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FAQs on Marine pH, Alkalinity, Problems, Troubleshooting, Fixing

Related Articles: pH, Alkalinity, Marine Alkalinity, Synthetic or Natural Seawater, Water Changes/Changing, Understanding Calcium & Alkalinity, The Use of Kalkwasser by Russell Schultz,

Related FAQs: Marine pH, Alkalinity 1, Marine pH, Alkalinity 2, Marine pH, Alkalinity 3Marine pH/Alkalinity 4, Marine pH 5, Marine pH 6, Marine pH 7, Marine pH 8, & FAQs on pH: Importance, Science, pH Measure/Test Gear, pH Controllers & pH Buffers/Buffering, & pH Products by Name, Manufacturer, & Marine Supplements 2

To Do: Check your pH test gear against a known. Consider sources of high/low pH influence... and correct When, where in doubt, change a good deal of the water.

Ph questions      2/7/19
Hey guys
<Hey there>
just wanted to reach out real quick having some weird pH issues with one of our main coral systems. It seems to be causing coral bleaching. we just re-calibrate the Apex probes and we are currently getting a pH between 7.5 and 7.8. we are thinking that with winter and the house being sealed up this is giving us a lower amount of fresh air and increased CO2 going into the skimmer. we have since plumbed in an outside airline that is passively pulling through The skimmer and we have seen .02 increase over the last
three days .we are looking at now adding an external air pump for forcing fresh air into the coral room and the skimmer. current water parameters is alkalinity 7.5 calcium 500 magnesium 1500 <this is a bit high> nitrates .05 phosphate .06 . thank you again for your time and you and all input is greatly appreciated.
<It is very likely that it is for the reason you mentioned, tanks located in rooms with low or no ventilation often have this problem, the airline dragged from the outside is a good idea, it may rise the ph a bit more in a few days; another quick and effective solution is to add a buffer, it will raise and maintain the ph between 8.2- 8.4, however if your system is really big (several hundred gallons or more) you may consider adding a calcium reactor. Greetings. Wil.>
Re: Ph questions      2/7/19

Thanks Wil for the quick response,
<You´re welcome>
we currently do run about 700 gallons total water volume and a 56 pound media calcium reactor with a Kalk reactor top off.
<It´s odd that you use a calcium reactor and still have ph issues.>
Do you think having forced air being pushed in from outside work better than the skimmer pulling the air source from 20 feet away into the basement
<Outside air is much better; ¿do you use ozone? ...it would be a good addition to your skimmer/system.>
Also with the dehumidifier going out affect us in anyway?
<I don´t think so. Cheers. Wil.>
Re: Ph questions      2/7/19

Yes we have an air drier and ozone with an ORP of around 430 and ozone set for 380 on to 400 off we also run two 40 longs as refugium.
< Well, then it is really airtight there!...how about water changes?... In case you haven't done recently, I suggest you do a partial water change; Try also with Seachem's Marine Buffer, this will stabilize the ph almost immediately. Wil. >

low PH and High Nitrates.       1/31/17
Hello, I have read a lot on your site regarding this issue, but still not sure on what to do. I have a 30 gal salt tank that's 5 yrs old with live rock.
<Mmm; have you switched out any rock or substrate during this five years? The soluble parts largely go away in a year or two...>

the last month or so my ph which has never been higher than 8.0 is now at 7.7. in the last 2 weeks I have done four 5 gal water changes, and today did 10 gal
<Mmm, part two; what does your salt mix brand, or natural water if using... read in terms of pH AND Alkalinity?>
water change. and the ph is now at 7.8. I know I have a severe nitrate problem, could this be the issue I assume, I started using the poly filter a few days ago. I don't know why
<... I'd be reviewing Alkalinity... at least on WWM. There are a few ways to bolster>
all my water changes have not made the nitrate level budge. my fish seem ok so far. my skimmer failed about 6 months ago. have not replaced, probably another part of the problem.
<Yes; it is>
other than getting a new skimmer any suggestions,
<Switch out some/most of your substrate... have this a few inches deep; finer grade. Replace/renew a few lb.s of your LR. Check into a better salt mix, look into supplements that will add carbonate... am a huge fan of the SeaChem line here>
I don't have a sump. also I have a fluidized bed filter by Lifegard that I have not hooked up yet. would this be good for nitrates/phosphates.
<Will likely solve a good deal of issues with these>
can you recommend a good hang on skimmer.
<I really like the Aqua-C brand...>

thanks a lot great site.
here are my parameters:
temp- 77
salinity - 1.023 - 1.024
PH 7.8 - salifert.....
calcium- 500 ppm – salifert...
<I'd allow this to drift down to the mid 400s ppm>
.alk- 12.5 dKH- LaMotte.
<Mmm; surprising>
Mag- 1340 ppm-red sea
phosphate- 0.25 ppm - API
Nitrate- 100 ppm - salifert
<Yikes; both NO3 and PO4 are high; much too high... Hook that Lifegard up and add some buffer to your change water... vacuum out most of the old "gravel" and replace with a fine crushed coral... Bob Fenner>
Toronto, Canada.
re: low PH and High Nitrates.      1/31/17

thanks for reply
I have never changed substrate only vacuumed/added Carib sea fine sand.
<I would change this out for new (all) at this juncture>
salt brand I use is instant ocean reef.
isn't my Alk OK ,or too high using a good test kit.
<Is fine as tested>
I am using ro/di water.
zero chloramines/ chlorine. Zero tds
what do I use to buffer my RO water baking soda?
<Mmm; no... this is only sodium bicarbonate.... Read here
: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alkadds.htm
I have never tested RO water for alk or pH
should I and what should it be
<No need... after setting, possibly aeration, the pH s/b about 7.0>
thanks again
<... Welcome. BobF>
re: low PH and High Nitrates.      1/31/17

<... Your grammar...
hi I want to but the aqua c remora skimmer
is there any real difference between the remora and the pro model's

Vitamin C Dosing, PH dips    1/10/17
Hello Crew!
Thanks so much for your website, it has over the years been an invaluable resource to me. So far I have found all my answers without ever needing to write.
I have been vitamin C dosing two marine tanks with great results ... initially.
<Mmm; why is this prompting memories of using Ascorbic Acid to keep CuSO4 pentahydrate in sol'n?>

I regularly test Calc, Alk and Phosphate. I had stopped looking at PH as it was always rock solid, so kind of boring. I thought (incorrectly) that it was impossible to have high Calcium and high Alk with low PH. Bad move that was! Have re-read and re-read Randy Holmes water chemistry and still don’t get “how” that can happen, as I thought Calc / Alk lowered PH.
<Usually the case; well, actually the opposite; lowered pH....>

Ho-hum, that was expensive.
<There are other means... reactors of various designs notably>

Wild swings in PH that I wasn’t testing started having bad results, but in a going along fine then fall of a cliff manner for my largest tank and caught just in time for my smaller.
I now moved from “normal” vitamin C to vitamin C buffered with Calcium and Magnesium. Some C buffered with Sodium is on route. However, even dosing the buffered C is causing a PH swing.
<Yes; in quantity; w/ low alkalinity in the system. What is your Alkalinity here?>
Specifically, a half teaspoon (2-2.5g) caused PH in my Percula 90 tank to PH 8.26 down to PH 7.7 in a seven-hour window. Before that – paused dosing – it was rock steady. I brought the PH back with Kalkwasser.
<Yeesh; we have quite a bit to discuss. I'd consider... have you read re these issues; set upon just one path of either using two - part buffering products (a bunch of folks make/copy, resell these... SeaChem is a fave for value... and reality). Kalk is not the route to go here really... too much see-sawing and too-toxic in use>
I read that vitamin c is buffered by combining the ascorbic acid with an x-carbonate then making a salt.
<One way; yes>
So I was thinking about adding the vitamin C to my RODI along with extra buffer.
<Let's stop here: Might I ask, what is it you're adding the C for? Vitamin value? Carbon? How much are you actually adding and how?>

My concern is that my Alk is already high, and leaves me wondering why that isn’t binding to the Vitamin C that I am adding?
<Much more going on here>

I can handle reasonable sharp raises in PH and decrease the buffer added, but sharp declines seem much less inhabitant friendly.
As a test, I have added two teaspoons
<?! Why so much?>
of calcium buffered vitamin C to the RODI top off along with two teaspoons of buffer and a teaspoon of buffer / calc mix. My RODI is a 25 liter jerry can, no light getting in, that gets used up in four days (+/-)
Wondering if you might already know if this should work (I’ll soon find out I guess, but good to know in advance if I’m going down a dead end) and if there are any hazardous consequences over time (other than calc or alk going too high if I don’t test and adjust the mix)? I’m aware that as my corals grow (or die!) the demand can vary over time. Also I’m not totally sure if adding buffer will reduce the impact or efficacy of the vitamin C, as in my chemistry fuddled head there is a reaction going on between the acid C and the buffer to lower the PH, or not?
<Again; need to know the rationale behind your use of Ascorbic here... >
Much appreciate any pearls of wisdom that you can hurl my way, as I’m completely confused LOL!
All the best,
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Vitamin C Dosing, PH dips    1/10/17

Should have added, a Percula 90 is a 270-litre tank, which includes a sump-in-the back arrangement (so no extra water in a sump). In case it matters, I was dosing my C in the morning.
<I'd stop the dosing for now. Let's chat. BobF>
Re: Vitamin C Dosing, PH dips    1/10/17

Wow, I'm going to be reef-famous (albeit for the wrong reasons). Thanks so much for the speedy reply.
<Certainly welcome>
First reason, my phosphate was always too high. I have no mechanical filters, wool, carbon or anything in a sack, as I found these required much maintenance and am seeking a liquid or dosed solution.
<Mmm; am a bigger fan of biological mediation (methods), but will stoop to Lanthanum...>

Second, having started with C dosing my Zoas went nuts. After not great husbandry my phosphates levels went down.
I am trying to run a tank on liquid supplements only, large sand banks and mud.
<Mmm, mmmm... can be done. But MUCH to know, adjust chemically, physically... Best approach is "dynamic equilibrium" constantly offset w/ weekly water changes... such that not too much gets used up, precipitated... or accumulates to the detriment of livestock. Does this make sense to you? The serial dilution goes a long and BEST way of presenting a viable medium>

(I have a feeling I may be driving you nuts by now providing no numbers yet!)
<No; we can keep making general stmt.s for quite a while>
My tanks have mostly been OK, specifically better than anything I'll see in a fish store, but suffered from summer heat. Big tank cooler and small tank window blinds and air co. Change your whole house why not?!?!
Upstairs tank softies Zoa/buttons/anemones, smaller DSB (room), ATO, no dosing (alk as and when).
Readings (thought this was an art ;-) - somewhat sloppy husbandry
Nitrite : between 0.05 ppm and 0.1
<Needs to be zip>

Nitrate : between 10ppm and 0.2ppm
Phosphate: between 0.05 and 0.02ppm
<This is not bad for soluble HPO4>
Calcium : between 338 and 568ppm
<.... the latter number is WAAAY too high. I'd keep near 400 ppm>

Alk: between 238 and 255ppm
Mag: too high 1450-1550
Sal: 1.025-7
Phosp: 41-159ppb
Iodine (started dosing a bit)0.2-0.6
Phosphorous 25-159ppb
Big tank 600L

Nitrite : 0.025-0.05ppm
Nitrite : 0.05 - 1ppm

Phosph : 0.05-1.39 (high after meltdown, before high 0.1)
Calcium 394-564ppm
Alk: 215-above 300,guess 375
Salinity : 1.027-1.030
Iodine : 0.2-0.5 (gently dosed up)
Phosphorous: occasionally under 200ppb
(Added FE+ and GRO at times)
Rationality is a big supposition, LOL!
Note if phosphate was too high I didn't test phosphorous
I replenished sand in my DSBs after reading that it buffered and was as such used up
My dream is a DSB buffering, lots of phyto and beasties, no mechanical filter, skimmer (on half off half? don't dare do that)
<Can be run saltatorily ONCE the system/s are stable>
I also grow some Caulerpa and harvest for my rubbish can.
<I'd dump this genus... See WWM for better ideas; by far. Stock Gracilaria and Chaetomorpha species are far superior and much less toxic>

Dream would be something the tangs could eat.
<See above and WWM. Do you need help using the search tool or indices?>
Hope that gives an idea of the sloppy kind of reefer I am. C was new because of the initial success, Zoas nuts, clear water without carbon and laziness of liquid / powered dosing versus ugly, dirty, scummy sacks.
Hope this answers your questions. Maybe I'm just a reefer hoping it can be simpler than it needs to be?
<It can be; but better to go w/ more biology, less technology for most folks. The long and short of captive marine systems is that the myriad of factors to balance are too easily allowed to drift, or mis-altered, resulting in (at times catastrophic) losses. Bob Fenner>
Re: Vitamin C Dosing, PH dips    1/10/17

Mostly for the "reason" it's just that $h1t really started to happen in both tanks, LOL. Except the PH (I think) related issues.
I feel like I got so close yet so far.
Hey, I'm happy to fund some advice, as I'm sure you guys need to fund Xmas presents and wot not too.
<There is a donation function; at the top of most all pages>
Again, so thrilled to get a reply!
<Glad to render my input, impressions. B>
Re: Vitamin C Dosing, PH dips    1/10/17

Thanks again. Crack of dawn here, so I'll reread this with less blurry eyes again.
By Lathanum I think you refer to swimming pool anti-phosphate product?
Zero nitrates scares me: even when my tanks were running well, I never hit zero.
<Zero nitrates is fine, zero NitrItes is necessary. Re-read your post>

There was always the very palest yellow after swirling the test tube. My skimmers (Tunze) are over-rated by a factor of over two for both tanks. I barely change water and wanted to keep that approach, however it could be that this is just too ambitious.
Chaeto turned into glass noodles for me.
<Sigh.... was Caulerpa present?>
I'll look up Gracilaria and search WWM on macros.
Donation will wing it's way later!
<Allay lew ya! B>
Re: Vitamin C Dosing, PH dips     1/23/17

Hi Bob!
<Hey David>
Glad you got my donation for the WWM beer fund ;-)
<Burp! Thanks again>
Had some time to take corrective actions based on your comments now. The smaller tank that wasn't so hit by my Vit-C induced PH swings is now doing grand. That's the 270 liter one, a Percula 90. Discovered the skimmer also needed a good clean. Readings (stable):
<Ah, good>
Salinity 1.027
<Let this drift down a thousandth or two>
Ammonia 0.001
NO3 barely causes the Salifert test kit to blush, so less than 0.2
Calcium 380
Alkalinity 272 (little high, falling very slowly, think that's not too concerning?)
Magnesium 1470 (ditto Alk comment)
Phosphorous 18ppb (whoopieeeee!)
PH 8.18 (no big swings)
I'm dosing 1 teaspoon of buffered C with a little Kalkwasser in the RODI, so about ¼ per day. My Zoas seem perky at this level, and the skimmer produces well without going nuts.
<Very good>
Have over come my allergy to sacks of media in my tanks, and am using a fairly coarse GFO product. However I'm putting it in a high flow area but not where all the water is forced through it. Plan to change monthly whether expired or not to avoid gunk building up in the filter bag. When I started in the hobby I used large sacks of GAC and GFO that I did not swap our often, these collected much detritus. I think that's where my fear of them as nitrate "factories" comes from.
<A def. possibility>
Added Chaeto to my algae area instead of Caulerpa.
However it does not have room to tumble, so I wonder if this will work?
<Yes it will; does not need to tumble. Rare in hobby set ups>
I cannot buy Gracilaria here, but from your site wonder if that would work anyway in low nutrients?
<Good point; NOT if there is no detectable... HPO4, NO3 et al.>
I tried some algae that looked like G (harvested at low tide in Ireland),
<Temperate sources, species won't work... will dissolve>
but it slowly went pale so I removed. I have a little dark brown algae with air bubbles also harvested that is not going pale but also not growing much. They are after the skimmer and under red-blue grow LED.
The tank also has a DSB pot and smaller mud pots for the nitrogen cycle. It's for anemones, buttons and softies, but has a few hard corals too (Monti and some kind of branching unknown). All appear well / vibrant.
My large tank (600 liter inc large refugium DSB - rocks) is still high phosphates, down from 1.39 to 0.19 s
<ppb? What are the units here? Am an olde High School Chem., Physics and Bio. teacher... no credit w/o units!>
o far via 150l water change, GFO and Lanthanum). The large refugium has 6500k lighting, and it has a "bean animal" overflow. Unfortunately I dosed too much liquid FE+ one day that killed three tangs :-(. The iron seems to get stuck in their gills.
<Worse... ferrous and ferric are painfully toxic at concentration, necessary in low>
Will never do that again. The Lamthium seems not to have had ill effects on the remaining inhabitants, but I dose slowly right into the skimmer. I plan not to use Lanthanum once target levels are hit, but GFO in the same manner as the other tank.
Coral survivors of the drama are lobo brain corals, Stylo, cactus, Turbinarias , candy cane a mushroom and buttons. I'm on the hunt for sea grass algae for the refugium to grow above the DSB. The DSB is pretty huge, so I think it may take some extra husbandry to leach out all the phosphate therein, even after the levels first hit desired values. From die off I think I had a mini cycle as my ammonia crept up for a day, but has returned to 0.0001. NO3 remains very detectable at 2.5, despite a very strong skimmer (Tunze 9021). I added some clean up crew snails and some BioDigest bacteria, the latter of which I fear may only make me feel better but do nothing for the tank LOL! Aiptasia have been a manageable problem, not surprising considering.
<Look for biological means, balance here>
I have diatoms on the sand, but not crazy amounts. My live rock has some hair algae, and some nitrogen bubbles on it. My orange shoulder tang, fox face and school of Chromis surprisingly seem very happy and active.
Will be looking to parameters good and stable, growth in the corals that survived for some time before I invest in any additional.
Salinity 1.028
<See above... keep 1.025-6 standardized temp. hydrometer>
Ammonia 0.0001
NO3 2.5 (alas stable)
<No worries>
Calcium 472 (high but not way out)
Alkalinity 279 (allowing to slowly drop)
Magnesium 1470 (high, but have bigger issues I think!)
Phosphate 0.19 (driving down)
<Again; units here?>
Do you find any flaws in the above? Note I'm hoping to avoid doing water changes all the time, and did none on the small tank.
<I would not alter anything at this juncture, with either system>
Do you think with the low nutrients in the smaller tank that growing any macro will be tough, so should I just skip that?
<I'd go ahead w/ the macro-algae>
From your comments I'd read that you see no place for Caulerpa in a reef tank due to it being toxic to coral. Did I read that correctly?
<I would NOT use the genus/family UNLESS there were extenuating circumstances... Like experimental modeling. Too toxic in general and wont to "go sexual", w/ spectacular negative effects>
Thanks again,
<Thank you for your further sharing. Bob Fenner>

The unhappy big tank      1/23/17
Per email ...
<Looking good.


Happy smaller tank     1/23/17
Still some hair algae left and diatoms on the sand, but mostly appears
good, or not?
<Patience! I know, tis easier to write/say... BobF>

re: low PH and High Nitrates.      2/2/17
thanks a lot for your help , update question, I have replaced about half of my substrate how long to notice any change in my PH, and if it does not change what then.
<A few choices.... gone over and over where I've referred you. Calcium et al. reactors to simple/r supplementing
I was going to do the other half in a few days, using Carib Sea Aragonite expensive stuff, suppose to be good for PH right,
thanks again
<Yes. B>
Valentino, Toronto, Canada


Re: Vitamin C Dosing, PH dips      1/25/17
Thanks for the kind comments Bob.
<Welcome David>
My phosphate kit measures ppm. Once I get on or under 2ppm I start using the phosphorous test that does ppb (range 1-200). So 1.39 was way up there!
<Yeeikes; yes>
Hopefully with a steady hand the phosphate kit will be "break in case of emergency" as I'll only be using the sensitive phosphorous one, well fingers crossed at any rate.
<Cheers, BobF>

Algae Scrubber Questions       4/20/16
I have a challenging maintenance tank because the co2 levels in the building get extremely high in this waiting room.
<Yikes; not good for people either>
The pH drops significantly during weekdays down to 7.9 (dropped to 7.6
before adding soda lime reactor
to skimmer), and then climbs up to about 8.3 in the middle of the night where it will swing back down the next day. On the weekends when they don't have clients it stays at 8.3. After adding
soda lime and reasonably stabilizing pH it seems like corals were at least able to open up. Before they would open for a day or two and then shut down. However, now I'm getting dinoflagellates which I thought at first was related to a Lysol spray they were using. After discontinuing the Lysol spray the algae changed its form a little bit but still persists and I've seen some unusual loss of invertebrate life. I've not been able to read any nitrates or phosphates in the water and calcium and alkalinity are very stable (alk at about 8dkh maintained by soda ash). I've tried
Kalkwasser for maintaining those and helping with the ph but it just barely keeps up with demand with few corals in the tank so I don't think it's the right solution long term as the tank gets filled.
Its about 1.5 years old now, but lightly stocked due to tank stability issues I want to get resolved. That was a lot of background for my main question which is in regards to adding an algae scrubber. I don't have room in the stand for a refugium,
<Rats! This IS what I'd add... with a reverse daylight photoperiod and macro-algae... THIS would solve the vacillating pH issue, and likely the noisome algae as well
but I've been thinking to fight these Dinos I need to get that ph even more stabilized by utilizing some plants.
<Ah yes>
I've been looking at an upflow scrubber from Santa Monica but its not in the clients budget. If I was more confident it would do what I want I could probably get them to go for it. Do you think it will have the desired effect?
<Might help; worth trying... But I want you to consider a good hang on the back refugium (of size)... perhaps one of the CPR units:
I'm confident the scrubber will scrub co2 but I'm not confident that the exchange with the air won't render the effort insignificant; and that essentially I will be creating o2 in the tank, only to clean the air in the room which seems like a daunting task for a little scrubber. I'd love an opinion, or any ideas on how I might test the theory before pushing the
Matt J
<Either one I'd try. Bob Fenner>

180G mixed reef with sudden low pH issues, pls help!         8/3/15
Hello! Long time listener, first time caller. I have a problem that I can't seem to find the answer to and its starting to have an effect on my aquatic charges as well as my psychological well-being. My setup is a 180g mixed reef (fish, LPS, SPS, softies). I use an Vortec MP40 and a MaxiJet 400 to supplement the circulation that comes from my Reeflo Hammerhead.
For lighting I have 3x Chinese Black Boxes. I use a protein skimmer, a Phosban reactor and NPX biopellets to control waste
<Mmm; these chemical media do have downsides>
and, occasionally, a filter sock.
<Needs to be cleaned/switched out; daily>
My problem is my pH.
<More likely alkalinity, alkaline reserve eh?>

I have an Aquacontroller that have used for several years to provide constant, real-time pH and temp readings. It has been a great way to quickly assess the goings-on in my tank between testing. Recently it required a cal and afterwards the pH was much lower than I expected. At first I suspected a bad cal, but a second electronic meter as well as the
API drop test (and a THIRD lab grade electronic meter) corroborated the result. Here is a 'snapshot' of my parameters after my photoperiod:


<This is low.... I'd keep 8.2 at a min.>


I'm sure a pH of 7.85 by itself doesn't spell immediate disaster, but at night I am dipping much lower, like 7.65 just before the lights come on. As a way of "QC'ing" my probes I mixed a new batch of Red Sea Coral Pro sea salt @ 1.025 SG and boom, 8.2 pH. Both my total and carbonate hardness test kits read in the 12 dKH range. I was running a CO2 reactor, a habit I
have suspended until I get my pH squared away again.

I tried mixing 2 tsp of Kalk in 1 gallon of RO/DI water and dripping it all in at night, to very little effect. I'm getting a white haze on my glass, so I'm thinking I am hitting saturation for my nocturnal pH.
<Mmm; yes. I would NOT use Kalk here>

My corals look stressed and I've started to lose some of my SPS (1 bleached, lost tissue, died, 2 bleached but are... recovering?, 2 sloughed off ALL tissue overnight). Most other LPS/softies/inverts/fish look and act fine but I'm getting very little growth/polyp extension.
<Water changes for now.... and using (for the short term) a commercial product that is heavy on the carbonate side. See SeaChem's line here>
Apart from RO/DI & Red Sea Coral Pro salt 15% water changes, I've tried adding baking soda,
<Mmm, bicarb. won't raise the pH here past where it is>

Kalk, 2-part, and aerating the tank with outside air (my sump is in my garage with an open window, but I've also run my skimmer intake outside as well). Interestingly my last 20g water change with 8.2 pH water seemed to drive my pH down about 0.1... I don't want to add anything more because, simply put, I don't think my water can hold it.
My tank in its current manifestation is about 2 years old but some of the live rock and sand is as old as 10. I've changed some pieces of rock and some sand out periodically, but I'm sure some of the old stuff is still in there.
<I'd switch out more>
I was using crushed aragonite
<And use crushed coral>

at about 2-3 inches, but I switched the right half of my tank to a finer grain size when I re-re-homed a friends corkscrew long tentacle anemone.
I'm wondering now if the particle size on the remaining aragonite on the left side is too large and harboring too much funk.
<Could be a factor>
It isn't visibly dirty, but I'm sure if I stirred it up there would be a reckoning...
Do you have any ideas regarding my pH situation?
<Oh yes; all sorts. If it were me/mine, I'd do the above AND be reading re RedOx measure.... I'll bet yours is bunk low
I can't imagine a 7.6 pH is conducive to coral growth and development, and the sudden onset of the situation accompanied by my loss of coral has me in a panic. The situation only seems to be worsening and I'm not sure what to try next.
Matt, St. Pete, FL
<Consider the changes mentioned and the addition of an ozonizer. Bob Fenner>
Re: 180G mixed reef with sudden low pH issues, pls help!

Thank you so much for the ideas, I think I will remove the crushed coral (not aragonite, sorry) sand I have and replace with 2-3" fine grain,
clean the live rock, then do a significant water change (50%?).
<Okay; with pre-mixed>
I've ordered an ORP module from Amazon, but finding an ozone generator has been a challenge.
<Oh; they're about. Try Dr.s Foster and Smith>
I only use my filter sock intermittently, 1 day at a time so that shouldn't be too much of a problem. I just use it during cleaning and water changes to catch what I kick up.
With respect to the Seachem product, would you recommend the Reef Carbonate
<This one>

or Reef Complete, or the Marine Buffer, or some balanced addition of multiple products? I ask because I am reluctant to ever just add one side of the equation and I didn't quite follow that piece of your advice. Should I be aiming for a higher KH
<Mmm; not higher, but a mix of agents that will trend to keep the pH higher>

or ‎did you mean for me to just try a different supplement for now?
<Going forward; we need to find out what the real source/s of lowering pH are at work here and solve them. I'd pull the Carbon pellets and Phos remover for now as well>
What goal should I have in mind, I guess is what I mean.
<.... a pH twixt 8.2-8.4... >
Also, I try and use the Phosban and NPX sparsely, but would you recommend I discontinue their use?
<Yes; these products may well be nicking your ORP to nada, dropping not just pH, but the systems capacity to support life en toto>

Thanks again,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

I can not get the ph to lower on my TruVu tank     6/22/15
I bought a used TruVu tank with a fair amount of scratches in it. I sands them out and polished it up quite nicely. I filled it with water and tested for ph. It was very high off the charts.
<Not due to the tank>
I drained it and rinsed it a lot. Filled it and that same thing. It tested the cleaners I used and the polished I used. ( probably not the recommended but that is what I used). Those were all were around 6.8 or so ph. I rinsed it a few more times. And the same thing. I have tested the water also. It is fine. It is filter well water. I tested other items that had been in the tank. All ok. I rinsed the tank with ( completely empty) 5 percent vinegar and rinsed again and again and again. Filled it and it would be ok for a few min and then it would be high again. ?????? Any ideas. ? Thanks.
<Very strange... the acrylic the tank is made of is virtually chemically inert... NOT the source of elevated pH. I'd leave "just water" in the tank to circulate for a few days and check the pH again. Bob Fenner>

RE: help-angelfish... pH reading; SW         5/8/14
Hey Bob-
Confused. My ph typically run around 7.8-7.9, but has fallen to 7.7 - 7.6, and the only thing that changed was skimmer is off. I attribute that to less bubble agitation, and more organics in the water. My alk is a 7.
<.... ?>
Just for the heck of it, I brought my pinpoint ph monitor to my lfs, who as I have mentioned before, is far superior to any store within a 100 mile radius of where I live. I put the probe in his reef display tank, and it was 8.2. I then did his fish only for sale tanks, and there were lower than mine, at a 7.60. He said they have been that way for years, without issue.
So is my temporary 7.65 that bad I need to chase it?
Or just wait a week to get my skimmer back online?
<Why are you writing instead of reading?>
RE: help-angelfish
Did read. Nothing even comes close to suggest low ph values while using Prazi Pro. So my intent was to see if there were a large drop, what they did to buffer it back up if anything.
<Read re fixing Alkalinity>

Various sites, including wwm, suggest ph of 7.6 is "not good". However, yesterday I saw tanks with mixes of large angels, achilles tangs, powder blues, butterflies, etc, in ph of 7.6, and the guy who runs the place, said there is no issue with it.
So I guess it was a combination of me not finding something that states 7.6 ph, while using medication, and also, confusion as to whether or not a value of 7.6 is of concern. Also, my alkalinity, was/is 7 dKH.
So buffering alkalinity to raise ph would raise my alkalinity, which I know is not good either, considering I believe 7 is fine for fowlr.
ph monitor.... WHY not read on WWM?        5/13/14

I am going to give American Marine a call, but I seem to have lost faith in it (hopefully).
My ph was reading an 8.01 as of Saturday, when I enacted a 20 percent water change. After the change, it became an 8.16. However, within a day or so, the monitor read 7.8, even during the day with lights on. I removed monitor, recalibrated it, and placed back on tank, and at night, was getting a reading of 7.48. I have lots of flow in tank, so did not want to believe it was c02.
<Can/could easily be>

To double check, I threw it on my Fowlr, which reads 7,6-7.8 typically. It is now reading a 7.16, which I find very hard to believe. I checked my alk in both tanks, and they were about 9.5.
<... time to check the checker... Or even chuck it. I'd be writing AM re>
My first answer to the problem is to test my once baseball pitching arm, and see how far I could throw the monitor.
<Ah yes>
But then again, if it is right, my ph seems deadly low. The only thing that changed in environment, is it has become warmer out, and the ac has been on, with the windows closed.
Have you heard of these monitors reading this low>?
<Yes; sigh... see WWM...

I didn't even think it was possible in reef tank to have a 7.4!!!
ph monitor update (major hair puller)      5/13/14

Hey Bob, I emailed you earlier about these off reading I am getting both my tanks. I contacted American marine, and spoke to Lew, whom I guess the man with the plan there.
Any how I told him what I told you, and he said to recalibrate it, and check again. He also said, to take a sample of water outside, shake it up, and test it then to see if it is excess co2. He said after I got the calibration fluid, to check it and then call him back. Well I calibrated it, 7 and 10, and it was relatively consistent. I then checked my lfs sps tank, which I did a few weeks ago, and it was the same (8.05) I also checked his fish for sale tanks, and they were the same as they were 3 weeks ago, at a 7.68.
I then went home, checked my Fowlr and reef. Fowlr 155 was 7.3, (PraziPro in tank, skimmer off) and my reef/seahorse tank was a 7.76, of course with the lights on, when a week ago it was 8.0 -8.1. I did what he said, took a sample of water in Rubbermaid container, took outside to get fresh air, and shook it up. Remeasured, and it was the same as it was in the tank, a 7.76.
I called him back, with the results, and he said in his experience he has never seen that in a reef tank.
<Me neither>

My alkalinity is a 9.5 according to liquid API test kit. He then said to reach out in community to people who may have seen this before, and I thought of you.
So him and the lfs guy said there seems to be some anomaly going on, where I am calibrating it correctly, and getting very different, almost impossible readings in my tank. I even spoke with Jon at Warner marine, and he had no idea.
I am very puzzled, do I buffer water daily to get it back up to 8.1, or do I just let it go at 7.7, which at night will probably fall to a 7.5, 7.6?
<... back to reading
Pinpoint add on      5/13/14

Hey Bob, My computer is very off, the font is gigantic, and I have no idea why on my screen. I realize there were a bunch of typos in the last email I sent, and I apologize, I typically try to be very thorough, whether composing a resume or making a note.
<The webmail fixes this here>
The 7.76 reef tank ph I realize may not be alarming, but last night , it was in the 7..4 range, which scares me. What also alarmed me was the fact a week ago day time was 8.05, night time 7.9, and now a week later, I am missing 3-4 tenths somewhere.
<Too low... rdg.
RE: ph monitor update (major hair puller)      5/15/14

Hey Bob,
Well, I read some on reef central, WWM, and the reef tank, with almost nothing pointing to my situation.
<Wrong... stop writing and READ re pH anomalies and fixing Alkalinity>

However, today, without any changes to the tank or chemistry, my reef tank is back up to a 7.9 during the day on its own, literally picking up 2 tenths in a day on its own.
My fish only tank, I placed probe on yesterday as well. It was a reading a 7.4, 7.5 during the day. Well I did a 30 percent water change, placed carbon in filter sock, and also turned my uv light on as well as the
skimmer. It was my tenth and final day of Prazi pro.
After all those changes, the ph was still a 7.5 yesterday evening. Came down stairs today, and it has came back to a 7.8. So I believe it is safe to say the Prazi pro does have an effect on lowering ph.
With those numbers, I feel confident again. The one thing I do not like about the Prazi, is my sump before treatment was spotless, but now is covered in sludge, brown and green like slime. I am thinking this is due to the skimmer being of ten days, as well as the bio pellet reactor running, with nothing to skim anything out.
mixing salts. Synthetic use     5/24/14
Hey Bob-
I switched the salt I use for my coral tank from reef crystals to red sea coral pro. I was getting alk readings all over the place, and read others who had the same issue.
<... as posted on WWM>

So my question is, can I use this salt, the reef crystals, on my fish only tank, in which I only use instant ocean? Or should I just discard of it, and not go through the trouble?
ph crossroads... REALLY high CO2 in a living space dropping pH
Hello there Bob,
A few months ago I wrote to you about abnormally low ph in both my tanks, a 155 fowlr and a 60 mixed reef with seahorses. After trying a few adjustment, I always find myself back where I started. I have put a lot of time into figuring out why, but have struggled. Here is what I did.
<Let's see>
On my 60 cube mixed reef, I keep a calibrated pinpoint on it at all times.
For a while, I was getting 7.9 consistently, but as spring heated up into summer, and the ac has run more in the house, I have been getting 7.5.
<Mmmm; is your home "sealed" pretty air tight? You may well have too much CO2 going into solution in your systems as carbonic acid; dropping alkalinity and pH>

My alkalinity was fine, running from 10-11 without buffering. I then enacted a co2 scrubber, with soda lime, having air run through it before it entered the skimmer. Within two days, my ph was running 7.9, 8.0: however, after three days, the material was exhausted and had turned purple.
<... Yeeikes. Not to alarm you (unnecessarily), but I would DEFINITELY get/use two or more CO and CO2 alarms/monitors in this place/house. You have some real trouble here... Too many oxygen using animals, plants by night... OPEN a window!>

I read up on scrubbers, and have found most people get 14-21 days out of their soda lime. I was getting 3 days. Realizing this was not only causing ph to shift from 7.9, down to 7.5 instantly when the media was exhausted, at that rate this Band-Aid would have cost me about 60 bucks a month to operate. I took off the scrubber, and have enjoyed 7.5 - 7.6 ph. I am turning this take over 35x an hour, through powerheads and return pump, and use a large skimmer. It sure seems co2 in my house is the culprit.

This tank I was just speaking of is upstairs in my house. The windows are pretty much always closed with air conditioning on, but occasionally door gets open, etc, which allows some air in. Now my 155 fowlr is a different story. This tank is located in the basement, which doesn't see much in the way of ventilation. I took my pinpoint off my reef tank, and placed it on my fowlr last night. I did a 30 percent water change, measured alkalinity, which was 8 (I use instant ocean here, as opposed to red sea coral pro), and then checked my ph, and it was 7.3. This tank, has about 25x over turn, with giant skimmer, so I know agitation is not the issue.

My question is, knowing co2 is the culprit, to the point where scrubbing is not cost efficient in my situation, and fish are still living, at what point do you say, that's part of the deal with your house, and move on.
<No my friend. The carbon di and mon-oxide are real issues, troubles for you to breathe as well>
Even when I mix up new saltwater, with RO water, I will run two pumps to aerate for a 4-5 hours, check ph, and the best I will get is 7.9, with new water, no organics.
<Well; am "happy" that you're discovering the likely source of the low pH situations... but, you REALLY want to address the poor air quality here.
Bob Fenner>
Re: ph crossroads
Thanks for the response. I will do what is necessary to keep a window more open and figure out why the co2 is so high. I can tell you the house is roughly 2000 sq feet, in which four people reside, along with two dogs.
<... I want to encourage you... to do what I would do... given the situation as I understand it. I would seek out, hire a consulting company to come and inspect the property. SOMETHING is introducing CO2 here... can come up from the ground... can be due to somethings awry with venting about
gas combustion (poor venting...). I would do this ASAP
The only silver lining to this cloud, if there is one, is the fish and corals are still well alive and feeding. I did struggle with some sps, but I cant blame ph, for the seahorses do not make it easy to keep nitrates and
organics down.
Moral to the story, if I understand correctly, forget tanks at this point, something is not right in the house that can be hazardous to the people here, ornamental aquatics secondly.
<Yes; well, all-together>
I can not imagine, how someone not in an isolated house like myself, say apartment, could not have this issues. Say you were on the 7th floor, in the middle, of 20 floors, fresh air would seem as rare as that unicorn.
Thanks again bob
<Welcome. B>
Re: ph crossroads      7/17/14

Hey bob-
I discussed the potential issue with my folks, and after some conversation, they are going to look into what it takes to correct it.
Refusing to sit around in the mean time, I did a simple experiment, gathered some empirical, reliable data, but have no idea what to make of it.
I was hoping you would take a look, having a science mind, and see if their is anything to determine.
My father races a pretty high tech, high dollar drag car, in which I share no interest in. However, he does have a weather "station" he bought last year in determining performance and consistency. It measures the basics, temp, humidity, dew point temp etc.
So I let it run for a while outside, and the oxygen percentage read 19.6. This is the outdoor air, and I then brought it inside, where my reading was a consistent 18.8. So the inside air is roughly 8 tenths lower than the outside.
<About four percent less... But... one can have both high [O2] and high [CO2]>
The machine was calibrated last year, however, he uses it more as a baseline, for accuracy and consistency, more so than precision. Assuming the numbers are correct, does this not seem low for oxygen levels for the outside air?
<Mmm; no>
I live about 20 minutes (the way the crow flies) from new York city, so it is very congested, and we do have our fair share of refineries, factories etc.
If it is not precise, using it is a simple baseline, does 8 tenths difference from inside and outside, seem about right?
<... again>
Lastly, does knowing the oxygen level, tell me anything about c02?     

