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FAQs on Physical & Chemical Problems with Synthetic Seawater Mixes: Troubleshooting, Solutions

Related Articles: Synthetic or Natural Seawater, Saltwater Impressions (Synthetics Review) By Steven Pro, Specific Gravity,  Water Changes/ChangingpH, Alkalinity, Marine Alkalinity

Related FAQs: Seawater 1, Seawater 2, Seawater 3, Seawater 4, Seawater 5, Seawater 6, & FAQs on Mixing, Supplementing, Storing, Moving... By Make/Manufacturer: Natural Seawater. Synthetics: Aquarium Systems (Instant Ocean, Reef Crystals), Aquacraft (Marine Environments, BioSea...), Central Garden (Oceanic), Kent Marine (SeaSalt), Red Sea (Red Sea Salt, Coral Pro Salt), SeaChem Marine (Marine Salt, Reef Salt), Energy Savers (Coralife), Tropic Marin, Other Brands... About Buying Pre-mixed Seawater, About  Synthetics Manufacturers Advertising Claims...  Spg 1, Treating Tapwater For Marine Aquarium Use, Reverse Osmosis Filtration 

Look first and foremost to your livestock's behavior...  Gymnothorax meleagris

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

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

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

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

marine salt changing colour and solified     8/8/13
Hello there ! before I shoot my qs. let me take off my hat and bow to your knowledge and its sharing...unbelievable amount of info in your website !
I have a 33g small reef set up, ca 3 months old and I use Reef Salt from Aqua Medic. Great solubility and no complaints...just that I found now that half of salt in the 4 kg paper box has gone all solid
<Does happen; hydration... takes up moisture from the air... Salt mixes need to be kept in air tight conditions>
 and white colour has turned bluish. What's wrong with this ? I guess these salts might be hygroscopic and prone to pick up moisture and turn solid but what about the blue colour ?
<Not likely at all... >
Copper salts..? Most importantly is it still safe to use ? Highly appreciate your fast response !
best regards, Kaustuv from Denmark
<Should be fine to use; will just take a few hours to dissolve. IF you're concerned re metal contamination I'd test for same, and/or use a filtrant (PolyFilter or such would be my preference) to remove. Bob Fenner>

Moving live sand; synthetic salt mix, stored water f's as well    7/1/13
Hello WWM Crew,
  First off, a big Thank-You for all the experience you share on this labour of love website. I have learned so much in the last few years reading FAQ’s on this site and R. Fenner’s book (which I have an autographed copy). It’s amazing how much is on this site. I search for an answer for one question and then I just get lost in reading all the info on my question. I have a couple of questions, one I know I have read on this site before but for the life of me I can’t remember the response and I just can’t find it again. When I take the cover off of my 20g trash can of new salt water that has been aerating for a week I get a faint smell of ammonia (like a cat litter box) but just for a split second. I test the water for ammonia and of course I get a 0. What is the cause of this?
<I suspect (don't know) that you are actually detecting "faint ammonia" from the small bit of organic material that is part of most commercial salt mixes... being liberated as a gas by mainly chemical decomposition. Not to be mysterious, the most common salt in synthetics (NaCl) is to degrees simple "sea salt" collected from insolation ponds...>
 My next question is about mixing salt brands. I always use Tropic Marin salt and I received a bucket of Red Sea Coral Pro for free. Would I see any negative effects on my system if I were to mix 80% Tropic Marin and 20% Red Sea when I mix up my ro/di water in my 20g trash can?
<Perhaps a little; not dangerous>
Now for my dilemma(it’s going to be long). I am going to be moving to a new house and I am reading quite a few articles on moving and disturbing live sand. Most opinions are that it is not worth the trouble using the same live sand as most everything will die off and cause more pollution and re cycling of the new set up. I also read that it is a good idea to change the sand every few years as the sand loses buffering capacity over the years. The sand I have now is about 6 years old. Would you give me your thoughts on my moving plan?
<I might save, use a "bit" of the old sand (transported in an insulated container... an inch or two water over it) on top of the new substrate. I'd likely rinse, keep the remainder of the olde sand for possible future "other" use/s>
First I have the luxury of time on my side. The new house is only 20 minutes away and will be empty on August, 1st and I will be in the old house till September, 1st. So you see I want to plan it properly. Here is my idea. First I will take 20g of water from the DT(90g)and set it up in my 20g long with about 20lbs of LR and some sand. The 20g long will also have a canister filter running with a Polyfilter, Purigen and some filter floss. I will put my Aqua C Remora on it as well as a power head and a T5 strip light. Then I plan to put my live stock in the 20g long which consists of 1 Percula, 1 Royal Gramma, 1 Pajama Cardinal, 1 Brittle star, 1 Cleaner Shrimp and various snails. The rest of the LR and LS(about 80 lbs each)I will put in a Rubbermaid tub with a heater, power head and my Vertex 100 skimmer. I will also take all of my water from the 90g to the new house. Now that the 90g is empty I will take the opportunity to have it drilled as I have been using a CPR siphon overflow for the last 6 years and I have to say, believe or not, I have had absolutely no problems with it. When I get the tank to the new house I will add the water and LR from the old house and start up the system. If I move the LR to the new house in the Rubbermaid tub do you think there will be any die off?
<Not much>
Now comes the part about the sand. Would it be better just to use new LS about 1” depth and add some of the old LS to seed?
<Yes; but more of the new>
 After all that I will run the tank for August and bring the live stock when parameters are all good. How long would it be safe to keep the live stock in the 20g long set up?
<As long as they get along; indefinitely>
 Well I think that is my whole plan. Any thoughts or ideas would be welcome as I would like this move to go as smooth as possible, I know you understand that. I am sorry for this long letter but this is the first time I am doing a move with an aquarium and I would like to avoid any disasters if I can. Thanks in advance for your expertise.
Brian
<I might speed up the transit, resetting up time frame myself. But what you've stated will work. Bob Fenner>

High Magnesium and Turbo Snails    2/4/13
Hello crew, hope you are well. I've written several times before about my inability to keep Turbo Snails alive in my hair-algae-infested 29 gallon FOWLR tank. I'm still having the problem. My magnesium reads at 1500 ppm or slightly above with my Salifert kit. I've seen statements that magnesium is a muscle relaxant for snails.
<Yes... for most all animals>
 They die within a week or so, and do seem to fall down a lot before they succumb. I've tried Instant Ocean and Tropic Marin salts lately, and the newly-mixed saltwater always tests at 1500 or above.
<Strange. You want it, [Mg], to be about three times the concentration of Calcium>
I went to a good fish store today, and they confirmed the 1500 magnesium reading. They said this was surprising, since salt mixes generally produces less magnesium than this (especially Instant Ocean).
<Agreed>
They suggested the extra magnesium may be coming from my water source (RO, but not DI).
<Mmm, nah>
I tried to test for magnesium in my RO water, but the Salifert Mg test kit doesn't seem to work with fresh water. So my questions: is this magnesium level (with a calcium level generally between 400 and 450) capable of killing turbo snails in a couple of weeks?
<Yes; it can>
(Other inverts, such as Margarita Snails and Fire Shrimp, seem to do OK in the tank.) Is it likely for 100 to 200 ppm of magnesium to pass through my RO filter?
<Not>
 Is there a way I can test for it (i.e. a test that works in fresh water)?
<There are... you might look on Hach and LaMotte's websites... or a lab nearby or distal that you can send a sample to for testing>
I don't want to buy a DI filter without a good reason. Thanks, Jerry
<Welcome. Please do report back to us w/ your further findings. Bob Fenner>

Saltwater chemistry and sand beds 5/29/12
Hi crew!
<Hi Jen>
I've got a couple of questions for you.  I mixed up a new batch of saltwater yesterday and tested it this morning.  I tested: pH 7.97 (using a Hanna meter), calcium 520 (using new kit bottle says it expires 2014) and alkalinity 9 dKH.  Notes of interest: made the RO/DI water last Thursday. 
It has been aerating for 3 days in a 32 gal Rubbermaid container. I added the Coralife salt directly to the water while mixing it and continuing aeration (using powerhead and airstone) to a salinity of 1.025.  I would like to increase the pH and the alkalinity using SeaChem Reef Buffer. Will that help to drive down the calcium?
<Most reef blend salts do have elevated calcium levels which should drop within a few days as long as calcium loving animals are present.  Reef Buffer is not going to drive the calcium level down.
As to raising your pH, yes, Reef Buffer should raise it to 8.3 when properly dosed.>
I read water makeup FAQs and I saw where other people have had the same problem with Coralife.  Also I was thinking about adding more sand to my 55 gallon. The tank has been running for 6 years and some of the sand has been lost to cleaning.
<And also will slowly dissolve.>
 I thought I read somewhere on your website that the benefits the sand provides diminishes significantly after 2 years.
<For reasons above and in six years, quite a bit of detritus will accumulate in the sand bed which diminishes the buffering effects of the sand due to the acids present.>
Thank you for all of your expert advice!  It is truly appreciated!
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>
  Jennifer

Pre mixing water clarifications  1/9/12
Hi Crew,
I was reading your section on RODI use and options to not using an RODI unit (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water4maruse.htm). During this part of your page I am a bit confused..you wrote...
And the Very Best Method!? None At All: Premixing/Storing Saltwater

The simplest, most assured way of making sure sanitizers, metals (that can be settled/complexed), excess gasses... are removed from solution ahead of using synthetic salt mixes is to pre-mix and store them for a week or so ahead of use. This is best accomplished by way of buying and dedicating "Fish Tank Only" gear to the purpose. A new (my favorite are the Rubbermaid (tm) Brute) trash can and lid (to keep little hands and stuff out) maybe with their spiffy dolly to roll around... a pump (like a powerhead, but with a nozzle for attaching a bit of flexible tubing to ease moving the water to your system(s)... and possibly a thermostatic heater (make sure and unplug this when doing additions)... and your trusty hydrometer...
By allowing the new water to mix and circulate, many things are done... chlorine/amine are liberated, perhaps excess gas, metals... and the various soluble and not so components of your salt mix are able to complete solubilize ahead of use.
Does this mean that I can use untreated well water as long as I mix the water ahead of time with salt and store it for a week in advance?
<Ah, no
... you have to start w/ whatever source of "clean" water (w/ little pollution...) of whatever source>
 Would the quality of water be the same?
<Would not be the same...>
If this is the case, my 30 mile trip every week to the pet store to get 55 gallons of RODI water would be eliminated...that would be wonderful!!!
Thanks!
Jess
<What is the make up of your well water? IF it's suspect for aquarium use, it may not be all that good for you to use as drinking, cooking water...
Have you looked into just having your own RO or other water-filtering device? For the amount of water you're talking about, it will pay in a very short while to have your own for all purposes. Bob Fenner>
Re: Pre mixing water clarifications  1/9/12
Hi again Bob....
Yes, I am considering a unit right now. It is a three stage unit and is in my price range.
<Ahh, I use a cheapy (about a hundred dollar) Home Depot unit...>
 I assume that I can check the water after filtering to see if the 3 stage will meet my needs.
<Oh yes. Likely there are services where you can send a water sample and folks will tell you what your options are>
I am moving my 75 gallon to a 220 gallon and I am nervous about the nitrates spiking again. When I started the 75 gallon I used uncured dry rock without realizing it had to cure....silly me.
<Very common>
 It took a month in my tank to cure and I went through over 150 gallons in water changes to get the nitrates down to zero so that I could finally add fish. I am dreading that same thing happening although I have learned since then to cure the rock in containers before adding to my main tank!
<Good>
You are right though, I should get an RODI system.
<Yes>
While I have you here, I am planning on moving my 3 clowns and one dwarf angel to my QT tank where my royal gramma is hanging out (he was in quarantine and then realized that I am getting a new tank so I kept him in there so that I only have to move him once when the new tank is ready). Do you see a problem with adding these fish for a week or so to the QT tank?
<Mmm, a 30... should be fine. Do add a few pieces of PVC pipe, fittings...>
 It is a 30 long with just a HOB carbon filter and air stone. I also have 2 scarlet shrimps and a fire shrimp a flame scallop some hermit crabs and a star coral (galaxy coral)
  that will probably have to go in there for a week or so....any thoughts?
<Should be fine. Do monitor water quality... keep a good volume of the old water about for changing>
Thank you :)
Jess
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

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.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm>
Thanks for any wisdom you can provide...
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Jerry
Re Low pH and low alkalinity...is Coralife the culprit? 6/29/2011
James,
<Jerry>
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)>
Jerry
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,
<Jerry>
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.
<OK.>
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).
<Yikes.>
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)>
Jerry

Re: water chemistry question... Alk. anomaly & Red Sea synthetic/borate, & salt mix issues f's    3/8/11
Thank you for the response Bob!
<Welcome Adam!>
I've been waiting a while before writing you back because I wanted to be sure I had isolated the exact problem. While things improved a little when I increased the pH of my tank, that situation did not hold and my Acroporas started to deteriorate again soon after. However, after a couple weeks of testing every day, I believe I've discovered, and corrected the real culprit:
<Ah, good>
As I mentioned, I had just recently switched to a new Red Sea salt, which is the first time I've ever used a salt that is evaporated directly from the ocean, I've always used synthetic salts. Shortly there after, I started using baking soda. For the past year and a half, my daily/weekly maintenance routine on my tank has involved testing alkalinity, calcium and magnesium levels, and I do more thorough tests for things like borate alkalinity specifically, strontium, iodide, silicates, etc. monthly.
<Ok>
I upped my testing to daily for most of those parameters since I wrote you last, but with a special focus on the alkalinity component because the tissue damage I was seeing looked so much like the Alk crash my tank went through before I set up the auto-doser. In that time, I've done two largish water changes. It turns out the naturally evaporated sea salt has a much higher borate concentration than the synthetic salts
<Yes... there are some brands that do this... for a couple of reasons>
I've used in the past, which have almost no borate. The volume of carbonate solution my auto-doser is set to dispense was also determined based on the reef specific carbonate source I was using before I switched to baking soda.
While my dKH has stayed relatively constant, each time I did a water change, my total alkalinity would spike, and then over the course of a couple of days return to 'normal' levels. What was actually happening was that over time, the salt was adding far more borate to my water than my tank was consuming, and the baking soda solution wasn't concentrated enough to keep up with the carbonate demand at the set dispensing volume.
<This is an apt description... what was likely occurring>
Each water change my relative concentration of borate was increasing, so the total alkalinity test continued to return 'normal' values. In the time between one water change, my carbonate alkalinity fell to as low as 1.79 meq/L,
<Yikes>
only to be propped back up to 'safe' levels by another water change (when magically, things would start to look better), then start to fall again.
This repeated stress over the course of a month+ lead to the problems I saw.
I'm now testing for both borate alkalinity and carbonate alkalinity separately every other day, and have adjusted my auto-doser accordingly. My total alkalinity is now on the high side at 4.64 meq/L (or about 13 dKH), but my carbonate concentration 3.4 meq/L (about 9.5 dKH). It will take a while for the tissue that burnt to fully recover, but already the reversal is night and day - the tips have their colour and 'fleshiness' back, the surviving polyps are out in full force, and the corals are already starting to plate over the areas that died. It appears the carbon and biopellet reactors had nothing to do with it!
<Agreed>
Again, thank you for your time. I don't know where I would be without WWM - well, I do know, I would have a tank full of dead coral.
Adam
<Thank you for your valuable insights offered here. You have helped many others, myself included. Cheers, BobF>

