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FAQs on Marine Alkalinity 3

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

Related FAQs: Marine Alkalinity 1, Marine Alkalinity 2Marine 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,

Large/r needy systems are best fed alkalinity through automated means. A nice DIY Calcium Reactor system by Mike Liesman in San Antonio.

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

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

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

Buffer Question <2/1/04) Hi Bob, <Steve Allen covering tonight.> I was wondering about the use of "buffer" additives to the RO water used to replace evaporation from my reef tank. Currently I do not add any buffer materials, but I am considering whether it would be wise to do so. My understanding is evaporation with remove 'n' number of H2O molecules (i.e., pure water evaporates); thus we have lost 2'n' hydrogen atoms. Therefore the top-up water needed to replace this should also be 2n hydrogen atoms, to ensure the effect on System pH is identical. Is my understanding correct? <Merely incomplete. You are not considering the factors that affect free H+ ions. True, pH measures these, but it is buffer that keeps them bound up so the pH stays alkaline in seawater. Otherwise, the tendency is to head to neutral (7.4), or even lower due to organic acids in animal waste. By performing RO on your tapwater, you have removed all of it's buffer capacity. Marine tanks naturally lose buffering capacity (carbonate hardness) over time, requiring replacement. There's a lot of good info available on this subject both at WWM and other web sources such as Advanced Aquarist Online.> If so, does this suggest top-up water should not contain buffer additives? <no> Or is it the case that marine tank pH tends to drift downwards due to the bio-load <yes>, and we are simply using the top-up water as a convenient mechanism to replace hydrogen lost due to the filtration of the System? <Not hydrogen lost. Buffer capacity to keep the H+ ions bound up and maintain the alkaline pH we need.> The reason I ask this question is that my reef tank starts the day at pH7.9 and ends at 8.1. <A reef ought to be kept higher. At or around 8.2 to 8.3 would be better. It would be nice to not have the pH drop below 8.0-8.1. I monitor mine electronically, and it never goes less that 8.1 or higher than 8.3> I am starting to benefit from a newly established reverse lit refugium with a DSB - hopefully my pH will continue to improve as the refugium matures. <Yes, this can help stabilize pH if you have macroalgae in it.> Besides weekly 8% water changes the only "additive" to my system is a calcium reactor. <Also great for replacing buffer.> I try to do without additives as they can prove costly over time, mistakes can be made with application (we are all only human!) and leaving the System to go on holiday becomes a larger burden for the person who looks after the tank. <For those who can afford the initial investment, this is a great way to go. Anthony is big on Kalkwasser. I use the 2-part buffer/calcium from B-Ionic, but the cost of that adds up over time. Someday I'll figure out where to fit a calcium reactor in my system.> If adding a buffer to top-up is the "done thing" in the industry then I will follow suit, but reading through the WWM pages left me uncertain if there was consensus in this area. <No absolute consensus out there.> What is your take on this subject? <IMO, the bottom line here is that you are replenishing the buffer in the tank with your calcium reactor. The reason to buffer your RO water is to replenish its own buffering capacity that was removed by the RO process. I have been very satisfied simply adding the recommended per-gallon dose to my RO water only when making new salt water for water changes. My water is so hard here that I do not seem to need to add buffer to my top-off RO (no DI), which has a pH of 8.8. I'd suggest you check the pH of your top-off. If it is in the pH range you need, then you don't need to buffer it.> As always, thank you very much for your advice. Andrew Senior <Hope this helps. I do not profess to be a chemist. Do read more if you desire a deeper understanding. Here's a start: http://advancedaquarist.com/issues/may2002/chem.htm >

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

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

- Buffering Saltwater - Hi gang: I'm seeing real growth/improvement on all life forms in my tank after getting a look at REEF INVERTEBRATES and adding a refugium to my system. I remember reading (can't remember if it was in the FAQ or the book) that I should buffer salt water once it's mixed up and before it's added to the tank. <Depends on the origin of the water - if mixed from RO/DI or otherwise purified water, you should add buffers before you add the salt. If using natural seawater, then buffers should be added while the water is being cured.> Sounds like a great idea. . . do you have a rough formula for the right amount of buffer to add for a 20 gallon batch? <Not really... depends on the buffer being added. Would just use an alkalinity test kit to test before/after additions to get a handle on it.> And will adding the buffer influence the salinity reading on my refractometer in any significant way? <No.> I generally use baking soda for my buffer. . . Kent Turbo-calcium for the calcium. . . plus a Sea Lab block in the sump. . . although the block isn't eroding much anymore with the addition of the 'supplemental' buffer and calcium plus addition of an aragonite DSB in the refugium. I used to run with my calcium readings on the high end. . . buffer on the low. Since addition of the DSB, it's more like the reverse. . . and I'm careful on the calcium to avoid the dreaded 'snowstorm' effect I keep hearing/reading about. As always, thanks for your help on this.  Chuck <Cheers, J -- >

Testing High KH... Greeting Crew, <Scott F. with you today!> I hope this has not been asked before, but I did spend time trying to find the answer before I sent this email. I have a new calcium reactor and want to test the affluent before installing into my system. I am tuning with freshly mixed salt water in my sink as I what to get it tuned-in so that I don't subject my reef to any mistakes. The information included with my Korallin reactor indicates that the KH of the effluent should be 25 to 60. Is there a way for me to test for this value as my Salifert test only measures up to 16 dKH? Dilution maybe? <That might be a great idea. My other thought might be to try a test kit with a larger range (I believe La Motte kits have a pretty broad range). You may need to shoot an email or two to a manufacturer to get the stats on their kits...> Thank so much for all the help. You guys have been instrumental in my success (8 months thus far) in reef keeping. Greg <Glad to be a part of it all, Greg! Keep up the good work and feel free to contact us again any time! Regards, Scott F>

