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FAQs on Marine Alkalinity 4

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

Related FAQs: Marine Alkalinity 1, Marine Alkalinity 2Marine Alkalinity 3, 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,


GH/KH too low My xenia is balled up and some of my LPS have lost color. Someone told me it was either PH or DKH. My PH tested 8.2 but my GH/KH test kit tested 80.  My kit says 105-125mg/L is best. What causes a drop in GH/KH?  <Excess CO2 in the water for one. Excess nutrients is another.> What can I do to get my GH/KH up?  <Get some alkalinity booster.> What is the difference in GH/KH and DKH?  <GH is "General Hardness", DKH is German Degrees of Hardness. DKH is what most aquarists use. There is also mg/l. James (Salty Dog)> Thanks <You're welcome. Do a Google search on the Wet Web, keyword, "alkalinity". You will get a good course on alkalinity there.>

Seachem Marine Buffer question I just bought a bottle of Seachem Marine Buffer and I do not see any expiration date printed on it. Does this product never expire? <Does not expire... very stable formulation. Bob Fenner>

Alkalinity Too High Hi, <Hello>  I'm new at marine aquariums and am having some trouble. I bought a test kit and have been testing for 2 weeks, now. It tests pH, carbonate hardness, NO2, and NO3. I also measure temp., spg, and salinity. I thought everything was great, but I couldn't figure out the carbonate hardness or alkalinity. My brain just couldn't understand for some reason. Finally, it clicked and I've discovered it's way high! However you figure it, these are what I get: 250ppm, or 5.0 meq/l, or 14 degrees carbonate hardness. That's high, right? <Normal levels are 8-12dkh, but your level shouldn't cause any concern.>  How can I fix this?  <It will fix itself in time.>  We used potassium softened tap water originally, but then used distilled water and mixed it with Instant Ocean as directed and did a partial water change. My pH is 8, salinity is 30, and spg is 1.023, temp. holding at 77. We also set up a small quarantine tank with distilled water and Instant Ocean and came up with the same readings. I don't think it's my water then. In my main tank, a 29 gallon, I am using the Skilter filter, along with 2 airstones. We have a 5 lb. live rock and used live sand/crushed coral as substrate. We do have 2 clown fish, a tang, and 2 small hermit crabs. I had 2 other clowns first, but 1 lasted 7 days, then the second died after 11 days. I don't want to lose any more! Can you help?  <The 29 gallon tank is way too small for a tang, they can grow to 9 inches or so. As for the clowns, without seeing them or an accurate description as to any spots etc on them before they died, it would be hard to recommend anything. James (Salty Dog)>

Alkalinity too high? 3/16/05 Hi, I'm new at marine aquariums and am having some trouble.  <no worries... its a wonderful learning curve> I bought a test kit and have been testing for 2 weeks, now. It tests pH, carbonate hardness, NO2, and NO3. I also measure temp., spg, and salinity. I thought everything was great, but I couldn't figure out the carbonate hardness or alkalinity.  <tough to sum up in a brief e-mail, but the gist of it is total hardness vs. carbonate hardness for starters. If your kit only tests for the latter, no biggie... it is indeed most of the total hardness in seawater> My brain just couldn't understand for some reason. Finally, it clicked and I've discovered it's way high! However you figure it, these are what I get: 250ppm, or 5.0 meq/l, or 14 degrees carbonate hardness. That's high, right?  <it is high... not too severely. 12 dKH is high enough as long as your Calcium is a bit flat (under 400 ppm, e.g.)> How can I fix this?  <a large water change and some time... no worries> We used potassium softened tap water originally, <yikes!> but then used distilled water and mixed it with Instant Ocean as directed and did a partial water change.  <hmmm... you may need to buffer the distilled water slightly. Yet with distilled water, I cannot see how your ALK got so high? Have you added SeaBuffer at some point in time? That would be the logical explanation (overdosing SeaBuffer)> My pH is 8, salinity is 30, and spg is 1.023, temp. holding at 77. We also set up a small quarantine tank with distilled water and Instant Ocean and came up with the same readings. I don't think it's my water then. In my main tank, a 29 gallon, I am using the Skilter filter, along with 2 airstones. We have a 5 lb. live rock and used live sand/crushed coral as substrate. We do have 2 clown fish, a tang, and 2 small hermit crabs. I had 2 other clowns first, but 1 lasted 7 days, then the second died after 11 days. I don't want to lose any more! Can you help? <please also read the article "Understanding Calcium and Alkalinity". Do a search for this article on our home page at wetwebmedia.com by using the Google search tool there. Kindly, Anthony> 

Soda Ash Hi Crew, <Terry> Just a quick question. I have three reef tanks and live near a soda ash mine. I use the soda ash in the swimming pool to adjust the alkalinity. Will this work in place of the SeaChem Reef Builder that I have been using to adjust alkalinity in the reef tanks? I can buy a 25 lb. bag for about the same price as a jar of the SeaChem. Thanks, and keep up the good work, you all are great!! Terry <Mmm, well soda ash is simply sodium bicarbonate... baking soda aka... so, you could just buy "Arm & Hammer" instead if this is all you wanted... You will find that the commercial products contain at least a carbonate and an anti-caking additive... At any length, if it were me, my system I would NOT use the soda ash from the mine, for fear of contamination... but would use the processed food grade if all you want is to add bicarbonate... you will find by experimentation that this material will not elevate your pH more than about 7.8... Bob Fenner> 

Side effects of High alkalinity Hi,<Hello Kurt> I have a question.  What are the consequences of high alkalinity? I just changed my water 2 weeks ago and I guess I got a bad batch of salt.  My alkalinity is well over 20dKH (past the limits of the test kit).<Have you been checking dKH weekly and this just happened?>  No other parameters changed, as a result of the water change, just the alkalinity, and the nitrates decreased of course.  Two of my snails died and my cleaner shrimp (of 8 months) died.  Does the alkalinity affect elements that are needed for a crustacean to molt? <In a way, yes.  High dKH precipitates calcium, one of the elements needed to harden the new "skin" along with iodine, but the calcium level would have to be drastically low.> He died about 3 days after a molt.<It is possible that a fish may have hit on him.  Shrimps have a very soft shell for about 24 hours after molt and are vulnerable to attack at this time.>  I know that shrimps are usually very sensitive after a molt.  I just seems weird that he died after 8 months of being fine.  I thought the alkalinity might be the culprit.   Amm 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 5, ph 8.3, temp. 77 <Kurt, the high dKH didn't kill the shrimp.  Either it died from old age or something else got to him. I have just experienced a high dKH in my system and this certainly didn't lead to any problems.  I do have a cleaner shrimp in the tank. Sorry to hear.  James (Salty Dog)> <<Umm, high alkalinity and sudden changes therein CAN indeed kill all invertebrates. RMF>> Thanks Kurt

Elegance problems and alkalinity Dear Blundell, This is Diane, (Tom's wife), again. Sorry if I sounded flippant about names in the last letter but I didn't know that it says Tom's name right at the top of the e-mail. The only e-mails I send or receive are with you guys. Gotta get out more!  < No worries, I to spend much time conversing with reef nerds. >  (Besides the LFSs!) And you were right, when addressed to Adam got Adam, imagine that! And a very helpful chap too. Anyhow, per your suggestion I added one cup of Kalkwasser (Reef Evolution, Aquarium Systems, mixed per directions) to my top-off water, wrote back to say that my pH had not changed, got Adam, and had not done anything until yesterday because I was waiting for my test refills. If you can't test for it, don't add it! However, Yesterday (Feb. 8) one of my powerheads slipped and was blowing sand around.  < I hate it when that happens. >  (Talk about a love/hate relationship). After reattaching it, I was using my hand to "gently" waft the sand off my Elegance coral and pieces of his flesh blew away!!!  < Not the best of things to see. >  I immediately started a water test and water change of at least 10%. Before water change there were 0 nitrites, 0 ammonia, less than 10 nitrates (but higher than normal), pH less than 8.0, alk. 2 meq/L. After water change everything was the same except nitrates which dropped. And this morning everything remains the same except nitrates are less than 5 and I will do another 10% w/c. When in doubt, change some water!  < I tend to agree, but I'd be careful to not stress the fish or other inhabitants. >  The Elegance is almost completely gone. The coral's shell is approximately 4" and there is an area about the size of a quarter where the polyps are still there and inflated too. Also a few in between a couple of the flutes. Now, my order came today and with it the 2 part E.S.V. B-IONIC which both you and the Other Adam recommended.  < Great stuff. Although with those water changes you probably won't need to add any for weeks. >  In one reply you had said to add B-IONIC; we thought my calcium was between 375 and 425 so Let's assume that I am on the low end (I am awaiting my test refills which are on backorder, will be four days). Can you give me an opinion on the following and also any other suggestions for saving what I have left? I am going to change another 10% and add the B-IONIC according to the "starting dosage" recommended on the bottles, 1 ml. per 4 gallons of system water.  < Okay, but freshly mixed water is great. I don't think you will really have to add anything. If you do use the B-Ionic I would dose once a week and not once a day for a while. >  But it says to dose every day until reaching desired levels and was wondering if daily dosing was O.K. with just the alkalinity test.  < Yes, some people like to dose different amounts. Basically you want to have your calcium and alkalinity in the "good area" then just add equal amounts in small quantities. >  It is a 125 gal. acrylic but I figure with the DSB and all the rock that maybe it's closer to 100 gals. Also, I only have 175 watt single screw (mogul?) MH lights, 3 of them, 5500K with 2 36" blue PCs. < Wow, 5500 K? That is a super yellow light. Not bad, but rare. >  Could this be the problem? I know now is a hell of a time to ask, after I've killed everything! But since I can't change the wattage of the MHs just now I was thinking that when I replace them I could go with a "blue-er" K and change the PCs to 96 or 110 watt 10000K or 50/50? Something with more "daylight"? Again, thank you so much for all your help!!!  < I think switching the halides to 10,000 K in the future would be a good move. But not necessary, and not worth the money at this time. Also, the Elegance may not be your fault at all. They have a terrible survival rate, and I wouldn't mess up the whole system to save (or attempt to save) just one Elegance. > Sincerely. Diane. (P.S. The powerhead had only been down a couple of minutes and there was not much sand on the Elegance but I had not seen him/it yesterday as I was out most of the day and the day before he was retracted a while but had done that before and seemed no worse for it when he would re-inflate.) PSS Why is the mixed Kalkwasser good for only four days if its in a sealed container? just curious. < I've never heard that. Hmmm, sorry I don't know. > < Blundell >

Tank parameter problems Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2005 Hi <Hello, Richard>  How are you guys tonight? I am having major problems with my tank parameters which is probably why coralline is not growing. They are as follows, carbonate hardness 17 (yikes), pH of 8.0, NO2 less than or equal to .3 mg/l, ammonia 0 (yay), Ca 800+ (Arg). I would normally use the supplements by SeaChem, (Reef builder, Carbonates), Reef Advantage Calcium, and Marine Buffer for the pH. I had been adding pH buffer for a few weeks to get the pH to stabilize at 8.3 but it would just raise and fall. From adding that, the carbonate hardness shot up and hasn't come down. <When you add the pH buffer, you are actually increasing the carbonate hardness in your water.>  The scary high calcium ..... no clue how that got so high because I haven't been adding the calcium. <This is a mystery since kH levels that high normally precipitates the calcium. With that high a dKH, I would think your calcium level would be more toward 250-300ppm.>  Any ideas on what I should do ? <I would buy a product by SeaChem called "Acid Buffer". Only use 1/4 of the recommended dose daily. This will bring your dKH down slowly. This product turns kH into CO2. Don't put it directly in the water as the container says. If some of this powder should land on a coral it could/can be detrimental. Mix with a little top-off water then add to the tank.>  I'm going to do a water change but I just don't know how to control those 3 very well. My pH is always a stable 8.0... so should I just leave that alone? <All that is needed is to try and keep your dKH between 8-12, and calcium 350-400, and with adequate lighting the coralline should grow.>  I read that coralline grows better with a higher pH.  <Keep in mind if the dKH level is correct, the pH level will be correct providing the tank is not overstocked, overfed, and small weekly water changes are done. When dKH levels fall between 8-12 dKH and pH is lower than 8, then there is a problem in the system. Anyway, I'm getting too detailed here. Go ahead and try the acid buffer and get your dKH to an acceptable level, then check your calcium. No sense adding anymore calcium since it will precipitate anyway. Good luck. James (Salty Dog)> The only coralline growth has been on my first piece of live rock which I have had for 7 months when I had a 1 gallon nano. Even then the growing spots are only a little smaller than a pea. The current tank I'm talking about is a 44 gallon by the way. Thanks for your help. You have never failed me.