Chemistry problem? Yes. Calcium precipitation in fresh batch of saltwater. Reef Crystals, again. 12/2/2010
Hello again crew,
<Hi Zach.>
I recently moved from a 55g into a 90g tank.
<OK>
I transferred all of my live stock, rock, and sand. I have done this several times over the last year helping friends and such and never had a problem, that is until now.
My water seems to be a milky color and its not from sand or debris floating in the water column.
<I know where this is going.....>
I think my problem was I had a bucket of Instant Ocean Reef Crystals sitting open for a day or so and some of it got crusty.
<Ding! We have a winner! Reef crystals, not the fact that it had gotten a little crusty.>
Well I didn't think anything of it in my excitement and I just mixed it in my big garbage can a couple nights before the move. I always use powerheads and heaters in my make up water and RO/DI water. I tested my water and my calcium is at 440, Alk is 3 when I tested, but I added buffer to bring it up.
<Alk of 3 - was that 3 dKH, or 3 meq\l I suspect it is dKH, which is very low.>
I loaned my magnesium test to a friend so I cant test for magnesium but I don't think it is the culprit.
<It isn't.>
It has been five days and the milky look to my water has not cleared up. I ran some carbon to no effect
and put two large canister filters on for a while but still no luck in getting this haze to clear.
<Assuming it isn't getting any worse, It will not clear unless the water is perfectly still and allowed to settle out. It is calcium carbonate.
All of the alkalinity precipitated out of your water. I'm betting the inside of your trashcan is pretty crusty as well?>
I have had no ammonia spike or nitrite or nitrate. Some of my LPS are less than happy, but I think it is because of the mood and the drastic change in chemistry from adding so much new water.
<Probably.>
My SPS, my Condy, chalice and fish all seem to be happy. Should I throw the rest of this salt away and buy more and start doing big water changes or wait to see if this clears up. I just don't know if this is a serious problem or not or what course of action would be best.
<First thing to do is stop adding any sort of buffers to the tank.
Next, get yourself some new salt, some brand other than Reef Crystals.
Then it is time to start doing water changes
and get your calcium and dKH back into balance.>
If it helps my stock list is, 2 percula clowns, 1 hippo tang, 1 snow flake moray eel, 1 firefish goby, candy cane coral, trumpet coral, Blastomussa, Favia, green star polyps, brown star polyps, various mushrooms and Ricordea, blue clove polyps, several different Zoanthids, feather dusters, 1 peppermint shrimp, 1 cleaner shrimp, 1 coral banded shrimp, pulsing xenia, Kenya tree coral, various sponges, chalice, tuxedo urchin, brittle star, and the various bonus little critters you always get in a reef. I grow Chaeto, mangroves, and feather Caulerpa in my fuge. I run a remora pro with a Mag 5. I have excellent flow in the tank with Koralia power heads, and I run a 18w U.V. sterilizer on the return pump. I can't think if you might need to know anything else. As I said all my fish are eating well and only a few of my coral look angry from the move. Should I ignore this and see what happens or is there some immediate action I need to take.
<Have a read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/caalktrbfix.htm >
Thank you in advance for your advice it has always served me well. Hoping your holidays are great
<and yours as well.>
Zach.
<MikeV>
Re: Chemistry problem? Yes. Calcium precipitation in fresh batch of saltwater. 12/2/2010

Thank you for the quick reply. I was pretty sure it was something to do with calcium and Alk. My Alk was 3meq/l not dKH.
<Ahh, still low, but much better.>
I only have a small amount of regular instant ocean that I will do a water change with. I cannot go out
and buy another bag of salt I am a poor college student with six kids.
If I do a water change with the different salt and just leave the tank alone for a while will it eventually go away on its own or will I be stuck with it like this until I switch to another brand of salt with a lower calcium content?
<It will settle out eventually.>
Thank you again Zach.
<MikeV>
Re: Chemistry problem?  12/3/10

Well I took your advice and mixed up some regular IO salt that I had laying around. However this too was kinda crusty on top and it too mixed up smokey.
Is this normal for instant ocean salts to mix funny if it hardens?
<IO always mixes up cloudy for the first few hours, then clears up in my experience.>
I broke down and spent the money to get a new bag of salt and it mixed up crystal clear.
<IO or another brand?>
Am preparing RO water for a large change. I have a big Rena and a small Eheim canister filter should I hook these up temporarily to help clear the water or will the precip not even get picked up?
<If it is fine enough, it will likely pass right through the filter.>
Thanks again for the advice and helping me figure out what went wrong.
<My pleasure.>
<MikeV>

Salt troubles - Salt mix troubles, calcium precipitation.   10/12/10
Hello again,
<Hi Jim.>
I hope all is well.
<Doing good, thanks.>
I am about to pull out what is left of my hair. Recently when I mixed up a new batch of saltwater it turned milky white.
<Not uncommon at first.>
After a week it still had not cleared up so I dumped it and cleaned the storage container as it was
covered with a white film inside.
<The calcium precipitated out of solution. I had the same thing happen with a batch of Reef Crystals>
Now that my container is refilled with a new batch of RO/DI water I mixed up some new salt and it turned white again.
Normally it clears up in a few minutes.
<Is this a new batch of salt?>
I run an air stone and a pump in the bottom to circulate the water. My salt brand is Coralife which I have been using for years with no issues. I called their customer service the first time this happened and did not get any real support or idea of what is causing this.
Any ideas or suggestions?
<It sounds like your calcium precipitated out of the water. You may want to test the calcium and alkalinity of the water and see if anything is amiss. You can read more here with the links at the top of the page.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm >
Thanks again,
Jim
<MikeV> 

Aluminum Foil in Water Change 10/7/10
Hello all at WWM,
<And to you Tom>
I have a strange question that I have searched all over your site but cannot find the answer.
<Okay>
While preparing my 73G Saltwater tank for a water change I ran into a strange issue.
I have water coming from an RO/DI into a Rubbermaid container. I got the salinity/temp all perfect and set a pump in container to circulate.
I then covered with aluminum foil to protect from any foreign particles(the RO/DI and the container are in my laundry room I didn't want laundry fuzz floating into the container). I went to bed and got up this AM to do a water change. However, the foil fell into the water and turned to a hint of brown/tan. I am aware that the saltwater tinted the aluminum foil but the most important question is did the foil hurt or release toxins to my replacement water?
<Not likely, no. Very little Al likely is/was imparted to the water... You could use a chemical filtrant; likely PolyFilter, but I would not be concerned>
I haven't done the change yet and am waiting for some answers. My tank has been very healthy with some corals/inverts and I don't want to move forward without hearing from you.
Thanks for your time and assistance.
Tom
<Bob Fenner>

Algae and salt mix brands: SW Salt Mix Selection and Water Chemistry: 10/16/2009
Good morning.
<Hi Keith.>
I have a question in regards to switching of salt brands and reported outbreaks of Cyano, BGA or film algae. On many boards you can find praises of certain salt brands and also as many negative comments, primarily "I switched to brand B from brand A and now I am battling Cyano". If salt mix A tests negative for phosphates, silica and nitrate or at least at the same concentrations as salt mix B (still low undetectable amounts by most kits) is it more so the relationship between alk, ca and pH, and the differences that different salt brands have in that regard that contribute to a stable system seemingly becoming unstable?
<Heheheh, I am familiar with these comments\statements\arguments.>
I am just trying to understand this because I find negative reports on just about every salt brand out there.
<True.>
Now granted, I have no idea if these people that talk poorly about the brands check their IO
filters regularly, or bump up alk or ca to balance each other out too quickly (affecting pH), or even if the are overstocked or lax about maintenance but swear when they changed from brand A back to brand B all was well.
<That is the key issue there. This is also why I take those comments with a huge chunk of salt and rely on personal experience >
At the same time I can find just as many different reefers praising these same salts (Brand A) and saying they had disasters when switching to brand B. These brands are so diverse too in praise and disappointment with equally good and bad reviews of each brand, mostly Reef Crystals, IO, Red Sea, Oceanic and Coralife....all the brands my chain store stocks
<I'll throw my two cents in on these brands based upon my direct experience:
IO: Never had a problem, changed to a different brand because I wanted more Ca
Reef Crystals: I had a lot of the Ca precipitate out of solution while I was mixing it. I was not the only one in my area to experience the same thing. Others in my local reef club did not have this problem. May not be exactly fair, but I am done with Reef Crystals.
Oceanic: No complaints other than it is ground so fine, it tends to get everywhere
Rea Sea: Never Used
Tropic Marin Pro: What I currently use. Expensive, but no complaints. >
My LFS that is a really good LFS with actual reefers and marine biologists as staff use Oceanic but all there tanks are running through a HUGE intricate basement sump using many types of reactors, skimmers the size of a hot water tanks and as well they have an abundance of clams and stony corals through out their displays and sale tanks not to mention their lighting!...so again saying this is a great salt with that much technology is a lot different in need than my modest tank with softies and a few LPS running a simple HOB skimmer, a refugium, powerheads and PC for lighting.
<Not really, it is just a question of scale. A bad salt will produce bad results regardless of your equipment.>
Currently I use Red Sea Coral Pro (8 months), which up until lately consistently mixed up at 1.025 at Ca of 460, Alk of 8 and pH of 8.2 through 4 tubs of salt mix. I have to add alk twice a week but Ca and pH seems pretty stable between WCs but it is hard to find that salt locally all of a sudden and the 5th tub I bought was very high in alk (17+ dKH) and below 300 in Ca.
<May have gotten a bad\poorly mixed batch.>
Red Sea did exchange the bucket, but it took some time.
<Good service on their part.>
Oceanic is the only salt that is a 100% locally available to me, not to mention the local support of users of this salt from the reputable LFS, It seems that from most peoples findings, it's Ca and Alk are about the same as what I was getting from Red Sea at SG 1.025 but with better mag...some have said the mag might be a bit too high though.
<As long as it is not sky high, I would not worry too much.>
I have also read that many people mix ca deficient salts with great alk 50/50 with salts with great ca but lower alk for make up water as well, but with just as many people saying never to do that because of all the other unknown chemical reactions that might alter the mix useless in the end to what they are trying to achieve....it's perplexing.
<I wouldn't do that simply because every brand's mixing ration to water is different. I would rather use a good reliable brand, and then correct the mixed water for alk and Ca before adding it to the tank.>
I realize results may vary on all salt brands,
<They will vary slightly from bucket to bucket in the same brand.>
all tanks are different and have different needs, but if a salt mix were to be changed how gradual should the process be and does the switch and the adjustment time in regard to levels of Ca, Alk, pH and Mag have more to do with possible blooms than any salt mix just being a bad brand if it starts out Phosphate, silicate and Nitrate free?
<That is a distinct possibility, the best way to determine that is by repeated testing and see if a trend emerges. As to switching out brands, I change about 20% of my water per week, so I introduced the new salt with each water change.>
Keith
<Here is a link to one of many pages here on salt brands by manufacturer:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seachemsalt.htm >
<MikeV>

Re: Algae and salt mix brands: SW Salt Mix Selection and Water Chemistry: 10/18/2009
Thanks Mike,
<Hi Keith.>
One last question, On the Oceanic brand, when you used it did you need to bump up alk or did it tend to stabilize in the 8.5 or so range?
<I had to bump it up a bit, but nothing too extraordinary. 1 teaspoons of Baking soda for 50 gallons of water got me to dKH of 10>.
Was Ca extremely elevated or like 480-500?
<Looking through my notes, it was in the 440 - 470 range>
<<One thing to keep in mind is that salt mixes are just that - mixes. No two batches or production lots are going to be exactly the same. I look for parameters within a range rather than a set value.>
Someone reported a Ca of close to 600 at 1.026 but also an alk of 13 and I think one or the other would have precipitated while aerating...so again,
<Likely so.. >
I guess I need to take this all with a grain of salt and use my own experiences,
<Exactly. Now granted, if 50 people started posting that brand X of some supplement killed their tank, I would be very cautious about adding it to mine.
I just always want to experiment safely you know, where my tank will be happy and safe during these tests.
<Understandably.>
BTW, I had the same problem with Reef Crystals, chalked up my clean powerhead and heater, as well as the inside of the bucket while mixing!
<Chalked my pump to the point it stopped running and had to soak everything in vinegar..>
So, like you probably not fair, but I don't view that salt as an alternative in my "quest".
<I really think there was a bad batch of RC out there. I've seen\heard too many stories of this from different parts of the country to be coincidental. Perhaps we should start comparing lot numbers.>
Thanks for the reply and help sorting some of this out.
<My pleasure.>
Keith
<MikeV>

