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FAQs on Marine Alkalinity 2

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

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

Alkaline earth materials build strong bodies seven ways... Not just a spiel. Acanthurus chronixis  Randall 1960, a/the Mimic or Chronixis Surgeonfish.

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

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

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

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

Alk/phosphate questions Mr. Fenner, <Hi Mike, Craig here today> I have a few more questions, I just tested the alk today (have been testing daily waiting for it to fall from high levels) and the reading was 4meq/L dKH was 11.2.  <This is good. Ideal range is 3.5 to 5 meq/L.> Up until now I suspended topping off the tank with Kalk, because of the previously high level. Is now a good time to top off with Kalk water?  <Kalk is a calcium supplement and does not directly affect alkalinity, but does optimize the system alk. It does have an extremely high pH (12) so should be administered at night to moderate pH fluctuations and dosed according to daily average usage of calcium. See Kalk faq's at: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/kalkh2ofaqs.htm >  Secondly, I suspended adding a buffer to my new water for the water changes, can I add the buffer too? The Ph was at 8.1 tonight. Will the buffer raise the alk drastically or more like maintain it as it does the Ph? <If using RO/DI water, aerate 12-24 hrs, test pH and buffer to 8.3 I use Seachem Marine Buffer and follow the dosage on the label. Add salt mix, run powerhead/aeration/heater for 12-24 hours. Should be 8.3-8.4 pH. PLEASE do figure average alkalinity usage as you do for calcium and dose the buffer/carbonate additives to maintain 3.5 to 5 meq/L alk.>  ---------------------------------------------------- The reason I ask the buffer question is this, I also have an algae problem, its brownish and covering over half the glass in the tank, and some spots of red algae. From an email I got here I heard a higher Ph level will help combat the high phosphate level (0.25ppm). <Kalk use will take care of this. Test calcium and dose Kalk daily to match usage. This is likely not phosphates, but diatom algae and Cyanobacteria. Increase circulation for Cyano and reduce nitrates and silicates for diatom algae. Lowering phosphates will naturally help. If this is a newer tank, this is a stage your tank will go through. Check your source water, make sure your skimmer and filtration is optimized, and remove as much as possible.> Here are the steps I'm thinking of taking: reduce the period of lighting from 12 hrs to 8hrs. <VERY bad idea if you have photosynthetic inhabitants you want to live. They need 12 hours. Will not reduce phosphates, silicates or nitrates.>  Adding the buffer to raise Ph. <Also bad idea. Add buffer to alkalinity test results. All else remaining normal this should provide a 8.3-8.4 pH. Adding buffer indiscriminately will raise alkalinity to abnormal levels.> Buying a chemical phosphate reducer. <Some of these are quite good. I like Polyfilters.>  Will any if not all of these help reduce the phosphate in the tank? <Kalk use, water changes with phosphate free source water, low phosphate foods, appropriate feeding, skimming, filtration, PolyFilter/chemical will all contribute.> Tank Parameters: amm 0 nitrite 0 nitrate 7-10 alk 4.0 meq/L (down from 5.5 yesterday, is this normal to drop this much overnight) <With calcium additives, yes. Test both alk and calcium on alternate days adding supplements for calcium and alk on alternate days until ideal range for each is attained. Test, write down results, stop additives for three days, test again, subtract and divide result by three. That is your daily usage of calcium (Kalk) and alkalinity (buffer). That's what you have to add of *each*, every day. Kalk at night.> dKH 11.2 Phosphate 0.25ppm Calcium 365ppm (up from yesterday's 330ppm, using reef evolution concentrate) <Yes, will drive alk down more so test alk and calcium while supplementing calcium.> Ph 8.1 <Likely AM test? Test in PM> SG 1.025 Temp 78F Lighting 12h/day Thanks once again, I really need to buy your book, Mike <Hope this helps Mike! Craig>