Salty's dKH  Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2005 Bob, Just mixed up some Reef Crystals in a 12 oz glass to an SG of 1.024. Not the salt mix either as I read 12 dKH on the new mix. Boy am I stumped. In reference my tank dKH reads 25. Arrrrrgh!!!!!  Talked to a tech at Sea Chem and yes indeed, the calcium additive can raise dKH (I knew it would but not to that level) but my case is unusual. So, for reference, he suggested getting some Sea Chem acid buffer and use 1/8 the dose until desired dKH is met. Regards, James (Salty Dog) <... reminds me of the joke re the utility company saying you can place too-hot food in the refrigerator to cool it down... B>

Raising the level of alkalinity after overdosing Kalkwasser Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2005 Dear Sirs,  <Don't call us "Sirs", we work for a living.> I recently set up a 700litre reef aquarium with a Tunze Kalkwasser dosing system. Initially it seems that I was adding too much powdered Kalkwasser to the dispenser and my Ca/kH balance is off the recommended levels.  I now have a Ca level of 500-550ppm And a kH of 5.  My pH has been steadily around 8.25 until today when I tested it at 8.2 I stopped dosing Kalkwasser over a month ago and but the alkalinity is not rising.  <Chris, it isn't going to rise unless you add some alkalinity buffer in the system. Any calcium supplement will raise the dKH somewhat.> My question is, and I apologize if you have answered the same question many times, how can I bring the alkalinity up to better levels?  Is there a safe and reliable way to do this without large water changes? <As above, with the addition of a KH buffer.> Also, I am having a fairly serious outbreak of whitespot in my reef aquarium. It is impossible at the moment to get any biological cleaners from my local LFSs. What can I do to save the fish of which some have it quite bad? It is also next to impossible to catch the fish and treat them in a hospital tank, because of the rockwork in the tank.  <No magic here Chris, you either get them in a hospital tank or treat the whole tank provided there are no invertebrates in the tank. You will risk losing all or part of your bacteria colony. The choice is yours to make. Good luck. James (Salty Dog)> Thanks for your help.  Chris Malakounides - Cyprus 

Raising the level of alkalinity after overdosing Kalkwasser Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2005 Dear James, Thanks for your super fast reply! I just bought some buffer. It is Red Sea Fish Pharm Buff and it states to add 5ml per 120litres weekly. How much do I actually need to add in my case and how slowly?  <Chris, you could add the 5ml/l daily until your dKH is where you want it, preferably 8-12dkh, then check your calcium level and add CA if necessary. James (Salty Dog)> Do I just add the buffer and keep testing until I get a KH value over 7 or do I first need to wait for the Calcium levels to drop naturally with time? Thanks for all your help. Chris 

Tap water alkalinity Thu, 3 Feb 2005 Hello James, and thanks for responding! <Your welcome> First question, yes I have calibrated the monitor.  I haven't retested it for a couple of weeks, but I have plenty of solution to do so again, if you think I should.<No>  I hadn't realized that my ph was low, because the test kits that I had been using showed that it was okay.  I don't care for the matching-up color tests very well!  Too much second-guessing. <Agree, sometimes the dyes don't seem to match the color chip.> As far as the fish go, I have 6 Chromis.  Three weeks ago I had 7, but one died day two.  Didn't seem to have anything wrong with it, just didn't take well to its new home.  I have a few snails somewhere in there, and 4 little cleaner crabs.  One thing I found that I'm doing that doesn't seem to be recommended is that I have an undergravel filter on the tank.  I've had this tank set up for around 5 years or so, and tried to set everything up according to the Conscientious Marine Aquarist.  In the book, it stated that undergravel filters were perfectly okay, but from reading the forums on Reefcentral, I think I'm gonna take out the plates and my substrate and start over again. <Ah, your problem is at hand.  UG plates are OK if you thoroughly clean the substrate at least every three months with a gravel cleaner type syphon. Your UG system is more than likely a hydrogen sulphide gas producer which is extremely dangerous to the inhabitants.>  I really want to have the pretty white sand bed that I've seen on people's posts, but couldn't ever use it with the undergravel filter. My substrate that I have now is a bunch of little shells, and It is almost impossible to keep it clean-looking.  It really wasn't much of a problem when I didn't have the pc's, but the tank sure doesn't look very nice.  Do you think the substrate could be causing some of my problems?  It is several years old. <I believe it is causing all your problems.  I certainly would tear it down and replace with a sand bed.  If you do not have at least 1 1/2 lbs of live rock per gallon which would be your bio filter, then I would suggest the use of a wet/dry filtering system.   I do use a skimmer, although after buying it I have read where others think it a piece of crap (Seachem),<I wasn't aware that Seachem made a skimmer.  Are you sure it's not a SeaClone?> but it does pull out quite a bit of gunk.  I also have a canister filter running, and have added a hang on whisper filter.<I would use Chemi-pure in the canister filter.  This product does remove quite a bit of organic waste and is economical.> I have a powerhead attached to the undergravel filter plate.  I have live rock (I think 45 lbs), but it's been several years when I bought the first group, so don't remember for sure.  I had clown fish in the tank for years, and they got so mean that I couldn't put any other fish in there.  I also had a chocolate chip starfish for about 5 years.  I finally got rid of the old fish, and would like to start again.  The Chromis are not supposed to be quite so mean! <Very peaceful fish> I must have read what the water parameters were supposed to be wrong, because I thought the alk wasn't supposed to be that high.  I just looked it up in the book and it says alk 2.5-3.5 meq/l is an acceptable range.  This too must have changed since Mr. Fenner came out with this book! <An acceptable range is 8-12DKH.  Just multiply the meq/l by 2.8 to get that value.> I've been freaking out on this for nothing!  Earlier this week I mixed a new batch of water for my next change, and had added marine buffer to it to match my ph.  When I tested it earlier today, the alk was 14, calcium 420.  I was thinking about dumping it out, because I thought the alk was way off. <I wouldn't add anything to the make up water.  It is suppose to have near correct levels to start with.  Alkalinity buffers should only be added as needed.  With the organic waste of that UG system, I'm sure your buffering capacity doesn't last too long.> Could the old undergravel plate and substrate be causing my calcium to vanish? <You have a "witches brew" with that UG plate.  Get rid of it.> I would really like to get the coralline growing again, and from what I've read, I must be able to keep the calcium up for this to happen.  It has spread a very little bit, but not anything like it used to. <Once you make your changeover, let the system run a week, then start checking your levels.  SeaChem's liquid calcium is an excellent product to get that coralline growing.> Thanks for letting me pick your much more intelligent brain than mine! <One's opinion> I love fish, but I hate the science/chemistry stuff!  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! <Don't let the testing scare you off Jacquie, they are just indicators of water quality. The ph being one of the better indicators of poor water quality.  Good luck.  James (Salty Dog)> Jacquie dKH help - Alkalinity too high 1/30/05 I have a 55 gallon fish only tank, with a few crabs and tube worms, etc. In the past my DKH was around 12 or so. <excellent... no need to go higher> It was stable so I didn't check it all the time. I checked it this morning and the DKH is over 20, I stopped at 20 drops. Yikes, I figure that it was adding too much buffer to top off water. <yes... indeed too much buffer if this reading is accurate. Do test the accuracy of your test kit against the raw tap water and new mixed seawater. If they read (expected) lower, then perhaps something in t he main tank is skewing the readings. Either way... do two large water changes (50%+) in the next 7-10 days to dilute the agent/issue causing the high Alk readings here> I read through the FAQ's and I can't seem to find if this is a problem for the fish, they seem to be alright. I have maroon clowns, Bar gobies, dragonet, green Chromis. I also can't seem to find out what I should do to drop it, or should I even bother? <20 dKH is dangerously high (risk of precipitation)> One other question. I have brown stuff that is about the consistency of bread crumbs that forms in the bottom of the tank and in a specimen container that I have going to raise Amphipods, what is this stuff? Protein? <no idea my friend... need more information than "brown bread crumbs" to go on here ;)> Thanks, Randy <best regards, Anthony>

Alkalinity question Hi, <Hello there> After tracking down why my corals have not be opening all the way, I have determined my Alk is way too high. It is easily over 16dKH. I have been trying to determine the source and figured I was adding to much buffer to my make-up water. <Very common> That may be part of the problem, but not the real problem, I think. My RO/DI water measures 0-Nitrate, 0-Nitrite, 0-dKH, 7.6PH and 25ppm Hardness. Seems ok, right? <Mmm, no... there are some such water treatment units that allow carbonates, bicarbonates through, but not many... your hardness should be much lower> After I mix the salt (IO reef crystals) and raise the temp... about 24 hours later my dKH and hardness are off the charts?? It seems as if the RO water is super sensitive to adding any amounts of buffering, even the built-in salt buffers. I have been doing large water changes to try and balance my tank out... but if I am starting with high Alk. I am not sure what to do. Do my filters in the RO/DI need replacement? Can I lower the Alk in any other way?  Thanks for any suggestions. -Brian <I would have your alkalinity test gear tested... check your water against some other assay, perhaps seek out samples of water with known KH, GH to test your tester... AND seek out what other sources of hardness may be influencing your readings... Do you have new substrate in this system? Of what composition/origin? Lots of new base rock? Something simply is awry here... and we will find it. Bob Fenner>

Re: Alkalinity question Hi Bob, <Brian> Thanks for getting back to me. Very good diagnosis, because yes I actually do have a new substrate or at least some of it. <Ah ha!>  My whole problem started with high Nitrates a few weeks back, so I doubled the sand bed from 2" to 4" (Southdown sand that I stocked piled when it was available). My Nitrates are down considerably with large water changes in effect until the sand really kicks in, I am sure it's helping already. I have noticed this high dKH problem ever since the increased sandbed or at least that's when I really started monitoring all parameters. Sounds like the new sand could be the cause? <Yes... the more easily soluble portions are dissolving...> If so, I assume it will stabilize over time? Thanks so much!  -Brian <You are correct here... weeks to a few months. Bob Fenner> 