Mad Readings In Marine Salt Mix 8/4/09
<Hello Valeria>
I've purchased two marine salt mixes, Instant Ocean and Tropic Marine, which I intended to use to prepare a mildly brackish water. Just as a test, I prepared 1L of each salt mix at 3g/L concentration in DI water, mixed well and let stand over night. Next day I measured the dGH and it read approximately 30 (600ppm) in both mixes while dKH was 2 and pH 8.2! I don't understand how that's possible. I prepared the same solutions 2 more times with the same outcome. DI water on its own measured 0 dGH and dKH. I've never used marine salt before, so I may be doing something wrong. Looking forward to your expert opinion.
<You are not doing anything wrong, marine salt mixes are formulated to provide a pH of 8+, and a dKH of 3+ppm. Your dKH reading of 2 is expected using DI water. When you mix your sea water with fresh, to provide mildly brackish conditions, these readings will drop somewhat, depending on your freshwater parameters.>
Thank you,
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Valeria

RO\DI systems: pH drop after adding salt mix.  6/18/2009
Hey folks.
<Hi Jason, how's TN?>
My freshly made RO/DI water shows Ph 9.8 out of a brand new unit.
<Wow, that is high. What is the pH of the water out of the tap?>
6 Stage 3 RO/3 DI cartridges. Is this good or even what it's supposed to be?
<The pH of the output water is dependent upon the pH of the water going into the unit.>
Using a Hanna tester.
<May want to get a different test kit to sanity check your tester.>
Also, why does my Ph drop in my make-up water garbage can after I add salt?
This is after it had a chance to aerate for a day and get Ph up.
<The output water is stripped of its buffers, the pH quickly drops as it gets mixed with oxygen and carbon dioxide in the air.>
Seems counter productive to initially have Ph where it's supposed to be only to have it drop, then have to raise it with buffer to be the same as tank water
<Quite normal. Water out of a RO\DI unit has no buffering ability at all, so the pH changes based upon what is added to the water..
Thanks,
Jason
<MikeV>

Re Tropic Marin Pro Reef Salt -- Extremely High Reading Of Calcium And Magnesium During Mixing. Any ideas? 2/4/09 <Hi Jamie. Thanks for the cc. Do keep us posted. James (Salty Dog)> Lou, Many Thanks for the email (see below). I have a sample of the salt in question and would like to send it for analysis. Would your facility be best suited for this, or can I send it to a UK branch? Kind Regards, Jamie Stokes -----Original Message----- From: WetWebMedia Crew [mailto:crew@wetwebmedia.com] Sent: 18 December 2008 14:38 To: Jamie Stokes Hi guys, <Hi Jamie> The wealth of this site is astounding! You must e really pleased at offering this kind of quality advice to all. Nice one! I been having some issues with Tropic Marin Pro Reef salt. After mixing with RO Water I have tested the water and found very high levels of Calcium (550) and Magnesium (2000). I have been seeing this high level in my Marine Reef system since the beginning, but could not understand why. After testing the RO water before mixing (zero levels), I decided to test the salt mix, which is when I found this seemingly unusual level. This is the second batch of salt I have had this issue with. As a result of these excessive levels, some of the corals/polyps/xenia have started to shrivel, and I have never had any algae growth despite increased lighting etc. . I have purchased 2 different brands of test kit to make sure I have not had a bad test batch, but the reading are the same. Have you experience, or even heard of this before? I mix the salt over 24hrs to 26 degrees C with a small pump and air stone to around 1.026. I am at a loss of what to do next, except complain to TMC. Thoughts? <Jamie, I've pasted the email I received from Lou Ekus, Tropic Marin, regarding your concern with Tropic Marin Salt. He asked that you call him if you like. You will find his contact information at the end of the message content. James (Salty Dog)> Many Thanks, <You're welcome.> Jamie Stokes Hi James, Unless there is something going on that is completely out of the range of anything Tropic Marin has ever seen, I can have no explanation for numbers like these. In fact, in RO/DI water, it would be impossible to get our Ca and Mg that high without seeing lots of precipitation. Let this person know that and ask them to contact me directly and I'll help them figure out what is going on. I have serious doubts about these readings even though he states that different test kits were being used. Also, please let him know that he needs to contact Tropic Marin NOT TMC. Thanks All the best, Lou Ekus Director of US Operations Tropic Marin USA 44 Center Street Montague, MA. 01351 voice: 413-367-0101 fax: 413-367-0144 www.tropicmarin-usa.com

TDS Readings'¦Leaching Storage Container -- 07/16/08 Greetings All, <<Hello>> THANKS in advance for a wonderful web site, <<Quite welcome>> unfortunately I couldn't find an answer to my question/situation so I must pick a few brain cells. <<Not too many I hope, I only have a few left'¦and many of those have been allocated to destruction via alcohol consumption [grin] >> I have a 7 stage RO/DI set up in the basement; the water drains in to 2 55-gallon blue barrels that are food grade--they had tomatoes in them previously <<Okay>> --the 2 barrels are connected via 1-inch PVC at the bottom so that as one fills, it fills the other. <<Understood>> As needed, I pump water into a 3rd 55-gallon barrel for saltwater changes one week prior to its use. <<Sounds good>> My TDS readings are at 001 out of the unit, and within the last 3-4 weeks the water in the barrels has started reading anywhere from 35 to 80ppm. ANY IDEAS????? <<I'll assume you are not adding buffers to these containers (would expect much higher TDS readings if so), so this is likely the result of something 'leaching' from the containers themselves. This may be something that was previously absorbed from the tomatoes, or something from the barrels makeup. You say these containers are 'food grade' but that doesn't mean they don't/won't leach chemicals'¦it just means that whatever they leach should be safe for human consumption. Water is a universal solvent'¦some leaching is not unexpected, even were these 'new' containers, and I think it likely they are indeed safe for your intended purpose here. You could take a sample for testing (perhaps at a College/University laboratory) if overly concerned, but if your tank inhabitants are not displaying any unexplained issues of late or nuisance alga hasn't sprung up unexpectedly, I would be inclined to ignore these readings and continue as you have been doing. Regards, EricR>>

Saltwater Mixing Container Turning Brown. 7/6/08 Hi I have 120gal with 45 gallon sump/refugium. I have a system set up that performs an automatic water exchange of approximately 2.5 gallons per day. This is done at 1 hour intervals for about 8 hours for a total of 2.5 gallons daily. My fresh saltwater storage container is a Rubbermaid Brute 44gal. <A fave brand, model> The system works pretty well if I don't say so myself. My salt mix is Red Sea Coral Pro. I'm using a Spectrapure 5 stage DI. I keep the lid on tight and the water constantly mixing with a mag drive pump. It's heated to 80° and is kept vigorously mixing until the container is just about empty. The tubing that pulls the water from the container goes through a hole that I drilled up near the top of the container. I switch over to a smaller powerhead for mixing when the level has dropped too low for the mag drive. But the question I have concerns the brown film that develops in the fresh water container after about 3 days of storage. What is this stuff? <Got me...> It coats the sides of the container, the cords, the pumps, and the tubing. Is it harmful? <Mmm, not likely> Over time the buildup increases and I'm unsure about the potential to create a problem in my tank in the long term. I've been told that fresh saltwater mixes can be stored for a period of weeks. <This is usually the case> So if this brown stuff is a fact of fresh water life, then is it something to be concerned about? I have searched around for an answer to what this stuff is and if it's harmful. I can only seem to come up the fact that it exists. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks. Jeff <Have seen similar... always leads to make the general questions... "Is this biological?" "Or just chemical"... The can itself is very chemically inert (polyethylene...), the water... lacks nutrient, reactants period... which leaves... The salt mix... I am a much bigger fan of other manufacturers, makes myself... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/index.htm Scroll down to "Water, Salt Issues" Bob Fenner>

Bad batch of salt burning my corals? Oceanic   6/27/08 I have a question about some oceanic salt i purchased which happened to coincide with a sharp downturn in my corals, snails, and starfishes' health. <Okay> I didn't notice the problem until the 3rd water change I did, which by that time the corals were already distressed. I put 12 scoops of salt in my water change tank, then added the water, used a power head to stir up the salt and dissolve it, and I put a heater in to get the temp up. I used R.O. water, and the salt dissolved almost immediately like Oceanic does, and it looked fine, I came back about an hour later, and the water was milky white. In addition to the water being white, there was a very fine silt settling on the bottom and sides of the tank, and the powerhead. <Alkaline precipitant.. insoluble calcium carbonate> How it ended up in my tank was I had previously been using white buckets, and hadn't noticed the cloudiness, I noticed it a little when I put the water in, but it seemed to go away really quickly and the fish in the tank were, and still are seemingly in perfect health, so I didn't think much of it. I had the water tested and the parameters were fine according to my LFS, <For future use, I would recommend purchasing your own testing kits so that you can keep an eye on your aquarium. LFS testing is usually done with cheap, inaccurate dip strips, and their view of 'fine' often isn't.> no ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, calcium was 450, and alkalify was in the 3.75 range. I am thinking that the silt that seemingly reconstituted after initially dissolving may be settling on or coming in direct contact with the corals and burning them. <Most likely not burning them, a precipitate is inert, but irritating yes. Other things may also be at work here.> My questions are, any idea what this silt might be? Also, I switched salts, and using the same water did not have the problem, so I am pretty sure it was the salt. <I have had only bad experiences with Oceanic salt. You get what you pay for.> As far as getting rid of this stuff so my corals and anemone can come back home from the friend who is keeping them for me, what might you suggest? I am thinking 15% water change each week till I have the water completely turned over, and in addition to this lightly targeting the top of my sand, and my rock to get rid of anything that settled. <Just do a couple big water changes to get rid of any remaining particulate matter, and you should be fine.> I know it is still there because my friend gave me a small piece of xenia to use to see if the water had improved for corals, and it turned white overnight. <Could be because of lighting, water chemistry, moving, fragging, etc. Not a single-variable test by any means> My parameters as of now, and which have been steady are: ammonia 0, ph 8.4, nitrate, 0 creeping up to 5 or so by the day i do water changes, nitrite 0, phosphate 0, calcium 450, alkalinity 3.75. Again, through all this my fish are showing absolutely no signs of stress, have no visible spots or injuries, aren't scratching on rocks, and are eating great. Sorry for being so long-winded, but I have not been able to find any insight into what might be causing the corals and certain inverts to die like this while the fish do so well. Btw, I did buy a kit and test for copper too, there was none. <If things have actually died, I would begin to suspect things other than just precipitate from alkalinity troubles...metals in the tank, medications, etc. Otherwise this should just be a problem of corals irritated by the grit in the water.> Any help would be greatly appreciated, Chris. <Best of luck. Benjamin>

Sea Salt Mix and Calcium 05/02/2008 Dear Crew, <<Hello, Andrew today>> I recently chose to stop purchasing pre-mixed saltwater from my LFS. I bought a good RO/DI system and some Reef Crystals sea salt mix based on readings from your site. I was disappointed to find that the salt mixed to a 1.026 specific gravity only contained 300ppm calcium according to my testing kit. <<I have to say that there have been quite a few reports recently of Reef Crystals producing lower levels of trace elements, is a concern>> I've tested the mixed water twice now to the same effect. Do you suggest that I try a different salt mix brand next time, or do you suspect that all brands are like this? <<I was a personal user of RC salt and was suffering similar results, i changed over to SeaChem salt as a test, and now all my trace elements before introduction to the tank are all acceptable. So, yes, maybe switch to a different brand after the RC has been used up. Possibly buffer until you change>> If necessary, I will begin dosing calcium to around 400ppm in my water column, but I'd prefer to stick with my 15% water change per week. Any suggestions? <<As above, dose until RC is used up, and try another brand of salt like SeaChem for example>> Thanks so much for the help! <<Thanks for the questions, hope this helps. A Nixon>>

Ammonia!!!   4/11/07 Hi WWM, I have an established 150 gallon reef tank which has been running for 6 months. I did a water change and today I noticed my fish were breathing heavily. Then I did an ammonia test and it is, 0.25-0.5 and I don't know what the cause is. I have 9 fish. <Mmm, akin to other questions/even jokes re cause/effect... what came first... the ammonia might well have been a response to some challenging aspect of the water, change... You do pre-mix, store...?> 3 Chromis Valentini Puffer Mandarin Dragonet Lawnmower Blenny Blue Tang Convict Tang 1 Ocellaris Clownfish I feed 1 cube of frozen food a day and flake food in the mornings. Could a dying coral cause the ammonia? <Any source of protein could...> If you know what the cause is could you please reply quickly so I know what to do. Thank you, Maison <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/nh3marfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Instant Ocean Reef Crystals, Snails, and a Klein's Butterfly... Mich   4/11/07 (I don't know if you received this before, sending a second time) <Thank you for re-sending. I don't recall seeing this> To Whom It May Concern: <Jonathan> First and foremost, thank you for all the vital information you provide to your readers.  I have successfully maintained a 30 gallon FOWLR saltwater aquarium for approximately fourteen months, and have utilized your site on numerous occasions. <Glad to be of service> Unfortunately, I feel like my questions would seem quite elementary. <?> Having researched your FAQ section, I have found some similar situations to that of mine.  I've been using Instant Ocean since beginning my aquarium. <A good product... that has seemed to have suffered some inconsistency incidents in recent times> Recently, running low on salt, I decided to try Instant Ocean's Reef Crystals. When I got home and opened the Reef Crystals I noticed a very strong smell. <!?> The best way to describe it is that of a freshly opened container of multi-vitamins. I have never noticed a smell with my traditional Instant Ocean salt, <Me neither... perhaps with the exception of a sharp, salty "clean ocean" smell at times> and wondered if this could be attributed to the added trace elements in the Reef Crystal mix? <Mmm, shouldn't be> Additionally, since I performed my first water change with the new salt, my Margarita snails have been acting quite sluggish and are losing their ability to adhere to live rock, glass, etc. I have had my (4) snails for over a year now with no problems. I am a bit concerned over the smell of the Reef Crystals and the possible correlation to the decline of my snails. Red Sea test readings are as follows: Ammonia = 0.0 N02 = 0.0 NO3 = .25ppm to .50ppm (this has always floated in this range) Copper = 0.0 PH = 8.2 Alkalinity = Normal Range (I am aware I should implement a more specific test kit) I use RO for 10% weekly water changes and have never tested for magnesium or calcium. I am worried that the magnesium could be an issue, being several statements in the FAQ section comment on such a problem. I am also aware that my NO3 readings are quite high, yet they have been consistently floating in that range for several months. I would think my snails would have been adversely affected by these NO3 readings before now. All of my other livestock appears fine - (6) hermit crabs, a Bi-color Blenny, and a Klein's Butterfly.  Please provide additional information you may have acquired since those previous submissions. Also, is this potent smell typical of Instant Ocean's Reef Crystals, and if not, could it be the cause for the decline in my precious Margarita snails? <Don't know... but this is possible> Finally, I am aware that a Klein's Butterfly fish is not well suited for a 30 gallon set-up. I am getting married later this year and cannot upgrade to a larger aquarium until late 2008. In my research, I have found the Klein's Butterfly will grow to approximately 5 inches. He is an adult that is currently 2' 2½ inches.  Is there any information as to the growth rate of this fish? <Does generally grow slowly... am out in part of its range currently visiting... You can see a graphic representation of a "growth curve" for this on fishbase.org: Well, actually you can't... they don't show a Growth curve for this species: http://fishbase.org/Summary/speciesSummary.php?ID=5446&genusname=Chaetodon&speciesname=kleinii But IME it is a slow grower...> Will I be able to maintain him in a 30 gallon aquarium for another year and a half? I love my fish a great deal, and some would say, treat him as if he was a cat. <Perhaps> Thank you for your time and effort in these matters. Sincerely, John. Bristol, Pa <Mmm, am hoping MichL, will see your physical address, direct you to fellow marine keepers, associations in your State. Bob Fenner> <I would contact the company that makes Instant Ocean, Aquarium Systems... re your concerns here... Send them back a sample for testing. BobF>