Does one displace the other, say the same way calcium and alkalinity work?
This is by no means the all, end all solution, just me trying to connect the dots in the mean time.
<The outside, professional help... B>
Frustrations... NO3 high, pH too low... mysterious fish losses? Predation     7/24/14

Hey there bob. I have my tank running the best it has in probably ten years. Fish are healthy, skimmers working properly and my nitrates are a manageable 40 thanks to bio pellets .
<... .what happened w/ the CO2?>

One issue I have is fish loss. Last week I lost a blue ring angel I had for a while doing really well. Came home to find him swimming around with both eyes gone, torn out. I put him out of his misery, felt horrible. Nice fish too.
Chalking it up to not every or every fish gets along, today I came home and my aregula (so?)
<Look it up>
butterfly also suffered some the same fate. Healthy one day, the next torn up with both eyes missing. The most aggressive fish I have are a powder blue and a porcupine puffer.
Is this something people just come to expect with fowlrs, or is it maybe something I should be doing differently, feeding more than twice per day etc?
<...? Yes... READ on WWM>
Very upset and starting to see why people opt for more peaceful, reef tanks.
RE: Frustrations     7/24/14

Ah yes, c02. A friend of the family is a home inspector who is going to set up his meter in various parts of the house. He doesn't believe it is an issue, but promised to run the tests to confirm.
<Am very interested in knowing the results>
In the mean time, after speaking with American marine, and comparing it to another ph meter, he wants me to send it back to exchange, as it showing issues calibrating? As a test, I mixed up new saltwater outside in fresh air for 24 hours, and at 12 alk, measured 7.8 ph. According to randy
Farley, that simply is not possible outside.
<Something; again... is not right here>
I will let you know how the co2 tests come out . Thanks
<Thank you. BobF>
co2 update... and ongoing fish predation, SW     7/30/14

Hey Bob-
Co2 levels in the house with ac on and doors and windows shut was 700 ppm.
From what I understand, in normal conditions, a typical house will have between 400-1000.
<Mmm; well; when I was a kid, there was about 350 ppm in the atmosphere;
now there's about 400... Some houses have 1k; but this is still high>
And lastly to follow up on a question I asked last week, about eyes going missing, there are two more victims this week.
<... the puffer>
A large emperor angel, is now missing an eye, and a red stripe athia, which is missing both eyes. The emperor angel had both eyes when the lights went off last night, this morning just on eye.
Is there a disease that will cause this to happen relatively quick?
<... no>
I have not witnessed any aggression from any of my fish during my time watching it.
Likely culprit could be the porcupine puffer, guinea fowl puffer, Hawaiian durgeon trigger, or a niger trigger.
<Could be any; my bet's on the Diodontid>
That's four fish in two weeks that have succumbed to eyes gone missing.
<Separate them....>
RE: co2 update    7/30/14

Understood. Is that when there was 6 feet of snow on the ground year round, and 45 degree up hill walks, both to and from school?
<Heee! On horses!>
Kidding aside, I am glad I know it is not at a dangerous level in my house.
But further confused about low ph, if that's safe, and alkalinity is good, what gives.
<... see, one last time... WWM re pH, Alkalinity. This mystery... test kit/s, mix; needs still to be solved>
Also, I am going to 1 by 1 remove the fish until I find the criminal. Not really a good test, because of the fish left, they are pretty tough, the easier, samples (variable) are already damaged.
I am thinking a puffer too, but just curious, what makes you say the diadon (porcupine) over the guinea fowl (arothron)?
<See WWM re>
... Ich returns, again   7/31/14

Hey Bob-
On horses? That trip doesn't seem so dismal anymore now does it?
The porcupine puffer is coming out today and going back to lfs. No way a 40 dollar fish is going to consume money like that on me.
But I am going to try this one more time, before letting mother nature (not really though, mom nature did not put these creatures in a 6x2x2 space after all).
<Ah no>

low pH, SW, CO2...     8/10/12
Thanks for all your hard work!  I have a 180 gallon (6x2x2 drilled) mixed reef with some of the more hardy LPS and softies, DSB and live rock, 55 gallon sump with skimmer and 30 gallon refugium with Chaeto macro algae and DSB.  Fish include:  3" Purple tang, 4" Sailfin tang, 3.5" Majestic Angel, 3.5" Blue Throat trigger, 3.5" Copperband butterfly, 3" Bicolor angel, 2" Flame angel and 3" Scott's Fairy wrasse.  All fish get along excellent<ly>.
 I also run ozone to an Avast Marine reactor with the effluent running through carbon.  I have a ReefKeeper that monitors pH, ORP, temp, etc.  Ammonia=0, nitrite=0, nitrate=5, KH=9, temp=80, salinity=1.025, calcium=380.  Whole system has been up and running for about 6 months.  I don't dose much; calcium, iodide and magnesium every so often if the tests show it low.  I have been having trouble keeping my pH above 8.0.  I verified the pH with a pen type meter.  I read through the FAQs and have done the following:  use buffered RO/DI for top off, buffer and oxygenate the RO/DI water before adding salt for my 20% water changes every two weeks, no covers on the DT, agitate surface water with PHs.  None of this seemed to help much.  One other thing I read during my research was that excess CO2 buildup can drive pH down.  The DT is in my "man cave" in a finished basement.  Being summer I've had all windows closed and the central air on so I turned the air off, opened the windows and within 4 hours pH rose to 8.2!
<Mmm, yes... accumulation in the closed house... from YOU! Other humans, cooking, potted plants...>
 I bought a CO2 monitor to see the actual difference and found with window open it stayed around 400 ppm and pH at 8.2 but with windows closed and A/C on it rose to 1400 ppm
<! MUCH too high>
and pH went down to 7.85! 
I tried raising my KH to 14 to help resist the downward drop but this did nothing.
<Yes; it won't... the excess CO2, carbonic acid dissolving into solution from the air won't allow>
 I live in northern Minnesota so 8 months out of the year the windows are closed and the heat is on and for 3 months the A/C is on.  I do not have fresh air make up.
<You, your home needs better venting... fresh air circulation>
 So my question is besides calling my local heating/cooling guy to add fresh air makeup,
 is there anything else that can be done to keep pH up when CO2 concentration is high?
<Nothing that is practical, AND the high CO2 is bad for you as well as all other aerobic organisms. You need/want to keep [CO2] under 1000 ppm>
Second question is on PH placement.  Currently I have two Koralia 5 (1650 gph), one in each top back corner pointing down towards the middle of the front glass.  The sump return is two Eheim 1262s, each split into two so there are four total nozzles into the tank running along the surface for agitation.  Each Eheim has a gate valve at the outlet to control flow rate (right now about halfway closed due to limitations of the drain into the sump...about 1200 gph total).  I've been thinking of either adding a Tunze or two or replacing the Koralias with Tunze.
<Both companies make different size units>
  The corals are looking pretty good but I know more flow is always better, plus there is some accumulation on my sand bed.  I know placement is variable depending on rock work, coral placement, etc.  I also know Tunze has a more narrow stream of water so can expect more reach.  The tank is visible from three sides, set up as a peninsula splitting two rooms.  The rockwork runs the middle of the tank with about 4 inches all the way around the edges open.  The rock work is about 13 - 16 high.  Reading up on PH placement, the way I have it now is pretty good universally but noticed very recently you mentioned doing a clockwise/counter clock swirl, see below:
"You suggested I leave the Vortechs running in sync mode facing each other.
<Mmm, no, not facing each other... but "shooting" along the side, placed near the top... pushing water in a clock or counter-clockwise fashion>"
I have a couple questions:  Would you change the placement of the nozzles from the sump return?  Maybe instead of splitting each pump into two nozzles, stay with one for more velocity?
<Whatever way it is accomplished, more flow would be better... continuous, unidirectional>
 If I added one or two Tunze would it be better getting the 1700 gph or 2100 gph based on my tank dimensions (or maybe even lower gph)?
<The high gph is what I'd choose>
 I was thinking of getting two more, putting in front top corners and facing toward the back middle,
<Along the top edge, pushing the water in a circular (gyre) motion>
so a PH in each corner or maybe the clock/counter clock you mentioned earlier?
  Maybe a couple lower aimed high and a couple higher aimed low? Again I know it all depends, but any suggestions would be helpful. Thank you!
<Most flow is accomplished by exerting the force near the air-water interface. I do wish I had a link to Jake Adams "talk" re circulation matters in reefs. Bob Fenner>
Re: low pH     8/11/12

Bob, thank you for your reply! In regards to the PH placement for gyre flow, please see if I have this correct. If I had two PHs, would you suggest one in the front upper left corner pushing across the front to the right side and one in the rear upper right corner pushing across the back to the left side, both on constantly.
Or would you suggest both on one side towards the top pushing water to the opposite side, both on constantly?
<The former arrangement is superior>
It seems the latter would make the water flow in a circular pattern across the top and back across the bottom. Is this what we're trying to achieve? If you recommend the first one, would that flow pattern be a combination of horizontal and vertical gyre?
<The total movement of all the water is ideal... to the surface is important, but eddy effects will accomplish this. B>
Re: low pH, and link to JakeA's article on circ.     8/11/12

Thanks again Bob! By the way, here is an article written by Jake Adams. 
This might be what you're looking
for. http://www.advancedaquarist.com/2007/1/aafeature
<Ah yes! This is it. Thank you. BobF>

PH questions, loss of in-tank buffering capacity, too much reductive influence      8/7/12
Dear WWM Crew,
I have some questions about PH.  First some general info.  I have a 55 gallon marine fish with live rock system.  Filtration is an Emperor 400 on one side and a Penguin 330 on the other side with a power head in the middle.  I also use Boyd’s Chemipure.  I have had it set up for almost a year.  Currently I have four fish (Coral Beauty Angelfish, Ocellaris Clownfish, Six Line Wrasse, and Royal Gramma), a cleaner shrimp, and several hermit crabs and snails.  I try to keep things as simple and affordable as I can.
<Good. Me too>
 For the last year (and previously when I had the same tank set up before I moved) I have used Seachem Marine Buffer to maintain PH.  I have done fairly well keeping it around 8.2 to 8.3 using this product.
<Mmm, better to figure out the source of loss of alkalinity... counter this... w/ water changes and more>
 On Saturday, before doing a water change I checked the PH and it was around 8.0.  This was lower than I was used to, but I didn’t concern myself about it.  I did my usual monthly 25% water change, and added a dose of buffer afterward as usual.  The next day, the PH had only come up to about 8.1 or 8.2.
  So I did another dose.
  Today I checked the PH and it was back down to 8.1 or even 8.0.  This is unusual.
<Actually; not unusual. The "other sources of readily soluble carbonate, bicarbonate are becoming exhausted... the nitrification in your canister filters (reductive, acidic processes) are "eating away" at your alkalinity faster than your buffer additions can handle to maintain the pH point you're shooting for>
 Normally, after a water change one or two doses is enough to get it back up to 8.2/8.3.  I use tap water and Instant Ocean Reef Crystals.  I can’t afford RO/DI water.  The tap water has a steady PH of 7.6.  Recently, I purchased a KH test.  I’m still struggling to understand how all this works.
<No need to struggle. Do spend a bit of time reading. Start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mphtrbl.htm
and the linked files above>
 As I understand it, the alkalinity measures the ability of the water to keep a constant PH.
<Yes; one way to look at this... another is that this is a measure of the "resistance" to downward movement in pH>
  I have read that a Marine tank should have a KH of between 8 and 12.
<This is so>
 The tap water has a KH of 10 to 12. When my tank was holding steady at 8.2/8.3, I would have a KH of 15 or 16.  Before the previously mentioned water change the KH of the tank was 12.  Tonight (after the two doses of buffer) it was 16.   So what do I need to do to get my PH back to 8.2/8.3?
<Removal of some of the "acidifying influences", increase of the opposite... addition of new/more alkaline substrate... a DSB, some new carbonaceous rock for instance would help, adding a sump/refugium w/ macroalgae (lighted) culture as well, changing foods to somethings w/ less protein (its catabolism lowers pH, eats away at alkalinity)...>
 Do I need to keep adding buffer?
<Not a good single plan in the long haul, no>
 I don’t understand what has changed.
<See above... some parts (the rock, gravel) of your system that were more easily soluble are about gone...>
  Is there a simpler way to keep my PH where it needs to be?
<Quite a few... as you will find in your reading>
The rest of my water stats are as follows:  Temp. 79; Ammonia 0; Nitrites 0; Nitrates 0;
<Really? How is this kept at zero?>
Calcium 400; Specific Gravity between 1.022 and 1.023. 
Thanks in advance for your answer.
<Let's keep communicating till this situation is clear/er for you. Bob Fenner>
Re: PH questions        8/8/12

Hi Bob,
First, pH tonight was around 8.0 (so it seems to be kind of steady there now).
I've been reading the FAQ's in the link you sent (I'm about 80% through them).  I wanted to go ahead and send you a response, but I will keep reading.  The Nitrates are almost always that low (and never over 5).  I think it is due to the Chemipure. 
<I see>
The only time they start to go up is when it is time to replace a bag.  A little more information about the tank.  My substrate is fine live sand 1 to 2 inches.
<Needs to be deeper>
 I have about 25 lbs of live rock and about that much more base rock.  Some of the dead base rock has come "alive."   My food (since May) has been New Life Spectrum Pellets (small fish formula).  I also put in some dried seaweed for the Angelfish.
<Good foods>
Over the past year, my procedure has been a monthly water change of 25% using tap water and Instant Ocean Reef Crystals.  I usually added a dose of buffer on the day of the water change because the PH of the new water always came out 7.8 to 8.0.  This would usually give me a pH the next evening of 8.3 or so.  Most months this would hold steady for a couple of weeks, when it would get down to 8.2 or so and I would add another dose.  Then over the next couple of weeks I might have to add a third dose (or might not) before doing a water change again.  That's why two straight doses with no change concerned me.  I got the dKH test a couple of months ago, and begin testing.
I noticed that (up until the last couple of days) a dKH of 12 to 14 meant that the PH was 8.1 or 8.2 and a dKH of 15 or 16 meant 8.3.  I knew that 8 to 12 dKH was what was recommended, but I figured that because I used tap water (and the tap water had a dKH of 10 to 12 itself) that my system would need a higher dKH to hold the pH higher.  I understand now that this isn't right.  I still wonder if using tap water is not part of my pH problem though.
<Not likely no... for most folks, systems, simple tap/mains water is fine for marine aquarium use. Much of what RO/DI removes IS buffer>
As for your suggestions in the last message:  New/more alkaline substrate (would I need new live sand after a year?);
<Yes; this is gone over on WWM a few times, places>
 a DSB (what is this?);
<Deep Sand Bed: Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm
and the linked files above>
  New carbonaceous rock (would this be more base rock?  live rock?);
Sump/refugium (This is not possible right now.  Perhaps in the future.  Tank maintenance is funded from the family budget.  New livestock/upgrades are funded by Christmas and Birthday :-));  As for changing foods.  My fish are looking better with the NLS than they had before.  I tried it to combat HLLE in the Angelfish.  I really don't want to change it).
<I wouldn't>
After some of the reading I had a couple of other thoughts.  I think I have decent water movement, but I also keep the tank covered (except for where the filters return).  Should I remove the covers?
<Maybe a bit>
  We have several potted plants in the room with the tank.  Could this be a factor?
<Not likely. Unless these were quite numerous, taking up oxygen, giving off appreciable CO2 by night>
  Of course, all these factors have been consistent over the last year.  Here's something else that I don't understand.  If my problem is nitrification "eating away" at the alkalinity, then wouldn’t the dKH reading be lower--instead of 16?
Also I don't understand, if the alkalinity is about holding the pH where it is, what is it that makes the pH a particular level?
<Keep reading... a balance, more than reductive influences... mainly the presence of carbonates, bicarbonates>
I hope I don't sound too ignorant.  The reading helps, but a lot of it is still over my head.
<It will soon be clear/er>
Thanks so much for helping me.
<A pleasure. BobF>
Re: PH questions    8/10/12

Hi (again) Bob,
Things are getting clearer, and I'm beginning to formulate a plan (and see some of what I had done wrong).
First, I removed the plastic covers from the top of the tank in the back (the cut-to-fit pieces that covered between the filter returns).  I left the glass covers under the light and over the front.   That was on Tuesday.
Over the last two days the pH has gradually crept up from 8.0 to around 8.2.
<Wow! This is actually a bunch! As you now know pH scale, like Richter for earthquakes is a base 10 log>
I'm not sure if this is coincidental or not.  If not, does it mean that I'm not getting enough oxygen in the water.
<Or allowing for outgassing of carbonic acid, CO2>
 I may try the test where you aerate some water overnight.
Second, I'm going to start shooting for a dKH below 12.  I thought I would let it gradually fall from the 16 that it was when I first emailed you.  I'm not going to add anymore marine buffer until it gets in the target range (8 to 12).  I'm hoping that using the tap water with the high dKH itself means that I won't need to add very much buffer at all if I address my pH issues in other ways.
Third, you said my sand bed is too shallow.  I'm planning on gradually increasing it over the next several months to a depth of 4 inches minimum.
<Tres bien!>
I have seen that a 1/2 inch addition in a different part of the tank every week or so is the way to go here (maybe dividing it into thirds).  The sand that I have in there now is Carib Sea Ocean Direct Caribbean Live sand (original grade substrate).  I will go with a finer grade (oolite) for the rest, putting it on top of what I already have.  Do I need to get any more live sand to add, or can I use Carib Sea Aragamax?
<The last will be fine/good>
  (I have looked at building supply stores in my area, but no one has the South Down or Old Castle children's play sand--all they seem to have is Quikrete which I know will not be good.)  I am hoping that the DSB will help me maintain a higher pH. 
<It will; and do much more that's beneficial>
Also, even though I do not have a problem with Nitrates due to the use of Chemipure, I am hoping that the DSB will enable me to control Nitrates more naturally so that I will not need to use Chemipure as much (or maybe at all).
<It will>
Fourth, I've been reading up on DSB maintenance, and I have seen that if you have the right livestock to stir the sand around that you don't need to siphon it as much or often.  This appeals to me as well.
<And I>
Fifth, I had already planned to add more live rock as I could afford it.  I am also going to research refugiums, which I may set up eventually, if I can afford it and find a place to put it.
<In the converted sump...?>
Sixth, I'm also considering going to more frequent, smaller water changes (may be 10 to 15% every other week as opposed to 25% once a month).
<I would... I do>
Seventh, I'm not overstocked and I don’t think I overfeed so I don't think that it's the food/waste/nitrification that has caused the lower pH.  If it was I would also have lower dKH, which I don't.  This is why I am addressing the problem as above.
I'm going to keep reading and learning, but this is where I am right now.  I feel like I at least have a grasp of what I need to do to control pH (even if all the chemical equations and formulas on your site still make my head hurt and my eyes fog over!).  I hope that I am not way off base.  Thank you for all your helpful advice before and in advance for any comments/help given here.  I REALLY appreciate it.
<Thank you for sharing; your understanding and actions speak of a sensitive, comprehending mind/spirit. A delight. B>
Re: PH questions      8/14/12

Hi Bob,
<Hey Eddie>
In the last email I mentioned a .2 swing in the pH (8.0 to 8.2) after removing the plastic covers from the back.  The aeration test produced no change.  I have another theory about this that I wanted to ask you about.
Over the last six months or so I have used Kent's Liquid Calcium supplement to maintain Calcium around 380 to 400.  Mostly I did this for the snails, but also for the coralline algae and the other invertebrates.  Anyway right after the water change, which prompted the first in this series of emails to you, I switched to Seachem reef calcium. 
<A superior product, line>
I didn't realize at the time the difference between these two products (Calcium chloride vs. Calcium gluconate).  I was just running low on Kent's and had the other on hand.
Anyway, I had used the Seachem for two straight days, but then switched back to the Kent's on the same day I removed the covers and the pH started going back up.  I'm mentioning this because at the end of last week (Friday and Saturday) I used the Seachem again (again for two straight days) and again the pH went down to 8.0 by Sunday evening.  The dKH was 13 and the Calcium was down to 360/380. 
<All these values are, BTW, fine>
Sunday evening I added Calcium chloride again and today the pH has come back up to 8.1.  My biggest question is could using Calcium gluconate verses Calcium chloride make a difference like this in the pH?
<Some, yes>
 Over the last couple of days I've been reading up on WWM regarding calcium additives.  The calcium gluconate is apparently good for coralline algae only and will not register accurately with a calcium test kit.
<Mmm; "depends">
 That being the case, would it also not help raise the pH (helping to explain the drop to 8.0)?
<Possibly, yes... to a degree>
I'm am still pushing ahead with the plan that I outlined in the previous email.  In addition I intend to stop using Calcium chloride additives.  I am hoping that the DSB and more frequent water changes will reduce my need for additives.
<It/they will>
 However, in the meantime, as I am making this transition (and afterward), do I need to keep the calcium at a certain level for the sake of my invertebrates, coralline algae, and especially my snails?  I know they need calcium to build their shells.  In addition to doing a great job controlling algae, the snails are my son's favorite part of the tank (all the beautiful fish, and he loves the snails!).  If I do need to keep Calcium at a certain level, what type of additive do you recommend?
<The SeaChem line... these are all "miscible" and useful>
Sorry to keep bothering you with more and more questions.  The more I learn the more questions I have.  Thank you for your patience.
<And you for your involvement. BobF>
Re: PH questions, discovery of NO3, API test protocol     8/20/20

Hi Bob,
I do have Nitrates.  The more I have read on WWM the more I puzzled over my low Nitrate readings.  I finally decided that something must be wrong with my test (API liquid).  I took some water to a LFS store and they got a different reading.  They suggested my test might be past expiration.
<Does happen>
 I had gotten as part of a master test kit, and it didn't have a date stamped on it, so I didn't know.  I bought a new test (another API).  On a whim I decided to read the directions for the new test.  I was shocked and embarrassed to discover that I had been doing the test wrong for a year!!!!
<This also is quite common>
When I first got it I must have misread the directions.  Instead of shaking bottle number 2 for 30 seconds, I was shaking the test tube (after adding bottle #1) for 30 seconds.  When I performed the test the right way, I discovered Nitrates around 60 ppm.  What a difference!
<Ah yes>
I'm going to do a decent sized water change and THOROUGHLY suction out the sand.  I'm going ahead with my plan to build my DSB (going from 1 to 2 inches to 4 plus).
  I've ordered my sand, but it hasn't arrived yet.  My question is, do I need to do anything other than the water change/suction before I start adding sand (multiple water changes/suctions, something else, etc.)?
<You need do nothing>
 I'm concerned (after reading) about the possible high nutrient content of the sand and that putting more sand on top of it will cause a problem down the road.
<Possibly, but doubtful>
<Welcome, and thank you for your further report. BobF>

Too high pH     5/18/12
Hi Crew, After 30 years keeping marine fish I have never had a too alkali pH. My water is 8.8 tested with a High Range API test kit.
<Wow... do you use Ozone? Have some new, very soluble substrate? Decor?>
 The fish were blotchy, slightly cloudy eyes and lethargic and I have removed them to another tank whose water's pH is 8.2. The water in both systems is collected from the same location the Andaman Sea where Butterflyfish, Moorish Idols are common so surely is good quality. Any advice on what you think could have made the water too alkali would be appreciated and also how to lower the pH. Regards, Adam.
<pH is a base 10 logarithm, so any difference like this IS considerable (notable, dangerous)... There should NOT be no such variation... Have you tested the water where you're directly collecting it? After it's been in contact w/ whatever container/s you're using to transport it? Something very odd going on here. Bob Fenner>
Re: Too high pH    5/19/12

Hi Bob, The two fish died, changeling Blueface and a Majestic that got along well. Sadly this was the last test I did as I did not suspect too high pH, I think you agree that a high pH would not be a normal suspect.
I am at a loss as the water collected is right by a large reef, anyway I will test a new supply. Strangely the inverts are doing well, anemone, hard coral, sea star. I do think there is some contaminant but I only have a chiller, connected with soft colourless piping (which did react to turn grey), the tank hood which is plastic. I am going to the beach to make a large water change. I kept fish in the UK for years, but the last few months have been very unlucky. Thank you for your suggestions. Regards, Adam.
<And you for your further input Adam. BobF>

Tropic Marin High pH 5/16/12
Hi crew!
<Hello Jennifer>
I scoured your FAQs but couldn't find an answer on this.  I decided to try Tropic Marin based on yours' and my LFS recommendations. I started with a completely clean Rubbermaid (32 gal), freshly made RO/DI and aerated it for 2 days. I then added the Tropic Marin to a salinity of 1.025.  After a few hours
the pH was 8.7 and calcium 520..yikes!! The next day the pH came down to 8.5. 
Does Tropic Marin usually mix to such a high pH? Oh, the temp is 78 degrees.
<Mmm, if you are using a color comparator test kit the pH reading is just a ballpark figure.  I did contact Lou Ekus of Tropic Marin regarding this and will post his reply below.
"Hi James,
If someone is getting a high Ca reading it might be either of the things you already said <I mentioned outdated test kits and inaccurate calcium test procedure.> or they might need to mix the dry ingredients in the bucket (if they are working a small quantity out of a 200 gallon bucket) before mixing with water. A high pH is either a result of bad testing (kit or procedure) or they might be testing too soon after mixing. All salt mixes will test high in pH shortly after mixing, before adequate circulation and aeration. That is why most reputable salt companies say circulate for at least 6-8 hours. The drop in pH usually takes less than 3 hours, but we CYA that way.
The only other thing I can think of that may be going on is if they are adding the water to the full amount of salt already in their mixing vat and getting a precipitate, this can also screw up reading badly.
Hope this helps. These things are ALWAYS more complex than we would like them to be. If they need more information, they can always call me if they are using TM products.
All the best,
Lou Ekus
Director of US Operations
Tropic Marin USA
44 Center Street,
Montague, MA.  01351
voice: 413-367-0101
fax: 413-367-0144
  Thanks crew!
<You're welcome and do feel free to call Lou at the above number if necessary.>
James (Salty Dog)>

High calcium    5/1/12
Hi crew! I've been reading your website trying to find an answer to my question but to no avail. In mixing up a fresh batch of saltwater here's what I have done: RO/DI water (membranes on all 4 stages changed 2 months ago) placed into a cleaned 32 gallon container. The water was aerated for 3 days. Just for fun I checked the pH (using a Hanna pH meter), it was at 8.0. My LFS told me they use Coralife Salt in their tanks. I was using Instant Ocean but was not happy with it's performance lately. The LFS told me they never have to buffer the water and that the pH is about 8.3. So I thought I would give it a try. I added the Coralife salt to my RO water (after aeration) and waited 24 hours to measure the pH. It was at 7.8 and the alkalinity was at 7 dKH. I added Kent's dKH Superbuffer according to their directions. It's been 3 days and I've left the lid off and continued to aerate. The pH is now 8.0, 11 dKH but the calcium is 520..yikes!! Salinity is 1.025. Here's the question: If I do very small water changes, like 3 gallons at a time, can I use this water?
Also, I tested the tank water. Parameters are: Salinity 1.025, alkalinity 9 dKH, Calcium 500, pH run 7.8 in the a.m. and 8.05 in the afternoon. Tank info: 55 gallon reef tank with 30 gallon refugium, 80 lbs of live rock, T5 lighting (4 bulb). Please let me know if you need any other information from me. Thank you! Jennifer
<Let's start the first guess w/ the most likely possibility. Do you have a "well sealed" home? That is, one w/ Tyvek, what have you keeping air inside, the outside out? If so, the carbon dioxide you, pets, houseplants at night are giving off may well be going into solution in your new water... driving pH down. The next guess is the test gear itself. I would have a bit of the water tested otherwise. Bob Fenner>
Re: High calcium, low pH     5/1/12

Thank you for your response, Mr. Fenner.  I'm not sure if Tyvek is used in the home...we built it 7 years ago so it may have it. But since it's been so nice we've been keeping the house open as much as possible.  I have read that keeping the house closed up drives down the pH.  I've recalibrated the pH meter and the calcium and alkalinity tests were just purchased.  I took the water to the LFS for testing the magnesium and they said it was within acceptable parameters (not sure of exact numbers).  I'm thinking of just biting the bullet and buying Tropic Marin.  I've read that is one of the most consistent salt mixes we can get in the states.  Thank you for all of your help!  Jennifer
<Certainly welcome. BobF>

Cooking food and pH drop... Carbonic acid accumulation...     3/12/12
Hello Wet Web Media!<Hi Daniel, Jordan here.>  I have an interesting observation that I would like to share.  I would also like to see how well you support it or if you have experienced this problem yourself.  Every Sunday my girlfriend and I like to cook lots of food so that we do not have to cook for the rest of the week.  I have noticed that if there is an extremely large amount of cooking (say the oven is running continuously for 3-4 hours and the stove burners are running a lot) the pH levels in my marine aquariums drop significantly.<The burners are raising carbon dioxide levels in your home.
Increased carbon dioxide levels in your home can affect your tanks pH. Read more here- http://www.advancedaquarist.com/2002/4/short >
When I say significant I mean on the order of -0.5 pH.  We are done cooking now and my prized tank has dropped from 8.1 to about 7.6.  This is really bad and the only solution I can think of is to try to ventilate the house when going on these cooking sprees.<Good idea.>  I will test the water after an hour or so and see if the pH has risen in my tanks.  Have any of you had a similar experience?<Not personally, but I have read many similar accounts.>

Ph <steady> and hermit crab <comp.> help  2/3/12
Hello Wet web Crew,
     Thanks for your help with my last issue.  I have two more questions though.  I bought "Blue Leg" Hermit Crabs from my LFS a few months ago and two of them are definitely not blue leg hermits crabs, at least I think. 
The two I am concerned about are huge compared to the other crabs I have and don't even have blue legs.  Is it common for other species of Hermit Crabs to be miss labeled as Blue legs?  I have read in many places that large hermit crabs are dangerous to my tank especially small inverts.  I have a few small Nassarius Snails I am particularly worried about.  Should I remove the crabs in question from my tank? Or just wait and see what happens? 
<The latter is what I'd do>
And also my pH seems to stay at about 8.4 even after water changes.
<Lucky you. Is fine>
  Everyone in my tank seems fine though, I have yet to loose <lose> anyone besides a snail and a hermit crab over the course of 3 or 4 months.  (Knock on Wood)  Should I try to lower my pH or is about 8.4 okay?
                                    Thanks again,
<Enjoy it while you can... aquariums are reductive environments... Will drop, lose alkalinity in time. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

pH Too High  11/19/11
<Hi there>
The water coming out of my deionizer has a TDS of around 13.
<Mmm, are your membranes old? What is the TDS on the supply side?>
So I decided to run the water through the filter again to see if I could get it down to zero. It worked. The only problem is that after buffering and adding salt mix and allowing to age for a few days the pH is 9.1.
It's usually 8.4-8.5. Does the high pH have anything to do with the second pass through the deionizer?
<No... is almost certainly the salt mix itself... What brand? Do see WWM re... some makes have had these sorts of troubles periodically in recent years>
Because that's the only thing that I did differently this time. And what's the most ideal way to bring the pH down?
<Mmm, well, there are organic, inorganic acids (Always to be used OUT of the system)... but best really to contact the manufacturer of the salt brand and have them replace it>
Also, I checked my pH meter and it's reading accurately.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: pH Too High 11/19/11

Hi Bob,
Thanks for replying so quickly.
The deionizer cartridge isn't old at all. Probably only about 10 gallons run through it.
The TDS coming out of my tap is 102.
<Not too high>
And I'm using Tropic Marin salt mix. (Same batch that I've used for the last five or so water changes without any pH issues)..
<This is one of the best products on the market. I have never "heard" a complaint against it>
So it's possible that my salt mix went bad in only a month's time? I do keep it sealed in Tupperware.
<Doesn't go bad, no>
The only other thing that I can think of is that maybe the pump I'm using to mix my water change water is leaching something?
<But what? What would be so alkaline? Please mix up a sample and store it for a day, test for the pH again. Cheers, BobF><<RMF suspects the municipality "pulsed" a chemical into the tap water>>
Thanks again,

Low Marine PH Issues   10/17/11
Hi Guys,
I hope all is well.
I have had an ongoing low PH issue with my marine aquarium. It has been established for about 5 years and I have never been able to get the PH above 7.8.
<Mmm, common for systems to "lose" their relative buffering capacity over time... have you switched out, added more soluble substrate? Rock?>
Let me tell you a bit about the system and what I have tried. It is a 55 Gal. with a 500 gph pump. There is a hang on refugium full of macro algae, live rock and sand and a grow light. The lighting is a 4X65 compact fluorescent with 2 50/50 bulbs and 2 10,000k bulbs. The display has a live sand bed and about 75 pounds of live rock. Below I have a sump with live rock and an activated carbon filter and a second refugium with macro algae.
I use only RO/DI water.
<So far, so good>
The livestock consists of 2 small fish, a shrimp, 6 or so blue leg hermits, a few xenia, star polyps and mushrooms. I keep a large rubber made trash can where I mix and store back up water.
To rule out the test kit I used 2 different kits plus a PH pen. Calcium, alkalinity, Magnesium, phosphate, gravity, ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, temp all exactly where it should be. The RO/DI water tests at 7.7.
<? Mmm, this should measure close to 7,0... perhaps a little less first coming out of the filter>
I have tried pumping fresh air in from the out side, Kalkwasser, b ionic, several different buffers, 3 different salt brands plus just about anything I could get at a local shop. I can not get the PH to change. I usually end up with a snow storm in my back up water attempting to change the PH. The PH is always low from the time I mix the salt. I am at wits end please help.
thank you
<Mmm, well... am given to suggest that you look into/use a good commercial buffer product. SeaChem has some of my faves... These can be/should be mixed in your new water bucket/can ahead of use... Over some period of weeks your KH will rise, along w/ pH. Bob Fenner>

PH, stkg....    10/4/11
Hey guys and gals!! Hope you can answer a couple of questions for me. I am sorry they are all over the place but I wanted to send 1 email. First, I have a 150 reef with about 200 lbs of live rock and 75 lbs of live sand. I live in West Palm Beach Florida and have an endless supply of water and sand in my back yard. I have read on here a hundred times the sand from the beach is not so good but decided to give it a shot any way.
<Can work>
The tank is stocked with a Blue Jaw trigger (male), a pink tail trigger, a pearly jaw fish (looking for a second), a pair of ocellaris clownfish, a mandarin goby, a cleaner wrasse,
<The last two... you should read about on WWM>
a forktail blenny, a lawnmower blenny, some peppermint shrimp, cleaner shrimp, and a mated pair of coral banded shrimp, about 30 snails,
<These last four... surprising the Balistids haven't consumed them>
a Sandsifting starfish, a 4 inch Halimeda plant, and a pink and green cucumber. The ALK of the tank is around 13 dKH. The tank parameters are: ammonia is 0, nitrite is 0, nitrate is .5,
<How is this kept so low?>
phosphate is 1ppm, and calcium is at 400. My questions begin with my PH. The PH never stays at 8.3 but rather stays around 7.8 to 8.0 I buffer the water just about every day with Seachem marine buffer and the PH goes to the 8.3 like it is supposed to only to drop over the next 24 hours back to the 7.8 -- 8.0 range.
Is this due to the sand?
<Might be>
If the sand is the issue is there a way to fix the issue without getting a new substrate?
<Keep vacuuming it for one... add more base rock>
Will mixing some aragonite in with my current substrate help?
<Should; yes>
My next question is about the coral banded shrimp. They have made a cave their home and defend it against any fish that comes close. They do not attack the fish but simply push them out of the cave. Is this normal or is it going to become an issue?
<Not likely in this size/volume>
Is there a sea slug or Nudibranch that is good or will be helpful or should I stay away from them all?
<The last. Bob Fenner>

Ammonia and pH Instabilities  9/30/11
Hello Crew,
I come to you on bended knee as I've been struggling for about a week attempting to control a number of sudden instabilities in our FOWLR tank; I'm getting pretty stressed out that nothing seems to be helping and decided to write for help! I've scoured the WWM archives for information as well (and will continue to do so). Here's what's up: last week I noticed the clarity of the tank water change from clear to cloudy and several of the invertebrates were behaving strangely. I tested the water and found the pH had taken a dump (7.6) and there were detectable levels of ammonia (0.25-0.5) and nitrite (0.5).
<Yeeikes... reads like something died... undiscovered, and is decomposing,
is anyone/thing "missing?"... Or the sort of equivalent of too much food added...>
Nitrates have been steady at about 10-20, alkalinity is 12 dKH, salinity is 1.024 and calcium is 480.
<And Mg... about three times in ratio?>
When I first detected the ammonia, I immediately did a 25% water change and added Seachem
marine buffer. I make my own RO/DI water but also add Amquel Plus (for peace of mind I guess. safety's sake . necessary?)
<Not necessary... the salts complex the small amount of (chloramine) sanitizer and will only neutralize the present ammonia, not ongoing>
Things seemed to immediately improve, the pH came up to 8.0 and the ammonia and nitrites disappeared. However, that didn't last long and everything took a dump again by the next day. I've been chasing my tail every day since, doing water changes, adding buffer and Amquel and the improvements seem short lived. I'm staring at my tank right now prepared to do yet another water change because ammonia and nitrites are detectable and the pH is 7.88.
What the heck is going on?
<Again... an undiscovered source of protein in the system... something (food, dead/dying organism) driving nitrification, using up buffering capacity>
I have two units of Chemi-Pure in the filter and a PolyFilter in place as well. Nothing has died recently and I've searched the tank for food or debris that could be contributing to nutrient build-up.
<... good>
This tank has been up and running for almost 15 years. However, there have been a number of recent changes that could be contributing to the problem:
(1) Three weeks ago I added ~60 pounds of live rock.
<Ahh! VERY likely the source of trouble here>
A week after that, I added the remaining 60 pounds of live rock. In addition, I have been slowly changing out the gravel substrate for sand / live sand (Tropic Eden aragonite) over the past month. The sand bed swap has been completed and is currently 4-5" deep. I purchased the live rock from Drs Foster and meticulously cured it for four weeks (you would have been proud!) Shortly after putting it in the display tank, there was a minor spike in nitrite but it was gone with a couple of days. I did eventually remove the bio-bale from the wet-dry filter and placed live rock there. Despite feeling like I did this really slowing and incrementally, could I have killed my biological filter? If so, what do you recommend I do now?
<Could have and for now to feed VERY little... there are a few things that can almost assuredly, safely speed on re-establishment, but... I'd just be patient>
(2) Last week I added a dose of Dr. Tim's Re-Fresh product which is supposed to reduce organics, clear the water, etc. The label says that it contains beneficial bacteria but overdosing it can cause an ammonia spike.
<Yes; is a good product in my estimation>
I was very careful to under-dose this in the tank. Could this product have contributed to some kind of imbalance somewhere?
<Along w/ the new rock and substrate, possibly>
Do the bacteria in this product compete with the existing bacterial inhabitants somehow?
<Assuredly yes>
Needless to say, I won't be adding ANYTHING more to the tank until things get back to normal.
(3) I just started using an electronic Hanna pH monitor to test the pH in the tank. Despite calibrating it before every use, I seem to consistently get low pH readings compared to the API pH test kit I've used for years that always reads "normal." I don't know what to believe. I'm going to take a sample to a LFS tomorrow to have it tested for confirmation. However, in the meantime with the pH sitting at 7.8, do you recommend I add more buffer
to the tank. I just purchased some Kent Superbuffer-dKH. Should I use it?
<I would ONLY w/ new water used in partial change outs... pH's in the upper 7's are not necessarily problematical, can even be of great use/relief in situations like yours of nitrogenous poisoning>
At this point, I've got the protein skimmer cranking and also added an air stone to the refugium (who knows why . hey, I'm a paramedic . when someone is sick, you ventilate! J) Anyway, here are the remaining details about the tank:
125 gallon FOWLR
30 gallon sump/refugium/wet-dry with protein skimmer, live sand and live rock - no more bio-bale or bio-balls
Reef Octopus Hydroblaster Pump pushing 1200 GPH-ish
(2) Tunze circulation pumps in tank (211 and 528 GPH)
57 watt Aqua UV Sterilizer
The current renters are:
French Angelfish (6")
Blue Hippo Tang (5")
Yellow Longnose Butterflyfish (3")
Flame Angelfish (1")
Diamond Watchman Goby (4")
Algae Blenny (3")
Yellow Damselfish
Yellowtail Damselfish
(2) Scarlet Skunk Cleaner Shrimp
Banded Coral Shrimp Peppermint Shrimp
Emerald Crab
Electric Blue Hermit Crab
(6) Dwarf Red Tip Hermit Crabs
Fighting Conch
(3) Turbo Snails
(6) Bumble Bee Snails
(4) Nassarius Snails
Spider Decorator Crab
Chocolate Chip Sea Star - not happy right now!
Is it weird that the pH is so low and the alkalinity is so high, especially with the calcium level so high?
<It is... I'd have your shop check these levels as well>
Sorry for the long blurb. I hope you can help. Even a little assurance right now would be helpful. THANK YOU!
<Well... the most likely scenario is that some aspects/organisms of your new LR suffered a further die-off/back and along w/ other changes (the new substrate mostly) a re-cycle of your new rock. IF you have an ozonizer or UV (for its ozone production), I'd add them to the system... otherwise as I've stated, be patient, chary of feeding much... Test/check for Magnesium concentration/ratio... perhaps test your salt mix (there are/have been some bad batches...) for the high [C]... Bob Fenner>
Re: Ammonia and pH Instabilities    9/30/11

