hello Alex>
I’m wondering what could cause excess Ca (greater than 500) in my 34 g. red sea max?
<Some present soluble and/or added source; natch... tis an element>
I know I’m a little behind on H2O changes, never add any Ca containing supplements, top off w/ distilled water. Other param.s are pH=8.4 , KH=6.85, Mg-1275. Fish are doing fine, but corals not doing well at all.
<Might be your test kit is off rather than their being too much Ca.... I'd be checking this/that first; otherwise water changes w/ gravel vacuuming to remove and rebalance>
<W. Bob Fenner>
Re: excess Ca in reef tank     1/15/16

Thx so much for quick reply. I'll do water changes for sure, but already used API and Salifert test kits which match readings.
<I see>
I have fine aragonite rather than gravel so reluctant to stir up the dust clouds.
<Vacuum gently... you want to remove the finer material here... Likely along w/ the reductive nature of such beds, the source of the excess Ca here>
Also use LFS sea water for changes; doubt they'd mess w/ the chemistry.
<Mmm; I was a retailer for many years.... DO mention your anomaly to them. BobF>
Re: excess Ca in reef tank     1/15/16

Will do and thx again !
<Welcome. B>

Crazy Chemistry       11/6/15
I'm trying to rectify some water chemistry issues in my reef tank. I was using api test kits while I research the best option for a higher end test kit.
<? See.... that is, just read on WWM Re.... Hach, LaMotte are better brands/makers that are readily available (on the Net); Sera is about the best mainstream from LFS>

The temperature is 80 degrees F, 1.025 salinity, my alkalinity is 7.5 dKH, 8.0 ph, 0 ammonia or nitrite and under 15 ppm nitrate. I have used a single source of salt for my tank that was purchased thru a lfs. I don't use any additives, I swear, read on please. The issue arises with the apparently obscene levels of calcium, 600ppm.
<.... what is your source water?>

I brought a sample for testing at a lfs because I had feared I had miscalculated the results. The lfs used a red sea test kit and exclaimed that he had never seen such a high number of 630ppm of calcium and 1800 for magnesium. His advice is immediate water changes with a new salt mixture. My question is if I should proceed with a new salt mixture?
<Yes I would>

Also there is no noticeable malcontent in the various coral species, are they just habituated to these abnormally high levels?
Would these high results also indicate that my corals are somehow not able to make appropriate use of the calcium that does exist?
<To a smaller extent>
What factor inhibits calcium consumption?
<Too many to list.... again; what is it w/ folks NOT using the site? See the search tool? On every 14k plus pages>
Also the lfs suggested there might be other chemical ingredients in play because there is a "maximum level of saturation".
<Ah yes>
Is there any specific commercial chemical typically used in salt mixtures to alter calcium and magnesium levels?
<Some agents that interfere w/ cheap colorimetric assays; yes... How much of this do you really want to know? I'd simply drain about half the water and make up a better brand to replace>
If yes how do I either test for it or remove it?
<Can be done... for instance, for borates... but I would just skip to the new salt mix>
There is no discernible issue with the corals currently but this issue obviously needs to be addressed. Interestingly there is no calcium precipitate that is observed. Although the lfs also indicated there were measurable amounts of phosphate.
<..... ALL chemo-photosynthetic life requires measurable HPO4, NO3.... N, P, K>
Could phosphate presence drive the other parameters askew?
<Mmm; no>
I use Chemi-pure, Purigen, and poly filter,
<All good products; chemical filtrants>
staggered. I will continue to investigate but your opinion is the one I rely on, no potential sales involved, you understand. I'll be preparing a new batch of ro/di water with red sea pro salt mixture and allowing it to age while I await your response.
<Good.... again, see WWM re salt mixes. Bob Fenner>

Trouble with Calcium Levels       1/23/15
My name is Ron. I have a 220 gal reef tank with about 180 pounds of live rock that has been running for about 2 years now. It is heavily stocked with about 25 SPS corals, 3 LPS corals & about 15 fish. I was having good success keeping my calcium level around 420. My alkalinity level is at 9 and my magnesium level is 1290.
I was dosing daily:
Kent marine- Part A(Calcium)- 10 ml -8 times a day
Kent marine- Part B(Alk) - 11 ml -8 times a day
Kent marine- Magnesium - 2 ml -2 times a day
About 3 months about ago I switched from tropic Marin reef pro salt to HW Marine Mix Reefer Salt and I have noticed I can't get my calcium higher than 385 level.
<Can see where this is going...>

So I increased my Part A and Magnesium daily dosing as follows:
Kent marine- Part A(Calcium) - 10 ml -12 times a day
Kent marine- Part B(Alk)- 11 ml -8 times a day
Kent marine- Magnesium - 5ml -3 times a day
My level are still about 380 for Calcium, Alkalinity level is at 9 and my magnesium level is 1290.
Since my Calcium levels weren't coming up I began mixing about a gallon of Kalkwasser and adding it tom Auto Top Off.
Give that I am dosing approx 120 ml.s of Part A a day & 15mls of magnesium a day, I have the following que stions:
-Am I dosing to much Part A (Calcium) for a tank this size?
<Could be>
-I was told most people don't dose magnesium daily Should I not be dosing Magnesium ?
<I would only try do adjust Mg once a week... via water changes>
-Should I not be using Kalkwasser in my ATO if I am dosing Part A & Part B?
<... I'd do a bit of reading here.. and ONLY/SETTLE on ONE supplementation route. EITHER the A and B (and not Kent), OR Kalk with punctuated Mg (likely MgSO4) adjustments... OR better still, the use of a decent Calcium reactor... plus minor ongoing adjustments. What you really need to do is STUDY the basics of Alkaline Earth and Alkalinity balance... and WHEN you understand their interactions, set upon ONE modality of manipulation.
Else-wise you'll continue to be a ping-pong-ing pawn of the folks profiting from selling you mis-supplementation.
Bob Fenner>

very high Calcium      8/1/14
Dear experts, trust this finds you all in great summer spirits...We do have a decent summer in Denmark...I need some serious help...
<Let's see>
I have a 15 months old 125 lit/ 33 g Juwel Rio 125 reef tank with Juwel 3.0 skimmer, a built-in filter (covered i.e. dark inside) that comes glued with the aquarium and is stacked with LR rubble (from LFS), sintered glass Symbiont, a filter sock with active carbon. There is also a hang-on-the back filter with Rowa Phos sock.
<... possibly a factor>
Lighting is 2 x T5 Juwel actinic blue and Marine plus a 24 inch Ecoxotic Blue stunner. Salt used is Red Sea salt.
<This too>
Appx 20 lit water change per week. 2 Tunze powerheads (6015 and 6025). No sump or refugium due to lack of space.
Some water parameters are surely not ideal egg. NO3 probably >> 100, Phosphate 0.16, SG 1.025, pH 7.81, Hardness and alkalinity 5.7 KH in dKH - 2.05 meq/l AND....Calcium seems to be close to 1000 !!

I cannot get an end point in one full 1 ml syringe using my new Salifert kit suggesting Ca is 1000 and got it rechecked by a friend who also estimated it to be 980. My brand new test kit gave his Ca at 450 (which
matched his own test kit) suggesting my test kit is ok. I had added Red Sea Ca/Sr and Mg solutions once a week for many months but have now stopped.
<What does the new, fresh-mixed RS seawater measure at Ca and Alk. wise?>
My tank inhabitants are doing reasonably well with regular growth in fish sizes (yellow tang, Lawnmower blenny, a couple of leopard wrasse, 3 green Chromis) and all my LPSs egg. 4 lobed brain corals, a 14 head Duncan, 2 colonies of Acans, one patch of Blasto, one Chalice, some Kenya tree look quite healthy. I have a frag of Pavona which is growing good and a few SPS frags here and there which are not the best but ok. Had a Cyano issue recently but renewed Rowa took care of it and a few patches of greed hair
algae remain. I feed the fish with frozen Mysis, Formula 2 flakes and Nori sheets at times.
My q.s are, Q1) how can the Ca be so damn high and should I add Red Sea Buffer B ?
<Something is very amiss here... you've checked the checker (test kit)...
but I'd check it at a shop as well. As stated, I would like you to test newly made up seawater>
I added 0.5 ml of Red Sea Buffer B some days back and there was an immediate Ca snow storm but only for a few secs and everything cleared again few secs...quickly as it appeared.
<Yes; hydroxides precipitated out>
I got scared and have not added anything hence. Q2) Why do you think my NO3 is still high ?
<Likely tied in w/ too high [Ca] and too low alkalinity... these are hurting nitrification>
Am I harbouring a so called NO3 factory within the corner filter?
<Quite possibly yes>
I have tried to read most of the threads and articles on Ca, alkalinity, pH in your pages but cannot figure out how these numbers are so high in my tank.
<SOME how the Calcium is being added... WHAT is your [Mg]? Are you using product/s to augment it/this?>
I would be very thankful if you tell some pointers regarding what should I do for the Ca and NO3 ? wishing you a grand weekend, br, Kaustuv
<Need to figure out root causes here... The salt mix? Something to do w/ the Rowa? Please get back w/ me re answers to the above questions. Bob Fenner>

Re: very high Calcium      8/3/14
Good morning Bob! thanks a lot for coming back so fast...and for me the plot thickens !
As suggested I checked the Ca content of the fresh salt water I made yesterday for the weekly water change. It stands at 410 ppm (forgot to measure alkalinity of fresh saltwater batch!) with 1.023 SG (refractometer reading). This fresh lot was prepared yesterday as per Red Sea procedure.
Now, the Ca content of pure unsalted tap water is 110 and the pure water KH value in dKH >15.7 and alkalinity > 5,59 meg/L i.e. beyond the Salifert chart !!!
BUT the tank water KH value in dKH = 4,8 and alkalinity 1,7 meg/L. How come the alkalinity drops in the tank but the Ca gets so high?
<... the Calcium precipitates out carbonate....>

In Denmark it is pretty std for us to use cold/drinking tap water which is non-chlorinated. And one more info, I never properly cycled my tank. As per the LFS it was 'ok' if I started with tank water and LR from their display tanks and put them in my own followed by gradual addition of live stock over days and months. I did that as 'advised' (mistake realised and that LFS never visited again!)...
Have relied on regular water changes with reputed salt mix (started with Aqua Medic salt) since. This might explain my high NO3 but what about the Ca ? What is the optimal solution to reduce NO3 now
...NOPOX or carbon dosing ? No space for NO3 reactors...
Given these what are my options now ? br, Kaustuv
<A few approaches. Read here:
scroll down to Nitrogenous cpd.s... the yellow tray... READ re Means to Reduce Nitrate
Bob Fenner>

Re: very high Calcium    8/4/14
Hi Bob ! good morning and many thanks ! but what do I do about the Ca ?
<T'were this my system: SERIAL DILUTION
; I'd change out a quarter to half of the water daily till the [Ca] was under 400 ppm>
When you say 'the Calcium precipitates carbonate, then I assume it is as calcium carbonate which is also the case as per your first reply 'as hydroxides' describing the 'snowing' i.e. as calcium hydroxides
Both the types of anions would need the Ca as the cations right ?
<Or another alkaline earth (e.g. Mg)>
Then my confusion is how come the Ca is still so high / soluble in the water column and measurable ?
<Can't say w/ the data presented. I would have you read here:
I see no ppt of any sort anywhere. Neither in the tank nor in the bucket where fresh saltwater is prepared....And how come the alkalinity gets so low in the tank water while so high in the pure tap water?
<Again; it's expedient removal (though may not show "snow") by precipitation>
Very sorry to pester you with all these qs but you guys are the real experts that sustain folks like us...br Kaustuv
<Again: the water changes and absolutely stopping/ceasing ALL supplementation. Bob Fenner>

Calcium for Reef     8/20/13
Dear WWM,
Good Morning! I have a 55 reef tank. It is stocked with LPS corals, and I do water changes every two weeks. Stocked with: 3 Euphyllia sp, 2 lg Ducanopsammia axifugia, Turbinaria peltata, Caulastrea sp, Platygyra sp, and Trachyphyllia radiata. All of which have had severe lack of growth for some time now.
<What do you think is lacking, or in overabundance here as cause?>

Anyway, several months ago I began to do calcium tests more religiously and noticed my calcium was low (320-340ppm) So, I decided to try more frequent water changes. It didn't fix the calcium though, and I went through a ton of salt mix. I was using Instant Ocean Salt Mix. I then bought some Instant Ocean Reef Crystals, because they claimed to have more Calcium, and Magnesium. After two 5-15 gallon water changes the calcium has risen 40ppm. Is this excessively rapid, and could it cause precipitation of something?
<Is not excessive>
Also, as a side question: What do you consider the care to be of a Seriatopora sp?
<Posted on WWM... see re the family>
 I was mainly curious because I have kept one (in a separate system) for well over six months now, and didn't know how it would compare to Acropora, or Stylophora, or Tridacna clams (Derasa, and Crocea).
<Compare? In terms of growth, about the same... hardiness, more than the stonies, less than the clams>
Tank is lit by a Kessil 150W Pennant.
<... Only one? I'd have two of these on a four foot wide system>

Hope you have a grand day.
<DO read on WWM re Scleractinian systems... including S. disease... Bob

High water reading   12/5/12
Evening crew
I recently picked up a Montipora cap knowing that I needed to get my levels up to spec
Starting the regime, I found that my Magnesium was extremely low 940 so started dosing Randy's recipe over a 4 day period and two days ago my levels are
<This is way too high... Whatever... oh I see you mention below>

PH: 8.06
Knowing that my Calcium is high I stopped the CA reactor yesterday in hopes that my CA levels would start to drop however they aren't
<What media are you melting in the/this reactor? Do read on WWM re. I would switch to Knop's Korallith; something more balanced in terms of melting in proportion>
Current levels today
Calcium: 520
<Change some of the water out to get the [Ca] down to 400-450 ppm tops>
PH: 8.11
Should I do anything at this point?
I am not planning to get into 2 part dosing instead using a calcium reactor with a ph controller
Other levels for reference
Nitrate 0 - 5
Salinity 1.026
Ammonia 0
Phosphate 5
<Way high also>
Let me know what you think
<The reading on WWM re reactor media and changing water out. Bob Fenner>

Very High Calcium and Magnesium Levels. Why and How to Fix? and a Big Upgrade to the Sump/Refugium/Return. Should I Go Through With It?     10/4/12
Hello there!  Thank you in advance for all your help and what you guys do.  I have a few questions regarding high Calcium and Magnesium levels in my aquarium and a few questions regarding an upgrade I want to do with my system.  I will begin by giving you an outline of my system and other info that may need to be known to answer some of my questions. Sorry if I am overly detailed but I figure more info is better than not enough.
 I have a reef ready (built in overflow) Oceanic 75 gallon aquarium set up as a mixed reef tank (I want it to be heavy SPS though).

The tank has been up and running for a little over 7 months now.  For filtration: Aqueon Proflex sump model 2 (roughly 20 gallons), AquaC-EV 180 protein skimmer, water passes through a sponge in sump (included with setup), two 200 micron filter socks (also included with setup), roughly 80lbs dry rock from Bulk Reef Supply (mix of Pukani, Fiji, Tonga branch, reef saver), 80 lbs. Carib Sea's Special Grade Reef Sand (dead and 1.0-2.0mm) and two reactors.  My reactors are from Bulk Reef Supply.  I have two single deluxe reactors which is run by one pump: MJ1200. This pump is located in the third chamber if the sump and is output in the refugium or second chamber.  In one reactor I run BRS GFO high capacity and BRS premium ROX 0.8 Carbon. No matter what I change the Carbon media every 2 weeks and the GFO media every 4 weeks. I also have a refugium in the sump.
Aqueon Proflex sumps have several different ways you can set them up so I chose the refugium style although I set mine up differently than the way they recommended.  In mine I have my protein skimmer pump (Mag Drive 7) located in the first chamber of the sump right below the filter socks.  I set the protein skimmer in the third and last chamber in the sump which outputs the water in the bubble trap area (area where the sponge is located and where water flows from the refugium to the third chamber).  To accomplish this I just screwed in a small piece of PVC piping with a 45 degree angle PVC piece on the end into the gate valve piece/output of the skimmer.  The skimmer is also raised about 3 inches using cut egg crate pieces stacked on top of each other using zip-ties.  This actually brings the skimmers output right to or slightly above the water level which is what is recommended in the skimmer manual.  Outputting in this area helps reduce bubbles created by the skimmer.  I made this "customization" because I wanted to skim the water that first enters the sump before going to the refugium.  I didn't want the water that comes from the fuge, which should often include beneficial bacteria/life such as pods and other things, to be skimmed before going to the display as that could kill that beneficial life.  In my refugium I have 1.5 inches of miracle mud as the substrate, 2 pretty large pieces of rock, some rock rubble, and a big ball of Chaetomorpha.  I have a simple PC light hanging above the fuge which I run all the time 24/7.  Inside the fuge I also have 2 heaters: two Finnex HMA-150 watt w/analog control.  These are side by side.
                My return process is a little confusing.  I use 2 return pumps: Danner Mag Drive 7 and an Iwaki MD-30RXLRT. The Mag 7 is located in the third chamber.  The Iwaki is located just outside the sump to the right.  Since I didn't want to drill my sump, I use this external pump with tubing.  I have 1" tubing attached to the input of the Iwaki pump which arches up and into the third chamber of the sump.  The output of the Iwaki pump is connected to PVC piping which runs through a high quality ball valve and goes straight to my chiller.  I understand that this is definitely not the preferred way to run this external pump and I was not even sure if it would work when I first set it up.  After installing it though it has worked with no problems at all.  My guess is that the only problem doing it this way is all the power or flow loss due to the bends but that doesn't really matter in this situation as my chiller prefers a lower flow anyway. 
<Mmm, compelled to ask/comment, "I hope the discharge of this line (after going through the chiller) is not "too deep" in the display tank... as the water will back-siphon to this level should the power/pump fail">
The water from the Iwaki pump then goes through my chiller: Pacific Coast 1/10 CL-280 HP.  The water then goes from the chiller and meets up with the water being pumped by the Mag 7 using a "Y tube connector" piece.  Then the tubing with the water pumped by both pumps goes to my return piping in the overflow and back into my display.  To give you a picture, my overflow for my tank is located on the left, sump and reactors in the stand below the tank, and chiller outside of the stand to the right. I have ball valves on each of my return pumps and typically run the system with both open to create the most flow. I also use a ATO of course.  I use the JBJ ATO  The water reservoir is a 5 gallon bucket which is located next to the chiller and a TOM aquatic aqua-lifter pump is used for the ATO.
                Inside the tank I have a Vortech MP-10 powerhead attached on the left upper side in the middle.  To the left and towards the back, I have a Koralia Evolution 750 powerhead near the bottom and a Koralia Evolution 1050 powerhead near the top.  The Koralias are connected to a controller that I have set to run opposite each other every 10 seconds.  I typically set the MP-10 to run on pulse mode with the power turned all the way up.  For lighting I have a Odyssea 48" 716watt Metal Halide System Advance Plus fixture (I know its not the best brand but I am saving for 2 Radions).  The fixture has two 250watt DE HQI metal halide bulbs at 15000K each, 4 54watt T5 high output actinic blue bulbs, and six dual bluemoon LEDs.  There is also two built in fans.  My lights are connected to a timed power strip that runs T5s from 11am-11pm (12 hours), metal halides from 1pm-6pm (6 hours), and moonlights from 11pm-1am (2 hours).  Yes, I really enjoy watching my tank late at night!
                My livestock includes a Lawnmower Blenny, 2 Blue/Green Chromis, Royal Gramma Basslet, Six-Line Wrasse, 2 Percula Clown fish (one orange, one black), and my prized fish: Powder Blue Tang.
<Mmm, needs much (like twice plus) room than this>