High Calcium and Suspect Salt Mix -- 03/15/07 I have been battling high calcium 550 to 650 for the past month doing constant water changes but seeing no drop. <<Mmm, have you validated the accuracy of the test kit?  Perhaps trying a fresh kit and/or different brand (Salifert, Seachem, Hach)>> Noticed my toadstool, zoanthids, and 4 week old xenia slowly shrivel up over last week.  I couldn't understand with a ph of 8.4, dKH 10, nitrates .10, alk (now I can't remember, but I do remember it was a good range), <<dKH is your alkalinity reading.  The acceptable range is generally 8 -- 10 dKH, though with your calcium level you are better of letting this drop to 7- 8 until you can identify the problem and make corrections>> phos. 1, <<Pretty high phosphate level, I would strive to get this reading down to .02 or less>> why, with so many water changes, the calcium was sky high? <<Likely the source water or salt mix>> Decided to test my R/O water with Instant Ocean salt mix (kept in a 50 gal. Rubbermaid container) and it, too, reads 550-600. <<I'm hearing more and more of concerns/problems re this brand of salt mix...very disconcerting considering this has been my absolute favorite and most recommended brand for three decades...>> The only thing I add to my R/O water (that I buy from Wal-Mart Culligan machine) is Seachem buffer 8.3, (I just started that) before I add the Instant ocean mix. <<Hmm...I wouldn't think it would matter, but try omitting the buffer and see what your test reads.  Also, test the water from your R/O unit 'before' adding the salt mix to rule out a bad membrane/high calcium levels from the source water>> This is the first time I've ever had a problem with high calcium.  Snowstorm galore! <<Indeed, yikes!>> However, I had added some calcium to my tank a few weeks ago, but since then have done water changes that should have brought it down. <<Not with a calcium reading of 600 mg in your change water>> Could I have gotten a bad batch of Instant Ocean?  (I order from Drs. Foster & Smith the 160 gal. bucket.)     <<Maybe so...I've had some questionable samples myself lately...and makes me suspicious re the ever-dropping 'sale-price' of this product lately>> I have also been battling green algae and red hair algae. <<Your high phosphate reading isn't helping here>> I bought two more powerheads to help with the algae.  Blew off some of the live rock with turkey baster, and made a storm out of that.  (geez)  Seems like after I did that, the algae blooms were worse and the corals started looking bad. <<Hmm...do you have any purposeful chemical filtration?  Adding a small canister filter with carbon and Poly-Filter will help...you should probably also consider utilizing an iron-based phosphate remover to get your phosphate level down (the Poly-Filter will help with this too)>> The live rock looks like it has sand lightly sprinkled on it and my snails and one cleaner shrimp has died and as I said before, the few soft corals I have do not look well at all. <<All a result of the chemical imbalances your tank is experiencing>> Fish are doing fine.  I feed them twice a day, but only enough for them to be able to eat within 1 min.  My tank is a 100 gal., 6 mos. old, with wet/dry trickle system - bio balls having been replaced with live rock, Super Skimmer by Coralife, <<Do make sure this skimmer is working well>> 5 powerheads, 1" of live sand, although, with all the vacuuming off the top of the sand due to all the algae, I doubt there is even an inch left!   1 Blue Hippo, 1 yellow tang, 1 Midas Blenny, 2 clowns, 1 PJ cardinal, some snails, 1 turbo snail.  Things just seem to be out of control.  Almost out of salt, so just ordered another bucket.  I hope that will test out better than the one I just finished with the high calcium. <<Do let me know>> I have no idea how to lower my calcium other than water changes and not adding anymore calcium or iodine, and just stick to straight out water changes, although, when my replacement water tests out of the calcium level of 550 +, I can't even do that. <<Agreed...>> Any help would be greatly appreciated...I have read so much on your website, that I am dizzy.  I've read everything on calcium, alk, phosphate, and different salts to use, all the algae sites.  I need some personal help.  Thank you ever so much...what we any of us do without this site?  I've tried the chat site, but seems like too much guess work going on there... a lot of people like me trying to help people like me!  (Oh Geez!)  ha-ha  Sometimes I've been lucky to get a pro, but not of late.  Thanks for your help...  Linda in GA        <<Well Linda, at this point I would try a different salt mix (Seachem, Tropic-Marin) to get things back in balance...and quickly!  And do also employ the chemical filtration I have suggested.  Make these changes and then give me a shout back if need be.  EricR in SC>>

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

Ca Salt Mix Help   2/24/07 I noticed about two months ago that the calcium levels in my tank started to drop (from 380s to 310s). I do weekly 20% water changes, and I've had trouble keeping alk above 8 as well. <Mmm... this sounds very familiar some how...> Both alk and calcium are low. I assumed that I had an increased demand for bio minerals in the tank.. just a couple of softies and coralline. As such, I just purchased Aquarium Systems Reef Crystals - attempting to switch from Tropic Marin - and made up a batch of Reef Crystal. I aerated the RO/DI water for a day. Buffered with Reef Builder, and let it aerate another 12 hours. <Good> Mix in the salt and let that sit another day. The first batch of Reef Crystals measured up: SG: 1.023 PH: 8.43 dKH: 11.2 Cal: 320 <... weird... low Calcium. Wait... how much ReefBuilder did you add? This is the most likely cause of Calcium loss here... read the label... a level teaspoon per ten gallons of water is about all I'd use... never more than twice this> I was concerned that the calcium was so low with a product I thought would be closer to the 400 range. I used a Salifert and Aquarium Systems calcium test and confirmed the calcium number three times. I concluded that maybe the buffer I used might have driven down the calcium <Yes... my guess as well> so I made another batch of Reef Crystals in a different bucket without any buffer and got a calcium reading of 325. I am very confused. <Mmmm... this is about the sixth report this month of troubles with the formerly tried and true, steady formulations of Aquarium Systems salts... I would write the company directly re this... Perhaps have your LFS test this bag...> Both calcium tests are about 1 year old. I suspect the Tropic Marin was having low calcium readings before ever going in the tank as well. <Really? Now... I would definitely test this as well... if you have any left. Perhaps "it" is your test kits> I know these are both fine salt mixes so I must be having some issue in the mix process??? <Not from what you relate> I add the salt to the water not the other way around. I've done the same process for a year without low calcium readings. One of the mix buckets is spotless and the other has a few white crystallization patches on the inside. The only commonality is the power head, pump, and air stone which have some crystallization on them from adding too much buffer several months ago. Any thoughts? <Yes... either the mix/es (not the TM though...) or your test gear> I am completely puzzled. Do the calcium test go bad in only a year? <No> Any guidance would be greatly appreciated. <Test the testers... have your best store make up a small batch... Write AS if inherent trouble, please report your findings back to me/us. Bob Fenner>

Salt Mixes... trouble... new big owners... changing names, formulations...   2/19/07 Hi folks - <Darrel> I have a rather peculiar problem -- Short version question first -- long version follows, if needed: <Okay!> Q: If a name brand salt mix container is left opened and it absorbs ambient humidity, can that make the salt mix go bad (unable to stabilize PH)? <Will not... just makes it a bit harder to dissolve> Regards, Darrel Long Version format: 1) 55 Gal main marine tank  fish, live sand & live rock -- doing fine. 2) Doing 5 gallon water changes every week -- alternating between salt mix (Marineland Ocean Crystals) and store bought RO salt mix (they use Instant Ocean) 3) Again ... main tank doing FINE --salt mix -- we mix into 15 gallon storage container, age & aerate for 48 hours before use. 4) Decided to add a new tang, bought a 10 gallon tank setup @ Wal-Mart for quarantine 5) Sterile tank, just whisper filter, bare bottom, PVC pipe for tang to hide in 6) Added 10 gal salt mix, ph fine, salinity fine, temp fine <Mmm... a very good idea (see WWM...) to pre-mix, store all new water... for days, a week... even more... ahead of use> 7) Add tang -- fish fine 8) Two days later, Tang in trouble, rapid breathing -- PH = 7.2 !!!!!! 9) Used SeaChem Marine Buffer to bring ph to 8.3  -- tang recovered 10) 6 hours later (overnight), PH 7.0 Tang expired. <...?> A) ALL usual questions asked and answered -- no contamination, nothing added to tank, cleaners, solvents, etc.  NOTHING. B) Washed tank, refilled with salt mix (no fish this time) -- same results C) Washed tank, refilled with store RO-salt mix ... so far .. 72 hours ... PH stable. Naturally, we suspect Salt Mix now -- although we started our whole 55 gallon tank on the same container of mix and did several water changes with it and it was fine -- so here's what I think happened: After one mix set, my son left the top of the salt mix container slightly ajar and three days later when I noticed, the mix had absorbed humidity and caked -  I hacked at it with a wooden spoon until it was loose again and naturally paid extra close attention to salinity during subsequent mixes since the salt was bringing some of it's own moisture to the mix (pun intended). Are there any physics known about salt mixes that would support this conclusion? <Am beginning to become more than a little concerned re this (former Aquarium Systems... Instant Ocean)... product... Do you have any left to do a small experiment? That is, to mix up some, set it up in an open container... aerated or not... and monitor the pH over a few days time... I suspect that this formerly fine, consistent product is now bunk! Bob Fenner>

Ammonia in water change containers?  2/18/07 Hi, I mixed up a new batch of salt water in two separate 5 gallon containers that formerly held spring water.  I wanted to do a test of the color reading for the ammonia in the new water which should have read 0 versus the water in my tank which reads near 0 (or near yellow on the testing color scale).  Both 5 gallon buckets came back with very high readings for ammonia (dark green or over 1).  I don't want to wait for these containers to cycle, and I have not ideas on what caused this?  I just have an airstone running inside and they were never used for anything besides drinking water.  I am going to search my house for more buckets! P.S.  Your book, Reef Invertebrates was great, just finished reading it. Very truly yours, Ari <<Ari: What sort of water did you use to make up the salt water?  Normally, containers of spring water shouldn't have high ammonia levels.  Depending on what sort of test kit you are using, you could have a faulty reading.  For example, some test strips are unreliable. I don't think it is worth it to wait for your containers to cycle.  However, before you throw out the salt water, I would try to verify that the problem is not with your test kits.  The purest water to use is filtered through a RO/DI system.  Even if you don't use that water, I would not expect your ammonia levels to be high.  Best of luck, Roy>> Maintenance/Water Changes/Snowstorms    4/16/06 Hello crew <Hello Wayne> I have a specific question relating to "snowstorms" that I couldn't find on the sight.  Hope you can help. I just started using an RODI system about 3 weeks ago, on top of that I just started aerating my weekly "water change" (10gal) water for 24 hrs, then adding baking soda (4 teaspoons), aerating for another 24 hrs, then adding my salt mix (Instant Ocean) for another 24 hrs, only to add it into my tank every Sunday. Well, the past 2 times I've done this, the saltwater mix is extremely cloudy.  Even after 24 hrs of mixing.  Could this be the "Snowstorm" that I've read about?  I've never had this problem before, until I started buffering with baking soda.  If not, than what could this be?  Just a bad batch of salt? <I'd mix the salt first, then add the buffer, see if that doesn't help any. If not, try a product such as Reef Builder (Sea Chem) and see if the results are the same.  James (Salty Dog)> Please help. Thanks <You're welcome> - Wayne Water woes ... mysterious goings on with synthetic salt mix, mixing   5/17/06 Greetings oh Wet Ones! <Andrea> I recently started a 75 gallon tank and decided to up my saltwater production (a 5 gallon bucket isn't gonna cut it anymore).  However, I am having a great deal of difficulty getting the "new" water to the correct parameters. <Mmmm> I filled a 30 gallon plastic garbage can with RODI water and added baking soda to buffer (2 teaspoons per 5 gallons).  I then used a Maxijet 900 PH with venturi attachment for aeration and circulation.  After 24 hours the salinity was a bit off so I added more salt (I use Tropic Marin) and waited another 24 hours.  When checked again the salinity was perfect for my tank (SG 1.025), but the water had become cloudy, the pH was low (around 7) and there was a white residue on the sides of the container. <Mmm... may be the container itself is/was unsuitable...> I turned off the venturi on the PH, added some more baking soda (not sure of measure, just dumped some in) and waited another 24 hours.  The water cleared, the SG was 1.025, but the pH is still about 7.  I tested the dKH and it was approximately (had to extrapolate) 21!   I'm at a loss.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your help, Eric <Or the salt mix... I would try mixing up a small batch in a glass jar/container... Bob Fenner> Fish deaths and water preparation 6/26/06 I've had my 25 gallon saltwater with 30 pounds of live rock for three months now. After cycling, I added a black and gold damsel, two blue-green Chromis fish, and a scarlet cleaner shrimp. After seeming healthy for about a month, one blue-green Chromis had a cut on it from the other Chromis attacking him, so I put him in a plastic quarantine within the tank, so that the other fish would leave him alone while he healed. After two or three days he died. <Was this a solid container?  Was there any circulation within the container?  I don't really like these, prefer a proper QT/hospital tank.> About two weeks later, the other blue-green Chromis started not eating as much as usual, but had no visual signs of illness other than that. A few weeks after that he began looking a bit thin, and then was unable to swim and started sinking to the bottom. He died a few hours later. <Many possible reasons, intestinal parasite, cyanide poisoning, harassment, water quality.> The black and gold damsel and shrimp are both healthy and seem to be doing fine. I've taken my water to my fish store and they tested my levels and said everything was normal. <Normal is relative, get hard numbers next time.>  I change about 10% of my water every week. But, when I do water changes, I add my salt mix into a bucket with water treated with reverse-osmosis (the kind you get from the machines at the grocery store), mix for a few minutes, check the salinity, add a little buffer and then add to the tank. <Not good> Am I supposed to be letting the water sit for 24 hours? <Yes> Could this be killing my fish? <Would be a quick death if that is the problem.>  What's the benefit of mixing the water 24 hours in advance? <Gives time for the Ph to stabilize, salt to really dissolve, plus fresh mixed water is quite corrosive.> Thank you! <Anytime> <Chris>