Thanks Bob. I sincerely appreciate it. Your input and suggestions make me feel much better.
<Ah good>
I was about ready to start sharing some of the Tums I've been taking with my fish!
<A possibility>>
Then again, that might not hurt my acid/base problem. Anyway, I CAN be patient and will most certainly follow your suggestions. I tested again today and ammonia is still 0.5, nitrites 0.25 and nitrates 10. I purchased a Magnesium test kit today and it's reading 1350.
<Close enough>
I also confirmed the pH reading at 7.8.
<Mmm, not really a problem; much more a blessing in the face/reality of the NH3 and NO2 readings>
All of the other parameters remain the same. On the topic of calcium, yes, we did determine that the Oceanic salt mix we were using was contributing to a really high Ca++ concentration in the tank.
We switched to a different salt mix a few weeks back and I think it's going to take a while for the levels to come down again given our inhabitants.
But I wanted to ask about doing partial water changes during this "period of patience" and wonder how often they can be done.
<Daily really... even slow... continuously>
Can water changes be done too often?
<Mmm, yes... if some aspects of water quality (e.g. pH) are changed too much too soon... can stall nitrification et al.; cause microbes to go into a physiological check or population decline>
I'm inclined to think that as long as I'm measuring ammonia, I should be changing out perhaps 20% every other day? What do you recommend?
<I don't think this is excessive. A poinfreshly in fact is that we are changing out several hundred litres of seawater per day in a new facility I'm help putting up (a collection station) here in N. Fiji... as the system was rushed, the bio-filtration stocked w/ several hundred pounds of freshly collected live rock, plastic media placed don top... and after two weeks, still has daily reg. of 0.25-0.5 ppm free ammonia. We too are allowing the pH to drift downward; as nitrogenous wastes are FAR less toxic in such conditions>
Thanks again. Big time.
<Welcome as much. BobF>

consistently low ph, ready to give up    9/30/11
Hi, I'm TC, new to you guys.
<Hey TC; I'm BF>
Here goes, 75 gal. Fluval 403 (old yes but works),
<Me too>
Koralia Evo 14, Prizm hob skimmer. water: PH 7.8, Alk Appx. 1.7 (red sea test kit. Supposedly RO water .Other stuff that I can test is within functional parameters. Live rock # of pounds ? , about a dozen mid sized pcs.
Substrate crushed aragonite, I think,(pet store variety gravel sized pcs.)
some fine sand appx. 2-3in deep. Substrate is from 2 different older tanks,
<Oh... lost most all of its solubility... past time to replace>
at least 6 years old or older. Current tank is part of my 10 year old 30 gal high and part came with the 75 gal from a friend that had a lion fish that I unfortunately killed. I have soft corals, some are ok and some are spreading. My devils hand has recently split 3 pcs. off,
<Perhaps stress related... repro. or croak!>
Anthelia going nuts. I have always had an abundance of coralline, (enviable to some) almost nuisance to me sometimes. never could measure calc. levels properly due to misunderstanding of crappy test kit. Have been trying to do better housekeeping , don't like using additives but have recently been trying some buffers. Results are inconclusive so far (too early to tell). Strongly considering going to all sand,
<A good idea>
but it sounds like a major undertaking.
<Nah. Can siphon out old... rinse new and place>
I feel this may solve some of my problems. How do I do this when tank has living critters in sand?
<Siphon out one side/half... replace w/ new substrate... wait a few weeks; do the same to the other side>
I am annoyed that I cant keep fish, seem to stress, or get ich. however am down to a six line wrasse that has withstood all else dying. Even my Bubble tip is still surviving. I read a lot of everyone's articles and now I have Info Overload Confusion Syndrome ! Still have lots of Questions, Please Help!
<Mmm, please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/substrepl.htm
and the linked files above till you're satisfied. Bob Fenner>

Low pH with high Alkalinity and dKH- 8/20/11
Hi, crew.
<Hi Deb>
I sent this yesterday but I haven't got a response so I thought I would send it again just to be sure.
<Ok, sorry if your message has 'got lost' somewhere>
I have a 65 gallon tank with a Penguin 350 external filter with activated carbon and a protein skimmer. Livestock = 1 Yellow Tang, 1 Tomato Clown, 1 Coral Beauty Angelfish, 2 Striped Damsels, 1 Coral Banded Shrimp and a few Astrea snails and hermit crabs.
<Ok. This tank is too small for Yellow Tang though, especially with the others you list>
I recently added some Zoanthids but they are not doing well. I have been using test strips, <worthless> but recently got better test kits and these are the results: pH 7.7 (which I know is dangerously low--I repeated it twice just to be sure),
<Not dangerous, but low indeed and needs to be corrected. What time of the day are you reading this?>
nitrite 0, nitrate 10 ppm, calcium > 500 ppm,
<Far too high, wants to be about 400>
alkalinity 3.02, dKH 8.45, PO4 = 1.0,
<Again, too high. Read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/phosphatemar.htm
Mg = 1380, SG = 1.022,
<Raise this to 1.025-1.026>
Temp 78. I have been doing a 10 % water change every 7 - 10 days.
<This is good practice>
I don't know how the pH can be so low with the dKH and alkalinity so high.
<This is likely because of your high fish load and the resultant respiration (CO2) and feeding/ waste produce (acids). Organic loads on systems put downward pressure on the pH>
What can I do about this?
<There are many solutions, likely a combination of several, including finding the Tang a larger home, aerating the water/ skimmer with air from outside the house to 'blow off' CO2, graduating to a sump/ reverse-lit refugium system.... Please read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwph,alk.htm?h=  and here:
http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2004-09/rhf/index.php . Simon>
Re: Low pH with high Alkalinity and dKH- 8/20/11
Hi crew!
<Hi Deb>
Thank you for your very comprehensive answer, Simon. It gave me a lot to think about.
<No problem>
I understand the chemistry a lot better after reading the articles.
<Great! That is how I first learnt.. by reading... it's the best way!>
To answer your question, I measured the pH at night, daytime value was closer to 8.0.
<This is more like it>
I am now experimenting with greater aeration to raise pH.
<Try running an airline into your skimmer from outside>
I will increase SG
<This is likely the cause of your Zoanthids not doing well, not the pH>
and probably use ferrous oxide to lower PO4,
<Be careful not to strip the water of PO4 completely - easily done by over-using this media, of which I am a fan of in small quantities.
Phosphate is an essential nutrient.>
with a longer range plan of upgrading my system to give my fish (especially the tang) more space.
In the end we will all probably be a lot happier!
<Yes, the fish will reward you with increased health and vitality if you do this>
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
<Good luck Deb, Simon>

Low pH and low alkalinity...is Coralife <salt> the culprit? 6/29/2011
Hi crew,
<Hello Jerry>
I have a pH problem in my 29 gallon FOWLR tank. The tank has a shallow aragonite bed, a Bak Pak protein skimmer, and an Aqua Clear power filter.
The only fish is a small firefish. The tank is kept covered, and I change at least 10% of the water weekly. The tank has been in operation for about 5 months.
The pH and alkalinity have always been a bit on the low side, but lately the pH is dropping enough to worry me. It's about 7.7 in the morning, and 7.8 in the evening. Recently I lost a fire shrimp, and even more worrisome is the apparent effect on small critters in the sand bed, rocks, tank walls, etc. I don't see any copepods at all now.
<Likely the pods were gobbled up.>
Other parameters: SG 1.023, Calcium 500, alkalinity 1.7 meq/l, magnesium 1350.
So the calcium is high and the alkalinity is low. Is there a connection, and if so, which is cause and which is effect? Does high calcium cause carbonates to precipitate out, lowering the alkalinity and allowing the pH to go down, which dissolves calcium from the aragonite and keeps the calcium up? Something like that seems to be the case, because adding Brightwell Alkalin 8.3 buffer hasn't had much effect on alkalinity or pH.
I've put enough buffer in to get the alkalinity up to at least 2.5 (according to the label), yet it hasn't made much difference. Something must be removing the carbonate salts I'm putting in.
<You have pretty much answered your own question. Yes, the calcium needs to come down to around 400ppm to reduce precipitation, and your dKH needs to go up near 2.5 meq/l. I would not dose any more calcium until this drops to 400ppm.>
I thought to bring things close to where they need to be with a big water change. But when I tested my WC water, the parameters were: pH = 7.9, alkalinity = 1.7, calcium too high to measure (above 520)! Not much better than what's in the tank now.
<Do you aerate your water used for water changes for 24 hours before adding the salt mix? Aerating will remove carbon dioxide, if present, which can lower pH levels.>
I use Coralife salt (with RO water). Should I conclude that my bucket of Coralife is worthless, and switch to another brand?
<Not necessary to do this.>
I have the feeling Reef Crystals is sort of the gold standard in salt, and according to http://aquariumwatertesting.com/AWT_...lysis_0208.pdf it has low calcium content. If I switch to Reef Crystals, could I get in trouble due to chemical incompatibility between the Coralife and the Reef Crystals?
I've heard that some salt brands don't mix with others.
<I don't believe Reef Crystals is the gold standard in salt mixes as well as the fact the some brands of salt do not mix with others. If the salt is properly formulated, it should not cause any problems when switching salts. If I were to improve on your salt mix, I'd go with Tropic Marin, Sybon, or the ESV four part mix. I am presently trying out the ESV product. It's a bit of a hassle to mix, but the parameters are always dead on and the water clears in a surprisingly short amount of time. The four parts include sodium chloride, magnesium, part A (liquid), and part B (liquid). Do read here for a better understanding of alkalinity and calcium.
Thanks for any wisdom you can provide...
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re Low pH and low alkalinity...is Coralife the culprit? 6/29/2011
Thanks for the reply. The only fish in the tank is a firefish, who doesn't seem to graze pods from solid surfaces...he only feeds from the water column. So I don't think he gobbled up the isopods.
<Mmm, just said "gobbled up", crabs, shrimp, etc.>
I have never dosed calcium. But the calcium content of my 1-day-old Coralife salt water is even higher than what's already in the tank, so I was looking for a salt mix that will give me calcium in that desirable 400 neighborhood.
<Have you referenced your test kit with another known to be accurate?
Seems rather high for not dosing calcium. May want to try a non-reef type salt where calcium is lower than reef type salts.>
I assume I need to modify what goes into the tank to get the calcium down and alkalinity up, as you say. Is there a way to break the feedback cycle of chemical reactions that doesn't involve ditching my batch of Coralife (given that I add no calcium)?
<I'd have your dealer check your calcium level to confirm your readings.
Your test kit could be dated and old reagents can give erroneous readings.
Some test kits require that you add
a given amount of RO or distilled water to the test sample. If you use tap water for this, any calcium present in the tap water is added to the test results which can give a higher reading.>
Yes, I aerate the water, but after adding the salt. You refer to aerating first. Is this an important distinction?
<Yes, you should aerate first to eliminate any carbon dioxide that may be present which will lower dKH levels in the new mix. Using the aeration feature found on
most powerheads will eliminate any CO2 if present in your mixing tank/tub.>
Finally, an experienced aquarist in my area told my problem is probably CO2, due to the cover on the tank. Is this a common phenomenon?
<Can be, CO2 is carbon dioxide, but the aeration in your skimmer should take care of this.>
Two months ago I propped the cover partially open at night, and the pH was a bit higher in the morning than usual, but not much.
<The pH generally is a bit lower during the night and increases during the day time hours. Have you read the article I linked you to?>
Thanks again!
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re Low pH and low alkalinity...is Coralife the culprit? 7/2/2011

(Apologies for sending an email with no message a minute ago. Here's what I meant to send.)
<Not a problem.>
Hi guys,
Following up on our exchange of low pH and alkalinity a few days ago, I've learned some things that may be of interest to you and your readers.
James questioned whether my calcium was really 500, given that I have never dosed this element. As suggested, I went to my LFS for some water tests.
They confirmed the high calcium...in fact they got a concentration that was higher still (over 600).
I tested the water I've been making with Coralife salt and found it had calcium well over 500. This has apparently also been found by others who tested Coralife salt. Don't know if that's typical, or if it's a matter of poor mixing in the bag I was using.
<A possibility.>
Anyway, lesson #1 is that you can indeed get very high calcium from your salt mix.
It turned out the low pH and alkalinity I was concerned about were spurious. The LFS found my alkalinity to be over 4 meq/l. The Red Sea test kit I was using didn't show anything like that. I bought a Salifert (titration type) test kit and confirmed the high alkalinity. So I was dosing buffer into the tank when I had no need to. I thought Red Sea test materials were good, but I won't trust their simple color-change kH test again.
<Titration would be more accurate.>
The pH also turned out to be fine. I was using a Milwaukee electronic (probe, not pen) type meter. This meter always showed pH below what the color-change test solutions showed, but I thought a carefully calibrated meter was more believable. But the test solution was telling the truth...my pH was 8.3, at least 0.3 more than the meter showed at that time.
<May just be seeing the accuracy range here. Some probes have an accuracy range of +/- 0.2. Your measured results are close enough for our purposes.>
I've bought several meters in recent years, pen as well as probe type, and gone through many bottles of calibration solutions, but have always found a significant discrepancy with pH test kits. Does this make any sense to you?
<Sure does, color comparator pH test kits can be difficult to read/match.
The best color comparator pH test kit I have ever used is the LaMotte kit.
No colored cards used here, each pH range has it's own color in a sealed vial. I believe they run around 60 bucks. Oh, and for those with deep wallets they produce the Oceanographic Test Kit consisting of several different test kits for 450.00.>
Thanks for the help...
<You're welcome, and thank you for the update. James (Salty Dog)>

pH and Alkalinity High   4/10/11
I have an issue that doesn't make sense to me and was hoping someone could help. My water parameters are as follows:
PH = 8.3
Salinity = 1.024
Ammonia = 0 ppm
Nitrite = 0 ppm
Nitrate = 20 ppm
Alkalinity = 266 ppm
Calcium = 600 ppm
<! Your Ca concentration is WAY too high>
As you can see both my Alk and Ca are running high and have been for several weeks. I do dose with limewater
<I'd stop. Try two-part supplements...>
but I was under the assumption that one plays off of the other.
<Usually so yes. One being higher if overdosed, with the other lowering in response>
Such as if my Alk is high then my Calcium is low and vise versa.
Some questions:
1.) Should I do anything with levels this high?
<Yes. Mmm, first off... your test gear. I'd be checking it. Second, there could be some aberrant make up of the water (check your mix), supplement use, perhaps decor/substrate>
2.) Will these elevated levels have any ill effect on my corals or fish?
<Oh yes!>
3.) Is a water change the answer?
<Is one initial approach... yes. Dilution>
4.) What can I do for the long term to keep these two parameters in check?
<Pre-mix, test your new, make-up, change-out water ahead of actual use...>
<Do "check your checkers" first here. Bob Fenner>

Kalkwasser Drip location & Buffer addition 4/4/2011
Gentleman, <& some ladies> your willingness to share your experience, knowledge and ultimately your wisdom on this site has encouraged me to keep on when I had almost given up hope.
<Ah, good>
Years ago I had a successful freshwater tank but always was drawn to the reef side of the store. 2 years ago decided to give it a go, I have read & read & read on so many sites on so many nights into the wee hours on how to build, stock and maintain a reef tank in my house. Small price for the opportunity to daily see the splendor of a coral reef in ones own home.
<I do concur w/ you>
For to have a bit of a reef in my home is a richness that many a king would have given a ransom for in early times. The despair I was feeling was because I was not getting it -- mostly the chemistry. Chemistry and retention are not my strong suits and I know I have messed up on my parameters a bunch of times.
<"When, where in doubt, trouble... change water">
But the 'visual' of the solutions offered to many an issue brought to the talented staff of WWM has me going in the right direction for sure. Thank you so much. I will spend a lot more time reading and trying to understand before I request your time for my questions but a couple that are very basic but I am just not confidant in what I think I understood. My system is outlined below: My battle, a ph that is always low and a carpet of brown/red hair algae that I just have not been able to control.
Drilled 36x18x24(h) w/3'DSB (Southdown),
<Mmm, I'd add an inch here... can be mixed in or will be in time... something fine, aragonitic>
55lbs LR, 2 x 175w Iwaki MH (6&6hrs), 2 x 96wVHO actinic (9hrs)
36g sump w/ 8g fuge w/ return pump fed spray bar, 3'DSB (Caribsea medium), 20lbs LR,
20g frag/quarantine w/Aquaclear 200, + return pump fed spray bar , LED's
90g total volume, 6g weekly WC
Flow of 620 gph CL + 580 gph return (combined into OM4 for 1200 gph main tank flow)
Euroreef RS80, Rowaphos & Matrix carbon in 2LittleFishys reactors
DIY chiller, DIY Auto TO w/RODI fed to DIY Kalk reactor
9.5dKH (Elos), 480Ca (Salifert),
<Too high... I'd settle in the low 400's>
7.7--8.0ph (Neptune & Milwaukee), .03 phos (Hanna), 1500 Mg (Salifert)
<And this, a bit too high... I'd allow to adjust or force through whatever supplementing practice/s you're involved in (limiting them)>
0, 0, 0 (Nh3/4, Nitrate, Nitrite -- all Salifert), 78-80 deg F
<... no Nitrate? This is telling. You very likely have an (entrenched unfortunately) BGA problem>
Yellow Tang, Clown, 6 Line Wrasse, 8 Chromis, 2 Yellowtail Damsels, 20 hermits, 2 Turbos, blood & cleaner shrimp, 20 snail
I am confused on these two subjects.
I have a beautifully simple, foolproof and reliable Top-off & Kalk reactor system that drips saturated solution into the return area of my sump after the main lights go off. I have read in several posts that Kalk should specifically be dosed into a high circulation area of the main tank. Without too many details of my system, this is really difficult for my setup. Aside from the risks to the return pump, is it acceptable to drip into the good circulation in the return section of my sump?
<Indeed it is>
And if my Alk, Ca and magnesium stay ok, do I just keep adding buffer (bicarb & Carb) until over the course of a few days I have incrementally raised my ph to 8.1 (min level) and then keep adding buffer (in the AM) to keep it there?
<... Please see the above. The too high Ca and Mg are hurting you here>
What is the time frame of the 0.2 ph up/down limit?
<Two days or so; not less>
Do I aggressively buffer up my WC water prior to introduction into the tank?
<I would not do this "too" aggressively, no>
If you get to these, thanks a bunch but thanks anyways for all you have already shared and invested in this great hobby!
John Stevens (2CC's)
<Do read here John: http://wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm
Doing what I've briefly touched on here... adding to the substrate et al., and what you can and do choose to supplant the BGA as detailed and very referred to in links therein, will get you to where you want to go. There are "other roads" (e.g. driving RedOx through an ozonizer)... but I'd take a "sailboat" mentality/route here rather than a "motor-cruiser". Questions, concerns, please write us back, Bob Fenner>

Alkalinity 3/26/2011
<Hello Tom.>
I have recently come into trouble raising the alkalinity in my saltwater tank. It is hovering at about 8, and the pH is at about 7.8.
<Mmm, 8 dKH should be plenty of reserve for maintaining pH.>
I've put in several doses of the B-Ionic for alkalinity, in the past 24 hrs. It has only gone up 1 drop for the test. I'm checking it every 6-8 hrs, and just want to know if it's ok to put 2-3 doses at 15ml each, in during this period of time? Or is there a better solution.
<Raising the pH is more easily accomplished by using Sea Chem's Marine Buffer. Personally, I never cared much for the two part products. I also suggest reading here to
give you a better understanding of pH/dKH.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Re pH In A Reef Tank, Now Lighting Suggestion 1/19/11- 1/20/11- 1/24/11
Hi James,
<Hello Shelley>
My tank is 30 gallons, 18" x 20" x 20"; with the top lip, a light has to span 20.5 inches to sit on top. From the gravel to the waterline is about 16 inches. My most important requirement for a light (other than appropriate light, of course) is that it's quiet - this fish tank sits right in my living room and if it has a loud fan it just won't work. Also I have a cat who loves to climb on the tank (Grr) and a toddler so it has to be something that will be safe (i.e. not easy to burn yourself or break it, like a Viper light). Thanks for any suggestions you have.
<Mmm, about the only fixture I can think of that would provide enough light would be the AquaticLife 72 w (4 lamp) T5 HO hood. It should lay on your tank nicely and it also comes with a 4-pack of frame mounts. No cooling fan is needed for this particular model so that should take care of your noise problem. And as a plus, it has a built in digital timer. Take a look at it here.
As for the dKH, it seems from the test kit instructions that the number of drops is multiplied by 10 to get the mg/L CaCO3 (15 drops = 150mg/L) and then multiply by 0.02 to get the mEq/L (so mine is 3 mEq/L). If that is correct, given your conversion equation below, my dKH is 8.4, correct?
So that is higher than we discussed in the original email, but I believe it is still low.
<Is not low. I keep my dKH between 7 and 8.>
Does this sound like I am now converting correctly?
<Yes dear.>
What is the dKH range I am shooting for?
<Where you're at is fine, but anywhere between 7-10 would be a good range.>
Re pH In A Reef Tank, Now Lighting Suggestion 1/19/11- 1/20/11- 1/24/11 - 1/25/11
Thank you for the lighting suggestion! I will check it out for sure.
<You're welcome, Shelley.>
Sorry for all the back and forth....but if my dKH isn't actually low, as we just discussed, then why do you think my pH keeps dropping back to 8.0? We are back to my very original reason for writing. :(
<I've addressed that in the first thread, and it's not uncommon to have small pH swings in smaller systems, not to worry. I suggest you read here.
James (Salty Dog)>

Water Parameter Help... the butler/buffer did it   1/24/11
Hey WWB crew,
<It's WWM and Hello Mike>
I have been struggling with strange water quality issues. My pH falls every 2 or so days to 7.8 from 8.2, My Alk swings from between 12-15 at random, and my calcium is at 600!?!? I am confused because I cant get out of the wicked cycle of adding buffer which throws my Alk up to bring my pH back then the pH falls anyways. My Mag is around 1200 which I think is normal.
<Very close.>
All I can think of that is causing this is my salt mix (Reef Crystals) and my source water (sink with Pur filter).
<The Reef Crystals wouldn't cause that.>
The sink water tests a low ph (7.8ish) and I don't add buffer to it, also its used in my auto top off water. Reef crystals adds extra calcium and Mag which I would guess can cause over levels of Calcium.
<Not to a 600ppm level.>
I do have sps and lps in my system and I have a 34 gallon tank which I do 2x 4% water change a week.
<It's not unusual to have small pH swings in small systems such as yours, not too worry here.>
All other parameters are fine (nitrite, nitrate, phos, ammonia). My corals and fish seem fine but I fear their health will fail if I don't stop or change whatever is going on. thanks for the help.
<Do not add any more calcium additives or buffers to the system. Your water changes will eventually lower your calcium level by way of dilution. A level of around 400ppm should be your target goal and once you achieve this, then maintain dKH at 7-10. May want to read here.
James (Salty Dog)>

pH emergency?  1/7/11
Re-send, in case original was lost.
<I haven't seen this>
> Happy New Year Crew.
<and you DJ>
> While battling a recent hair algae uprising, I came across your anti-HA suggestions on slowly raising pH.
<Yes; can work to insolubilize HPO4/phosphate... an essential nutrient>
While starting this, I had a major case of what I call "buffoonnerousity" (yes, a made-up word that seems to fit). Through a little carelessness and a lot of bad fortune, the container of Kent buffer ended up spilling
directly into my refugium.
> I siphoned out as much as I could, and did a 20% water change that evening. I thought I might have escaped punishment when the next morning's pH and KH readings were 8.4 and 12, respectively...only slightly up from normal 8.3 and 10.
> Then the fun started. That evening's reading showed 8.8+ and 20. Over the next two days, Calcium also took a hit, dipping from right below 400 to 280 in about 48 hours. I did another water change (slowly, so as not to provide any more shock to the system than I already have). The next morning showed 8.4/12, but last night was 8.8/12, and my Yellow Tang, Coral Beauty, and Acropora look like they have almost had all they can take.
<You need to REALLY vacuum the media/substrate, in the system, not just the refugium, AND change out as much water as you feel comfortable with in conjunction>
> Other than continued water changes (with approx 8.0/10 ) salt water and turning off the 10k HQI lights (leaving only the 420 T5s on) what would you suggest? Should I keep dosing Ca while I get it sorted out?
<Yes I would>
I use Brightwell's "Calcion" liquid Ca sup. My skimmer is, as you might guess, working overtime.
> Words of wisdom?
<Store your bier in a dark, cool place>
> Dan
<Bob Fenner>
Re: pH emergency? & Vodka dosing   1/7/11
Thank you for the words. I didn't mention it, but I have been siphoning/vacuuming the substrate in the main tank too, and will continue to do so. So far I have changes out approximately 50% of the water in 48
hrs, and will be doing another 20% change tomorrow.
<You may need to do a few half change-outs in time...>
As always, appreciate the help (and the words of wisdom). Along those lines, did I read that you are not a fan of the "vodka method" for battling hair algae?
<I am not for most cases, individuals... Unfortunately such carbon dosing calls for more caution than the majority of folks are willing to apply. Given care however, manipulating C availability can be of use. BobF>
pH emergency?  1/8/11
Happy New Year Crew.
While battling a recent hair algae uprising, I came across your anti-HA suggestions on slowly raising pH. While starting this, I had a major case of what I call "buffoonnerousity" (yes, a made-up word that seems to fit).
Through a little carelessness and a lot of bad fortune, the container of Kent buffer ended up spilling directly into my refugium.
<... I already responded to this...: did you not get the post? And the further response? Will be placed on the dailies: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/daily_faqs3.htm today. BobF>
Re: pH emergency? 1/8/11

I did get your response,
<Ah good>
but we must have some sort of weird delay in the e-world yesterday. I sent the second email about 6 hrs after the first, then got your response about an hour or two later.
Thanks again.
<Heeeee! What's next?! Getting a response ahead of sending queries!?
Cheers, BobF>

2 Part Dosing, High Levels 1/7/11
Evening Crew,
<Good morning Chris>
At the beginning of this week, I shut down my calcium reactor electing to try out the 2 part dosing method.
When testing my initial levels I found that the alkalinity level was high at 17 dKH and ph was 8.42.
I attributed the high alkalinity to the Instant Ocean salt that I was using so completed a 10% water change and have been dosing calcium only in hopes that I could get it up to 400 ppm and at the same time force the lowering of the alkalinity levels.
<IO doesn't mix at that high a dKH, likely from the two part dosing. I'm not a fan of two part dosing, but if this is what your preferred method is, do not dose both products the same day/time.>
Yesterday I had my calcium level at 371 ppm and Alk at 18 so again just dosed with Calcium working on the same initial belief.
Today my levels are totally skewed !Calcium dropped to 316.7, Alkalinity soared to 21 dKH and my PH is at 9.09.
<Makes sense as high levels of dKH causes calcium to precipitate.>
What should I do?
I am going to complete another water change momentarily to try and bring some of the levels down
I am not going to dose anything tonight
Please advise your thoughts
<I would not dose anything until your dKH gets down to an acceptable level (7-9dKH).
Weekly 10-15% water changes will help by dilution of the carbonates present in your system.
Thanks in advance
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re 2 Part Dosing, High Levels 1/7/11
I just retested and recalibrated my pH monitor...pH now comes in a 8.4..am thinking that it may be time for a new probe as I had just calibrated it 4 days ago.
<Possibly so, but never check the pH after you have dosed, may get an erroneous reading.>
Anyway, based on this new test, I just added the daily dose of calium <calcium> and I'll see how I look tomorrow.
<Why are you dosing calcium with a high dKH? I'd concentrate on lowering your dKH, way too high at 17.>
Ugh, why can it never be easy.
<It isn't all that difficult once you gain some knowledge about water chemistry. A good place to start
is here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm>
I've read that Magnesium helps equalize the 2 factors...I haven't started adding that yet as I wanted to get the other levels down..I'm thinking that maybe I should start testing and dosing.
Let me know your thoughts.
<I did let you know my thoughts and have made suggestions, why ask again.
Magnesium does not equalize anything. Magnesium is major element of seawater and is needed on a 3/1 ratio with calcium to enable corals absorb available calcium.>
Thanks again
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re 2 Part Dosing, High Levels 1/7/11
The 2 messages were sent back to back. I wasn't asking again and comments like that are not really needed.
<Mmm, I wouldn't call Thursday and Friday back to back messages, and you did respond to my original response so there was no other way I could look at it. Sorry. James (Salty Dog)>

PH anomaly   11/28/10
Hey guys.
I hope everyone is doing well. I have a very weird thing going on in the my tank and I hope you may have some insight . First some details about my system...
- 250 gallon display
- 50 gallon sump (25 gallons of water)
- 44 gallon ISO bin (bin covered except for a small hole, with an air stone in the bin and plenty of circulation)
- 4 Tunze 6105s in display
- 4 metal halides (250 watts, on 8.5 hours per day)
- Small fluorescent light on the reverse schedule as the halides over the sump
- 300 mini BK skimmer
- ATO (about 25-30 gallons per week)
- RODI for top up and water changes (water change 44 gallons every 2 weeks)
- Vertex calcium reactor (controlled by an Aquacontroller JR).
<What are you using for media?>
PH in reactor kept between 6.4 and 6.8. The sensor is calibrated monthly.
- Vertex fluidized reactor with Pro Bio Pellets
<Can drive down pH>
- Vertex fluidized reactor with Rowaphos
<This too>
(added about a week ago) - I used to have 2 smaller reactors for this which had less Rowaphos, but it didn¹t really keep up to the feeding I want.
- Carbon in a sock in my sump (changed monthly).
- Open window behind the tank for fresh air.
Historically, my PH normally runs at 8.1 during the day, and drops down to 7.9ish during the night.
<Not atypical... Easily kept a bit more stable by running part/a refugium on a RDP regimen>
The probe is calibrated and tested monthly.
My SG is a solid 1.025. My Nitrate is less than 1 (The Pro Bio Pellets do an excellent job keeping the Nitrates down!) Alk normally sits at 7.5. I have to adjust the reactor now and then, but very slight changes are made.
Calcium normally sits between 430-440 and the Po4 sits at 0.01-0.03 (when I was using the little reactors, and feeding minimally, I had to change media about once a month). My temperature is a steady 78.5 to 79 degrees.
I added the larger Rowaphos reactor last week because I wanted to feed more and be able to keep my PO4 in check...
<I would not be concerned>
And the two little reactors I was using weren¹t really keeping up with how much I wanted to feed, and were a real hassle to maintain. Since last week (right after I added the larger fluidized reactor for Rowaphos), my PH has been dropping down to 7.6,
<Too low>
and climbing to about 8.0, so I added some Seachem Reef Builder to bring the Alk up to 9, which I have successfully accomplished (hoping this would help the PH swings). I have read that Rowaphos will cause a temporary PH drop (for 48 hours), and this did start happening after I added this increase in Rowaphos, but it has been about a week now... Could this still be the problem?
<Possibly a contributor>
I have been feeding heavily this week since increasing the amount of Rowaphos last week, so my corals didn¹t go into shock. The corals and fish seem to be doing ok.
Now, the weird part about the PH that is really confusing me, is when it drops! The PH hits 8.0 by the time the lights go out, and stays there for 2 hours (then I go to bed). When I wake up, the PH is about 7.93ish, and stays there for the morning... My lights come on at 2pm... And this is when it gets weird... From 2pm until 6pm, the PH drops to about 7.6, and then slowly starts to climb back up for the rest of the night.
<Mmm, unusual... there may well be "something" rate-limiting re your photosynthates' metabolism here>
If you have any insight to my problem I would really appreciate it.
Thanks in advance,
<Well... your system may be "over-illuminated", adding other "completely nutritious" food/s may help... but do read re media here: http://wetwebmedia.com/calcreacmedia.htm
The overnight value of 7.9 is not really problematical... but... Have you considered the use of Ozone...? Better by far than HPO4 chemical absorbers... Bob Fenner>

Reef Problem: pH Control in a Reef Aquarium. The Frustration of Chasing Numbers. 11/23/2010
<Hi Johnny.>
First, I would like to say thank you for all the information I have gotten over the past year from this website!
<Glad you find it useful.>
I have a question. The pH in my reef system will not stay above 8.1.
The PH is stable at 8.1 (does not fluctuate at all'¦ even at night). However, I still can't help but to think there is something wrong here.
<Hmm.... a rock solid stable pH in the 8's... If only I could have such problems..:) >
My water perimeters appear great.
SG: 1.025
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0-trace
Temp: 80'F
Calcium: 425-450
Alk: 10dKH
Magnesium: 1350
PH: 8.1
Total Gallons: 120
<Those numbers look good.>
I am currently running a calcium reactor. However, there is a massive amount of aeration surrounding the output as well as in the tank. I also turned off the CO2 reactor and waited a day and still got the same results. I have an odd tank arrangement. I have three 30 gallon cubes and refugium 'tied' into one another
via the sump.
'See pictures: http://s182.photobucket.com/albums/x105/yellingtuna/saltwater/
' Photos are slightly out of date, but still fairly accurate.
<Interesting setup.>
I am well stocked; however, I am also well filtered.
Stocking includes:
2 Perculas (mated)
2 False Perculas (mated)
1 Maroon
1 BTA Anemone
1 Curly Cue Anemone
2 Damsels
1 Six Line wrasse
1 Blenny
1 Goby + Shrimp
Many different Corals + Clam
150lbs live rock
Deep Sand Bed
Protein Skimmer
<Reasonably stocked.>
So, do you guys have any idea on what could be keeping the ph at 8.1? Is this something I should worry about, or am I just thinking to deep?
<I think you are thinking too deep. You have a nice stable pH. stability is better than hitting an exact number. Particularly if it is only 0.1 from the desired ideal.>
The fish and coral all seem to be doing great.
I also have one more question. I recently fragged one of Toadstool corals (never fragged this type of coral before). The frags seem to be doing fairly well. However, the mother coral refuses to stick out her tentacles. There is also a small dark film on the side that I took the frag from.
<Could be healing, could be an infection.>
She seems fine otherwise. How long should I wait before getting worried? Could the dark film be an infection? If so, what should I do about it?
<Give it another week or so, if you see no improvement, give the coral a dip in water and Lugol's solution.>
Thanks in advance!
<My pleasure.>
Johnny L.