High alkalinity 12/17/03 Hello Anthony! <cheers, Thanassis> I have the following problem: my Alkalinity has been about 11-12 dKH and I have not been able to measure the Calcium because of faulty test kits. <the alkalinity is fine at this level my friend... no worries. 8-12 dKH is a safe range> I have been adding water from an R/O unit , aerated and buffered it with baking soda before I add it to replace evaporated water (about 3 liters/day). I add also 20 ml of B-ionic once a week. The tank is 300 liters and I have coralline algae and Halimeda growing in it. No corals yet, only a Zoanthus sp. Yesterday I measured the alkalinity and it is 18 dKH! I suspect I have been adding too much soda in the water. <yikes... yes. It does seem so> With such a high alkalinity the calcium is prevented from being present, isn't it? <correct> How can I drop the alkalinity to 10 dKH? What can I do about my calcium as long as I can not measure it?  Thanks, Thanassis <water changes to dilute the problem and supply calcium are recommended here. Small frequent water changes are always better than larger less frequent ones. I suggest weekly 10-20%. Anthony>

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

- Alkalinity and Concrete Rock - Hi there Crew, Clayton here; <Good morning, Clayton.> Here is a brief rundown of what I am up to, first of all, I had a cloudy water problem that no amount of advice from anyone seemed to be able to cure so I dumped all my water and set it all up new, I used instant ocean salt and RO water for everything, the tank is 240 gallons with a 30 gal sump, with a Berlin xl skimmer, 2 x 400 W MH and 2 X 40 W actinic blue and 2 x 40 W trichromatic, so here is what I did, when I took my tank down I left it down for a month or so because I also changed the front glass, but in the mean time, my crushed coral I had in 5 gallon pails began to rot or something because the pails were still like half full of water,  so to clean it I rinsed all the crushed coral with bleach, and then rinsed the crushed coral excessively, and also added about 100lbs of aragonite sand, under the advice of the Local Pet Store I installed a "plenum" or so he called it, which is basically a undergravel filter that is not hooked up to anything to promote anaerobic bacterial growth to reduce nitrates or something like that anyway, I do not have too much Live Rock, only like 50lbs or so, the rest is some sort of homemade concrete stuff made by a fellow aquarist, but my problem I have with my alkalinity is that I cannot get it up to the normal level and keep it there, in the past month I have added basically a whole container of SeaChem reef builder, (for raising carbonate alkalinity) which is 1 Kg or 2.2 lbs but every time I add this stuff my alk goes up to about where I want it, like 120-130mg/L (or ppm) but within a few days it is back down to 70-80 ppm, it just does not stay up, my calcium is also unusually high it is like 650ppm which I think might have something to do with it, but I have no Idea what or how to fix it, my PH is also low, steady though at 8.0, however the fish are doing great, and the corals I have are spending 90% of their time closed, except the mushrooms however, which seem to be loving it,  and polyps are also doing fine (other corals are soft leathers) however I also tried to introduce my brittle starfish back into my tank and within the 2 days I kept it in my tank, it didn't move around and one of its arms fell off, and I also go a banded shrimp which looked like it was doing fine, it was eating and running around lots, then one day was dead.  Please Help,   Thanks <If I were to pick out one thing, I'd examine that concrete rock. Concrete rock [and even formed blocks] must be soaked in saltwater for months before it can be used in your tank. When it is new, it can do wacky things to your water chemistry so it must be 'cured' [not the same curing as live rock] and rinsed and cured and rinsed before you put it in your display tank. I suspect that this is the root cause of your troubles... I'd be willing to bet that everything else stems from that. Ask that aquarist if he cures the material and for how long - I suspect that if he has cured it, it hasn't been for long enough. A pH of 8.0 is too low and while some animals 'seem' to be doing fine, you can expect them all to have troubles if exposed to this pH for any length of time. Cheers, J -- > Hagen KH test kit... and Xenia Just like to say ahead of time, thanks for helping out!  Ok, here's my problem.  On the WWM website I have read many times that you want to keep the dKH around 8-10.  On my Hagen KH test kit it says that anything above 125 mg/L is too high.  When I convert 125 mg/L to dKH I get 7 dKH.  So, if I was to shoot for 8-10 dKH that would be at least 143.2 mg/L.  So what level am I supposed to aim for? <you want to aim for 8-10 dKH> My calcium is at 450 ppm right now and my KH is 130 mg/L (or 7.28 dKH). This is all assuming I did my calculations correctly, please feel free to double check my math! <Why don't you try a test kit that is not so confusing. Try Salifert or Red Sea pHarm. (the reason I say this is if the test is a pain to use you will more than likely not test as much as you should) Also if the test kit is old it will give you incorrect readings (there should be a date on the package with expiration on it.>   While I have you here, I have a question on a pulsing Xenia I have had my eye on.  There is a pulsing Xenia that I want at a LFS, but the LFS isn't really local!  It's about 1.5 - 2 hours away.  I heard that Xenia don't travel so well.  It's a large rock completely covered with Xenia and I would love to have it, but I don't want to get it home just to find I've killed it in transit.  Any help on how/if I should get it home would be great.  Thanks so much... again, and again, and again!!! <you should have no problem bringing the xenia home. I would say bring your own Rubbermaid (in case they do not have large styros) or ask the LFS to place it in a  large styro and with lots of water.2 hours should be no problem. Remember to acclimate them slow once you get home. good luck MikeH> Steve