Re: alk/phosphate questions Mr. Fenner and Company, It's Mike again, a few more questions.  <Hi Mike> Today I tested the Calcium and it was a 335ppm, down from 365ppm yesterday...does this seem likely or just an erroneous test yesterday?  <Yep. That's likely your calcium use for one day. Clams, SPS, LPS, etc use more calcium and adding alk will use some as well.> And one more algae question. You guys suggested I have diatom algae present in my tank, I scrapped the glass off and it looks clear, hasn't grown back by the barrel full yet.  <Yep, likely diatom algae> Now today I noticed some small green hair-like algae growing on my live rock, so I asked another friend of mine into reef tanks, he said get rid of it quick...it will take over a tank fast! Is this true and cause for concern?  <Yes, it can and will spread if you don't pick and pull it now. some Tangs eat it, but usually only when short. Best to do away with it before it gets going.> I have some margarita snails (3), some Cerith (3), and some scarlet reef hermits (10), and Nassarius snails (15). Will any of these aid in the control of this? And what type of algae could this be? <Not usually. This is green hair algae of course! Look up algae and specific ally green-hair algae on WetWebMedia.com for other possible controls.> After reading your reply below, I'm going to start topping off with Kalk water, and that Ph reading (8.1) was taken at around 7:30pm here that's why I wanted to dose Kalk to maybe raise it without the buffer. and if I understand you, Kalk doesn't effect alk reading? then I shouldn't have suspended it as I did. Thanks once again, Mike <Right. It reduced your calcium and didn't do anything to your alk. You can add buffer/carbonate up to 5 meq/l alkalinity, (which will likely produce an 8.3 pH), but using Kalkwasser will help with keeping the pH up as well. Make sure you test your alk regularly and also magnesium with Kalk use as it will be depleted over time with Kalk. Hope this helps, Craig> 

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

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

Reef tank frustration (alkalinity, env. disease, invert.s...) Dear Bob, <cheers, love... Anthony Calfo in your service> I hope you can help me with this one. Actually I'm embarrassed to even be asking for help as I am by trade a professional aquarist, working for an aquarium service company for over 15 years, with 4 years prior experience in general fishkeeping before that.  <no worries at all... impossible to be an expert on all things. And a pleasure to learn a lifetime long> I was there at the inception of the reef keeping hobby!!!! So here it goes, and please don't tell anyone. <nobody but the thousands of daily FAQ readers> I have a 35 gallon reef tank with live sand and live rock. It has 2 internal powerheads with connecting sponge filters, and the back filter is an Aquaclear 500 that has a sponge and carbon. I do 15% water changes weekly, sometimes more recently because of my problems. My water chemistry is as follows: pH 8.3 Temp 76F Salinity 1.021 kH 20 and Nitrate 10 ppm. I have 0 Nitrites and 0 Phosphates. I know the kH is a little high, which has just happened recently to add to my problems.  <your dKH is actually sky high and endangers your system for a precipitous fallout. Please do water changes until you get closer to 11-12 dKH> And the problem is, any invertebrate I put into the tank seems to go into a coma. They don't die they just act like they are drugged or something, and a leg of my serpent star fell off. It's insane!!! I deal with reef tanks all the time and have never run across this.  <just curious... have you tested your magnesium or manganese levels or used Crystal Sea salt mix?> I have 2 fish, 1 Royal Gramma and 1 Yellow tail blue devil both of which are very happy and healthy.  <indeed.. all different tolerances than inverts. Still... do consider using a PolyFilter to check for color change and indication of a contaminant> I checked for copper also which only had very slight traces, probably coming from the pipes in the house.  <strange... should be zero. Definitely consider regular use of PolyFilters in the system> I have even gone so far a to have a $160.00 water test done on my water which comes from a deep well. That tested out good except for higher than normal levels of Manganese, which they said was not harmful. But could this be poisoning my inverts?  <Bingo!... they were wrong and you win the hairy Kewpie doll that bares an unsettling resemblance to Danny DeVito> After I put the crabs, starfish or snails in the tank they seem to be ok for several hours until they just slow down and stop moving. Their not dead just not moving, however some do die. I am totally frustrated and emotionally upset, I love these animals and take pride in my good husbandry.  <understood and agreed, my dear> Something is eluding me, even my boss can't figure it out. I hope you have some ideas. Any help will be greatly appreciated !!! Sincerely, Deborah  <indeed...such invertebrates have great sensitivity to metals of all kinds where fish are more tolerant. The Polyfilters are great for absorbing metals. Do consider pretreating water to screen it. Best regards, Anthony> Cheney Wells, Maine