Help! pH non-anomaly with new water   6/8/06 Hi there.  It's Chris again with yet another ph issue.  My tank has consistently been at 8.5 to 8.6 for the last 10 days.  I've also had 5 gallons of replacement synthetic seawater "brewing" in a large plastic container for a week.  This water was made with RO water, instant ocean salt mix (salinity at .025), and Seachem Marine Buffer. After one full week brewing in  this covered plastic container, with a powerhead, the ph is a consistent 8.5 to 8.6.  What am I doing wrong in that I simply cannot get my ph in the 8.1 to 8.3 range?   Thanks, as always. <Mmm, nada... this is "about right" considering the salt mix brand, the buffer product added... and not a worry... will drift down over time/use. I would not be concerned here. Bob Fenner>

Re: Help! pH non-anomaly with new water and Zoanthids   6/8/06 Thanks, Bob. <Welcome Chris> Should I consider a premium-brand salt mix? <Mmm, no... or I wouldn't... Instant Ocean is a mighty fine product... consistent, well-formulated...> On another note, I have recently purchased a Zoanthus colony, which looked great at my fish store, however, since adding it to my tank on Saturday (today is Thursday) it has yet to fully bloom. <This/these can take a while to adjust...> In fact, I would say that it's blooming at about 15% of capacity.  Is this a ph issue? <Doubtful>   I'm adding Reef Solution daily (1/2 capful), <I'd hold off on this...> have it placed very high in my aquarium. <I'd start new cnidarians lower, lowest...> The colony had been placed near the middle so I moved it hoping for better bloom. <And not move them around much at first...>   I also just recently started adding phytoplankton. <Most cnidarians don't eat much of this...> By the way, the tank is a 37G "high" tank with 130W of compact fluorescent lighting. Thanks again, your expertise is invaluable. Chris <Do please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/zoanthid.htm and the linked files above. Cheers, Bob Fenner> Salt Mix Precipitate - 08/22/06 Greetings once again from Nebraska! <<Hello from South Carolina!...though I just returned from five "really long" days in Alliance, NE <grin> >> Thanks again for the superb service that you provide.  Your information has been a great help. <<Is a collective effort, we're happy you find it of service>> I have a quick question regarding an unusual occurrence I noticed the last time I mixed up replacement water for a water change.  I have a 75g, lightly inhabited tank with a fair amount of live rock.  Mostly fish, but I also have a huge Sebae anemone.  The system has been set up for nearly 4 years. <<Okay>> I've used the same procedure for mixing replacement water from the beginning.  I have three square food grade buckets that I fill with RO.  I place the buckets in our attached garage and aerate for anywhere from 2 days to a week. <<Excellent>> I then slowly add and stir the Instant Ocean until I get the salinity desired (as measured by a refractometer at 35 ppt). <<All good>> I keep the aeration going until I'm ready to use the water, which can be anywhere from a day to 2 weeks. <<The longer the better in my opinion...just because the salt "dissolves", it doesn't mean it is "mixed"/that chemical processes aren't still taking place>> (I try to change 12 gallons every 2 to 3 weeks).  Usually, right after mixing, I notice whitish debris at the bottom of the bucket.  It isn't adhered, but moves around if I stir the bucket.  It goes into solution within a day.  The last time I did a water change, everything appeared normal after mixing.  A couple of days later, I peeked into the aerated buckets, and didn't notice any debris at the bottom of the bucket.  When I was ready to do the water change, about 4 or 5 days later, I noticed a heavy white deposit at the bottom of each bucket.  This deposit was firmly adhered, and I later removed it with a vinegar soak and scraping.  I'm just wondering what happened this time to cause the precipitate.  It was fairly hot in the garage (lower 90s), but this isn't uncommon during the summertime.  I've used this method since I set up the aquarium several years ago and this is the first time I've had this problem. Thanks in advance for your help! Ed <<Well Ed, what you describe sounds like some of the calcium/alkaline earth elements precipitated out of the mix and deposited on the bucket (the precipitate won't go back in to solution).  This may have been caused by adding the salt mix too fast allowing it to accumulate on the bottom of the bucket where localized concentrations could exceed solubility levels...or possibly the salt mix was "contaminated" by moisture intrusion "in the bucket" before you mixed it (you don't say which portion of Nebraska you are from...is high humidity a factor?).  I've used Instant Ocean myself for three decades and I see this from time to time and I've never considered it a real "problem".  But, I will also say that it seems the buckets/batches obtained during the occasional "super salt sale" seem to be the most affected/likely to have heavy precipitate...possibly from sitting around for very long periods in hot and humid warehouses?...or maybe even sitting exposed and unprotected from the weather?  Admittedly, just speculation on my part.  I'm surprised this is the first time in four years you have experienced this.  Obviously your mixing "technique" works very well...I wouldn't change a thing.  Regards, Eric Russell>> Sediment in synthetic salt mix   9/2/06 Hello, I wasn't able to find any information on this topic at all so I decided to send you guys a mail - thank you very much in advance for taking the time to answer this. I have been using Instant Ocean salt mix for about 1 year now. I have a RO filter set up on my municipal water supply faucet and mix my saltwater in a plastic bucket before adding in to my tanks. I have found that there is a large amount of sediment that does not dissolve when I mix my salt  in my mixing bucket, I have a large power head in the bucket and after waiting 24 - 48 hrs there is always a large amount of white sediment that has settled at the bottom of the bucket. I maintain temperature of the mix at 80 - 82 C and this seems to be happening every time - does anyone else get the same problem or could there be something wrong with the water supply itself? Should I try and change the brand of salt mix I am using (I have heard good things about Instant Ocean) Although the sediment does not seem to be causing any problems I am a little perplexed as to why there would be this amount of sediment still remaining in the plastic bucket. As always your teams help and input would be greatly appreciated. Best regards, Aehsun <<Aehsun:  When I mix up a 30 gallon batch of IO, I usually have about one or two spoonfuls of sediment left.  It may not be the thing to do; but, I usually dump the excess into the sump.  Best of luck, Roy>>

Dissolved solids OK?  9/23/06 Crew, <Rob> I have read all the FAQ's on salt mix, and understand that the undissolved solids I see when I mix up a batch of salt water are normal. I mix up 4 gallons of salt water in  5 gallon bucket with a lid, along with 2 tbs of baking soda, and aerate it for a week with a maxi-jet 1200 submersible pump before I do my weekly water changes. <The solids you are seeing are more than likely from the baking soda.  Not a good idea to mix this in with the salt. Wait till the salt mix is completely dissolved before adding, and then, mix the baking soda with fresh water before adding to the tank.> I use Oceanic salt mix, but from my reading will probably switch to Instant Ocean when I need to buy mix again. My question. is it better to stir the sediment up in the bucket, and add the cloudy water to the tank for the water changes, or should I try to avoid getting the sediment in the tank? I have been doing the stir-up beforehand method thus far, and while it clouds up the tank pretty badly, it clears up in a few hours. My thoughts are since nothing but tap water, baking soda, and salt mix goes in the bucket, the my tank probably needs whatever doesn't dissolve anyway. Is that wrong? <Yes, you should not have any sediment in the fresh mix.  Try my method and I believe this problem will disappear.  Instant Ocean is my choice, been using it 30+ years.  I know, but I started very young:) Thanks for the help. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>   Rob

Salt Water for water change 10/17/2006 Hi Yesterday morning I mixed up about 40 gallons of salt water for a water change.  I use a submersible pump that I got from Home Depot. The hose is long and it got a slight kink in it so over time the pump ran hot. Last night I checked the salt water mix and it was very hot to the touch... I guessed about 100 degrees and when I dropped in my thermometer, I found that temp to be accurate. <<Wow that's hot.>> So I unplugged the pump to let the water cool down.  I'm now using an aerator to keep the surface agitated and oxygen levels up. The water has cooled down to about 77 degrees. My question is - is it okay to use this water for my water change given the fact that it got so hot? Did the 100 degree temperature change the chemistry of the water? <<Not likely.  So long as the pump doesn't have anything on it that is harmful, it should be fine (I am unfamiliar with said pump).  Do aerate for some time. Lisa>> Sally S.

Falling Out Of Solution? (Powdery Stuff In Prepared Water) Hello Crew, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> I submitted this question almost a week ago and had no response, so I am trying again. <Yikes! Sorry your query fell through the cracks...Happens now and then, unfortunately.> Twice now I have added 1 tsp. of Sea Chem Reef Builder to my 10 gallon tank of "Water Change Water" after I aerated and added salt. After a day the tank gets cloudy with a fine white powder. The fresh water consists of RO and I use Coralife Salt, I added nothing else.  Is this a "snowstorm" I have read about? I tested the Alkalinity at 4.5 meq/L after this happened. Can temperature change affect this? The tank went from 77 to 84 degrees during the day and when it got warm, I noticed the powder. Thanks for your time. Michael <Interesting thought, Michael- but I don't think that Reef builder would cause the "snowstorm" effect at this dosage. The cloudiness is apparently something in the buffer falling out of solution. Water can only hold so many dissolved substances. I have noticed this sort of phenomenon myself when using buffer products, and the water has cleared after a day or two. If the water tests okay, I would not be overly concerned about it. Sorry I could not give you a more specific answer, but it seems like it may not something that is very detrimental. Regards, Scott F.>
Re: Too Much Buffer Crewmates: I noticed today's question by Michael about adding Reef Builder to his make up water and getting precipitates in the tank water. I don't know why he did not get my response, which is posted at: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsupfaq3.htm  I would like to point out that he is adding a teaspoon of Reef Builder to 10 gallons of water. The recommended dose for this product is 1 teaspoon per 40 gallons, so he is overdosing by 4 times, which may explain his problem. Steve Allen. <Ahh, thank you for this Steve. Bob F>

Greenish Yellow Saltwater Mix (2/10/05) Hi guys and gals!!!!  <Howdy. Steve Allen with you tonight.>  I sure am glad you are here for all of us novice fish people.  <We're all novices at something.>  Ok my question may be really simple or really hard I do not think there is a middle of the road here. I have just changed synthetic salts for my salt tank. I went from Coralife to Instant Ocean. My problem is when I added the Instant Ocean to my saltwater holding tank for water changes. It immediately turned an amber green color.  <Weird!>  It has not reverted back. I did not mix the two different salts together the holding tank was rinsed out before I changed salts. I ran a check of pH, nitrates, nitrites, calcium, chlorine and chloramines. pH is normal, nitrates, nitrites 0, and chlorine chloramines did not register, calcium was low about 370 ppm. I am at a loss here and do not want to use this in my tank, unless the color change will go away and will not harm my tank.  <Smart man. Remembering High School chemistry, such a sudden color change must be from some sort of chemical reaction. I would not risk using it if I were you. It's too risky just for a few bucks' worth of salt. I suggest you contact the maker to see if they can explain this. In your shoes, I'd throw that water out, thoroughly clean the vessel with clean water, and try again.>  I looked in the FAQ's section and found nothing to help me there. Thanks Craig  <You're welcome. Hope this helps. Let us know if the manufacturer has any answers.>

Preventing Salt from Caking Hi Team,  <Hello Lyndon> I usually buy the 8KG bag of IO salt, and I use it and then store it away in an airtight container and store it away in a cool dark place...however when its time for the next water change its always lumpy.  Is there any way to keep the moisture out to ensure it stays free flowing like when we open the pack ?  Alternatively does this caking cause any loss to the salts effectiveness ? <Sounds to me like you live in a humid zone. I've always put my salty in zip lock bags and never had any caking problems. Maybe your air tight container isn't so air tight. Shouldn't cause any loss of it's effectiveness though, unless it is going to be kept for long periods of time. James (Salty Dog)>  <<Editor's note: Lyndon and others may want to try the old "grandmother's/retauranteur's trick" of putting some uncooked rice into a piece of hosiery or netting and dropping it into the bag of salt mix.  The rice is both non-toxic and will help absorb some of that excess humidity.>>