Alkalinity Hi Crew,     Many thanks for all the work y'all do in supporting the hobby. I've only been in the game for 2 years now, but I constantly refer to you and have found your book and article recommendations tremendous--enough flattery for now. <I'll say!>     My 150 budding reef tank has been very stable for 2 years with slow addition of a few LPS's. Good skimmer and flow with 10% water changes bi-weekly. About 150 lb. of nicely encrusted Fiji with very light fish load and about 2" of aragonite. Only real change of late is to add 2x250 HQI halides to the 4x96 PC's (now all actinic). This was done about 6 weeks ago with a view toward more corals to come. Gradually increasing MH photoperiod to current level of 6 hrs. per day while trying to let algae growth cycle and stabilize with each incremental increase in photoperiod. <Sounds good>         My alkalinity has been stable above 9 dKH while Ca has stayed above 400 and pH 8.3 ( I dose with Tech 2 part Calcium buffer at the same level for over 9 months now).     My problem seems like a total newbie question, but the more I read, the less certain I become of the best solution. Within the past 3 weeks I've found my dKH falling to current 7.7 while Calcium ranges 360-410 and pH still 8.2 or better. Other observations: Some coralline algae (very small percentage of total) near top of tank has died and bleached. My sand sifting starfish has started spending much more time on top of the sand bed and is rarely ever concealed. Emerald crabs have turned much lighter bleached color from previous green and become more diurnal. Is any of this related? What role is the MH photoperiod playing, and most importantly, how can I reverse the decline in alkalinity?     Thanks so much in advance for your assistance. <Good descriptions! All tied to your new lighting... driving photosynthesis... the biomineralizing life and reductive effects of respiration in a closed system exhausting the alkaline reserve... Let's cut to the proverbial chase: You can either restore previous levels with addition of "two part" supplements (alkaline earth... calcium, magnesium... AND alkaline reserve... carbonates, bicarbonates...) OR switch to a "calcium reactor" of sorts... or... Bob Fenner>

Re: alkalinity Thanks for the prompt reply and affirmation of what I suspected (hoped) was the problem. I've been looking at calcium reactor as next on wish list... the only question is how urgent or dangerous is this dKH decline and how long before I need to make the addition? <Mmm, read over www.WetWebMedia.com here... as usual, too much to simply answer in a brief response... that needs to lead to next logical interrogatories... you want to fix this now, someway> In the meantime I suppose I can increase my dosage of Kent's 2-part Calcium buffer to hold the line until reactor installation--correct? <Ah, yes.... I should (as usual) read ahead> Thanks again for everything-I've been reading your info on Ca reactors and will continue to do so. <Real good. Bob Fenner>

High Alkalinity Problem 12/16/04 <Since I already addressed your question about the polyps, I omitted that info from this question.> My other problem has been the Alkalinity. I don't know why it is so high. It has been going down since I have been changing out the water to RO/DI water. I have been doing a 5 gallon  change once a week since 3 week ago. The water always gets cloudy once I dose with Seachem Reef Calcium and Reef Complete. I have not added any buffering additive since I found out how high the KH was. But before that I have been using Kent Super Buffer.  If you need additional information, please feel free to ask. Kit <Your Alkalinity is on the high side of normal, but it is fine, and is in good balance with your fairly high calcium.  I would follow the routine that you followed in the past, but slightly reduce the amount of both the calcium and alkalinity additives.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>

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

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

Deep sand beds and alkalinity Thank you again!!! I think I might agree with on the DSB in the sump. (of course my sump is not big enough so I will have to change things around a bit) Wish I would have found you guys 9 months ago. I was also thinking about what you said about adding sand to the front of the tank. Do you think it would ok to siphon my sand from the back of the tank (live rock is in the middle of the tank so I have room in front and back) and add that to the front of the tank. << I wouldn't siphon with a deep sand bed. >> Going from about 3" in the front to nothing in the back? As far as my Ph goes it seems to stay consistently at 8.3 (never checked it at night) I have also added SeaChem's Reef Builder about 5 times in the last month (1 teaspoon) to bring my Alkalinity up. It really has not moved much . Do I need to be more aggressive, I didn't want it to raise too quickly. << Hmmm, not sure.  I'd consider using one part of a two part solution (like B-ionic) to raise the alkalinity.  But go slow. >> Sorry about all the questions but it seems the more I learn the more confused I become! << That goes for all of us. >> <<  Blundell  >> Scroll Algae (10/24/04) Dear WWM crew. <Steve Allen with you tonight.> All is mostly well thanks to you guys… I still have one more algae problem and a water quality issue though! Algae problem: No more hair algae! Yea!!! Lots of Scroll algae! Boo! They were pretty when only a few 'scrolls' opened, but I have 4 other kinds of algae that are prettier that came with the live rock and this one is the second most aggressive. <Are you certain of your ID. Are you referring to the species Padina? I've not heard of this one being a problem. Some folks grow it on purpose.> The tang leaves these alone and only goes for the hair and Nori (on a clip). Are scroll algae considered nuisance algae? <As above, not generally.> Water quality issue: My pH is between 7.9 and 8.1 in my tank vs. 7.9 in freshly mixed salt water after 24 hours! <Are you using r/o water? Do you buffer it? Quality fresh-mixed saltwater usually had a pH of 8.2 or higher? Very strange if true? What is the pH before you add the saltwater?> I recalibrated my Hanna instruments pH meter twice and that's still the reading. <Do you have an LFS who can test for confirmation?> Hagen test kit gives me a KH of 130mg/L for freshly mixed salt water after 24 hours and 70mg/L for what's in my tank!<Something is eating up your buffer.><<Likely the profuse algal growth. RMF>> Very low--does not respond much to Kalkwasser or Seachem reef builder! <Again, strange. Can you think of what might be consuming this?> Don't know my nitrates because my test kit ran out and I'm waiting for my kit. It was <10ppm a month ago. <What about phosphate? Any phosphate will promote algae growth) Temp is between 78.5F and 80F. Salinity is 1.025. Calcium is between 380ppm and 400ppm and the same for both. I'm ready to do a 55% water change. Occupants show no sign of stress--includes feather dusters and cleaner shrimp and snails. Any comments or suggestions…. I know I overfeed, but my nitrates have never been high. <Check phosphates.> The LFS guys tell me they had a problem with their reef display until they replaced their 4" DSB with ? inch crushed coral. <Many folks are succeeding just fine with DSBs, though a little deeper than yours might be better. Is it aragonite?> Something about the sand under the live rock accumulating crap and getting mucky! <Should not be an issue if properly maintained. Do you have a cleaner crew to pick stuff off of the top of the sand before it can "sink in?"> My bed is 3-4.5 inches deep. The bubbles don't penetrate past the top 1" or so. Thanks! Narayan <Hope this helps.>

Alkalinity Hello, <Hi James, how are you today? MacL here.> I have a 300 gallon tank with a 125 gallon sump.  I have fish and live rock with no corals.  I have been waiting for my new Aquamedic baby skimmer for 2 months (Africa's a nightmare) so have been running with no skimmer. However, nitrates are still at 0. I have 7 fish around 6 inches.  My tank must be working quite well. <Sounds like it indeed.> Anyways, back to my question. My ph is always 8.3.  My KH is always 8, I chuck in loads of Kent buffer but it has no effect.  My KH should be 10 to 14 right?  The Kent buffer is costing me a fortune.  I change 10% of the water once a week with filtered seawater and RO to bring down the salinity 1.023. I also have 4 inches of aragonite. So, what do I do? <Take a look at this article by Anthony I think you'll find it very helpful. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alkalinity.htm, I know I personally drip Kalkwasser to keep my alkalinity high and balanced. MacL> Always thankful of your help, James.

Falling Out Of Solution? (Powdery Stuff In Prepared Water) Hello Crew, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> I submitted this question almost a week ago and had no response, so I am trying again. <Yikes! Sorry your query fell through the cracks...Happens now and then, unfortunately.> Twice now I have added 1 tsp. of Sea Chem Reef Builder to my 10 gallon tank of "Water Change Water" after I aerated and added salt. After a day the tank gets cloudy with a fine white powder. The fresh water consists of RO and I use Coralife Salt, I added nothing else.  Is this a "snowstorm" I have read about? I tested the Alkalinity at 4.5 meq/L after this happened. Can temperature change affect this? The tank went from 77 to 84 degrees during the day and when it got warm, I noticed the powder. Thanks for your time. Michael <Interesting thought, Michael- but I don't think that Reef builder would cause the "snowstorm" effect at this dosage. The cloudiness is apparently something in the buffer falling out of solution. Water can only hold so many dissolved substances. I have noticed this sort of phenomenon myself when using buffer products, and the water has cleared after a day or two. If the water tests okay, I would not be overly concerned about it. Sorry I could not give you a more specific answer, but it seems like it may not something that is very detrimental. Regards, Scott F.> - High Alkalinity - I have a 55 gal tank w/ 20 gal sump 5gal refugium (just live sand) in sump. 80 lbs LR. 6 in sandbed. 3 Clowns, Sweet lips, Tang, T. snail, mushrooms and a fan coral and RBTA. (Which recently split into three)  I have an in sump Berlin turbo protein skimmer, aqua logic chiller and a Korallin 1502 Ca. Reactor. NH4 0.0 Nitrite 0.0 Nitrate < 40 ppm Temp 82 SPG 1.023 PH 8.2 --> 8.4 Ca. 420ppm Alk 16.0 The alkalinity became an issue when I hooked up the reactor its a lot of reactor for a small tank and I'm having some issues tuning it.  I bought it second hand and have since had to replace most of the tubing due to leakage and difficulty maintaining a constant drip rate. My question is during this period my alk soared up to 15.0 DKH  is this immediately dangerous to my tank should I just let it drop naturally and start over or try to neutralize it with massive water changes or is there something else I should try. <It's not immediately dangerous, but it does put you on the high end of what is helpful. I'd turn down the reactor and let things balance out on their own. Cheers, J -- >

What should my alkalinity be? I have a 90 gallon reef tank with 125lbs of Fiji rock and 1.5 - 2 inch sand bed with various soft and 3 hard corals as seen in my picture. I have 5 small fish {they will stay less then 3.5 inches each} 1 coral banded shrimp, blue legged hermits, Nassarius snails, turbo snails, 2 brittle serpent stars. << Certainly not over loaded. >> As you can see in the pictures everything looks happy and all the rock is covered in nice coralline algae. The only coral that seems unhappy is the 2 headed long tentacle toad stool that split 2 months ago. He hasn't extended his tentacles fully since splitting. << Could still be recovering, but more likely doesn't like the water or lights. >> I am assuming given time he will extend them fully again. Lighting consists of 6 x 55 watt 50/50 bulbs and 1 x 40 watt Coralife actinic no bulb. << Not much light, but apparently enough. >> Filtration consists of a surface skim box that flows into a 20 gallon long sump/refugium that has 24/7 lighting. In the refugium is miracle mud and Caulerpa. Additional filtration is provided by an aqua c remora pro hang on filter. Water is returned to the tank by a 800 gph pump. In the tank I have 3 aqua clear power heads hooked up to a red sea wave maker. My water parameters are as follows. Salt: 1.024 Temp: 78 Calcium: 390 Alk: 4.69 DKH: 13.04 Ammonia: 0 Nitrates: 0-.25 Nitrites: 0 Phosphates: .25 I have enclosed a picture of my tank. My question is, are my ALK and DKH levels good. << Yes, excellent. >> I have read different opinions on this. Some recommend DKH 8-10 and ALK 2.5-4.5, others recommend DKH 12-15 and ALK 4.5-6. << You are fine, and that is ideal. >> Your help is appreciated. Thanks, Brian Marotta <<  Blundell  >> Alkalinity is too high? Ok I have had the tank for I would say 7-8 months now it's a 40 gallon breeder tank with assorted soft corals in it. my specs are as follows. 196 watts light 50/50, 65-70 lbs live rock with crushed coral substrate, SeaClone 90 gallon protein skimmer, two 350 gph power heads in either corner, AquaClear 450 with heater inside of it, assorted snail, and hermit crabs, 2 clowns, 1 algae blenny, 1 royal gamma, 1 blue damsel.  For freshwater I use ro/di water that goes through a five stage system I bought, I also use red sea salt.  I have had the same problem since I started the tank. I would manage to get the water down to 3.0-3.5 meq/l and within a week it would start to rise and soon enough it would be around 4.5-5.0 I keep the calcium around 350-400 through liquid calcium. << I would think that getting your alkalinity up is a good thing.  Most people have a problem with that, and not the other way around. >> it seems to me that my corals grow a lot better when the alk is down around 3.0-3.5. << Hmmm, I guess that could be the case, but I wonder if you corals are growing better in that situation because of higher calcium levels.  Or a better way to say it is more available calcium. >> just wondering what might be causing this because I always hear of people with problems of the alk dropping but I seem to have it backwards. << Yeah, I would stop adding liquid calcium at this time.  If you are having problems, stop adding and wait it out.  Also, I would be adding a two part solution, but not for a while. >> thanks for your help love the website its been a great help << Good luck, and no worries. >> thanks, Stephen R. <<  Blundell  >> Buffering Hi Scott <Hello again!> How are you? <Just fine, thanks!> I need your advice on my thoughts. I pre mix my tap water with salt as I do not have an RO-unit. I leave this mixing for a week before I add the new water to my tank. I was thinking will it help if I were to add crushed shell to this drum of mine and then mix the water in there. <I would not bother, myself.> Will this maybe assist me in pushing up my ph instead of using additives and adding bi-carb  which I ain't really too fond of, like to keep it as natural as possible. <Well, most of these buffer products are quite natural, actually. A great assist is a deep sand bad of aragonitic material> Also what exactly is KH and how do I go about maintaining this , have seen some fancy, costly additives which I personally don't think are necessary. Please shed your very valuable advise on my thoughts Thanks Again Ziad <Well, Ziad- rather than go nuts with a long winded dissertation on this basic tenant of water chemistry, I invite you to check out the large amount of information that we have on this subject on the WWM FAQs. Simply use the Google search feature that we have here, using "KH" or "alkalinity", or "buffering" as your key words...Enjoy the learning- the answers are here in abundance! Regards, Scott F.>