Calcium and alkalinity question Hi Craig, <Hi Jun!> Another question for you. I went to the LFS and have my calcium and alkalinity (is KH and dKH the same?) tested today. My Ca level is 320 and KH/dKH is 160. What do I have to do to get my alkalinity level and Ca level to an acceptable level. Thanks again (just as I promise more questions to come)......Jun A. <Okay. dH, GH, KH, and even dKH are alternate terms the Germans gave us for measuring alkalinity, they are the same. <<Mmm, no. RMF>> I think you may have your alkalinity test results goofed up, perhaps expressed as dKH when they meant meq/L, or missing a decimal point? Is it 16.0 dKH or 1.60 meq/L? Based on your tests and your Toadstool acting up I'll bet your alk is 1.6meq/L. Please double check. If it is 1.6 it is VERY LOW and you need to get a good Marine Buffer like Seachem Marine Buffer to keep your alkalinity at 3.5 - 5 meq/L (10 - 14 dKH) ASAP. Please test your pH as well which should be 8.3 -8.4 just before the lights go off. Calcium should be around 400-450 mg/L. Seachem makes a good calcium supplement called "Reef Advantage Calcium" which is a good product. Follow the label directions exactly for dosing. I would also recommend investing in a few good quality test kits so you can maintain your water in top condition without stressing your inhabitants (or waiting to go to the fish store). Seachem and Salifert are favorites. Please read more about alkalinity and calcium at WetWebMedia.com. There is much to learn! Craig>

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

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

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

Alk/Calcium Hi gang, hope everything is groovy. My alkalinity reading is 60 mg/l (I'm using a Hagen test kit). Does that mean ppm? What is the conversion equation for dKH or meg/l? (sorry, I've never tested Alk in the past). Also I can't seem to get a reading on my Calcium (readings are indicating sky high, which is improbable) as I use a Hagen test kit for that also. Is there a better/best kit? Thanks, you guys rock.. Justaguy Hey Justaguy! Craig here, and feelin' groovy. The equivalents between measurements is as follows: 1mg/L = 0.02meq/L Americans measure alkalinity in meq/L The German hardness scale is dKH. So, at 60mg/L X 0.02= 1.2meq/L. so using the measurement you got from the Hagen kit your alk is 1.2meq/L VERY LOW.  Most keep calcium around 425-475 calcium and Alk at 3.5 to 5 meq/L (1mg/L=0.02meq/L). Also test pH regularly as well. I suggest purchasing quality test kits to ensure accuracy. Salifert and Seachem are two excellent brands. Have Fun! Craig

Alk/Calcium Hi gang, hope everything is groovy. <yep... just as soon as I get my bong fired up> My alkalinity reading is 60 mg/l (I'm using a Hagen test kit). Does that mean ppm?  <nope><<Mmm, yes... mg/l is equivalent to ppm. RMF>> What is the conversion equation for dKH or meg/l? (sorry, I've never tested Alk in the past). <hmmm... I don't recall the conversion off by heart. Are you sure it isn't in the test kit literature. It surely must be... I've never seen a test kit that didn't have it> Also I can't seem to get a reading on my Calcium (readings are indicating sky high, which is improbable) as I use a Hagen test kit for that also. Is there a better/best kit? <definitely... I like Aquarium Systems brand Calcium test kit. Inexpensive and easy to read the titration point> Thanks, you guys rock.. Justaguy <best regards, Anthony>