My pH is Low Hello Crew, <Shaun> I have a question for you that none of my LFS seem to have an answer. My Ph and Alk. always seem to run low. Ph runs 7.8 to 8.1 (night to day) and my Alk. seems to always fall to 5 or 6 dKH. I bought Seachem Marine buffer 8.3 and added it to my water change bucket 1/4 teaspoon to 5 gallons and use Reef Crystals. I aerate the water for 2 days prior to adding the buffer and salt with a power head and keep aerating for about 5 days after. Also I use distilled water. <Mmm, why? Is your tap/source water "that bad?"... You are likely missing a good deal of needed mineral by going this expensive water route> The problem is that when I just mix the salt everything is fine but if I add the Marine buffer I end up with a brown film on the surface of the water and coating the bucket and powerhead. I tested this water and found elevated ammonia and nitrite levels. The bucket is an old Reef Crystals bucket so I wouldn't think this is the cause. Any ideas? <Strange... SeaChem and Aquarium Systems products should produce no such result...> Thanks, Shaun. <Don't know the root cause here, but I would try finding a source of reverse osmosis treated water (check with your fish stores... or buy, install, use your own... especially if there is real trouble with your tap)... and see if your water quality improves, you lose the mysterious brown scum. Bob Fenner>

Brown slime in make-up water 5/16/05 Dear Crew: I use a 20 gallon Rubbermaid covered pail for my make-up water. It's heated, circulated, and aerated. I'm getting brown slime in the pail. What to do? Thanks. Mitch <I have the same problem. Occasional bleaching and drying of the container seems to help, as does using all of the water within a couple of days. Also, although it is kind of gross, I have never had any problems because of it. Best Regards. AdamC.>

High Alkalinity in Newly Mixed Water Dear crew, <Christopher> Thanks for the great site. I have been reading on WWM along with other resources for several months, and have recently started my first saltwater tank, which I intend to be a FOWLR tank initially. I'll probably bore you with all of the details of my set-up someday, but for now I have specific issue that's really bugging me. My question involves calcium/alkalinity. After preparing my first batch of water starting with an RO/DI unit, then aerating/heating x 24 hours, and then adding Instant Ocean, the readings were as follows: alkalinity dKH 16 (Salifert), calcium 520 (also Salifert) with pH 8.3, SG 1.023 and temp 80. Is this even possible? <Mmm, yes> I tested the RO/DI water prior to adding salt just to check, which had very low calcium and Alk (as expected I guess). <Yes, should be> This evening I prepared another garbage can full (clean Rubbermaid used just for this purpose), using the same protocol and same Instant Ocean batch, and ended up with these numbers: Alk 15, similar pH and salinity at same temp. Now I can't even get a calcium reading. The Salifert kit requires adding "Reagent #3" until the initial pink color turns blue. The problem is it turns blue prior to adding any "Reagent #3", making me think the calcium is very low (?).  <Shouldn't be> My 'pre-cured', but overnight-mailed live rock has been in the tank for 5 days and the tank is in need of a water change. For this reason I used 6 gallons (conservative) of this second batch to do so (matched salinity and temperature, but ? calcium concentration). The calcium in the tank (65 gallon with 10 gallons in sump) dropped from around 450 to about 250, checked 1 hour after this water change.  <Not surprising... this happens... part of my years back pitch to Walt Smith to make "Fiji Gold" products...> I observed no obvious precipitation. The alkalinity in the tank at this time was 14.7, with pH 8.3. I fear this was a bad move. <No... no problem> Do the kits sound obviously messed-up, or is it the owner of the kits? <Neither> My plan for tomorrow (Oh, look at the time, I mean later today), is to buy new synthetic seawater mix, take a sample of my tank's water and new mixed water to my LFS for analysis, and consider new test kits if there are discrepancies. I understand Salifert is a good brand, but I can't find an expiration date on the kits. Sorry for the circuitous explanation, but any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Chris <Instant Ocean of late has become something of an anomalous inconsistency... your readings for new water, use with/for live rock curing are fine. Bob Fenner> 

Goodness Gracious Great Blobs of Brown Stuff! Pre-mixed Water Getting Gunky 10/17/05 I have been in awe at the priceless information nestled into your website. <<Us, too.>> I have been implementing for a couple of weeks the pre-mix water that sits in a Rubbermaid tub with a Rio 400 and heater. While I thought it would be more trouble than good, I am quickly praising it to all of my cohorts! It makes weekly (or even biweekly!) water changes a snap! <<That's what I've been tryin' to tell ya!>> So I was doing my weekly water change and noticed in the tub little rolling blobs of brown "stuff". (Herein, shall we call it gravy?)  <<Wavy gravy, baby.>> I ruled out foul play.  <<And fowl play.>> The water gets mixed a week in advance and I add a little salt every few days to keep my measurements more accurate.  <<This doesn't make sense - the only way the salinity will shift is via evaporation, and that will move the salinity up - not desirable. Only water evaporates, none of the salts in the mix will do this. You are likely creating a super-satured pre-mix. If this is your intent, fine (though DO adjust, of course), but it's far better to simply mix it at the proper salinity, and cover, heat, and aerate until ready to use. Covering is important.>> I added the needed amount of Seachem buffer.  <<In order to...? The salt mix isn't buffering this water sufficiently? Or are you using RO/similar?>> I will admit to using a crappy brand of salt before (SeaLife), but not sure if that was the cause. Now using Instant Ocean.  <<It seems that the Instant Ocean brand has fallen off in quality from when I first got into marine fishes. Even then, I was mixing it with very hard, alkaline water and it would develop a good deal of precipitate. I would go with something like Tropic Marin (look on WWM for others' recommendations, too).>> So my question is, what is causing the brown blobs? (They feel 'fatty' when touched with finger but they go back to the blob shape.) <<I'm suspecting a sort of precipitate (do you test your water before mixing in the salt?), and if you're leaving the container open then I would also suspect watery dust-bunnies of sorts. You should siphon this stuff out before using. Remember also that there are indeed places where a "greasy" sort of dust accumulates (my folks' garage is one), that could explain the "fatty" feeling.>> Next question is how do you store your opened bags of salt? I understand keeping moisture out is critical, but do you just squeeze the air out of the bag or have some kind of container? <<I personally never even went to that much trouble. I would just tie the bags shut, rubber band or the like. Keeping the moisture out prevents certain chemical reactions. Take some salt mix and sprinkle a bit of water onto it - it will become *very* hot - this is one of the reasons for keeping it as dry as possible. If you live in a very humid climate, try our grandmothers' trick of putting some rice in some netting (a nylon stocking/knee-high) and put it in the bag of salt. Then tie it well with a rubber band or the like and it should keep nicely. Some folks like to dump the salt into tubs for ease of use, and they're easier to keep tightly shut - again, Rubbermaid bins would work very well for this.>> Finally, the AquaC Remora I ordered finally came. I also got the prefilter box but that part I am not impressed with. 2 plastic screws that snug up against the powerhead? Surely someone has a modification to improve the stability. <<Don't know about that - plastic is inert, won't corrode (as long as it's not exposed to sunlight/intense lighting) for the most part. I suggest searching WWM, or maybe posting this question on one of the reefing boards. Don't forget the beauty inherent in a zip-tie, either.>> Again, thank you in advance for the great resource! <<Welcome in advance, Bob's done a pretty neat thing here, hasn't he?>> Dana <<Hope this has helped answer your questions. Marina>> 

White Powdery Stuff In My Salt Mix - 12/23/05 Hello everyone! <<Howdy!>> I'm switching from natural sea water to synthetic sea water starting today using RO and Instant Ocean salt. <<Yea!>> Last Tuesday I started aerating my RO water overnight, the next day (Wed) I buffered it with Seachem's reef builder/buffer...Thursday, I added the salt in the morning and try to adjust the proper salinity as the day goes by until the end of the day, in short I have acquired the proper salinity that I wanted. <<ok>> I let it sit again overnight with a power head still running (always since day 1). <<Best to give it a couple days after adding the salt in my opinion.>> This morning (Fri) I check if everything is going smoothly, I notice that there is this white powdery stuff covering the power head and the heater, I check the water and looks like Alk is ok and PH is a little low( which I will just probably buffer it a little bit more).  But what really concern me is that white stuff and the cloudiness of the water, I mix about 14 gal of water.  Is this water still ok or just dump it and start all over again? <<Should be fine, a bit of precipitation is expected.  Especially if you possibly buffered a bit too much.>> I'm schedule to do my water change this morning (Fri) , If you could pls respond to me ASAP, I would really appreciate it as I am now getting a panic attack! (I think)...or should I just go back to my "Catalina ocean water"??? PLS ADVISE SOONEST. Thanks in advance. Nemo1 <<Synthetic seawater is always best...less chance of introducing pathogens/pollution, as well as better buffering capacity than natural seawater.  I use/have used Instant Ocean for decades and will stand behind its quality/suitability for hobby use.  You have nothing to worry about as long as you are adding the salt to the total water volume (i.e. - don't mix salt for 14 gallons in to a couple gallons of water, adding the rest of the water later) and letting it mature for 48 hours (longer the better).  Try backing off on the Seachem product a bit.  You may have over saturated the water before adding the salt mix.  Regards, EricR>>

Re: White Powdery Stuff In My Salt Mix - 12/25/05 Hello again! <<Hi there!>> Thanks for your quick response. <<Welcome>> I did my water change tonight as per your advise that this water is still ok.  It's a little bit cloudy for the first 20 min.s or so, but after 20 more min.s, everything is back to normal...thank you very very much!!!, as I was about to dump this water from frustration and go back to my natural sea water, <<Not a good choice>> I just don't know what to do with the 150 gal bucket of salt. <<???>> But anyway, the water is now crystal clear and I've notice that synthetic water is more clearer than the natural sea water (yellowish in color). <<Mmm...the presence of organics/chemical pollution maybe.>> I didn't notice this until today since I've been using natural sea water from day one (almost 9 mos-72G reef).     What if I add the salt first, test the water... then buffer it ??? <<Probably fine...depending on your source water, you may even discover you don't need the buffer.>> Will there be a big difference? <<Try it and see...>> This way I can figure out how much buffering the water needs, I think the salt itself has already a buffering compound in it (?). <<To some extent, yes.  Regards, EricR>> Nemo1

Problem of molting with Mantis Prawns and Lobsters   1/18/06  

Grams

Mg/L

 Magnesium Sulphate

0.00797872

            891.00

 Calcium Chloride.

0.00076735

            468.75

 Potassium Chloride

0.00041907

            305.88

 Sodium Chloride

0.02382979

          8,418.00

 Hardness CaCO3/L

 

          5,967.00

 Chloride

 

        16,943.00

 Sulfate SO2

 

          2,701.00

 pH

 

                7.90

 Salinity in PPT

 

              30.00

Dear Sir/Mdm, The above is the lab test results of the artificial seawater that I am using in my cement pond tank that is about 20ft by 20ft. I am using the four chemicals above at the qty. in grams to the required Mg/L of RO/DI water. <!> The problem is when I have the Mantis prawns or lobsters or even prawns in the pond, their shell cannot harden after molting and all of them eventually die. Is there any other trace chemical that is missing from my seawater formula that is causing this problem or is there other cause for this. <... a few deficiencies here... like pH... and many more "things" that could account for this that are not detailed...> I have some sea cat fish and some other marine fish that don't have a problem with the water. Thank you, Best Regards. Nikson Cheah. <I would look into procuring more "sun-dried" sea salt, and buffering this with a mix of carbonate, bicarbonate... to a higher pH... Much to discuss here... Bob Fenner> Penang. Malaysia.

- Salt Problems - I am having a similar (more severe issue) like the user Creative describes in this thread...  My alk is >16dKH and calcium is at 125, will dripping Kalk fix this? <No.> The tank is a new tank and is half way through cycling (0-ammonia, 1.25ppm-nitrites). My pH is great at 8.1, <Sorry my friend, that's not great - should be between 8.2 and 8.4.> SG 1.026 (slowly lowering to 1.025), Temp 80ish,  I have never dosed with anything on this tank, but did have a "snowstorm/Glue on glass effect" when I first mixed up the original Instant Ocean salt... I think that's why the ALK/CA is out of whack. <Probably.> I have since done a 50% water change with Tropic Marin salt (which I am switching to permanently now), and that seems to have lowered the ALK.. Even though it is still off the charts on the Salifert test kit... Seems like the blue color in the test vial is about to break and turn pink when I run out of the reagent in the 1ML vial. At first I continued to add reagent with a 2nd 1ml vial and this is how I know it has come down. I also did confirm that something was not correct with the original Instant Ocean bucket of salt that I used. I am sending a sample back to them to test. Mixing up a gallon of RO ( 0-alk ) with this bucket of instant ocean causes the Alk to go off the charts... However Tropic Marin only raises the same batch of RO to 8dKH. Thoughts? <Sounds like you've found the solution... do a couple of water changes with the new salt and things should be on a more even keel.> Thanks in advance, Sonny <Cheers, J -- >