Buffering (Cont'd.) Hi Scott <Hi there!> Thanks for your input <You're quite welcome!> can I try adding crushed shell to my drum where I mix my water to push the ph of my tap water up? <You could> Do you think it will help <Personally, I don't know if it will have much impact on water chemistry, as this material will dissolve very slowly-over time. Makeup water will generally not be in this drum long enough for the material to have a meaningful impact on water chemistry, IMO> Thanks. Regards Ziad Limbada <Always a pleasure! Scott F.>  

Buffer Question 20 Aug 2004 Hi, hope all is going well there for all of you. <thanks James we appreciate that>  I have a couple of non-related questions, please.  First, I have read that when storing water in a plastic container for water changes, the ph buffer should be added prior to the salt mix. <Honestly I don't add buffer to my water since when I add the salt mix it should take care of all the buffering necessary> I was curious as to why, since the buffer is for salt water and it will only be plain water if the buffer is added first. <I don't see the point to adding buffer> Second, do you know of a website where I might find aqua Thiel products such as No-phosphate and No-silicate? <Not off the top of my head but you might type the names into www.google.com.>  thanks, James James Hall  

Alkalinity Question 19 Aug 2004 Morn'n crew - <Howdy Brad, MacL here with you this fine and dandy afternoon.> just a quick Alk question..  I currently have a 55G softy reef; simply mushrooms, zoos and polyps. It's been running for the past three months and I'm just curious about reef alkalinity consumption. <Kewl me too!> Calcium remains steady at 400 with 5 Gal a weekend WC (Tropic Marin) and a Wednesday tablespoon dose of Seachem Reef Calcium (powdered). The question is I add 1 tablespoon every morning (slowly) of Seachem reef builder Alk Buffer to keep Alk at 10 - if I skip one day the next morning Alk drops to 8..  Is this normal (I know what is normal!), but does it sound right? <Total alkalinity is determined by the amount of acid (free, positively charged hydrogen atoms) that is required to neutralize all the negatively charged bicarbonate, carbonate, and borate ions present in one liter of water. (Quote from Martin Moe, but what that means is that,  "A system that is in an "ionic balance" is one that has  a balanced ratio of cations (positively charged ions like calcium, magnesium, strontium) and anions (negatively charged ions like carbonate). If there is a correct ratio of these ions in a system, then they will stay in solution and not precipitate out. What I suggest as "balanced" is around 400 mg/l of calcium to around 4.0 meq/l of alkalinity." Thanks Rusty from SeaChem. What this means in lay terms is that something in your tank is a little out of balance.  Not badly because of course your chemical additions are taking it to balance. Rusty from Seachem also suggests that to achieve this balance you use water changes. He gives this fantastic explanation which I have his permission to use. It goes like this. . . Let's say you had a jar full of evenly mixed up marbles. The blue marbles are calcium (let's say there are 400 of these marbles representing the 400 mg/l of calcium in natural sea water), the orange marbles are magnesium (and there are 1,300 of these marbles representing the 1300 mg/l concentration of magnesium in NSW), and the yellow marbles are carbonate alkalinity (200 of these representing the 4.0 meq/l of alkalinity that most captive reefs are kept at. NSW is not this high). In this even mix of marbles, there is a greater chance that the blue calcium marbles and the yellow alkalinity marbles will never come in contact with each other because there are so many orange calcium marbles (1300 to be exact) along with other "marbles" (like sodium, chloride, sulfate, strontium, etc.) in the mix. If you lessened the amount of orange magnesium marbles (basically remove some magnesium out of the mix), then you have increased the chance of the blue calcium marbles and the yellow alkalinity marbles coming in contact with each other forming an insoluble precipitant (calcium carbonate) because there are now less marbles in the mix. The above analogy is an example of basic ionic competition and this is why ions stay in solution if there is an even mix of marbles in the jar (basically an even mix of ions in solution) I hope that helps Brad, MacL> Thanks, Brad  

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

Chemistry learning curve II 8/11/04 Thanks, Anthony. Sorry to have left the units off-- <no worries> it was 7.2meq/l and I was surprised at how high it was. <yikes... it is so high that I'm not even sure its an accurate reading. Has this been confirmed on another brand/type of test lit? DO check with a LFS or another aquarist> Ca = 460; pH = 8.2; hardness is 12 deg dH. <I'd feel more comfortable if Ca was not pushing the high end too... 425ppm or slightly lower is fine> Phosphates are at zero, as are nitrates and nitrates. <do allow some nitrates in the future for coral health/color... just a small amount like 5-10ppm via fish food/feces or dosing with Sodium nitrate (see Knop clam book or my Book of Coral Propagation for reference)> We think it is "snowing" in the tank. <with an ALK that high, it should be... yet it is unmistakable if so... hell breaks loose in 12 hours and the tank crashes usually> What do we do about it? <you have to let a snowstorm finish, else any water changes or supplements will feed the reaction. When its done, do an immediate and large water change. 2 or more 50% water changes in the next week would be on par> We just did a 20% water change today. We stopped adding the 2 part calcium buffer about a week ago. When should we resume? <when the water changes bring the numbers into a safe/flat and balanced range> Should we test every other day or so and when Ca starts to dip, should we then start adding the 2 part solution again? Thanks!! R/Janet <unless you have a dozens of large stony corals in the tank needing lots of calcium, I'd like to see you simply rely on small (say 20%) weekly water changes instead for a while to replace trace elements and minerals while diluting the bad compounds. Much better than the see-saw you are on with the random supplements. kindly, Anthony> Alkalinity drop 7/23/04 I had been using Rowaphos for a few months with no problems. Unfortunately while on vacation, my Calcium Reactor output hose clogged up and the alkalinity dropped from around 10 to 6 ! This severely stressed out several of my favorite colonies including: Tri-Color Acro - this is the worst one hit but there are some live branches with many polyps under the dead white tips. Hydnophora - looks like this may recover from the bleaching Baby Blue Acro Frags- have many of these so not a biggy Blue Acro tortuosa - Tips are turning white, not sure if it will make it. One of my more expensive and most favorite pieces. <I am not convinced that a drop in alk to 6 would be enough by itself to cause this.  How sure are you that nothing died while you were away, causing an ammonia spike and how sure are you that your temperature did not rise more than about 4-6 degrees above normal?> My questions are:  What is the difference between bleaching and RTN ? My colonies did not all die in a matter of hours, but instead are bleaching slowly....although now that I have stabilized the water parameters (Ca = 430, Alk = 10) the bleaching has slowed but still continues. <Bleaching is the expulsion of zooxanthellae.  RTN is a condition where the coral "self destructs" and the animal itself dies and the tissue sloughs off of the skeleton.  I agree with your move to correct the alkalinity, and recommend carefully monitoring temperature, alkalinity, pH and other parameters and focus on STABILITY!  I would not try to aggressively correct any other parameter unless it is dangerous (ammonia?).> Should I remove the affected colonies ? <I would not.  Moving them would be another undue stress.> Should I frag the affected colonies to save what I can, or leave them alone and hope they recover ? <I would leave them alone.> Thanks in advance for any help you can offer. <In the mean time, I would recommend lowering your light levels a bit.  I would do this by reducing intensity first (fewer lamps running, raising lamps higher above tank) and only shorten the photoperiod if you don't have any other choice.  After a week or so, work your lighting back to normal over a week or so.  Best of luck!  Adam>

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


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

- Lowering Alkalinity Hi again, my dKH(?) in my quarantine tank is a bit high at 14 dKH. <That's not terrible, but agreed that it is on the high end of the scale.> I use Tetra Test kit where I drop in the reagent and the sample turns from blue to green and then to yellow with the last drop. <Hmm... do try running this test again... with titration tests like this, you need to mix each drop - give the vessel a couple of swirls before adding the next drop.> I am counting 14 drops from start to yellow.  I have searched your site and only find questions about FW lowering of alk.  How do I lower the alkalinity in my saltwater QT? <Not much differently honestly, and really there aren't many safe options. I would start by looking for what might make your alkalinity this high - is it your source water, is it something you are adding.> I had dosed Kalk nightly to raise pH because of excess CO2 in my closed up house and I assume the Kalk is also raising the alk. <Not usually.> For the last few days I have been using Seachem reef buffer to raise the pH instead of Kalk in the hopes that the alk will lower by itself. <I'd stop adding this for now. Check the alkalinity of your source water and as well once you've added salt... if the alkalinity isn't as high as the tank, I'd try and solve this with a couple of water changes.> Is there any other way to lower the alk? <Cut back on the buffers.> I use RO/DI for top off.  Thanks, Jeff <Cheers, J -- >

Marine Alkalinity Issues Please Help, <Happy to.  Ryan Bowen with you today> Have a saltwater tank that has been up and running for about 3 months. <OK> My water all checks out except the PH. PH was 7.8 yesterday.  I did a water change using R0 water. Changed 15 gal of a 60 gal tank. The PH did not change at all. <Is the pH of your RO ideal?> I added some PH up then it shot off the charts.................(only added the recommended amount). So I added the PH down immediately and not it is back at 7.8 <OK> I tried to bring it back up again by just adding a couple of drops per hour then gave up after 4 hours of no change. I had just added a rose bubble anemone, coral angel fish, and a fire shrimp. The fire shrimp died................. <I'm not surprised- a shift of this magnitude could easily kill everything in your tank!> What can I do to get the PH up to the recommended 8.2? <Best bet is to do a few semi-major water changes with the pH adjusted to your "make-up" water.  Use a buffer, something designed to raise your pH to 8.2 and keep it there.  A buffer won't swing you past your destination.  Then, once the water is ready, do 25% daily water changes until pH is where you want it.  In summary, you're not adding the buffer to your tank directly!  It's all going in through water changes.  This limits the negative effects it could have on your livestock.  Good luck, and please refer to this article for a more complete understanding of pH: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm> Did the huge swing in the PH kill the shrimp? I am just devastated............. Audrey Donaldson