dKH Question Thanks for the info, however I guess I still have a question on KH.  My problem is so much that I'm having trouble converting my KH from mg/L to dKH.  My problem is that my test kit says that anything over 125 mg/L is too high and WWM seems to say that I want 8-10 dKH.  8 dKH = 143.2 mg/L. So that would be much more than the 125 mg/L that Hagen says is too high. Why would Hagen say that anything over 125 is too high when it's actually low?  Again, thanks for all the help on this.  I need all the help I can get understanding these things!!! Thanks! <Is the test kit saying that this is to high for fresh water or salt water. sounds high for fresh and low for salt. if it is for saltwater  don't know why it says that you want 8-10 dKH Mike H> Steve

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

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

Raising alkalinity Hi, Is this a good practice? I put one and half teaspoon of Kent SuperBuffer in a liter container full of fresh water and add it to my 50 gallons tank drop by drop. This quantity of buffer rise my alkalinity by approximately .2 meq/L (I use SeaChem alkalinity test). I do this when the light is on. thank you PS. sorry for my English, I'm French Canadian. <No worries about the English. I would test the alkalinity in your tank. If you don't need to bring up the alkalinity more than where it is now, then I would stop adding the buffer compounds. Cheers, J -- >

- Alkalinity Madness, Follow-up - Well, here is the FAQ - "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>" So, again, following these guidelines, my alk. would be 3meq/L, is this right? <It was my understanding that your test kit was measuring KH [carbonate hardness] which is 1:1 to dKH [German carbonate hardness]... does your kit measure in some other unit?> There is a difference between meg/L and mg/L right? <Yes.> How are you getting 54ish?? <By converting from 150 KH.> What is the correct formula. <Not sure - I use an online calculator because I just don't have time to do anything else: http://www.saltyzoo.com/SaltyCalcs/AlkConv.php> How could I possible have 54ish? <Again, was working on the information you provided which said "I dropped 15 drops to color change.  Kit says, to get KH, multiply number of drops by 10." - that's KH, same as dKH which is what I plugged into the calculator - I could have misunderstood, it wouldn't be the first time.> Thanks crew!  Micah <Cheers, J -- >

- Alkalinity & Testing For Such - Dear, alkalinity Guru: I purchased the Hagen/Nutrafin carbonate hardness test kit ($15), it measures in terms of KH.  I dropped 15 drops to color change.  Kit says, "To get KH, multiply number of drops by 10."  That's 150 mg/L. <Uhh... that's 150 "KH" if I'm not mistaken which is 54 meq/L.> Test kit says anything beyond 125 mg/l is unusually high and to contact my aquarium specialists (that would be you guys!). <A KH of 150 is abnormally high.> I read in your faq to convert mg/L to meg/L, multiply by .02   ...  that gives me 3meg/L   ....  in the same faq it says ideally, the level should be between 3.5 & 5meg/L <That much is true.>  .....   so, I would be on the low side, I guess? <I couldn't find the exact FAQ you were looking at, but methinks there is a small mistake in there somewhere... your kit measured a KH of 150 - that's a meq/L of 54-ish - that is on the high side of high.> is the test kit mistaken in what the ideal level should be? <I think perhaps it is you that is mistaken, not the kit. I'd run the tests a couple more times to be certain - if the numbers stay consistently high, you need to stop your additive regimen and do a couple of water changes.> my calcium is approx. 400. <That seems unusual for such a high level of alkalinity - I'd run those tests again, because this sounds like a titration test, you should only add the reagent until there is a slight hint of color change - stir after every drop.> pH stays around 8.2.  I have Zo's & shrooms.  12 hour light cycle with 2 96 watt pc's. 1 actinic.  thanks crew! <Cheers, J -- >