 I also have a Black Long Spined Urchin, Pencil Urchin, Blue Linckia Star Fish, and a Brittle Star Fish.  My clean-up crew consists of around 80 Cerith snails, 20 Nassarius Vibex snails, 20 Nerite snails, 30 of several types of hermit crabs, and around 6 emerald crabs.  To cycle my tank back in March, I added the dry sand and rock, added water, mixed the water with salt mix to the right salinity, got it to the correct temp, and turned on the powerheads.
I used the correct portion of Dr. Tim's One & Only Live Nitrifying Bacteria which helped cycle my tank very quickly.  I first added the CUC and then each fish very slowly throughout the next few months.  Lastly, I began to finally purchase coral.  To date I have the following coral in my system: green Acropora frag, Ricordea mushroom, large rock covered with 3 types of Zoanthids, Trumpet Coral, Favites Brain Coral, green tip Torch Coral, 3 small but beautiful Acans from Cherry Corals, 3" neon orange Plate Coral, large Pearl Bubble Coral, and white with purple tip Haitian Anemone.
Before adding any of these corals I treated them with Coral RX following the instructions.  While acclimating all the corals and livestock, I first let them float in the tank to get to my tank's temp, then used my acclimating box which basically uses the drip method.  I allowed everything
to acclimate for at least an hour if not more. All the coral and livestock have done fine and continue to look happy with great polyp extension for corals and a good appetite from both.
                I conduct a 10% water change for my system once a week and do this religiously. Usually before a water change I use a turkey-baster and blow on the rocks, especially in crevices, to get stuck detritus in the water column.  I also siphon the top layer of the substrate if it is dark or covered in algae.  This does result in some debris to float up but I siphon as much of that as I can and really do not believe it is harmful to the system or is harmful gas or anything like that.  I make sure the salinity in my tank is always in the acceptable range (1.024-1.026 using refractometer) and always make sure there is water in the ATO reservoir. 
I have my own RO/DI unit and only use RO water for anything in my system.  I have a TDS meter and the water I use never reaches above 10 ppm (this usually only occurs right before I change the filters, thus the TDS in the water mainly used is 3-4 ppm if not zero).  I have used 2 different brands of salt while maintaining my system.  I started using Reef Crystals Reef Salt.  I then switched to Kent Reef Salt due to the great deal I got for a full bucket.  That ran out last week and now I am back to using Reef Crystals Reef Salt which I have heard great things about.
<The IO brand and Kent's have had occasional troubles... alk./Ca imbalance issues. Search/read on WWM re>
  Having good heaters and a chiller on my system allows temp to not be a problem.  I keep the temp in my tank between 77-78 F, and there is never a swing of more than 2 degrees in a day.  I clean my skimmer cup when it is full, usually once or twice a week.  I also religiously wash my filter socks.  I do this by running them in hot water, flipping them inside-out, and washing them in the washer using no soap.  This gets them nearly as clean as new and only takes 20 minutes.  Other maintenance includes scraping the glass walls which needs to be done about every 2 days. I feed my fish usually only once per day.  I use frozen squares of Mysis shrimp, brine shrimp (the one that says "promotes health!"), and a marine mix.  I put each in its own small container, rinse them, and add tank water to them to thaw in.  I use a syringe to feed them this food.  Usually I go through about 2 squares per week of the marine mix and brine shrimp and 4 squares per week of Mysis shrimp (I also feed this to my corals).  I also feed a little amount of New Life Spectrum Marine Fish Formula Pellets and New Life Formula Two Flake Food every time.  I also feed my Tang about 4 times per week Nori (dried seaweed) which he goes crazy for.
                I test my system's parameters quite often.  I definitely do this once a week, if not more.  For the first 3 months my system was setup I only tested for PH, Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, and Salinity.  When I stared to think my system was ready for corals I also began to test for Magnesium, Calcium, and Alkalinity.  The test kits I use are API for PH, NH4, NO2, and NO3, Salifert also for PH, NH4, NO2, and NO3.  Red Sea for Mg, Calcium, and Alk.  I also use a Hanna Phosphate Checker and Hanna Alkalinity Checker.  Also, like I stated before I use a refractometer to measure salinity and calibrate it often using calibration fluid.  I heard that the accuracy of API test kits are often questionable so I invested in Salifert. When comparing the results I feel that API gives a pretty accurate measurement so I personally look at API results sort of as a "ball park" figure and still use them often.  If anything is in question though I reach for the Salifert tests.  In the beginning, my system's parameters were great and following what is expected in a cycle and the start of a tank's life.  After 2-3 months I began to test for Mg, Calcium, and Alk.
As expected the Mg level and alkalinity levels were low.  My Calcium level was not low being at 450.  I purchased the BRS Kalkwasser kit which I plan to use eventually.  This kit included mixing powders to make solutions of calcium, Mg, and Alk to dose to increase the levels to the desired level.
Once that is accomplished Kalkwasser is to be used to keep those levels stability.  This leads into my first set of questions.
                Now that you have a good idea of my system (again sorry if it was too long of a description, but I don't know what info may be relevant to answer the questions I have and there is just SO much to cover to give one a proper overview of one's system). When testing my parameters recently the magnesium and calcium levels have been super high. Here is a listing of my parameters throughout different dates since I've had my system.  I'm thinking if you had a look at this some sense can be made out of it:
Added First Coral
Red Sea Kit
Calcium = 450
Alkalinity =  8.4 dKH
Magnesium = 1200
Red Sea Kit
Calcium = 335
Alkalinity = 9.1 dKH
Magnesium = 1360
Red Sea Kit
Calcium = 475
Alkalinity = 7 dKH
Magnesium = 1200
Red Sea Kit
Calcium = 470
Alkalinity = 9 dKH
Magnesium = 1360
<These values are not "super high"...>
These parameters were when I started adding coral.  I used the BRalculator on their site and dosed the correct amounts of Mg and Alk solution.  As you can see the Alk and Mg levels swung back and forth and the Calcium level increased a little.  At this point I thought the levels were stable enough and began to add a very small amount of Kalkwasser to my ATO reservoir.  Only after a week of doing this I was told by people on a forum to stop adding Kalkwasser because there was no need to due to my only having a few corals.  So I stopped dosing Kalkwasser.  Another thing to point out is that I had been dosing Purple-Up to my system because I believed this would help develop coraline algae.
<Mmm, can help, but not a good idea to mix w/ other alkalinity and alkaline earth supplements>
  I would dose a cap and a half full everyday and did for roughly 3 weeks.  I was told to stop this too because this only adds calcium to my system and I had nothing to consume that calcium (like corals).  So I stopped dosing that as well.
This all happened about 2 months ago in July.  Around that same time my Reef Crystals Reef salt ran out so I switched to using the Kent Reef Salt I had.  I continued my maintenance and water change schedule with no dosing and continued to get more corals.  Luckily all of my corals have been doing
fine despite my some of my parameters not being where I would have liked.
Here is a estimate of what my parameters have been since stopping dosing and switching to Kent Reef Salt:
*API and Salifert Kits*
PH = 8.0
Ammonia = 0
Nitrite = 0
Nitrate = 10-25
*Red Sea Kit*
Calcium = 500+  ****
Magnesium = 1600+  ****
Alkalinity = 7.5-9
*Hanna Kits
*Phosphate = 0-0.06
Alkalinity = Unavailable (I received a bad batch of Alk reagent so the results made no sense...they have since sent me a new reagent for free)
As you can see my Calcium and Magnesium levels are WAY high and have been for some time.  I'm really not concerned about any of the other parameters.  I thought about it and decided to test the Kent Reef Salt after mixing with RO water (or the water I have been using for water changes).  It turns out that that salt water mix also contained Calcium levels of 500+ and Magnesium levels of 1600+.  I continued to use it up as it was nearly gone and hadn't seen any adverse effects from the levels being so high.  Just the other day I finally got a new bucket of Reef Crystals Reef Salt with the Kent Salt now gone.  During the first water change I tested that mixed water of just the salt and again got the same results!  Calcium of 500 and Mg of 1600!!  Here are my questions:
1) What adverse effects will having a high Calcium level have on my aquarium and corals?
<If not too high for too long, none to speak of>
2) What adverse effects will having a high Magnesium level have on my aquarium and corals?
3) Do you know of any way to lower these parameters to the desired levels (Calcium 380-450, Mg 1200-1400)?  If doing more water changes is the only answer, what should I do considering the tests I just conducted on my new salt?
<Just let time go by... they will drift lower on their own>
4) Based on the information provided, do you know what I did wring to get these parameter's levels so high?
<The mix of supplements, presence of materials (rock, substrate)...>
5) To date, my aquarium is showing only small signs of coraline algae growth.  Do you think if I got Calcium and Magnesium under control, it would be more likely for coraline algae to grow?
<Mmm, possibly... there can/could be other influences of consequence at play here>
6) Have the high levels of Mg and Calcium hindered the growth of coraline algae?
<Could be a bit>
7) What would your advice to me be considering the readings I got when testing Reef Crystals Salt mix?  Should I keep it, go back to the LFS where I got it, maybe contact the company?
<I'd keep it, and notify the LFS and Instant Ocean/IO>
8) Based on all the info I have provided about my setup, maintenance I conduct, etc... Do you have any advice, comments, or suggestions to give me the best chance of success?
<To take your time... along w/ enjoying the process... Keep reading, chatting w/ other reefers... "Nothing good happens in reef systems in a short interval">
9) Knowing that I want a thriving mixed reef tank, heavy with SPS, do you suggest any upgrades, different equipment that I have, or additional equipment?
<A larger system (and sump)... not only for the Acanthurus leucosternon, but overall, a bigger volume will be much easier to keep stable, and give you more room to add livestock, enjoy>
My next set of questions relates to my sump setup and some upgrades I plan on doing to it.  Please refer to the part when I described my sump and return pumps.  Right now I use a Mag 7 to power my skimmer and a Mag 7 and Iwaki 30-RXLRT as return pumps.  I plan on upgrading to a Mag 9.5 to power my skimmer as I have heard this is the most efficient pump for the skimmer.  I also would remove the skimmer from the third chamber and put it to the right side of the sump.  I would raise the skimmer a little more, but still have it drain in the bubble trap (just have to add a little more PVC).  This would free up some much needed space in the third sump chamber and give me easier access to the skimmer.  I also want to upgrade to one return pump - a Mag 18.
<Mmm, can your "reef ready" plumbing accommodate the flow here? I'd take care not to overdrive the overflow... again, and get the larger system, w/ larger, more redundancy in overflow capacity. Read here please:
and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/SystemPIX/PlumbingPix/Oneinchart.htm
  Instead of two return pumps I would use the Mag 18 to do the exact same thing.  I would have the Mag 18 in the third chamber, then put a Y-tube connector piece, put high quality ball valves on each tube right after the Y-tube connector piece, have one tube go through the chiller, the other tube go towards the return, and have both tubing meet again,
<Better to have going independently back to the main/display and/or the sump>
connect with a Y-piece, and then go to the return.  This would allow me with complete control of the flow through my system and the refugium.
Since the skimmer pump will only be a Mag 9.5 which sucks water from the 1st chamber to the 3rd, and the Mag 18 being so much more powerful than the Mag 9.5, using the ball valves on the tubing on the Mag 18 I could obviously control the overall flow of the tank, but also control the flow through the refugium (2nd chamber), right?
<You don't want "too much" flow through the 'fuge...>
 Lastly, I wanted to add more miracle mud to the refugium.  I have read great things about miracle mud and the trace elements it contains.  Currently I have a 1.5" bed of miracle mud in my skimmer.  I want to add another 1.5"-2.5", making my refugium a "deep miracle mud bed".  I'd like to try this mainly because I've never seen it done before and don't see any reason why not with all the benefits miracle mud has to offer.  Here are my questions:
10) What do you think of these upgrades?
<Am concerned w/ the flow rate that your overflow can safely accommodate; but do agree re switching to one pump instead of two>
11) do you see any problems with any of these upgrades?
<As above>
12) Based on the info I gave you, with the Mag 9.5 in its location in the sump and powering the skimmer and the Mag 18 with ball valves powering the return, would I be able to control the flow through the refugium?  Do you know what type of control I will have with this setup?
<Gone over on WWM: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm
the second tray... Refugium... pumps/circulation FAQs>
13) Do you see any negative consequences or have any concerns if I went ahead and did this upgrade?
<Again, the added flow rate concerns me>
14) What do you think of me adding more miracle mud to the fuge?
<S/b fine>
15) Have you heard of a deep miracle mud bed before?, see any negative effects that could come from it?,
<Have seen many times around the world (Leng Sy and I are old friends). No worries>
16) Would you suggest I add more miracle mud?
<If you'd like>
17) Do you have any advice or suggestions to make my refugium more efficient/effective (will add more miracle mud, have rock, Chaeto, 24/7 lighting)?
<See the reference above; read>
WELL, that is all the questions I have had.  I really respect all the advice you give out.  You have helped me in many situations through all the info you have given out by answering others' questions.  I really, really appreciate you taking the time to read this, give out your advice/expertise, and answering my questions.  I will continue to seek your help if anything comes up, and appreciate it so much.  If there is ever anything I can help you with please let me know (although I'm no expert...not yet!).  Thanks again and I really look forward to your response ~ Dustin Getta
<Thank you for sharing so well Dustin. Bob Fenner>

Water Chemistry, Ca anomaly (520 ppm)  12/2/11
Dear WWM,
    I just emailed you about my saltwater tank last night right after doing a water test. You informed me I should check the Mg levels because Ca was incredibly high.
<I recall>
 I lack a test kit for Mg so I went to the local pet store and requested a water test. They didn't even test Phosphate, Copper, Calcium, or Magnesium.
The conclusions revealed that Ammonia, Nitrate, Nitrite were fine but, the pH had dropped off well below 7.7 and the KH was higher than the key they were using.
I have never seen this happen before and was wondering if the test strips could be off or something.
<Strip tests... are notoriously inaccurate, imprecise>
 Recently I added more sand and Live Rock to the system which could have spiked Ca levels
<Mmm, not much really>
 I suppose but shouldn't that actually buffer the water against such a shift. I intend to do a test myself but even then if my test is off that doesn't really help anyone. One reason I am skeptical of the test they did is due to the fact that all of my invertebrates are behaving normally.
<I too agree w/ this>
Including the Chocolate Chip Star, Pencil Urchin, and Scarlet Shrimp. I have seen before printed on your site that they would be suffering with such a change in such little time.
<This is so>
My thoughts also turned to maybe the Ca had precipitated out of solution during the night but my fish are also perfectly fine.  If so they would have suffocated during the reactions correct?
<Assuredly there would be observable negative behavior, yes>
Suggestions would be great.
<A bunch to go over... Please start by reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm
and the linked files above... You still should measure [Mg], and dilute the Ca... Bob Fenner>