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

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

Alkalinity Quick question? <<Sure...>> It seems I have to add about 1 teaspoon of baking soda or SuperBuffer to my top off water every day to keep my alkalinity around 10 to 12. <<By any chance is your top-off RO/DI water? This is pretty typical if so... RO/DI is demineralized.>> Is that o.k. or am I adding to much to the system. <<Probably fine... do be careful about bringing up the alkalinity too high. I wouldn't go over 12.>> I have been doing daily testing and it has never gone over 12. <<There you go then.>> Thanks <<Cheers, J -- >>

Carbonate Hardness Hi, Bob and experts, <greetings and salutations> I brought a sera dKH test kit for my saltwater and the test result is 12 dKH.  <excellent> Q1) Is that too high ? <nope... 8-12 dKH is a nice range. Resist going higher unless you are a coral farmer/specializing in scleractinians farmed intensively. Even then not necessary> Q2) What causes dKH to turn high ? <excess carbonates (buffer or calcium reactor)> Q3) If dKH is high, is it good ? <low and stable is better than high and erratic> Q4) What are purpose of testing carbonate hardness ? <it is an indication of stability in the system and is a critical measure to keep stable for good health and growth of many marine animals. Do test regularly and dose to keep stable> Thanks, Danny <best regards, Anthony>

Alkalinity & Calcium Hello Mr. Fenner, <Steven Pro, part of the www.WetWebMedia.com crew, in tonight.> I love this hobby and your website makes this hobby much more enjoyable. Thank you. I have a quick question about alkalinity and calcium. I have a 55 gallon tank that has been setup for 3 months with live rock and sand. Light parameters are 1-55 watt actinic and 1-55 watt daylight. I have only a small Yellow Tang and some clean-up critters in the aquarium right now. I have been dosing with B-Ionic A&B for one month and my readings with Salifert test kits are as follows: Alkalinity 9.8 and Calcium 390 and PH 8.3. Are these numbers respectable for growing pink coralline algae? <Yes, none are pushing the upper limits, but consistent ok numbers are better than fluctuating but higher numbers.> Also, when I add a capful of Part A (alkalinity) in the morning, it precipitates out (small snowstorm). <Probably not really a snow storm. I have used this product and have just seen a little cloudiness, not a true precipitation event.> However, adding two capfuls of calcium does not precipitate out. Do I need to elevate my alkalinity and if so, how do I go about in accomplishing it? Thank you for your help and your valuable time. Dave <You are doing just fine. Have a nice and relaxing weekend watching your tank. -Steven Pro>

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

Newbie <<Hello, JasonC here...>> I have learned a lot from reading all your info you are a great source of help. well now to my question I have all normal levels I bought the test kits like you recommended. The concern I have like most, is my alk. level. Its 40 ppm and the more I try to get it higher the more I raise my ph I have been using Kalkwasser for my top off water should I use baking soda with that to help my problem? <<I would put the question to you, what are you keeping that requires higher alkalinity? Unless you are keeping stony corals or clams, you really don't need to be super-concerned with alkalinity. Kalkwasser will not raise your alkalinity, but it will raise your pH as evidenced by that 8.8, which is rather high for a saltwater system. I would stop the Kalkwasser for a little while and just let the system run on its own for a while. Then, if you are still trying to bring up the alkalinity, use baking soda or a commercial buffer.>> thanks. ph=8.8 sg=.023 calcium=? alk=40 ppm <<Cheers, J -- >>