- Accurate Alkalinity Test - Hello all- I have a question for whoever has the time. <Sounds like I'm next in line - JasonC here...> Ok, maybe 2 questions. Alk: 7dkh or 10.5 dKH (this is explained in info below) Ca: 300mg/l Ph: 8.4 S.G. 1.025 I have been using the Aquarium Systems Fastest for checking alkalinity. I recently purchased a refill for the reagent bottle and it came with a different style tip on the bottle. I used the tip that came with the new bottle and my alk reading was 10.5dkh. I put the tip from the old bottle on and the reading was 7dkh. The 7dkh is  the normal reading I have been getting with the old tip, (I have been trying to raise alk with ReefBuilder) but now it has me wondering if my past tests have been accurate and my Alk is REALLY 10.5 dKH not 7. I can see that the drops are a bit smaller with the new tip. <That is a bother... certainly drop size would be a factor.> Is there some way I can check the accuracy? 3.5dkh seems like a big margin for error. I imagine you will suggest comparing against another kit. <You got it - a different brand would be best.> But who knows. <You could also ask the folks at the store to test it for you.> As long as we are on the Alk subject, I change a little less than 10% of water every week. I just started using deionized water a few weeks ago and I prep it as follows: (And I do the same with the top off water) aerate plain water for 24hrs, add salt, aerate another 24hrs, add buffer if needed. <I'd do that the other way around - buffer first, then salt.> I use ReefBuilder if Alk is low. Superbuffer if ph and Alk are low.  When I aerate water I use a 600gph pump with a small air pump hooked into the aeration nipple on the output. It moves the water around quite well. I was wondering if the water may not get aerated enough. Should I think about a bigger air pump? <I'm sure this is fine.> In the main tank, it seems like I can not get Alk above 7dkh or Ca above 300ish without adding these supplements all of the time. I add Tech CB in main tank when Ca is low. It seems like the regular water changes should keep things more in line. <Regular water changes aren't necessarily going to boost calcium, but would keep it in stasis. If you have a good number of calcium consuming organisms, then calcium will get used up if you don't supplement it.> I will go through a ton of ReefBuilder and Tech CB if I keep this up. <Not uncommon, is why many people start using calcium reactors.> Ca is always on the low side also. I will dose with Tech CB and Ca will be up around 400mg/l for a few days but then drops down again. <Sounds like you should be dosing calcium on a daily basis and not waiting for the levels to drop.> I know that Ca and Alk should not both be on the high side at the same time. And I also read that the Ca and Alk should be in balance before using Tech Cb. I am assuming that a Ca of 300mg/l and an Alk of 7dkh is in balance (both on the low side) and I am ok with adding the Tech Cb. <Yes.> But it seems like I am adding it quite often and not getting much results. <Again, is par for the course with this type of additive, and potential for consumption of calcium.> I am fine with spending the money as long as I am on the right track. <Consider that calcium reactor.> Am I? <For the most part yes, you're certainly not on the wrong track.> Ph is always around 8.4. It is the only one that is where I want it (or where it should be). Hope all is great for you. :) Many thanks for your help.  Dennis <Cheers, J -- >

- Alkalinity of Make-up Water - Hi Bob, <Actually, it's JasonC today...> I just set up my tank a few days ago. My KH was only 1.0. I added baking soda and the KH is 4.0 and the co2 system is working fine. My question is that when I need to add water back to the tank due to evaporation, will the KH drop? <A little bit, sure.> Does the baking soda stay in the tank? <Yes, but its effect will not last forever - the bicarbonate gets 'used up'.> An analogy would be with my saltwater tank where you add only fresh water back to the tank since the salt doesn't evaporate out. <Not quite the same.> I appreciate your help.  Ken <Cheers, J -- >

- dKH to ppm - Good day, the crew rules.  Can't find a conversion cart for dKH to ppm.  Only found this formula 2.8 dKH =1.0 meg/l = 50 ppm.  You know if that's a linear relationship i.e.  (200 ppm = 4 meg/l = 11.2 dKH) or know where I might find a table?  Any help as always is greatly appreciated, Thanks. <Found a calculator! http://saltyzoo.com/SaltyCalcs/AlkConv.php?units=DKH&dkhStr=8  Enjoy! -Kevin>

Establishing Calcium and Alkalinity <Hello! Ryan with you today> I have a 58g reef tank that I started about  2 months ago.  I have 70lbs of live rock, 40lbs live sand, 2 clownfish, 1 Kole tang, 10 snails, and 5 crabs. <OK> I have a Euro-Reef cs6-1 skimmer, 250w 10,000k metal halide light, 450gph sump pump and 300gph circulation pump.  I've start thinking about adding calcium to my system to get ready for corals and I can't decide which method to use. <Understood> I'm thinking Kalkwasser, 2-part calcium/alkalinity, or Seachem reef advantage calcium. <B-Ionic 2-part calcium alk is what I prefer> I'm looking for least maintenance, most idiot proof, and most effective. <Exactly why I prefer it> I would also like a recommendation for inexpensive test kits for calcium and alkalinity. <Seachem works well and is reasonable> What are your thoughts on the calcium situation and what are your thoughts on my setup so far? <Sounds great, you've got sturdy equipment list and you're taking it slow.  I'd add some live rock if possible, you'll want at least 1 pound per gallon.  Best of luck! Ryan> Your help is much appreciated.  Thanks,  Chris

That Time of Year... Depressed pH - Well-insulated Houses - 8/14/03 Hi, <howdy!> Have been researching the salt mixing process on your site, and have seen reference to buffering the RO water, prior to mixing salt, but could not find more specific details. <it's not rocket science, mate... we use RO or DI to demineralize water for the removal of the good and the bad. Then, simply buffer back with the good to a medium high/hard ALK and pH within the known safe ranges of seawater. Thus ensuring very consistent water every time (versus variable tap water quality)> Currently before mixing the salt, I leave my water to aerate for a day with a heater and powerhead in it, <very good> after which the PH tests at 7.4 prior to mixing the Instant Ocean. <not bad> Should I buffer this water prior to mixing? and if so, could I use my normal buffer, Seachem marine buffer? <yes... just a little would be fine to get closer to 8.0 or so> I am struggling somewhat with low PH in the tank, ranges from 7.9 to 8.2, and wonder if there is something I could be doing better.  Thanking You, Alastair <very common this time of year because of well insulated houses (depressing pH from excess CO2 in the house/water). Confirm this problem by taking a glass of aquarium water outside and aerate it heavily for 6-12 hours. Test pH before and after... there should be no change... but an increase would indicate the above problem. Much has been written on this topic in our archives at wetwebmedia.com if you care to read it. Best regards, Anthony>