Why are my calciferous algae and snails not thriving even though the calcium levels are great (if not high)?   3/24/11
Please don't get mad a me for not doing enough research or using search tools. I did quite a bit of research and searching, on your site and others. I also broke curve in Chem 101. I have been testing Calcium and standard parameters the entire time I have my tank (7 months). Even so, I can't quite figure out what is wrong in my reef/seahorse tank. I do not have an LFS that tests for the important SW parameters. Whenever I have a questionable test I retest (with a different brand for calcium).
I have more info than I will give here, but I will try to keep it to what I think is relevant. I have a 30 gallon (just upgraded from 20) tank with some leather corals, mushroom corals and photo gorg's.
<Mmm, all right>
I have not weighed the live rock, it takes about 1/3 of the 30 gallon tank with caves and such. It is generally lightweight compressed shells and such. I have a small Halimeda (very little growth) and a few rocks with some variety of interesting pinks and purples that I believe are calciferous algaes. The tank is only 7 months old. I use instant ocean sea salt and try to keep it at 1.0245. I have 3-24w 10k lights and 2-24w antics. All are on 7am to 7pm, with 1 of the antics on 1 hour early and 2 hours late. I have captive bread <Heee, bred> seahorses (3 weeks, seahorse.org, Greg generally approves of my setup), a yellow watchman goby, a few peppermint shrimp and crabs and a lot of snails. Biweekly testing (generally shortly before lights out) for the last 5 months has shown the following:
Calcium 460 to higher than the scale goes (cross checked with both Red Sea and Tropic Marin)
<Mmm, this is high; as am sure you're aware>
Phosphate 0.15 to 0.2
<Some folks would say this too>
pH 8.3 to 8.7
(8.7 was more than 3 months ago has been reducing consistently since and is now about 8.4 at night)
Alkalinity 2.8
Nitrate 12 to 20 (one reading of 40 in the last 4 months)
Nitrite 0
Ammonia 0
Iodine 0.03 to 0.04 (Red sea)
Before I learned to only add what I am testing for, I added various supplements at the advice of LFS (2 hours away). Most of the supplements I used were calcium.
My early Astrea snails grew to 1 inch tall or more in the first 2 month after cycling. I got some coraline growing on shells and live rock that started dry. Since then, I added a bunch of dry "live" rock and quit adding supplements.
I got some new Astreas and the Halimeda. The younger Astreas are about 4 months (in my tank) and have not grown appreciably. I am struggling to keep the Halimeda alive. None of the live rock shows any obvious signs of coraline. I thought that the calcium may not be available due to the carbonate relationship, so I recently got the Seachem Reef Status test for Magnesium and carbonates. I didn't record the results, but they were all within the recommendations in the instructions;
Total alkalinity 4-5 meq/L
Borate alkalinity 1.5 to 2 meq/L
Carbonate Alkalinity 2 to 4.5 meq/L
Magnesium 1200 to 1400 mg/L (1250 from memory)
<Too low for the measured concentration of Calcium>
Why are my calcium dependent algae and snails not growing even though my calcium and carbonate levels great?
<Either "something else" is missing; or there is actually too much calcium, out of balance w/ the alkalinity AND Mg>
Thank you for providing this great service.
<Your system is "out of whack" per the very high pH as well... If it was mine, I'd institute a series of large pre-made/stored new water (and look into switching brands at least for a while... the Aq. Sys./I.O. has had some reported difficulties in recent years. Do read here re: http://wetwebmedia.com/aqsysio,rc.htm
Bob Fenner>

High calcium levels with no supplements added   1/22/11
Hi, I can't seem to find the answer to my question anywhere on your website. I have a 55 gal. glass tank with about 80 lbs of live rock, some soft corals and reef safe fish. I use R/O , filtered water and a sump,
refugium with Carib Sea Mud as the bed.
Water parameters are Salinity:1.023,
<A bit low>
PH:8.2, Amm:0, Nitrites:0, Nitrates 40 (Too high due to a grandchild and a container of bloodworms) Calcium:580,
<Whoa! And a note/question... What is the source of this Ca? Perhaps your synthetic seawater (do test in a container outside the system) or some part of your hard substrate, decor... also easy to test for.>
Phosphates:0.05.I have been doing large water changes every 4-5 days since the nitrate spike. My problem is that even before this event my calcium levels were almost 500. They are now almost 600. I purchased a alkalinity test, but after arriving home with it, the instructions for doing the test were missing.
<What brand/manufacturer? Do see their site on the Net. Very often, such instructions are available (and much better explained) on-line>
I live 60 miles from LFS so cant just dash back in to the store. Is this an emergency for my tank?
<What does your livestock "say"?>
What do I do to bring Calcium levels down?
<Likely the adjusting of Alkalinity will do this. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/catrbfix.htm
Saw a lot on raising them, but nothing on lowering. Or does this mean there is a problem with the alkalinity?
<Quite possibly. These two factors/features operate antagonistically... the one lowering the other to degrees>
Not sure what to do so will await your reply. Thank you.
<Welcome. Please write back after reading if you have questions, concerns. Bob Fenner> 
Re: High calcium levels with no supplements added  1/27/11

Hi Mr Fenner, I believe I may know part of my high calcium problems now. I have been using Coralife salt since setting up my tank three years ago, Upon investigation and Google reviews I found that it has that reputation.
<Off and on, yes>
So with last water change I switched brands and my calcium is down to 520.
I am having a bit of a struggle understanding the alkalinity information though. Is KH the same thing as alkalinity??
<Ostensibly, yes. KH or dkH is a/the measure of carbonate alkalinity. Do read here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbonate_hardness>
My LFS dealer said it is, so that is the test I purchased. So if that's the case my parameters are Salinity:1.024, PH:8.2, Amm:0, Nitrites:0, Nitrates:20, Phosphates:0.5, Calcium:520, KH:11-12 or 196.9ppm. Now I know my KH is too high also, calcium high but falling, does this mean my magnesium could be a problem?
I think that's what I'm getting from all the reading I've been doing. I am purchasing a magnesium test and will check that, but is there something I should be doing now?
<Mmm, no; or not really. Best to adjust these chemical/physical matters gradually... unless they are WAY out of whack>
My 55 gallon tank houses a White Cheeked Tang, Foxface Rabbitfish, 3 Damsels, Orange Spot Watchman Goby, a Psychedelic Mandarin, Polyps, and a three other soft corals. All my livestock look good and feed very well so I am thinking that waiting until I have all the test results would be best, however I don't want to ignore something that could result in health issues for my tank and its inhabitants.
From Bonnie
<No real worries Bonnie. Take your time here... read, dilute the overages through your usual water change/maintenance schedule... Look to (very likely) supplementing Mg in time. Bob Fenner> 

Rising Calcium & Magnesium Levels Without Dosing 1/6/11
Dear Bob Fenner,
Hello and happy new year!
<Hello Ioannis, James with you today.>
I would like to hear your thoughts/opinion on a particular subject.
Here is some information about my system
Total system volume ~ 100 liters (50 netto DT, the rest filtration)
Skimmerless/Naturalistic approach to filtration
25cm RDSB with18kg Ocean Direct Oolite and 9kg Aragalive on top
Refugium with a large growing ball of Chaetomorpha
PH = 7,98 (at 10:00 with refugium lights on and RDP schedule). When the DT lights go on PH climbs up to 8,28)
KH = 7,0 dKH
Ca = 455ppm (double checked with Salifert and Coral Shop tests)
Mg = 1500+ppm (double checked with Salifert and Coral Shop tests)
NO3 = 0ppm (I am actually trying to raise this to about 1-1,5ppm for my LPS corals but the RDSB is very effective and no matter how much I feed the tank it wont go up..)
PO4 = <<0,015ppm
Dosing: NONE
Water Changes: Mainly 15% per week but the last 2 months I only did 2 water changes (didn't have time..)
Salt: DD H2Ocean+
Anyway, my main concern is about the Magnesium level. I am aware it should ideally be roughly 3 times as much as the Calcium level, hence my question.
The last months I have only seen magnesium and Calcium levels rise without dosing anything. Normally you would expect these to decrease as corals use them up (my corals do grow, although not fast).
<Is because they are not absorbing the calcium as fast as they should.>
My tank also contains a healthy amount of coraline and adding the Chaeto to the equation would normally lead to a fair take-up of magnesium.
<Not necessarily.>
The only reason for climbing Ca and Mg levels that I can think off is the massive RDSB. Given it is utilising aragonite sand, it should be (dissolving at a lower PH) giving out more calcium and magnesium than my corals use.
<Cannot dissolve that fast to produce the readings you have. If that were the case, the carbonates produced would give you a higher dKH reading than you presently have.>
What are your thought on the situation and where should I start to be concerned? I am aware that more frequent water changes should decrease the magnesium levels but I am afraid that it might still be rising fast enough that it wont make much of a difference.
Are there any other options? How about slightly raising the KH so that the PH drops less during night? I am hoping that this would lead to less aragonite sand dissolving..
<Whenever someone tells me their Ca and Mg levels are rising without dosing raises a red flag.
Something is amiss here as the corals are not able to absorb the available calcium present. I'm thinking one of the problems may be that your salt mix uses chelated calcium and if so, this makes it more difficult for the corals to absorb especially when higher levels are present such as yours.
Chelated calcium has a tendency to bond making it more difficult to take  out of solution, similar in respect to chelated copper used for parasitic diseases. Presently, I am only aware of one salt mix that does not use chelated calcium, and that product is Tropic Marin, but there may be others that I am not aware of. Since I've been using Tropic Marin, my SPS growth is amazing and I find myself dosing Alca-Balance on a weekly basis to keep the calcium level up. My suggestion to you is to do some aggressive water changes
to lower your Ca and Mg to somewhere near 400ppm Ca and 1200ppm Mg...a three to one balance. If the salt mix you are using does contain chelated calcium, which it likely does, keeping the levels as stated above would make the calcium a little easier to absorb.>
Kind Regards,
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re: Rising Calcium & Magnesium Levels Without Dosing 1/6/11 - 1/7/11
> Whenever someone tells me their Ca and Mg levels are rising without dosing raises a red flag.
> Something is amiss here as the corals are not able to absorb the available
> calcium present. I'm thinking one of the
> problems may be that your salt mix uses chelated calcium and if so, this
> makes it more difficult for the corals to absorb especially when
> higher levels are present such as yours.
> Chelated calcium has a tendency to bond making it more difficult to take
> out of solution, similar in respect to chelated
> copper used for parasitic diseases. Presently, I am only aware of one salt
> mix that does not use chelated calcium, and that product
> is Tropic Marin, but there may be others that I am not aware of. Since
> I've been using Tropic Marin, my SPS growth is amazing and I
> find myself dosing Alca-Balance on a weekly basis to keep the calcium level
> up. My suggestion to you is to do some aggressive water changes
> to lower your Ca and Mg to somewhere near 400ppm Ca and 1200ppm Mg...a
> three to one balance. If the salt mix you are using does
> contain chelated calcium, which it likely does, keeping the levels as
> stated above would make the calcium a little easier to absorb.
Hi James,
<Hello Ioannis>
Thank you for your fast response.
<You're welcome, but please do not alter the original thread, reply only.
The info you deleted is useful for my review/response. I can't possibly remember what each individual
querior has stated in their query.>
I have been using DD Ocean H2O+ Salt since the beginning. What you are saying about chelated calcium makes me wonder. A few months ago I had to dose calcium and magnesium and was even planning to build a calcium reactor to keep up with usage. This was before I upgraded my filtration with an RDSB
(some months before actually). Do you have any thoughts for what could have caused this drastic change?
<The same as what I stated in the first thread....the possible build up of chelated calcium making it more difficult for the animals to absorb.
Your upgraded RDSB filtration and rising calcium is purely coincidental.
As I mentioned in the first thread, if your oolitic sand/aragonite were dissolving that fast, your dKH would be higher than the 7 dKH you mentioned.
The end product is carbonates and carbonates will raise dKH levels.>
By the way, which Tropic Marin salt are you using?
<I use their standard product, nothing special.>
I have a bucket of Tropic Marin Bio Aktif salt in my basement but this one has to be used in combination with a skimmer which I am not really planning to use a skimmer any time soon.
Would it be wise to switch salts every now and then for this matter (lets say one time TM and the next time DD?
<I would not alternate, choose one and stick with it. I've used Reef Crystals for years and years, but since switching to Tropic Marin I have noticed considerable improvement/growth in my stony corals. It's quite obvious to me both visually and in calcium test results, that they are absorbing a considerable amount of calcium.>
<Ditto. James (Salty Dog)>

High Ca And Mg - How To Get Them Down! 6/29/10
Dear All,
Firstly, many apologies as I'm certain this must be covered in the FAQs somewhere but I can't locate it! I'm currently in the process of setting my system up as a low nutrient tank, using rock and media form a rather neglected system. As such I've been testing the water religiously and doing frequent water changes to get nitrate and phosphate levels down and have noticed that my calcium and magnesium levels are always high (have given
the actual values below, tested using Salifert Profi kits except for phosphate which is tested using the Deltec high sensitivity kit):
Temperature: 25C
SG: 1.025
pH: 8.2
Nitrate: 0.2ppm
Phosphate: undetectable
Ca: 620 ppm
Mg: 1800 ppm
dKH: 9
These values have remained constant for several weeks so am wondering how I can get them to within NSW levels and if it is even desirable to do this?
<Is desirable to keep near NSW levels, high levels of these elements can be detrimental to your system.>
Currently the tank has soft corals, Zoanthids and some LPS (a Duncan and torch coral), so could these levels be due to a lack of corals that require these minerals for skeleton growth (i.e. sps), or could it be due to the salt mix I'm using Tropic Marin Pro-Reef sea salt)?
<Is not the salt, and likely due to unnecessary dosing of Ca and Mg.>
I'm planning on starting with SPS corals in the near future (hence the drive to get the tank in the best condition possible) so want to make sure everything is as close to perfect as possible and that parameters are stable.
<The best way to gradually lower your Ca and Mg levels is by doing 30% weekly water changes which will lower the levels by dilution. It is best to test the water weekly so a dosing plan (if needed) to maintain proper levels can be developed. I use the same salt as you, and I rarely dose Ca and/or Mg.
Many thanks,
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Calcium Stuck At 350 3/22/10
Hi crew.
<Hello Aaron>
Thanks for all your help in the past.
<You're welcome.>
I visit your site all the time. I am having a calcium problem. I have a 125 gallon Reef Ready tank, with a Marineland model 4 sump, Marineland 300 skimmer, 3 Hydor powerheads, an Odyssea 1134 watt lighting system ( 3 X 250
watt MH HQI, and 4 96 watt CFL Actinics), 140 lbs live sand, 125 lbs live rock (Purple coralline all over rock and scrape off glass once a month).
<Aaron, in future queries, please cap all proper nouns including names of companies, corals, fish, etc. Saves me much time if I do not have to do it before posting.>
I have a couple corals, including 1 Stylophora, 1 Colt Coral, 1 Cabbage Leather, and a rock with 9 mushrooms. My fish include a male and female Blue Throat Trigger, Foxface, juvy Imperator Angelfish, clownfish and anemone. I also have 2 starfish, several crabs, and several snails (who by the way had babies, I have tiny 1/8-1/4" snails everywhere). My problem is that my calcium will not get above 350. My salinity is at 1.024, temp is 77.8, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 5-10, alkalinity is about 2.5, ph at 8.0-8.2.
<I'm assuming 2.5 mEq/l.>
I use Red Sea tests, and my old calcium test expired in 08, so I thought that was the problem, and bought a new one and had the same reading. I was using Kent Marine liquid calcium, using a syringe, putting 1 tsp in the return pump every morning and still 350, so I tried Kent Marine Kalkwasser, following the proper procedure and added a half gallon at night and about another half gallon in the morning (all at night to avoid ph spikes). I've been doing this for about 2 weeks now and still 350. My Colt Coral has never been fully open like when I bought it, but everything else seems fine, but I've been wanting to get into clams and I know they need more calcium then I currently have. Does lighting have anything to do with this.
<No, not with the calcium.>
My bulbs are over a year old and I have replacements on the way (15000K's). I am at a loss. I have read all your calcium/Kalkwasser and think I have tried everything. I just can't get more than 350, and it never goes below that either. The water is not cloudy or dirty, and the fish are fine. I change about 20 gallons per month, but the nitrate is
never above 10ppm. Please help.
<I am surprised that your pH isn't higher than what it is dosing that much Kalkwasser in a 24 hour period and may be part of your problem, and will get to that later. The Kent Marine liquid calcium as well as their Turbo Calcium is calcium chloride. This is good if used on a temporary basis to raise calcium levels quickly. The downside, when using regularly is that adding to quickly can cause a reaction where calcium saturation can occur causing calcium and carbonates (buffers) to fall out of solution. It must be dosed according to instructions and added slowly. Another disadvantage is that the continued use of calcium chloride can cause a loss of alkalinity so it is important to routinely measure the alkalinity of the aquarium.
Continued use of calcium chloride can cause a buildup of chlorine in the water if regular water changes are not carried out. Finally, never add more than the recommended amount in the dosing instructions. I don't know how you mix the Kalkwasser, but only one to three teaspoons should be used per gallon of makeup water. Old Kalkwasser mix can lose it's concentration of calcium in solution which can result in little calcium addition to your tank. And, it is very important not to does any of the sediment. Do allow the mix to settle at least 24 hours before dosing and be careful not to stir up the sediment. I've always found that "Kool Aid" type glass dispensers with a built in spigot work well for drawing Kalkwasser out of the container without drawing sediment as the spiket is usually placed a
little over an inch above the bottom of the container. Dosing this sediment can result in calcium precipitation and an excessive rise of the pH along with a decrease of alkalinity. You do not mention what your
magnesium level is. This element should be kept at 1200-1300ppm, especially in tanks containing calcium loving invertebrates. Without it's presence, it is difficult for corals to absorb the calcium that is available and it makes it more difficult to reach the desired calcium level in your tank. In closing, I would suggest to discontinue the use of
calcium chloride, but to continue the use of Kalkwasser with proper dosing/mixing procedures and maintain magnesium at the proper level.
Another calcium alternative is to use Tropic Marin's Alka-Balance. This product maintains both dKH and calcium and can be sprinkled right in your sump and causes no cloudiness of the water. I use this product myself and am very happy with the results, as I'm not a fan of mixing Kalkwasser and dosing it, yet alone investing in a Kalkwasser reactor and the necessary CO2 equipment needed.>
Thanks you guys/girls are great.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re Calcium Stuck At 350 3/22/10
About a month ago I bought a Red Sea Magnesium test kit to check that level and it is at 1500.
<A little high, but OK.><<Mmm, no. This could be a large determinant in suppressing [Ca]. RMF would lower through dilution, pronto>>
That was my thought also. The way I mix the Kalkwasser is in a 5 gallon bucket. I use about two gallons of RO/DI water and put 2 tsp per gallon, and gently mix it, then cap it for several hours then before going to bed around midnight, I'll put maybe a half gallon in the sump.
Carefully so I don't get the milky stuff mixed in.
<This mixture really needs to settle longer than that, more like 24 hours before using. It should appear fairly clear.>
I do this after the lights have been out for hours to avoid a pH spike.
Something else I found strange was that after mixing a 5 gallon bucket of new saltwater (5 gallons RO/DI water, and 2 1/2 cups of Reef Crystals) and mixing it for a few hours, I tested that for calcium and that also came out at 350.
<Really need to buffer the RO/DI water before using, it is stripped of any buffers thus
depleting the carbonates from the salt mix.>
So just for fun, I put a half tsp of Kent Marine Liquid Calcium in the bucket and let that mix.
Tested again a few hours later and still 350. The calcium is less than 6 months old so that can't be bad, right??
<Shouldn't be.>
I just don't understand, I have all new tests and additives and 350 is as high as I can go, even with newly mixed saltwater.
<Not alarming at all using unbuffered RO/DI water. I also suggest reading the first thread again.>
So confused and frustrated.
<Mmm, may want to read here as you mentioned you've read our articles.
Thanks for your quick response today..
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Calcium Leaching Through Walls (Not A Typical 'Pet Fish' Query) -- 02/05/10
I have a hollow tile exterior wall house that has never been sealed. Four years ago we had a lot of rain that stood in our yard for about a month. It never went into the house. I noticed my stucco pealing off the walls in places on the lower 6 to 8 inches two years later. The exterior lower wall looked whitish and after I pealed off the stucco on the inside, the wall has a fuzzy whitish looking stuff on the cement wall. I was told this is calcium leaching through the wall. I cleaned off the pealed stucco, sanded, and painted a sealer on it. I noticed the sealer is falling off. How do I stop this leaching so I can make repairs?
<<The 'fuzzy whitish looking stuff' is called 'Efflorescence' and is a result of salts/minerals (including Calcium, in the form of Calcium Hydroxide) leaching from the cement due to moisture intrusion. You can seal the cement with a masonry sealer product called 'DRYLOK' but you will need to first remove the efflorescence with an etching compound from the same maker (DRYLOK Etch). I use this sealer on my DIY concrete-block pond and fountain and it works very well when applied correctly. Speaking of which, though is says it can be applied to 'slightly' moist concrete; you will get the 'best' seal/adhesion if it is completely dry. Do consider getting someone out to take a look at improving runoff/drainage around your house to keep moisture out of the concrete in the first place. Also'¦ This is a pet fish/aquatics website. I suggest you visit/query some of the home maintenance and repair sites for a wider range of advice specific to your problem. Cheers, EricR>>