Best Way To Maintain pH And Alkalinity In a FOWLR?/pH And Alkalinity 8/22/10
Hello Crew!
<Hi Terry>
Recently I have been more concerned about my water systems quality due to reaching the end of my stocking list in my 500 gallon Fish only with Live Rock system. I used to never really worry about either, and I always did a 100 gallon water change monthly. Well recently I decided it was time to test the water quality and discovered that my system's pH was around 7.4. I immediately went out and bought reef buffer to raise the pH. It worked, and now I have ordered some test kits for Alkalinity as well. My question for you is that my pH level is ok to sway a bit with just my fish in my opinion
(not that low typically of course) but I was wondering what products should I be using to keep the pH and Alk stable, and also since I am not worried about calcium or magnesium and what not since I do not have corals to take up the calcium. I do fairly large water changes which I think will keep the calcium high enough for the coraline algae that my tank contains. I first went to my LFS to ask him this question (I do trust him as his tanks are phenomenal and he has never steered me wrong) but he is more of a coral guy than a fish nerd as I am. Anyway, he told me I should be using Kalkwasser to stabilize my system. I am worried about the accumulation of calcium and maybe other things which my system wouldn't take up due to not containing corals.
<Likely so.>
I know that the many times I have tested pH it was always been low, and buying the products that automatically make the pH 8.3 I'm sure is going to be more expensive than finding something that just drives the pH up (I'm worried about cost efficiency in such a large tank of course). So, I decided to get a second opinion from you all because I could not find a
solid answer online as I don't think their are many posts about my situation. Hopefully you experts can school me in this situation.
<One of the two biggest reasons for low pH is overstocking and overfeeding. You mention no use of a protein skimmer and/or filtration methods, and a good efficient unit will greatly help in removing the compounds that cause the pH to lower. Use of carbon in a power filter is also recommended. It would have been helpful knowing your nitrate level in this system, as high nitrate levels can/will drive pH down. My advice is to attack the cause of the problem and reading here should be the first step.
One of the least expensive ways to maintain proper dKH levels in a FOWLR is the use of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). Care must be used here as baking soda, used in large amounts, will quickly drive the dKH well over recommended levels. A safe start would be a teaspoon per 20 gallons of water. It is best to mix the soda with your top off water rather than adding to the tank directly.
Baking soda alone will not raise pH much above 7.8, but will raise dKH to recommended levels (7-12dKH) necessary to maintain pH providing your system is not overstocked and/or has a high dissolved nutrient level. Raising pH can be done by using a product such as SeaChem's Marine Buffer which I believe is the product you are now using. May also want to read here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwph,alk.htm>
Thanks a lot for reading this rather large e-mail,
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Terry Baldwin
Re Best Way To Maintain pH And Alkalinity In a FOWLR?/pH And Alkalinity 8/22/10
I do use carbon in my system, and I also use a large skimmer (swc 300a).
<Good, but with a medium to heavy bio-load, this skimmer will have a difficult time keeping up with a 500 gallon tank.>
From what I am reading it seems that as long as my nitrates are low I shouldn't have to correct pH much, is that true?
<Yes and no.>
Also, you are saying that Kalk wouldn't be a good option.
<I would not use in a FOWLR. With nothing in the system to absorb the calcium, you would have to discontinue using the product once calcium levels reached 400ppm, and that would not take too long.>
Sorry that But I just want to clarify that marine buffer, and baking soda will do the trick? Since baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, then wouldn't it be cheaper (although not safer) to use sodium carbonate for pH?
<It's as safe as Marine Buffer if used properly, but I'd use sodium bicarbonate rather than carbonate. Sodium bicarbonate does decompose into sodium carbonate over a period of time. Overdosing Marine Buffer can also cause problems.>
Will any baking soda work?
<Anything labeled sodium bicarbonate.>
Also would use <youse :))> put the carbonate and bicarbonate both in the ATO water? My ATO container is 50 gallons, which will work for about a month before it needs filled up, will the carbonates be depleted or lessened in this time frame?
Should I put a small powerhead in the ATO to mix the water constantly?
Sorry for the vast array of questions again.
<Should do regardless, helps aerate the water and remove any carbon dioxide if present. Carbon dioxide can quickly deplete buffers. Do read the links I referred you to. James (Salty Dog)>

Do I need to raise my pH?    8/12/10
<Hi Gene>
I have added a CR to my system (125 display with 30g sump/refugium) and now maintain my KH at 9 or 10 and CA at 420 to 440 day-in day-out.
<This is good>
I'm pleased with the results except my pH is down to 7.9 possibly 8.1 at peak times.
<Typical with calcium reactor use.. you are using CO2 to lower the pH enough in the reactor to dissolve the media. This lower pH water that is exiting the reactor is the reason for the low pH in the system>
I was wondering if adding a Kalkwasser setup would be advisable -- or more dangerous than beneficial.
<Can be beneficial.. dripped carefully overnight ONLY>
I've read that 7.9 to 8.0 pH is not bad -- and in fact, a steady level is most desirable.
<Yes, and a low-ish pH with a high dKH (which you have) is actually ok>
I could do a slow drip of Kalkwasser -- but don't want to raise my CA too much beyond where it is now.
<I would add a second chamber to the calcium reactor here instead. Put the output of the CR through perhaps an old DI chamber (from an RODI unit), or something larger if you have/ can find that is filled with the calcium carbonate media instead of DI resin. You might find that this 'does the trick', as the pH in the water from the reactor will rise in this second chamber. I would not add Kalk here as your Ca is fine where it is, and the pH with the high dKH is ok as well. Many people get 'lost' trying to chase 'magic numbers' that they never achieve. The best barometer of all is your animals, how are they faring? And have you checked your test kit with another? Do this before making any changes to the system that might not be necessary>.
Your advice has always served me well in the past -- and I appreciate your input here.
<No problem>
Thank you,
Re: Do I need to raise my pH?    8/12/10
Thanks, Simon.
<No problem Gene>
Nice and clear reply. I do have a 2nd chamber -- so I think my next step is to be sure I'm getting an accurate reading from my pH probe.
<Yes... these can swing quickly... need to be calibrated on a regular basis>
Frankly, I see no harm to any of my fish or corals -- thus, no alarm on my part -- just curious.
<I would not be too worried here>

pH and dKH HELP  4/23/10
Hi Crew,
Thanks for all that you do. It has been a while since I last wrote, and I have read FAQ's and articles on your site regarding pH, but think I am still missing something. I have recently helped my 12 year old son
start with his first saltwater tank. The tank is a Biocube 28 gallon system, filled with fine live sand, 15 pounds of live rock. I also seeded some live rock rubble from my refugium, along with one gallon of water both from my established 350 gallon FOWLR. We have now been cycling for about three weeks, and we still can't seem to get the pH to stabilize in the 8.2 range. Many evenings after work we will check the
pH and it will be 7.8 or barely 8.0, which leads me to believe it drops even lower than that at night.
<Likely so... and not likely a problem>
Salinity is 1.025, Ammonia is undetectable, Nitrite is 2.5
, and undetectable Nitrates. I have not tested for phosphates, however calcium is 320, and temperature is 79 - 80F.
Since we are looking for this to be a mini reef with just a few small fishes, we have bought the B-ionic two part supplementation. Just a quick footnote, we buffer RO/DI water with Super dKH for make-up, and
utilize a reputable salt mix (same process I use for my established tank which ranges high 8.4). OK, now here is where I am stumped: the Alkalinity is what I would deem as "off the chart" high (3.6 is the highest reading on the color card, however the test water in the tube is a darker shade than the blue on the card, so I am assuming even higher) ! I am confused how I can have such high buffering (Alk), yet struggle to get the pH consistently above 8.0. How can the two exist, my thought was if you had high Alkalinity, you also by default would have high pH?
<Mmm, one definition of Alkalinity is "resistance to downward movement in  pH"... a process rather than a fixed point/measure. Depending on "what" is making up your Alkalinity, "it" may not be readily available (soluble) to resist the given pH range you're experiencing. But, I would not be concerned re the pHs mentioned at this point... when the NO2 is gone, some NO3 accumulated, you can likely begin bolstering the pH with the B-Ionic>
Perhaps I have missed something in the readings, however I can't seem to find this scenario.
I am wondering if I should discontinue buffering make-up, and the use of the two part supplementation for fear of raising Alk even higher, but yet I need to get the pH up. Your help on this is greatly appreciated.
Best regards,
<I would just wait, be patient at this point... Let this system cycle. Bob Fenner>

High pH And Tons Of Hair Algae/Lacking Useful Info 4/18/10
Hey guys and gals,
I have a ton of hair algae and a reoccurring pH spike issue. Most of my 5yr old, 90 gallon tank is wrecked but one scooter and blood red shrimp continue to fight on. I also have a huge frog spawn (which is hiding and 1/2 dead)
and a giant anemone which used to have 2 breeding orange skunks who were killed by whatever is causing my pH spike. (I assume). I have been using Instant Ocean and doing very frequent water changes. Every time I did a water change, it seemed to shock the anemone. I've changed out the metal halides and my RO/DI filters. I dont know what else to do!
I have a well established 90 gallon tank with a 20 gallon sump/refugium.
The refugium has a DSB and Caulerpa. The pH seems to spike from 8 to 9. I add white vinegar to bring it back down but in a week or less, it's back to 9.0.
I want to get rid of the hair algae and pH issue! HELP!
<Dan, what is your dKH? High dKH levels can cause high pH readings. Have you compared your pH reading with that of another test kit. Is possible your test kit may be giving you a higher reading than what the actual condition is.
As to the algae problem, what are your nitrate and phosphate levels? What additives are you using, and the frequency of dosing each. I need you to draw me a better picture than what you stated above. Do get back with me. James (Salty Dog)>

Re High pH And Tons Of Hair Algae/Lacking Useful Info 4/18/10   - 4/19/10
Sorry about that James.
<No problem.>
In my distress, I didn't think to give out all the details (as if you could read my mind).
I brought a couple samples of water to the LFS and they confirmed the readings:
Nitrates 0
Nitrite 0
ammonia .25
<Not good, should be 0.>
KH 7
Calcium 400 (although this was lower earlier in this process)
I also purchased another pH test kit which reconfirmed the readings.
After doing a 50% (more over time) water chg, my pH is back to 8 and the KH 8.6.
<Good, looks like you are all set there.>
Today, my anemone had detached itself from the bottom of the tank and was shedding gooey looking substances so I removed it into a bucket.
I turned off all the powerheads to see if the anemone would reattach but it didn't, so I removed it... in doing so, I noticed a lot of gas bubbles coming off the gravel, rocks, and algae. Looked almost like a soda!
<Mmm, anemone is dead or close to. Suggest you employ chemical media (Chemipure) in the system, the
bubbles are likely hydrogen sulphide gas, needs to be removed from the system ASAP. Does the anemone smell like rotten eggs?>
The Frogspawn is almost 100% gone now. I can't believe the decimation. The tank was solid
for years. At this point I'm not sure what's left to do.
<The dead/dying anemone is likely poisoning your remaining Frogspawn polyps and will affect the health of your fish. Good water test readings are not necessarily indicative of good water quality. I suggest continued use of chemical media such as Chemipure which is very beneficial in improving water quality. Solid maintenance practices are also a must. Do read here and FAQ's/articles posted in the header on ways to improve water quality.
A blood red shrimp, a red scooter, and a handful of hermits continue going, however.
<Your algae problem you state in the original post can be controlled by reading/implementing suggestions found here.
 James (Salty Dog)>

Ph/Alkalinity? Water Quality Testing   4/17/2010
<Hi Dawn.>
I just want to say how "Wonderful" your site is.
<Thank you.>
My question is about Ph/Alkalinity.
I have a 150 gallon tank which consists of fish, LR, anemones, starfish and a few urchins.
I test for PH, Ammonia, Nitrate and Nitrite. I have not tested for alkalinity.
<Always a good thing to test for.>
The other day I got a bottle of test strips you just "dip" in and read.
<Unfortunately, the dip strips are notoriously inaccurate.>
Upon reading this, all my tests were fine except the alkalinity.
On the bottle the color chart is green, whereas my test strip was blue!
<I rest my case.....>
Is this a test I should be testing?
If so, I would need an alkalinity test. Now an alkalinity test and a KH test are one the same, correct?
<Long story short, yes.>
Would my alkalinity be that far off even if my PH test reads 8.4?
<It can be. A grossly oversimplified 10 words or less definition of alkalinity is the ability of the water to resist a downward shift in pH. so the first sign your alkalinity is too low would be fluctuations in your pH.>
If I am understanding this right, the PH and alkalinity work together.
<They work together, but they are not the same thing.>
Without a test kit, I am guessing my alkalinity is too high.
<Not necessarily.>
What would I do to lower it to a safe level?
<First you need to test it. - get a good KH test kit - API makes one that is only about $5.00 in a pet store.>
I use marine buffer to raise my PH, which I have read on your site you can use baking soda (1 tsp. per 50 gallons).
<The buffer is also boosting your alkalinity. Do have a read here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alkalinity.htm >
One quick question about foods, when you talk about buying seafood at the local grocery store you are talking about "fresh" not "frozen" correct?
<Either will be fine. Though usually the frozen is a bit less expensive..
<My pleasure.>

Re pH/Alkalinity? Water Quality Testing 4/19/2010
This is in reference to the PH/Alkalinity.
<Hi Dawn.>
I purchased the API KH Test as you advised. It took 20 drops to turn my water yellow!
<Alkalinity is very high. dKH of 20.>
If I multiply the 20 drops by 17.9 as per directions that equals 358 ppm..
It should read 89-125? I understand to increase the KH I would use API Buffer Max Marine, or as per your site baking soda?
Could you advise me on how to decrease this level and to why it would get so high?
<Stop adding any buffer. Regular water changes without buffer will start bringing it down.>
<Just do it slowly and gradually. Do not add any calcium supplements until the alkalinity goes down.>
Will this level harm the fish?
<As long as the pH remains stable, no.>
My PH test reads 8.4.
Thank You Again,
<My pleasure>

pH Problems 1/25/10
Hi there, I sent the first one with out spell check. Very sorry about that here is the corrected one.
<Mmm, never saw. Perhaps another crew member has it in their inbox.>
<<RMF deleted the rep.>>
Hello All!
<Hello Sabrina>
I am having a pH problem and could really use some advice.
First tank parameters...
55 gallon
Remora Protein Skimmer
20 gallon gravity feed refugium with DSB LR and Macro Algae
2 Power heads with water turn over at 550 gph
Tank mates include
1 True Clown 3 inch
1 Blue Tang 1.5 inch Moving to 200 gallon
1 Medium Raccoon B/F to take care of Glass Anemones (will also be moved
shortly after problem clears)
1 Skunk Cleaner Shrimp
1 Sand Sifting Star
And 65-70 different Turbo Snails/Hermit Crabs/Dwarf Crabs etc..
My tests are as follows
pH 7.87
dKH 9
Salinity 1.025
Phosphates 0
Calcium 340
Tank Temp 8.01
<Where is the nitrate test results. Will have more to do with low pH than the above.>
I have tried everything I can think of to get my pH up to 8.1 but nothing has worked.
My steps for making water include RO/DI water in 30 gallon trash can with air stone on 24/7 When I test the water in the can its always high. I buffer as needed, allow to aerate for at least an hour and then add it to my refugium. It always up for a brief time and then back down to anywhere between 7.9 (during the day)and 7.6(at night).
<Aerate the fresh make up water 24 hours before adding salt. This will ensure that any CO2 that may be present will be removed. CO2 can rapidly exhaust buffers resulting in a pH drop. Your pH is not seriously low, you
may want to have your LFS do a pH test on your water and compare readings/verify your test kit is accurate.
If using an electronic pH tester, try re-calibrating the unit. I don't consider color comparator test kits to be totally accurate, but more like ballpark results. Shades can be slightly off on the printed color cards that usually come with most kits which can result in lower or higher readings. For accuracy, I rely on calibrated electronic pH testers.>
What am I doing wrong here. Please assist me in the problem everything else seems normal so I am at a loss. Maybe my steps are off? I have read your FAQs multiple times and tried a few of the different steps but nothing
seems to work. I'm just not sure where to go from here.
<Have you read here? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm>
Thank you
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re pH Problems 1/25/10
Hi Again,
<Hello Sabrina>
Sorry about leaving off the Nitrate test. Nitrates are 35.
<This can be one of causes of low pH. When we measure nitrates, we are basically measuring dissolved nutrient level. Dissolved nutrients are acidic, and acids can/will
lower pH levels along with overstocking/feeding/use of liquid foods..>
I use Pinpoint monitors for my pH and Nitrates as I have a great deal of problems reading the color cards.
<And I also. Seems like the shades never match.>
I will be getting other electronic testers however those little suckers are expensive!! Anyway, I re calibrated my pH monitor and the numbers are still pretty low this morning at 7.5.
<Best to measure pH in the afternoon. pH levels generally drop during the night.>
I had tried to read Bobs artical <article> in the past however it's kinda over my head in some reguards <regards>. But I will try again.
<Please do.>
Thank you for your help and quick responce <response>.
<You're welcome.

RO water ph + tank ph = very stressed/sick fish?
Low pH in Marine System Causing Serious Damage to Inhabitants 1/11/10

<<Hi Richard.>>
I am new to the salt water aquarium hobby, and am realizing there is quite the learning curve!!
<<A large percentage of hobbyists quit the hobby within one calendar year of beginning a tank, usually lack of research/knowledge. We do what we can here to fix that.>>
I have a 150g reef tank and my fish seem very stressed (still eating but white and black spots, cloudy eyes, more aggressive behavior) and my Kole tang looks like it's on its last couple of breaths. Also my hammer and frogspawn corals have thrown off almost all their heads look like they are almost dead.
<<There is indeed something wrong with the environment. (tank chemistry).>>
I installed an RO system and an auto top off in November and since then I've been having a few problems.
All my tank parameters are fine except ph. (Ca 420, KH/Alk 10.9, Mag 1250, sg 1.025, ph 7.80 during the day dropping to 7.70 at night, temp 78.0) The problem I have been having for the last couple of months is low ph, and try as I might I can't seem to get it to come up.
Well today after reading all about RO water, I realize that I should have been buffering my top off water, so I tested my
<<Indeed, this is the issue. Should be buffered and aerated for at least 24 hours before use.>>
RO water and it has a ph of 6.62!
<<Sounds about right for straight RO water.>>
My question is could this be causing all my problems with my fish and corals? Is there anything I can do for my fish immediately?
<<I would start with multiple water changes, perhaps 20% ever 12 hours or so until you can bring it up to within acceptable parameters.>>
I will start buffering my top off water and weekly tank change water, but is it too late to help my fish? Any advice is greatly appreciated!!
<<See above, you are on the right track, and read here;
Good luck.>>
<<Adam Jackson.>>

Re: Low pH in Marine System Causing Serious Damage to Inhabitants    1/13/10
Adam thanks for your advice.
<<Anytime Richard.>>
Unfortunately your advice wasn't able to save my Kole tang and royal gramma they both died tonight, hopefully it can help the remaining fish/corals. The odd thing is when I looked closely at their pectoral fins, they looked see through at the ends, almost eaten or melted away in spots. Is this possible from the ph problems I've been having?
<<Yes a (chemically) poor/improper environment can and will affect the health of the animal and make it more susceptible to disease and general poor health.>>
I pulled them out while they were still alive so nothing had started eating them yet. I'm worried because my naso's fins are starting to look a little transparent/holey at the ends. Can this be reversed?
<<If the issues are corrected with time and proper diet, yes.>>
I have a couple more questions for you. I add calcium chloride and magnesium chloride as supplements to my tank change water. I'm going to add Seachem marine buffer to elevate the ph, is there anything else I should be doing? Do I need to worry about keeping my
alkalinity stable during this process of adding buffer and increased water
changes? If so how do I do this? Will adding the other supplements help do this?
<<If the chemistry/parameters in your 'change water' is correct, just continue with them regularly. I would be doing multiple changes, 20% once a day if possible'¦until the display pH/parameters even out.>>
Should I be looking into starting a Kalkwasser drip?
<<Not along with the 2 part calcium/buffer'¦it is another option that if you find easier for you, you could look into. It is cheaper in some instances when dealing with larger volumes of water. Read here;
Those articles go into far more detail about Kalk and alkalinity than I can here but if you get confused or need some clarification feel free to write back. In the meantime start with those water changes because with that low pH your other animals aren't going to last long. Your water is much too acidic at the moment. Good luck.>>
Thanks for your help!
<<No problem -- Adam Jackson.>>

Low pH and outside air 1/7/10
Greetings to whomever is at the helm this day,
<BobF currently>
Now I know you folks hear this allot <parceling?> but it bears repeating, Thanks for the invaluable service you provide to those of us who keep fishies and their counterparts in glass boxes!
<Welcome! Siaynoq!>
I hope the questions I have today will be simple ones. I've had chronic low pH for a few months now. While searching for causes and solutions at WWM I believe I may have come up with some ideas on this. My home has a vent free gas fireplace so I'm thinking "this started at the beginning of heating season".
Unfortunately I live in the Northeastern US so opening a window is not an option at this time of year. I read here about pumping air in from outside. My question is, what kind of air pump do I need and where would I find such a pump?
<A good diaphragm type will do... I like the Tetra Luft line m'self. Just got to mount it where the rain et al. won't damage it>
My tank is adjacent to our solarium so I'm thinking that the plants take up CO2 and give off O2
<Mmm, the reverse at night... the "dark reaction"...>
and if just putting an air pump in that room would be sufficient. The solarium is heated by that fireplace I spoke of but there is electric heat backup and I could close the doors (although I'd prefer not to). Any thoughts on this?
<Mmm, well, you could mount this pump outside a window... I'd be checking your CO2 levels in the house... during the night particularly. Am concerned here>
I currently have no way to test for oxygen in the tank or out.
<Easy enough to do...>
Thanks much,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

pH Woes 11/13/09
I have a 55gal marine setup. live rock, no corals.. sand bottom. All levels have been fine for 2 years. Now, I am having trouble keeping snails, crabs, shrimp and starfish. All parameters are within normal range but my pH creeps up. It was 8.4 then 8.6. I used 8.2 buffer to no avail. My pH is still high.
<Is not alarmingly high and not the reason for your lack of success with these animals. Likely the animals died from lack of nutrition and/or environmental conditions.>
My local store says it is the sand substrate and I should use crushed coral to stabilize the pH. Does this sound acceptable?
<No, crushed coral will help to maintain your system's buffering capacity (dKH) and will
not aid you in lowering the pH.><<Mmm, I think James means the sand substrate is fine. RMF>>
If so, I was wondering if it would be OK to add it to the sump along with my rock rubble. I really prefer the sand bottom v. crushed coral.
<You are fine with what you have, try comparing your pH reading with your dealers test kit.>
I cannot figure out if it is my pH killing the inverts or what is going on.
I have a sump setup with a UV sterilizer and protein skimmer.
Any advice you can give would be helpful.
<Have you treated this tank with any medication by chance?
James (Salty Dog)>

pH Woes 11/13/09
I have a 55gal marine setup. live rock, no corals.. sand bottom. All levels have been fine for 2 years. Now, I am having trouble keeping snails, crabs, shrimp and starfish. All parameters are within normal range but my pH creeps up. It was 8.4 then 8.6. I used 8.2 buffer to no avail. My pH is still high.
<Is not alarmingly high and not the reason for your lack of success with these animals. Likely the animals died from lack of nutrition and/or environmental conditions.>
My local store says it is the sand substrate and I should use crushed coral to stabilize the pH. Does this sound acceptable?
<No, crushed coral will help to maintain your system's buffering capacity (dKH) and will
not aid you in lowering the pH.><<Mmm, I think James means the sand substrate is fine. RMF>>
If so, I was wondering if it would be OK to add it to the sump along with my rock rubble. I really prefer the sand bottom v. crushed coral.
<You are fine with what you have, try comparing your pH reading with your dealers test kit.>
I cannot figure out if it is my pH killing the inverts or what is going on.
I have a sump setup with a UV sterilizer and protein skimmer.
Any advice you can give would be helpful.
<Have you treated this tank with any medication by chance?
James (Salty Dog)> 

Re pH Woes 11/14/09
No chemicals whatsoever! That is what is so strange. If it is a nutrition thing, what/how should I be feeding. There appears to be sufficient algae etc.
<Starfish do not eat algae, you must ensure enough meaty foods are available for both starfish and shrimp. Plenty of information re can be found on our site by Googling.>
Thanks for your advice!
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

pH - Low Everywhere Including Freshly Mixed Saltwater -- 11/12/09
Hi WWM Crew!
<Hello Karin>
I am battling low pH.
The pH in my tank has a high of around 8.2 (freshly calibrated pinpoint meter) at the end of the evening and a low of 7.7 in the early morning.
<This is not unusual, pH will fall some during the night.>
My Alk is high (14dKH) and I am planning to start dosing Kalkwasser when the Alk drops to more acceptable levels.
I also am running a little tube from my skimmer intake to the outside to decrease CO2 input.
<This isn't going to do much for you. If you're using a sump and/or powerhead(s) near the water's surface, you shouldn't have any measurable CO2 levels.>
Here's the really puzzling thing: my day old saltwater is just as bad! I've used two different kinds of salt mixes as well as bottled RO water and homemade RO water and every combination I try ends up measuring just 7.9 pH!!! (before I even pour it into the tank)
How can that be?
<Actually is normal for most mixes.>
Is there a trick to making saltwater?
<No, but do bring up to temperature before mixing in the salt, then allow the mix to circulate for another 24 hours before using.
Do keep in mind that R/O water has nearly zilch for buffering capacity and will lower your pH/dKH if not buffered before adding the salt mix.
Without buffering, you will be neutralizing most of the buffers present in the salt mix.
When adding buffers to R/O water, allow to circulate for a couple of hours before adding the salt.>
I just pour the RO water into a 10 gallon trash can, then I add the salt, then I turn on the powerhead to agitate the mix.
How should I do it instead?
<With R/O water, your method is acceptable.>
The newest salt mix I am using is Reef Crystals which should measure about 8.7 I believe freshly mixed.
That's not happening for me though :(
What am I missing?
<Reef Crystals will provide an average pH of 7.5 to 7.6 freshly mixed. Do read here.
I am considering getting a CO2 scrubber for the skimmer instead of the line to the outside but I can't think of anything to improve my freshly mixed saltwater.
<Don't waste your money. Do as suggested above, you will see an improvement here and do read here.
Please help. Thanks in advance,
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Karin B.

Barely averted disaster, SW pH... anomaly   9/17/09
OK now .... I'm totally creeped out
I have a 65 gallon show tank FOWLR except for the coral frags my son got a month ago.
I have a 20 gallon bare quarantine tank with a Hawkfish that's in transition.
Yesterday, the Hawkfish showed signs of distress in the afternoon so we did a water test using AQI test kits Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, Ph, Phosphate
Nitrite was 1.0+
and Ph was 7.8 -- so a severe water change and Ph buffer treated both, by evening Hawkfish was fine.
That's all background.
For QC purposes, I ran all tests on the main tank and the change water -- for reference points -- everything was fine.
This morning, 7am ... all fish in all tanks are in distress ... water tests in line EXCEPT Ph was 7.8 !!!!!!
So I tested the Rubbermaid container where we keep the change water ..... 8.0 !!!!!
Unusually, the top of the change water container was left off overnight -- clue?????
What airborne/atmospheric can change the Ph so radically overnight?
<Yes; does. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/mphtrbl.htm
and the linked files above. B>

Re: Barely averted disaster  9/17/09
LOL maybe after I get done burying all the fish I'll have time to read all that
<Maybe... I'll make a comment after your next email. B>

Re: Barely averted disaster
Sorry about that last email -- not your fault for trying to help ..... it's just that I just had to dispose of our most prized tang
I think I'm going to give up on marine aquaria.... the Ph was 8.3 on Monday (9/14/09) and it was 8.3 on every Monday since we set up the new tank in February ... and it was ABSOLUTELY 8.3 yesterday when I used the main tank as a 'control' to verify my test kit -- and this morning it's 7.8 and nothing ... that is HUH-THING changed. Except for the Ph and the 3 dead fish
<Something amiss either in terms of your alkalinity (reserve) and/or a source of reduction (acid) here>
The puzzling thing is an airborne contaminate that can have that sudden an effect and I was home all day and noticed nothing. Damn. Anyway .... now, sadly, I have the time to dive into the reading. I didn't mean to lash out at a friend.  D
<No worries... My SOP stmt is to note that marine aquarium keeping is about 1/3 science, 1/3 art and 1/3 voodoo... Compared with freshwater systems, including their biota... WHOM have much wider tolerance for change, rates of change (as evolutionarily their environments have been MUCH less stable, short-lived), saltwater has many more "unknowns". B>

High pH Problems In 210 gallon FOWLR 9/15/09
Hey there Crew, Grant here.
<Hello Grant>
I have a 210 gallon FOWLR with a couple angels, two tangs and some flame angels. Everyone is coexisting happily, except my big tang sure doesn't like any new fish. That's good though, it keeps me from wandering away from my original stocking plan!
I recently thought my pH was dropping. It seemed to be getting lower and lower from the usual 8.2 it sat at during the day.
When it hit 8.0, I started adding Seachem's pH Marine Buffer. I put in an entire bottle over the course of a week. This amount is supposedly good for 500g. I have about a 235 gallon system when my sump is included. You would think this would be enough to raise my pH at least 0.1, but no, it didn't.
<Buffers do not directly raise pH, but provide a means for maintaining pH.
Good reading for you here.
My pH slowly dropped. After a month, it was all the way down at 7.8. In this time, I've done lots of 10% water changes, at least 6 or 7. I do them on the weekends but I did a couple mid week just to try to balance out whatever was going whacky with my water. During that month, I've added two more of the bottles of Seachem's pH Marine buffer. Wow, enough buffer to handle 1500 gallons of water and still, my pH slowly drops. Long story short, I had a set of 7.0 pH sample and 10.0 pH sample liquids, used to calibrate pH probes. I figured I might as well give it a shot and see if it isn't my probe that's faulty. I'm new to electronic monitoring of pH, my Reef Keeper 2 does it for me and I don't have the manual pH test kits anymore.
Sure enough, after calibration and sitting in my tank water again for an hour to make sure it's stabilized, my pH reading is 8.49! Much higher than I thought. I don't have a hardness test hit but I bet it's out the roof.
<I'm sure the dKH is high.>
The weird thing is I thought when hardness and pH were real high, the water would be slightly cloudy but my tank looks great.
<Not necessarily.>
Anyway, this was a long story to get to my questions; I just wanted to make sure you had the facts and the approximate timeline of events.
First off, can this high of a pH be bad for fish long term? I know the recommended range is somewhere between 8 and 8.3, so this doesn't seem too far off.
<No, not dangerously high, it's a sudden shift of pH that may cause problems.>
If it is bad for them, I can lower it, I have pH lowering stuff by Seachem, I can't remember the exact name but you add it slowly over the course of days and it really works.
<Is called Acid Buffer.>
I used to use it on my freshwater tank for discus, although it's made for marine aquariums. Anyhoo, I can lower it if you guys think it needs to be? Otherwise, I'm sure over the course of the next month or so with regular water changes it will slowly drop back down to 8.2-8.3. I'd prefer to just let it naturally correct, but if 8.5 is a danger I can drop it over the course of a couple days down to 8.2.
<I'd let it adjust naturally.>
My Convict Tang, a little 3" beauty, has stopped eating in the last week.
It still looks healthy but it just doesn't eat. It goes right up to food, like the Nori clip, swims all around it and looks like it really wants to eat, but doesn't. I also feed NLS pellets and it loves the 1mm, or at least it used to. Now it just follows a pellet wistfully then turns around. I've also tried feeding PE mysis and also Hikari mysis; it follows the food again but won't eat.
Can high pH cause this? Keep in mind it raised over the course of a month, it wasn't as if I just blasted up to hugely high pH in a day.
<Shouldn't, not a gradual increase as you mention.>
All my other fish seem fine and no one is picking on him, he pretty much sticks to himself.
Any advice you have would be great, thanks!
<As long as the tang appears healthy and is actively swimming/foraging, I'd just continue to observe. May also be a water quality issue, high nitrate/nutrient levels.
Do you use a protein skimmer and/or a good chemical media such as Chemi Pure? Reading the FAQ's on this genus re foods,
feeding, and nutrition, may reveal if others have had similar problems along with suggestions to correct.
James (Salty Dog)>

pH And Baking Soda 8/5/09
Real quick question for you guys. I've been dosing baking soda lately in one of my 29g QTs, not a lot but I'm treating a fish in there with Cupramine and I've noticed my pH slowly dropping.
My procedure is I take a cup of tank water, mix in 1/4 cup of pure baking soda (unscented) and then pour it into the tank when I'm doing a 25% water change which happens every 2 days.
Long story short, my pH still is reading around 7.9 to 8.0.
On a whim, I ran my cup of mix out to my main 210g tank with the electrical pH probe and dropped it in there. It dropped from my tanks steady 8.2 pH to down around 5 before I pulled it out. I mean it dropped really fast down to there, like within 10 seconds it was down to 5.
Is that actually correct or is my probe just freaking out because there was so much baking soda in the cup?
<Freaking out, after adding buffers, pH readings will not be accurate for a few hours.>
1/4 cup of baking soda in a glass tends to make it look almost like milk but it clears up right away when dumped into the aquarium.
Anyway, any help you can give on this would be great. Thankfully my main tank keeps a steady pH so I've never had to deal with pH problems but this one is starting to alarm me and would certainly indicate why I cant get my pH in the QT up above 7.9, if the baking soda is actually driving down the pH. I only started putting in baking soda because of reading some article's of Bob about QT and doing freshwater dips, he suggested the way to get a good 8.3 or so pH would be to mix in a couple tablespoons of baking soda
to the 5g bucket of fresh water.
<Take a dKH test several hours after the baking soda is added. A dKH of 6-9 will be needed to maintain the proper pH long term. A pH of 7.9 is not dangerous as long as the fish is drip acclimated before returning to the main display. You may want to compare your pH test reading with that of the electronic pH device.
Your test kit may be reading low.>
Thanks for what you guys and gals do, I've learned a lot on your site!
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Re pH And Baking Soda 8/6/09
Thank you for the quick answer.
<You're welcome.>
The only reason I haven't tested my QT water with my electronic probe that is hooked to my DT is I'm afraid of ich or something transferring into the QT. I'm religious about not ever using the same tube, net, container, NOTHING from the QT ever touches the DT.
<A good practice.>
Will dipping an electronic probe (just the end) in bleach after I test the QT water hurt the probe? If not, I'd be willing to try that.
<Not full strength for sure. Just four drops of bleach in a quart of water will disinfect/kill most anything placed into it, and should not damage your probe.
Allow the probe to be in the solution 15-30 minutes and rinse the probe well in fresh water before returning to your display tank.>
Also, you mentioned the dKH has to be up around 6-9 to get my pH to be stable long term... will baking soda raise dKH or does it only just temporarily raise pH? For instance, if I continually add baking soda, will my dKH eventually get up there or is the baking soda just a band aid to the pH problem and it wont fix it long term?
<What lowers the pH is the presence of acids in the water. When this occurs, the buffers in the water are neutralizing the acids, and when the buffers are exhausted, the pH will fall. Baking soda will not appreciably raise the pH, but provide more buffering ability to maintain it. To raise 50 gallons of tank water by 1 mEq/L will require about 16 grams of baking soda.
Since a level teaspoon of baking soda weighs just under 6 grams, then 1 teaspoon will raise the alkalinity in that 50 gallons by 0.4 mEq/L (1 dKH).
To raise the pH, you will need to use a product such as SeaChem's Marine Buffer which is designed to adjust pH to 8.3 and maintain both pH and alkalinity(dKH).
Reading here will provide you with a much more detailed explanation of the subject. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alkalinity.htm>
Thanks again, you guys are great.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

pH Crash After Removing Substrate 7/21/09
Hello all,
<Hi Ben>
I moved my small marine aquarium to a different place in the same room over the weekend. I siphoned most of the water out into clean buckets, and put the fish into one of the buckets along with an airstone. While I had the water and fish out I decided to lower the level of substrate from about 1 1/2 inches of aragonite gravel down to about 1/2 inch, hoping that this would help to alleviate some nuisance algae growth. I filled the tank back up with the same water, less a 5 gallon water change, and when the filters cleared the water up, added the fish back in. The next morning, two of my three fish were dead. I had two clarkii clowns and a yellowtail damsel.
Only the smaller clown survived, and he didn't look too well. The only invert other than live rock is a large Condy anemone (I know - Atlantic - but the clowns hosted in it anyway), and it seemed unaffected.
I ran tests on the water, and the only thing I could come up with was that the pH had fallen from 8.2 down to about 7.9 - I presume because I removed part of the buffer.
<More likely by disturbing the substrate, you released some hydrogen sulphide gas and/or excess nutrients into the water causing it to become a little more acidic.>
I do not have an alkalinity test kit,
<Not good.>
so I don't know what that value is. I suppose there is some small chance that I introduced some sort of contaminant into the system, but I tried to be extra careful to avoid that.
<Yes, likely the hydrogen sulphide. Did you detect a rotten egg odor while removing the substrate?>
To try to recover, I added about 1 1/2 tsp of baking soda on Sunday morning, and a pH reading later in the day showed that the level had risen to 8.0. Meanwhile, the remaining clown seems to be recovering - he ate some food and took up residence in the anemone. As we speak, he's clearing bits of gravel out from under the anemone. This morning, the pH was back down to 7.9.
<Is best to take a pH reading mid-day.>
I did a 5 gallon water change and added 1 1/2 more tsp. of baking soda.
My question is, where do I go from here? Should I add some of the removed substrate back in?
Continue with baking soda? Leave things alone?
<First, you need to get a alkalinity test kit. The dKH is an important parameter to maintain, and without knowing what it is, it would be futile for me to make any suggestions at present. I would not add any more baking soda without knowing what the dKH is.>
My normal water change schedule has been 5 gallons at a time, usually every 4 to 7 days, and it has worked pretty well thus far, other than a bit more algae growth than I'd like. It seems to be mostly Caulerpa, Halimeda, and hair algae. A lighting fixture upgrade some months ago seems to have favored the Caulerpa and killed off most of the hair algae. I was hoping the removal of excess substrate would help the algae situation, along with a recently added powerhead for extra circulation.
<A good protein skimmer would help here.>
Here are tank stats:
Tank: 36x14x12 (30 gallon)
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: between 0 and 5 ppm
pH: 7.9
Phosphate: 0
Skimmer: AquaC Remora
<OK, you do have a good skimmer.>
Filter/Circulation: HOB power filter with carbon, powerhead
Lighting: 4x39w T5HO, 2 actinic, 2 full spectrum. Actinics: 8am-8pm, Full 9am-7pm.
Livestock: about 40lb live rock, 1 Condylactis anemone, 1 clarkii clown.
Just lost: 1 clarkii clown, 1 yellowtail damsel.
All livestock had been in tank for 1.5 to 2 years prior to this weekend's meltdown.
<Test the water for dKH and adjust, you will likely solve the pH problem.
Read here and related articles in header for help in controlling algae.
Thanks for your help,
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Chronic low pH, sodium hydroxide SW Water Quality pH 7/17/2009
Hello to the WWM crew. I have learned so much from your web site, thanks for all the effort that you put into educating the hobbyist.
<Hi Frank, thank you for the kind words.>
I have set up a 120 g tank which was cycled nine months ago. I have a pair of banded
coral shrimp and Ricordea mushrooms in the tank, no fish yet. Sump has a compartment for macro algae and I run it on reverse photo period. The bio load is very light for now and I am planning to make this a home for a pair of saddleback or Clarkii clowns with Ricordea mushrooms propagating on the rocks.
<Will make for an interesting display.>
The only problem with this tank is low pH. I tried two different bands of chemical test kits as well as a Pinpoint pH monitor and got three different readings.
<Not at all surprising.>
Since pH value is expressed in logarithmic scale, I was dissatisfied with the performance of the test kits. Unfortunately, Pinpoint does not specify the accuracy range for their monitor, they only specify the resolution (two decimal points) which doesn't mean much and has no correlation to the device accuracy.
As a result, I ordered another electronic pH test kit made by Hanna Instruments with +/- 0.01 accuracy
(model Piccolo 2). To my surprise, the Pinpoint readings were not bad at all and more accurate than the chemical test kits (Elos and Seachem).
<No surprises here either.>
The pH in the tank is between 7.85 to 8.05.
<Lower than what we would like to see.>
I have tried to help the pH problem by dosing Kalkwasser via a Kalk reactor as well as dosing soda ash
solution. The problem is that beside the pH, alkalinity (carbonate) and Ca concentrations are affected as well and this tank has practically no consumption for neither one.
I have played with the dosing quantities with no significant remedy that can resolve this issue.
The root cause of the problem is high concentration of CO2 in the water. I know that from performing an aeration test with tank water and fresh salt water inside and outside of the house.
The difference is around 0.3 pH points. I am thinking to run an air tube from the porch to the skimmer in the sump and run an air pump to feed fresh air to the tank, but most likely my wife will not approve (kill me), because I will have to drill into a three bay French door to get the air tube through.
<Heheh, understand that as well.>
My goal is to slowly dose a chemical that helps the pH but does not significantly affect Ca and alkalinity. I have found a source for sodium hydroxide (Lye) and potassium hydroxide that is suppose to be high grade.
Both chemicals are highly alkaline and abrasive, but a weak solution can be dosed (as Kalkwasser is highly alkaline but is widely used). One drawback that I see is an imbalance in the ions by having higher sodium or potassium concentrations in the water. But both sodium and potassium are major elements and their concentration may not matter much if at all.
Similarly, adjusting the salt water mix for magnesium using magnesium chloride or magnesium sulfate will add S or Cl ions to the water and creates an imbalance, but that really doesn't' matter much. In fact not all salt manufacturers follow the true sea water concentrations anyway.
<Light dosing is unlikely to have any significant impact.>
I suppose the hydroxide component (anion) in the sodium hydroxide would quickly react with the carbonic acid to mitigate the pH issue.
Am I missing something here? I need a sanity check.
<No holes in your logic, other than the caution to start dilute and adjust slowly.>
If something this simple could work, why it is not a common practice in the trade?
<It is, just in very low concentrations. The "pH Up" products usually contain a weak solution of NaOH.>
Please help.