WWM mail link and Salt mix Bob, This is the guy that has been having problems with the WWM link. He sent me an email, and hope you don't mind that I'm forwarding it to you. I feel bad for the guy, he has lost a few of his corals and an anemone... He's a great guy, and is one of the people that got me into the SW hobby. If you wouldn't mind, can you send him an email. Thanks John (aka Magnus) <No problem. Bob> The stinking link on WWM still won't work for me, I get it as "undeliverable". <What, which link is not working? Please describe the nonfunctionality> I am in dire need of opinions on this: <Went to do a regular water change last night. Mixed up 12g of saltwater for the tank (55g) and did the change. Immediately, all the Aiptasia reacted a little funny after the change. Actually glad for it, I was not concerned. This morning though, things were obviously not right. <Not a good sign if one organism is malaffected... likely all are> The tank is cloudy, and in the meantime the alk is through the roof (22-24dkh) while the PH is down (7.8-8.0). I did more thorough tests and it is my salt mix (IO).  <I doubt "it" is the Instant Ocean... did you mix some up in new water and test it?> I have no idea why it is creating such different levels now, only a month ago I had tested the tank and it was right where I wanted it to be. Can salt go "bad"? <Not likely. Most salts will "clump" (they are hygroscopic... absorb water to become a one-piece ionic solid) but don't change chemically> What should I do now, corals were hit hard but fish only appear mildly stressed (some rapid breathing).  Thanks, Ryan A.>  <Do check your source water... administer buffers to bring the water to about right pH and alkalinity wise. Please send responses to crew@wetwebmedia.com or if your messages "bounce" there back to me here. Bob Fenner> WWM mail link and Salt mix problem Greetings Bob, the link on the "Ask the crew a question" page does not work for me. To be specific, sending to crew@wetwebmedia.com gets returned to me "undeliverable" in a few seconds. It has been this way for a few weeks. I have successfully used the link in the past, but having not changed anything on my mail server and not being a "computer guy" I am not about to state that the problem is 100% on your end. Judging by your surprise I suppose you have not heard much of this from anyone else (of course if they can't reach you maybe you wouldn't hear about it regardless...hehe). I have enclosed a copy of the returned email if you can decode it, the only thing I notice is that every time I send it to crew@wetwebmedia.com it adds in a "MAIL." wetwebmedia.com tag in it. <Bizarre. I don't know what might be wrong here... the link works for me. Am sending this note to Jason.C (far more computer savvy) for his input> As far as the tank is concerned, believe it or not it is the salt mix. I was baffled at first too (I actually thought there must have been some form of contaminant in the water) when I mixed it in the usual bucket). However, mixing it with pure RO/DI water, it does not even register on my dKH kit. Well I stop at 50 drops (drops equate to dKH in turning the liquid from blue to yellow). <... trouble... The salt container was unopened when you got it I take it? I would contact the manufacturer and send a sample to them immediately... something must have gone wrong with the batch/mix...> This was done with both tap and the RO/DI water with the same results. I then went out and bought a brand new package of IO and repeated the test. With the RO/DI water I came out with 9dkh and with tapwater 10dkh. I then repeated with the old salt and again came up with the elevated alkalinity. The salt itself is only maybe 2 months old and is kept in the original bucket with the lid sealed in a coat closet. My thoughts were to contact Aquarium Systems as well to see what their thoughts might be. <Yikes... the folks at AS will definitely want to look into this> Unfortunately, I lost every coral in the tank from the initial Alk spike and resulting PH crash/precipitation event. There was really nothing to do but sit and watch, waiting for the chain reaction to stop. The tank has since stabilized and all of the fish have returned to normal (from labored breathing, etc.). The only "good" thing from one point of view is that all of the corals were aquacultured....it takes a very small part of the guilt away. I'd still like to hear your thoughts, including "You're Crazy" ;-) It still boggles my mind what could have occurred with the salt as chemistry wise I am not familiar with the "nuts and bolts" of it so to speak. Sincerely, Ryan A. <Does sound like you got a bucket of mis-mixed synthetic. Of all the years and many, MANY samples of IO this is the first time I have heard of a credible bad batch. Bob Fenner> - Low pH in Newly Made Water - Hello, hope everyone is doing fine. I have a question that is puzzling, I have noticed that when I make water for changes the pH is not as high as I expected. I have a deionizer and checking the pH after aerating for 24 hrs is at 7.8 - 8.0 but after I add salt and let mix for 24 hrs the pH is actually dropping to 7.85? Could there be something in the water that is reacting to the salt mix? <Doubt that.> Or could I have a bad batch of salt (instant Ocean brand). <Doubt that too.> I am trying to get the Tank pH up and could not understand why after a water change the tanks pH would drop. The tanks alkalinity is between 10 and 11 DKH (running a dual chamber reactor) and stays constant but having hard time getting the pH up. Now it runs between (lights on 7.9 and lights out 8.1). Any suggestions would be helpful. <I'd add buffer to the freshwater before you add the salt... baking soda would suffice.> Thanks Mike W. <Cheers, J -- >

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

- Skimmer and Other Questions - Hi, I am trying to find anyone that can tell me what size of Reef aquarium this US Aquarium Hang On Tank venturi model 20 skimmer is rated for? <I looked around the net for a while using Google, and couldn't find this model skimmer. If it came with any instructions, I'd use those to try and locate the company and ask them.> It has bio balls in the chamber and I am wondering if removing the bio balls completely would be ideal? <Something tells me these are part of the design and should be left in.> Another question: When I add Instant Ocean salt to my tap water so that the salinity is about 32-33 ppm, the ph of the tap water rises to 8.6 or even 8.7. <I'd let the water mix for a couple of days and then try the tests again.> This is the PH of my reef aquarium and I have two fish that barely survived acclimating to this high PH.  I don't want to add more fish until I bring the PH down to at least 8.4. Is this something that RO water would resolve in and of itself? <RO alone... probably not.> Would water conditioners like "Prime" also do the trick? <As far as I know, Prime does nothing to pH.> Does Seachem Buffer work to bring down the PH to normal 8.0 - 8.4 levels? <No.> What do you recommend? <Let the new saltwater mix for a day or two - add an air stone and power head and let it go for a while and test again.> Thank you, I realize you are a skeleton crew so I appreciate any answers you can give. Aaron Richmond, Utah <Cheers, J -- >

Magic Ammonia Hello to all;<Hi, MikeD here>     I have a problem that seems to have just started happening although I have not changed my routine recently. I have almost .5 Ammonia in my freshly mixed H20. I use RO/DI water, and mix it in a 30 gallon trash can. The RO/DI water measures 0 Ammonia before I add the salt (Instant Ocean).  Typically I let the fresh water circulate and heat for  3 or 4 days before adding the salt.<Is this in the dark, and, without meaning to sound mean, why?> After I mix the salt in the Ammonia measures .5! Very frustrating and annoying. My first thought was my test kit was bad (Salt Water Master), it was about a year old. So I got a new kit (Marine Labs) and I still get the .5 reading after  I add the salt.<Instant Ocean was tested and found to be less consistent than some of the higher cost brands, so it may just be a bad batch> The trash can sits in a room that is rarely used. I can't think of anything that would be causing the Ammonia to accumulate.  I am at a loss as to what could be the culprit.<My only guess would be either bacteria or algae, maybe both, that's growing in the extended aeration period you're using, and when the salt is added it's dying off, with the resulting ammonia you're encountering> Any ideas? Thanks. Bill

Precipitate (9/5/04) Hello, <Hi. Steve Allen tonight.> Twice now I have added 1 tsp of Sea Chem Reef Builder <That's 4 times the dose recommended on the label of 1 tsp per 40G.> to my 10 gallon tank of "Water Change Water" after I aerated and added salt. <You should put the buffer in first, before salting.> After a day the tank gets cloudy with a fine white powder. <Something precipitating most likely carbonate.> The fresh water consists of RO and I use Coralife Salt. Can you tell me why this is happening, or is there something I need to test for? The alkalinity tests at 4.5 meq/L. <Not exceedingly high, but high enough that you should be able to get to the target (>3 mEq) by using 1/4 teaspoon as recommended by the manufacturer. And add it before salting and wait a few hours to add the salt.> Michael <Hope this helps.>

pH falling in Make-up water I have a question about my pH levels when I buffer my top off water. I aerate the water (r/o water from LFS) for 12 hours, then I add my buffer (SeaChem's marine buffer), and then I aerate for another 24 hours. After that my ph is usually around 8.4 and my dKH is around 11. I usually make enough water for one week of top off. After the 3rd or 4th day my ph falls to around 7.8 and stays there. I would like to know what could be the cause of this? I do not continue to aerate after the 24 hours of aerating after buffering, could this be the problem? <By gollies I think you've already figured this one out! Yep! Keep the aeration going and add some circulation...like a large powerhead and I think you'll find that PH will remain stable. Without the air and circulation, the water gets "stale" (for lack of a better word)> I do the procedure just as I have read from here, but my ph falls every time. Thanks for your help. <You're more than welcome! Keep air and circulation going my friend. That will easily solve the problem. David Dowless>

Aerating aquarium better to raise pH Thank you Anthony... another fan of yours told me to do the same thing tonight! Great minds think alike!  I just attached an air line to one of my powerheads, let's see what I find in the morning! How exciting... and simple! Pam <Good heavens.. you just made my night. I now have two fans?!?! Life is good <G>. Do let us know how it all works out dear :) Kindly, Anthony>

Low pH? (Pt 2) Scott F., <Here again!> I tried your methodology.  I also took heed of your comment about how salt mixes are manufactured assuming some level of minerals, etc., in the water. To this end, I made a 5 gallon water change as follows: 1)  2 gallons of tap water (central Indiana liquid limestone: ph = 8.03 and dKH = 17) 2) Added to 3 gallons of distilled water (I normally use 5 gallons of distilled) 3)  Aerate for a full 24 hours (I normally aerate 16-18 hours) 4)  Add 1/2 teaspoon of Seachem Marine Buffer ph 8.3 and stir. 5)  Add 3 3/4 cups of Instant Ocean. (Well known to mix up at ph 8.3) 6)  Stir until any trace of cloudiness is gone.  About 8-9 minutes. I then tested the ph with my Pinpoint monitor.  Take a guess: How about 8.04 ?!?! What the heck????   It's GOT to be something environmental.  But what? <Wow! That is frustrating...I'm wondering if you should experiment with just the tap water, and no distilled...?> If I add 1/2 tsp. of Seachem Marine Buffer to 16 ounces of RO water and test, I get ph = 8.3.  Now this I expect. My reef system has a near identical ph to my tap water Water parameters as of 5 minutes ago (water change done 2 hours ago): Parameter        Test kit used Ammonia = 0        Aqua. Pharm. Nitrite = 0        Aqua. Pharm. Nitrate = 0        Aqua. Pharm. Temp = 79 Calcium = 350        Seachem Mg = 1280            Seachem ph = 8.02          Pinpoint monitor spg = 1.024        ESHA Marinomat dKH = 10           Aqua Pharm. Any thoughts?  <Hmm...My limited chemistry background is being seriously challenged here! One other thought for you...Is using RO water a practical and affordable alternative for you? Since the RO readily buffered to a pH of 8.3, I'm wondering if there is some factor in the tap water or distilled water that you are using which is "eating up" the buffer...Another experiment for you to try: How much buffer does it take to get your source water up to 8.3pH? This may yield some clues. Give it a shot. You may want to contact your local water utility as well to get some more clues ass to the composition of the water...>   I have two young children who don't aggravate me near as bad as this problem -- and that's saying something :-) Frustrated. Sincerely, Mark Schwartz <I hear you, Mark! See if these little experiments get us anywhere, and we'll try to pick it up from there...Craig Bingham, where are you???>

2/05/03 - Clouds in the water 2 Thanks!!!! <My pleasure> I've thrown out my salty R/O water and am starting fresh (no pun intended!). There is no way I'd use that cloudy water. <May not be all bad though. Check Alk and see if the water can't be salvaged. In any case you made the right decision to start anew>    I'll make smaller amounts and keep an eye on the quality for my next change. <smaller amounts are easier to deal with but it is okay to made saltwater for quite a while this may have a lot to do with the Alk level etc. not how long you had the water per se> I'm evaluating everything I've done the past 2 water change (attempts) that may have caused this reaction...my guess is that I've been letting the water sit for too long. <Again may be possible but could be other issues here as well. If you do find an answer please pass it along. Have heard of others with this issue. It would be of great service!> I'll take appropriate steps and email you back and let you know how it turned out. <Great and thanks for the response. If I can do anything else.......> Tanks, I mean, thanks again! <Tank you! Pablo out-> Later,  

- Snow Storm in Freshly-mixed Water - <Hello, JasonC here...> Hello Crew, sorry to bug you again, but I have a question about the water that I've made up to do a water change with.  I've just recently started using RO water for water changes.  I have 20 gallons of RO water in a container with a heater and a Rio 90 power head.  I am using Tropic Marin salt and got a reading of 0-0.7 meq/liter for alkalinity.  I added Seachem Marine Buffer and followed their instructions.  I only had to add it once as it raised the Alkalinity to about 3.2 meq/liter.  Now, the water has been in the container for about three days and everything inside is covered with this whit powdery "stuff". <I also use Tropic Marin and have had similar experiences... I've not been able to tie it down to any particular set of actions, but am pretty sure it's calcium precipitating out of solution.> Is this harmful? <No.> Should I go ahead and use this water? <I have without ill effect.> This has happened once before, but that was when I was using softened tap water.  I thought it was caused by the water being to hard, but now it is RO water and I'm confused. <Check the alkalinity of it anyway... RO 'should' be demineralized, but it's still worth a check. Perhaps buffer the RO and then let it stew for 24 hours before adding the salt.> Please get back to me on this. <Cheers, J -- >

- Re: Snow Storm in Freshly-mixed Water - Thank you Jason for responding. <My pleasure.> I will try your suggestions.  One more thing.  Before and after I added the Marine Buffer the PH was about 8.4. Now that the powder has formed the PH has dropped to about 8.0.  Does this sound right? <Not really...> The Alkalinity is still at 3.2 meq/l.  Could this be caused by the lid on the container not letting the water "breathe"? <A possibility and one that is easy to fix. Do aerate your mix water.> Thanks again <Cheers, J -- >

Mixing, matching synthetic salt mixes I have a 90 reef setup, I have read at many places that instant ocean salt is the best salt to use, I have been using Coralife, would I create problems if I switched brands? <No problems in making this change. No special mixing...> maybe my next water change could be half of each? <You can do this "all at once". Bob Fenner> Thank you in advance ....Kevin 

White Precipitate Hi guys, I am having a problem with a salt mix that I pre mixed and let sit for a couple of days. The container that I used is covered with a white powdery substance. The salt was mixed 3 days ago and the power head and the heater is also covered. I have never seen this happen. I used Instant Ocean mix with a quarter teaspoon of marine buffer. I mixed 20 gallons. Any ideas? Richard <I do not know for sure, but it sounds like something that happened to me once. You formed a precipitate, most likely calcium carbonate. Do double check with your test kit, but if the water is low in calcium or alkalinity, do not use it. I did and I had a ton of problems which forced me to do a new near 100% water change. Generally, aerate your water first, then add salt mix, and finally add the buffer after testing the newly mixed water. -Steven Pro>