Calcium Chloride/Calcium And Alkalinity 12/12/09
I'm just learning of the problems that can arise from supplementing a reef tank continuously with Calcium Chloride....in this case Seachem's Reef Advantage Calcium.
<This product is best used short term to rapidly increase calcium levels.>
This product has worked incredibly in my smaller systems, yet now that I am 6 months into a 150 gallon sps reef, I'm noticing a few things that are entirely irregular. Firstly, my salinity has crept up to 1.028. I've always been diligent about 1.025 specific gravity water changes and freshwater top off, yet I'm not understanding fully how calcium chloride plays a role in this spike.
<Calcium will not raise specific gravity.>
Secondly, without supplementing calcium for over 3 weeks, my levels have stayed at 480 and not come down to my desired 420 level.
<Magnesium must be at the proper level (1280-1300ppm) to allow the calcium to be utilized by calcium loving inverts. Magnesium is a major element of sea water.>
All the while, alkalinity is depleting almost as fast as I can correct it; from 9dkh to 6 the next evening.
<High calcium levels can cause this drop.>
I recently purchased a calcium reactor and am ready to install it, but I'm afraid of what may happen if these levels don't stabilize. I've corrected specific gravity over a 6 day period and brought it down to 1.025, but want to be assured that I'm doing the right thing in setting up the reactor. Should I wait a while and keep dosing Seachem's reef builder alkalinity powder or set up the reactor and start dripping slowly.
<I would concentrate on getting the magnesium level up where it belongs.
Your corals will be able to absorb more calcium when the magnesium level is maintained. Is exactly why magnesium is always a part of calcium based treatments for osteoporosis, it increases bone density.>
I would never ask my LFS for help (unfortunately they're in the business of selling livestock, not saving it), and too many conflicting opinions would be bouncing off me from fellow reefers. Please help!!!
<You might want to take a look here.
Thank you
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> 

Re: Water parameters out of whack? - 6/23/09
Can you please explain, or point me in the right direction to the process of "precipitation through elevated carbonate?" I haven't been able to find anything on that when I run a search.
Thanks again for all your help.
<Insert the words I've placed between quotation marks in the search tool, here: http://wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/question_page.htm
read the cached views. B>

Calcium problems  6/20/09
Hi Crew,
I have long term problems keeping my calcium up. I use Instant Ocean Reef Crystals,
<Mmm, this product is proving inconsistent in composition... For one thing, I would look into another brand to test>
changing about 6-7 gallons per week in a 75 gallon tank. I also dose with B-Ionic most days, using 60 ml per day, which is about 3 times the recommended starting dose.
<... of both parts?>
I also add about 1 tsp. Reef Buffer most days,
which I dissolve in freshwater that I add for topping up.
<... I would just stick with one brand/manufacturer>
In March and April, I had alkalinity of 3.0 mEq, and calcium of 375 ppm.
Not great, but not alarming, and reasonably balanced, as I understand things. I did not check again until this month (June) when the readings were 3.0-3.5 mEq and 280 ppm. So my calcium had really fallen off.
<As well as alkalinity... summat is off here>
I have pretty satisfactory coralline algae growth, though it looks faded when my calcium gets low, as it is now.
<Mmm... is the coralline "sucking up" available biomineral AND alkalinity...? What about your Magnesium? Is this in about proportion? Have you checked Mg?>
I also have an attractive growth of some kind of Halimeda algae, which I am particularly fond of because it presumably competes with the Grape Caulerpa that I wish I had never introduced into the tank.
First question: is it this Halimeda that depletes my calcium? Should I remove it or cut it back?
<All the stated macroalgae could be implicated>
When I found my calcium low, I tried a strategy I had tried once before.
Knowing that you guys frown on using the standard calcium supplement (calcium chloride),
<I would not do this>
I decided to add close to the maximum dose of Reef Calcium (calcium gluconate). So I started 50 ml per day. After a few days, I noticed some of my soft corals not opening up. After a few more days, I started to get cloudy water and my skimmer production went way up. You'd think I had some die-off in the tank, but there is no die-off that I can identify.
<Likely just chemical cloudiness>
The fish and inverts (2 Cinnamon Clowns, Royal Gramma, Yellow Clown Goby, 2 Peppermint Shrimp, one Atlantic Hairy Triton snail) seem fine.
As I mentioned, this is the second time I have attempted heavy dosing of Reef Calcium, and in fact I had a similar experience the first time I tried it. That time, however, I had had a concurrent circulation pump failure that may have gone on for a couple days before I noticed it (the other circulation pump, plus 2 skimmers, plus 2 power filters were all still running). In any case, I decided that the pump failure was the cause of that episode of cloudy water and heavy skimmer production. But now I'm wondering if it was the heavy dosing with Reef Calcium.
<Likely so>
Second question: do you think the Reef Calcium is causing my cloudy water/heavy skimmer production?
I just looked again at information about calcium supplementation on your site, and found at least one exchange that suggested maybe calcium chloride is not all that bad.
<Some folks use... "all the time"... but this molecule has some inherent drawbacks/downsides... that one must understand, anticipate... Not a good material for most westerners...>
So third question: if I am changing close to 10 percent of my tank water weekly, would it be OK for me to use calcium chloride a few times a year to help maintain calcium? Is the concern about chloride ion build-up overblown?
<Again... I would not use this material... there are other, far better, safer methods of achieving high, consistent biomineral levels>
I know that Kalkwasser or a calcium reactor is your preferred solution, but so far I have not been willing to invest my time and/or money in those solutions.
Thanks for your thoughts.
<Please do read re Mg, and measure for this... I suspect this may well be your trouble here... Bob Fenner>

Re: Calcium problems, actually Mg     6/24/09
Hi Bob,
Thanks for your previous reply.
I obtained a magnesium test kit (Seachem) and just ran the test. My result was 1250-1375 ppm, which is just about what natural seawater is supposed to be. If my calcium is 275 (per the last test a few days ago), my magnesium is around 4.5-5.0 times my calcium. Is this a problem?
<Mmm, yes, or at least potentially... You want this alkaline earth element to be about 3 times the concentration of Ca... much more or less can be problematical>
A couple of other things have occurred to me since our previous exchange.
The reason I had that circulation pump failure was that the impeller stopped spinning on its shaft due to white-ish deposits.
<Ahh! A good clue>
Within the last two weeks, I systematically soaked all my impellers and shafts in white vinegar to remove similar deposits from all of them. Is it odd that I would get some kind of mineral deposition at the same time as I struggle to maintain calcium and alkalinity levels?
<Not odd at all... coincidental>
For what it is worth, I have been making my salt water using municipal tap water run through a Pur tap water filter, and immediately
<I'd aerate this just made water for an hour or more>
adding the salt mix to that water. I then let this age for at least a week, often much more as I use two 30 gallon Roughneck trash cans for this, and it usually takes 3 weeks to get through one while the other is aging. I put my used (brown, but not black) Polyfilters in these cans, putting some of this filter material (cut into smaller pieces) into Hagen Quick Filters fitted to Hagen power heads, in the hope that this might remove any additional impurities from the municipal water.
<Interesting... good technique>
Often, it seems to me that it takes more salt mix to hit a specific gravity of 1.025 than it used to take with the RO/DI water I used in my previous home. I had just assumed that I was failing to correctly count all the gallons of water I was adding to the trash can, and so I always seemed to need more salt than I expected to. But could there be something else going on here?
<Mmm, yes... likely on the salt manufacturer's end... using hydrated salts... It often occurs that using a "stock 50 gallon mix" with a total of 50 gallons volume does NOT result in a specific gravity of normal seawater...>
Any further thoughts you might have would be welcome.
<Am in a bit of (personal) turmoil here presently... Will cogitate (hopefully furiously), and chat with you further on. BobF>

Re Calcium Problems 6/25/09
Is there a reason the above query is in my inbox? Appears you have answered it.
Hi James... yes... thought you might have summat to add further. B
OK, I'll take a closer look at it.

Re: Calcium problems 6/25/09
I believe the gent is using too many different brands of additives. I'd stick with one brand,
generally, they are engineered to work with one another such as Tropic Marin's, SeaChem, and Kent.
<A good point... brands/formulations are NOT always mix-able>
I have been using Tropic Marin products for the last eight months with all water parameters staying stable. I'm not a big fan of the two part additives, tried them in the past and the dKH went through the roof along with depleting my calcium level. It's just my experience/opinion of them, would not use them if they were given to me.
If his corals and coralline are growing well,
and I'm thinking the Halimeda is a calcium lover, it is expected for the calcium level to fall when magnesium levels are maintained at 1280-1300ppm (personal phone conversation with Lou Ekus of Tropic Marin). I'm thinking he needs to increase his calcium dosing while maintaining a dKH level of 7-8 and stick with a reputable brand of additives rather than mix and match brands. Lou tells me the Europeans are having good success maintaining their reef tanks at a dKH of 7-8. Just my two centavos worth.
<Thank you for chiming in. BobF>

Re: Calcium problems 6/25/09
Thanks for your input.
<You're welcome.>
I checked again this morning, and I got Calcium = 290 ppm, Alkalinity = 350 <3.5?> mEq, and Magnesium = 1220 ppm.
<Try to keep this closer to 1300ppm. It is important as keeping it a NSW
levels insures all the calcium will be available to the calcium loving animals.
An example would be if your calcium level measured 400ppm, but your magnesium only measured 640ppm, only 200ppm of calcium is available to the animals. It's a proportional ratio.
If the magnesium was at 960ppm, then 300ppm of calcium is only available. Certain human prescriptions that contain calcium will also contain magnesium on the same ratio as above to enable the body to absorb the entire amount of the calcium.>
You say, "he needs to increase his calcium dosing while maintaining a dKH level of 7-8 and stick with a reputable brand of additives"
Specifically, what would you suggest I use for calcium dosing?
<I use Tropic Marin products, not because I feel they are the very best, but because I like the
dosing method. The calcium grains are placed in the sump without mixing and the water never clouds. Same goes for their magnesium. I've used SeaChem products in the past with good results, but they require mixing, and the less time spent maintaining the tank, the more time I have for other interests.>
And what then would be the corresponding supplement to use to maintain dKH?
<Since using Tropic Marin, I rarely use buffers, but when needed, I'm still using SeaChem's Reef Builder.
When that is gone, I plan on using Tropic Marin's Alka-Balance. I'm not pushing Tropic Marin as there are several good companies such as SeaChem, Kent Marine, etc. producing additives, it is just my preference.
James (Salty Dog)>

Re Calcium Problems 6/26/09
Thanks again.
<You're welcome.>
Do you mean Tropic Marin Bio-Calcium?
<As to what?>
If so, is this is new approach?
<?????, new approach to what, dosing calcium?>
My last reading of WetWebMedia left me with the impression that one could do (1) a calcium reactor, (2) Kalkwasser, (3) 2-part products; and one should not do calcium chloride products. Is Tropic Marin Bio-Calcium none of the foregoing?
<Is not a good idea to use calcium chloride long term, and using a calcium reactor or Kalkwasser poses no problems at all if administered properly, and many reefers prefer Kalkwasser over other calcium additives as it is very cost effective. I had recently asked Lou Ekus of Tropic Marin about the make-up of
Bio-Calcium, and I have pasted his response below.>
Hi James,
Since BIO-CALCIUM is a completely balanced calcium additive an not pure calcium chloride, the long term effects of calcium chloride use (for example depressed alkalinity) will not happen with BIO-CALCIUM. There are no residues of BIO-CALCIUM left in the water except calcium carbonate, complete Tropic Marin SEA SALT and some CO2.
I hope this answers your question. If you still have any questions, just email back.
All the best,
Lou Ekus
Director of US Operations
Tropic Marin USA
And, lastly, would you still recommend it (or something else) if I do not have a sump?
<If you want to use Tropic Marin without a sump, you have no other alternative but to mix with water.
I've used SeaChem powder in the past with good results, but again, like most calcium additives that require mixing with fresh water, temporary cloudiness will occur. James (Salty Dog)>

Re: Calcium problems 7/5/09
Hi James,
<Hello Tom>
Thanks for your patience. One more follow-up question if I may.
I got some Reef Advantage Calcium, as that is easy to obtain from my usual sources (in contrast to Tropic Marin products).
In really small print, the label says the ingredients are Calcium Chloride, Magnesium Chloride, and Strontium Chloride. There's that calcium chloride which most of you guys think is bad.
So, does Tropic Marin also contain calcium chloride?
<I believe Lou Ekus' email below should have answered that for you.>
The quote from the Tropic Marin representative ("Bio-Calcium is ... not pure calcium chloride")
implies that it does. And the quote as a whole suggests that he believes there's nothing wrong with having calcium chloride in the formula as long as it is appropriately combined with other ingredients.
<As Lou mentioned...."There are no residues of BIO-CALCIUM left in the water except calcium carbonate, complete Tropic Marin SEA SALT and some CO2.">
It seems like the "calcium chloride is bad" view needs some clarification.
Am I right?
<SeaChem states that Reef Advantage Calcium will not deplete magnesium and/or alkalinity, so I'm
believing it is similar to Tropic Marin Bio-Calcium. The calcium chloride additives that should not be used
long term are concentrated gluconate calcium supplements and are in a liquid form. These are generally used to quickly boost calcium levels and promote accelerated coralline growth, although I'm not convinced of the later.>
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Re: Calcium problems 7/5/09
Hi James
<Hello Tom>
Thanks much, that does clarify things.
<I hope so.>
But, did you mean to say that calcium gluconate is to be avoided.
<No, it just is not recommended for long term use.>
I had not understood that to be true, based on my reading on WetWebMedia. However, if that is what you meant to say, it is entirely consistent with my experience.
<Let's read this.
Liquid Calcium (Calcium Chloride): Perhaps the most commonly used and abused methods for dosing calcium. Not recommended for long-term use.
Advantage: A potent and fast method for dosing Calcium without any impact on pH.
Clean, easy and brief application.
Very safe and not easily overdosed in the short-term.
Disadvantage: Potentially dangerous accumulation of by-product Chloride ions can skew water chemistry and plague Ca/Alk balance with long-term use (1-2 years).
Requires aquarist to conduct more frequent and larger water changes on the system to dilute and delay Chloride ion accumulation.
No ancillary benefits like Calcium hydroxide (support of pH, Alk, skimmer, etc.)
A temporary calcium supplement only to be used for 'quick fixes' of strayed Ca.
You may also want to read the entire article here.
You may not recall, but I wrote that my trouble started after heavy dosing with calcium gluconate. Now that the dust has settled on that mistake, I've realized that I lost two Peppermint Shrimp,
<This should not have been the sole reason for their death, likely other reasons.>
and probably a Green Star Polyp
colony, as a result of that dosing with calcium gluconate.
<Ditto here also.>
The fish and a snail showed no distress; two leather corals and a Sea Rod closed up for a while, but are now back to normal. My heavy skimmer output may have been due to the shrimp decomposing.
By the way, the Reef Advantage Calcium is not creating cloudiness in the water, or any other observable problems. Hopefully, it will raise my calcium.
<Is what it's for. Magnesium plays an important role in an animals ability to absorb available calcium.
Do ensure your magnesium level is maintained at 1200-1300ppm.>
Thanks again for you help and patience.
<No problem Tom. James (Salty Dog)>

Re: Calcium problems 7/6/09
I'm worried I'm overstaying my welcome...
<I won't give you the "bum's rush".>
but I'm hoping for final clarification.
This is what you said in your 7/5/09 9:27AM email:
" The calcium chloride additives that should not be used long term are concentrated gluconate calcium supplements and are in a liquid form. These are generally used to quickly boost calcium levels and promote accelerated coralline growth, although I'm not convinced of the later."
Did you really intend to say "gluconate calcium" here?
<Yes. Some of the information may be dated. Calcium gluconate has the ability to counteract magnesium which is a major element of sea water and needed for coral growth. It may be why Anthony states that it has not clearly
demonstrated its efficacy for coral growth. Personally, I do not use any liquid calcium products as they are not cost efficient and can create dKH fluctuations.>
Because, if you did, it seems inconsistent with Calfo's article:
*Organic Calcium* (*Calcium gluconate*): This calcium supplement is an exception to the above warnings about the dangers of 'Liquid calcium' products. Sugar-based calcium is an essentially safe source of calcium, but
has not clearly demonstrated its efficacy for coral growth. It has, however, been shown to greatly accelerate the growth of desirable coralline algae species. As such, it is recommended as a supplement to a primary method for
dosing calcium.
<James (Salty Dog)>