Re: Water Quality: Ph Decline: (4/1/2009) Update and skimmer selection 5/26/2009
Hi Mike,
<Hi Junaid!>
Its been a while since my last email. I followed your suggestions about my pH decline issue. I mix the saltwater 2 to 3 days in advance and keep in aerated with a Rio pump. The pH is a little better than what it was before.  Still not 8.3 but I am not sweating it too much. At least now it doesn't go below 7.85 at night. Before it was going down to as low as 7.5!
<Excellent news. Again, stability is more important than trying to hit an exact number.>
Besides keeping the water mixed up in advance, I also have two airstones in my sump to keep it aerated which I think is helping as well.
<It is.>
I also have a couple of powerheads pointing towards the surface of the water and the agitation I believe is also helping. I think aeration was the main issue. Since my pH problems, I have also installed a double chamber Calcium Reactor so with the changes I have made the pH is not declining and I'm a happy reefer!!! All my fish are healthy as well. The Foxface is showing its bright yellow color again as well.
<All excellent news.>
NOW, I have decided to upgrade to a 90 gallon tank!!!
<Hehehe, it starts with a 90, soon it will be a 150.>
I have purchased the tank and have a 40 gallon sump to go with it as well.  It was a separate compartment for a sump and skimmer. It also has a separate compartment to have a refugium which is what I wanted to do for a while now but didn't have space in my sump with the 55 gallon setup. I have everything in place except for the light and protein skimmer. I am not too worried about the light since I know what setup I want (dual 175 W Metal Halide, with 2 fluorescent and 2 actinic).
However, I am having such a hard time with the protein skimmer. I used Marineland 100 for my 55 g setup but I don't think it was a good choice.
<I've heard both good and bad about them.>
I have decided to invest in a very good skimmer. I think I have narrowed it down to a Aqua C EV 120 or the Aqua Medic Turboflotor 1000.
EuroReef and Deltecs are too expensive and I can probably do with the two choices I have mentioned.
<I agree>
Basically my range is $350 to $400 CDN. I have searched and searched so much but the more I search for a good choice of skimmers, the more my head gets clouded! From your experience, what would be a very very good choice for an in sump protein skimmer for a 90 gallon setup? Besides the two choices, I am willing to lean at other suggestion as well. Please advise. Looking forward to your response.
<Either of those skimmers would serve you well. Of the two though, I would choose the Aqua C as being just a bit better.>

Question on pH and Temperature 5/8/09
Hi Guys,
<Hi Barry>
I have a question and am sure you can enlighten me.
<I'll try my best.>
Does the pH of a marine tank correlate with the temperature of the water?
Situation - pH used to be fine during the colder seasons but of late, it's risen to about 88 degrees Fahrenheit. I know it's a tad warm and I'm desperately trying to cool it down.
<Definitely a tad warm.>
The pH has also concurrently gone up to 8.55. Is this coincidental or related?
<Going up likely is coincidental. Going down would be more likely as waste can break down a little quicker in warm water.>
Does this rise have anything to do with the rise in temperature and do I have to take any urgent measures?
<You're pH isn't dangerously high. With your measurement of 8.55, I'm
guessing you are using an electronic testing device. You may want to recalibrate your meter, may be off a tad. The only measure I would take is to try and get the temperature closer to 80.>
Other water parameters are fine: nitrites 0, nitrates 12ppm, SG 1.025.
If pH is a concern, what should I do to gradually bring it down to a reasonable 8.3/8.4 and over what span of time should that be paced?
<Are you dosing Kalkwasser?>
Will the inhabitants of the tank be drastically affected at this temperature
and pH level?
<I'm sure they aren't to fond of it, but if they are in good health and you have good water movement, they should survive. Do not know the make up of your system, but do employ cooling fans to aid in getting that temperature down. James (Salty Dog)>>

pH Too low and KH problem... again, sans reading  4/19/09
I've been testing my water regularly and reading up quite a bit only to find that the numbers I have are quite unusual.
Tank size approx 90L of water and 4 months old. Has 2 clowns, 1 mandarin, <This fish in a 90L will not work long term, see:
and the linked files above.>
1 royal dotty back, 1 purple goby, 1 peppermint shrimp. 1 mini hammer, a frogspawn, a bubble, 2 GSP, 3 tubes, a small Blasto, a sea fan, a few Zoa, a super sun and an open brain. Running a skimmer and about 1kg of biohome and about min. 10kg of LR. Chiller set at 26 Celsius. Good all round circulation in tank.
PH = 7.8
Alk = 7.5meg/L (This is way higher that the acceptable range) I use the Seachem test kit and have rechecked using reference solutions, nothing is wrong with the test kit.
Cal = 440
No3 = 5-10
Po = 0.2
LS behavior:
Fishes are all eating well.
Most corals are doing fine and opening, with the exception of a mat of GSP which opens really really slowly (about 1-2 hours after tank lights on).
It is constantly covered with a layer of light brownish algae which I have blown off every 3 days.
<A sign.>
Here's some detailed information on what I dose in my tank on a fixed schedule:
Mon: 2.5ml Grotech Corall A, 2ml Purple up.
Tues: 2.5ml Corall Grotech B
Wed: 2.5ml Corall Grotech C, 2ml Purple up
Thurs: 2.5ml Corall Grotech A
Fri: 2.5ml Corall Grotech B, 2ml Purple up
Sat: 2.5ml Corall Grotech C
Sun: 10% water change with distilled water and tropic Marin pro reef salt.
After the water change, a multi strain bacteria culture is dosed.
Here are what I dose in my tank on a where required basis:
- AZNO3 approx 0.5-1ml - if NO3 is above 10. avg of 0.5ml every 3 days
<Better to control on other ways; water changes, refugium, skimming, and/or appropriate feeding.>
- Alkalin 8.3 to raise my KH and PH. But stopped after I realized KH was way too high.
<A likely product of all the additives.>
I used about 2ml everyday for about 5 days last week (13/04 to 17/04) to bring up my PH. Recommended dosage was a max of 4ml per day for my tank. ad-hoc 10% water change was performed on the 15/04 to help bring levels closer to normal (but little effect).
- Previously was using Seachem PH buffer to increase my PH, but to no avail, so i tried the Alkalin8.3 to aid in my KH and PH. (ok, I admit I didn't check my KH before using this.)
So, in short, my problem is the constantly low PH even with the use of different PH buffers.
I find it a little confusing to comprehend the relationships between PH, KH (Alk) and Cal. But it seems that usually when KH is high, Cal would usually be low, but not in my situation.
<Both are being jacked about by haphazard dosing.>
And also, from what I read, I gather that when KH is high PH would normally be more acceptable at 8.2 and more stable (as opposed to a low KH), but again, not in my case.
<Not the case in many situations....other factors come into play. Most likely CO2 saturation.>
My question is that will that super high KH be a serious problem?
<It can be.>
Will it be fine to let it slowly fall naturally, or force it down by major water change?
<Not major, but some water changes are in order to get back to a "base line" IMO.>
Ultimately, my goal is to try to solve my PH (and KH) problem and understand what this is happening. Am I not understanding something correctly or doing something wrongly?
<What aeration in the system do you have? The flow is unspecified; do you have/use a skimmer? This can have a large impact on CO2 in your system, hence ph also.>
Apologies for the super load of reading above. Thanks in advance to all for your inputs.
<Cut the additives...rely on your water changes and add specific additives (Ca, KH booster, etc.)
as your actual water tests show you need them. Stay away from the all in ones. Just adding them
per the instructions is what has put you in this situation.>
<Scott V.>

SW Setup: pH issues, overdosing with buffers. Reading 4/11/2009
Hello WWM crew.
<Hi Frank.>
I turn to you once again for help. Let me tell you a quick rundown of my setup.
29 gallon tank with an Eheim canister filter
2 Koralia powerheads for circulation
10-12 pounds of live rock
1 to 1 1/2 inch deep sand bed
ammonia = 0
nitrites = 0
nitrates < 5
pH = 8.0 at its highest
livestock includes a very young snowflake moray, a coral beauty angel, a brown brittle star, and a few hermits and snails.
<As I recall from your previous correspondence.>
My problem is, and has been an ongoing problem at that, I cant seem to keep my pH up.
<Common in smaller systems that are overstocked.>
I initially set up my tank with tap water that I treated about two and half months ago. My alkalinity was sky high for a long time and is still in the 20s and I'm sure that has something to do with my pH problem and also the brittle star losing portions of his limbs.
<20 is extremely high. You really need to step up your water changes: 15 - 20% per week with no added buffers>
But my concern is I have to keep using the buffer ( alternating Seachem powder and Seachem liquid marine buffers that claim to raise to 8.3) to keep the ph at a reasonably safe level for my livestock and I'm starting to think that my Alk is staying so high due to the constant buffering I am having to do.
<It is, stop buffering>
I did a 25 percent water change about two weeks ago with RO DI water that I purchased at the LFS. Their water is already mixed with salt and pre-buffered for ph and they say it is ready to use straight away. Also I
cant seem to keep my calcium up above 300-320 even while dosing with purple up and SeaChem's calcium additive but I have noticed my substrate seems to be clumping in some spots into marble sized or slightly larger chunks.
<Calcium and Alkalinity, in grossly oversimplified terms, fight each other, your alkalinity is way too high to get the calcium levels much higher than what they are now. Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm
and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alkalinity.htm>
Should I remove these or break them up and leave them in the tank? I
<You can break them up, but until you get your alkalinity down, they will keep reforming.>
I am getting ready to transfer to a 46 gallon bow front that I bought on Craig's List and am planning on adding about 50 pounds of cured live rock and 30 pounds of live sand as well as a sump/refugium with an aqua c urchin skimmer. What do you recommend I do about my constant battle with ph and Alk
<Read linked files above.>
Should I set the new tank up from scratch and let it cycle or would it be OK to transfer everything (water, sand, rock, and livestock) to the new tank and just add all the new rock and sand and use the RO DI water to fill to capacity as if doing a large water change?
<Posted on WWM The topic is moving tanks, but all of the facts are relevant to switching tanks as well:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/movingaq.htm >
Also do you recommend using pvc pipe to make caves underneath the sand bed for the eel?
<It can't hurt, but they will prefer natural caves more.>
Once again I greatly appreciate your insight and guidance with this sometimes difficult but rewarding hobby that I have become addicted to.
Have a great weekend and I look forward to your advice with my problems!
<My pleasure>
Frank Stubblefield

pH/Kalkwasser drip 4/7/09
Understanding Calcium/Alkalinity

I have a two hundred gallon marine tank with mostly rock and sand up stairs it has a 75 gallon sump down stairs.
Sitting on top of the tank are 3x150 10K HQI MH and 4 X96W 03 actinic CF.
Lights are on 7 hours a day.
I have a 5,000 gallon per hour pump with 15 feet of head to the tank.
The tank has 6 fish and the largest is a Yellow Tang and a total of 13 other small inhabitants made up of soft and hard corals and a 6 inch long clam.
The water returns in a 3 inch pipe to a 4 foot high tower in back of the 75 gallon sump with a diffuser panel at the top and three 5 gallon buckets of live rock rubble above the water line in the tower. Below the water under the tower another 100 lbs of live rock.
A Protein skimmer near the sump has ozone and a new calcium reactor (not working yet) in the sump.
A 1/3 hp chiller and water stays around 78 degrees.
Water change is 20 gallons twice a week with RO/DI water and Corallife salt.
Water is aged with air and circulation on both fresh and salt holding tanks. Salt water is buffered to 8.3 PH in holding tank.
My system info on the control and testing this morning reads
Temp 77.8
PH 8.19 now, but I buffered this morning and it rose a little. I don't want to raise it too much.
ORP 381
DO 6.0
Conductivity 54
Salinity 35 PPT
Calcium 360 after buffering this morning
KH 14
Phosphate 0
Nitrate ion 0ppm
About 90% saturation.
One of the concerns I have is the PH is always falling to 8.10 during the day
<Is normal for a slight drop in pH during the day.>
and calcium always goes down as low as 320 overnight. I would need to drip buffer pH and calcium
all the time to keep up and I think this will cause a ping pong problem.
<A high dKH such as yours (14) can cause calcium to precipitate. I'd keep this around 8 or 9.>
I got a new calcium reactor but its not working correctly yet.
I had the pH built up slowly to 8.3 last night and calcium to 400. I tried for the first time a Kalkwasser drip.
I used 1 tsp in a gallon of RO/DI water after lights out. This morning the pH was again was 8.16 and the calcium was 360.
I guess I need to try two tsp tonight after buffering everything back up to STDs?
I know I got to get the reactor working!
But I still wonder what is driving the pH down and the calcium without a heavy load of fish and other items in the tank.
Maybe the pH buffering is driving the calcium down and dKH high.
<Exactly. Do read here my friend.
Should I just get the dKH and calcium right and let the pH settle where it wants to over 8.0?
<Just get the dKH down to 8 or 9 and you shouldn't see the calcium swing as much. Are you keeping your magnesium levels up? Is a major element of seawater and helps corals to absorb the calcium.>
Thanks for your time.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

pH/Kalkwasser drip query -- 04/07/09
There are two photos included with the query. I couldn't open either of them.
<Strange... I could/can... maybe you have some sort of blocking software at
work on your machine that won't allow... B> 
Maybe, next time that happens I'm going to disable the Norton software and see what happens.

pH Decline: Need more information. 4/1/2009
Hi There,
<Hello Junaid>
First of all, let me say that this is THE site for anything saltwater. It is great to see great minds helping the saltwater community. I have been reading so many posts since the past four months ever since I started my saltwater reef setup again after taking a two year break and it has helped me in saving both time and money. I have searched for a lot of information regarding a decline in pH and wanted to ask you if what I am doing is fine.
<Thank you for the kind words.>
Let me first give you a background of my tank. It is 55 gallons, overflow box with wet/dry trickle filter with bio balls, Marineland Pro 100 in sump protein skimmer, 200 Watts heater, JBJ Formosa Power Compact Fixture Lights (2 10,000K and 2 Actinic Blue tubes with a total of 260 Watts of power), two air stones, glass canopies which pretty much cover about 80% of the top of the tank about, 50 lbs of live rock, a clean up crew, 2 Clowns, 1 Blue Hippo Tang, 1 Lawnmower Blenny, 1 Fox Face, and 4 LPS corals (bubble, flower, leather, polyp).
<Hmm... overstocked for a 55 gallon>
I use RO/DI water for all water changes. I do 10% water changes every week since I started my setup. I use Tropic Marin Salt Pro for my new saltwater mixes ever since I started using corals. I used Instant Ocean before. When I mix the salt and bring up the water temperature, my pH is at 8.8. However, as soon as I put the water in and wait for about a day for the water to be circulated properly, my pH has always been 8.0 and sometimes a little lower no matter what time of day I check it. At night it is low as well.
<How soon after mixing the water do you introduce it to the tank?>
I take the sample water to test pH from the middle of the tank. I have been using Kent Marine's pH buffer but that raises the pH for a day and that's it. I don't want to keep on doing this forever.
<What is the alkalinity\KH?>
Something has to be wrong. I don't think my problem is in aeration since I use a wet/dry trickle filter and a
protein skimmer and the two air stones probably help slightly as well which should provide enough aeration. I might be wrong here? Do I need to remove my glass covers completely? So what I am going to try and do today which I have already started is leaving my window open in the room where the tank is. I live in Toronto so we have the windows closed since it gets too cold.
But after reading posts here, it seems like that might be a problem.
<No, that isn't it.>
I will also try to get a cup of glass and aerate it by leaving it out around my kitchen area and then test the water after 12 hours. I don't know if this causes less aeration although the setup I have should be enough. Besides not having good air in my house due to it being boxed up, do you think there might be any other reason for the decline in pH?
<Lots of variables here. Overstocking, substrate, amount of food fed, etc. Do read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alkalinity.htm >
I also think that low pH might be getting to my Foxface Rabbitfish. When I first got it, it used to be bright yellow like it should be but now it is always a little brown.
<Hmm... what are the other readings? Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, etc?>
My corals seem to be doing fine as well with the low pH but it will be a problem once I start adding more corals.
Also can you also give me a quick answer on my JBJ Formosa light fixture? Do you think it is enough light for SPS corals to thrive? Most LFS I spoke with said yes but to keep them at the top of the tank. Please let me know of your suggestions.
<That lighting should be fine for this tank.>
Thanks for all your help.
<My Pleasure>

Re: Water Quality: Ph Decline: Need more information: (4/1/2009) More information given. 4/13/2009
Hi Mike,
<Hello again Junaid.>
I wanted to wait for a week and do some tests before I answered your questions.
<Very good, much more reliable than spot tests.>
You had mentioned that my tank was overstocked for a 55 gallon.
<Yes, everything may "fit" now, but as the fish grow larger, space will get tight. Plus, the Tang and the Foxface are big eaters\defecators, which will degrade water quality>
Since I do 10% water changes every weekly, shouldn't that be okay?
<For a lightly stocked tank, yes, as yours is more crowded, larger water changes would help keep the water quality up.>
I make sure that I do not overfeed as well. 90% of the food is consumed within 3 minutes after I introduce it to the tank and 10% goes to the bottom which is
consumed by the crabs, etc.
<You will want to cut this back so 99+% of the food is consumed in three minutes and less than 1% falls to the bottom for the crabs. The crabs will eat uneaten food, algae, fish waste, etc.>
My ammonia and nitrites levels are 0 and Nitrates is between 5 and 10 ppm. Most of the time, it's towards 5 ppm. My alkalinity fluctuates between 4 and 4.5 mEq/L.
<Your alkalinity is a bit high, which will inhibit your ability to raise the calcium level. Do also realize that to successfully raise your calcium, your magnesium level needs to be three times greater than your calcium.
You can read about calcium and alkalinity here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm and here: >
I got a better testing kit to measure my pH as well. I am now using Seachem to measure my pH and Alkalinity. When the lights are on, my pH is around 8.1
and when the lights are off, it is around 7.9 to 8.0.
<OK, so you aren't that far off. a pH shift with the lights off is normal>
I have crushed coral as my substrate. Would having live sand help with maintaining a higher pH?
<A finer substrate will help with keeping the pH stable. Further, a coarse substrate easily traps uneaten food\fish waste, which may be contributing to your problem.>
I also just started using the Seachem Calcium supplement to raise my calcium levels as well. Currently the calcium levels are at 350. I think there is no
way around avoiding to add calcium supplements to the water as and when needed unless I get a calcium reactor'¦
You had asked me how soon after mixing the water do I introduce it to the tank. I usually wait about 12 to 18 hours before I put the newly mixed
saltwater into the tank.
<A bit too soon. It is best to mix up the water at least 24 hours in advanced. Two to three days would be better.>
Regarding the Foxface, I spoke to someone who has it and he had mentioned that it took his Foxface almost two to three months to get its bright yellow
color back since it was not used to the tank. My Foxface is eating fine and moves around the tank with my Blue Hippo Tang all the time. Hopefully, this
is not a big concern and it will feel at home soon'¦
<With good care, it most certainly will.>
Thanks for your help. Looking forward to hearing from you.
<There are a few suggestions, as a pH of 8.1 isn't too bad, 8.2 - 8.3 would be better, but this isn't a show stopper by any means stability over the long term is the key. One important thing to remember: trying to adjust the water once it is in your tank is like chasing a rainbow. You need to make adjustments in your makeup water that you use for water changes. This, over a few weeks, will get the water levels in your tank to where they need to be First I would test the pH and Alk of your source water. If it is soft or acidic, this will contribute to your problem. Next, I would make your water up in advance by two to three days, then test the pH and Alk of that water. If you are getting a mEq\l of 3 - 4 and a pH of 8.2. on your mixed water, you are in good shape. Otherwise, you can adjust the water parameters here, rather than in your tank

Re: Water Quality: Ph Decline: Need more information: (4/1/2009) More information given. 4/13/2009
Thanks for your quick reply Mike.
<My Pleasure.>
I will be go by your suggestions about mixing water 3 to 4 days in advance and changing the water parameters when
needed. I will let you know of my findings in a couple of weeks.
<Ahh, very good, look forward to hearing the results.>

pH question; cold water.- 02/04/09 Hi Marco, <Hello Ross> You've been most helpful answering questions I have had in the past. I hope you don't mind that I emailed you directly. <Not at all.> To remind you: I have a 100 gallon, cold, salt water tank. In the past, I wrote you because my nitrates were high and I had a sea star that was ripping itself apart. <I remember.> Currently, I don't have a lot in the tank ( 7 brittle stars, 3 urchins, couple of snails and a hermit crab). When I had more critters in the tank I had the high nitrate problem and the pH would fall slightly over time (8.4 to say 8.0). Now that the load on the tank is so much smaller, my nitrates are fine but my pH is really high (8.6-8.8). Part of my problem is this: because I work in a school science lab, our tap water is treated so that it is very basic to counterbalance any acids poured down the drain. So doing frequent water changes won't bring down the pH because the water I'm using is so high to begin with. I just tested the Alkalinity of the water and it is very high as well (3.6). I don't really want to buy bottled water because that could get expensive. Should I use some sort of "pH down" (which I think is just sulfuric acid) or should I not worry about it. Hopefully, we will soon be getting some new critters so the pH might start to drop due to natural processes but I don't want them to have pH shock when I put them in the water. Suggestions? <First it has to be noted that a stable pH with a slight daily cycle is more helpful than having exactly the wanted pH. Second: the pH of cold sea water is often higher than in tropical sea water. However, values above 8.2 are rare, and 8.6 usually only occurs in coastal cold water areas with very high plankton occurrence (and sometimes tidal pools). Third: Some electronic pH meters have no automatic temperature compensation and will give you wrong numbers when used in cold instead of warm water. Four: Check if the salinity of the tank is as you would like to have it. High salinities can be related to high pH. There are several options how this problem can be solved: My personal approach would be to invest into a simple Reverse Osmosis (RO) unit. This should easily solve the pH problem and also help to improve water quality by holding back a lot of unwanted ions. Careful dosing of diluted sulphuric acid <<Mmmm, VERY careful... there are some products made of H2SO4 outside the U.S. for ornamental aquatics use... But not in the States... DO take great care if using. RMF>>  or commercial products to lower the pH, as you noted, is an alternative method, but you would have to use a metering pump or a DIY unit to let it drip slowly into the tank (into an area with high current or preferably the sump) to avoid pH swings. However, adding accidentally too much could be fatal, pH swings due to irregular addition would also potentially disturb the biology of the tank. Also, you note the water of the lab is treated, what about the water in other parts of the school? The use of tap water is discussed here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water4maruse.htm . When adding new animals from an environment with a lower pH the acclimation process has to be undertaken very slow by dripping tank water into the bucket with the new animal over several hours as described here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acclimat.htm . The higher the pH difference, the longer the acclimation period should be.> Thanks. Ross <I hope this helps. Marco.>

Re: Water quality... CO2... pH effect... more    1/8/09 Hello, <Hello Jim.> Per Minh's instruction I did the "Aeration Test". With exterior air the PH rose to about 8.3 from 7.9. <Did you also do the same Aeration Test with inside air? Did the pH remain the same or close to 7.9? If this is the case, then the air inside your home does contain excess CO2.> In my location it's too cold to open a window. How else might I fix this? <If increasing ventilation by opening a nearby window is not an option, then you may need to find another way to introduce outside air into the tank. One simple method is to run the air intake line from your skimmer to the outdoors. If your skimmer does not allow you to do this or if you don't run a skimmer, another method is to run one or more air pumps with their intakes connected to the outdoors. Lastly, another method is to increase your refugium's capacity to grow macro algae by using a stronger light (http://www.melevsreef.com/fuge_bulb.html) or adding another hang-on refugium. Using a fast growing macro algaes like Chaetomorpha will encourage increased CO2 consumption as they grow.> Thanks again Jim <You're welcome. Cheers, Minh Huynh.> <<RMF feels compelled to urge you to get/use an in-home Carbon Dioxide monitor... the accumulation of CO2 such that it affects the pH in our aquariums is of concern to our own health>>

Water quality, SW...   12/30/08 Hello All, <Hello Jim, Minh at your service.> I am having water problems. My saltwater aquarium has always had a low PH of 7.9. <First, have you made absolute certain that you do have a low pH issue by verifying with different test kits/pH meters? If you've checked and double checked, then there are several key points to look into: -The Daily pH Swing: Keep in mind that there is a diurnal change in pH in a marine aquaria that occurs as a result of photosynthesis and respiration. In short, pH will rise during the day (lights on) and drop at night (lights off). Ensure that you are testing your pH levels throughout the day to find its true minimum and maximum values. The acceptable range for a marine aquaria should be between 7.8 and 8.5. -Proper Aeration: Chronic low pH could be a result of excess carbon dioxide and inadequate aeration. One can perform a "Aeration Test" to determine if this is the cause. More on this later.> So I have been trying to bring it up. I use RO/DI water and Instant ocean salt mix. Recently I began using a Kalkwasser drip and Kent super buffer. My dKH has come up from 7 to 10 but my PH stays at 7.9 and my Calcium stays around 320. I have read that Magnesium could be linked so I purchased a kit and it tested at about 1250. I stopped using the buffer for fear of overshooting the dKH but have continued the Kalk. <This is a good strategy as buffer alone is a not a good method for raising pH as you have seen, it raises pH very little but often result in excessive alkalinity.> The more books and articles I read the more confusing this topic becomes. I would be grateful for some guidance. <Unfortunately, troubleshooting a low pH issue is one of the more difficult tasks in marine aquarium chemistry. Without getting too lengthy in this particular post, I would like to point you to an excellent article that will undoubtedly clear this issue up for you, "The 'How To' Guide to Reef Aquarium Chemistry: pH" (http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2007-05/rhf/index.php#13). This guide should explain the "Aeration Test" in details along with some solutions for rectifying this problem. Feel free to write back if you continue to have this problem. Good luck.> Thanks Again Jim <You're welcome. Cheers, Minh Huynh> Thank info: 55 Gal. aquarium set up for 2.5 years, hang on refugium with macro algae, 75 lbs live rock, 3 inch live sand bed, auto top off with RO/DI water, 4x65 watt compact florescent fixture, 500 gph return pump from sump, one power head, temperature 78, SPG 1.025, Ammonia 0, nitrites 0, nitrates 0, 3 small fish, 2 shrimp, sand sifting star, various snails and hermits, urchin.

High Alkalinity 12/10/08 Hello - My situation seems to be the reverse of most that are posted. I have a 2-3 week old tank. The Ph is ~ 8 to 8.1, so I decided to increase it a bit. <Should I assume this is a marine tank? If so, when did you measure your pH? pH in a healthy marine tank will fluctuate, 8 to 8.2 over the course of a day.> When I added Kent Superbuffer, it only increased maybe to 8.2 or so, however, the alkalinity ever since has been around 14 - 15 dKH. I understand that this should come down in time, but so far it hasn't. I believe the figures aren't horrible, and I should strictly not go by them, especially since my 9 small fish in the 150 gallon tank look great. <You've added 9 fish to a tank that's not even a month old?! Again, is this a marine tank? If so, you stocked it much too quickly.> I buffered my make up RO/DI water with a tsp. of buffer so each day I top-off 1.5 gallons, I am actually increasing the alkalinity and Ph (or at least not letting it decrease), although they are both pretty much staying the same. <Marine buffers, such as Kent's will raise your alkalinity. That's what they're designed to do.> Should I worry more about the alkalinity and then the Ph would come into place? (Or is it the other way around?) Should I not add buffered water so the alkalinity comes down, or should I do a major water change and that would take care of the situation? <I would stop adding Superbuffer to raise your pH... by itself, it will not do so. In fact, alkalinity is a measure of your water's "buffer capacity." Products that claim to be buffers will/should raise your alkalinity. Use the buffer to maintain your alkalinity only. If you do everything else correctly, the pH should take care of itself.> Thanks, AP <Best, Sara M.>

Consistently Low pH � 12/06/08 Hello Crew, <<Hiya Chris>> I realize you have been asked many times about low pH (as I have read most of the previous inquires), but as I cannot seem to resolve the issue, I thought I would throw my system setup at you to see what you thought. <<Okay>> I have been having a pH range of ~7.85 - ~8.05 (give or take .05 in either direction any given day) for about 6 months now. <<Not bad really though we generally suggest a range a bit higher than this for more �wiggle room�>> I have been using strip tests, a pinpoint monitor, as well as a Milwaukee dip tester, all have been calibrated (again and again and again) and read about the same. <<I see'¦ All the same, I would pitch the strip tests'¦>> Tank has been running for almost a year. Specs, current parameters, and inhabitants are as follows: Tank: - 150 gallon - 44 gallon sump (about 20 gallons of water) - Sump Refugium Section - Chaetomorpha, and a couple other types. 65w light run on reverse lighting from main lights - Octopus Extreme 200 Skimmer (in sump, works very nicely) - Mag 18 return pump - Kalkwasser drip top off (made with RO water - ~5 on the TDS) - 2 Hydor Koralia 4s (slighted aimed upward to create water surface agitation) - Tank canopy with an open back and 3 inch fans pushing/pulling air across the surface - T5 lighting system - 6 48 inch bulbs (3 10K and 3 460nm). Parameters: - pH: ~7.85 - 8.05 - Alk: ~10 DKH - Calcium: ~425 - Magnesium: ~1300 - Phosphates: 0 - Nitrates: 0 - Ammonia: 0 - Nitrite: 0 - Average Temp ~78F degrees Fish/Inverts - 1 Naso Elegans Tang - 1 Yellow Tang - 1 Tomini Tang - 1 Regal Tang - 1 Mystery Wrasse - 1 Mandarin - 1 Red Hawk - 2 Percula Clowns - 2 Banggai Cardinals - 2 Bartlett's Anthias - 3 Lyretail Anthias - 7 Blue/Green Chromis - 1 Cleaner Shrimp - 1 Elegant Star - 1 Sand Sifter Star - 1 Brittle Star - Various Snails (about 10) - Various Crabs (about 15) Corals - About a dozen SPS frags or small colonies (Acropora, Montipora, Stylophora) - About a dozen LPS pieces (torch, xenia, open brain, bubble, etc) - Various Zoanthids <<This is a lot of biomass for this tank; some might even say it is overstocked. This large biomass may well be a large portion of your pH issue>> I do weekly water changes of ~10-15 percent. Water change water has a pH of ~8.2. The Kalkwasser top-off drip has a pH of ~14. Water changes and Kalkwasser drip both use RO water that I produce using my RO unit (pH of ~7.0, but not used in main tank by itself, meaning salt or Kalk is always added to raise pH). <<Very good>> I initially was using Instant Ocean salt for water changes, but as my SPS started to increase I switched to Red Sea Coral Pro salt, this is when I believe I started to see the pH change and is the only thing that recently changed (other than inhabitants) around that time-frame. <<Then this may be a clue>> However I cannot see how this salt could be the cause of the problem, I have heard many others using this salt with nothing like this as the contributor. <<All the same, trying a different salt brand is an easy test. I am not and have never been a big fan of Red Sea's salt mix for reasons of inconsistency between batches. I had used Instant Ocean fairly consistently (with the occasional foray to checkout a new mix) for more than three decades until recent changes in the company and my own bad experiences with the mix caused me to abandon that once very consistent brand. If cost is not a consideration then Tropic Marin is the way to go'¦ Else I would suggest you opt for Seachem's quality salt mix>> Prior to the salt brand switch I had a pH ~8.2-8.4. <<This is very telling'¦ Don't you think?>> I have read all the forums on dissolved CO2 and gas exchange, but with the Koralias and Octopus Skimmer, I figure I am getting plenty of exchange. <<Maybe so>> I did do a small test with about 1 gallon of water and an air line and let it run for about 12 hours, and yes, the pH did rise to a more respectable number. <<Hmm'¦>> But I don't see how that could be the case in my main tank, like I said with the Koralias and Skimmer I figure I have enough air and water movement (would have to add a considerably large air pump to make more of a difference) . <<The evidence before you would seem to suggest that �something� is up re the CO2 levels in your tank. The problem may not be the lack of circulation, but more an issue with CO2 accumulation within the house itself>> I have also read about the sealed up house deal and by opening a window can help. <<Indeed though not always a practical solution>> However, the tank is in a very large room with plenty of air movement, so not sure this could be the source (even if it was, not sure I can leave a window open 24/7). <<The size of the room is not a factor re the trapped/accumulated CO2. And I agree, leaving a window open is not the best answer>> Could my T5 lighting configuration be a factor? <<Not the lighting so much as maybe the hood restricting air movement/gas exchange>> I think I have enough wattage, 6 48" bulbs over-driven by Icecap ballasts should be putting out 85 watts per bulb. Could the spectrum I am using be a factor, the 3 10K and 3 460nm? <<I doubt this is the root of your issue'¦ But still, I would replace one of the actinic bulbs with another 10K bulb just to provide more �useful� light spectrum to your photosynthetic organisms>> I realize pH is affected by the lights, <<Indirectly yes in driving photosynthesis>> does the spectrum impact it as well, <<Indeed in its ability to drive photosynthesis>> meaning do I need more 10K vs. 460nm? <<In my opinion, yes>> Not sure what else to try here. <<A different salt mix'¦>> I thought for sure the Kalkwasser drip would resolve this. <<Is not a panacea>> I have been dripping for about a month, and things started to look like it was improving, but it settled back in the usual low range. <<This does sound like an issue with accumulated CO2. And it may resolve itself with the advent of warmer weather/better air circulation in and out of the house>> It is difficult to keep a steady drip rate through the gravity method (clogs and all), <<Yes, a real pain to administer this way... I use and much prefer a Kalkwasser reactor for such dosing>> but it seems to be helping somewhat. <<It will to some extent. But if there is an excess of CO2 within your system the Kalkwasser will be quickly precipitated out as mostly insoluble calcium carbonate>> I would guess that I am dripping ~1-1.25 gallons of Kalkwasser per day. <<I generally suggest folks dose Kalkwasser as a direct replacement for the daily evaporation of their system>> My LFS told me that 7.8 - 8.0 is acceptable as long as Alkalinity is up (which it is). <<Indeed'¦ Just not much room for error>> I am just not happy being at the bottom of the acceptable range. Fish/Corals seem happy (but I am no expert, coral isn't exactly growing super fast, but all looks healthy). I realize I have a large fish community and maybe the bio-load they cause could be a factor. <<To some extent, yes, this is what I am thinking as well>> I feed ~1.5 cubes of frozen (rotate Mysis, Brine, Zooplankton, Reef Formula) daily, as well as a ~3x3 inch sheet of Nori about 3-4 times a week. I also add a couple of tablespoons of DTs Phytoplankton once a week. <<I am a firm believer in feeding one's fishes, corals, system et al, very well>> Sorry for the long winded message, but I thought I should give as much info as possible. <<No worries>> Thanks in advance for any assistance you can provide. -Chris <<Well Chris, all-in-all I see no reason to be overly worried at the moment. Yes, I think you should see what you can do to raise the overall pH of the system, but as long as your current reading remains stable your livestock will likely be fine. You can try reducing the bio-load and changing salt mixes which may show some improvement'¦ But just how much will depend on how high the accumulated CO2 levels are in the house/room where this tank resides as I believe this too is a contributing factor here and one not always easily addressed. A Google search re may yield some ideas worth applying. Regards, EricR>>

Re: Consistently Low pH  12/07/08 Hello Crew, <<Hey Chris>> Thanks so much for the input, it was extremely helpful. <<Ah, good>> I think I will try the following things to improve the pH (one at a time to try to isolate the cause). But before I try them, I have a few follow-up questions if you don't mind before I proceed with action. <<Okay>> 1) Change in salt brand (Cost may become an issue, so what's the deal with Instant Ocean? <<Can't say specifically'¦ I heard there were some changes made at the company (management), and over the past year or so I have heard several accounts from others re consistency issues with the salt, along with my own similar findings re. The icing on the cake for me was when I received multiple shipments (about 6 buckets en toto) of the 160g buckets that came as SOLID BLOCKS of salt mix>> 2) Not recommended?). <<You'll have to judge for yourself, but for me, I've moved on to the excellent line from Seachem for my salt mix needs>> Also, would sudden change is salt have any ill effects on my inhabitants? <<Not in my experience (assuming a move to a quality mix), and certainly not in the proportions associated with routine water changes>> 3) Exchange one of my 460nm bulbs with another 10K. 4) Would like to try something with regards to accumulated CO2 but not sure of a couple of things: a) What are the contributors to CO2 in the system? Is it just the air in the room that is sucked into the system via skimmer, etc? <<Indeed'¦ The accumulated CO2 in the room is what is available to the system>> Are there more contributors? <<Sometimes'¦ Such as inadequate water circulation or an improperly tuned Calcium reactor. There are likely some other thoughts re in the FAQs on the topic>> b) What test(s) can I perform to verify excess CO2 (other than the one I already did with a small amount of water being aerated)? <<You can try a test kit like this one (http://www.aquaticeco.com/subcategories/519/Test-Kits-by-LaMotte-Carbon-Dioxide/), but aerating a small amount of water outdoors like you did is the best way to determine the effects on your pH, in my opinion>> c) What options do I have to resolve excess CO2? <<You must first determine the cause/source>> By the way, I live in Southern California, so the weather (or lack there of) is pretty consistently beautiful ;-) if that helps with regards to CO2 issues. <<Mmm, I see; if the house is newer/well sealed you can still have problems with accumulated CO2. If this is the issue, then improving air-exchange within the home will help. But just how to go about this depends on you, your resources, and how committed you are to making this improvement solely for the sake of your reef system. There are whole-house air exchange systems available, but unless you are an accomplished DIY'er this will require a qualified contractor to install. And either way, these are not a cheap alternative. Try the easier/less expensive options first. Maybe such measure as the exchanger will not be necessary'¦ Or maybe some purposeful searching on your part on the NET will yield another alternative>> Side question on feeding: Does the amount of food being fed to the fish contribute to the bio-load within the tank? <<Certainly>> I ask because I never could figure how much food to feed. <<No easy or pat answer here>> The only advice I ever got was the old "feed as much as they can eat in about 2-3 minutes". <<Mmm, I see'¦ But do your fishes appear healthy? Robust? Exhibit strong coloration?>> The 1.5 cubes I feed each day is gobbled up in about 30 seconds (with the exception of when zooplankton is added as it takes them a bit longer to get it all). <<Considering your livestock load, I do think this is inadequate>> Basically, can I safely double the amount of feeding without consequence? <<Can't say there won't be consequences (they may even be good ones!), but I would at least double this amount of frozen cubes (be sure to provide some variety) and add some New Life Spectrum pellets as well'¦ And feed all TWICE a day'¦>> If I wish to fatten everyone up a bit. Remember Nitrates are at 0 (if that means anything). Not really sure what all contributes to the bio-load. <<Everything organic'¦ But do also consider, well fed fishes; besides just looking better, will be more resistant to illness and are often less aggressive towards tankmates>> Note: With regards to using a Kalkwasser reactor as opposed to the gravity drip. Besides being a bit on the pricey side, canisters seem to be on the small side and would have to be refilled quite often when being used as evaporation replacement. I currently use a 20 gallon container with a small Mag pump for circulation. Only needs to be filled once every 10ish days. Maybe the use of a dosing pump on my current system would work better than a gravity drip. <<Probably so>> Also, I thought Kalkwasser was a panacea (ha ha, just kidding). <<Many do [grin]>> Once again, thanks in advance. -Chris <<Happy to assist. EricR>>