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

First time Kalkwasser/Calcium User - 8/13/03 Hi, <cheers> I have a 180 gallon tank and my coral is changing colours quite significantly.   <Many possible reasons... excess nitrate if darkening in color, insufficient nitrate if paling, too much or mot enough UV... dirty lamps or lenses, aging bulbs, lack of weekly/monthly carbon to maintain crystal clarity to water, etc> I am trying to research the benefits of Kalkwasser versus Calcium but it's getting kind of confusing.   <Kalkwasser is calcium mate... are you confusing it with carbonates/buffer?> I understand that Kalkwasser is literally calcium hydroxide, so is this the same as "calcium only" products (such as Reef Success Calk, Kent Marine Turbo Calcium Dry, assorted calcium concentrates, etc)?   <nope... Kalkwasser is better (many more benefits to it... read about them in our Kalkwasser FAQs in the archives of wetwebmedia.com). The latter products are generally just calcium chloride which is only a temporary supplement for calcium (can cause long term problems if used regularly)> If so, that makes this a lot easier, but if NOT, then what do I do?   <do read my article "Understanding Calcium and Alkalinity" in the archives> If it matters, the coral types I have are colt coral and anemone. <please also read about eh dangers of mixing sessile corals with motile anemones. Its a recipe for disaster in the long run. Do keep anemones separate> Your site is great to answer questions that I might have after I get going, but I just need a little help getting started.  Any suggestions? Thanks, Raj <all good my friend... begin here and read the links at the top of the page and beyond: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm  best regards, Anthony>

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

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

Ozone and Alkalinity Question - 8/10/03 Dear WWM crew, <howdy> My 240 gallon tank is currently running at 375 mv to 398 mv without my Clearwater ozone generator turned on (last several days).   <very fine> The ozone is set to turn on at 345 mv.   <And your hi-point is set for just under 400 I presume?> If I understand it from Bob's book, that over 400 mv is dangerous to the life in my tank. <rather... it's the high end of the safe zone. Agreed> My tests for alkalinity yield 14.0 dKH.  My calcium is 350.  Any advice or suggestions? <your ALK is too high... do let that stray down to a ceiling of 12dKH. The calcium is fine however. No need to fixate on specific numbers... just stay stably within a range> Current parameters: Ph ranges from 8.28 in the a.m. to 8.4 in the p.m. Calcium Reactor effluent Ph is 6.78 Ammonia=0 Nitrites=0 Nitrates=25 Salinity=1.026 Temperature=80 (temperature is controlled) 300 lbs live rock in display, small amount of live rock in refugium.  Live rock teaming with copepods and amphipods. Several white Syconoid sponges present on the rock. Small amount of coral gravel (1 to 2") in display and refugium. Good amount of macro algae in refugium. (Light on 24/7) <all fine> Fish=Picasso trigger (In sump waiting for a home), blue tang, 3 yellow tangs,6 blue/green Chromis, 6 line wrasse, watchman goby, green mandarin and scooter blenny. Corals=torch coral, brain coral, cabbage coral, colt coral, Kenya tree coral, button polyps. Inverts=Crocea clam, bubble tip anemone, cleaner shrimp, coral banded shrimp, tube anemone (in refugium), several hermits and a few snails. <dreadful to see the anemone mixed in with sessile cnidarians/corals... do reconsider removing to a species tank or ancillary tank at least (very risky long-term as a motile cnidarian... unnatural too)> Additional equipment=Acrylic tank with corner overflows, 3-175 w 10k M.H. w 2 - 95w blue actinic VHO's, CS8-4 Euro reef skimmer, 4 maxi jet 1200 powerheads in display tank and 2 Mag 1200 return pumps. <you have a fine system overall... no worries. Best regards, Anthony>

- Too Hard? - Good morning Crew!!! <And good evening to you, JasonC here...> Well, for the past few months I have been adding calcium & a buffer to my aquarium. Two weeks ago, I checked my carbonate hardness, and found it to be at 13dkh, so I stopped adding the buffer, but continued with the calcium. For the past few days, I noticed that my torch coral is looking a little pale, so I checked my calcium, and the carbonate hardness. Calcium is at 450 ppm, and the carbonate hardness was at 17dkh. I know that should be between 8-12dkh. So, I did a water change. Should I be alarmed at this?? <No... you've done the right thing - stop the additions and do a couple of small water changes.> Why did the dKH go even higher after stopping the buffer?? <Hard to be certain, what type of calcium were you adding?> Thanks for your advice. Pat Auburn, NY <Cheers, J -- >

- Re: Too Hard? - I've been using Seachem Reef Calcium, and Seachem Reef Builder. <I'm not certain, but I think the Reef Calcium is also buffered... would explain why your dKH continued to rise.> When I get home from work tonight, I will check the levels again, and do another water change. Will my torch coral be ok?? <I think so.> Thanks for your help. Pat <Cheers, J -- >

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

Understanding Alkalinity Hi again, <Hi there! Scott F. back with you today!> Finally, my tank got cycled last week. I added a flower pot, frags of candy and a green button polyp. The LFS told me to add some Alkalinity Buffer. What does this do? and If I need it, which brand shall I get? Thank you, Felix <Well, Felix- I'm not sure why the dealer recommended that you get the buffer. If he or she tested your water and determined a need, then I can understand. It all boils down to basics, I guess. Alkalinity is a measurement of the buffering ability (capacity) of your system. Alkalinity is sometimes depleted from systems by improper dosing of calcium supplements. Calcium supplementation without the appropriate carbonate added as well can knock your alkalinity way out of whack! My advise is twofold: First, get an alkalinity test kit. Second: Get yourself a nice tall glass of Thai Iced Tea, some popcorn, and a little quality time on WWM reading over the alkalinity FAQs. That will really help you get a grasp on the calcium alkalinity dynamic, and an understanding of pH in your system. It's worth the effort to learn! Good luck, and have fun! Regards, Scott F>