Re: Calcium problems  7/7/09
Thanks. I have my clarification.
<You're welcome.>
And I may also have at least some reason to believe that my heavy dosing with calcium gluconate was unwise. It was certainly coincident with a serious disruption in my tank.
By the way, I have also started to pay attention to my magnesium, and have raised it from 1220 to 1310.
Appreciate your help,
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Fw: Tropic Marin Bio Calcium And Ongoing CA Problem Thread  7/6/09
Hi Bob,
I had asked Lou Ekus of Tropic Marin for his input on this ongoing query. He graciously provided me the below information, and do feel free to post on our site for others to read/learn.
He mentions "what Mr. Fenner was looking for", and I did correct Lou by telling him that Mr. Fenner had asked me for my input on this query and that I was the one asking for his input.
<Real good. Thank you James. BobF>
I've attached the latest info I had just received from Tropic Marin. Hoping this will comfort you as to your
calcium concerns.
James (Salty Dog)
Hi James,
Here is a more in depth answer to the question about CaCl. I hope this is more like what MR. Fenner was looking for. If either Mr. Fenner or your posters are looking for and even more complete description I would suggest to them to do a little reading about the Balling Method. The reason I suggest this is that when you are talking about adding CaCl in a balanced and complete form to a tank for a Ca addition, you are talking about essentially the Balling Method. In fact Bio-Calcium IS the Balling Method in one step in a jar. Most people don't realize that Hans-Werner Balling. The originator of the Balling Method, is in our lab in Germany and was the developer of our Bio-Calcium. We are very proud of the fact that the Balling Method is now taking hold here in the US.
O.K.....here goes:
Why should calcium chloride be a problem? Used properly like in BIO-CALCIUM it neither builds up in the water nor is it toxic. What results when you dissolve calcium chloride in water are calcium ions and chloride ions. When we add calcium chloride and also sodium bicarbonate we will get ions that are in equilibrium with the bicarbonate-carbonate buffering system and which can be precipitated as calcium carbonate, for example by oversaturation or by rising the ph/removing CO2. What is left in the water are chloride ions from the calcium chloride and sodium ions from sodium bicarbonate. We already had sodium and chloride ions in the water before since sodium chloride is more than 70% of sea salt. The addition of sodium and chloride ions could result in an build up of these ions in the long term, but with BIO-CALCIUM (and also with BIO-CALCIUM Liquid) we also add all the other salts that make up complete sea salt. This means 'completely balanced'. The addition of BIO-CALCIUM results in calcium carbonate, some CO2 and complete Tropic Marin Sea Salt which can be balanced by the exchange of some saltwater with r/o or DI water during the next water change or addition of makeup water.
I know that's a mouthful, but I'm trying to give you a more complete answer and as you know, water chemistry is just not as simple as we would like it to be. Hopefully this helps.
Let me know if I can be of any further assistance.
All the best,
Lou Ekus
Director of US Operations
Tropic Marin USA

Mixing Salt/High Ca And Mg Readings 12/4/08 Hi guys, <Hi Jamie> The wealth of this site is astounding! You must be really pleased at offering this kind of quality advice to all. Nice one! <Thank you.> I been having some issues with Tropic Marin Pro Reef salt. After mixing with RO Water, I have tested the water and found very high levels of Calcium (550) and Magnesium (2000). I have been seeing this high level in my Marine Reef system since the beginning, but could not understand why. After testing the RO water before mixing (zero levels), I decided to test the salt mix, which is when I found this seemingly unusual level. This is the second batch of salt I have had this issue with. As a result of these excessive levels, some of the corals/polyps/xenia have started to shrivel, and I have never had any algae growth despite increased lighting etc. I have purchased 2 different brands of test kit to make sure I have not had a bad test batch, but the reading are the same. Have you experience, or even heard of this before? <I have not, Bob may have. I do know that they provide a reliable supply of both calcium and magnesium in this product, but I wouldn't think that much.> I mix the salt over 24hrs to 26 degrees C with a small pump and air stone to around 1.026. I am at a loss of what to do next, except complain to TMC. Thoughts <I've contacted Tropic Marin for their input on this and as soon as I hear back from them, I will respond to this.> <<Ah, good James... Hopefully they will have a substantive reply. Good artificial saltmixes do contain unnaturally high levels/concentrations of both biominerals and alkalinity... by design... to "resist" their deficiency in captive settings. RMF>> Many Thanks, <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Jamie Stokes

Re: Tropic Marin Pro Reef Salt -- Extremely high reading of Calcium and Magnesium during mixing. Any ideas? Hi guys, <Hi Jamie> The wealth of this site is astounding! You must e really pleased at offering this kind of quality advice to all. Nice one! I been having some issues with Tropic Marin Pro Reef salt. After mixing with RO Water I have tested the water and found very high levels of Calcium (550) and Magnesium (2000). I have been seeing this high level in my Marine Reef system since the beginning, but could not understand why. After testing the RO water before mixing (zero levels), I decided to test the salt mix, which is when I found this seemingly unusual level. This is the second batch of salt I have had this issue with. As a result of these excessive levels, some of the corals/polyps/xenia have started to shrivel, and I have never had any algae growth despite increased lighting etc. . I have purchased 2 different brands of test kit to make sure I have not had a bad test batch, but the reading are the same. Have you experience, or even heard of this before? I mix the salt over 24hrs to 26 degrees C with a small pump and air stone to around 1.026. I am at a loss of what to do next, except complain to TMC. Thoughts? <Jamie, I've pasted the email I received from Lou Ekus, Tropic Marin, regarding your concern with Tropic Marin Salt. He asked that you call him if you like. You will find his contact information at the end of the message content. James (Salty Dog)> Many Thanks, <You're welcome.> Jamie Stokes Hi James, Unless there is something going on that is completely out of the range of anything Tropic Marin has ever seen, I can have no explanation for numbers like these. In fact, in RO/DI water, it would be impossible to get our Ca and Mg that high without seeing lots of precipitation. Let this person know that and ask them to contact me directly and I'll help them figure out what is going on. I have serious doubts about these readings even though he states that different test kits were being used. Also, please let him know that he needs to contact Tropic Marin NOT TMC. Thanks All the best, Lou Ekus Director of US Operations Tropic Marin USA

Giant clam malady? Mg toxicity -- 09/04/08 Hi Bob (and crew), <Hi Chris, Mich here.> Thanks for the many hours that you have collectively invested in the hobby and in this website. It is a great resource. <Thank you for your kind words here.> I am having a problem with the mollusks in my tank that I haven¹t been able to resolve after looking at the snail disease faq, the giant clam disease faq. or Fatherree¹s clam book. <OK, hopefully I can help.> My tank¹ is a sps dominated mixed reef. Salinity is 1.024, pH is 7.8-8.1 (lower than I would like it to be) <Yes.> temp 78.5, ammonia, nitrate and nitrite are all not detectable, PO4 is around .25-.5 ppm (more than I would like), because of my high coral load and the presence of a large clam I am having trouble keeping my calcium and Alk where I would like them to be. My dKH hovers around six and my calcium is around 325. I know that these levels are too low and I am currently investing in a calcium reactor and Kalk reactor, which will be employed under the vigilance of an aqua controller to address this problem. My Mg is around 1300ish. <I think this maybe part of your problem.> I currently dose what seem to be excessive amounts of DT¹s 3-part calcium mg and Alk buffer to compensate for bio depletion and to raise pH. <OK.> Lighting is a 10,000K 250W metal halide. Tank turnover is about 50X. I have a 1 inch sand bed which I gravel vac as part of my weekly maintenance. I typically do at least 10% water change every week. (more often 25%). <Husbandry seems good.> I have great coral and clam growth and no algae problems. <Wonderful!> As for fish I¹m a fan of a relatively conservative fish load. I have a small flasher wrasse, a Banggai cardinal, a mandarin and a yellow assessor. (no coral eaters or clam nippers) <Great!> On to the problem: About a week and a half ago, my T. crocea (~5.5 inches) decided he was no longer happy as a clam. During the daytime, he remains mostly closed with his mantle mostly retracted. It does open ~75% in the mornings when natural sunlight hits his corner of the tank. It also seems to be expanded to a greater degree when the lights are off (~25%). The clam is still light responsive and appears to have no signs of pinched mantle, white spot, obvious necrosis or parasitic snails. It is located on a small rock on the bottom of my tank about 13² under water (mantle is at a 10² depth). It¹s byssal attachment is still quite strong. <OK.> I¹m concerned that he hasn¹t been opening. <Rightly so.> Since the situation arose, I have employed activated carbon in the tank in hopes of removing any DOC toxins that might be present and have done three 25% water changes in the past week and a half. <Well your carbon usage has likely cleared your water significantly, which may make your clam more sensitive to light.> I would be content to call this an issue related to the clams exposure to light in the tank BUT, I have noticed my Astrea snails have been remarkably lethargic lastly as well. <I think this is likely related to your high Magnesium levels and low Calcium levels.> One snail laid on his side half open for ~12 hours others have not moved for several days on end. I have not noticed any snail deaths. <Here is my theory: You are likely seeing paralysis from the high Mag levels/ low Calcium. Magnesium Sulfate (MgSO4) in the human acts as a central nervous system depressant. It blocks neuromuscular transmission by decreasing the amount of Acetylcholine released by motor nerve impulses. A secondary effect is the relaxation of smooth muscle tissue. MgSO4 is also the most commonly used tocolytic agent, it decreases the frequency and intensity of uterine contractions associated with preterm labor. It is also used to prevent seizures and convulsions..Mag toxicity is a huge concern in something the size of a human, let alone a tiny snails. When MgSO4 is given in a hospital setting the antagonist, calcium, typically calcium gluconate, is kept at the bedside. Patella Tendon reflexes are continuously monitored for signs of diminished or absent reflexes related to the risk of overdose. This is why I suspect your problems may be related to the Calcium level and Magnesium levels in your tank.> Any thoughts?? (sorry for the long email) <I do think this is a water chemistry issue. I think you should try raising your dKH, pH, and Calcium levels and lower your Magnesium levels.> Thanks, <Welcome,> Chris <Michelle Lemech MS RN>

Re: Giant clam malady? 10/8/08 Hello Mich, <Hi Chris,> Thank you for you well thought out response! <Welcome!> I think you are on to something. <Well, makes sense in theory I think.> In retrospect, I *think* I noticed more mantle extension on mornings after large doses of 2 part calcium buffer (without the Mg dose) and on mornings after CaOH was dosed. Depletion of calcium by mid morning could result in recurrence of the symptoms. <OK.> I had considered the idea of calcium depletion toxicity before, but discounted the theory because the clam was sill photo-reactive. I figured that adductor contractility would have also diminished if calcium was so low that it was interfering with either action potential propagation, cell signaling or smooth muscle contraction. <I suppose internal levels could be higher.> I have no idea about the histology of the adductor muscle. Is it smooth or striated? ( I guess this doesn't really matter.) In the past week my snails seem to have been doing much better. This is concurrent with your theory that this this is a chemical problem rather than a biological one. If I had some sort of pathogen in the tank the snails should have been the first to kick the bucket rather than get better. <Does support a chemical issue.> I am not sure, but I think I may now have a secondary protozoan infection. When the mantle of the clam is withdrawn (aka not midmorning when the sun hits the tank after a good shot of calcium) there is now a slight curl to a small portion of the mantle. When the clam is extended, here is no sign of pinched mantle what so ever. Do you think I should try and do a freshwater dip? <Mmm, think I would wait here.> Having decided that calcium depletion is a possible cause (and an issue that needs attention in my reef regardless, I am unsure how exactly to proceed. Specifically, I am wondering about adverse effects of GREATLY overdosing my system with 2 part buffer to increase the Ca levels. Do you know of any trace elements present in 2-part that will reach toxic levels if I am dosing WAY beyond the recommended dosage (as I would have to get levels where they ought to be) ? <I'm sorry but I do not have experience with this.> What do you think? <I think it is worth trying and just keeping a close eye on things.> Thanks again for your ideas and input! <Welcome.> Chris <Mich>

Re: Giant clam malady? 10/8/08 Hi Mich, <Hi Chris.> I wanted to give you a quick follow up Re my T. crocea. <Thank you. It is always nice to get follow-up!> You were 100% right. Last night I dosed more calcium than anyone ought to over the course of 8 hours and brought up my calcium 250 pts (now final concentration of 450ppm). <Yikes! Glad you did it over 8 hours!> The clam was fully opened this morning and has remained open all day. (for the first time in almost 3 weeks!) <YAY! Hope all stays happy and adjusted!> To you I tip my hat! <Glad to help.> Thanks so much for your insightful answer. Without your input the clam would have been chowder. <Yikes! No T. crocea chowder please!> Best, Chris <Cheers, Mich>

DSB question and more 6/16/08 Hi.. <Hello Mohamed!> Better to give you details on my reef aquarium.. I have a 90 gallon aquarium with a 25 gallon sump, OR1200 return pump, AquaC EV180 skimmer, 1 Tunze stream 6060, 2x 150w 14k Metal halides, 4x54w Aquamedic actinic T5 lamps and 2x54w T5 white 10k lamps. <Sounds like a great setup.> I have a 4.5inch DSB with no plenum. Is this okay??? <Yes, definitely.> Secondly, my sand bed is very dirty most of the time... what should I do to remedy this? Will more flow help?? <More flow is one of the primary tools to keep the sand from accumulating detritus. Small sand stirrers such as Nassarius snails can be helpful too. If your sand is dirty with algae or BGA, that is another issue.> How's the algae free sure flow mod for the Maxijet 1200?? <It is great, I love them. I was part of the pack the last few years fabricating my own, the new drop in kits are lifesavers. Low power draw, quiet and tons of flow.> Furthermore, the sand I use is very fine... about 0.5mm or less. It is about 2 years old. Due to this, a lot of sand keeps blowing in my tank and it always goes on top of rocks and stuff no matter where I point the Tunze. I'm going insane trying to control it even without the Tunze. <It will take a bit of trial and error to get it right, but it can be done. You will likely find it easier to keep your sandbed in place throughout most of the tank with the addition of another powerhead (such as the MJ mod). Colliding the flow from the two can provide a greater, but more dissipated flow. With one the directional flow can be tough, digging troughs that other sand then falls into, continuing the cycle.> Note: Tunze is on the back top right corner of my 48"x24"x18" tank and is pointing straight to the other end (length wise). Should I use a coarser grain of sand to avoid this problem?(2-3mm).. If so, how do I do it in an established aquarium? <You can if you wish. I personally like the sugar fine sand. If you do want to switch you can siphon out the sand with your water changes over a period of a few weeks, then replace with the new. One word of warning: if your rocks are supported by the sand you will end up with a rockslide. If this is the case you may have to teardown the system to switch. Again, the fine stuff can work with some experimentation with flow.> Also, I got Caribsea Aragamilk and have been using it for 3 weeks and my calcium is still 300-320ppm.. I stopped using Kalk due to pH fluctuations. Also on your recommendation, I have purchased a Milwaukee ph controller and GEO 618 calcium reactor to remedy this but the shipment has not yet arrived (will do so in a week). Will the reactor be able to pull the calcium up to the 400s? <It can, but with an increase in alkalinity too. You will want your Ca and Alk in balance, then use the reactor to keep it that way.> Is there anything DIY I can do in the meantime? <For the amount of time you are looking at you will want to simply buy a small quantity of another Ca supplement or increase your water changes to get things in balance, assuming your salt has a higher level of Ca (it should). > Thanks a bunch and I hope you guys can help me make my tank look good... PS: how's the blue background at the back of the tank? Should I change it? <Looks good if you like blue backgrounds ? A personal choice that will be covered in coralline with time!> Mohamed.
<Welcome, thank you for writing, Scott V.>
Calcium supplement question... culture, keeping Nephtheids   6/12/08 Hello <Howsit?> I have a 500 gallon total system for non photosynthetic organisms and have been working with Dendronephthya and Scleronephthya for some years. (I published an article on Reef Central under Dendronephthya Husbandry a few months ago about my friend Chuck Stottlemire's tank). The trouble is, Chuck's tank has done VERY well with these organisms; mine hasn't. (The trick seems to have been continuous feeding of phytoplankton and rotifer product). <Necessary... in particular, a mix of "right sized" organisms> My organisms slowly die like everyone else's. For years I have supplemented to NSW values with silica. I haven't checked the alkalinity or calcium for years, since there was little calcification/ coralline growth. <Mmm... these materials still get "used up" in captive settings> I fussed with phosphate issues, which I suspected was the problem (up to 2ppm); when I lowered the phosphate with vodka I would get initially better expansion then things worsened... <Ethanol is not a long term solution...> Long story short, I checked alkalinity and found it to be 26 DKH, calcium 280. Hmmm... no alkalinity additives for years, weekly 10% water changes with moderately hard water. After staying up half through the night trying to figure this out, I think I found the problem- chronic silica additions add alkalinity, just as nitrate additions would. (I have supplemented nitrate as well when the macroalgae shriveled with undetectable nitrate). This presumably forced the calcium down. <A mis-balance all the way around> After one large jar of calcium chloride, <... not a good idea> I got impatient and bought a calcium supplement from the pool industry; <Ditto!> I read the chemical spec sheet, and it contained 98% calcium chloride, 1% strontium chloride, and a little magnesium, no other additives. I've been spooning this stuff in. Over one week, the calcium rose to 380, the alkalinity then started to fall now in the range of 16 DKH. <You tell me what I know> I have read somewhere that some of the soft corals prefer a NSW DKH of 8-12 for optimum polyp extension, which is where I want to go. <Okay...> Needless to say, Nephtheids look terrible. However, sponges, snails, fish all look fine. Question: 1) Do you agree the silica was the cause? (Actually, my stupidity is the proximate cause, but is the silica the mediating factor?) <Only one of a few listed and not> 2) Is the pool industry additive safe? <Not really> 3) Am I going to have to ultimately add so much chloride that the whole system is poisonous and massive water changes are needed? <This would happen in time, but likely other factors will cause you to give up first> 4) If water changes, I was thinking of continuous water changes of 1000 gallons over a week or so via doser/exchanger. This would still leave about 30% or the original water in the system. Is this enough? <Likely so... I would be reading... perhaps a few good tomes on general marine aquarium water chemistry. I would (categorically) NOT use calcium chloride as a long-term, habitual supplement, NOT use C2H5OH either, NOT supplement Si02... for a system of this size, type I WOULD look into a calcium reactor, and a very large refugium and DSB and the culture (likely separately of nano, pico-plankton et al. sizes) if your intention is to sustain Nephtheids. Bob Fenner> Thanks as always Charles Matthews M.D.

