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FAQs on Calcium, Supplements involving Calcium 1

Related Articles: CalciumThe Use of Kalkwasser by Russell Schultz, Understanding Calcium & Alkalinity, Live Sand, Marine SubstratesReef Systems, Refugiums

Related FAQs: Calcium, FAQs 2Calcium FAQs 3, Calcium FAQs 4, Calcium FAQs 5, Calcium FAQs 6, Calcium FAQs 7, & FAQs on Calcium: Rationale/Use, Calcium Measuring/Test Kits, Sources of Calcium, Calcium Supplements, Dosing, Chemical/Physical Interactions, Troubleshooting/Fixing, & Calcium and Alkalinity, Calcium Reactors, & FAQs on Calcium Reactors: Rationale/Use, Selection, Installation, Operation, Media, Measuring, Trouble-Shooting, By Makes/Models, & Kalkwasser& FAQs on: The Science of Calcium & Alkalinity, Importance, Measure, Sources, Use of AdditivesTroubleshooting/Fixing, Products,

Using Calcium? You  need to test for, and likely adjust Magnesium.

Yellow Eye Kole, mixing cnidarians, calcium/magnesium admonition/advice  11/15/05 Hi Bob, <Carrie> This is just a personal thank you for your help since I have started a reef/fish tank. You do not need to post this on wet web if you don't like anything I have written as far as discovering new things if you don't agree with them. <Mmm, we post all> First, thanks for the good advice about the Anthias! (3 squam. in a 150 gallon.... sparse populating of females per your suggestions).  Turns out they are the blue-eyed not lyre tail. I hope the blue eyes are hardy......I know you receive a TON of mail and this may not jog your memory!  I have a unique question about the yellow eye Kole tang. I had a blond Naso (traded for a chiller with a guy who needed a big one) and I like my Kole BUT, I wanted to do kelp all in my system.....like a self contained system, and I know they eat the stuff off of rocks with their little scrubby mouths, but will they go after kelp?  <Many types, yes> I know the Ulva growing on my live rock is doomed, but as long as he doesn't touch the actual upwards growing kelp, I will keep him.  What do you think oh wise one!? <Mmmm, have got my hand up, blocking the Stooges poke!> Okay, switching tracks and you may even opt to put this paragraph in another subject of wet web. My EX-boss who starves fish to death and recommends the dumbest fish combos in the world and then says "I've been doing this for 20 years, has starved our dragon wrasses to death (I was only there 2 x's a week). <... hard to do... but can be> Told me I could take home a red donut  <Ahh, the coral I take it> <<Not the other type, I hope!>> because I told him if he "puts it in the back" he will neglect it to death. So I have a 1/2 flesh donut, I have fed Mysis, daphnia too, any other suggestions? <Many... posted... Mussid Feeding...> I read the strontium/Moly. helps with the attachment to the skeleton. Kent's says every 4 days.....well in a healthy specimen, yes, but could a cap a day (in a 60 gallon which would probably be more like 50 ACTUAL gallons.. recommended dosage is 1 cap every 4 days per 50 gallons) help it along faster, or is it possible to OD? <Is> What are your suggestions on nursing it back? <A bit of iodide/ate (Lugol's) in the food, once to the water weekly... Same with a vitamin/appetite stimulant prep.> Grab a cup of coffee, we aren't done yet!  Here is another odd situation... I cannot for the LIFE of me keep the star polyps. I narrowed it down and suspect that iodine seems to make the one where I worked retract. That is the only thing I can think of. I have a small rock of green and they have been inside since Thursday,... it is Monday today. Any suggestions? <Water change, Polyfilter, activated carbon...> It is mid level with 6500 Kelvin, 500 watts (fixture from Home Depot, all you wet Webbers who want corals and don't want to add a chiller and MHs!.....This item is $39.00 uses 65 W. of power and emits 500 watts from Lights of America! Over 90 lumens....do not get the lower wattage, the lumens are not high enough, and NO you cannot use their bulbs in any other fixture but lights of America) Enjoy your new corals with a cheap set up!) We found our Gonioporas (I don't have one the store does.... even after I tell my ex-boss NOT to order them) liked it, our leathers preferred it over the MH! And MAN if you have a Pagoda Cup....it will LOVE you for those lights! Go figure! Anyhow, the star polyps..... what is the deal? <Likely allelopathy, not iodine> Seems my colt coral frag and my Kenya tree frag are not happy either. Must be a commonality I am not getting. I seem to have better success with the "hard" to take care of corals! <Cnidarian incompatibility...> Here is another cut paste paragraph.. Thanks for being so kind. My time is of the essence... as is yours... I do not have a picture, sorry BUT the Florida live rock I have, embedded here and there are what looks like a mini Goniopora (flowerpot) BUT not the long flowers, instead brown fuzzy extensions when "open", make them look like fuzz balls. They are embedded 1/2 way in the rock, about the size of a little crazy ball. They are alive and doing well.....just wondered if those are moon polyps. I know, I shouldn't even ask you w/out a pic, but I figured since they were on most of the rocks, it would seem familiar to you. <Not w/o an image> By the way, the feather starfish I accidentally acquired back in June is still alive and doing great!!!! He loves daphnia, Cyclop-eeze and Kent Zooplex. You don't have to put this paragraph on wet web, I would NOT endorse them to anyone unless they are crazy like me. He did lose a lot of arms in the beginning, but only one in the past month. I have talked to other owners of them and they said as long as they are in a reef, then they should be fine.. make sure you FEED the reef though..... not the notion of once a week or you will kill them.  <Agreed> One more thing...really!  My green zoanthids went brown and pulled in their tentacles after their last move....long story. (connection with the other sofites?? <Maybe> But they were fine even when I couldn't keep the star polyps) They are alive, but not that cool green...would the Stron./Moly help them or is it another time will tell?  <The latter> I will be happy to share my findings with you.  OH great tip!!!! TO SAVE YOU MONEY!!!!!! Get a hairy mushroom.... when they shrink up a little like 1/4 to 1/3, add calcium and watch them open again.. really saves me money on calcium testing! ALSO, DO NOT PUT IN CALCIUM UNLESS YOU TEST YOUR MAGNESIUM!!!! <Ah, yes> (that was for the folks reading this, not you Bob!)  GREAT recipe...... 1 "2 quart" 1/2 gallon size of Epsom Salts to 1 gallon of distilled water.... there is your magnesium! Only like 1 1/2 teasp. per 40 gallons! That upped my calcium by like 100 pts! So when the hairy mush is looking small, add the magnesium first! (remember, magnesium makes calcium available wet Webbers) If that doesn't work THEN add calcium. And at that point test your calcium! Thanks Bob and I really do appreciate your patience and time!! <<Whew.. take a breath, girl!>> Carrie :) <Thank you. Bob Fenner>