- Alkalinity in a FOWLR - Hi Guys, A real quickie.  My pH always remains stable at 8 to 8.3.  The KH stays at 6 to 7.  I have poured in loads off Kent pro buffer over the months but it doesn't increase.  I have a fish and LR system. My question is if the pH remains stable is the KH still critical to be between 9 to 12? <A higher kH is really most desirable for stony corals and clams when keeping calcium available is the order of the day. For fish and live rock, a stable pH and kH in the range you list is just fine.> My saltwater comes from a marine research lab in Cape Town, which pumps it from 5 miles out at sea and filters it, I then add ro water to bring down the salinity. Also, I test for nitrites-0, nitrates-10, Ph and KH. Should I also be testing for calcium, phosphates or anything else? <You could, but if all else seems normal - fish look good, no algae problems - then I'd move at full steam ahead.> Kindest Regards, James. <Cheers, J -- >

- Alkalinity - Hi guys, thanks so much for all your advice so far I know I'm a pain but I do spend hours everyday reading through all your archives and am learning all sorts of valuable information! Have halted all progress in my aquarium until I know better what I am doing. I currently test for nitrite, pH,  spec grav and temp. Have all under control but after the few problems I have had namely a result of mis reading pH test colour and letting it drop over a month or two down to 7.5 (or lower who knows) then trying to get it up and dilute spec grav which I let get too high not doing top ups with fresh water (1.029) now that everything is stable my pH cant seem to stay up it took me a week to get it up and even now it seems to drop from 8.2 or 8.3 down to 8.0 or a bit lower over two or three days and I have to keep adding buffer tablets. Even with water changes of about 30% weekly. My guess is by letting it get so low in the first place I have exhausted the buffering capacity of my substrate (which is shell grit and aragonite) and live rock and base rock (limestone I think). <Actually takes a while for this to happen, doubt that this is the source of your problem.> Have ordered from LFS an Alkalinity and Calcium test kit and supplements which should arrive end of week. I'm assuming these will show both depleted and I will need to add each. <I'd start by working on only the alkalinity first.> My question is with adding buffer and maintaining pH (down to 2 tablets after two days now instead of three a day) will my pH become stable again so I can leave testing to once weekly or so or do I need to add more/change my substrate, live rock or anything else? <I'd try adding buffers to your freshwater before you add your salts - doesn't have to be fancy, baking soda will do.> To increase the buffering capacity in my tank again. Does this wear out completely or can it be replaced or something by adding the tablets for kH and pH? <It can "wear out" but in the absence of a real acid - something below pH of 7.0 - this is likely not your problem. I'd investigate your source water first.> Thanks in advance whoever answers this question. Do you guys have a roster or is it just random whoever is on the computer? <It is pseudo-random - some in the group will sort mail into various folders if a particular question is specifically suited to that person. Otherwise, it's sort of first-come, first-served.> Your site is amazing I cant believe you guys are so accessible and there for all us beginners who might other wise give up. This is a very demanding and complex hobby at least initially it has got a lot more involved than I thought it would (pushed to the extreme by my impatience)! To all you other beginners out there my advice is take it slow and RESEARCH RESEARCH RESEARCH! <Indeed. Cheers, J -- >

- Alkalinity - Hi Everyone, I have been battling a low Alkalinity problem in my 135 reef for the last few months now.  I am using Kent Pro Buffer to try and raise it, but it's raising my pH too high.  Any suggestions? <How old is this system... if over a year or year and a half, you should consider replacing at least half of your substrate and rock. Otherwise, do check the alkalinity of your top off water and water you're using to make saltwater. Would be a good place to start.> Also, is it okay to buffer fresh saltwater (for water changes) with an Alkalinity supplement? <I'd buffer the freshwater, before adding salt - this would be ok.> SG - 1.025 pH - 8.5 Calcium - 370 ppm Alkalinity - 6.1 dKH <Cheers, J -- >

Alkalinity My RO/DI comes out with very low alkalinity (about 0-1dKH) (10 TDS) so the filters are working ok. When I add salt the alkalinity goes through the roof (about 20 dKH (that's what my tank is, calcium in tank is 200)) No matter what salt (instant ocean, red sea, tropic marine (good stuff)) the alkalinity is very very high. What is in my RO/DI water that is making it so Buffered? Would that be the correct term?? <<If the RO is working, then there shouldn't be anything.>> I don't know too much about chemistry, but since I have started the reef tank, I have read a great deal about what's in water (WOW). So Without going into too much chemistry, what's up and what should I be looking for out of the RO/DI.   << Well there are a few possibilities that come to mind.  First, have you checked your test kit to make sure it works?  Second have you tested the alkalinity of the RO water?  I'm curious to know, and believe that it probably isn't a RO problem.>> Is there anything to add to it? <<This is my quick thinking.  For now, I would suggest mixing up a gallon water.  Test it.  Then add the salt mix to it.  Then, as you said it may test sky high.  Keep a bubbler or powerhead in there and wait 24 hours.  Then test it again.  If the alkalinity is still high, write me back.  I wouldn't be surprised to just see the salt mix take a while to finalize its composition.>> I am not even talking about the tank now, I have read the FAQ's too. Thanks mark << hope that works, Adam>>

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

Conversion of Alkalinity Readings (Mental Gymnastics For Insomniacs!) Hello Skeleton crew! <Scott F. your Skeleton tonight!> Great job managing the board while the rest of the crew is away!!! <It's all good fun!> Real quick question that I just can't seen to find in the FAQ's. How do you convert dKH into meq/L???  <Here's the formula that I've used to covert meq/L into dKH: Multiply the reading in meq/L by 2.8. It seems logical (gulp- I LOVED math in school-can't you tell) that you'd divide the dKH by 2.8 to get the result in meq/L...right?> Test kit measures dKH and buffer instructions are in meq/L. Don't these people look at each others products?!?!? <Annoying, huh? I tend to favor meq/L, myself. It is true that there is some inconsistency in the way different products report results.> Thanks a million!! <Or is that parts per million? Heh, Heh!> -Ray <Hope this was useful! Regards, Scott F> 

-Sky high alk!- My alkalinity is very very high in my tank, about 20. <Yikes, I trust that this measurement is not in alk but in dKH, still very high. You could probably dump a gallon of orange juice in this tank and not notice a pH drop ;) > My alkalinity is close to zero out of the RO/DI. <Ok> I let the water sit for 24 hours, no additives, aerate it, bring it to the proper temp, add salt to 1.023-1.024. I have checked my alkalinity at this point and it is very very high, around 20. <No mystery here, your salt sucks. I use Tropic Marin, the levels are always pretty well balanced and close to natural seawater values. Most of the other readily available salts should have similarly acceptable levels of the important stuff, but I haven't personally tested them lately (Kent and Reef Crystals are both good names in reef salts).> How do I lower the alkalinity? My calcium is about 250-300 I have read through the FAQ's and the article about alkalinity (marbles and all), maybe I am dumb, but I'm not sure what to do. Any help would be appreciated. <Instead of trying to bring it down by offsetting it with calcium, I'd just pick up a new brand of salt and do several water changes on the system, then correct the minor remaining imbalance with some straight calcium chloride to bring the calcium level back to normal and thus suppressing the alk. Hope this helps! -Kevin> Thanks, Mark 

- Alkalinity Questions  - Hello!!! I know I have wrote to you guys many times and might be annoyed of me by now... But i feel that asking questions to experts like you guys are the only way to learn in this hobby (besides researching and reading). <Research and reading is preferred.> A few quick questions today... I know that trace elements are depleted over time in a reef aquarium but how do they get depleted. <Through chemical processes or extraction, as via activated carbon or a protein skimmer.> I know protein skimmers are one way of stripping away trace elements but exactly which elements are stripped away? <The list is actually pretty short - iodine/dide is the most common. Skimmers remove mostly dissolved organic compounds.> Oh, and about over skimming... how do you know if you are over skimming or not??? <Probably if you fill the skimmer cup in one day and then never get anything out of it again for a week or so.> And lastly, you guys said that if calcium additives are not added correctly which causes precipitation resulting in calcium and alkalinity imbalances... then we should do water changes to bring the calcium and alk back into balance. What I don't get here is, how do you know where the balancing point of the two is??? <By doing calcium and alkalinity tests.> Is there a set given number for the two?? <Somewhere in the middle, not too high on either number - these will vary based on the life in your tank that requires calcium.> How will u know when your system is back in balance?? <Testing.> One off topic question here... i just bought a feather duster worm. Where should i place it. <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/feather.htm > Should i place it loosely on a rock on its side?? upright against a rock?? Or bury its body in the crush coral substrate with only a little part of the tube and fan part sticking out?  Thanks <Cheers, J -- > 

- Yet More Alkalinity Questions - I looked through FAQ and in my email you mention NOT to add Kalk but in this FAQ (see below), which resembles my sitch, you state to add Kalk. <Uhh, it does not match your situation - your alkalinity is too high - adding calcium will cause trouble.> The next statement says to not worry about it, let the tank settle? <More than anything, this is what you should do.> I am so afraid to add ANYTHING as to not have to shovel out a snow storm. should I buffer <No.> should i Kalk <No.> should i add liquid calcium <No.> again, thanks for your patience This all reminds me of being a statistician... there is no set way to handle stats, even a 2 tail t-test has variation to each situation. All you read in books don't apply to your specific situation, like you FAQ's, I read and read looking for my situation and cant find it. <Don't agree... you can find enough similar situations to fit the bill closely enough.> I have to piece together all that is there and try to apply it to my sitch! anyway....thanks for your patience! going to watch Sopranos now <I'm going to go shave my Yak. Cheers, J -- > 

- High Alkalinity, Follow-up - As I said, out of the RO water it is 0dKH <Understood.> The test kit is a Salifert and because it shows zero out of the RO, I though was ok but can pick up another test kit (I have tested so much, I am running out anyway!) <Yeah, even a different brand of test might be useful here.> I did this and the alkalinity is still high. Something is in my water. <But what would that be? Given the fact that your water is coming out of an RO/DI filter, that doesn't leave much to be in it.> The LFS said that his is about 17 and not to worry about it. <It's not really a "concern" per se, but does affect some of the other choices you will need to make - for instance moderating your calcium inputs, acclimating your animals, etc, but it's not a fatal flaw so to speak. Cheers, J -- > 

- High Alkalinity, More Follow-up - I have tried instant ocean, red sea, and marine tropical (good stuff) all comes out the same!!!! <Interesting.> I add nothing else. <Fair enough.> Ok, I have read, but what is in the chemistry of the water out of the RO that is making it so bufferable?!? <I have no idea, but perhaps it's time to invest in having your water professionally tested, both before and after the RO/DI filter. Might give you a better idea of what is producing these results.> Maybe it's the water around here and he uses a very very high quality RO/DI (apposed to my cheap slow one) <I'm sure the local water has something to do with it, but there's no way for me to "know" what that is. I doubt the difference is the brand or type of RO/DI filter, but may have more to do with the age of the filter cartridges.> Ok, ok but back to my original problem, RO = 0dKH add salt 20dKH, wait bubble heat etc. 20dKH .. What's up?? <Your alkalinity...> I have read read read, I have asked a dozen people and no one seems to know or telling me what to do. <I'm not sure there is anything you can "do" - just something to keep in mind when adding calcium, acclimating your animals. A dKH of 20 is not fatal, but something to use as a data point for your other actions. Cheers, J -- >