Re: calcium supplement question... and Silicon...  6/12/08 Bob, thanks for the thoughtful reply. To clarify, I wasn't considering using calcium chloride long term, but to bring up calcium until I could restart a balanced supplement (rather than do a 1000 gallon water change). <Understood> My reading (I suspect I've read anything you might suggest- I particularly follow Holmes-Farley) suggests this would be a standard approach first as a temporary measure, <We don't differ often, but this is one case. I taught H.S. Chemistry and Physics... and have spent many hours trying to formulate, practice if you will on my fellow aquarists, just how to "make known what needs"... Am very sure that you have similar sensibility in your dealings as a doctor of medicine... I assure you my short statements here (and I guess most everywhere) are borne of much experience and background/related knowledge. I would go so far as to state that I would in most all cases never supplement with calcium chloride... for a few reasons... again, these are archived on WWM, in articles and books by me...> since this imbalance wouldn't be corrected by just adding a calcium reactor or other balanced product (at least on any reasonable time scale for water changes). <Correct... I would execute at least one massive water change here... hundreds of gallons...> Are you thinking that I would have been better in this particular system (rather in a general say SPS system) by not correcting the imbalance first at all, and just going with my 10% weekly water changes? Or just proceeding to changing 1000 gallons or so first? <I'd change a large percentage... If you can/could, all of it> Also, the silica additions were Holmes-Farley inspired, <Again... we disagree. Silicate is not a rate-limiting material for what most all hobbyists want to do... I take it you are purposely/trying to culture diatoms/bacillariophyceans> and I thought it was interesting that this seemed to be the problem, and I've not seen this discussed before by him or any others. The addition of nitrate alone, such as for a planted tank, will raise alkalinity during conversion to N2,, <Only temporarily> and I presumed that the same change occurs with silica; <Almost w/ no measure... are you administering some form of silicon dioxide? This has a very low solubility in water> this was the cause over time for the reason calcium and alkalinity became skewed. <Mmm, I am dubious to the extreme> Silica depletes over a few days in my system with improved diatom growth and benthic grazers, so I was happy about this; silica additions have been discussed by Delbeek and Sprung in vol.. 3 as well... Adding silica, I think would increase alkalinity over time when NSW values are maintained by additions; <How?> if however you add silica to a diatom culture, and then add the diatoms strained of culture water, I wouldn't expect the same alkalinity problem. So, although some authors have been suggesting adding silica in this context to stimulate diatom growth, the problem of gradually increasing alkalinity will been to be monitored, and would need calcium supplementation to maintain balance. <Yes... these values are more important than silica/te/Silicon concentration> This makes the whole approach of adding silica to the tank problematic because of the increased chloride. <? You're adding a salt of Si2? Tetrachloride? So much that you believe there is size-able introduction of excess chloride?> Adding a silica based mud refugium, or silica sand, might be a better option if stimulating diatom growth in aquaculture is desired. Do you think I've got the silica problem understood now? <Again... I am not a fan of supplementing Silicon in any format... in specialty cases (perhaps as yours) where you want more of what this will get you (e.g. Diatoms), as you state, it is best to culture these elsewhere, rinse the medium before introduction into another system> Thanks as always <Welcome. BobF> Re: calcium supplement question... Now just Silicon  6/12/08 I was using the Holmes-Farley recipe of "water glass" silica, 12 drops whisked into a quart of cold water and poured into the sump once daily. <Have just re-read RHF pc. on: http://www.advancedaquarist.com/issues/jan2003/feature.htm The amount you've been adding is miniscule...> This maintained silical levels NSW by Salifert test kit, then declined to undetectable over a few days if stopped. <Yes... soluble silicates can/do fall by about 50% a day in most settings...> The mechanism I was postulating- and I haven't seen this discussed- would be that the silica and the nitrate charges are similar. The mechanism would be the same as if you added nitrate regularly. <Mmm, chemically perhaps, but not biochemically... depending on what is "going on" in a given system, NO3 can be rapidly converted/absorbed-incorporated or not.> As I understand it, during the ammonia catabolism cycle, the conversion of nitrite to nitrate is an acidifying reaction; <Yes... aerobic nitrification is reductive... results in acidification> the conversion of nitrate to nitrogen gas restores that alkalinity. <Can... but this actual balance (anaerobic to hypoxic) is rare as hen's teeth in captive marine systems> If you skipped the nitrate-nitrogen step and just added nitrate alone, that would produce increase in alkalinity long term. <Mmm, no... much more going on here... try this and see... and we can speculate re some major reaction series re> Along the same lines, an imbalance with decline in alkalinity as opposed to a balanced decline, will occur due to water changes that export nitrate. <Among other contributing influences... overall respiration, metabolism, deamination period... drives down pH, nicks away at alkaline reserve> I presume the conversion of silica to biological forms of silica is an alkalinizing reaction similar to the conversion of nitrate to N2. <I do think so... You may find this interesting/pertinent: http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/7204971/claims.html> What you think, Bob? (smiley emoticon!). <Keep on keeping on Charles. BobF>

Re: calcium supplement question Bob- the ion that goes with the silicate is sodium (sodium silicate). 6/12/08 <Mmm, yes... in this supplementation scheme> I am presuming that the silicate charge is like the nitrate charge after dissociation. <I don't know if I'm following you here... the valence charge of each dissociated molecular species as ions? Silicon, like carbon, can share up to 4 electrons per atom... can/does exist in different valence states depending on local chemistry... As a very common element (makes up more than a quarter of this planet's crust) Silicon rarely exists in elemental form... the same is the case in our aquariums... I do want to emphasize to any browsers to CAREFULLY read RHF's article/s re sodium silicate use... this material is very caustic (alkaline). BobF>

<<Is the issue here one of whether folks should supplement (somehow) with Silicon... for the purpose/s of promoting Diatom et al. growth (many organism groups use, are rate-limited in captive systems by a lack of...) to the possible exclusion of "pest" green et al. algal growth? Each must decide for themselves, but I am of the opinion that such supplementation should only be done with sufficient knowledge and great care... as there are a few important downsides to such practice. RMF>>

Carbonate Super Saturation (Bio-Mineral Imbalance) -- 04/02/08 Hey guys, <<Tom>> I have a dilemma and just wondered what the best methodology was here. <<Okay'¦let's see>> I have a 900 gallon system, <<Neat>> I definitely have carbonate super saturation (though haven't seen any snow). <<'¦?>> I am running a large reactor now with 50 lbs of Gen-X media, it's a diy yourself but Alk coming out is 29 dKH and pH is 6.5. <<Okay>> This is all the result of low magnesium and a kalk accidental overdose, <<Ah, I see>> but long story short I am looking for a permanent fix here. <Mmm'¦>> If Alk is 8, ca is 320, if I add buffer Alk drops to 6, ca is literally dropping on its own right now by 80 ppm in under 24 hrs with the reactor running. <<A serious 'out of balance' condition exists'¦ And even though you don't 'see snow,' I think you are experiencing a precipitous event at a microscopic level>> I thought I had it pinged yesterday with Alk of 8 dKH and ca of 400, pH dropped from 8.15 to 8.07 during the day. MG is 1500 (that's because I have been running the reactor 24x7 to keep ca and Alk up). There are 2 300 gal tanks a sump and a 160gal display. <<Wow'¦one of the few with support volumes greater than the display'¦excellent>> The display has 1/2" of sand in it; some of it has solidified due to the super saturation. <<No doubt>> This is what I am thinking, vacuum out the sand, cut out and drain one 300 gal tank making the system size smaller, <<I don't understand this'¦>> NO MORE BUFFERS, <<Agreed>> and good water changes until the reactor handles the load itself. <<This sounds smart to me>> From there I would bring the 300 back online with additional new water added to the system over a period of days. <<Ahh'¦okay>> The other way is to cut out the display as well but if I do so I fear it may be too much change too fast. <<Possibly'¦and the water changes should help quickly>> Finally, the only other place carbonate could have settled is in my trash can DSB (Calfo's bucket), but I really don't want to cut it out as it is well established and I don't want to have to deal with SPS and nitrates! <<No need to remove it'¦but do check to make sure water can still get in to/through it>> Let me know what you guys think, thanks for any guidance here. Tom <<You have my thoughts re, Tom. Good luck with the recovery. EricR>>

Calcium Issue?...Maybe Not -- 10/17/07 I have a 55G reef tank up and running successfully for two and a half years. <<Excellent>> I have always used the two part supplement B-Ionic on a daily basis, the same dosage for all this time. <<Hopefully validated by testing...>> Recently, within the last month it seems the tank has stopped using the calcium. I mean I have stopped using the B-Ionic and the calcium has remained at 450ppm for at least three weeks now. <<Perhaps other environmental issues/conditions have slowed growth of your corals>> I understand that corals go through periods when they stop using as much calcium but does this scenario seem right to you? <<Hard to say without much more detail about your system, water chemistry, livestock, maintenance, etc.... But yes, is likely nothing to worry about>> Should I continue to dose with B-Ionic or wait until the calcium levels begin to drop? <<Don't dose if the tank doesn't need it...but you make no mention of your Alkalinity here>> The tank has 0 ammonia and nitrite. The nitrates are high at 20ppm but water changes are quickly changing this reading. <<Ah, perhaps a clue! If you have 'stepped-up' water changes to deal with the Nitrates then this is likely what is maintaining your Calcium level>> pH is 8.0 and steady, without the B-Ionic. <<But is a bit low...>> The corals look healthy, perhaps not thriving, they are not spreading at this point. <<And their appearance, continued good health are your best indicators whether something is truly amiss here>> But I am perplexed as to the cause of this new chemistry. How long can a reef tank maintain pH/alkalinity and calcium without some additional supplementation? <<A very nebulous question as virtually every tank is different...but...many tanks, unless very heavily stocked, are able to maintain a balance of bio-minerals/Earth elements through simple partial water changes. If dosing/supplementation is required, well, your test kits are your best resource for knowing what to dose and how much...let them be your guide>> Should I be concerned or is this a normal phenomenon? Please Advise. Your advice is greatly appreciated. <<Continue to monitor water parameters, ensuring 'all' are in line/balance...but likely the water changes are providing all the supplementation you need right now. EricR>>

Calcium Additives/Cloudy Water 10/6/07 A couple of days ago I added Seachem's Reef Calcium and Reef Advantage Calcium at the same time. Since that moment of adding these supplements two days ago, I have had a cloudy tank. This is the first time in a long time that I have added calcium supplements to my tank. My next step was to add Seachem's Reef Builder buffer product. I have stopped all supplement additions due to this cloudiness. Luckily, this addition of Reef Calcium and Reef Advantage is the only change I have made to the tank, so I do not have to worry about another cause of this cloudiness. I do not believe of a coincidence with another cause. I have kept reef tanks for many years and have never had any problems, except for algae. I have NEVER had any problems with cloudiness. In the past I had used Kent products and this is the first time I have used the Seachem line of products. It's frustrating and depressing, I have really appreciated the clarity of my tanks over the years.  Four questions for the possible cause of this cloudiness. 1. Could it be because I haven't added a calcium supplement for so long and now am deciding to do so? <No.> 2. Could it be that I added these 2 chemicals at the same time? <Possibly.> 3. Could it be that I have not yet added the Reef Builder buffer. <No.> 4. Could it be the use of the Seachem products? Remember, I had only used Kent products in the past. <No, I use their products with no problem. I'm wondering what your alkalinity level was before you added the calcium. A high alkalinity level could cause this reaction. I'd give SeaChem a buzz and get their view on this.> As with many other problems I have read about, it seems the next step should be a water change. <Do a alkalinity test, see where you're at.> Thanks for any help you can provide. I do appreciate your site, it has made all of this much more interesting and enjoyable. Thanks once again. <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Low Calcium/Mis-Balanced Water Chemistry -- 10/01/07 Good Morning WWM crew! <<Evening now>> Hi Eric! <<Hello my friend>> Just to give you a little update on the Ich, the fish are alive and eating well, no signs of disease, just waiting for time to pass by, making water changes and adding copper. <<No more (Copper) than necessary/recommended I hope>> One more question about that, I have a little Maxi-Jet that usually use to mix freshly made saltwater in the quarantine tank, since I have been dosing Copper, can I still use the powerhead to mix salt? Or will it leach Copper to my new water? <<Should be fine>> Should I not ever use this powerhead for anything to do with my main display or is it safe? <<Nothing to fear, mate'¦use the powerhead as you please>> Thanks. <<Quite welcome>> Ok, sorry, moving on the main question'¦ I have been observing little growth on my corals lately and started testing all my parameters more diligently, found out with an API test and a Seachem test Calcium around 275, <<Low'¦as I'm sure you are aware'¦strive for 360ppm -- 420ppm>> I moved one of my frags yesterday and I notice a little piece off the base was a little brittle and suspected Ca as the culprit. <<Mmm, not always...other things could affect the strength of the skeleton (growth rate, water flow, etc.) I have been working very hard to get dKH up and now Ca seems to be low. <<Can be mutually exclusive>> I tested my dKH twice with both tests (also Seachem and API) and I got 8 dKH, this has been steady for a couple of months now. My pH is at 8.3 during the day and around 8.0 in the morning with lights off. I top off with RO/DI 2-teaspoons of Kalk per gallon, also adding 60 ml of C-Balance daily. I know I have a lot of frags, but should not be using this much Ca you think? <<It might be worth utilizing some Calcium Chloride or Calcium Gluconate (my preference) to raise the Ca level to about 400ppm'¦then use the Kalkwasser/Two-Part Solution to maintain>> I do 10% water changes with Reef Crystals salt once a week. <<Let's try something'¦ Change your regimen to 10% every two weeks (will still be 'plenty'). This will give your tank a better chance to 'balance' itself between changes and the inevitable chemical 'shake-up' resultant re'¦let's see what happens>> I tested Mg for the third time in a month and each time it reads between 1225 to 1250 or so. I add Reef Mg once a week just to keep level steady. <<Coral health/growth requires a 'balance' in water chemistry'¦get that Calcium up a bit>> I just bought a Sybon refractometer and I love that thing! <<Neat>> I was using a Deep Six Hydrometer (ashamed) and I realized my SG was at 1.031!! <<A bit high, indeed>> I started by adding less salt this weekend did a 15% water change, lowered SG to 1.029, will continue this until reaches around 1.025. <<Ah good>> I have removed all of my soft corals, except for a small piece of Pipe Organ, removed several other LPS corals I gave to a friend. I do not see where the calcium is going!! <<Check the 'checker''¦perhaps a new test kit'¦>> I have started this morning with Kalk shots, dissolved less than 1/4 teaspoon in glass of RE/DI (cold), did this twice while monitoring with digital Milwaukee pH meter. <<Do be cautious here'¦good to be monitoring 'live' with the meter>> Anything you can see I am doing wrong? <<A matter of mis-balanced water chemistry'¦ And best/most easily corrected with frequent water changes with a 'quality' salt mix>> Thanks, Sebastian <<Regards, EricR>>

Sick Leather Coral, lack of data, awareness of Ca...  4/25/07  Dear Rob  ( and Steve Allen if still there!) <Steve is no longer here unfortunately> I have a 90 gallon, inverts + fish, over an approx 25 gallon refugium.  The tank is several years up and does moderately well. I recently started measuring the dKH and calcium levels  and have found the calcium to be quite low. <Measures...> I normally use Tech CB and had been told to use only one part of the A/B combo for a while to raise my calcium (my dKH is 9, pH about 8.5). <Can be done...> The trouble is that one fish store employee said to use only part A, while the other said to use only part B! <... http://www.kentmarine.com/saltwater/buffers/techcb-parts-a-b.htm> WHICH one should I be using alone ?? <A> Also in the meantime I got some Kent Turbo --calcium and have been adding 1/3 to ½  teaspoon daily for over 2 weeks with no real change in calcium levels- measured today at only  200. <... something amiss here... interaction with other material/s... being poured in...> Everything in the tank seems to be well still except  a large hand-sized leather which has been very droopy and usually not showing the short 2mm needle --like protrusions from its surface- a sign of stress in the past. (see photo) <Yes, is> What would you suggest to raise ca++ <That you read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm and the linked files above> And is the leather just more sensitive to low Ca or just doing poorly for other reasons? <Can't tell from here...> Thanx Jay <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alcyondisfaqs.htm and the linked files above... And hopefully gain an understanding of what is involved, going on here... You present no real/useful data... Bob Fenner>