Water change issue/pH, FOWLR spg, Crypt... 10/23/08 Hello, <Hi> I've been having an issue that I just started to realize recently. I have been conducting water changes, and finding that the next day my pH is rather low. Around 6.5. <In the tank? Does it stay here consistently?> However when I test my water prior to putting it into the tank the pH is perfect. I believe this is due to the oxygen being generated by the pump mixing the salt and everything else in the tub prior to me pumping it into the tank. My tank is a 120 FOWLR. I usually conduct 30-50% water changes every 2-3weeks. So basically that's one issue, is how do you think i can go about balancing out my PH more efficiently right around water changes. <How long are you mixing your water for before adding it to your tank, make sure you allow 24 hours for everything to mix correctly and stabilize. Also do you buffer your water change water prior to adding the salt? See here for more http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm > What is the ideal salinity for a FOWLR? I do have live rock, and nice purple coral growing. I keep it usually around 1.019-.21 <Too low, close as possible to natural levels, 1.026, the creatures in your tank have spend thousands of generations adapting to this fairly stable parameter.> What do you guys think about the AquaC Urchin Pro in sump skimmers? <Love Aqua-C.> And for a future reference, what's a good way to treat ich without medication? <The only way I know of is using the tank swap method, where you switch the fish between 2 bare bottom tanks, completely cleaning and drying the tank not in use.> Or perhaps help prevent it, or stop it from getting worse during beginning stages. <Quarantine, Quarantine, Quarantine, and have I mentioned Quarantine?> I've been told to soak food in garlic extract... <Not useful for ich treatment, or much of anything really, does seem to stimulate a fish's appetite a bit, but so do many other products that also add value to your fish's food. A nice article from Steven Pro http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-08/sp/index.php > Thanks, Sam <Welcome> <Chris>

Re: Water change issue, Alk., storage   10/23/08 I usually poor some dechlorinator, then start adding water. Add salt and then when 30 gallon bucket is like 3/4 full with fresh water I add ph Seachem buffer. (Which says safely doesn't go above 8.3 mind u) I let this all mix for about 20 min then add to tank. <This pH problem you are experiencing is exactly why it is recommended to wait 24 hours before adding to your tank, parameters can swing wildly in newly mixed water.> The ph is usually low right like 12hours after water change. However in my 30gallon tub it reads 8.3 because of all the oxidation I suppose. Anyhow ye, so I decided to add some buffer this time around and 12hrs later ph was high! So I guess ill just add a little smaller dosage of ph buffer then I did last time... Sam <See here for more on alkalinity http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alkalinity.htm .> <Chris>

pH is too high!! Reading too little   10/11/08 Hello there, <Yves> It seems like everybody with a PH problem is in regard to keeping their PH level high enough, for me it's the opposite'¦ it remains between 8.45 and 8.56 over a 24hrs period. I hope you can help me because my LFS guy never saw a similar problem in the last 15 years he's been in the business. <Let's see> I have a 125 Gal display thank, a 90 gal sump, equipped with a skimmer (Coralife Super Skimmer 125) and a 30 gal refugium with 2 inches of sand. <The source of this sand? It's make-up?> It's a fish only tank with around 100pds of live rock. <And this> All of that is inhabited by the following; 1 Angel Bi-color (Centropyge bicolour) 1 Tang Hippo (Paracanthurus hepatus), 1 Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens), 1 Lawnmower blenny (Salarias fasciatus), 2 Percula clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris) 5 Cardinal Pajama (Sphaeramia nematopterus), 50 blue hermit crabs (Cilibarius tricolour), I tried a Black Brittle star ( Ophiocoma sp) and it started losing it's legs then it died. I also tried 2 urchins, but after 1 week, they started loosing their spines and died. I acclimated those critters for a full day in both case. <Mmm, possibly clues> I also seem to be unable to control the algae growth, My LFS guy told me it's because I have great water & lighting condition <?> and he's the one who recommended adding the blenny and the Yellow tang to help in this regard. My Nitrate level is between 0 & 1 My Ammonia is at 0.1 My Phosphate is at 0.01 My calcium level is 300PPM <Ahh... a factor... and am wondering what re your Mg?> The temperature is at 81ºC, +/- 1ºC Salinity is at 1.022, <Too low... another factor... I'd keep near natural seawater strength... 1.025-6> very stable with an auto top off for evaporation The feeding is automatic, 4 times a day in small quantity I have 3 metal haloids light of 250 watts each, but only use 2 at a time because then I can't keep the temperature in check, even with my home made chillers and 1 fan over the display tank. So my questions are the following; Are those PH level too high? <Mmm, could be a few "stock" reasons... but your biomineral balance (that can/most often does influence pH) is out of whack... you need more calcium, likely magnesium (but needs testing)... More "salt/s" period, and...> Is the 0.11 PH swing per day too big? <Mmm, not really. Can be yet another source of "stress", but not terrible of/by itself> Should I do something about it and if so what? <See above... Read, determine why your biomineral level/s are off, fix them... see if this of/by itself remedies (lowers, stabilizes) your pH... If not, some supplementation may be of use> Is it possible with those levels of PH to get Brittle stars & urchins? <Mmm, not the pH, but yes... the... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm and the linked files above. You'd do well to understand the basics of what is going on here chemically, physically... Some terms are a bit confusing, but with a few minutes study...> Was the blenny and Yellow tang a good idea, and should I get additional ones(s) in order to better control algae? <... you should read... re the most common sources, remedies: http://wetwebmedia.com/algaeasfriend.htm and the linked files above till you understand your options here> Needles to say my wife is not pleased with the aspect of the tank now, and I need to keep her happy if I want to keep my tank! All your ideas and suggestions are very welcome. Yves Leduc Kingston, Ontrario <Read for now... then we'll chat further. Bob Fenner>

Help! PH in tank fell to 6.5 overnight!!   9/16/08 Yikes!! Last night I did some adjusting on my Calcium reactor. <... too much acid> For a while now I've been seeing my Alk way too high at 13+ so I decided to turn it off, let the Alk come down slowly, then turn it back on once things normalized which I did. I tested my levels again and found Alk at 10.5-11, CA at 420, and Mg at 1250. I turned it back on last night and adjusted for a slightly lower than normal rate of CO2 (about 15 BPM). When I came in this morning I found my CO2 blasting away through the bubble counter and my tank PH at 6.5!!! I immediately panicked and turned the CO2 all the way off. I then opened up the lid to my tank, opened all the windows, turned the fan on my sump on, and then mixed up some fresh RO water and some baking soda in an attempt to get it back up. <Needs to be done more slowly...> I mixed the mix up to about 8.3 PH and added about a half of a regular sized pitcher to the sump. I have a 150 gal tank with a 30-40g sump. After about a 3 hours I looked at my PH monitor again and it is now showing 7.78. Did I raise this too fast? <You'll see> What would have been a better way of doing this? <Mmm, the same, but slower> Thanks for all your help!! -JP <Bob Fenner>

ph crash -09/01/08 hello all, I am panicking a bit, so I will get right to the problem. 2 nights ago, I discovered a few of my fish in my reef tank had ich. so, yesterday, I got a new tank, placed water from the original tank in it, plus 25% new water (stored with matching ph, temp and salinity). I also added a product called SuperBac Aquarium which was supposed to help adjust the cycle in the new tank. After a few hours in the tank, I medicated with the recommended dosage of ich-x. They seemed fine for hours, then, I noticed one of my tangs breathing very heavy, so i did a 20% water change, turned out the lights and held my breath. This morning, he is dead, and my other fish are breathing very heavy now... I tested my water, and my ph is 7.6! I can only assume that my ph crashed. So I added a very small amount of buffer, and have been watching and waiting. I am scared to do another water change as my water stored has a ph of 8.4. What is my best course of action? thank you. <It sounds like you might have a problem with circulation/aeration. Do you have lids on the tanks? Best, Sara M.>

Re: ph crash -09/01/08 Yes, I am also running 2 hang on filters, so water is moving... <Hmm, lids are not usually a smart idea for marine tanks (they inhibit gas exchange). Also, hang on filters will not provide the kind of water flow you need.> Is this perhaps not enough? The fish are still swimming and eating, but are still breathing heavy. <Not good... please do some more reading: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm> I was under the impression that changing the water with a higher ph would be too sudden and stressful. When would it be safe to add new water? And how much? My stored water has a ph of 8.4 and spec grav of 1.025... <If I were you, before I'd do another water change, I'd first take the lids off the tanks. I'd also add some powerheads for water circulation. Let me/us know if that doesn't greatly improve things all around. Best, Sara M.>

Re: ph crash -09/01/08 Ok, I opened the lid and put my smallest powerhead from my main tank in there. When should I do another water change? Will the ph come back up on its own, or does this happen with water changes? <If lack of gas exchange is the source of your pH woes (as I suspect it is), you should see your pH start to rise within the next few hours or so (though, if it's night where you are, you might not see this till the morning). The reason lack of gas exchange lowers pH is because CO2 builds up and turns to carbonic acid (acids lower pH). Removing the lids and increasing circulation allows more CO2 to be released into the air, thus decreasing carbonic acid and raising pH (this should happen without a water change). However, again, in aquariums pH is "naturally" lower at night, thus you should wait till morning/daytime to see if your pH is rising. Since you just did two water changes, I'd wait a few days before doing another one. Best, Sara M.>

Re: ph crash -09/01/08 thank you Sara! De nada... hope it works! -Sara M.

Yellow Tang banging against glass, env.-chemically burned, pH 8.8     8/16/08 Hello Crew, <Cielo> I have a 5 inch yellow tang that I picked out on Mother's day 08 from our LFS. Up until now all my fishes have been healthy. A little background on my tank: I have a 55 gallon tank <Not really sufficient space...> with 60lbs of live sand and 30lbs of live rock, a protein skimmer, and a whisper filter. Three days ago I made a 20 gallon water change. 2 Mornings after that change I woke up to a noise and found that it was my yellow tang banging himself against the light hood of the tank, almost like he wanted to get out. <Mmmm> Then he began darting against the glass and hitting himself against it. I noticed that he had red or pink on the inside of his lips and also across his body. The next day he stopped eating. I checked my levels and they read: Ammonia 0, Nitrites 0, Nitrates 0, but my PH was 8.8 <Yeeikes! Caustic> so I went to the LFS and purchased a buffer. I was told I should quarantine <?> him so that I wouldn't need to medicate the whole tank as the other fish are fine. The medication I purchased is the Myracid Two. <... Maracyn... Minocycline... of no use here> I only had a 5 gallon tank <Much too small...> available to make a QT out of, and so that is where I placed my Tang. Right now he's on his side at the bottom of the tank, he is hardly breathing. <...> At least in the display tank he was still swimming around. Should I place him back in the display tank? I need your advice. ~L from PA <YES, now! Bob Fenner> High pH... like the "news"... commentary, no data    7/25/08 Dear WWM, <Ray> I have a problem with high pH level in my nano reef. The tank is 2 month old Eclipse 12 with 96 Watt retro. It's equipped with stock filtration and Koralia nano. Normal water parameter. Livestock include 2 false percula, 1 firefish, bubble coral, zoanthids, colt coral, mushroom, and a white spaghetti. At first I had about 10 lbs of live aragonite sand then I added 20 more lbs of sand about two weeks ago. This was when the problem of high pH started. <... how high is high?> From researching, I believe the cause of this problem is due to the lack of biofilm on the substrate. Is this correct? <An influence likely> I am dosing the tank with vinegar to bring down <I would not do this. Very likely unnecessary... pH should drift down in time... Not likely "too high" currently> the pH but it keeps going back up. How should I approach this problem? Thank you very much for your help, Ray <... What's missing Ray? Real info... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/index.htm scroll down... Read re pH AND alkalinity. Bob Fenner>

PH issues, SW, reading...    7/24/08 Hello, <Howsit?> I always turn to your website for expert advice and guidance. I have a 90G Reef tank. Added a new KNOP Calcium Reactor few weeks ago. Since then the PH has been slowly dropping. <Mmm... a setting, set-up/operation or media choice issue, perhaps both> PH range 7.88 - 8.04. Alkalinity - 9.2 Calcium - 400 What is the best way to raise PH without affecting Alkalinity? <... posted... and I wouldn't actually "do" this... id est, your pH is fine as stated, measured> Would Baking Soda be a better choice?. <No... if anything, you could do some Kalk addition...> Thanks in advance. Regards, Suresh <... read: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm Maintenance > pH, Alkalinity > Bob Fenner>

Severe pH fluctuation - 7/7/08 First off, let me thank you all for maintaining such an excellent, informative site. I do all my research with Wet Web Media. <Thanks for your kindness! Bob certainly has built an incredible thing here!><<Ahh, not I alone. RMF>> This time though, I cannot seem to find a good answer to my problem. I have a 130 gallon half cylinder setup for about 6 months now. There is about 100 pounds of live rock. A 3 inch live sand bed. I have a variety of SPS and LPS coral, that are all pretty well spaced. My fish population is kinda small, with a coral beauty angel, 2 gobies, a yellow tang, 2 chromis, a clown, and a 6 line. I have a chiller that keeps the aquarium within 1 degree of 80f. I run 2 250 MH's over this tank around 8 hours a day, supplemented with t5 actinics that run for 12 hours. I run a protein skimmer and carbon in the sump. I keep salinity at about 1.05 <1.025? 1.05 would be very, very high...> and Nitrates, Nitrites, and Ammonia are all undetectable with my test kit. The alkalinity is staying around 8dKh. I change about 20% of the water every 2 -3 weeks. The problem is that I have started to notice my candy cane corals have lost much of their color in the last week or so. I started checking the ph more often through out the day and found that while it stays a healthy 8.3 during the day, in the morning I have found it to be consistently low, in the 7.8 area. I am thinking that this is really impacting the health of my corals. <I'm sure it is> Should I try to up the alkalinity a bit? I realize that 8 is on the low side of the scale, and I have read several articles on your site regarding ph swings at night and their causes, but most people seem to indicate such swings are much smaller than what I am seeing. What else can I do to help stabilize the PH? Perhaps a refugium on a reverse lighting schedule would help considerably...What would you suggest for a good size refugium on 130 gallons? And what should I be keeping in there? Caulerpa with a DSB? Any other suggestions? I am really worried about the bleaching on my candy corals. Which by the way, have always resided about 15 inches under the water surface. <I would start with more frequent, slightly smaller water changes- 10% a week or so will increase the monthly water changed, and at a rate that will maintain a sort of equilibrium. This alone may help with the problem by replacing various buffering agents and removing acidic wastes. A refugium on reverse lighting would also help- I would recommend Chaetomorpha over Caulerpa, though. You can check our FAQs and articles for information re sizing and setup for these. My one other guess: Are you supplementing calcium hydroxide on this tank through the day? If you are, start doing it at night. If you aren't, consider using it to replenish your calcium by dripping/dosing overnight, as this will raise the pH over the dosing period.> Please help, <Hope I have> Jonathan <Benjamin>

My pH has me baffled 6/16/08 Hello, And thank you for the numerous hours of reading and education you have provided for this hobby. I have found many answers to questions and yet this one has continued to elude me. Set Up 29 Gallon BioCube 26-28 lbs. of beautiful Bali LR (filled with a plethora of amazing hitchhikers) and 20lbs Aragonite live sand. Up for just over 2 months. Oceanic Skimmer in chamber 1, Slowly decreasing number of bio balls in chamber 2, soon to be none. (Considering turning the wet/dry section into a cheery little Chaeto refug. buffet for a pod colony. >Oooh, good idea< Would love any suggestions on that.) <Add some small pieces of live rock too, a DSB of fine oolitic material if it'll fit> I use RO/DI water for mixing and top off with Tropic-Marin for sea salt. (No salt used in top off water.) Nitrites, Nitrates and Ammonia all read 0. Phos. 0, Spec. Gravity 1.0235 <I'd raise this a bit... 1.025-1.026> Alk. 9dkh Temp. 80 degrees And my evil Ph. 7.8. <Mmmm> My LFS told me that their tanks run at the same PH, and that it shouldn't be a problem with my livestock. <Likely not, but...> Thus I ended up adding a scarlet hermit and a Nassarius snail. Everything seems to be thriving including the numerous hitchhiking inverts. but the PH still kind of concerns me. I've been told its not too big of a deal, but do want to move up to a reef tank eventually and figure the best time to learn is now so I'm not sacrificing corals to my own naivety in the future. Then again the other LFS told me that my PH is way too low and I should never have added my crab and snail. Pretty much the same kind of contradictions I've found online. <Ah, yes> I've followed just about every opinion on how to pinpoint the cause of the low PH to almost no avail. Then I got curious, what is my mixed saltwater reading at? <Mmmm, well...?> I know I should have been doing this from the get go, but my LFS had assured me that by reaching the proper salinity with my sea salt that all its chemicals will naturally balance my parameters cause that's what it is made to do. <A good presumption here> And sure enough, after testing my premix I discover that though ALK is fine my PH is still reading 7.8 before it even reaches the tank. I'm at a loss for what to do. I aerate the water in my mixing bucket for probably about 48 hours before using, and the ph reads the same both before and after. <I'd buffer your RO summarily... before mixing the salt> I've looked for answers to fixing PH when ALK is fine and have found very little in the form of a solution. I bought a container of SeaChem ReefBuffer, since it states that it will gradually raise PH and stabilize it at 8.3 but then read more when I got it home and saw that you should use this product when PH is not a problem. (This has put my logic to the test, since I question why would you use something to raise PH if PH wasn't the problem in your tank.) <Is a good product, mix of compounds... should be of use here> Needless to say I have avoided doing anything just yet and pray that someone can help me please. Is there a way to increase the Ph without throwing my ALK out of whack, or do I just listen to my LFS and deal with it? <I would use a minimum of the SeaChem product in your new water change outs... this, coupled with your proposed and ongoing changes with your wet dry sump (the removal of plastic media, the instigation of the Chaetomorpha culture, addn. of substrate of calcareous nature) will almost assuredly rectify all here> I would really like to find some kind of solution as I do not wish to add anything more until I figure this out. At least if something horrible happens right now I'm out a 2$ Hermit and a 5$ snail. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks ahead of time, Brandon <Thank you for sharing, writing so well/carefully. I do consider that you are well on your way. Cheers! Bob Fenner>

pH Problem 4/11/08 Hello Crew, I hope all is well. <Hello Jay, it is here, thank you.> I have a question about low pH. The aquarium in question is 180 gallons, with 320 pounds of live aragonite live sand and 200 pounds of live rock. It has a large sump with between 60 and 70 gallons water, a few inches of mud and lot of Chaetomorpha (enough to fill at least a 5 gallon bucket). <You will need to harvest some of this as some point.> The refugium is on a 24 hour lighting cycle. <This is usually not recommended for Chaetomorpha, although I have seen it work in quite a few instances.> The main tank has no livestock at the moment, and has been running for about 9 months with no lights. There is no regular dosing at this time, other than some liquid part A and B calcium from time to time. The pH was stable at 8.2- 8.3 until the sump had to be turned off for about a week due to a leaking pump. The pH dropped down to 7.8 while the sump was off. <Not unexpected.> The pump has been back on for about 2 weeks, but the pH is still at 7.8. I am worried because the aquarium does not seem to be buffering the pH any more. Could it be a faulty pH monitor (it has a new battery and has been recalibrated at least twice)? <It certainly could be, the probes need to be replaced periodically. Confirm your readings with a test kit.> I know that microorganisms in the sand and rock probably caused the pH drop, but could they be producing so much CO2 that the pH cannot return to 8.2 - 8.3?? <Hmm, no.> Any ideas as to what is wrong? <Are you testing other parameters, mainly carbonate hardness? The results here may show the problem. More information is needed.> Thank you very much for your time! -Jay <Welcome, Scott V.>

Re: pH Problem 4/12/08 Scott- thank you for your quick response. <Welcome.> The water samples are sent out to a company for testing. The results should arrive in about a week, so I'll take a look at the carbonate hardness. <I strongly urge you to get your own test kit for this. Your test results will be meaningless to you after this period of time. Alkalinity can change significantly from day to day, especially in a reef tank. The A and B you are dosing should not be added without the test kits (Alk and Ca) to go with.> If the alkalinity/ carbonate hardness is low, that will lower the pH, correct? <Yes, certainly.> I'm not sure what would have caused this to happen to begin with. The only "factor" in the equation is the broken pump. <Likely a coincidence. Get some test kits to know for your self in real time what is going on with your tank. Without this knowledge your chance at long term success is nil.> Thanks, Jay <Welcome, Scott V.>

Re: pH Problem 4/12/08Scott, thanks for all of the great advice! <Very welcome.> I do have home tests (API brand, I think), but the mail away seemed so much more accurate. <A 'lab' grade may be. Fact of the matter is some of these mail in test use the same test kit you or I would use. Even if it is more accurate, it is out of date by the time you get the results!> What brand do you recommend? <I like the Salifert test kits for the price, quality and ease of use.> How often should I test alkalinity and calcium? <Daily until you get the problem under control. Do also confirm your electronic PH reading with a test kit.> How about magnesium/ total hardness? <Good to measure the Mg. Without an sufficient level you may have a hard time getting the KH you need.> Will part A and B mixes raise pH? <It will raise the KH, in turn the PH if your carbonate hardness it too low. It will also raise the Ca level, hence the need to test these to be sure they are in appropriate proportions.> Thank you so much, Jay <Welcome, do let us know what comes of it all! Scott V.>

Re: pH Problem 4/19/08 Hi Scott! <Hello again Jay!> I just wanted to e-mail you the results of the water test: Mg-1125, Alkalinity- 2.5 meq/l, Calcium- only 210. Do you think daily dosing of part A and B mixes will correct the alkalinity/ calcium and buffer the pH? <Yes, daily addition, raising the levels a bit each day, testing in between doses. If you Mg does not come up with the dosing you will want to get a supplement to raise that 100-150 points also.> Thanks! Jay <Welcome, Scott V.>

Need Help To Get To 8.3 (Trouble Maintaining pH) -- 04/01/08 WetWebMedia, <<Rachel>> I have been working very hard to get my pH to 8.3. Right now it still only tops out at 8.1 during the day. <<Not all that bad, really>> Here are my specs: 55 gallon reef calcium 380ppm magnesium 1200 pH 7.8 morning 8.1 late day. alkalinity 4.0meg/l kH value of 8 Nitrate / Nitrite / ammonia not detectable. I tried to use Seachem Reef Buffer (the one that raises pH to 8.3) and it didn't move the pH. <<Hmm..perhaps a larger dose is needed>> I added 1 tsp. which should have raised the pH by .1 and I retested my pH the following morning. I was expecting to see 7.9 instead of my 7.8 ... but I still had a pH close to 7.8. <<Dosage can/will vary from system to system'¦even of the same size. I would try a larger dose of the buffer; say two-teaspoons, while keeping an eye on both Alkalinity and pH. If that doesn't help, you can keep increasing the dosage (by a quarter-teaspoon) until your Alkalinity starts to rise'¦just be sure to not let the Alkalinity get too high (follow the directions on the container) else you run the risk of a precipitation event>> My new salt water mixes to 8.2 pH and has an alkalinity of 3.5 meg/l and when I add it to the tank it will raise the pH a little bit; however, it drops right back down after a day or two. <<Mmm, sounds like maybe the system is overstocked, or maybe has an accumulation of detritus that is driving down pH>> I am really running out of ideas. <<The ionic balance between Calcium, Magnesium, Alkalinity looks pretty good so I'm guessing you have kept up with small water changes. But, have you tried a LARGE water change yet? If you try a larger water change (40%-50%) and the pH holds for a bit longer than before, then I would suspect something in the system driving down the pH (e.g. - accumulated organics)>> Right now my tank is around 1.5 years old. For the first year the pH was perfect and it has slowly been dropping. <<Not atypical'¦especially in smaller/smallish systems like yours. It is likely your rock/substrate has lost much of its buffering capacity and just can't keep up. Swapping out/adding some new rock should help if so>> I have one last ditch effort that I would like to try but I wanted to run it by you guys first. I am going to siphon out all of the sand and give it a good cleaning in some freshly made salt water and put it back in the tank. Maybe if I get out all of the organics that have been building up in the water I can raise the pH again. <<If the substrate is course (larger than 'sugar-fine'), and water flow has been less than optimum, this may well be the problem and cleaning it will be of benefit. If your substrate is shallow (.75' or less), pulling it out to clean it probably won't pose any problem other than clouding the water. Still, do add some supplementary chemical filtration while doing this'¦something like a canister filter with carbon. If the substrate is deep, then I suggest either trying to 'vacuum' in place, or remove it in 'thirds' for cleaning. But while we're on the topic of 'removal,' why not just 'replace' the substrate with new of an Aragonite composition? The new substrate can be easily 'seeded' from your old'¦and the increased buffer will certainly help your problem>> Should I read something on my test kits if this was the case? <<Nope'¦other than the pH stabilizing (hopefully). But do watch for increased levels in the Nitrogen cycle due to disturbance of microbes/removal of biological filtration capacity'¦and be ready to increase water changes/supplement filtration to cope until all 'ramps up' again>> Right now the hair algae is starting to outcompete the hard purple algae and I would really like to get my tank back on track. <<Ah'¦and the nuisance algae is likely why you don't register any Nitrate'¦should accumulated organic matter be the issue here. And I just had another thought'¦how 'open' is this system and how much water flow/movement is present? Could accumulated CO2 be your problem? You can test this by placing a sample in a container with a heater (to match the temp of the display tank) and an airstone and let it run (outside) for a couple hours and see if the pH rises. And if you haven't yet, have a look at this article on pH and Alkalinity'¦as well as a peruse among the associated links: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm >> Rachel <<Regards, EricR>>

Falling pH and Alkalinity in an Older Reef System -- 03/26/08 Hello Crew, <<Greetings, Steve>> I've spent many an hour on your site getting information and use it often. <<Hey'¦me too!>> I have a 180 gal reef, 5 yrs old, 4 fish all been around 2+ years everything very healthy. <<Good to know>> My tank is heavily stocked with corals, LPS, SPS and softies, I do major pruning each month. <<Cool>> I have a euro <<Euro-Reef?>> skimmer and I run a calcium reactor, I recently purchased a controller and the software to monitor my tank. <<Though not a 'necessity,' electronic controllers/testing devices sure do simplify monitoring of our systems'¦and usually with greater accuracy over the more common (conventional?) methods>> I was running my calcium reactor around 20 hrs a day keeping 8-10 dKH; adjusting the time as needed to maintain. I tested my pH with a color test kit and thought all was well. The first surprise I got with the new controller was the pH in my tank was running 8.05 in the evening and 7.6 by early am. <<Mmm'¦quite a wide swing>> With the software you can see it follow the lighting cycle almost to the minute and continue to drop during the night and start back up at 10am when the first lights come on. <<Hee-hee! Aren't 'toys' great!>> I checked the probes and calibration (even bought a second one) and it appears to be right. <<Ah, good'¦always best to 'test the tester' before making any drastic changes>> I haven't done anything yet other than tried the Kalk slurry and buffer my top off water. The Kalk didn't do much, it just settled back down to the same reading. <<Mmm, yes'¦is a temporary/short-lived/daily solution. It 'will' help'¦perhaps a larger dose for your 'heavily stocked' system? Though best not to make increases of more than 2-tenths on the pH scale at a time>> I have a fully automated top-off and RO/DI system and really don't want to start having to add daily or weekly supplements. <<Understood'¦ I'm not a fan of this and try to automate all I can, myself> I took a sample this AM outside and ran an air pump in the water it went from 7.65 to 7.85 in about 2 hrs. <<Hmm'¦>> I understand about excess Co2 from your site. I have a second chamber on order for my calcium reactor as a first step. <<Very good>> My question is about aeration, if it works with the sample can I not do it to the tank to solve this, I've read not to aerate the sump, could you explain why? <<Salt creep, mate'¦ The spray from the bubbles as they burst at the water's surface make a horrible mess of things>> My tank is next to a window so I could pump in fresh air, could I run it in the tank at night after the lights go off and if so how would you suggest, air stone down towards the bottom? <<Just pumping some fresh air in to the cabinet where the sump resides may help a bit'¦but rather than using an airstone, I would add a powerhead to move the water about (maybe even agitate the surface slightly) to facilitate better gas exchange. You can do this in both the display and the sump. Also, if you have covers on the tank, removing them will also improve gas exchange>> My only concern in addressing this at all is my ORP and Ozone. I had bought an Ozone generator but did not hook it up after reading about being able to monitor it. My controller came with an ORP probe so I added the ozone. At first the reading was 290-300. I slowly adjusted it up with the ozone over a 2 week period and the controller is set to maintain 350-385. After another week the ORP started to follow the pH swing. <<Yes>> As the pH falls the ORP rises, now it stays at 400 at the pH low point and only falls to 380 at the pH high point so now the ozone does not come on at all. <<But these ORP readings are quite good'¦why worry that the Ozone generator is not running? It will be there when/if needed>> When I tried the Kalk and raised the pH in the evening to 8.2 the ORP immediately fell back to 350. The only adjustment I've made was the time on the calcium reactor, I thought that might help, it did not, my Alk just fell and I have to add a buffer to get it back up to 8 dKH. <<Mmm, best to keep the Calcium reactor running to maintain bio-mineral content. The second chamber you have coming will probably help some as it will allow an increase of the affluent pH. Adding a small vegetable refugium to receive this affluent, rather than having it run directly to the sump, may also help some. You also stated the system is 5yrs old'¦likely the buffering capacity of the live rock is exhausted. Exchanging some rock and/or Aragonite sand may also help. Look also to your salt mix'¦perhaps a change is needed. And do start/continue to buffer makeup water. I find on 'automated' systems that this is often easily and effectively achieved with the use of a Kalkwasser reactor plumbed in-line to the sump. You can also simply place a portion/bag of calcareous material (crushed coral/live rock/Aragonite sand) in the holding tank. You didn't mention water changes'¦perhaps these need to be increased to keep up with the demands on the tank. I doubt any 'one' solution is the answer here'¦likely it will take a combination of these to achieve your desired result>> Thanks, Steve <<Hope this helps. EricR>>

Sand Bed, pH, and More 3/13/08 Hi Crew, <Hello> I have a few questions. I have had a 46 bow front reef going for about 5 yrs. now. I have about 50+ lbs of live rock and my substrate is 4 in. of crushed coral and live sand mixed. LFS told us to do this when we went from fish only to reef (6 months later). I would like to go with one or the other. <Sand> There is a lot of detritus on the live rock. Which critters are best at cleaning that up and are reef safe? <You mostly, get more circulation to keep it suspended where the skimmer can pull it out.> Another question, I've been taking a water sample to my LFS every 2 weeks everything tests fine except my calcium (380) and ph (7.8) I've been adding ph buffer and calcium daily and doing 10 % water changes every 2 weeks. Any suggestions on increasing these. <I would do the water changes weekly, and make sure you buffer you top-off and water change water before adding it to your tank.> I have a Hagen test kit that I can't stand. Cal and ph are hard to read, that's why I take my sample to the LFS. <Ok, have you tried other brands? You can even get an electronic pH tester fairly cheaply.> I would like to add a star fish any recommendations? <A Serpent Star would probably be ok.> My tank consists of: A brand new Remora protein skimmer with MaxiJet 1200, and 2 Hydor 2 pumps for water movement. <I have 5 smallish powerheads in my 46, I think more water movement will help here.> I can't think of my lighting, but I do know that it is enough for clams. Do I need anything else to keep my tank beautiful? <Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.> I don't have any room for a sump or refugium. Thank you for your help. 1 maroon clown 1 yellow tang (will get rid of when too big) <Already is regardless of size.> 1 Naso tang (will get rid of when too big) <Same> 2 lawnmower blennies 1 bubble coral 1 flowerpot coral 1 chili coral 3 Nephthea 1 rainbow polyp rock 1 open brain coral 2 peppermint shrimp 2 Astraea snails Everything is doing quite well in the tank. <Good> <Chris>

High Ph Low Alk 03/11/2008 Hi everyone, After years of looking and reading all information on your site I have to say you have to be the most informative site on the net. That being said, I find little information on our problem. Here's the tank info .. 6 year old 125G reef , 55G sump/ refugium with 4" sand bed and some Chaeto, AquaC EV120, 3 powerheads for flow, half crushed coral substrate, half sand, 150 to 200 pounds live rock. Top off water and water changes done with RO/DI and Red Sea Coral Pro Salt. Fish: Yellow Tang, Powder Brown Tang, Lawnmower Blenny, 3 Ocellaris Clownfish, Mandarin Dragonet, Coral Beauty, 2 Cleaner Shrimps, Hermit Crabs, Snails etc. Lots of little Mysis and Pods. Unfortunately some bigger Bristleworms (due to I'm sure nutrient rich tank) Corals: 2 Bubble Corals one green one purple, Zoa rock, Torch Coral, Frogspawn, Suncoral, Hammer Coral, Ricordea and other Mushrooms, on the opposite side of the tank Purple Leather Coral, and a Devils Hand Leather, Green and Red Favia. Coco worm and various other feather dusters. Parameters: March 4, 2008 they were Temp 78, Ph 8.4, SG 1.026, Alk 2.2 mEq/l, Ca 400ppm, Nitrate 20 ppm, Nitrite 0, Amm 0, Phos .02 March 6, 2008 they were Temp 78, Ph 8.6, SG 1.026, Alk 3 mEq/l, Ca 350 ppm, Nitrate 20 ppm, Nitrite 0, Amm 0, Phos .02 We use a Refractometer for SG, Ph probe (double checked level with chemical test), Red Sea tests for Calcium, Nitrate, Phosphates, Hagen test kit for Nitrites, and KH, API for Ammonia. Now I know on your site it says its uncommon and of course it happens to us. So in trying to raise our alkalinity we used good ole Arm and Hammer baking soda. Which it did raise it however just to have it drop off a day or two later. <Mmm, yes... likely the biomineralizing life...> We hate adding things to our tank but being as it is 6 years old perhaps inevitable. <Mmmm, see here: http://wetwebmedia.com/substrepl.htm and the linked files above... till you read enough re the rationale of adding to/replacing some of the substrate, rock...> I know that calcium, alkalinity, and magnesium all kind of work together to provide a stable environment however we are having a hard time trying to find a magnesium test in our city. <See our Links pages for Marine... I'd order via an etailer> Would that possibly be the reason for our issue? <The issue? Loss of alkalinity? Not likely> What I would like to know is what would be the cause of this spike in Ph? <Mmm, likely artifactual... the test kit... no cause for alarm> Can you suggest any possible solutions for us. We've gone 6 years without having to ask any questions just by reading information on your site so I'd like to say a big thank you, you don't know how much WetWeb has helped over the years. Tracy <Renewing part of the hard-scape would be my longer-solution... a DSB of good depth, fine sand... Bob Fenner>

pH Problem - 3-10-08 Hey guys, <How goes it? Mike here this evening> I have a question for you about my PH level. First off here is the info on my system: PH- 7.9 morning 8.1 mid day Calcium-370 Alk-3.5- 4.0 approx mEq/l I use RO water from a 4 stage Kent maxima Seachem carbon in use and RowaPhos Nitrate, nitrite, ammonia, and phosphate all read 0 or very close to 0. (got the Merck kit for phosphates :) ) I can't seem to get my ph up to 8.3 during the day. I have doubled my water changes to 2x per week to try to correct the ph problem; however, I haven't had any luck. I use the SeaChem for reef tanks salt mix. My alkalinity was around 2.5 and my calcium was around 450 about a week ago and I have been adding more part B of C-balance to try to balance to raise the alkalinity. I figured that once I got the alkalinity to 4.0 the ph would end up higher'¦but it isn't. I think for my alkalinity level my calcium level is just a hair low but I don't think that it could account for the reduction in ph. If anyone can shed some light on this let me know. I really don't want to use chemical means to raise the ph, but the water changes are having little effect. Oh yea'¦one more thing. I tested the water from the salt mix and it has a ph of around 8.26 after sitting for several hours. <Get hold of Seachem's buffer, buffer your RO water to ~8.3 before adding the salt mix, and I bet your pH issues disappear. Salt mixes don't really have enough buffers in them to keep RO water at a high, stable pH> Thanks! <Anytime> Steve <M. Maddox>

Re: Sick clownfish? pH vacillation...   12/23/07 Hi Bob (and crew), <Jas> Thanks for your replies and advice so far. The clownfish is in stable condition -- not getting worse, maybe a little more normal. However, something strange is definitely going on with my water, which is probably related. I have a pH monitor (PinPoint), so I can watch the pH all day (fun!). I 2-point calibrated it in early Dec. The normal range in my tank seems to be 7.9-8.2 or so. As usual, the pH goes down in the dark and up during lights on. Lately, though, I have noticed the pH go DOWN at some point during the reef daylight. In fact, it's happening right now, not too long before the lights go out for the night. It is currently 7.93 and holding, though it dropped rather quickly (less than 1 hour) from over 8.00. <Mmm, there is/should be a small diurnal drop as this as well... usually early afternoon equivalents...> I just tested a few other parameters: T = 80.4 F Alk = 7.3 dKH Ca = 380ppm SG = 1.025 Top-off water has pH of about 8.1. Besides pumps, the only water equipment I have are a skimmer (EuroReef RS-80) and a phosphate reactor running GFO phosphate media and poly-filters; I cut circular pieces of poly-filter as padding for the top and bottom of the canister holding the GFO. Any ideas why I am having this daylight drop in pH? Thanks, Jason <Could be the phosphate removing gear... could be the probe needs recalibration... This reading, fluctuation should not be a problem though. Bob Fenner>