Calcium/Buffer Question Hi, Last week I purchased some live rock for my 55 gallon aquarium. Throughout the week the rock started to lose its bright pink color and now it is white. <Could be several things; rough shipping or curing, inadequate lighting, calcium or alkalinity, etc.> I was running copper in my tank until last weekend when I added a PolyFilter. <The copper could very well do it.> The fish store recommended adding B-Ionic calcium/buffer two part system. They said this will bring back the color on the live rock. Is there any adverse effects of adding this to my aquarium? <No. You should be doing something to maintain calcium and alkalinity levels; two part additives, Kalkwasser, calcium reactor, or even very frequent water changes. Do be sure to get calcium and alkalinity test kits so you know what you levels are and how much to add to maintain the proper targets.> Thank you, JPK <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Substrate/Alkalinity Q's Cheers, Anthony or Steven. I'm sure Bob is having a great time in Cozumel, I have snorkeled there myself a few times, I would live to go diving there but when I go more then a few feet under water it feels like my head is going to explode. <I feel the same way about Alk questions... now what was your question.. Oh, riiiiiight <G> Anyways I was hoping to get your guys opinion on the substrate I was planning to change. Currently I have about 3 inches of crushed coral (mistake # 1),  <oh, ya... detritus pit> I see what you guys mean by detritus trap. So before placing my live rock, I siphoned really well and removed about 2 1/2 inches of the cc where I placed the rock, so there's about 1/2 inch or less under/around the rock.  <Very good!> The rock was placed last Sunday and I did a water change last night and the cc around the rock was almost as dirty as the 3 inch section of the tank.  <hmmm... shouldn't be that bad> I fed the fishes very little during this time period, my water flow isn't great but I don't think it to be that terrible either.  <ahh... most people drastically underestimate the need for current. In a fish only tank 6-10X is minimum... with reef and live rock displays you need MUCH more. I have about 1500gph in my 50 gall reef and is barely looks like I have moderate flow!> After I minus the head pressure, flow is approx. 1500 gph on a 125 gal FOWLR.  <yes... not bad at all... may just need to be more strategically adjusted> I just want to get this substrate/depth thing correct because I have another 45lbs curing right now and am going to order another 90lbs in the next few weeks and don't want to have to disassemble the rockwork every week to siphon the cc. I have since gotten 100lbs of fine oolitic sand by E.S.V. I couldn't even guess on the grain size but I would definitely say it is finer than sugar.  <excellent... I like the grain and brand just fine> This is where I am totally stumped, it seems like everyone is in agreement here in not having a DSB in a heavily stocked tank with messy eaters as mine.  <is it more challenging as much as I love DSB> The label on the sand states it can provide denitrification in as little as 1.5 inch depth  <I disagree that this happens in many tanks... more often than not no> but I fear this depth is too much for my tank. BTW tank mates are vol. lion, wolf eel/Dottyback-not sure witch is the proper name, niger trigger, yellow tang, Naso tang.  <the eel is the only one that will stir the pot too much> Do you agree with removing the cc and going with the fine sand at a depth of a 1/2 inch or less?  <the 1/2 of sand is fine once you get the water flow adjusted or upgraded. You should have enough flow so that detritus stays suspended and is carried to the skimmer(s)> If you guys agree with the sand should I first place the rock on bare bottom and then pour sand around the rock or sand first then rock on top?  <that's how it would be done> I currently have 90lbs Fiji rock, is it ok to add another 90lbs Kaelini rock or just stick with another 90 lbs of Fiji?  <your call> One more thing if I may? I have currently seen my ph rise from the 8.1/8.15 to the 8.25 range or better just from aerating over night and mixing salt for a day or two in advance.  <excellent> Currently using the Kold Steril system and then I aerate the new water overnight, it then reaches a ph of 8.35 and alk of 4.9DKH,  <very low alk> I then add salt, no buffer and 24hrs later readings are ph 8.22-8.25, alk 16.8DKH.  I have the Kold Steril plumbed so that it could precede the tap water purifier/DI to lower my alkalinity, could I just mix up 20 gal of the Kold Steril water and then 20 gal of the Kold Steril water followed by the tap water purifier DI and then I should be able to reconstitute the water to more appropriate values? <more appropriate for what?> I have yet to use the twp with the Kold Steril but when I used just the twp I was lucky to get 30 gallons and got sick of replacing them. I still have a cartridge left over from about six months ago that was only used for about 5 gallons and it is still damp inside, is it safe to reuse this cartridge?  <yes> Calcium after a water change is about 380 but I refuse to use any calcium supplements until it reaches 350 for fear of this snow storming event I seen a lot about since my alk is on the high side. I really value your guys advice, thanks so much. Mike <the alk is a bit high if it lingers long... but the Ca under 400 and the alk slightly over 12dKH is fine and can continue if consistent through regular water changes. Both levels should not me max high but one at a time is safe. best regards, Anthony>