- Alkalinity - I have taken a bucket of RO/DI water and tested it, the dKH is about 0. <That is what I would expect for RO/DI water.> I have let it sit with bubbles and a heater for 24 hours, tested it and the dKH is about 0. I have added salt to about 24 gravity, let it sit till all is dissolved with bubbles and heater for 24 hours, tested it and the dKH is 20!!!! <Interesting - what brand is this? Seems to me they are adding quite a bit of buffer in their mix. Not abnormal to add some amount of buffer, but this seems excessive.> I am only using a Salifert test kit and yes I only have one and its new.  I could run out for a new one, but because the test shows zero out of the RO/DI, am thinking its ok. Also,  every time I have checked the water in my tank, the dKH is 20 and all have said that is bad, the calcium is low (200) I add Kalk and it tests about 300. <Not "bad" per se, but something you should keep in mind when adding calcium. I'd lay off the Kalkwasser until you get to the bottom of this.> Another thing, the LFS said that high alkalinity isn't too much of a worry, that his water tests out about 17. <I don't agree - high alkalinity puts you on the hairy edge of other problems, most notably a calcium precipitation event - most folks call it a snow storm. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm > Maybe it's the water around here and he uses a very very high quality RO/DI (apposed to my cheap slow one) After all is said and done,  how much of a problem in a tank is high alkalinity? <Enough of one that you should use caution when adding Kalkwasser, and also take extra time acclimating any invertebrates to your tank.> What are the pros and cons of this problem if I really cant get to the bottom of this. <Do read that article... will give you some good background.> My tank is very nice, I have some mushrooms/star polyps/buttons. Tang/anemone/clown.  The rest of the tank tests perfect (except the low calcium) But all is living well and water is very very clear. <Wouldn't be too concerned about raising the calcium level with this list of occupants.> Thanks mark <Cheers, J -- > Alkalinity and Algae ID 4/12/04  Hi crew,  <howdy>  While Ca level is in the range of 400 ppm, and PH between 8.2 to 8.3, alkalinity has been low for some months (in the order of 6-7 dKH). I added Kalkwasser and C balance daily and did 15% water change weekly. Situation remained same.  <not to worry... it's fine if it stays steady. Coral growth will be better than in tank that spikes higher and is not steady>  My tank is 100 gal, with 100lbs of live rock nearly all covered with coralline, a bit of white spots though recently. There are 14 fishes, many are small ones and kept for over a year. The big ones are a blue face, a juvenile imperator, a pacific blue and a purple tang.  <Ughhh... a horrifying quad of fishes for a mere 100 gallons water. It is sad/disappointing to hear. Please do look up their adult sizes on fishbase.org if not our site and ask yourself if you/we can expect them to reach a full lifespan/size in a tank that is smaller than their cumulative adult potential length. Please (!)reconsider here my friend and get these bruisers thinned out or into a larger tank sooner rather than later. If it looks like they will not outgrow the tank after a few years, that's because they are stunting/developmental retardation. Not good. Rather sad>  Water parameters normal - NH4, NO2, NO3 and PO4 all close to zero. Other equipment include a protein skimmer which is working fairly well (1/3 cup of dark skimmate per day),  <also good to hear about its consistency rather than volume. No complaint here>  5 x 54WT5H0 tubes, a chiller, and a overhead filter. I use tri-carbon based pelletized carbon, PH rock and right now bacterial to provide biological filtration.  My questions are :  (1)why alkalinity is low and any means to raise it?  <perhaps its the nature of your source water (not buffered or hard/mineral rich enough>  (2) There appears not much natural growth of macro algae.  <because of the unnaturally concentrated fish grazers in the tank. You will never have macroalgae here. Consider adding a refugium with Gracilaria and growing it for them to recycle nutrients>  The only species is the featherlike one shown in the photo which I transplanted from the overhead filter. Can you advise the name of the algae please.  <it looks like the nuisance genus Bryopsis. Do a keyword search on our website form the index page at wetwebmedia.com using the Google search tool. You will find a lot I the archives about controlling this algae. >  Regards, TFChow  <best of luck. Anthony>

Dealing With Excess (Carbonate Hardness, And Nutrients) Hi, <Hi there! Scott F. here today> I was wondering: If a saltwater aquarium has a carbonate hardness level that is too high, what causes this, what can I do, what are the problems with having it to high do to the things inside the tank????? <Well, usually excessive carbonate hardness can be traced to source water issues. Careful dilution with unbuffered reverse osmosis water would probably be the course of action that I'd take> Another question: What is the cause of  Blue Green Cyanobacteria, I have got it really bad in my tank? What can I do to get rid of it? Thank you. Please help Thank you. <Almost without exception, blue green and other Cyanobacteria are caused by excesses of nutrients in the aquarium. There are many tried-and-true nutrient export techniques that we outline on the WWM site, such as protein skimming, use of high quality source water, chemical filtration, etc. All of these cab help! Good luck to you! Regards, Scott F.>

- New Tank with High Alkalinity, Other Questions - HI. <Hi.> I have a 55 gallon tank, I am setting up a reef. Prizm 100 skimmer. 70 pd.s crushed coral. 40 pd.s live rock, the tank has been running for 7 weeks, I think it cycled, not sure, might of missed it, is there a way to know if my tank has cycled. <Check for nitrates on the test kit - their presence means that the bacteria which fix ammonia into nitrite are present and as well the bacteria which fix nitrite into nitrate. That covers the nitrogen cycle.> I only have a couple of hermit crabs in the tank at the moment. ammonia- 0 nitrite - 0 nitrate - 0 PH - 8.0 - 8.2 I use Tropic Marin Salt. my question is that my calcium is at 200-250 ppm. (red sea test kit) my alk is through the roof at 15 meg/l, not sure if it's my test kit. what is the best way to raise my ca, without raising my alk, and why do you think my alk is so hi? <Kalkwasser.> I think my tapwater is hard to begin with. <Quite possible.> better still should I lower my alk, and how do I do that. <Hmm... most methods are of the don't try this at home variety... really wouldn't worry about this too, too much. Perhaps just let that alkalinity work on the gravel and rock work to free up some calcium that way.> I know I have a young tank, should I just leave things alone? and things will balance out. <I would.> is there something other than Kalk that I can use? <Kalk is probably the best choice right at the moment, but the better choice is to just let the tank settle down - seven weeks is not really a long time in the grand scheme of things so I'd be willing to wait a month or two more before I test for alkalinity or calcium again.> Also I plan on soft corals and some fish, what kind of lighting do you recommend other than halides (little expensive) I was going to get 110 watt compact fluorescent, and use my existing lights with 2 actinics total 40 watts. would this be enough light? <There are many soft corals which will do just fine under this lighting - fish certainly don't care - I'd go ahead and get those lights before you get any corals.> my tank is 20 inches high. If I were to keep hard corals how much light would they need? <Depending on the corals you select, you may need to at least double your existing plans and may also need to consider metal halide.> thanks for your help, I find your site great, very helpful. I was into marine tanks about 14 yrs ago for approx 7 yrs but moved a lot and now I've got the itch again, and  do not want to repeat my past mistakes but to learn from them. so I am showing extreme patience this time around. Thanks again hope you can help me. Val <Cheers, J -- >

- Alkalinity Question - hi. ok... When I check the water out of my RO/DI, I get Alkalinity of about 1.0dKH/.34 meq/L -- Calcium of 10ppm (low as expected) When I add the proper amount of salt (very popular "Instant Ocean") salt mix my readings are : 20dKH/7.0 meq/L (guessing cause off the chart) -- Calcium 350 gravity of 1.025. PH 8.5 why cant I get the right dKH of 8/alkalinity of 2.9 calcium of 425? <Uhh... I'm not sure that a standard salt mix such as Instant Ocean would produce a calcium level of 425. The difference in alkalinity would most certainly be influenced by the source water.> Should I not worry about it? <If I had animals that needed calcium, I'd worry about it in the main tank.> Should I not try so hard? <Not sure I follow...> Should I change the salt mix? <That's up to you - nothing at all wrong with Instant Ocean.> My alkalinity has always been off the chart and I traced it back to the original mixed water. My PH is 7 out of the RO/DI but when I aerate it it goes up to 8.3, just want to know why. <Perhaps a dissolved gas like CO2, which is unlikely, but would explain the change in pH after aeration. Hard to know for sure - perhaps you should get your water thoroughly tested.> thanks mark (by the way, how many emails do you guys answer a day, just want to know) <A few to a dozen... depends on the day and the number of volunteers we have answering questions. Cheers, J -- >

- Alkalinity Questions, Follow-up - My point which you did not address is that my alkalinity is very very high and my calcium is low right from when I mix the salt until weeks later in the tank. <You did not form your previous statements/questions in this manner... hard to address something you didn't specifically bring up.> How do I lower the alkalinity and raise the calcium. <I'd try addressing this at the source water... reduce the alkalinity of that and work through several water changes.> my PH is great at 8.4-8.5. my understanding is alkalinity and calcium work against each other so if i add calcium it would lower alkalinity. <They don't work against each other... in fact, they work in conjunction. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm > Do I just put liquid calcium in my tank? <You could do this... but must be careful. With alkalinity in the high range, you risk precipitating out the calcium if you add too much. Cheers, J -- >

- More Alkalinity Questions - You mention addressing this at the water source....How do I lower alkalinity there? <Would recommend strongly that you read some of the attached FAQ files on our site - many attached to that article I sent you last - these question are very common and are not so easily answered in a few sentences.> I do use RO/DI water and the alkalinity out of the filter is 1.1meq/L which is low. When I add the salt mix, aerate it, let is sit the alkalinity is 7meq/L which is high. <Understood.> I do not add anything to the water besides salt, what is making the alkalinity shoot through the roof? <The salt mix.> should I be adding Kalk? <No.> the link talks about marbles, if I add calcium marbles, wont the alkalinity marbles be dispersed? <No... you misunderstand the analogy - all the container can hold is a certain number of marbles - adding more of one color or the other will not cause the extra to spill out. In terms of water chemistry, this is called saturation - once the water can no longer hold whatever it is you are trying to dissolve in it, it will simply not dissolve, it will remain as powder, dust, crystals, or whatever you want to call it. In the case of calcium and alkalinity, the calcium will come out of solution - a snowstorm - perhaps you've heard or read of these before.> (this is probably too involved of a question to answer here). <All the more reason for you to go through our site - they call these Frequently Asked Questions for a reason.> I just want to understand this before I proceed adding fish, this is a new tank about 10 weeks old. Live rock, aragonite, cleanup crew. Ammonia0/nitites0/nitrate some/phosphates some thanks for being patient with me <No worries - be patient with yourself - and please do read up. Much more knowledge in those pages than just this one person can provide.> mark <Cheers, J -- >