Precipitate in new tank (let it snow, let it snow, made it snow) I just had something very strange happen to my tank. I tried to search the FAQ's but did not immediately find the answer to my problem. On Monday (two days ago) I filled up my new 75 gal reef-ready tank with sump with RO water and added Instant Ocean salt mix.  <whoa, bub! Was the RO water aerated(12-24hrs), then buffered(6-12 hrs), then salted (mixed 12+hrs)? Else, we have a slight problem with alkalinity depletion.> I started the pumps running (Mag 7 return and Mag 5 on an AquaC EV120 skimmer) and have left the tank pretty much alone since then. The salt seemed to dissolve well overnight and the tank has been clear. The skimmer was disconnected last night but turned on again this morning. There is nothing in the tank other than water. This evening the tank is very cloudy. It looks like there's a haze in the tank. However, if you look up from the bottom towards the light you can see that it is actually some very small white particles swirling in the water. I guess something precipitated and is just floating in the water. <perhaps a Ca/Carbonate snowstorm/precip> Is this harmful?  <likely not too bad... please turn on the skimmer> Is there something I can do to get rid of it?  <check your alkalinity and free calcium levels. Target 12dkh ALK and 400+ Ca. If you are lower than 8 dKH and 350ppm Ca, then there was a precip problem and you simply need to do a proper water change to dilute and reconstitute> I have some live sand and Florida aquacultured live-rock on order, scheduled to ship and arrive on Friday. This rock has a lot of life and should only be out of the water for 4-5 hours so I was hoping a lot of life would survive.  <likely would be fine anyway... but a water change would give you peace of mind...read archives here on WWM about R/O water, mixing salt, buffers, etc to get a better understanding why the need for aerating first, then buffer, then salt.> I can have the shipment held, if my tank is in trouble. <little trouble if any... minor> Thanks for your help. I never expected this to happen without adding anything to the tank. Henry <best regards, Anthony>

Re: Precipitate in new tank Thanks for the quick reply. Glad to hear there's no major problem. I did not know to aerate the water for the period stated.  <yes...critical, drives off carbonic acid and raises the temporary pH. Then add buffer to boost the pH to a better level so that buffers don't get wasted in salt mix> I brought the water home and added the salt mix shortly thereafter. I will buy a Ca/Alk kit to check the levels. Why did it take two days to precipitate? <just a theory, but it took nearly that long for buffers to get exhausted and skew the Ca/ALK dynamic> I will do a water change tomorrow, before the sand and rocks arrive. Is something on the order of 5-10 gal enough? <not really... either a large water change (over 30%) or experiment with buffer and/or calcium additives to return to normal levels. Let test kits confirm all of this first.> I appreciate the work you guys do. <thanks kindly, Anthony>

Hardened salt OOOPS! Left the lid off the salt bucket and it hardened up. Any solutions on breaking it up besides hammer and chisel? rocky <yep...add water. Thanks for asking ;) Anthony>

Salt Hi Bob, I setup a 55 gal to cure my live rock. The salt doesn't seem to be dissolving as quickly as it should?? I have been in the hobby (Fish only) for about 15 years. I have never seen it take this long for the salt to dissolve. I added the salt Monday evening. On Tuesday evening, the water was still cloudy and some salt remained on the bottom of the tank. In the past, I was on city water. I am now on well water. This is what I did. The tank was cleaned. I used the Tap water Purifier to treat the water. The salt was about a year old, but sealed in the bucket. It was a little clumpy, and I broke it up before adding it to the water. I added a powerhead and heater got the temp up to 76. Last night (Tuesday) I added a Skilter for some mechanical. It looked much clearer this morning and I think it will be even better when I get home tonight. I wanted to order my rock today, but if there is a problem, that's not a very good idea. Can you think of any reason(s) why the salt is not dissolving quickly? Is it simply that well water is different than city water? The old salt? Thanks once again, Tony Revinski <<Hmm, a few things at play here... yes, the salt being "old and clumpy" (hydrated, by drawing water/moisture from out of the air, does slow down rates of dissolution... and some saltmixes aren't as soluble as others (more finely ground, non-hydrated ingredients...), and there could have been some interactions with other chemical species in your source water (but not much)... The long and short of it though... I wouldn't worry about adding the live rock at this juncture.... However, going forward, do avail yourself of a designated "new water mixing/storage container" (my fave are the Rubber Maid Brute Trashcans.... and roller wheels...) and pre-mix your water for a good week before using... many benefits... and you can recirculate and move it with a small powerhead... Bob Fenner>>

Particles in my H2O Dear Mr. Fenner I recently bought an 80 gal. glass aquarium with the intention of setting it up as a reef tank. I have 2 maxi jet 900's, 2 mini jet 606's, 2 Acura 150W heaters, and an Aqua C Remora protein skimmer. The tank's lighting is comprised of the JBJ Formosa 4 55W power compacts. When I mixed the salt (Aquarium Systems Reef Crystals) I only used purified RO water from one of those machines you find at the grocery store. I was told that since it was a new tank I could go ahead and mix the salt and water inside the tank. It's been cycling now for about a week. The temp, PH, and specific gravity are all in the right range. The problem is that the tank seems very cloudy and there are tiny particles in the water. <Sounds like a nice system, and you've obviously done your studying... I would not be overly concerned about the suspended particulates... Not uncommon in all new systems... and will settle...> I've also noticed a white film at the bottom of the tank. I can only guess that it's salt because I haven't introduced anything into the tank yet. I have a shipment of 135lbs. of live Fiji rock coming tomorrow and am concerned that my tank isn't ready for it yet. <I wouldn't be overly-concerned. Am almost a hundred percent sure I would place this live rock in your system... Its presence will greatly aid in clearing the water> I was hoping you could give me some advice and insight on my problem and whether or not I need a filter. I was thinking about purchasing an Emperor 400 hang on filter. I have also been thinking about purchasing 2 more maxi jet 900's, if you don't think this would be overkill. Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you. <The hang-on filter is a good idea... not too redundant/overkill at all. Patience my friend. Your days will soon be filled with wonder at what comes of your live rock and time. Bob Fenner> Sincerely, Thang Nguyen

Salt mix ? (again) Mr. Fenner - I wrote you yesterday concerning my trouble with a cloudy condition on a new tank set up. I used the RO/DI water, Marine Buffer, and Instant Ocean salt, I hope you remember. You advised that it should clear up with time, but it is still extremely cloudy, and I am getting concerned. A couple of things that may help you figure this out with me: There is about 70 gallons of water in the tank, heated to 78 degrees and agitated with 4 maxi-jet 1200's. I added 2.5 teaspoons of the Marine Buffer product, and fifteen pounds of Instant Ocean. Per the directions on the Instant Ocean bag, I would still need to add approx. 7 more pounds to bring my salinity up for 70 gallons of water. Right now, after adding only fifteen pounds, my SG is 1.020 on the nose, and there is still some undissolved salt mix lying on the bottom of the tank. It is acting like it is in a saturated condition with the salt, no more will dissolve. Why would my SG be so high already?  <A few things... but principally you really don't have as many gallons in this system as you think... Maybe measure the inside dimensions in inches, multiply L W H, and divide by 231 (approximate cubic inches per gallon)... minus the volume of the solid contents of the tank (gravel, etc.)... No worries> I spoke with a guy named Marty who owns a company called Aquarium Arts in California last night, he said it is possible to have received a bad bag of salt mix, do you think this is possible? <Very, very, very unlikely... Have been to Aquarium Systems in Ohio, and a few other manufacturers of synthetics over the years... about the only "bad" bag of Instant Ocean there has ever been is one that has become "hard" due to hygroscopy... absorbed moisture... and this would still dissolve completely (albeit more slowly...). You might direct your water flow from powerheads, another pump... to move more of the solid on the bottom... otherwise... I assure you, waiting is the best route here...> He said to drain the tank and start over, a prospect I don't like the thought of, as it takes two days to make that much RO water to begin with, plus the loss of the Instant Ocean product. By the way I cannot seem to get an accurate pH reading on my test kit. I am using a Hagen Pro-series kit with the high range pH test, and when I do it I come up with a deep purple color, which isn't even on the chart, it should be a dark blue color in the 8.2 range. What the heck is going on? <This is... not a good product... return it. Look for Salifert, Hach (or their repackagers like... Aquarium Systems...), LaMotte...> Also when I test the RO water, it comes out perfectly neutral on the pH. Please give me you insight on this. Thank You - Collin Romanick <Chat with you soon my friend. Bob Fenner>

White film in mixing container Hello Bob, <Hi> I am new to the hobby (1 month active after 5 months research), and can't tell how much I have learned from your book and all of the Q&A on your website. <Me neither> I a question about my mixing container for my 75gal FO saltwater system. I was mixing 20 gal for 1 week, but an electrical storm/power surge fried my pump. It has been 3 days without any circulation, and now I want to transfer this mixed water to my main tank but I have a white residue all over the fried pump and the surface of the water. Was this caused by lack of circulation or a reaction from the pump blowing? <Could be either> Should I still use the water or mix another batch and try is again next week? <How badly was the "pump blown"? Was the surface seal or body cracked? If so, I would toss the water... Bob Fenner> Thanks for any help you can offer, Travis

Water changes (mal-affects causes) Hi Bob, A quick input if you will...what's wrong with my fish after water change??? My yellow tang swims around in circles & gets dizzy looking. A couple of water changes ago, I lost a damsel; so I'm wondering what's killing my fish or almost killing my fish. I change 5 gallons a wk & 10 gallons during any major tank clean of my 55 gallon. So, what's affecting my fish the most? The temp of my new water?? The salinity of new water?? Low oxygen of new water?? or just changing out to much water. All of the above! I do match the new water with tank water pretty good, I think...I guess what I'm trying to ask, what are fish most sensitive to during water change?? Thanks, Lee Harris, Dallas, TX <Very good question... and "who knows?"... perhaps all the above. My ongoing advice can be found under "Seawater"... on the WWM site... pre-mix and store it... Bob Fenner>

Re: New tank setting it up Well, Bob I put in dechlorinated tap water in my 55 gal. tank and let it stand for a day or two. I mixed in a 50 gal. bag of Instant Ocean into the tank with 2 powerheads and a Millennium 3000 filter running. After 24 hrs, I put some of the water in my SeaTest hydrometer and the needle went all the way up to 1.030!!?? Is this normal? Should I add more fresh water? <Normal, yes... there really isn't 50 gallons of water in your 55... not just due to displacement... do the math... Length times width times height in inches divided by 231 cubic inches per gallon... So yes, remove a proportion of the current volume and replace with just freshwater> I also have a CPR Bak Pak2 skimmer which I have not installed yet, should I put it in already? <Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marineSetUp.htm> Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions Bob. I know that you are a busy man and you do not have to do this so thanks again. <No worries, be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Re: new setup There is one thing I can't quite figure out. ...and I cannot seem to find anything on your site about this. <Let's go over "it" here> I have a dedicated Rubbermaid container and powerhead for mixing synthetic sea-water. Have been using instant ocean.... <Okay> Once I introduce my tap water I treat with NovAqua (after reading your site a product such as AmQuel may be more suited, I was told by someone AmQuel doesn't work well with salt water and to use NovAqua instead).  <Mmm, works fine in/with seawater> Then I add my pH buffer. Then I add my synthetic sea salt. I move the power head around to help dissolve the salt. At about the time it seems all the salt is dissolved, and the water at this time looks crystal clear. Within a matter of minutes the entire container of water turns to milky looking water. You cannot see the bottom at all. <Yes... a few possibilities here... likely the bases in the buffer reacting with those in the salt mix... could be the Novaqua as well...> I originally thought this was just because maybe it wasn't fully dissolved so this time I let it sit for about 15 hours or so. When I came back it was a bit clear (could see the bottom barely) but i noticed white powder all over the bottom. When I moved the power head around it just blew this powder back into water and milk returned. <Solid precipitates... the "extra" alkaline material that your water "can't hold"...> The salinity is correct but after 15 hours i tested pH (and it was a little low). Is this substance buffer that is laying on the bottom?  <Yes> If so why would it not be dissolving (I added it while it was fresh water, before I added salt) I wouldn't think it would be salt because by the amount of powder my salinity should be very low if it wasn't dissolved yet. <The resultant material accumulating at the bottom of your Rubber Maid mixing container is not readily soluble at the pH, chemical composition of the mixed seawater...> This time I just re-buffered and added to my tank once pH and salinity was correct. It mixes up in my tank in a matter of a few hours and is clear. <Ahh! I encourage you to mix up the seawater with your source water, leave out the conditioner (Novaqua, Amquel, what have you) as unnecessary, and add what you want as added buffer to the mixed up seawater a day or more after initially blending with tap.> I figured that most milky water was caused by dust from substrate but my container obviously has no substrate. Thanks for the help and if I'm ever in Fiji I'll look you up! :) ...after I steal some live rock (just kidding) <Am back in town in San Diego, California... for a while! Bob Fenner>

Water chemistry HI Bob - I use tapwater for top off water and to mix new saltwater. For a time, I was using the tap water purifier to remove chlorine and chloramines from the water. But because my tapwater has 700ppm of total dissolved solids, I found that the TWP was only good for about 15 gals (although I used it for much longer, oops). <Yikes!> I now use Amquel to remove the same chemicals. Does the AmQuel remove the chloramines or does it change the form of chloramines so that ammonia in the chloramines now reads as nitrates on my weekly testing?  <Does neutralize chloramines> So am I adding more nitrates each time I do a water change? <Minimally... and these are assimilated, amalgamated quickly in "going" systems... as you can/will see through testing, experience> I can change out 20gals. in my 65 gal tank and have no reduction in the level of nitrates in the tank (80ppm). The nitrate test 0 at the tap however, the published city water report indicates that they test 0 - 20 ppm in their tests. <It's closer to zero.> Thanks for your help-- Chuck <And you for writing. I would not, actually should state do not worry about such matters... Our "liquid rock" water here in San Diego is very hard, alkaline, treated with the same sanitizer... I use it in our systems... and many, many, likely used millions of gallons in marine, freshwater, and pond systems over the years in the service side. Bob Fenner>

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