Alkalinity in ppm?! My alkalinity was 140ppm. What should the alkalinity range in ppm be? Thanks <Heh, no clue! For marine aquaria we measure alkalinity in either alk or dKH, not ppm. You'll need a different test kit. Happy reefing! -Kevin>

Alkalinity, huh? I am somewhat confused about alkalinity. I have a reading of 140 ppm. <When we refer to alkalinity, we are referring to the buffering capacity of the tank (which you have measured as 9.5 dKH). Alkalinity is measured either in alk or in dKH, disregard this ppm reading.> What range should I have in a reef system. <Keep your dKH between 8 and 12 with a calcium level between 400-450> Ph is 8.4, dKH is down to 9.5 and salinity is 33. I do not buffer my ro water that I use for replacement due to evaporation. Do I want to use a reef buffer which may raise my ph or a reef builder which supposedly does not raise ph? < Your dKH level is fine, assuming your calcium level is around 400 ppm. If your dKH drops, but the pH stays high, you should use a buffer that does not directly raise the pH. -Kevin>  Thanks

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

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

Sodium Bicarbonate and Carbonate 6/11/03 Hello, I've done a search on your site but could not find the answer to this. I am currently using baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to buffer my water changes and top-off water. I've read that long term use of this may be detrimental (not sure "how" detrimental, though). <hmmm... I know of no deleterious "accumulated" effects. Simply avoid spiking water quality with excessive use in a short period of time. Quite a safe product overall> I've also read of people using a combination of baking soda and washing soda (sodium carbonate) for alk/ph buffer additive. I've read on commercial buffers that these are the two main ingredients. <correct> Can I use this combination for long term use instead of the commercial products or just keep using the baking soda alone? <certainly... just let your test kits be your guide (ALK, pH)> I really like the results of using sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and its inexpensiveness, compared to commercial products. I've been using it solely since late December; my alk maintains between 3.5-4.25. If using bi-carbonate AND carbonate would be better, what proportions or "recipe" would be recommended? I've been using Mr. Fenner's recommendation (from his book) based on 1 tsp. of baking soda for every 20 gallons of tank water. Thank you. <I've seen several recipes on the net... as well as in the past works of Moe, Spotte, et al. Frankly... I don't think you even need to add the washing soda. With satisfactory ALK... I cannot see/say the advantage to modifying the bicarb routine. BTW and FWIW... I buy and use the commercial mixes  <G>. I really like the variations/options in the Seachem line. Kindly, Anthony>

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

Alkalinity Hi Bryan, PF with you tonight> Hello everyone, I have a quick question again about ALK, but more on the lines of RO/DI water.  I am starting up my tank again (75 gallon).  I have been making up my water this way.  I have a Rubbermaid trash can that I fill with 20 gallons of RO/DI water, I aerate and heat for a day, add buffer and aerate then add salt and continue to aerate for at least a day.  Top off water is same as above (w/o salt of course)....here lies my problem.  When I buffer I have been adding Seachem reef builder to set Alkalinity. The other day I decided to test the make up water for ALK b/f I added salt.  I am using Salifert test kits. The dKH after buffer and b/f salt was at "7" and pH 8.3 at 78degrees.  I then added salt (tropic marine) let aerate for 24 hours and retested.  The dKH was 13.8 (WOW) can you explain this huge jump... <Wow is right, I do know that most salt mixes (such as yours from the ingredients list) have additives to buffer the water. I would assume that spikes the levels up.> I know that the salt mix contains carbonates and bicarbs but I didn't think there would be that much difference. (I tested 2 more times and still 13.8dkh)  Here is problem...How do I buffer the RO water? <Well, since you're not adding the salt mix to the top off, I don't think it would be a problem. Have you tested the water in the tank?> I have thought about buying the products made for adding minerals back to RO water.  What do you think? <I'd say give it a try, and see what you get results wise, but first I'd test your tank water. If the dKH is ok, I wouldn't worry about it.>   Thanks again Bryan <Your welcome, have a good night, PF>

- Re: Snails and Hermit Crabs Dying - Hi Jason: <Hello again...> Thanks for getting back to me. I checked my Ca level last night and it's down to 200, Could this be causing the dye off. <I doubt it.> Also my ALK is really high about 800 mg/l. <Egads, that is high, and would explain the low calcium.> I add 2 teaspoons of KENT Super Buffer once a week to maintain my PH, could this be a problem also. <Potentially... could be your water is already pretty 'hard' and doesn't need supplementation - stop adding the Kent product and test your source water.> Thanks, Aram <Cheers, J -- >

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

Re: Alkalinity question To Anthony Calfo, <cheers, my friend> I am reading this FAQ article again as I save all the correspondence with WetWebMedia. It's just amazing that how you guys take some very novice hobbyists and craft them in smart aquarists. <it's truly a labor of love :) > You folks have the art and patience of handling some of the most frustrating emails that one can imagine and all about almost same symptoms and people running in same issues - I suppose or at least most of them. I have taken care of the issues that are discussed below and you were correct about all the symptoms and diagnosis as always. My hats off to the staff at wetwebmedia. Razi <thanks kindly! Your feedback is both reassuring and inspiring. Wishing you the best in your endeavors. Anthony>