Calcium Levels...Is It From GARF/DIY Rock 4/17/07 Hello, <Hello Graham> A little over two months ago I transferred the livestock inhabiting my existing 55 gallon reef over to my new 90 gallon setup. At that time I decided to add a 15 gallon Caulerpa refugium with a 4" DSB. I also added two large rocks I had made using the GARF Aragonite/Portland Cement formula. <I'm not really fond about some of their ideas.> About three weeks after the transfer and the addition of the refugium I began testing calcium levels with a Salifert Test Kit I had just purchased. Over the last two months I have got the following results, in order from oldest to most recent: 540, 530, 590, 650 ppm. Based on the postings in your forums the latter is not possible. However, I recently tested saltwater made with fresh water from the RO/DI and Instant Ocean Reef Crystals to SG 1.024 and it tested at 330 ppm with the same test kit. This would indicate that the test is working properly. Also, since the beginning of this testing I have been tracking the Alkalinity with a Salifert KH Test Kit. I have tested it over this two month period and got the following results in order from oldest to most recent: 5.8, 6.4, 8, 7.5, 7.7, 6.4, 6.4, 5.8 ppm. During the time between the 5.8 and 7.7 readings I had been supplementing the tank with Kent Pro-Buffer dKH. When I stopped supplementing it fell back down as expected. I have done several small water changes (~10-15 gallons at a time) with no real effect on the calcium level. I can only assume that these calcium levels are a result of adding a large volume of fresh aragonite to the system. Is this a correct assumption? <Yes and No.  Depending on the type of Portland Cement you used, and I'm assuming you used a ASTM type, the calcium levels you are reading are quite justified.  A major component of this type of cement are hydraulic calcium silicates along with calcium sulfate as an inter ground addition. Now, in addition to the aragonite, zowie!> Also, what is the best course of action? <Too late now, but if I were to make rockwork with this method (and I wouldn't for the obvious reasons you mention), I would have let it cure for at least two weeks, and then, soak it in freshwater for another two weeks doing daily flushings with a garden hose.>   Should I perform several large water changes over the next few weeks to get the excess calcium out of the water? <At this stage, I would remove the DIY rock and do let it soak in freshwater and completely change the water every couple of days until a two week period is completed. Yikes, what am I saying, just throw the damn stuff out and get some real live rock, is not worth the bother.> All my corals have been suffering since the change (various LPS, mushrooms, zoos). They are somewhat bleached and never fully extend anymore. <Could be from another additive found in some types of Portland Cement...tricalcium aluminate.> Is a very high calcium level detrimental to their health? <Cannot answer that, Bob?> <<Oh yes... trouble in several regards... See the related and influenced factors of pH, alkalinity... RMF>> I am not sure if this is due to the excessive calcium levels or the fact that my MH?s are well overdue for a change (new ones are on their way as we speak). <I'd bet from the mess you created.> All other tank parameters that I monitor (Nitrites, Nitrates, Phosphates, Ammonia) are in check. Your advice is much appreciated. Thanks, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Graham

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>>

High Calcium and Suspect Salt Mix -Re: Instant Ocean/High Calcium  03/15/07 Hey Eric <<Linda>> - thanks for the quick response <<Quite welcome>> ...guess what?  It was the test kit I had...decided last night to buy a new one...now my calcium readings are 355,  phos. .05, alk 9, nitrates .05, PH 8.4...things are testing better than I thought!!! <<Excellent news!  Always best to "test the testers" before effecting changes>> However, NOW I am really stumped as to why my softies are shrinking up? <<Indeed>> Could it be low calcium levels? <<No...355 is quite acceptable>> I do have PhosGuard in the sump, along with Reef Carbon. <<Ahh...the PhosGuard may be the culprit.  As much as I like the Seachem product line, their aluminum based phosphate remover is not to my liking.  The aluminum will leach in to the water and can mal-affect some corals.  I recommend you replace this aluminum-based phosphate remover with one of the available iron-based products>> My skimmer produces approx. 1/4-1/3 cup each day. <<You might try letting the skimmer run a bit more "wet" (double the skimmate output) for a few weeks.  This, and boosting/maintaining pH at 8.4 - 8.6 for 3-4 weeks can help with your alga issues>> I have to clean the pump once a month in vinegar & baking soda solution. <<Have to?  Seems a bit excessive>> I called my fave fish store (not Local...my fave is in Atlanta) - they use Instant Ocean salt and they test theirs out and have had no problems with it...their tests were calc. 360.  So, it isn't the Instant Ocean after all, thank goodness. <<Good to know...though I'm still suspicious for other reasons>> I have 4x96 PC with 125lbs live rock.  The PC's are left on 8 hrs a day. <<I would increase the photo-period to at least 10-hours per day, and 12 would be better...much closer to natural periods in the tropics...from where your corals originated>> Temp is around 80.  I keep vacuuming the top of my sand bed (1" thick and getting thinner due to vacuuming) due to the red algae build-up and green algae seems to be mostly on the right side of the tank?  Which is the side facing the wall.  The water I use is from Culligan (Wal-Mart) out of the machine, .33-cents a gallon, I tested the phosphate it read 0.  I find it funny that I use the same salt, water, live sand, live rock for my 29 gal. seahorse tank that sits in the same room this tank does, but the seahorse tank has no lighting...there is never any problem with algae.  The room these two tanks are in is bright. <<Yes...the artificial lighting on the reef tank is the "catalyst" for the algae growth...but not the cause.  Your nitrate level doesn't appear to be out of bounds, though your phosphate is still a bit high.  Remove/replace the aluminum material and see if your corals respond...they may be able to utilize/out compete for whatever is feeding the alga once they are healthy again.  Bump up your pH and increase/keep good water flow throughout the tank.  If things don't start to improve give me another shout and we'll see what we can figure out>> Thanks so much for your help. Linda in GA <<A pleasure to share.  Eric Russell>>

High Calcium Levels - 05/20/05 Hi there. <Hello> I've searched your articles but can't seem to find an answer to my question and so was wondering whether you could help? <I will try <G>.> My problem is a very high calcium level which is rising! May 15 - 580mg/L to 670mg/L May 20. <You're not dosing anything?...tis strange.> dKH for both dates was 8.6 and 8.3 respectively and pH 7.98 and 8.15.  SG has been constant at 1.024 and Magnesium on May 15 was 1275mg/L. <All good.> I really can't see how the calcium level has increased as no water change has been done and water has been topped up well before taking both readings. <Hmm...Are you adding anything to your top-off water that may contribute to this?> Should I suspect a faulty Calcium kit or is something more sinister happening with my water chemistry?  I've got mainly soft corals with a couple of LPS hard corals.  Water volume is about 120 gallons in total.  I really would appreciate any help and advice. <Definitely get a new/different kit.  I suspect this is the culprit.> Many thanks, Tony Fenton. <Regards, Eric R.> High Calcium and Nitrates in a Reef Tank - 3/8/2006 Hello, <<Hello Adrian.>> HELP!  I'm facing few problems with my saltwater reef-fish 55-galon tank.   1) High calcium level.  It's ~600.  I tried the baking soda method but no help.  I used the red sea and another brand of test kit to test the calcium level and both yield similar result. <<What salt mix do you use? Are you adding calcium?  Try doing several water changes using Instant Ocean, or another high-quality salt mix.>> 2) High nitrate.  It's ~100.  I already reduced the quantity of food.  Hopefully that will bring it down.  Do you know any other quicker way?  I'm already changing 15-20% of water biweekly. <<Test your source water.  If it has low/no nitrates, change the water more often to bring it down.  Also, look into refugiums, covered on WWM.>> 3) Red algae on rocks.  I see patches of red algae everywhere sometimes even on the sand.  See attachment.  I read articles on your site and the algae sounds like bacteria. <<Likely Cyanobacteria/BGA.>> Hopefully reducing the quantity of food will minimize or get rid of this problem.  Do you know any other way? <<Physical removal, limiting nutrients through food, and adding a refugium are a few that come to mind.  Read on WWM.>> 4) Hair-like plant/things on rocks.  See attachment.  The plant is few millimeter long, yellowish/beige.  What's it?  And how to get rid of it? <<Your picture is unclear.>> I checked the water condition: Ph 8.0-8.3 Nitrite, 0 Ammonia, 0 Alkalinity, high (good according to the kit) Specific gravity, 1.024 Temp, 77 degree Nitrate, ~100 Calcium, ~600 Thanks, Adrian <<Glad to help. Lisa.>>

Tank Problems/Sketchy Info...Look To The Water Changes - 06/18/06 Dear Crew, <<Chris>> Just when I thought I was getting the hang of things, disaster strikes. <<Uh-oh>> I have a light fish load--a sleeper goby, a yellow tang (small) and a cleaner shrimp.  I just found the shrimp dead, and I am very surprised since it seemed okay as recently as this morning. <<Was there some sort of trauma/environmental issue involved?  May be nothing more than "old age" here>> My pH is a consistent 8.5-8.6, and I'd  been dosing twice a day with calcium to get levels up to normal (it had been hovering around 180 but even with twice a day dosing only went up to 220). <<Mmm, though not deleterious in my opinion, your pH is a bit on the high side with no clue/explanation as to why.  And what is your alkalinity reading?  Be careful that you don't mal-affect/disrupt the balance between your alkalinity and calcium by dosing the calcium product only.  It is best in my opinion to "dose" calcium and a buffer (alkalinity) together as a two-part system unless making a "one-time adjustment" (monitored with a reliable test kit) at which time a calcium chloride or calcium gluconate supplement is effective>> Anyway, I also added a nice zoanthid at the same time as the goby, about two and a half weeks ago.  I'd written earlier that it never fully opened like it had in the store.  You suggested moving it lower in the tank (it had been near the top).  Since doing that a week or so ago, the zo's are slowly disintegrating, and even the pods that were opening are no longer. <<Likely something environmental other than your lighting at play here>> This is pretty bad--I don't know what to do or what information I could offer that could explain things.  Many thanks... here are my specs for your review--please let me know if there are any other specs which would help with a diagnosis. Tank: 37G high w/ 10G sump and skimmer Lighting:  130W CF Water (RO):  Salinity .022 / pH 8.5-8.6 / Calcium 220 / LOW nitrates / Temp 83-84 <<Okay, a few things to mention here.  Firstly...STOP dosing!  On a tank this size it should be a simple matter to keep the water elements in appropriate concentration/balance with simple water changes (20% twice monthly).  Are you buffering your RO water before adding the salt mix (can be done easily with plain baking soda)?  Do you let the mix stabilize a "minimum" of 24-hours before adding it to the tank?  What brand of salt mix are you using?  Perhaps a change to one of the more consistent mixes (in my opinion) would help...Instant Ocean and Tropic Marin get my top votes.  Your salinity is a factor as well and may be a contributor to the demise of the zoanthids...increase this to natural seawater levels (1.025-1.026 s.g.).  Next..."LOW nitrates" is of no help...what is the specific reading?  Anything much over 5ppm is likely also a contributor to your coral/invert's failing health.  Again...water changes will help with this too.  Lastly, the water temp, while at the upper limit, should not have been a direct problem if the animals were properly acclimated.  But that's not to say you shouldn't do something to bring it down a bit...you don't have much "buffer zone" here if something should drive it up further>> My water temp is obviously high.  I don't have air conditioning and keep the room dark all day long to avoid sun-heating.  I'm sure this is a cause, but is it THE cause? <<Hard to say...maybe just a/the catalyst>> If not, what else could it be? <<Likely a combination of things as I've alluded>> I know a chiller would help but would a room air conditioner be an option? <<Indeed, yes!  As would adding a small fan to blow across the water's surface for some evaporative cooling>> Thanks again for everything. <<Always welcome>> Sadly, Chris Los Angeles, CA <<Chin-up mate!  Buffer your RO water, verify the efficacy of your salt mix, increase the salinity, perform a large initial water change followed by frequent partial water changes as outlined, and reduce water temperature by a few degrees and you'll likely see an improvement in overall tank health rather quickly...though it may be too late already for the zoanthids.  And not to pour salt on a open wound...but this tank is way too small for the continued good health of the yellow tang.  Please do consider trading it back to the store for a more suitable inhabitant.  EricR, Columbia, SC>>

Reef tank problems Calcium, Alkalinity, Magnesium -- 2/20/07 Hello, <Hi Bryan, Brenda here> I have a 90 gallon saltwater tank that has been set up for almost eight years. For the first seven years I used 4x96W PC with actinic/white bulbs and never had any major problems. My tank had a lot of mushrooms, polyps, xenia, leathers and a few hard corals like cup corals/pagodas. Then I switched to 250W MH lighting with 14K bulbs. Over the course of 18 months I lost almost all of my coral. I found out that my calcium and alkalinity were really low (due to the MH lighting I guess). <No, Not the lighting.> I had been dosing just Kalkwasser up to this point, which apparently wasn't enough to meet the needs of my reef. <Are you testing for Magnesium?> I have since started using B-ionic two-part solution. This has helped my calcium and alkalinity to some degree but I cannot seem to keep the Ca over 380. My Alk is usually around 3.8 to 4.2. I had acquired some new corals awhile back (polyps and Montipora) and they are starting to look washed out and the polyps aren't opening up much now. My tank has very little coralline and what is there looks really washed out. I'm not sure what the problem is, but I'm about to give up on MH and go back to PC since I never had trouble before. My MH lights are 8 inches above water surface and I run them 10-11 hours a day. Do you think my tank is getting too much light or not enough? <Not a lighting issue> The bulbs are only a few months old (ordered from Hamilton). Why can't I keep my calcium above 380? I've even been doing double doses of B-ionic and it doesn't seem to make much difference on the Ca levels. I started adding Fiji Gold on top of Kalkwasser and Bi-ionic. My sand bed is only about one inch deep and is kind of old. Is there a possible buffering problem? I do 7-10 gallon water changes every 5-10 days using r/o water. <Sounds like you are low on Magnesium.  Purchase a Magnesium test kit.  Magnesium should be in the 1300 -- 1500 range.  Here is an article to help you understand the importance of Magnesium, and its relationship to Calcium and Alkalinity.  http://www.advancedaquarist.com/issues/oct2003/chem.htm  > Any thoughts would be appreciated. -Bryan <Any time Bryan!  Good luck!  Brenda> Obscenely high calcium   2/20/07 Hello WWM Crew,   I have been using your site for 6 years now <Whew, tempus fugit; time whips> and I thank you for your effort to keep my animals alive. I can always find what I need by searching the e-mail caches and articles, until now.   I have a 125g reef (180g total system volume) that I took down for 6 months while we built our home. I kept the corals in a jetted bathtub in the sun for that period of time. Shortly after setting it up again, I did a bad thing. After 10+ years in the hobby I thought I had idiot-proofed myself with all I've read and experienced; apparently I'm not there yet.   I overdosed turbo calcium...to 1400. <Yeeikes!> I was thinking about something else and put in a heaping cup. I now know what a snowstorm looks like. I figured I had a couple water changes in the future to solve it, but no. I started out by doing 3X50% water changes and when that only got it down to 800 I did a 100% change.   The day after that change my calcium was at 600. Three days later, today, my calcium is at 740. So it's rising. <Interesting> During that 100% change I siphoned and mixed up all the aragonite substrate just in case some of the calcium precipitated out of solution and stuck in the sand. <Good move> I mixed it with my hands and the siphon very thoroughly. I rinsed the live rock in saltwater before replacing it, too.   I can't find anyone at my LFS or aquarium society who has heard of calcium so high or the anomaly of rising calcium. I use Instant Ocean, not Reef Crystals to mix my water.   My alkalinity is at around 8dkh but it fluctuates lower. <I'll bet... in fact... I would raise this... the best way to precipitate out the remaining excess Calcium... and do get/use a Magnesium test kit... these two processes will rectify the situation here in good time> Obviously I can't keep alk up with calcium this high. I had tried to drive the alk higher so the calcium might be driven lower. <Oh! Good... how?>   As you can imagine, some of my SPS are not happy with rapid tissue necrosis. Coralline algae: not happy and receding. LPS: very happy and growing well for some reason. The local fish store was accommodating enough to take a few of my favorite SPS until I get this figured out. <All can/will likely straighten itself out in time... Life is slow/er to respond to the insult, correction... expect a lag... sort of like auto traffic; Iraq and the U.S. economic collapse>   Any ideas that would help me finally solve this 2 month dilemma?   And no, my Salifert test kit is not inaccurate. The fish store came up with the same test result.   Thank you,   Dan <The Magnesium (cheap supplementation with Epsom Salt, over time...), and the single part or equivalent of two-part alk/Alk. earth supplements (carbonates, bicarbonates... perhaps with a little borate)... Time going by... Bob Fenner>

My crazy "reef" system (Calcium concern) Bob (or whoever is answering today) <A few of us> Let me describe my current status of a 55g I have set up.  It relies very heavily on plant life (macros) <Mmm, macrophytes are not "plants", but algae> in an in tank refug, has two 4' utility fixtures overdriving 2x t-8 bulbs. Plus two 4' utility fixtures behind point forward to light up the in tank refug (an egg crate crammed in there about 3" from the back glass). Back tubes are 4100K <This temperature/incandescence is too low... should be 5,500 Kelvin minimum> 3300 lumen, top tubes are t-8 6500k and actinic. I have Chaeto, Caulerpa profilera plus some grape and a red grape.  substrate is silica play sand, rocks are silica/lava/quartz type base rocks. <Am sure you've read admonitions re silicates and aquariums> I also have an external sump/refug with a DIY filter box with crushed oyster shells as filter media and some red landscape lava rocks at the entrance/exit.  A mag 5 provides ~ 5x water flow between the display and sump/refug. <Neat, sounds like a good DIY system> Tank has a yellow tang (1 3/4 years), firefish, two wild caught gobies, watchman gobies, two "Nemos" and anemone (both about 1 year). Corals include button, zoos, yellow and green star types , frogspawn, a green leather, a pinkish/brown star polyps, several green Ricordea, open brain (~ 1.5 years), a purple gorgonian, and a dark green hard coral with small polyps.  All corals are opening nicely with nice polyp extension.  the dark green hard coral has experienced nice growth including several of my accidental frags. I do no water changes just replace the evaporative water. <Not indefinitely> I use straight untreated tap water in all my tanks. but I do use cold water ran for a minute from a faucet used many times daily. Ph is ~8.4 just before light off and under 7.8 just before lights on.  (aquarium phar***** test kit). Whew!!!! now for my question.  I added the crushed oyster shells to get my calcium up.  the 55g and my 20l I use for macro algae culture both and 250-300 ppm calcium with the red sea test kit (measures 50ppm steps).  I got a SeaChem (sp)  test kit and then added the crushed oyster shells.  calcium rose over 6 weeks or so to 400ppm in the 55g. And has stayed there for at least 6 months.  But the 20L macro tank with the same percentage of evaporation and same substrate, has remained at under 300ppm Ca. <The algae are taking up the alkaline earth materials.> It seems to me that at least some low level of calcium buffering is being provided by the shells.  What do you think? Bob <See above. I wouldn't be concerned with the 300 ppm. Calcium if your system's are doing what you want them to. Bob Fenner> Calcium woes Hi I hope your all doing well!  <smashing... I've got music... I've got rhythm.. who could ask for anything more?> As usual I hope you can help or answer a few Calcium problems.  <one more calcium question from you bub and I'm gonna send you a subscription to a reptile magazine <G>> If this is Anthony  <you guessed it <VBG>> you may remember that I did a large massive water change this summer after I had problems raising my Calcium. After the change all my parameters were good. Calcium 380-400, DKH 10-11,  <excellent and as they should have been> PH after lights on for 8 HRS 8.3 , ORP 350, Magnesium 1350.  <just ducky> However since then my Calcium has been eroding slightly each week, even though I have gone to 15g water change every two weeks on my 125g tank. My calcium has been in the 240-260 range the last week, and I can't seem to get it to rise ( the other parameters remain unchanged). The Kalk slurry doesn't seem to get the calcium into solution,  <it simply must... there is something else here at play> so I tried T.M. Bio-Calcium the last two days and I have had little luck,  <were you only using Kalk prior to this or was there some two-part as well. If two-part, be sure to shake vigorously before every single dose... the calcium part settles severely and can cause a serious imbalance in dosing> probably because I am afraid to use too much...just putting in 3-4 teaspoons/day to see if the Calcium changes. I will try the old Kalk in a bucket, and drip 5 gallons tonight, but if the Kalk slurry doesn't work, I have little faith that the drip method will.  <agreed> Is there any suggestions you have on what may be going on?  <I don't know what else if anything you are dosing... is it really just water changes and Kalk, my friend? If so... I am a bit stumped. Mag is fine... pH is reasonable. I'm assuming that you don't over buffer evap water> I think I might just bite the bullet and buy a calcium reactor, but this is expensive...and the Kalk should work.  <agreed on all counts here. Do buy, they are expensive, and yes... the Kalk should work> I also realize that the reactor only works well if your reef is in "balance" to start,  <exactly... but water changes will assure this> so I don't think the reactor will fix my problem.  <it may if you stop all other supplements for the reactor> Thanks Larry P.S. All corals still seem fine, the Xenia I purchased this summer is three times the size, I've cut off a piece and it is doing well on the other side of my tank. <awesome... and hoping to see you on a fine track soon. Anthony>