Alkalinity Measurement Hello again, I just did some water tests today: SG 1.025, Temp steady at 80F all day/every day, Ammonia 0.0-0.1, Nitrate 10-20 (I think I'm color blind), Calcium 435, PH 8.4... The alkalinity test (Red Sea) can be read (according to the colors on the box) as "very high" or about 3.2 meq/L... <not "very high" if you are trying to grow corals. It is nicely elevated but not too high> isn't there another way to read this measurement? dKH or something like that?  <indeed... several ways (ppm, dKH) but won't change the facts. Your ALK is fine, my friend> These tests (as are all my weekly/daily tests) were taken in the late afternoon.  <fine... just be sure to test pH after a long dark period as well as "high noon"> I tried to do a search using the Google engine on your site to try to figure out the conversion formula, but it's close to midnight here in FL...I am tired, physically, but my curiosity prevents me from falling asleep.  I have a 55g w/10 gallon sump, built in corner overflow, 2 sweeping power heads on opposite ends of the tank near the mid water level outputs pointed up, AquaC Urchin in sump (AWESOME SKIMMER!!!!  <agreed> More than a cup of blackness every day), about 55lbs of LR (mix of mostly Fiji and some Atlantic/gulf) been in less than a month (cured it myself), 220 watts of PC lighting no more than 3 inches from the surface with a big noisy fan, Chemipure (will also add use of Polyfilter on next carbon change), and probably one or two other things I can't recall at this time of night.  <all very fine> I do a 5 or ten gallon water change weekly using DI water, aerated overnight, buffered overnight, then salt added, left overnight, tested until parameters match my tank's.  <excellent> I wouldn't have done any of these things (testing, regular water changes, lighting, etc.) without the info from your site...thank you.  <our pleasure> I have a yellow tang, Kole tang, 4 damsels, Astrea snails, and blue legged hermits, 2 small serpent stars, one large green serpent (will trade this in once I catch him), two small but growing fast unidentified crabs, a pink carnation coral (hanging upside down in a small cave, about 8 inches from the sweeping powerhead running full force), a small Acropora (tan with what looks like pink or lavender tips...I'm so bad with colors) which is within the top 6 inches from the surface and about 10 inches away from a sweeping power head running full force, a small colony of yellow polyps, 2 flower anemones (will trade these in soon) and one BTA (in tank for almost two months, has not settled down yet). The fish have been there since November last year with last fish being Kole tang added in June. All Live stock are well (except for BTA). I was wondering if my alkalinity is too low? If so, do I just keep adding buffer until I get to...what? 4.0 meq/L??  <good heavens no! Really... just relax and enjoy this hobby my friend. For general maintenance, an ALK of 2.5-3 meq/l is fine> I feel that my current parameters will hinder the growth of coralline.  <nope... consistent levels of calcium and ALK even if slightly low will grow corallines jest fine. High but ire levels will impede. Again... enjoy your hobby... this isn't work :) You seem to be well-read and in a systematic habit with the tank... continue to do so: regular and reliable maintenance> Am I worrying about nothing?  <big-time!> Or is my calcium/alk ratio good? The shells of all my snails show growth...does that count for something?  <yes... especially to the snails<G>> My only commercial additives are a product called Oceans blend, a two part Ca/Alk, and I dose Kent iodine once a week.  <with weekly water changes all sounds fine> Please help or point me to link to understand this better. I've read thru the calcium and alk articles, but will read again. Shout out to my peeps B.LOVE...keeping it real all up in his 75-G reef, aw-ite! Yo-Yo-Yo, Thanx, Randy M. Yniguez, MA <word up, my salty brother. Anthony>