Maddening Problems With Simple Solutions? Hello, and thanks for taking the time to read my email.....(Greatly Appreciated!!!!) :) <That's what we're hee for! Scott F. at the keyboard today> Here is the problem, well two problems.... <1> My alk is consistently too high 6.5 meq L-- 18 dKH and my pH is stuck at 7.9--8.0  causing serious problems with corals. ( make up water is RO ) I need to lower the alkalinity so I can raise pH...<2> I have an EcoSystems  Reefugium mounted above the tank which has gravity fed return into display. The amount of bubbles that it releases as the water enters into the display is entirely unacceptable (I believe its a 1 1/4 " return line). I have contacted them on this matter and they have no insight to the problem. Please help i am ready to dismantle it and start stamp collecting instead!!!!!Much Thanks in advance Anthony Pastorelli NYC Fireman  Bayside, Queens, NY <Well, Anthony- please don't take up stamp collecting yet! I suppose a simple approach to the high alkalinity problem might be to either dose more Kalkwasser (which has the effect of lowering alkalinity over time), or possibly using some (gasp!) un-buffered RO/DI water when you mix your salt...As far as the microbubbles are concerned- I'd try to construct some kind of "baffle" under the return with acrylic, or even use the most simple of all techniques- employ some sponge under the return flow to help catch 'em...Just some thoughts, but maybe they will work, or at least inspire you to try similar ideas...Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Dangerously low Alkalinity - 3/5/04 Paaaaaaaaullllo HELP My ALK, is low at 100 to 120!! I've dosed it with SeaChem's Reef Builder for 2 days and it's still low. Do I need to add a buffer? <A good thing to do> I have SeaChem's Marine Buffer. <Use it> The reason I'm so frantic about this ALK business, is that my yellow polyps have been closed for three days! <Could be related. Not to panic but a good idea is to change the water every other day until it corrects. Read this article here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alkalinity.htm> I'm worried about them. <Also, check to make sure your tests are accurate (especially since everything else is doing well.> Everything else in my tank (the inhabs) seem to be in tip top shape! <Not for long if the PH drops> Mushrooms are huge and wonderful, candy cane coral are thriving, Brown polyp colony is spreading, and all the fish are happy too! <Again, careful here. Your next few moves will be imperative. These article and FAQs will help: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm Enjoy the corresponding FAQs. This should get you on your way.> Why do you think the yellow polyps are not doing well?? <May be reactionary to the low alkalinity but could be just irritated by something else. Not sure why. Do a 25% water change tonight and maybe hit it again Sunday morning. Read up with the articles above and glance through the associated FAQs. There is a test smarty pants. Glad to hear from you, Pam. Hope outside of this issue all is well. ~Paulis> Thank you!! Pam

ALK crash - 3/8/04 Ahhhhhhhhh, wow! I'm a bit dizzy Paul. <Stop smoking crack I had to because of the dizzy spells>> Those links, well, I got through one of them, and I will say that I've read this before, probably at wet web. <Maybe> I printed it out too. <Add to your folder> Problem is that, when you don't look at the info every day, you tend to forget it, (like me!). <I see> It's pretty difficult to absorb all of it. But I'm trying. <PH, ALK, Ca are one of the more difficult parts of the basic reefkeeping> I put in SeaChem's Marine Buffer, and I'll do a water change tomorrow. <Water changes are critical.> You know, I've been doing weekly water changes for about 6 weeks now. <how about twice weekly?> I really don't quite understand why I should be having such problems. <Sounds like somewhere something is causing the tank to lose the ability to buffer water.> I suppose I should add SeaChem's Marine Buffer each time I do a water change? <I would try not to add anything. Is the water you use for your changes been tested? What are the parameters? This will help to identify if the problem is in the "change" regime or if the tank itself is doing something to break the bond> And how about the Reef Builder? Ahhhh, I guess I'm not such a "smarty pants" after all. I'm frustrated! <Man, I understand. this totally sucks. One thing after another with this tank.> I'm glad you're still around (not vacationing yet) <Don't leave until May 10 or so> although I bet you can't wait! <This is one of the bigger trips I have taken in a while. We try to take one trip to one of the Hawaiian Islands and one big trip a year (Palau the last few years)> (Don't blame ya!) Maybe I should get a calcium reactor. <you could, I guess but let's see what is going on (at least to the best of our abilities)> I'm going to price them now. <Not a bad idea> Thanks Paulo! <My pleasure.> Pam

Fixing Alk problems - 3/8/04 Hey Paul, I'm at it again this afternoon, trying to understand. <good girl> But first, let me update you on my Alk prob. Today it seems to have risen to about 140ppm. How do you convert that to dKH? <divide your ppm number by 17.9 Sounds like you are within range of natural seawater> I've forgotten. <you know, I am not familiar with their line of test kits. I am not even sure what they are testing exactly. Here is a link to their website that might help. Do this test kits even have instructions? (I ask because some don't) http://www.lamotte.com/pages/common/techtips/convert.html> Secondly, I'm using as a test device those 5 in 1 test strips by "Mardel". <Crap!> I'm not so sure about the accuracy, for the color can be a bit difficult to ascertain. <Again....crap> I DO also have the "LaMotte kit for testing the Alk and Ph. What do you think of this tester? <Not sure about LaMotte. Have no recollection of negativity but alas....I test my water at the Aquarium. ;)> I'll test with the LaMotte as soon as I have a spare moment, you know, ballet at 10am. lunch, Bday party at 2pm, clean the house, etc., etc! <Don't know, but sympathize. The reason I am so behind on my wetweb responsibilities is because I put in a lot of work this weekend at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We are readying our new shark exhibit. It is looking awesome......but sorry for the late response.> On my Yellow Polyps, they're still closed!! <Hmmmmm. Likely has to do with decline in PH and Alk.> I don't feel good about this. <Me either> I WILL do another water change while the little ones at the party. <If you can/did> I wanted to say that I don't dose with calcium, which seems to be one of causes of ALK depletion, <Could be> by adding too much <Oh?>, AND I am not feeding too much, this I know. <Good> I have been on a very strict plan for the past 6 weeks or so, doing weekly water changes, and feeding very small amounts. <Excellent. Algae growth slowed at all?> So, with that said, what else could I look for? <I will have to do some research.> I have learned that Alkalinity tells me how well my water can neutralize acids. <Exactly> This much is clear. But it also states that, "water with a low ALK and a High Ph, is unstable. <Right> Why would this be? <Something taking out all the salts that contribute alkalinity (something is binding or utilizing these salts) Here is my needs and recommendation (I want in one email): I need to know salinity, PH and frequency of what you dose and how much also we need the units of alkalinity. (I think the LaMotte test kits will give you the units but I am unfamiliar.) So I would stop dosing anything. No Dosing!!!!! Dosing free zone. Change water 20% a week over the next month. My guess is your water will stabilize to standardized reef Alk and CA numbers.> If the water is very high in Ph, then there would be no "acid" for the buffers to neutralize. I can see that the buffering capacity would soon become depleted if the water was acidic. Can you follow my brain cells okay? <No. Forget about that for a moment. Start with the recommendations and we can go from there> Well got to hit the road, I'll be back for sure! <No worries. Talk to you soon. ~Paul> Cheers! Pam

My Flame Angel Died Paul,.....you know already the sad news. <Very sorry to hear> I honestly don't know what's going on in my tank. <Take a deep breath> Yes, my ALK was low <not as bad as you think>and after dosing for 3 days it has come up a bit, but is this enough to kill my Flame Angel?? <Not likely at all. Other reasons.....>All others in the tank are fine (well, except my yellow polyp colony) <That will come around but again......> it continues to stay closed. <Your tank needs to stabilize here> I have isolated this colony at this time with new water and totally healthy specs, including a very good ALK @8dKH!! <Awesome. You go...> What concerns me here is that my new aged water has perfect specs, where as my tank look bad. <Too much dosing. The tank water (volume as a whole) is damaged goods. Lets not dose anything and do regular water changes from here on out.> I continue to do very large water changes weekly @ about 30 gallons from a 75 gallon tank with 70 lbs of LR and 70 LBS of LS!! <20% is fine. 15-20 gallons is more than enough> What gives here? <unstable water. Patience and the like> I'm beginning to spin with the lack of sense this is all making. <You are doing fine. Just have patience and hang in. A learning process at worst> The cost of salt is beginning to become an issue and I'm still losing this game of life and death! <Give it time. The cost of salt is temporary for the time being. Move to regular weekly water changes of 20%. Hopefully that will help. By the end of the month the water will be stable and all will be right in your tank. Also, with you not dosing any more, you will save the money from the products you would normally have to part with> What do you say Paul,............I really need some sound advice. <In previous emails and above> Oh ya, b4 I forget, Jason Kim never delivered what he promised over 2 weeks ago. <Have you called him again?> Remember, my skimmer not skimming? So much for that, huh? <NO! Remind him. Do you want me to call him?> I do hope to hear from you, as the last guy, "Adam" was no help at all. <At your service Pam. I am doing my best for ya. Sorry for the delay in emails but time has been short for me as well. Many pokers in the fire so to speak...> Thanks Paul, <No problemo. Look forward to more correspondence ~Paulma> Pam

Fighting the ALK, Ca, PH blues - 3/8/04   Hi wet web guys, I have an update for you on my tank parameters.   ALK   140 ~~using LaMotte <This is the range of natural seawater>   Ca.    280 ~~using "Sera Products" <This low number is due to the addition of the ALK additive. So it is pulling the Calcium level out of solution.>   So, I dosed the tank with SeaChem's Reef Advantage Calcium @ 1&1/2 teaspoons (in my 75 g. tank). <Stop dosing all additives. Change water weekly. You will be fine.>   How am I doing? <Doing fine. NO MORE DOSING. Change water over the next month and watch what happens. I promise it will stabilize. ~Paul>   Pam

More on crazy water chemistry - 3/24/04 DATE          ALK               PH                   CA             SALINITY       3/15               8.9               8.2                  280              1.023 3/16               8.3               7.5                  280              1.022 3/17               7.8               7.5                    ?                1.020 3/20               6.7               7.5                    ?                1.022 3/21               7.8               7.5                  320               1.024       -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Here you go Paul, water changes still every four days or so. <Move to 5 day rotation> The numbers just don't hold as you can see the big drop overnight on 3/20. <All look OK except the PH drop. Keep the salinity at 1.024-1.025 and give the tank some time. It will be at least month before the tank chemistry becomes stable again. Just hold tight. If after a few more weeks, there are problems then we will need to revisit the issues on a one at a time basis>   Do you still not recommend dosing? <Don't does> My salt contains buffers, but they don't seem to be doing much good. <System is still diluting the additions of a ll your dosing> Should I add a bit of Marine Buffer (Seachem) to the tank water?  Or, "Reef Builder?" I can hear you now,..............."NO!" <NO!> Oh, by the way, yesterday, when I was arranging rock to hide my powerheads, I found an old rusty razor! Could the iron from that hurt my tank? ,Of course you took it out right? I haven't heard of any long-term effects though>  Just a thought! Wouldn't it be nice if that was the culprit all along? <Not likely in my experience> Life doesn't get that easy though, huh? <Sometimes, in spurts> Let me know what you think! <Always> I'll also post this for all the other guys at WETWEB! Okay? <What did they say?> Pam   

More on a troublesome tank - 3/25/04 Well Pauly, first of all for the record, you asked me what the other guys at wetweb said about this letter. My answer? Nada! <I am sorry. Maybe they just figure I am taking care of it> No response! Can you see why I always write to you? <I understand> I don't get that, maybe they think I'm YOUR territory! HA!! <you are...heheheh> Anyways Paul, I took the razor out, <very good> I'm not dosing and I'm keeping the salinity at 1.025. YOU told me to get it to 1.026! <No 1.025 with 35ppt> Now you say to lower it to 24 to 35? <1.024-1.025 keep it somewhere in that range> Did I miss something? <Yup> Oh well, 25 it is! <right> My feather duster blew of it's 2 heads. For Gods sake, what the hell is going on? <What is going on? There are some real fluctuations going on. Hopefully they will minimize soon>(he,he,he!) Seems they're just dying to get out of my tank! Very bizarre! The ahhhh, heads, are nestled nicely together in a crevice. <Not likely active> They seem to have life, or is it just the after shocks still within their little brains? <Likely the tentacular appendages, are just moving from flow or something if there is no worm body attached> The tube is closed tight. <Hmmmmm....> Do you think any others are in there? <possible> Should I take it out? <nah> I don't need any more contaminates! <see what happens. Watch it closely> My skimmer still sucks! Ahhh, sorry about the mouth Paul, <You bad bad girl> I just had a glass of wine and I'm getting a bit frisky! <Uhhhhh.......oh.> I bought a new pump for it and hope to be getting it soon!! <Nothing from Jason Kim, eh?> Try calling him again. Ask him what you are supposed to do> I'll keep you posted on life here at the Cape! <Alrighty then> Um Beijos! Pamela PS. Almost forgot, talk about terrible products. Try (or better yet, don't try) by "Seachem Labs", "Marine Ph and Alkalinity Test Kit", oh my God, what a piece of garbage! <Really? Haven't heard much about this test kit till now> Have you seen this ridiculous tester? <Seen it on the market but not in actuality> It looked better on the web page but using it was another world. Ten bucks, it's going in the trash!! <Sorry to hear. Can't return it? Try to send it back to the retailer or the manufacturer. Let them know you are dissatisfied. Will post for others opinion or comments ~Paul>