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

Diatom Algae, Light, Buffers I should then be doing bi-weekly changes of at least 10% each time? Should I be gradually increasing my lights up to 12 hrs per day or wait till my situation is under control and I get inverts/coral? <I would crank it now and burn the algae bloom out by it outgrowing the nutrient supply. It may actually increase as this algae usually shows up in light and goes in dark.> I was thinking of going with actinics only for first 2 hours, then actinics and 1 MH for the next 2 hrs, then the actinics and both MH for the next 4 hrs, then actinics and 1 MH for 2 hrs and finally actinics for the last 2 hrs. Does this make any sense? <Not really, the actinic only is for viewing more than the benefit of any inhabitants.> Also the baking soda is recommended on your site over buffers by Bob Fenner. Should I drop the soda and buffer my RO replenishment water with a quality buffer? Thanks <Uh, for buffering FW for dips maybe, but not for buffering marine systems *alone*.  For instance, the buffer I use contains far more than Sodium bicarbonate; Sodium, magnesium, calcium, strontium and potassium salts of carbonate, bicarbonate, chloride, sulfate, and borate for instance. This causes ionic unbalance over time. Also, good buffers include dosing directions for a known result.  I recommend and use Seachem buffer for RO make-up and supplementing new water and regular carbonate/alkalinity use.  Hope this helps! Craig>

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

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

- Adding Buffers - Jason, <Good morning.> I do let my water sit up to a min. of a week, but the buffer directions say a tsp per 20 -30 gal & I add 3 tsps for 25 gal. to hit 2.5 alk, Is this normal?, or bad for my tank? <I would say bad... buffer capacity in freshwater will be different than salt - I would add one teaspoon as recommended, wait 24 hours or so, and then add the water to the tank and measure the alkalinity there...> If my ph is at 8.4 & the alk is @ 1.0 do I still continue to add buffer to get a 2.5 alk reading? <I wouldn't> I believe my ph seems to continue to increase. <You are adding too much buffer. Ask yourself this question - what is it that I am keeping that requires increased alkalinity. If you are just trying to meet a number, then you're doing it for the wrong reason.> Thanks J, Darrin <Cheers, J -- >

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

Re: alkalinity Great site... lots of info. I'm having a little trouble understanding one thing about alkalinity though.   If alkalinity is the waters ability to resist an change in pH, and my pH is appropriate (8.2), should not any alkalinity value over 10 be good? <Yes... depending on the units, but go ahead.> I have a new 90 gallon tank with 60 lbs of live rock that is cycling.  I tested it last night and my kH is 17, pH 8.2.  Is this a problem?  Could it be because I just mixed the salt with the water a few days ago, and added the 80lbs of aragonite substrate at the same time? <No worries> As a side note, what SG fluctuations are acceptable within the tank?  I don't have an auto top-off method yet, so I'll have to add fresh water by hand.  I'm assuming I shouldn't add this top-off water all at once either?... better to add a bit at a time? <For most fish livestock 0.0005 to 0.001 or so move in density per day is acceptable... the lower value for most invertebrates> Thanks, Jeremy Calgary, Canada PS  I've never emailed you guys before... do you send me a copy of the response as well as posting it on the web-site? <Yes. Bob Fenner>

- Dosing 2-part / Raising Alkalinity - <Greetings, JasonC here...> I have been using the recommended doses of Coralife Invertebrate Calcium Supplement and SeaChem Reef Calcium twice weekly to encourage coralline algae growth on the live rock in my 38g tank. My water parameters are as follows: ammonia 0, nitrite 0, pH 8.2 morning 8.4 night, calcium 330 mg/L, alkalinity 5.5 meq/L. My alkalinity is high. <It is a little high... but not silly-high.> I am looking to switch over to the B-Ionic. If used according to directions, will this raise the alkalinity? <It shouldn't, the buffer in that system is specifically meant to buffer the calcium being added at that time.> I would like to see it lower, and certainly not any higher. <Then stop with the other supplements for the time being.> Thanks for your help, Tom Berry <Cheers, J -- >

Re: conversion meg/L to dKH in alkalinity Craig, What's the "q" stand for in meq/l I had thought it was a "g" but I guess not. Thanks. Steve <Hi Steve, "meq/L" is an abbreviation for "milliequivalents per liter".  The Q itself is part of the abbreviation, it means nothing on it's own.  Craig>

How many meg/L   =   dKH  ? It seems there are two standards for alkalinity measurement, and I'd like to know how to convert one to the other so I can better understand folks in the FAQ section of the website. I've been reading about 3 hrs/night for a week now and am learning a great deal.  Thanks Steve <Great! 1 meq/L = 2.8 KH, GH, dH, dKH.  So 3.5 -5 meq/L = 9.8 dKH - 14 dKH.  Your Seachem test will read meq/L.  Craig>  

Buffer supplements Hey Guys. I have a quick question about the old no matter how much can you add, nothing happens. After reading much in the archives, (still reading) I am going with old dilution solution. My question is should I stop all additions (buffers, Kalk, calcium Marin plus) until things are back in balance. <Water changes will help...I think. You don't state what's out of balance so I gotta guess that you mean alkalinity and calcium> I'm still trying to perfect treating my RO water and think adding buffers too soon (before aeration) or to much may have been the beginning of the problem. <Test the RO before adding anything. Then I aerate over night, then buffer over night, then add salt...and test levels again. Do all of this testing on a couple of batches of water and then you can test less frequently. Find out what the "normal" raw levels are for your RO and then add the appropriate amounts of supplements to bring it up to where it needs to be> Before I just added tons of buffer and calcium to the tank to keep balanced and Kalk made with untreated ro water. <The word "tons" may be your problem. Please test regularly for anything that you are adding> Anyway, thanks for all of your time. <You're more than welcome. Keep reading and learning! David Dowless>                                                                              Mark