Re: Calcium woes solved? Two part-fiasco! Thanks Anthony, great speed, and really great patience. I was wondering if I should write... <never hesitate, my friend.. Its only a crime to not ask> Thought I may get an answer like "how can someone who has been is this hobby for so long ask so many $#%^ calcium questions. (The reptile quote made me grin)  <Ha! the intent <G>> I think you may have finally said something that is the root cause of my problem.  <Amen and pass the ammunition!> I was using B-Ionic two part, however as knuckle heads go, I was dosing the Alk portion, but grabbed the Alk portion again for part two.  <Doh! Houston... we have a problem> I noticed immediately as the water clouded so I stopped and decided to pour the remaining back in the alk container.......well I put it in the calcium bottle.  <Sweet vicar in a tutu!!!!> It did not seem to make much difference it just precipitated a little in the bottom of the container. <oh, you do have a reptile mag subscription coming... <G>> However here is my problem.....since then (about two months) I have NEVER shaken the containers for fear of disturbing the precipitation.  <and it never crossed your mind to buy a new supplement and waste $20 rather than risk the several thousand dollar investment in your tank <G>? Not to mention your time and worry on the efficacy of the matter...heehee. How about this one... if it was actually safe to keep the two parts together in the first place, you'd think they mfg would put them together in the same bottle as testimony to their marketing genius <G>. OK... one more :) Or... if it was OK to keep the two parts together as long as you didn't shake them, why not sell them in one bottle with two straws!!! More profitable and what a novel boon to sales! OK... I think I'm done now. Thank you for putting up with my sense of humor, bud. Heehee... I still can't get over the sheer number of fish friends that write in to us here at WWM for this kind of abuse. The root meaning of "aquarist" must surely be synonymous with "masochist". I love this country> So I believe this may be my problem,  <ahhh... ya> although I have not used B-Ionic for about 4-5 days, the 1 gallon container is almost empty which means my water is probably unbalanced as you state below. <"unbalanced" isn't the first word that I would use to describe your water chemistry now... but who really wants really wants to hear a Haiku that rhymes with "trucked" anyway?> So how do I fix this?  <"Dilution is the solution to pollution"> I hope not massive water changes again,  <that would make you "beat like a red-headed step child" at this point. Water changes it is> I'm on my third bucket of salt in the last few months. (I will however if it makes sense) Is there some way I can measure something to determine what is out of whack?  <aside from the inability to maintain normal and balanced water chemistry against all odds?> Here are some measurements I did a day or two ago with my Magnesium test. Total Alk 4 meq/l or 11.2 DKH, Borate Alk 3.5 meq/l, Carbonate Alk 1.5 MEG/l. Does this tell you anything?  <yes... you have a complete set of test kits. Excellent my friend> I am truly amazed that my tank has suffered no loss with my supplementing/fussing.  <corals are quite tough... and the water changes have surely spared much> Possibly due to not going overboard enough to have induced a snow storm.  <agreed> If you ever do make it up...the beers on me! Larry <Dutch, my friend! You have been most accommodating to my sense of humour. Best regards... now go build those biceps and do some water changes! Anthony>

Re: Calcium and Two Part shenanigans I have to respond, but am having trouble through my near convulsive laughter..... <and never be ashamed of involuntary incontinence> I know you should never mix the two parts together, but I applied Larry's knucklehead rule which says... do not mix equal portions together, so if I accidentally dumped a little bit of the Alk into the calcium, it would just end up on the bottom of the gallon container, and I'll just dispose of the last few inches in the bottom. I can't believe I am actually writing this. (or that I thought this was O.K.) I really was stupid.... plain and simple, to even try to justify this action!  <Ha! alas... we all have our moments> I will get new B-Ionic tomorrow, mix up a big batch of water, repeat as in summer...onwards and upwards.  <rock on my brother> BTW I don't mind any sarcasm, although I have to say I don't really find anything abusive in your writing comments.  <all well intended at any rate <G>> No one is harder on me than myself, you should hear what I have been calling myself this afternoon.....and to think I offer advice....maybe I should warn others to beware of the source....me! Last comment, I do read the daily writing on this site and I have laughed at the bone head moves some reefer's make...I guess I need to add my name to the list..... <which list: bone-heads or reefers? (I'll reserve my opinion)> hopefully I taught myself something...you can always learn...just don't do stupid things you know are stupid then ignore the consequences. Thanks Larry, I'll have a double martini to night forget the beer! <best regards! Anthony>

The Ying-Yang of Calcium/Alkaline Reserve Hi all, <Hi Don!> Hmmmm, just when I think I have a grasp on something, it slips away. <You aren't that far away my friend!  Read on.> First, tank spec: 75G (18x18x48) 100#LR, 1200gph flow with powerheads (stop! I know!), Remora Pro skimmer, 4" course aragonite sand bed, 110W PC Actinic 12hrs/day and 220W 10K PC 11 hrs/day, temp 80F, SG 1.025, ammonia/nitrate/nitrite 0, phosphorous 0, magnesium 1220-1280, calcium 400-420 and alk 12-15 dKH, weekly 7G water changes with IO salt. 5G refugium that has been up about 2 wks. Change water is RO/DI aerated at least 3 days then add salt and aerate 4 more days. Pods and other critters abound! Inhabitants 2 Amphiprion ocellaris, 2 Nemateleotris magnifica, 1 Lysmata amboinensis, 1 Mithrax sculptus, a colony of about 20 Parazoanthus species, a colony of about 15 Actinodiscus cardinalis, 1 Sarcophyton sp. frag (cut by Mr. Calfo himself!) assorted Astrea/Cerith snails. The mushrooms have been in the tank about 6 months and have doubled in number and after seeing Anthony's presentation a couple weeks ago am trying to muster the fortitude to hack a few off the rock and transplant them. The yellow polyps have been in about a month and already there are half dozen babies growing from the parents and coralline has gone crazy the last 3 weeks. So, something is right, would like to get the alkalinity down - pH up though. BTW, for others reading this, I am feeding the yellow polyps Fenner Food every other day and the growth has been phenomenal! (Thanks Bob!) <If you were to ask Bob, he would tell you to stop worrying so much, a slightly depressed pH has it's advantages...but there is something you can do, no worries.> I am adding B-ionic and SeaChem Reef Advantage, nothing else. About a month ago I was having trouble with depressed calcium (250-300ppm) and was up to 50ml B-ionic 1 and 70ml B-ionic 2. At Craig's advice, I did 5 daily 10% (7G) water changes, backed the b-ionic down to 20ml (1ml/4G as directed) each and used SeaChem reef advantage to slowly bring the tank to 400ppm calcium. (Not difficult as the water changes go me up to about 350) Then did a calcium starve for 5 days and calculated the calcium use. Since then, I have been able to keep the calcium at 400-420ppm, thanks Craig! But, I have continued the alkalinity battle. It has varied from 12-15dKh, occasionally down to 11 but not below, over this time. And, the pH is low 7.9 to 8.1.  About 10 days ago I brought the B-ionic down to 10ml of each (1ml / 8G as directed with dosing calc) and still can't get the alk down. I know I am flirting with a precip snow storm but can't figure out where the additional alk is coming from. Maybe the rise in coralline growth? Overfeeding?   <It's coming from the b-ionic. The part 1 is buffer/carbonate alk additive. The part 2 is calcium, etc.  Before you had an ionic imbalance the other direction, now you are in the saturation area.> My thoughts are this: Stop the b-ionic for a while and continue the calcium additive and monitor. Maybe bi-weekly water changes. Should I use a buffer (SeaChem marine has been suggested before). I was hesitant to add the buffer as the label states it will RAISE alk. Am I just waiting for the system to center? I can't believe that I am that far away from stability (which I am striving for before adding any more corals). Thanks much, Don <No worries Don, you are right there. I honestly would suggest Kalkwasser dripped as usual (at night) to maintain calcium, push your pH to where you want it, and then test alk and supplement buffer/alk supplement to maintain alk. With *just* Kalk, your carbonate alk will lower over time (likely a week or so). Please don't feel alone, this is the most widely misunderstood area of marine husbandry!  Anthony wrote a piece to help simplify it for our WWM readers that he is still working on. Let me refer you to it and see if it helps you. Go to: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm  I would follow his first choices in your case and also follow his advice to maintain parameters in the mean (mid point).  Don't hesitate to write if you need any further assistance. (and let those levels fall to the mean)  Craig>

High Alkalinity & Calcium Hello, My alkalinity and calcium seem quite high for my FOWLR tank, yet my pH stays rather low. Alkalinity is 5 meq/L, calcium is 450, and pH ranges from 8.0 to 8.2. <These are all fine.> Are these numbers anything to be concerned about? <No, not really. As long as they all stay consistent.> What is the best way to get my pH up without getting my alkalinity and calcium any higher? <Aggressive protein skimming to remove dissolved organics that affect pH.> I've added quite a bit of Macroalgae and that has helped somewhat. <Yes, helps in several ways; taking up the dissolved organics mentioned above and also consuming CO2 during the daytime.> Thanks for your input. Chip <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: High Alkalinity & Calcium Steven, Thanks for the reply. As a follow-up, my AquaC skimmer (only 4 weeks old) occasionally goes on 'strike' for two days or more after a water change and after I've had my hands in the tank. Is it normal for it to go this long without skimming? <Yes, it is disrupted briefly.> It eventually resumes, but it just seems to take a while. Also, I will be putting a raccoon butterfly in this tank. I've read on WWM that they like higher pH and salinity. My salinity is currently 1.023. Should I increase it for the butterfly? Is my pH (8.0-8.2) okay? <I would increase both to natural seawater conditions; 1.025 and 8.4> Thanks again, Chip <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

High Alkalinity & Calcium III Steven, Thanks again for the reply. Okay, so how do I increase the pH without raising the alkalinity and calcium? <Water changes, protein skimming, activated carbon, etc.> And is the 8.4 you suggested the LOWEST the pH should go? -Chip <About average, anywhere between 8.2-8.6 depending on time of day, supplements used, lighting, photosynthetic animals, etc. -Steven Pro>

Calcium Troubles After having reviewed the correspondence below, I would have to recommend that this is one of those rare instances where a CaCl supplement maybe in order. With calcium levels being the only parameter out of whack and with your tank's apparently very high demand for calcium, this option gets you back on track and hopefully after that you will be able to maintain with your Ca reactor. The only other option, and what I generally recommend, is to perform a series of large water changes to correct. I would do 50% every other day until you get the everything back on track. The only problem with that is the cost and time when you take into consideration your tank's demand. You are going to have to go through a lot of salt and labor to keep up the pace with your tank. Sincerely, Steven Pro <Thanks much Steve. I concur. Bob F> Hi Bob, I have a calcium related problem that you may be able to help me with as after reading all of the information posted on yours and other websites I am at a loss for what to do. A while ago I installed the Dupla Ca reactor that we talked about. You might recall that the media supplied with this unit was very poor in terms of solubility and Ca output. The situation has not improved and I am still awaiting the arrival of some Korallith media from Diana (should hopefully arrive in the next week or two). My tanks calcium levels have fallen to 200ppm as measured by a Hagen and Red Sea tests (both agree and are new). Alk is 120ppm, phosphate 0ppm, nitrate 0ppm, Ph between 8.2-8.5. The tank holds approx 700L, and is packed with live rock, moderately stocked with various corals, a clam and several fish (blue tang, yellow tang, two dwarf angels, bicolour blenny and 5 damsels). (see photo) The question is, until I can get hold of more suitable reactor media how can I raise the calcium by 150-200ppm without creating other complications with ionic balance etc. I have already performed three large water changes (35%)with an Australian salt mix that has 400ppm Ca but this only pushes up the Ca by about 70ppm to then only fall again within a few days (clam and coralline algae really growing well and sucking it up I suspect). I have been dripping in 5 litres of saturated Kalkwasser (made according to Seachem instructions with RO water), but 5 litres dripped in overnight will only raise the Ca of 150L of water by 24mg/L. I have 700L of water that I need to raise Ca in. A quick calculation suggests that I would need to drip in 17L overnight to raise the tanks water by 24mg/L. This is obviously impractical and would probably spike the pH (and at the same time my tank is probably consuming the Ca at this rate). Other options include: 1. The liquid SeaChem supplements available in Australia (reef complete and Calcium) are from what I can gather not really suitable due to problems with ionic balance etc. 2. Kent marine turbo calcium but this (correct me if I am wrong) also has problems with creating water chemistry imbalances. 3. The 2 part Seachem powder additives Reef Builder and Reef Advantage. But again are these compatible. My question is which path should I take? Continued large scale water changes will only stress my fish and livestock (water is mixed properly with RO, buffered and aerated etc for several days before). The volumes of Kalkwasser using a drip method are two big to add and I am not sure about the other products? Can you please give some best bet some suggestions as to what to use until I get the Ca reactor back on track? I realize that there is probably no easy answer on this one. Another piece of information just in, is that Seachem are apparently going to export an aragonite media to Australia, pending Quarantine approval. Are you familiar with this brand and how it stacks up as it may be the only other option to Dupla in Australia. The other medias are technically not allowed into Australia due to Quarantine issues. Your help would be really appreciated on this one. Cheers, Paul Grundy <Paul, I'm forwarding your query to Steve (Pro), friend, cohort here. He knows much more than I re these matters, individual products. Cheers, Bob 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>

Calcium I tested my tank for calcium and i found that i have 700ppm. I know it should be at 350ppm-450ppm. Is there any harm in having 700ppm. <Yes... a few important problems... inability of your livestock to uptake other materials... precipitation of carbonates...> How do i lower it etc? <Hmm, stop doing whatever you're doing to elevate it... change some water with pre-made synthetic of lower calcium concentration... There are a few ways to extract biominerals that we can discuss if necessary... Bob Fenner> -Matt

Help? Question Hi, I have an question to ask you if you don't mind. I have a 55 G reef tank that has been set up now for about a year. Everything is testing fine but my alk. is testing at 5.00 meq/l and my ph is 8.0 How can by ph not be higher than this value if my alkalinity is high?  <Easily... these measures are not directly positively correlated. Alkalinity is a measure of.... resistance to downward movement of pH... is simply a static value... a place... one can be high, the other low...> I'm trying to get my ph to a stable 8.2. I did accomplish this for a time with Proper PH 8.2 buffer but it dropped back to 8.0. My calcium is about 460.  <Ah! Likely your focus on driving the biomineral content of your water is your real nemesis here... self-caused. Please read through the various sections on pH, alkalinity, calcium... posted on our site: WetWebMedia.com and accompanying FAQs pages> What is causing my ph to drop if my alk. levels are high? Please help... thanks <You can only help yourself... give up your fixation on any one given value... the linearity of your thinking is the source of the "trouble" here. Bob Fenner.>

Calcium level Dear Robert, I have a small tank with three pieces of small live rock, some tiny tangs and damsels in it. Currently I bought a Coralife calcium supplement for enhancing the coralline algae grow. I put in twice a week as per instruction, 3 drops per gallon. But this week my husband made mistakes when he filled in for me. Instead of 3 drops, he put in 6 drops per gallon two times this week. <No worries> Do you know if overdose of calcium liquid additive will cause problem to the live rocks or the fish? <No problems... this product is very safe...> I thought that the calcium test kit isn't necessary when following instructions. Even I only have three live rocks, but I still have some fish to utilize the overdose calcium. Right? <Mmm, well, am actually a fan of using tests for any/everything added to systems. But likely no problem here my friend. Bob Fenner> Warmest regards, Joan

Calcium Problems - 08/12/05 Hey guys, I have a quick question for you. I have a very high calcium content (650-700) maybe higher!  It was odd because my alk stays at great levels and my pH won't budge from 8.3  I have not experienced a snowstorm yet and I have never dosed calcium for as long as the tanks been up ,about a year and a half. I use tap water from my well but do add heavy metal neutralizer.  My tank is thriving and all my corals grow rapidly.  Is the high calcium a problem I need to fix with RO filtration of tap water? Thanks allot Aaron <<Would be interested to know your alkalinity reading, I suspect your calcium reading is in error.  Do try new/different test kits to verify.  EricR>>  

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