High pH And Hair Algae -- 11/06/07 Hi Eric R (who I have conversed with previously several times) and everyone on the crew! <<Hiya Kerstin!>> As usual, I have researched your site and books first to see if I can find this problem and a possible solution, but have not run across anything exactly like it (it seems like a popular chant - I have looked, but I cannot find the exact problem I have). <<Mmm, indeed...and often there is not an 'exact' replica of another's situation...at least not as they see/understand it. Yet still much useful info to process/help with learning and understanding of the 'goings on' within our tanks. And often enough, purposeful research will reveal that what you thought was wrong is not that way at all, but something entirely different...but enough lecture for now [grin]>> I apologize in advance for the length - but it seems to solve the problems, emails are longer as a good description is provided. <<Yes>> I am writing for a friend of mine (honest!) <<Uh-huh...okay [grin]>> who also has a 29-gallon Reef tank, but with a hair algae problem that isn't going away. We are trying to figure out how to solve this problem, and so would like to describe the tank and see what inputs you have. <<I'm happy to proffer my opinion>> She also has Aiptasia, but she knows what to do to get rid of them; she is working on that slowly, and purchased 2 peppermint shrimp to help. <<Don't be too surprised if the shrimp 'don't' help much re the Aiptasia. Better to depend on manual means (injection with lemon juice/Kalkwasser/etc.) of ridding this pest>> However, the hair algae just isn't going away...any ideas based on the descriptions below? <<Let's see...>> Fish - In the past 2 months she has had several of her fish die (a yellow tang, a "pajama fish", and a goby), and she has taken the clown (became too territorial and was killing her torch coral) back to the LFS until this problem is resolved. <<The fish dying are a clue something is not right with the environment/water chemistry...and do be aware, this tank is way too small for ANY Tang species>> She is down to having a lawnmower blenny (got it to help with the hair algae, based on the LFS recommendation), an urchin, <<You don't state the species, but Urchins rarely help with hair algae problems in my experience...and again due to the size of the tank, this animal will likely starve to death>> a blue starfish, <<Mmm, a Linckia species I imagine...another 'doomed' animal in this, and most all, captive systems. Kerstin...You need to talk to your friend about 'researching before buying'...will save her AND her livestock in the long-term>> 2 peppermint shrimp, and a small crew of snails (mostly Astrea, some Nassarius). Corals - Her corals all seem to be happier since the hair algae problem began - does that indicate there's just too much in the way of nutrients in the water, and that's what everyone is feeding on? <<Possibly (where's the water tests?)... Most 'corals' do benefit from the presence of some nitrate and phosphate in the water>> She has polyps (similar in look to brown zooanthids), <<Can be toxic, especially in small systems such as this. The use of chemical filtration (carbon/Ploy-Filter) is highly recommended. Use of these media can/will also help with the algae problem>> several burgundy mushrooms, <<Another very noxious creature>> a disk coral (Fungia - has almost doubled in size in daytime inflation since the algae problem began), a small organ pipe coral (limping along), <<Mmm, yes...likely being poisoned by the Zoanthids/Mushrooms>> a small torch coral (recovering from the clown), <<This coral will need room/cleared terrain around it...very aggressive>> an Acropora-style with a crab in it (not doing better or worse), a lovely burgundy sponge, <<This can be a big problem if it dies...many toxins released. There are some photosynthetic species that can fare well in reef systems, but...>> a white flower anemone (originally for the clown, although he never lived in it - preferred the torch coral) <<Not surprising, likely Epicystis crucifer, an Atlantic species...and thus quite foreign to the clownfish...and possibly even a danger re>> and a lovely feather duster colony (also propagating, spreading to other rocks). Hardware - She has a Current-USA Orbit light (she replaced her bulbs within the last 3 months, but reduced the light cycle time some), <<Reducing lighting duration has little effect on hair algae in my opinion...unless reduced to the point it becomes deleterious to the other photosynthetic organisms in the tank. Best to keep the lighting at 10-14 hours per day and use other methods/determine the cause of the algae problem>> runs a small AquaClear filter on the back for being able to run a small charcoal bag (was being used all the time, currently usage is being reduced), <<I would step-up the use of chemical filtrants>> is running two powerheads in the tank for extra circulation, and uses a SeaClone skimmer (she will purchase my AquaC Remora HOT in about 2 weeks when I upgrade my tank). <<This upgrade may well 'make all the difference' here>> Tank details/what we have done: 1. Tested water sample (which had sat about 2 hours) Thursday night - Nitrates, nitrites, and ammonia were 0, <<The algae is likely removing these faster than they can be tested>> water sample temp. was close to 70, <This last is meaningless since the sample 'sat about'>> pH was (I thought) an amazingly high 8.8 <<Yikes, indeed!>> (Aquarium Pharmaceuticals test kit), <<Hmm...I suggest you retest with a new/different test kit to confirm>> don't know alkalinity & calcium (didn't think to test for them). <<Is necessary/all part of the overall picture>> 2. She did one 5-gallon water change Saturday morning (Instant Ocean water in buffered RO/DI water, bubbled 24 hrs. after salt was mixed in). <<A good start>> 3. As of today (Monday), after running full lights for close to 5 hours, test results were: Specific Gravity ranges from 1.024-1.026, <<'Range?'...why the fluctuation? This should be more stable over this 5-hour period>> nitrates, nitrites, and ammonia again 0, temp. runs at 81, pH was a more normal 8.2 (same Aquarium Pharmaceuticals test kit), <<Likely inaccurate/old...I would consider a different/better brand (Seachem/Salifert)>> alkalinity was off the scale (both the Salifert and Red Sea test kits), Phosphate (Aquarium Pharmaceuticals test kit) is 0.5, <<If accurate, this is much too high (should be 0.02 or less>> & Calcium was 400 (she says she generally doesn't have to add much in the way of calcium to her tank - stays pretty level). The RO/DI water originally had an alkalinity that was low - we added 1/2 tsp. Seachem Reef Buffer, and brought the alkalinity to a level of about 8.3 dKH. She is not over feeding her corals (no more than 3 feedings per week with a variety alternating between frozen shrimp, some homemade food (based on Eric Borneman's formula), Fiji Gold, and some Kent Marine ZooPlex) <<I would not use this last product, can be likened to pollution-in-a-bottle...much too easily overused/abused...and of suspect benefit, in my opinion>> or fish (only the lawnmower blenny, so minimal feedings for it). <<The Lawnmower Blenny will probably accept little supplemental feeding anyway. But just to note, most all fishes should be fed well at least once a day...just like harming corals by reducing the photoperiod, don't punish the fishes by reducing/eliminating feedings>> She previously had a red slime algae problem, but it seems to be gone, <<Probably just 'out-competed' at the moment, may well return once the hair algae starts to wane...but one problem at a time [grin]>> and she now has the hair algae and Aiptasia. <<Many hobbyists may not realize, but Aiptasia are wonderful absorption feeders (can prosper quite well in 'un-lit' sumps with little to no particulate feedings) and are probably loving the organic load (I suspect) in this tank>> The lawnmower blenny likes to nip at the hair algae. <<But is not the cure here>> Just recently she had 2 strands of what looks like Caulerpa grow - but they seem to have few leaves, where the blenny has nibbled on it. <<Probably not Caulerpa then (quite noxious to most 'grazers')>> Tonight we also saw some small leaves of dark purple algae begin to form, as well as four bubbles of bubble algae. <<She has quite the little ' vegetable garden' going there, doesn't she...>> In general the blenny doesn't seem to be making any inroads on the hair algae <<Indeed... As stated, not a solution/remedy...though this 'bio-control' can be helpful once the 'cause' of this problem is found and rectified>> - and she only got this blenny when she developed the algae problem. Our ideas, based on my reading of major amounts of FAQs on your site are: - We're thinking 5 gallon water changes every 2-3 days for a few weeks. Should that help? <<Yes, as long as the source water is not the problem. Do test this...perhaps the RO/DI unit is in need of maintenance/parts replacement>> - I figure the new skimmer won't hurt - having upgraded recently from the SeaClone to the AquaC, I know. <<Will be a huge benefit...in my estimation>> - Since adding the buffer to the RO/DI water first and then mixing in Instant Ocean salt results in a high alkalinity level (matches the tank), should we maybe mix the salt in first and then add buffer if it still needed? <<Not sure I get what you're trying to say here... If the Alkalinity matches the tank (assuming proper levels) 'after' the salt is mixed with the buffered water then this is fine...but...buffering after the salt is mixed is okay too. The important thing is to test/experiment to determine the correct amount of buffer to preclude overdosing and precipitating Earth elements from the mixed solution>> - Would adding water that is slightly lower in alkalinity help lower the alkalinity in the tank? <<If this is a problem, yes>> Or is there another way to lower alkalinity? <<Water changes are your best method for regaining 'balance'>> - Would high alkalinity cause the hair algae? <<No...it is thought that keeping Alkalinity and pH at the high end of the scale will actually help with eliminating problem alga>> - Or do we need to try to lower the phosphates? <<Most definitely...is a big factor here>> - Or will they get lower by doing the repeated water changes? <<Will initially...but you need also to determine/correct the source of the phosphate>> Thanks again for all your great help. We are clueless at this point, and would love any input you can provide. The hair algae has been a problem for several months now, and she is getting disgusted with her tank for it not wanting to go away - and that would be a shame to have happen. <<There will not likely be a rapid reversal...this process will require diligence and determination. My recommendations at this point are... Stop the use of any 'bottled' foods (e.g. -- the Kent product, etc.)... increase the use of carbon and add a small canister filter with an Iron-based Phosphate remover or cut up Poly-Filter pads... if possible, add a small vegetable refugium to compete with the nuisance algae and provide additional water volume (among other benefits)... Maximize the use of that new AquaC skimmer... And check the effluent from the RO/DI unit to make sure it is still doing its job>> BTW, I am continuously amazed at how many variations on the same theme you get for questions, and how patiently you answer most of them. <<Mmm, yes...every tank is different...though much of the investigation process and solutions provided re can be applied 'across the board'>> Thanks in advance in case I have missed anything in your pages that addresses this issue. Kerstin:-) <<No worries, just keep reading/researching... And let me know if we need to discuss any of this further. Eric Russell>>

Re: High pH And Hair Algae -- 11/08/07 Hi Eric! <<Hey Kerstin!>> Thanks for the quick reply <<Quite welcome ...we will work on incorporating your suggestions. <<I do think they will help>> I have tried to answer some of the questions - although not necessarily in the order asked...and of course it sometimes prompted more questions (seems to be a never-ending cycle...you learn more, so you get new questions to supplement the new knowledge, and so on). <<Indeed>> Re the Aquarium Pharmaceuticals test kit - I had an older test kit (about 2-1/2 yrs. old) and a new one, and she had one in-between those two in age - all three gave us the same values. <<Still...I would try a different brand/better kits...and seriously consider an electronic meter for measuring pH>> I am working on getting the Salifert test kits for Ammonia, Nitrate, Nitrite, and Phosphates...we'll see how that helps (should be end of this week/ beginning of next week). <<Ah...excellent>> At that point we'll test the 2 sources of RO water she uses again - one is from the LFS (who gets her most of her water), recently also some from me (and I will test it just to make sure it doesn't affect my tank's chemistry as well). Hopefully that's not the root - then again, that might be easier than finding other sources, I have the feeling. <<Mmm yes, is a long shot admittedly...but still worth checking>> I had mentioned that she previously had a red slime algae problem - interestingly enough, at the same time I had one (and we didn't share anything from our tanks right before)...so can algae problems be cyclical or weather related? <<Not so much in an enclosed system...is most assuredly iatrogenic>> However, I had the AquaC and have my problem almost resolved, while hers became a hair algae problem. <<Thus the benefit of a 'quality' skimmer>> Now I just need to make sure I don't transfer my slime algae to the new tank (I hope to move everything next week, once my school's Fall Festival is over...I think I will have my life back! -- ha-ha I am PTO President, so I don't think that will happen). <<Ah yes, I served a couple years on the board (the last as President) of my local reef club (currently resisting nominations to do again)...is amazing how time/energy consuming arranging monthly meetings/functions can be at times>> But once I move my tank's inhabitants, should I run my skimmer with a vinegar-water solution to clear it out before selling it to her (I have a Tunze 9010 for my new tank)? <<This should be fine. You could even use a mild bleach solution (a cup of non-deodorized bleach in a gallon of water) to clean the skimmer, and then give it a short soak in a container of fresh water treated with aquarium 'chlorine remover'>> And should she do that with her SeaClone, so I don't get her algae problem in my 29? <<Can't hurt>> (I plan on selling my current 29 as a ready-to-go reef system...just not with the good skimmer on it). <<I see>> Re Specific Gravity - I think the swing in measurements is over a course of days -- <<Ah...okay>> Monday it measured 1.024, which is actually where it usually runs - with a few deviations before adding fresh water of 1.025...interestingly enough, my tank usually stays at 1.026 - can that be because I have more corals than she does? <<No...you likely have a more regular 'top-off' regimen>> Re When to add the buffer - I basically assume it doesn't matter if we add the buffer before or after we have mixed up and bubbled the fresh saltwater? <<Not really, in my opinion... And adding 'after' if needed, may be the better approach for the uninitiated>> My RO water runs low on alkalinity and pH, <<As it should>> but her current batch of Instant Ocean salt don't require the buffer to be added - they raise both pH and alkalinity to a good point, whereas buffering it first brings the alkalinity to a dKH of 16 or higher (Salifert and Red Sea test kits). <<Indeed...this is too high>> So having a high alkalinity and high pH are not all bad - they may help combat the algae problem? <<Not 'high' per se...but rather on the 'high end' of the acceptable scale (e.g. -- dKH 12, pH 8.4)>> But will they come back down after the algae is gone, <<Not as a result of this, no>> or will we have to work on doing that ourselves? <<As long as Calcium levels are not 'maxed' as well, the readings I have outlined can be maintained indefinitely without harm>> Or will having the skimmer help bring it down? <<Not directly>> Finally, I had a brainstorm this morning. <<Oh?>> We had discussed that she needed to add some sand to her DSB again - if it is getting low (close to or below 3 inches for the 29 gallon tank) could that be prompting some of the algae growth (since DSBs function in the NNR process)? <<If the substrate is too coarse/trapping detritus and/or water flow is deficient...certainly>> And I would assume that removing the algae off the sand by hand will reduce the sand level even more, so by adding a little bit of sand every few days until the level is higher again, it should help? <<Yes...about a half-inch or so at a time is fine>> Well, I have once again been absolutely long-winded - I do apologize (and yes, I talk lots too, so it's not just my writing). <<Ha! No need to apologize my friend>> We will try your suggestions - will write back to let you know what's going on, and if we need more help. <<I look forward to further exchanges>> Thanks tremendously for all your inputs - always fun chatting with you, Kerstin:-) <<Is my pleasure to assist. Eric Russell>>

R2: High pH And Hair Algae -- 11/17/07 Hi there again! <<Hello Kerstin>> Well, I hope we're making progress on her tank...I want to keep you updated, and I want to ask some questions as well. <<Cool'¦okay>> I think I may have figured out where the phosphates come from - tell me if you think I might be right. <<Alrighty>> I have made several batches of coral/reef food, using Eric Bornemann's recipe as a base. Included with the fresh seafood and ground up flake food and other assorted stuff are also frozen Mysis shrimps, daphnia, etc...all aquarium packs. <<Okay>> If I am supposed to rinse them before feeding them on an individual cube basis to get rid of the packaged water (I read it's a good source of phosphates), and I did not even thaw them before integrating them into the new mixture, then could that be the source of the phosphates? <<Is probable, yes>> Just a thought, because I can't see where else they might come from. <<Let's test and see to be sure, shall we? Thaw a chunk of the food preparation in a small container of tank water (just like you do when you feed) and then test that water for Phosphate. If there's a chance a chance the tank water will skew the test, then test 'before and after' adding the food stuff>> re the new skimmer - she started running my AquaC skimmer -- <<Excellent!>> collected 1/2 of a cup of "guck" the first night alone...she is absolutely happy that it's pulling this stuff out. <<Is helping'¦that is a certainty>> Between that, having a Poly-Filter pad in her little AquaClear filter, and the fact that she pulled quite a bit of the hair algae wherever she could, we'll see how her tank does...she really appreciates all the suggestions and is happier about her tank already. <<Very good to know>> Although, interestingly enough, when she tested her water in the evening after lights had been on all day (has done 3 5-gallon water changes in the last week), her pH is still running 8.8 - but it is staying stable, so is it something to worry about, or will it drop as the skimmer removes stuff from the water (don't know how that would happen)? <<The skimmer is not going to drop her pH'¦and yes, this reading if accurate is too high/worrisome. I seem to recall you stated before that you have validated this reading with more than one brand of test kit'¦if not please do so. Else'¦it is important to find and remedy the source/reason for this high pH reading (source water is prefiltered, yes?). Do revalidate the salt mix used'¦and stop adding any buffers if using these. And do make sure there isn't an unusual item/tank decoration that has been added to the tank that may be leaching/causing this spike in pH>> Thanks again for all your tremendous help, and we'll let you know what happens. <<Happy to assist'¦please do fix/let me know how things progress re the pH issue>> One positive thing <<Hey'¦I counted more than one! [grin]>> - I gave her a copy of CMA, and am loaning her fish books - she is going to research more on her new tank inhabitants once this problem is solved, since she has already decided to return the lawnmower blenny to the LFS to trade against something else. <<Very good'¦and do lead her here/to this site and teach her how to do keyword searches using the Google search tool>> Thanks, and I hope you're having a lovely weekend, Kerstin:-) <<Weekends are 'always' good, mate. Eric Russell>>

My Tank Is Going To Put Me In An Asylum... Yikes! pH anomalies... large system, DSB maint.   10/2/07 Cheers guys, thanks for everything you do! <Welcome> Here's my question: I have a large system (1000 gallons), rock has been established for years (part of a tank move), when setting up the system 3 months ago I started to run into psychotic Ph issues, I thought it was CO2 (air conditioning induced), my reactor was tuned in and everything, I finally gave up, removed my $800 Deltec reactor, replaced it with a dual chamber model I built from $40 worth of Lowe's parts and boom, no ph issues (I found out later other people have had issues with Rowalith as well). <Yes> Anyway, I have several DSBs (my prop tanks have light coating of oolitic sand), and I planned on using Nassarius but IDIOT me forgot to get them as I was distracted by the ph issue. In the end all my param.s check out, no trates, no phosphate (haven't checked silicate yet but I use DI), mg 1250, Alk 10.5 dKH, ca 425, and I drip Kalk. All of my SPS has great polyp extension but they aren't coloring to the level I know that they can achieve (they lost color from the ph issues and stress). Everybody was dipped in TMPCC and there are no pests to speak of. I have a good amount of snails (true Vibex, Trochus, Mithrax crabs) on the way. <Watch these last... I would exclude Mithraculus here> I noticed some of the sand has a black layer below the top layer, the question is I ASSUME (we all know what happens when we assume that's why I am asking you guys) that once the clean up crew is in it should allieve and ultimately fix the DSBs and light sanded beds, and that I should not move to replace the sand, correct? <If so, only a bit at a time, any given day... and "gingerly"... best to take that part of the system off line... dump, rinse, even bleach, FW rinse, air-dry that batch of sand... replace it some days later...> I don't see hydrogen sulfide bubbles yet. <You may not... and yet this could be a/the source of pH anomaly, worse troubles...> I am also going to start monitoring ORP and from there will consider ozone. <I would... For a system of this size, Ozone... and a dryer in conjunction would definitely be on my have list> Thanks again Tom <Bob Fenner>

My Instant Ocean Salt Raises My pH To 8.8 -- 11/13/07 First off, thank you for all the help you guys give to us ignorant hobbyists. <<Mmm, not 'ignorant' I'm sure'¦>> I'm very new to the hobby and this is my first time writing a question, but I've already spent countless hours on your site, and reading "The Conscientious Aquarist." <<Excellent>> Great book by the way. <<Much in agreement>> Anyways, I inherited a VERY dirty 120g tank and took about 50% of the original water (all the fish in it died after 1 hour of transport). <<'¦!>> It has a huge wet-dry trickle filter (already replaced bio-balls with live-rock 2 months ago), about 45 lbs live rock (plan on getting more), I added 1- snowflake eel, 4- damsels, 1- arrow crab, 1- zebra hermit, 1- scarlet hermit, about 10- blue-legged hermits, and about 6- turbo snails (used to be a lot more but they've been dying off. I'm assuming it's due to my nitrate issue). <<Oh?>> Ammonia - 0, nitrite - 0, nitrate - 80 (gone down recently from over 160!), <<Yeeikes!>> pH 8.8, <<Too high as you know, do get this down to about 8.4>> Phosphates- 1.0, <<Way too high'¦ Everything needs Phosphate to survive, but you should strive to keep this reading below 0.02ppm>> Specific gravity- 1.022. <<Natural saltwater levels are best'¦1.025/1.026>> Despite the levels, all the fish seem to be doing fine (except for the snails R.I.P.). <<Maybe not for the long term'¦but then maybe these readings are not as they seem'¦do verify them/the efficacy of your test kits>> I just bought a 5-stage RO/DI that will cure my phosphate problem so my only problems now are nitrates and pH. I age the water in 3 separate closed 6g tubs each with their own airstone for 24 hours. The pH at this time is 7.4 (nitrates 0). I then add 3 cups of Instant Ocean and after another 24 hours the pH is at 8.8! <<Troubling'¦assuming the tester is accurate, something is terribly wrong here. I will also state that after about 3 decades of use, I recently changed from using Instant Ocean salts due to troubles with the last dozen or so buckets I've purchased>> I have done multiple tests and always the same. <<I see'¦with new kits, and of different brands?>> Is this normal for synthetic salts? <<Not in my experience and not with this brand>> Should I use an acid buffer for all my change water and if so what kind? <<I wouldn't'¦ If this is truly a characteristic of the salt mix, I would consider a change'¦and my recommendation for a switch is the Seachem brand of artificial sea salts>> For my nitrate problem I've added a ton of Denitrate chemical media, I do a little more than a 15% bi-monthly water change, and I have a large hang-on turbojet Berlin skimmer. Am I doing anything wrong? <<Until the nitrates are brought down I would increase the water changes to bi-weekly. I would also recommend a better/more efficient skimmer>> Suggestions to better my set-up? <<Along with what I've already stated, the addition of a refugium with a DSB and Chaetomorpha macroalgae would be beneficial'¦but you also need to determine the source of the Nitrates. You state you've just acquired an RO/DI unit which should help here as well if the Nitrates are coming from your source water (have you tested this?). I would also add as small canister filter with cut-up Poly-Filter in it>> I apologize for the length. <<Not a problem>> I just want the best for my fish. <<Please do read here and among the associated links at the top of the pages: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/filtration/marineFiltr.htm >> Thank you so much for the help! -Phil <<Happy to assist. EricR>>

pH of top-off water  9/23/07 Good morning all, <Kim> As always, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with all of us out here on the learning curve of this hobby. I have been struggling with maintaining the PH level of my top off water. I have attached the information that I have found on WWM below for reference/background, as this person had the exact same problem I am experiencing. <Okay> I keep about eight gallons of top off at a time right now. Recently I purchased a RO/DI unit, and at the same time I switched from using Kent Marine Buffer over to SeaChem Marine Buffer. Since then I have not been able to keep the PH up in the Top off water. After researching here, I thought that maybe the powerhead I have in the bucket is not strong enough. <Mmm, shouldn't matter> I upped it to a Maxijet 1200, and it hasn't helped at all. I aerate the water with the powerhead, and keep it heated as well. <Good> I also keep a cover on the bucket. If I buffer it to proper PH at night, the next day it is consistently back down below the PH scale. <May need to leave the top off...> Do you have any other suggestions as to what could be wrong? I'm wondering if the process works such that when you add the buffer and test an hour or so later, the test should be off the charts, but settle back the appropriate level the following day? <Usually so, yes> Presently I'm only adding enough buffer to bring it up to the 8.2ish range within an hour or so. As an aside, like the other inquirer, I live in an older home, so it is not super-well insulated. <Actually better most times for air exchange...> Thank you for your time. Regards, Kim in Boston <I would first try leaving the mixing container top ajar for a day... Next I would try adding a teaspoon or two per five gallons of simple baking soda (Sodium Bicarbonate) to see if this moves the pH. Please do re-contact me/us re. Bob Fenner>

High pH 9/20/07 Hello Helpful People, <Hello Jazmine> I have a major concern regarding my current pH. When I tested last night around 7PM it was 8.51. Around 11PM it dropped down to 8.45. This morning at 6:30AM it was 8.37. I tested it at 5:30P this evening and it has increased to 8.61. I honestly cant figure out what is causing the increase. I recently lost (2) Emerald crabs & (1) Sally Lightfoot crab. I wonder if the loss is due to my high PH levels all of my other parameters appear to be stable i.e. dKH 8.3, Calcium 360 ppm, Nitrate 5 ppm, Ammonia 0, Nitrites 0, Phosphates .5 ppm, Salinity 1.023, & temp 78.6. I performed a 30 gal water change on 9/16 which consisted of distilled water & Instant Ocean salt. Part of my regular routine is to dose 12 drops of iodine nightly. The only thing I did differently on 9/16 was to dose 1 tsp of Kent's Trace Elements (the directions call for 1 tsp per 50 gallons). I have a 90 gal tank with a 20 gal sump. My fish & corals seem to be ok, for the moment. If the PH continues to increase, I'm not sure how my tank will fair. Please let me know what you believe is causing the increase, and what if anything can be done to correct it. Your guidance as always is appreciated. <Mmm, a pH of what you are reading is not extremely high and would not cause the death of your crabs. You may have an unknown predator in the tank that caused the demise. On another note, large Sally's can and will attack other invertebrates and small fish, and may have been the reason for the Emerald's loss. I would stop dosing iodine for a while and if you are using Lugol's solution, 12 drops per night is way too much. Lugol's is normally dispensed at one drop per 10 gallons weekly. I'd also re-read the instructions on your iodine supplement (if not using Lugol's) thinking you are overdosing here. Iodine is not one of those supplements where more is better, quite the reverse. As for your three digit pH readings, I assume you are using an electronic device to measure pH. You may want to recalibrate the unit using a pH calibration fluid. Based on the info you provided, I'd be very surprised if your pH was actually that high. James (Salty Dog)> Jazmine

Re: High pH 9/23/07 Hi Salty, <Hello Jazmine> Thanks for allaying my fears that the high PH killed my critters. <You're welcome.> I thought about what you said in relation to an unknown predator. The only thing in my tank large enough to kill one of my crabs is a 6 inch Engineer Goby. Should I be concerned about the Goby? <No.> I have a Hanna digital pH monitor, which I recently calibrated. I am going to take a water sample to my LFS and ask them to test the pH. In addition I only used Kent's Iodine. <Jazmine, one thing to keep in mind is that digital pH testers in this price range are not dead accurate. If you bought the model pHep4, it's accuracy is +/- .1, which means your pH could read .85 higher or lower. The model pHep5 is a more accurate unit with an accuracy of +/- .01 which could give you a drift of .085 either way. These numbers would be based on a known sample of 8.5pH.> Thanks, <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Jazmine

Depressed pH...Air-Conditioning And CO2 -- 09/07/07 Guys, my system is RACKING my brain. <<Oh?>> I have in total a 500 gallon system (between tanks, sump, all that good stuff). Anyway, I can't get pH above 8.0 naturally (this with dripping Kalk 24 hrs a day, pH drops to 7.8 at night), but when I take a sample outside, and put an airstone in it, it rises to 8.3 in an hour. <<Mmm...a CO2 issue...>> I have a display located in the house, the sump is in the basement, and two more large tanks in another room in the house. I live in VA and it gets hotter than Hades so I have two window units in addition to central air (it's an old house). <<I see>> I have read that air conditioners put off CO2, <<Yes...but 'indirectly'... If I understand what I have read, the air-conditioning units do not produce CO2 themselves, but rather they contributes to the production of this element through the burning of fossil-fuels to make the electricity needed to run the air-conditioners (some estimated 3,400lbs a year per average American household)>> so I am going to aerate (with pumps outside with lines running into the house) to help. <<This will help, but not for the reason you think. The problem is likely that your house is sealed very tightly allowing CO2 from respiration and the use of gas appliances to build to very high levels>> It seems confined to the rooms with the window units as I have taken unused saltwater samples that would normally be 8.3, put it in those rooms, left it for a while, and the pH will drop to 8.0. <<Interesting...try 'cracking' a window and see what happens to the pH>> In sum, I know aerating will help, a refugium which I just plumbed in will help, I read on WetWebMedia carbon can help raise pH. Do you have any other recommendations? <<Mmm, not really...other than 'piping-in' a source of fresh outside air near the tank locations>> What is it that causes air conditioners to put off CO2? <<As stated, I don't think these units do this directly>> I told my wife it was because she talks too much and that was the cause of the excess CO2 (LOL). <<Hah! A brave (or foolish?) man indeed...though there is some truth here>> Obviously this is a summer issue, and in another month or two I won't have to worry about it, but next year it will be back. <<Are these tanks new/newly placed in this house? Is this a phenomenon you have experienced before? I ask this because I would expect but for those times of the year when you have windows open that you would experience the problem year-round (i.e. -- during the cold of winter when the house is again sealed up and the heat is running)>> I have tons of SPS, and they are healthy but not at peak color (pH will drop at night to 7.8). <<This may not be a function of the pH...7.8 is not all 'that bad'...though you want to make sure it doesn't drop any lower>> Thanks for any advice. Tom <<Happy to help. EricR>>

Re: PH/calcium-reactor -- 06/08/07 Hi Bob Fenner, <Mohamed> I have read the articles below. If I understand it correctly a high calcium level of 350 - 450 and KH of 8 - 12 would give you a high PH say 8.3. <Mmm, somewhere this abouts. There are other factors... that could move this higher or lower> I use a mixture of sodium bicarbonate and sodium carbonate in = quantity to maintain KH and calcium chloride for calcium (temporary). <Mmm, yes... am hoping you've seen my cursory statements re the use of CaCl2...> My tank is more a holding tank until my new place will be ready within a year, so the tank has a lot of is coral. <I see> Latest test my KH is 10 my calcium is 340 but my PH is still low, this morning it was 7.88, what else could be the problem? <Mmm, perhaps an abundance of carbon dioxide... See WWM re... the search tool...> My nutrient levels are undetectable. I do 5% water change a week. Evaporated water, I use a Kalk reactor. I completed the calcium reactor should be connected this weekend after I sort-out the leaks. <Ah, good... this added piece of equipment will likely solve all these issues in one throw> The only level I am unsure of currently is magnesium waiting for a new test kit. Thanks Mohamed <Thank you for sharing your adventures, plans with me/us. Bob Fenner>

pH on 90 gal reef -- 06/08/07 Hello All: <Paul> My question is concerning PH on my 90 gal 3 year old reef. After a recent upgrade to an Aquacontroller III, I became aware of lower PH values than I thought I was experiencing. My readings read between 7.81 during the evening to 8.03 during the day. For the past several years I have used a GEO calcium reactor which has kept my Ca and Alk within acceptable range. Since opening the windows tends to raise the PH, I attribute the low PH to C02 buildup. <Ahh! Yes... just have responded to another querier re this poss. issue> Unfortunately, living in south Florida prohibits me from keeping the windows open most of the time. Doing so tends to create an entirely different problem (Heat!). I thought one way of raising my PH would be to install a Nilsen reactor in addition to my current calcium reactor. <Worth trying... though Kalk won't sustain a higher pH...> I purchased a unit that is a good size. The manufacturer claims it can hold up to 2 cups of Kalkwasser powder but I started off with 1 cup. I drip the Kalk water as a steady drip during the evening after the lights are off. It is controlled by both the Aquacontroller that only allows it to run in the evening as well as float switch that shuts off a solenoid valve controlling my RO replacement water. The RO water runs through the Nilsen Reactor before entering my sump. This setup works great. I also have the Nilsen Reactor set up to only mix (auto spin) during the daytime when the Reactor is not dripping Kalk. All sounds great right? Here is my question. Although this has improved my PH somewhat, I am rather surprised at the readings. It now ranges between 7.91 at night to 8.02 during the day. I realize these numbers are fine and the swing is less than before but I thought I would achieve higher readings. I cannot drip 24/7 since even a slow drip would cause the unit to shut off after the sump has reached its desired water level. <Correct... but/and not likely advantageous to "drip" during light hours in any case> When I first set up the Nilsen reactor my PH went as high as 8.15 during the day and my Alk went up as well. After 2 weeks the Alk has come down and the PH high has also come down. <Yes... do you understand what went, is going on here? The ready "boost" of added hydroxide (from the Kalk)... can/will only "have adventures" for some time... what are the rate-limiting factors here?> My reef has been thriving well for 3 years. Some would say (including you I am sure) that I should probably leave well enough alone. <Oh! You are correct> I was wondering if you had any recommendations on the PH. <Mmm, yes... to ignore it here really... if you are of the mind to augment, look into purposeful buffering products of DIY mixtures of carbonate/s, bicarbonate/s, possibly a bit of Borate... "toss in a spoonful" of this once a day... into the sump...> My only thought was to use the full 2 cups of Kalk powder in the Nilsen Reactor. Not sure if this would change much since I am sure the water going into the Nilsen is saturated. <Mmm, won't have to fill the unit as often...> It may only change the length of time between required refills of Kalk powder. <Dang! I've gots to read ahead of keying!> Thanks for your help. Paul, Boynton Beach, FL <Oh! Have been diving (Splashdown Divers) off your coast... Mum in law has a Winter place in Lauderdale Lakes... Really likely the patch reefs off your coast... Many fine folks, restaurants, watering holes in your town...> 90 gal reef sump/ refugium (2) 175 10K MH (2) 110 watt VHO super actinics PH 7.91-8.02 Alk 10dkh Ca 410 Nitrate 0 Phosphate 0 Magnesium 1370 Water changes 10 gal monthly <I'd step this up... maybe twice a month... Bob Fenner>

How Do I Raise The pH In A Very (3g) Small Reef Tank?...Water Changes! - 05/26/07 Hello, <<Hi Joe>> Let me start with saying you guys are great! <<We do try...thanks!>> I have a 3-gallon reef tank. <<Mmm, tiny...>> I bought a Pulsing Xenia and placed in my tank only to find it oh-boy so happy. <<Cool!>> So I researched this site and found out about pH plays a major part for Xenia. <<Not just for Xenia mate...>> So after testing I found my pH at 6.6. <<Hmm...am doubtful...your tank would not survive this pH level.  I very much suggest you validate the efficacy of your test kit>> I know way way way to low. <<Indeed...but not likely an accurate reading>> How can I raise this to 8.3 without using a supplement even if it can be done with no supplement? <<On such a small system as yours, maintaining "balance" is most easily and effectively done with simple "water changes."  Just make sure to prepare/age the saltwater correctly>> If not what supplement would you advise? <<None, for this size tank>> I dose with Kent alk buffer so my dKH is bout 10 or 11. <<No need to use this...and doing so will probably cause more problems than help.  If your pH reading does by chance turn out to be accurate, then I would look to the use/overuse of this product in this small tank as the culprit>> Also I use Red Sea salt mix. <<Better/more stable brands; in my opinion, to be had (IO, Tropic Marin, Seachem)>> Is it a must to aerate and if I can't would there be negatives to this? <<Adequate water movement is all you need/is essential to the system>> Thanks, Joe <<First thing to do here Joe...validate that pH reading.  Regards, EricR>>

pH, SW... -- 5/4/07 Hello Crew. I have had this tank for five years now and I am about to give it up. <!?> First some specs. 65 gallon tub with 20 gallon sump and 20 gallon refugium. Total water volume minus sand  and rock is probably around 85 gallons. Two closed loop pumps in main tank , one 1100gph, one 1200gph. Return water via a mag nine through a chiller. <Am about to give up on your msg... where's your spacing?> Kent skimmer. Four actinics of which two are VHO 95 watt and two are 30 watt. Two 400 watt 20k halides which operate on a light rail placing bulbs 3 inches above water. <Too close> Each halide burns 2 hours a day giving four hours of halide light. I feel anymore just adds heat and spurs algae growth. <... no> A SeaSwirl handles the return to the tank along with another exit on the opposite side of the tank.Two one inch exits <Too small> handle the overflow to the sumpand skim the surface water quite well.One of the overflows diverts a small quantity of water to the refugium which has a 18 watt daylight bulb illuminating it on reverse cycle lighting.The water from the refugium is passive carbon filtered before returning to the sump.The cheato <Algae that goes crunch?> and othe algaes show no aggresive growth which I think indicates my nutrient levels are low. Nitrate levels are barely readable using a Salifert kit.Phosphate unreadable using a Salifert kit.I do use phosphate removing media.Tank inhabitants range from 4"acro colonies such as millepora,samentosa, aspera,and the fast growing turaki to encrusting montipora and frags of ten or so other sps. Large polyp types include a bubble,two pagodas,four open brains, a tounge,a small acan,and afist sized colony of galaxia.No soft coral except for various mushrooms and zooanthids.Other than a Pseudochromis and mithrax crabs,cerith snails that's it.While none show a lot of growth except for the turaki they seem healthy.Most of the acros extend polyps during the dayand really do at night.At nine or so at night one of the closed loops shuts downfor two hours to give them a breather from the current.At this time once a week I feed the corals either DT oyster eggs or copepod/diatom mixture I scrape off the side of the refugium using a brine shrimp net. This tank has always had a low PH problem and over the years I have tried various buffers which gave so so results. <... for what reason/s?> I tried kalkwasser drips and my latest venture with a controller resulted in constant salinity dilution by the amount of kalk being dosed to keep the Ph at 8.19 at night. It was only when it started diving to 7.8 that I became really worried.Im not obsessed with it,I would be happy with an 8.2 all the time. I practise good husbandry with regular 2week 25% +/- water changes and vacumn most of the gook off the rocks with a rig I made. I may have a dead spot in the sand on end of the tank for it has gone darkish  against the glass and may have sulfur intrusion but I know of no way to verify it.What can I do to correct the low Ph at night? I have too much invested to stress the inhabitants to the point of going south. I should mention that even during the light period in the day the Ph only rises to 8.07 or 8.1. Any help would be greatly greatly appreciated. <You actually answer all the questions you posit... Please read here re pH anomalies/fixes: http://wetwebmedia.com/alkalinity.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: pH, SW     5/7/07      I apologize for offending with my spacing . I do not have a computer at home so I only have a small time frame to use the one I have access to. <Mmm... the small "cost" of communicating (at least with us) is an attempt at proper English... spellchecker...> I am not sure I understand what you meant by answering my  own post. <Your insights are obvious... to me it seems you're quite aware of the root/causes of the situation here> This weekend I changed 20 gallons of water in the system. It was prebuffered, oxygenated, before adding salt. The R.O. water was at 7.2 at the start and 8.3 at the end of the process.       Sunday, the high reading was 8.06. This morning the reading was 7.75. I verified the pinpoint the monitors reading with a test kit. Calcium was 380 and alkalinity was 4.23. I have tried adjusting the alkalinity up to no avail as to change in Ph. <These are not necessarily linked events... there is unfortunate, easily mis-understood cross-terminology at play here... Alkalinity and alkaline are not the same...> As expected, it only lowered calcium. I use Seachem products. Advantage calcium, Reef builder and buffer. I also use Instant Ocean salt which I noticed has been dropped from Marine Depot as a product. Should I change to a different salt? <I would not... but would continue reading... Do you understand what pH is? You (and everyone) are faced with either adding to your system (more carbonate, bicarbonates mostly... possibly other means like ozone) ways/means of elevating pH... and/or reducing the numbers, degrees of ways in which you are reducing this and alkaline reserve (pH buffering capacity)... More soluble substrates, rock... less foods, feeding, improved skimming, enhanced ReDox... Read on! Where you were referred to. Bob Fenner>