How to lower high alk? Hello u all, <whassup?> I know alkalinity in marine tank should be 2-3. <what unit of measurements? Milliequivalents? If so... target 3-4 meq/l> today I measure and was 3.5, <perfect as per above> what can I do to low it?? <you may not want to. This sounds like a fine level of Alkalinity for marine aquariums... follow the link for the Calcium and Alkalinity article on this page (and other articles too!): http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Latest%20Articles.htm thank u. anat <with kind regards, Anthony>

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

Succeeding with reefing: follow-up Anthony, Mark here. We were talking around Thanksgiving about some water quality issues and my tank of tangling tangs. <Yessuh> I started using a two part calcium and buffer system and it has worked wonders. <totally tubular to hear> Calcium level at 420, PH 8.4, and alk finally came up to 8.5dkh. Thank you so much for all your advice. <very welcome> I also realized something else that was causing my dilemma. My top off water which I never used to buffer) had a ph of below 7.7 and an alk that was so low it wouldn't even measure. <yep... that would be a problem/burden on ALK> I'm sure this was a key part to my problem. I also got an adjustable air valve for my skimmer which has made it work 10 times better. All my corals look much healthier now and my Turbinaria has polyp extensions like none that I have ever seen. I really appreciate all your advice, and I will not add any more tank mates until I get my big tank. <very cool... and I'm sure all will fare better for it> One more stupid question though. When I do a water change is it necessary to buffer the salt water also? <depends on the quality of the source water you start with. If your freshwater is demineralized (RO, DI, distilled)... then you definitely have to buffer> Or does the salt mix set the ph and alk where it is supposed to be. <salt mixes generally do have at least a little extra buffer> Thanks again and hope you and yours and everyone at WWM have a wonderful holiday season......Mark <and the same to you my friend>

Re: low alkalinity Greetings, Amos. Jason C here. While a calcium reactor would be of good use to you and your system, you should also understand that calcium and alkalinity live at opposite ends of a balance. If one or the other number is higher than normal, the opposite number will be necessarily low. You may want to consider holding off on the two-part additions for the moment and allow the system to reach a more natural equilibrium. As for calcium reactor brands, I am partial to the Knop line of reactors, but... there are many out there, and you also have the option of building your own - they aren't really very complicated. Consider asking this same question on our forum where you can get multiple answers... http://wetwebfotos.com/talk Cheers, J --

ALK measuring...ppm or dKH? and don't forget meq/l Hello everyone! Tonight I spent a few hours reading at your site about "Understanding Calcium and Alkalinity", and the differences between alkalinity and Ph. Well, I finally got it! <very good to hear!> Thank you for sharing your collective brains and education. <hmmm... there's a joke in there somewhere <G>> It's such a good feeling when something finally "clicks". Now, I feel that I can move forward, (even if just a few baby steps) into the vast world of reef keeping. But of course you know I won't let you off the hook that easily, I have one question for now. I use "Aqua Lab I" test strips to measure my ph/Alk. What puzzles me is that when I see measurements at your site for Alkalinity, I see this symbol, "dKH". On my Aqua Lab test strips, they measure as ppm., like this: 0-80-120-180-240-300. Do these numbers convert into the alkalinity guidelines of 8-12dKH? I hope you're following me. As always, thank you! Pamela <indeed Pam... there are several ways to measure hardness (general and carbonate) and as ppm (parts per million), dKH (German degrees hardness) and meq/l (milliequivalents per liter). Most test kits have conversions (the numbers/factors) in the fine print of the instructions for you... somewhere. My advice would be to get comfortable with dKH or meq/l ranges as they are most commonly used in popular literature. At last... no worries, you can convert any at will to another. Do consult your test kit (and in ppm target over 300 ppm. Actually closer to 400ppm for marines).>                   Re: ppm or dKH? Got it! dKH:  To convert degrees of German hardness (dKH) to parts per million (ppm), multiply by 17. To convert degrees of German hardness (dKH) to milliequivalents per liter (meq/l), divide by 2.8. This means my tanks dKH is 11! Hence my notoriously low ph of 7.8! This is the reason I bought Kalkwasser, which I used tonight for the first time. I used the slurry method. Next question: If my calcium is already high enough, will the Kalkwasser keep pushing it up? At the present time it's a whopping 420! Thanks Pamela <I see the light bulb shining over your head from here <G>. Learning really is fun! (and we are such nerds!). Actually... your 11dKH and 420ppm Ca are quite good together. Only the hardcore stony coral keepers want/need higher dKH. Too much Kalk will push your Ca scary high... lets just try aerating your tank better to increase pH. Verify that this is the problem by testing a glass of aquarium water before and 12 hours after vigorous aeration. If the pH increases... you have a CO2 problem or lack of aeration. Common this time of year (and summer too) with sealed and well insulated houses. A better skimmer or an extra vigorous airstone in the tank/system alone can raise the pH without needing any more supplements. Do try this first. Best regards! Anthony>

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

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

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