Tank finally getting on track - 3//28/04 Well Paul, I've set up my new Rio pumps, 2 1700's and 2 1100's. Whoa! <Excellent>  I'm not sure if the mushrooms like the turbulence, so I moved hem to calmer waters. <Perfect as they usually don't respond well to turbulent waters> A lot of debris is stirring up, which I think is a good thing. <A great thing> The Cyano seems to be loosing it's grip this past week. <HA! Oh ye of little faith. Patience, diligence and a few other factors make the difference> Hopefully the new circulation will put an end to it! <Will certainly help> My ALK seems to be holding it's own, low at 7.8, <Real good.> but it's been here for a week now. The pH is still hard to decipher. I'm using a LaMotte, that's tough to read, could be anywhere from 7.5 to 8.3. <Go get it tested by a fish store> The color type, ya know? <Hate those things> The salinity is at 25, per your order, master! <Awesome!> Here is a picture of my turbulence for now. I may have to fine tune it as the days go on. <Maybe but looks good. Watch evaporation rates> Oh, one thing before I sign off, how do you move a cucumber??? <OH NO!> Stop that laughing! You know how tough sea cukes can be to move. <Like as in so tough you should just leave them be> I had to relocate the little sucker when I was installing my pumps and rearranging the rock. <Pam....... well........> It was not easy. <Not supposed to be> Poor thing, it seemed he left behind a bit of himself, <Not good> like the very tips of his feet? <Keep an eye on this little dude. Will likely regenerate himself but be watchful> I will never move him again, promise! Here's an aerial shot of my tank! Cool, huh? <Sweet> Take care Paul! <Will do> Pam

Update on many things tanky! - 4/1/04  Hello Paul, how have you been? <Busy and crabby. My work is killing me! I just got over a cold and there is just so much crap to do> Here, I've been nursing a nasty cold, but never too sick to go to the fish room and check the numbers! <I hear ya!>  First of all, I checked my source water, (haven't done this in a month or so) and wow, was it acid! <So your water isn't PH'ed and Alk'ed eh? Not good> Like barely 6.0 acid! <WOW!>I haven't checked the alk because I added some Seachem buffer and carbonates to this source water. <Should>  Today the reading are: dKH 7.8 PH still hard to read, probably about 8.0 (haven't been to the store to get a new kit, been sick, ya know??) <Understand> Salinity is at 1.025 and steady. <Awesome> I also tested my phosphate, it's only .1ppm. <This builds up over time. Keep an eye on this> And Paul, the Cyano seemed to be subsiding, but it's coming back. Damn it! OOPS, sorry, darn it! <No....DAMN IT!!!!>  Also I might add, those new powerheads I'm running sure do jack up the temp! <Oh yeah!> Yikes! <As, stated powerheads do have the heat byproduct> I have to lower the thermostat to 75 just to keep it at 80! <Geez> With the cover open no less. What will summer bring, eeeeek! <Man, we better think of another way to get you flow. Have you been able to have someone come over and look at the tank? Maybe a sump/refugium with a powerful external with the inflow dispersed via a bar or piping of something?> Well, I do have a ceiling fan directly above the tank if I have more problems. <Me too!>  And a bit of good news, remember my feather duster that blew both it's heads, (Gee, what a way to go!), well, the tube he/they left behind, has a new little feather duster popping out! So cute and small and delicate. <Neat!> So exciting to see something new even if it is only a little worm!  So, that's my news, oh yeah, just remembered. I wrote to Jason Kim again. <Heheheheh> He'll probably end up ordering a hit on me, <Ha!> I'm bugging him so much about my stupid Remora! I'll keep you posted. <Squeaky wheel gets the grease!>  Pam  PS, are you counting the days till vacation? <You know it!>  Also Paul, can you ID this plant? <Actually neat looking but not sure send the picture again and ask for the ID to me separate from this email and I will look into it tomorrow evening ~Paul>

More on troublesome tank - 4/5/04 Just for the record, Paulito, I was ALKing' and PHing' my source water, <A good plan> till you told me to stop dosing!!! <I meant the tank water but I guess I should have specified> I thought you meant all the water, source and all, daaaaah! <You always want to be sure that the source water is PH'ed, temp'ed, and buffered before adding salt and store for about 24hours or so before doing your water change. Also, if this is the same water you use for top off the same still applies minus the salt addition>  But to tell you the truth, the PH of my source water has dropped here on the Cape, don't know why. <Too high bacteria count for human consumption> And am tired of trying to figure it out! <Well, I am running out of things to tell ya, to be honest> Hmmm, what else can I yell about? Oh yeah, as far as finding another way to get my flow besides my powerheads, all I can say to you is,................"ARE YOU CRAZY!!!!!!!" <Whuh?> Do you know how much money I've been spending? <I know but we discussed the heat issue as a byproduct of having powerheads> Not to mention the countless hours up to my elbows (power off!) rearranging rock and pumps??? <Again, another side issues we discussed> Ahhhhh, Paul, I'm damn tired, and sick too just like you! <I am 99% over the stupid cold. Must be Al-Qa'ida>This stupid cold is getting the better of my intellect these days. Did you notice? ArrrrrrrrrGH*!*#*!  So, how much would this ahhhh, "...........<sump/refugium with a powerful external with the inflow dispersed via a bar or piping of something>" cost me? <Not sure. Depends on pumps and size of refugium, lighting for refugium, sand maybe a few pieces of live rock.... would need to be researched. I thought you were going to get someone to come out and see what they could do for your tank?> Talk about a million things to do, I have a huge landscaping job, biggest I've ever had, coupled with life, kids and powerheads, well, I'm about to blow my own head off! <I wasn't saying to do his now but when you have time and extra money in your tank budget. It was just a suggestion, cripes! =)> Seriously though Paulito, I'll keep tweaking the pumps for now. I just don't have the time to look into another project. <I understand> Maybe when I'm over this cold, and I hope you feel better soon too. <feeling better> Here's that picture for you to look at again. Take care sweetie! <You too! ~Paulus> Pamelita

Lowering Alkalinity Hi crew,     I have a 125 reef tank that I just started and I have a water quality problem (nitrate=.8-1, ph=8.2, alk=15.4, calcium=270). Now I read your article on the relationship between alkalinity and calcium but I was wondering how to lower my alk. to 10 from 15.4 so I can get my calcium up and if this can be done in a quick manner. Thanks,                                                     Kevin        <Kevin, Ryan Bowen here.  I'm sorry to say, but I need to know a little more about the way you're supplementing alk/cal before I can help you get back in the right direction.  Please write back with a step-by-step walkthrough of HOW you dose.  Doing this will help us understand what got you there in the first place!  Only understanding your mistakes will prevent you from making them again.  Be chatting soon, Ryan>                              

Restoring Alkalinity 2/17/04 Alkalinity tested way too low at 5dKh.  We had only been using Kent concentrated liq. Ca once a week.  Ca is at 420; Ph 8.0-8.2; other parameters ok except nitrates stay around 10ppm. <Alkalinity is THE most under-appreciated, misunderstood and commonly mismanaged parameters in marine aquaria.  Many, many aquarists maintain Ca, but aren't aware of the need to maintain Alkalinity in a balanced fashion.> Tank is 220g w/200# LR; 15 fish (30 in.) 12 moving inverts & 12 mushrooms & corals (not counting 100s of hermits & snails).  Lighting:  5x160w VHO; 2 VHO Actinic Whites 160w run 8 hrs/day.  Skimmer is MPS 450 by Aqua Clear. 4 Maxi Jet powerheads @295gph. <All sounds good, but don't by into that old rule of thumb of inches of fish per gallon!  Compare for arguments sake, the following: Twelve 1" green Chromis to one 12" Emperor Angel.  The angel has probably 100x the body mass of all of the Chromis combined! With an average size of a 2" fish, you are probably OK, but do be attentive as the grow.  Heavy fish loads will make it harder to keep nitrate down and alk up.> Yesterday bought Kent Tech CB parts A&B, and used B only at rate recommended on bottle in a.m.  Only raised to 6dKh.  My question is how often can I add this buffer to correct problem.  Should it also be added to R/O top off water? <It could take A LOT of this product to  restore your alkalinity.  It will be perfectly safe to raise your Alk by 1 dKH per day.  Once your calcium and alkalinity are both in an acceptable range, start using both components to maintain both parameters.> 55g sump looks pretty cruddy, too; as well as column skimmer is in.  How do I clean it?  This project is getting too scientific for my brain!  Please help. Thank you, Kathy Harper <Cleaning a sump can be tricky.  You can run a long siphon hose down some stairs to a lower floor of your house, or use a wet/dry vacuum.  Skimmers should be removed, disassembled and scrubbed.  Best regards!  Adam>

Re: Restoring Alkalinity 2/22/04 Adam:  Thank u for your prompt assistance.  Is it ok to treat daily to restore alkalinity? <Glad to!  It is not only OK, but in fact ideal to make small adjustments on a daily basis, rather than larger ones less frequently.  Best Regards.  Adam>

Super Washing Soda vs. Baking Soda... buy Aquarium safe instead 2/14/04 Hi,  just a few more questions for you :)) <OK> I did a search and could not come up with a good answer comparing these two buffers.  I would greatly appreciate a response detailing the differences between A&H Super Washing Soda and Baking Soda (pros and cons) as well any difference between food grade pickling lime vs. aquarium grade calcium hydroxide. Price I presume on the later. <I am outspoken on this issue. For the significant time and money you have invested in even a small marine aquarium (thousands of dollars) not to mention your moral responsibility to the untold number of living organisms that you've elected to take into your care/captivity...please (!) do resist the urge to save even a few tens of dollars (far less here even with a big tank in one year when we are talking about buffer)... by buying products that are not tested (chemical assays) or refined for aquarium use. There are many different grades of reagents and you may be inviting a serious problem with incidental contaminants from unproven non-aquarium use products. My advice in a sentence {joking here... hope you have a sense of humor <G>]: put a crowbar in your wallet and buy a QC  confirmed aquarium product :) And if you cannot afford the difference between spending $5 year on baking soda or $50 year on SeaBuffer, then perhaps you need to reconsider if you are truly prepared financially for the aquarium at all (bulb replacements every 6-10 months, weekly/monthly water changes, etc. Half joking again here... but you get my point, yes :) And in part I'm speaking to the many readers that will browse this post in months/years to come in our archives> While I am at it, if you happen to have any experience with electronically actuated ball valves. Specifically Spears 3 way, 2 position 75% duty cycle valves. I need help deciding what is the best to control the power cycles.   <best to take this one to the message boards, my friend. Some great talent on RC... technical minds and experience. I have no personal experience with this brand> I also am looking forward to Calfo and Fenner' next book release.  Any date set on release yet? <no set date... but we are in full swing and intend to release it later this year> Thank you for this invaluable resource. Greg <thank you for your interest and participation my friend. With kind regards, Anthony>

Dilution of high dKH 2/18/04 Thanks for the quick reply.  Yes, I did change the water Saturday morning.   <good> They died Sunday night. <bad!> Do you have any suggestions on how to lower the DKH to 8-12 mg/l?   Ron <dilution is the solution to pollution, my friend. Several large water changes will put you right back on track in due time. No worries. Anthony>

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