Re: continuing ph saga, "Closed-up houses...." Houseplants are NOT your friends!    5/10/07 Hi Bob,               I ran the indoor, outdoor air CO2 test with the following results. Outdoor air raised the Ph reading from 8.0 to 8.3 in less than 30 minutes. <Ah, yes...> Using a fresh sample and indoor air the reading actually fell to 7.8. My wife said she is not going to stop breathing so my tank will have a higher reading. <Heeeee! That four percent of exhaled CO2 in a too-sealed living space is deleterious...>               So I constructed a filtered outdoor air box to feed my skimmer. The net gain was a low of 8.0(much improved over 7.76) to a day time high of 8.15. Calcium is 340 to 360. <Bingo> Total alkalinity is 5 meq. Carbonate alkalinity is 3.3 meq. Total alkalinity is high because I dosed Kalkwasser in an effort to bump up Ph a bit. It did not work. <Mmm, no... not a permanent/real fix here>                I am considering building an aeration tank out of a spare 5 gallon I have. I could  use a venturi powerhead using outside air in a effort to blow off more carbon dioxide. Do you think this is the folly of more is better? <Neat idea> Using air gaps I could eliminate the overflow hazard. The flow could be adjusted low enough to give some dwell time. Sounds like a skimmer, I know. Thanks for your help so far. <Thank you for sharing! BobF>

pH/Finger Leather, Coral Health 4/12/07 Hi there Crew, <Hello Michelle> First, let me thank you for the amazing website. I have spent many an hour cruising your site. (I did look for answers before asking) : ) I started a 55 gal saltwater tank 5 weeks ago. I have 55 lbs LR, and live sand 40 lbs. I use R/O water w/Kent Marine Salt mix. I have a light w/high output florescent, blue actinic's and a moon light setting. <Knowing the wattage helps.> My lighting cycle is 12 hrs on, 12 off. I do 5% water changes twice a week.  My filter is a Freedom Flow, rated to 90 gals, and I have two Maxi jets, a 900 & 1200. My stats: <Parameters> Salinity: 1.024, PH: 8.0, Nitrates: 0, Nitrites: 0, GK: <GK?.. dKH?> 11 and Ammonia: 0. Tank inhabitants: 1 Turbo Snail, 1 Scarlet Shrimp, 3 Hermit Crabs, 4 Green Chromis, 2 Percula Clowns (tank raised), 2 Fire Fish Gobies, 1 Starry Dragonet and 1 Copper Banded Butterfly. Invertebrates: 1 Branching Hammer soft coral and 1 Finger Leather.  Oh, and a bunch of Caulerpa.  -Whew, I think that's it....   <Way too many fish for your 55.  The Copper Band was not a good choice if you are new at this.  More than likely will no be around long.> Sorry to be long winded, but I want you to have the info, hopefully I "said" it right. First question:  My pH, I can't seem to get it higher than 8.0. <Not surprising with your fish load.> Now,  I own Bob's book (awesome!!!) and I have been adding, for three weeks, 2 teaspoons of baking soda. Yet this doesn't seem to make a difference. I followed his directions and add it straight to the filter and only at the water changes. I read the FAQ on pH and I noticed that one guy said 1 teaspoon per gallon, but I thought Bob said 1 teasp per 10 gals???   What should I do? I don't want to harm any of my creatures. <Really need to test dKH with a quality test kit, and then add a little of the buffer daily (one tablespoon per 10 gallons will work), then test dKH the following day.  A good level to maintain is 8-12 dKH.> Is  8.0 ok? <Not bad, but you can help this matter by reducing your fish load.>   Second question: My Hammer is flourishing! Yay!  But my Finger Leather is not. The darn LFS said to put him in low flow, so I tried that, but he didn't seem to like it. Plus I read on FAQ that he should be in high flow, so I moved him. Finger guy is now right up on my the top of my rocks, about 6 - 7 inches from my light. He's in a high flow area. He shed a bunch of mucous-y stuff, but his polyps don't really come out. <They do go through this process.  If things are normal, it will re-bloom soon.> Today I woke up and one "branch" is squished down, while the other is just kind of dark. Some polyps out, but not many. The Finger is no where near the Hammer. I add Iodine & Phyto-Plankton once a week. What am I doing wrong? <The Copper Band is a notorious coral eater, surprised your LFS sold you this knowing you have corals.  He is most likely the bulk of the problem and should be removed and taken back to the dealer or find a good home for it.> BTW, the local LFS said I didn't need a heater. My tank temp runs about 80-82. <Where do you live?  What is your ambient night time temperature?> I am actually a bit frustrated with the local LFS 's around here (there's three) I get conflicting info from each of them, sometimes from employee's within the store!  LOL  Ack! <Working at a fish store does not necessarily mean he/she is a knowledgeable person in this field.> Oh also I had to say, no one told me about the possibility of getting Sea Stars with your LR! They said to watch for other stuff. But I found one, how cool is that!!!!!  I love my tank and want to do the right thing. Thank you so much for your help and advice!  You guys rock!! <Definitely more reading/learning for you Michelle.> Sincerely, <James (Salty Dog)> Michelle

Help! Too high PH... Salt mix...  4/6/07 Hi Crew, <Don> I have been using your site for the 3 years that I have been keeping a reef tank with fish and live rock. I have a 55 gallon tank, aqua c remora pro <Proper nouns; capitalized> skimmer, refugium w/macroalgae, lots of live rock, live sand with detritivores, sand plenum, 150W MH x 2, T5 fluorescent 54 w x 2 actinic and white, magnum 350 canister filter w/floss. Live stock includes a host anemone, mushroom coral, pulsating xenia, brain coral, finger leather coral, squamosa clam, feather duster worms, polyps, 1 yellow tang, 1 powder brown tang, <Hard to keep... particularly in such a small volume> two damsel fish, one blue Linckia starfish, one mandarin fish, one lawnmower blenny. My water parameters are as follows: PH swings from 8.0 to 8.7 daily. <Too much...> It was even worse, until yesterday, when I did a large 20 gallon water change, with Coralife sea salt, <I'd switch brands> RO water. My skimmer has been going wild, filling the cup with foam in around 10 hours. Nitrates 5, nitrites 0, DKH 9.9, Calcium 280 Mg/l. ALL OF MY ANIMALS ARE DECLINING RAPIDLY! What is going on? <In the words taken from the classic "Wizard of Oz" (in my best Wicked Witch of the West voice): "They're melting"... the pH is too high, too vacillating... interfering chemically, biochemically...> I have not seen this happen before. Please help me to correct this situation ASAP. <The salt mix... your procedure/s for mixing, storing it...> Some more info to possibly help: my pulsating xenia have been declining for a couple of weeks. I have been trying to identify why. I noticed that my calcium was down to 200, and my DKH was up to 18 last week. I also noticed foam showing up identical to what the skimmer produces, in small clumps floating around the top of the aquarium at that time. Please help ASAP!!!! Thank you, Don Laskey <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/index.htm Scroll down... the area below the blue bar... on Water Issues... synthetics... Bob Fenner>

High ph and Alk  - 03/24/07 I am having some problems lowering my Alk and KH values My tank is 3 years I do water changes 1 once a week about 10 to 15 % All my calculations are within normal values Cal 450 Mag 1250 Salt 31 Ph 8.3-8.4 Phos .05 nitrate is ok a bit on the high side then my liking but I understand that considering I have a fish tank with 15 medium size in a 120 gallons tank, this is ok but if you have any suggestions I sure would like to here them on this. copper 0 KH/alkalinity is KH value is 16 dKH and my alkalinity in meg/l is 5.71. <Mmm, a bit high... but going along with your biomineral and pH readings... not a bad situation> I also use a activated carbon bag in my sump is this good or bad for any of the above test <Not really bad in the least> I use the Salifert test kit for all of my testing how do I bring this down Alkalinity to a reasonable level thanks frank <Well... first off, I would panic, nor do much to alter your present situation... "if" real... I would test your test kit/s... esp. alkalinity... It itself may be off... Otherwise, I would dilute the alkaline reserve by simple regular water changes... using water of less alkalinity... See WWM: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alkalinity.htm and the linked files above... Bob Fenner>

Please HELP with super high PH :( -- 03/17/07 Hi Guys, <Hello.  Brandon here.> Before I start wailing about my problems, I would like to compliment you guys on a "SPANKING NICE WEBSITE"!! <Thank you.> I remember searching high and low to check compatibility between multiple dwarf angels in the same tank. Thanks to you guys I have a flame and beauty both in the same 120 peacefully (fatter by the day) living. <Good to hear it.> And am quiet proud of it :))) Same with my bio balls raising nitrates. One problem is; am unable to find a solution to my high PH. It started nice at 8.4. I use tap water to top off. Have done it always without problems. Tap water ph is 8.4 even today. The ph in my tank is 8.8 and even 8.9 sometime (lights on) and 8.6 to 8.7 (lights off). Almost got a cardio when I saw it :) Have read that some lights can affect electronic meters. Since I use a Hanna electronic meter, I tried testing samples in a dark place also. <Have you made sure that the meter is calibrated?  It could be the calibration solution as well.  I would try out a liquid test kit first thing.> Have tried all the stuff like soda, pH down, vinegar <As I said I would make sure that the probe calibration solution is not bad or something, and then I would try to recalibrate the probe, but the very first thing to do is confirm that the pH is really off by using a liquid/other test kit.  If you use these substances before you do this, then you have a good likely hood of causing a major pH crash.> Nothing works for more than one night. Then alls back to 8.8 and 8.9 <Check with another test kit.> Here are my tank details Lights- 1 Osram 5200 K 150w MH on 7 hrs 1 German make 20K 150w MH on 7 hrs 3 AZOO tubes 40w (have almost stopped using them other than dusk n dawn simulations) on 12 hrs 1 led lamp for moonlight Circulation 1 Aquanic 3000L connected to SCWD 2 AZOO 2000L opp sides 1 return pump (1000L effective with 2.5 feet head) Water parameters: Nitrates < 10 Nitrite, ammonia are zero. CA 400+ (fluctuates a bit sometimes) using Kalk in all night drip for 10-15 liters on sat n sun (this hardly raises PH more than 1 point) KH 7-8 dKH <This is a little low> Often supplement Kent/AZOO MG+ and AZOO reef iodide Filtration: Skimmer connected to 2500L powerhead runs 24 hrs. It removes 30% cup level of tea colored liquid daily. 50Kgs live rock and 100Kgs base rock (must be live now after 8 months) Substrate is crushed coral Fortnightly 20% (tank volume without sump) water change. (started from last 1 month) Tank size and Livestock: Glass 120G bowfront with 100L sump 1 coral beauty and 1 flame angel 3 damsels 4 perculas <Watch these guys.  As a rule two Clown Fish only.> 1 firefish 1 sea star 2 cleaner shrimps 5 polyps 5 mushrooms 2-3 snails Few feather dusters Hope that is not overloading. <I might take out two of the Perculas.> I also suspect my coralline *growth* is non existent due to this high PH. The existing coralline on the live rocks is not dying thankfully (not growing either). Would be really, really kind of you to help me. <Confirm that the probe is correct, and then move on from there.> Many, many thanks in advance <You are welcome, Brandon.> Ranjith Re: Please HELP with super high PH :(   3/21/07 Hi (Brandon), <Hello again Ranjith.> Thank you for the quick response. <You are welcome.> I checked like you said with another meter (of a fellow aquarist) that was calibrated recently. The readings are the same. <Hmmmm.> It does not seem to be a calibration problem. Also, my nano reads correctly as 8.4 8.5 using the same meter. <There is a possibility that the tank could be too clean, i.e the skimmer is doing too good a job, as dissolved organics will usually lower the pH.  I would also say check the pH of the tap water that you are using.  I would do a 10-20% water change, and then turn off the skimmer for about two hours a day, to see if that helps.  I might also be advantageous to take a gander here, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm.> Any other suggestions? <Yep.  I listed them above.> Thanks Again <You are welcome, I hope that this is of some help.  Brandon.> Ranjith

Re: Please HELP with super high PH :(   3/21/07 Hiiii :)) <Hello again Ranjith.> My skimmer's power head conked out and had not been able to take time to go and get a replacement. So it's been totally shut for the last 3 days. The PH has come DOWN to 8.5  8.6.  in-spite of night long Kalk drip (1 drop every 4 seconds) Kalk solution is 1 tablespoon of Kalk in 10 liters of tap water. Fresh tap water (10 liters) is added daily for up to 2 weeks to the solution. Then the settled substance is replaced with new Kalk. <You are dosing too much.  Please search WWM Re: Kalkwasser, Slurry Method, calculating calcium usage.> I also read through the article on PH. Quiet informative. <Indeed.> This is good news but brings up more questions 1. Just in 3 days of zero skimming, Is it normal for the PH to drop so sharply (8.8 to 8.6) in spite of Kalk drip? <This is adding DOC's to the water.  This is a small beneficial build up of organic acids.> 2. If the tank is too clean, then why are nitrates at < 10ppm consistently ? <This has to do with Nitrifying bacteria.  As a byproduct of NO2 consumption, they release NO3.> 3. Why do I still have good algae growth (green and red) (because of the nitrate I guess?) <Yes.  This is a likely cause.> 4. Even after the CA is 400+ and good amount of MG and decent alk(7-8dkh), coralline is still not growing fast (nor is it receding). <Ca is a little high.> I see spots of pink starting then the pink color vanishes in a day or 2 and only white part remains. <See above Ca being a little too high, as well as a lower Alk.> Please do not mind me asking soo many questions. Am quiet new to this hobby and it is difficult to get expert advise here so am coming up with many questions. <This is good as I like to answer questions.> And once again, thank you for helping out. <No problem.> Cheerssss <Have a good day.  Brandon> Ranjith

Re: Please HELP with super high PH :(   3/21/07 Hi Brandon, <Hello Ranjith.> One last question. <Sure thing.> If the tank is too clean, then why are nitrates at < 10ppm consistently? <This has to do with Nitrifying bacteria.  As a byproduct of NO2 consumption, they release NO3.> Question is, If the skimmer is too efficient, the DOC level left in the tank must be negligible. <Indeed.> This should produce very less Ammonia and subsequently the NO2 levels must remain bare minimum. The algae growth would finish off remaining NO3 making the level of NO3 zero or very close to that. <You do have fish don't you?  DOC's do not in and of themselves cause NH3. When these compounds are broken down NH3 is created.  Your fish are the originating source of your NH3.  They release it during respiration, and when they urinate, or defecate.  This is what your bacteria are feeding off of.  All that a skimmer does, is remove solid/liquid organic mater before it has a chance to be broken down into NH3 or in other words, before it can rot.   The skimmer WILL NOT remove NH3, NO2, or NO3.  Notice the word protein in the name.  This is what it can collect, organic matter that would otherwise rot.  Sometimes feces is a part of this, but there is still NH3 released into the water.  Same with urine.  While there is a certain amount of urine that is protein matter, there is also ammonia, as well as other things. Unfortunate thing here, is that if your skimmer is too good, then all of the organic compounds are removed.  This is bad because you want a little bit to break down into organic acids.  This tempers your pH.> To sum up, the nitrates level must be related to the DOC's in the water. <I would agree if they were excessive, but they are not.  Sometimes NO3 levels have to do with the activity of bacteria inside a power filter.  Basically the NO3 levels seen get insanely high 40-120 ppm.  I have heard of a person having 180ppm at one time though I am sure that this number was off.  This is one of the times that you can chalk up NO3 levels to DOC's.  I would say that you are just experiencing normal nitrification, and that the NO3 is mostly being broken down to N.  As far as your skimmer being out causing the level of NO3 to rise, I would closely watch the NH3, and NO2 levels while you don't have a pump for the skimmer.  You have been keeping the tank so clean for so long, that you could experience an Ammonia spike, sort of a mini cycle.  So with that in mind please do be careful.> So, if the DOC's were almost absent (too efficient skimming) then end product of NO3 must also be less right? <Not necessarily.  See above.  I will clarify, for the most part NO3 is the byproduct of a group of nitrifying bacteria.  These bacteria consume NO2 as part of their metabolic process, and the end result is NO3.  There is some NO2 in your system, and these bacteria are consuming it.  NO2 will not be picked up by the skimmer.  Just compound that could rot and eventually become NO2.  This is why the number is low and within acceptable ranges.> One answer could be that when my PH went down, my nitrates went up (which I have not checked being too happy over the PH drop) ?? <Not likely.  The two are not related.> Ps: How come you are awake at this time? It must be the middle of the night there. <I usually am up at this time.  Brandon.> Cheers Ranjith

Post cycling pH jump  -- 03/15/07 Hi crew, <George> I've been reading your FAQs even before I started my setup, and can only say thank you for all your efforts.  I humbly admit while I have kept a simple successful saltwater tank in my past for a few years, the one I am starting now is beginning to humble me more so. <One of the qualities I seek for myself in this involvement> Brief overview: 75 gallon hex tank, 95 pounds partly cured live rock (from a store my fellow reef nut has used for a decade) and 100 lbs live sand (Ocean Direct by Carib sea), sump (which I've used until my 24x12x17 refugium came in). Allowed it to cycle in tank and measured pH, refractive index kept at 1.23-1.24, amm, nitrite, and nitrate daily.  All went smoothly all along, not too much debris.  Used deionized tap water (large cartridge type system. no $ yet for an RO sys).  2 weeks ago, all readings finally rested at 0, pH steady at 8.2-8.4, sp. grav at 1.024.even nitrates, and almost simultaneously I began to see the beginnings of the diatom bloom.  Waited 5 more days to make sure readings stayed low, an then ordered cleanup crew. consisting of 10 Nassarius, 10 Ceriths, 5 Turbos, some micro stars and mini brittles (about 120 total), a bottle of live copepods and 2 scarlet cleaner shrimp as well as some rhodophyte and coin Caulerpa; 2-3 cups Chaetomorpha in the fuge (Inland Aquatics, and Live Aquaria source).  At the same time I began setting up a small acclimation/QT tank figuring by time that was done cycling I could start looking for fish.  Again, every single day I measured everything. and all parameters were in line.  The only negative seemed to be the diatoms starting to take off. <Not necessarily harmful> On the day all the inverts arrived, suddenly -i.e., within a 1 day period. the pH had jumped to 8.8.  I tested 3 times to be sure, tested the water I was using to make up the salt mix (which by the way is Reef Crystals by Kent). Immediately instituted a 30% water change, then began acclimation over 3-4 hrs (used very very slow addition of 10% bag volume every 15 min or so). All is still alive, but I can't stop the climbing pH.  I've been employing a stop gap measure of water changes and using pH down to slowly adjust (it's sulfuric acid, not phosphate based).  All the while Amm, Nitrite, Nitrate remain zero.  Any suggestions or clues or remedies?  100% water change? <I would not fool with the pH here... I suspect this is an effect, perhaps artifactual of the algae (Chaetomorpha) addition... At any length, the pH will drift down of its own accord... with time, reductive events in the system. Don't panic! Bob Fenner> Your advice is greatly appreciated !

Re: Post cycling pH jump   3/15/07 Cheers Bob.  I agree...I don't like altering acid-base chemistry by additives except on occasion, and this was one.  The pH bounce back suggested something more. <Yes> I've now noted the pH is the AM after a few hrs in the darkness is ~8.2...and after lights on a few hrs it presumably is climbing. <Bingo> Figured I should also do some testing of with/without aeration to see the dynamics there.  Seaclone skimmer has been running about 1 week also, producing a fair but not great yield of skimmate (yes...this will be replaced by a more efficient skimmer someday...maybe soon); thinking of adding airstone in sump section to test buffering and gas exchange (indirectly).  So I'll be wary of the O2/CO2 issue and carbonate/bicarb chemistry going on...without use of additives, I think I may be able to find a better balance. <Time will tell> Keep up the awesome & noble work.  You're reaching a wider audience than any classroom or publication could reach here! George <Ahh, the Net... what will come next? Something like "Star Trek"... and then? BobF> Pic, pH swings, turning ones system from supplements to a reactor Thanks for honoring me with the pic of the day!!!! That's cool. I noticed it while reading through all the new FAQ's. I'll take a pic of mine and send it to you as well--the coloration is a little different, but structurally it is identical. My secretary thought I had some kind of rare disease the other day when I told her I had a Cirrhilabrus cyanopleura! Ha ha. <Hmm, maybe...> I also had a thought on one of the FAQs. It's on there today--a very long and desperate sounding message from RL. I noted that the pH swing on this tank is 0.4 per day. Also, I noticed that their pH was actually HIGHER in the morning than in the evening (reversed from what you'd normally see.) Unless there was something dripping overnight that would raise the pH during the darkness hours, what would cause this "reverse pH swing"? <... A few things... for one... difficult to assess when people mean "first thing in AM"... as in, how long have their lights been on? Another possibility has to do with the types, amounts of marine macro-algae present... some "release" their buffering materials in the eve... elevating, stabilizing pH in the dark... Still another viable suggestion/explanation has to do with long-standing "supplement practices"... and "resuspension/solubilization" of materials... more and more to see the more one looks... Bob Fenner> James A. Deets

pH and hydrogen sulfide 2/5/07 Kris Jones wrote: > Dear Crew, > Yes, another pH question.  I have read your archives and now have a window open as a test to see if my low pH will come up.  In trying to rule out all possible sources of my problems, I'm coming to the experts.  My tank's pH this morning was 7.9, dKH 12.2, Ca 3.25 ppm, <Mmm... the Calcium... likely needs a nudge of the decimal point. The rest are okay actually> > PO4 and NO3 in normal range.  I'm wondering if my 2 refugiums with mud beds of 2-3 inches would be producing a build-up of hydrogen sulfide contributing to my problems. <Mmm... not likely, no. But this material does have reductive tendencies otherwise> One refugium has Caulerpa and two mangroves flourishing (getting too tall for the tank) <Take care that these don't break the container they're in...> and the other > only has Chaetomorpha growing.  The substrate of my tank is aragonite with continual turnover thanks to my sand-sifting stars and yellow head sleeper gobies.  I've ruled out CO2 as a culprit as my holding tank for my R/ODI water is constantly aerated with a pH about 9.   <Mmm, I wouldn't be so fast here... do try just aerating some of the system water outdoors for an hour or so...> > Yesterday I started adding Tropic Marin's Bio-Magnesium.  My LFS owner tested my water as well, but added the Mg test and my Mg was beyond low. <Out of proportion (3:1) with calcium I take you to mean> His rationalization is that I can't keep my calcium levels up because of my low Mg, hence my pH won't stay up either. <Can be so> Yes, I also dose with Kalkwasser.  BTW my show tank is a 210 gallon FOWLR.  I've also been fighting hair algae for months.  What are your thoughts on refugium mud beds and pH imbalance? <Can be a factor, as stated> As always, many, many thanks for your help. > Jeff <Mmm, there are a few other possibilities as to cause, and relief here... And have recently gone through, split-up the archived marine "pH and alkalinity" FAQs... I'd give these a once-over. Otherwise, I would not be overly concerned with the values you've presented, the steps you're taking for this FOWLR. Bob Fenner> Alkalinity and pH I have a quick question about alkalinity. Last Wednesday I brought home an Elegant Coral and a Open Brain Coral. <both are placed on the sand bottom right? They must to survive... see archives here at WWM> By the weekend the Elegant Coral had developed brown jelly disease and infected the open brain above it. <above it suggests placement of at least on rock. Hmmm... free-living SPS corals become stressed and abraded when polyps cycles cause wounds and tears on live rock... leading to infection. May not have been your problem... could have been shipping/handling if they were new at LFS. Still... you sound like a new aquarist. Do consider that quarantine is necessary for all new fishes and corals (4 weeks in a separate tank). This prevent s the spread of such infection s to your whole tanks, saves lives and has many other benefits. Please visit the WetWebMedia archives on this topic as well. Also... buy a good reference book and read it to guide your purchases before bringing livestock home my friend> I immediately sucked the disease off them and removed them from the tank. I fresh water dipped them and tried them again. Of course too late, the next day I removed them completely. <indeed... it is highly contagious/virulent. Best treated in QT for any chance of survival and more so to protect the rest of the tank> Since then (Sunday) I have been fighting a low PH. <not caused by the corals of course... if anything, the waning pH of the system stressed the corals and was a catalyst> About 7.8. <Doh!> I have been adding Kent PH Buffer. Today it is about 7.9. The thing that scares me the most is my alkalinity is 16.32. <holy cow!> I checked twice yesterday which was over 18 and today it is 16.32 (DKH). What can I do to lower this and raise the PH at the same time?   <dilution is the solution to pollution: water changes. And if your Ca is low (under 375ppm here), use Kalkwasser to raise pH without raising Alk directly> I haven't been adding any 2 part calcium additives at all. Just the Tropic Marin Calcium. <sounds like things have gotten out of kilter. Several large water changes and then resume with Kalk/buffer or 2-part mix (but shake very well before every dose... critical!)> Thanks, Ian Roff <best regards, Anthony>

Low Ph, High dKH Hello, first time here and I have read and read on your sites, thanks for all the information - really quite amazing what you have provided here, a thousand thank yous.  I have a question; first, my water parameters: Ph: day 7.9, night 7.75 dKH: 16 Ca: 380 Mg: 1230 NH3: 0 N02: 0 N03: .5 Salinity: 1.024 I have a 24 gal.. nanocube with 7 corals, 1 anemone, 6 hermits, 2 snails, and no fish. - 104W of CF - Water changes 25%/week 25 lbs. of CaribSea live aragonite 45 lbs. Fiji and Tonga live rock 2 power. heads (Rio 50 and MiniJet w/Hydor) in addition to the one that the system comes with The tank has been up for 7 weeks now and cycled in the first three weeks My problem: I cannot get the ph to 8.0, let alone 8.3, even with Kent buffer or Seachem builder, however, I have had dKH off the charts (high) I am using Salifert test kits and have tested them with LFS water to ensure they are accurate . . . I am using an American Marine pinpoint Ph meter calibrated just one week ago and have confirmed the low ph <Yes... most due to the "break in" processes... the decomposition of a good deal of your live rock life... the small volume, lack of a skimmer...> Each time I use the reef builder or other buffer to increase ph, it goes up for about 4 hours and then back down, however my dKH just keeps going up (1.5 ml or 1 1/2 plungers of reagent to turn color if you are familiar with Salifert test kit making it anywhere from 16-24 dKH, guesstimate since I'm not sure if that's how it works once you go through the first plunger) <Is how it works> I had been using Catalina water, so I did a 15 gal. water change with Tropic Marine mixed at LFS to see if that would help. <It will... in time> No one at several LFS stores can figure this one out and I have tried to open up the house thinking the CO2 in the house was too high and no effect . . . I was going to get an air pump to start trying to oxygenate the tank more and see if that helps . . . just thought I would ask for some help first . . . this has been going on for 4 weeks now and is a real drag . . . corals still look good, but I'm afraid they will start to decline in time given the low ph . . . and fish or other helpful inverts, forget it.   <... this system has been up for seven weeks... with an anemone mixed in with other stinging-celled life? Dangerous... in such a small volume> I used to have a 60 gal but had to break it down when we moved, never had these kinds of problems, making me realize that smaller tanks are more difficult to monitor/maintain? <Indeed they are> HELP! Thanks Bill <Due to the newness, the livestock listed, the small size of the system, I would just continue nudging the water quality along with the TM water, careful addition of just pH buffer (sans alkaline earth components)... likely something with just sodium carbonate and bicarbonate (no calcium, magnesium)... go slow here Bill... all could crash. Do add a skimmer if you haven't already... Bob Fenner>

Water parameters out of whack Hello Crew, how you guys doing today? <Mighty fine, thanks> Well I decided to go back into the aquarium hobby after being away for about a year and everything had being going well until I started having some problems with my PH. This is what happened. I filled up my 380 gallon aquarium with some Oceanic salt and let it mix in for a week, then I added some crushed coral and 200+ lbs of Live Rock. I noticed that PH was low ~ 7.7, therefore I started adding super buffer dKH and brought it up to around 8.2 but it started going back down therefore I kept adding Kent super buffer DKH until I had poured 2 pounds of Super Buffer DKH in a week's time and my PH was still hovering around 8.0 - 8.1 . Believing that my PH monitor was off I tested the PH with another test kit which showed the same result, that's when I decided to test the other parameters, which are: <Mmm, the LR is "settling in" and you started with a bunk, inconsistent brand of salt mix> Temp 79.4 F SG 1.021 CA 330 PH 8.0 AK 16+ DKH Went off the Salifert Scale. <Yes...> WHAT in the world, how can I have a 16+ DKH and an 8.0 PH . <Surprising that you have such a large system and lack of understanding of basic chemistry (pun intended)... look at the ingredients of the Kent products... realize you have a situation... with the decomposition of the LR... that is exhausting the carbonate/bicarbonate... but not the hardness... Voila! Low pH, high hardness> I'm truly lost and I know I should have tested the ALK before I kept adding buffer, but I did not have an ALK test kit available and I figured hey it's a lot of water and Oceanic salt is known for having High Calcium and low PH. At this point I'm probably going to do a 80 gallon water change with Instant Ocean Salt unless you guys have other ideas. <All sorts of ideas... yours will work.> Thanks. <Bob Fenner>

MarpHAlk Hi Bob, <Hi> I am having trouble with raising the alkalinity in my 100 gallon saltwater tank above 2 meq/liter or increase the calcium level. This tank has a 30 gallon sump, that contains about 12 gallons of the tank water circulating through it as part of the filtration. The filtration consists of a trickle filter in the sump, and an Aqua C EV-150 protein skimmer in the sump. Besides the circulation from the return pump (Little Giant 3-MDQX-SC (875 gph)), the tanks also has 2 Maxi-Jet MP 1200 powerheads (295 gph/each). Lighting consist of four 96W Power Compacts (2 10000K super daylights and 2 9600 Actinic), which is on timer for 12 hours light/12 hours dark. The combination of trickle filter and the protein skimmer results in a large amount of fine bubbles in the sump, with a portion of this pumped into the tank and circulated by the powerheads, so the oxygen level is very high in the tank. The tank itself consists of 120 lbs. of Carib-Sea aragonite sand and 80 lbs. of live rock (the rock is heavily covered with coralline algae and these came from a two year old 240 gallon reef tank, so there was no measurable ammonia spike for the first 2 weeks after being added to the tank). The rocks also were covered with lots of life (worms, sponges, etc.) but also star polyps and button polyps. Brown algae appeared within 1 week of the live rock introduction. The tank is now 6 weeks old and consists of the following inhabitants: 10 blue-legged hermits 5 Turbo snails and 5 Astrea snails 12 Cerith snails 12 Nassarius snails 3 Mithrax crabs 2 Tropical abalones 9 Mushroom corals 2 small colonies of Zoanthus and 1 colony of Star polyps 1 Mushroom leather coral (Sarcophyton sp.) 2 Pajama cardinals 1 Banggai 1 Lawnmower goby 1 Pseudochromis Assorted tubeworms, bristleworms, and other life that came with the rock My tank water parameters are as follows: Ammonia - 0 Nitrite - 0 Nitrate - 0 or to low to be measured by the test kit I am using |Calcium - 300 pH - 8.2 to 8.4 (8.4 is reading obtained after lights have been on for 8 hours) spg - 1.023 Temperature - 78 - 80 degrees F I do a water change every week, replacing 4 gallons/week with 1 week aged saltwater. Evaporated fresh water is replaced daily with bottled distilled water that I have added Seachem Reef Builder to achieving an alkalinity of 4 meq/liter in the distilled water. Additives consist of daily addition of Two Little Fishes C-Balance at 30 ml/each component and, 3 times a week, Combi-San. The fish are fed twice a day, and as I only feed them small amounts for a couple minutes, all is eaten, unless it gets under a rock or a snail/crab grabs it. Currently, all of the life in the tanks appears to be doing good. The corals are all open, with the leather coral becoming larger and polyps fully extended and the star polyps slowly covering the rock they are on. Also, the various herbivores have been able to keep the brown algae down, to where it is primarily growing on the tank glass and sand, before being eaten. Additionally, coralline algae and animal calcareous tubes are beginning to appear on the back and sides of the aquarium glass. The protein skimmer I empty every day and clean once a week. So my frustration is that I am not able to raise my alkalinity and my calcium is low. I have been testing it every two days and the alkalinity sits around 2 meq/liter. Should I increase the amount of Reef Builder I add to the make-up water and/or increase the amount of C-Balance? I have started to add Salifert Calcium, but I am concerned of adding to much and upsetting any balance I have in the aquarium. <Hmm, yes... very likely the combined effects of die-off/moving/rapid regrowth of biomineralizing life... are conspiring to "use up" both alkalinity and calcium (et al alkaline earth elements) here... I would likely "goose" the system with the materials listed (or just calcium chloride and a lesser amount of calcium hydroxide by night... dropping off the chloride and adding baking soda/sodium bicarbonate later... as calcium exceeded 400ppm... but/and in essence this is what these products are... and what you will be doing by their use> Sorry for the long winded message, but any information you can supply would be much appreciated! Thank you, Kevin <No worries, and you will see results in a few days to weeks from your increased supplementing efforts... no problems with taking all this slowly at this juncture. Bob Fenner>

Unsolved pH mystery Hi Lorenzo... <Yikes, now it's Bob back again> I'm hoping you can help me. My 135g FOWLR tank has been up and running for 10 days now with 7 green Chromis and 15lbs of cured live rock gradually get to 50-60 lbs). Temp. 76, Salinity 1.20 and just starting to cycle. 1.00ppm ammonia. 280 watts of VHO lighting, a Eheim canister, tidepool II wet dry and Aqua Clear 150 skimmer. Used reef crystal salt mix and the LFS I bought tank from came out to set everything up. Told me to check temp, salinity and ammonia and not to be concerned initially with Ph as good quality mixes are generally at 8.2. Anyways, I decided to test Ph from the get go and never got a reading that matched color options. LFS came back 5 days after set-up (in the a.m.) and he too got an erroneous reading so blamed solution and took sample back to his store, called and said it was 8.2..Told me to come get another brand of solution and this one too gave me a pale erroneous result every a.m. (very pale shade of 7.8) Took sample to another LFS this a.m. who did 2 tests and said it was 7.8 probably due to lights not having been on. Suggested I wait an hour or 2 after lights on and test again and might want to consider adding a Ph buffer. Well, tested every 2 hours and didn't get an accurate reading until 8 hours after lights came on of 8.2 using 2 different brands of solution. <Yes... the readings were likely all accurate... that is, you were measuring what was there at the time...> Read all the articles and FAQs on this site regarding Ph and see others have mentioned a slight variance in PH from a.m. to afternoon readings but not to the extreme that I've been encountering. Sorry for the length of this but wanted to give as much detail in order to clearly state situation. Thank you so much. (When Bob gets back, you're surely going to need to get away ;-) <Think that Zo is off already... working at his regular computer code-writing day jobs no doubt! At this point I wouldn't be overly concerned with the pH variance you're observing... do look into using at least sodium bicarbonate (perhaps on a weekly basis) to augment your system's alkaline reserve... Once the rock is settled in, and more life is established in your system, more of this will stabilize. Bob Fenner>

Re: unsolved Ph mystery Dear Bob...Thanks so much regarding the Ph mystery on my new tank...all prior attempts to find info regarding cycling effects on Ph had been in vain. Wanted to let you know that I have appointed myself president of the "Bob Fenner Fan Club" here in Michigan. <!> I'm frequently at my 3 LFS, (increasing live rock) ...and when I see that dazed look in other "newbies"...trying to decide which book to buy...I tell them your "conscientious..." is a must have...I also give them your website & after running into them at a later date...they are most impressed as am I. A sincere thank you for all that you and your cohorts there do for this wonderful hobby...it is so reassuring to know, as a final resort...that you are there. Barbara <Thank you for "pumping me up"! Definitely important to "know what one's about" (values, focus, direction-wise) and "be on a path" of discovery and fulfillment in life... and to have such "interrator agreement" as your kind encouragement... fantastic. Bob Fenner>

pH, CO2 and Calcium Reactor hi bob I need to ask a question <Todd, Anthony Calfo here in your service while Bob counts how many jelly beans will fit into his navel in anticipation of a Superbowl party bet> I use a calcium reactor on my 150 gallon tank lately the ph goes at 7.7 in the morning to7.9 high in the day <scary low indeed> I use a ph probe witch calibrate once a week am I getting to much co2 in the tank <possible, but not the only explanation... aerate a glass of water from the aquarium to see if the pH rises significantly. You may simply need to have better aeration in the display (although never aerate the sump where the reactor effluent drops)... although not likely the case. If you had excess CO2 overtime you might notice an increase in nuisance microalgae growth> and if so should I shut off the co2 let the ph rise and then continue the co2 <never make such drastic moves... good and bad things should happen slow in an aquarium. Is your effluent adjusted properly (slow drip/bubble counter coordinated?> if I do shut the co2 off I do notice the tanks ph starts to rise I keep the reactor at 6.4 ph thank you bob Todd from new York <another solution is to have a second reactor full of media inline to boost the pH on the outflow. Very effective and perhaps your best solution. Becoming the standard. Anthony>

High KH Low Ph 10/30/05 Hello,  <Good day> I am new to this website so I hope my questions has not been asked. Looked but did not find it. I have a 40 gallon reef tank. I have very high kH, low calcium levels, and PH that seems to stay close to 8.0 (use pH probe). I do have to buffer with Kent Marine pH Buffer daily to keep it at 8.0. My problem, I think stems from dosing to much Kent DKH buffer. The pet store told me to buffer the DKH daily to combat my low ph.  Well I think that may have been bad advice. The KH got so high that I actually got hard water build up on the glass and in my filter lines. My inverts and snails turned up side down and quit moving I cleaned the filter hoses and powerheads out with vinegar and made sure that I washed it all out with fresh water.  I then did a 15 gallon water change the snails and inverts reacted immediately they came back to life, but the KH is still off the charts and the calcium is low and I am having a real hard time maintaining the pH. My first question is, does the Kent PH buffer that I am using hurt things more then improve . I also noticed that when I did the big water change my green brain coral improved greatly. But lately it seems to be retreating again.  I have been adding calcium daily (Tropic Marin Bio-Calcium) but it does not seem to be rising. My guess is that the High KH could be my main problem. But I am not clear if that is it. I use RO for all water changes and fresh adds. How can I get the PH and Calcium up and should I worry about the really really high KH levels.  <First, lets not confuse KH with Dkh. KH is measuring carbonate hardness only. Don't add any more buffers to the tank. Do 10% water changes as you should be doing. Buffers should always be thoroughly mixed in freshwater before adding to the tank. You should measure your dKH with marine alkalinity test kit. After a couple weeks check your ph and dKH levels and see where they are at. Reply with the original query and we'll take it from there. You will have a difficult time maintaining calcium levels with high dKH levels. In the meantime read the info I have here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alkalinity.htm  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks for your help  <You're welcome>  Problems with High pH Dear Bob, <<JasonC here filling in for Bob while he is away diving.>> I installed a 180 gal. reef tank 3 weeks ago with Iwaki pump, gigantic skimmer, K2R Ca reactor ,,Co2 reg, etc. with 200 lbs. cured rock, 120 lbs. live sand with detritus form previous tank. Filled it up with hard tap water from Newport Beach and Amquelled it. Ph was above 8.6 at the time. Started up everything and it cycled in about 5 days. Have 5 healthy fish and some soft corals...all doing fine. Problem is I can't get ph down. It vacillates between 9.1 in a.m. to 9.5 at peak light period. <<that is high>> Effluent ph is 6.8 and everything "should" be working correctly. <<hmmm... perhaps too early for calk-reacting, need things to settle a bit.>> Would you recommend I buffer the water (if so, with what?) or let it come down "naturally"?? <<I would get to work on that immediately - use Arm & Hammer baking soda - works wonders. Somehow, I think your buffering capacity is off... the Sodium Bicarb will help this. Use the Google Search feature on WWM to look as there are many FAQ's about the use/methods of baking soda. >> Thanks, Doug <<Cheers, J -- >>

High pH 10/30/05 I have a small reef tank (40 gallons) with two fish (clown and tang) and about 5 soft corals. I have about 40 lbs of live rock and 2 inches of live sand. Based on your recommendations I have an Aqua C Remora skimmer. When I decided to add the corals (about 5 months ago), I added live sand (to bring it to the total above) and 200 watts of compact fluorescent lighting. I have had generally good luck since then - no fish or coral problems, but my PH runs very high. At first I thought it was the water I was adding and I found a bottled water that has very low pH and have been using it ever since. I have resorted to using pH down products and after I use them the water ranges from 8.0 to 8.3 for a day or two, then goes higher (sometimes 8.8 or so when the lights are on). This pattern is consistent and, although I've found numerous conversations about people with low PH on your site, I can't seem to find much about the opposite problem. As I say, I haven't killed anything yet, but when I see one of the corals looking stressed, I check the PH and sure enough it is high. Does this perhaps have something to do with Alkalinity that I do not clearly understand. I'd like to get it under control.  <Jeff, it is very unusual to have high pH in a marine system. pH is generally higher during the day and slightly lower after the lights are off. For starters I would try a different test kit. Also, when taking the water sample for the test, take it from mid level in the tank. I'm also wondering what your dKH reading is. James (Salty Dog)> 

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