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

pH alk? I have a few questions on pH and alk. I've seen in different books that dKH should be between 7-10 and also 12-18. which is correct?  <8-12 dKH is safe and healthy IMO. Closer to 8 if you run a high calcium level (over 425ppm). ALK over 12 dKH is dangerous (crystalline precip) and only recommended for hardcore coral growers that test water daily and have many scleractinians. Most people will have problems with such a high ALK in time> my problem is... my dKH is 16-17. my calcium is low, like around 300.  <typical... neither can easily or safely be at the high/max end. Still... the tank would be better off around 10dKH and 400ppm> my pH is around 8.0-8.2, but will drop without the addition of SeaChem marine buffer to 7.8ish within 48 hours.  <a lack of aeration (not circulation) may be indicated here (accumulated CO2). Aerate a glass of aquarium water vigorously with an airstone and see if the pH rises after 12 hours. If so... you have a CO2/aeration problem.> how can I raise the pH without increasing the alk? <Kalkwasser> my alk is so high right now that I can't seem to increase the calcium without clouding my tank.  <exactly... a crystalline precip. Do several large water changes to dilute this imbalance then add Kalk and buffer as necessary> also, why would the pH drop like that if the alk is high?  <many reasons... CO2 being one of them> I have a 50g breeder w/ 50lbs LR, and few snails and hermits and some polyps. no fish yet and I'm not feeding anything. 20g sump w/ skimmer that needs to be emptied every 3rd day. all other readings are where they should be. thanks, Neil <best regards, Anthony>

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

Buffers WWM Guys, I am topping off and doing changes with RO water. Also, I use B-Ionic two-part mix for calcium supplementation and Instant Ocean to keep SG at 1.025, pH is 8.4. How would you recommend I buffer my RO water? I tried using baking soda and it precipitated out when I added Instant Ocean. Why did this occur? <You added too much buffer. The salt mix has buffering compounds, too, and with what you put in first, the pH got too high and drove the calcium to precipitate out of solution. I prefer to buffer my water after adding the salt. I aerate and heat the water first for a day. The add the salt mix and mix for another day. Lastly, I test the salt water for salinity, pH, and alkalinity and buffer according to the results of my tests. If you wish to buffer before adding the salt, only add enough buffering compounds to bring your raw RO water to a neutral pH.> I am interested in raising my calcium to 450 from 350 ppm. I have good coralline growth and tolerable slow growth in my SPS/LPS corals. Perhaps I could cut back on the Bionic I use if I buffered my water? <Perhaps, on use a calcium reactor to really accelerate growth. That is, if you have a large enough tank. I would find it hard to justify the expense if you told me you had a 29 gallon mini-reef. If 75 gallons or more, the money you save on supplements will outweigh the initial cost in a few years.> What should I use for this? <I think Seachem products, Marine Buffer and Reef Builder, but there are other fine products. Aquarium Systems SeaBuffer is also nice. -Steven Pro>

Re: Calcium and Alkalinity You said ... part A... is typically sodium bicarbonate - baking soda. <<Well - typically... I was looking at my bottle of ESV.>> I checked and the contents are deionized water, calcium salts, and trace minerals. Part B says deionized water, sulfate, bicarbonate, carbonate, and borate salts. So I should use B instead of A. to bring up the Alkalinity. <<Interesting... their parts are just the opposite of the ESV which requires that one put the buffer in first. Couldn't imagine it would be practical to empty one bottle before the other. You can actually use regular Arm & Hammer baking soda to boost the buffers in addition to the regular two-part doses. Cheers, J -- >>

Question on Carbonate Hardness (KH) I have a Hagen (KH) test kit and it says the ideal range for saltwater is 105 - 125 mg/l. I have been reading through the FAQ and you all say 11-12 dKH is good. Is there a way to take my numbers and turn them into the dKH numbers? <Shawn... my apologies, but we are burring through queries today and I do not remember the conversion of the top of my head. Please refer to the instructions with the kit. Most manufacturers have conversions listed for meq/l, ppm and dKH. If not, let me suggest/trouble you to run it down on a keyword search on Google ("Hardness conversion")>

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

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

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>

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>

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>

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

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

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