Calcium deficiency, actually knowledge  11/15/05 Hello there, I have a problem which doesn't really get answered by anyone. My pH is high, at 8.6 falling at night to 8.4 the KH is 15 and calcium is 280. Ok, I have a calcium supplement but just how much can I administer safely? <... need to reduce the influences that are elevating the pH, KH... first> I have done a 9 gallon water change this morning. The tank is 33 gallons, live rock, clown, bi-colour blenny and now just 1 hermit crab. I think, maybe, that I may need extra live rock. Barbara <The chemistry that is high pH, KH are contrary/opposed to the use of many calcium bolstering products... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>  

Re: calcium deficiency  11/15/05 Many thanks. I have, in the last couple of days, been adding Red Sea Calcium +3. I am getting some positive results but will sit down and absorb page you pointed out to me. Thanks for the prompt reply. Barbara <Ahh, you will see that akin to "adding an acid to a base", folks are precipitating the intended supplement in these sorts of high alkaline, hard water situations... easy to fix once you understand the underlying concepts. Cheers, Bob Fenner> 

Re: calcium deficiency   11/15/05 Thanks again. One more little (big) problem - my RO water has a PH of 8.9(!) <... unusual... I would aerate it for an hour and re-check> could I beg a moment of your time to precisely what I must do? ( I am a newbie at this- ) Your site is terrific- I just wish I had the excuse to sit reading for hours! Barbara <Do what I do, make one up. Bob Fenner> 

Re: calcium deficiency... RO storage  11/16/05 Hi Bob, Great, it worked. Thanks. But one more question to bore you with:- Can I store the RO water in its collection bucket for a few days prior to use/aeration, or should it be freshly RO ed? <Better by far to store, aerate> The pH in the tank has come down to 8.4 but the calcium is going no further up nor the KH down. <Takes time... go slow my friend> I am going to do a 10 gall water change with correct pH and Sea Chem salt. Am I right in so doing? <Look into another brand of salt... Perhaps an Instant Ocean product> and if so, how soon before another (how big) change? <Another week or two> Sorry to pester you but am getting such conflicting advice from the store. Thanks for your time Barbara <Seek to understand, demand the underlying logic, science of such (including my) "advice", stances... Important in the extreme to understand "what we're about"... before setting on a path... This is one of the most important "things" I know re this universe. Bob Fenner>

Calcium Problems - 08/12/05 Hey guys, I have a quick question for you. I have a very high calcium content (650-700) maybe higher!  It was odd because my alk stays at great levels and my pH won't budge from 8.3  I have not experienced a snowstorm yet and I have never dosed calcium for as long as the tanks been up ,about a year and a half. I use tap water from my well but do add heavy metal neutralizer.  My tank is thriving and all my corals grow rapidly.  Is the high calcium a problem I need to fix with RO filtration of tap water? Thanks allot Aaron <<Would be interested to know your alkalinity reading, I suspect your calcium reading is in error.  Do try new/different test kits to verify.  EricR>> Calcium conundrum 8.10.05 Hello, crew.  I love the site.  I've gotten SOOO much good stuff from you guys! Anyways, I'm writing to see if you guys can shed some light on what appears to be conflicting information on calcium supplementation.  To start off, we have three tanks -- 46 gal reef, 11 gal nanoreef for a mantis, and just revving up a 120 gal FOWLR.  The two reef tanks are happy and healthy with respect to Ca/Alk (Ca around 350, Alk around 3.5 meq/L, pH 8.1-8.3), <Good readings... but no lower on the pH please for invert tanks. Many corals are irritated by flat pH> and the FO is getting there (just finishing cycling). My concern is over the product(s) you guys recommend for maintaining calcium/alk.  The LFS (Aquatics Warehouse in San Diego -- NICE place) suggests Reef Builder/Reef Complete along with SeaChem buffer as needed.  We used this successfully for about a year, but then I read that you guys really frown upon the use of calcium chloride (the primary ingredient of Reef Complete).   <Correct... when used as a principal means of calcium supplementation in tanks that do not get very large, regular water changes. Moreover, other Ca supplements like common Calcium hydroxide have other benefits that are well documented> So, we switched to Reef Calcium (calcium gluconate)... but then I read from you that it doesn't do squat for coral growth (although it says so on the bottle?).   <An exaggeration... but yes, you will find I think that a tank using polygluconate with not grow corals as fast as with calcium hydroxide or a calcium reactor. The Gluconate is very good for coralline algae growth, however> I'd rather not handle Calcium Hydroxide directly if I can help it. <Really... its no more dangerous than any of a number of other reef or household chemicals> Looking at SeaChem's other products, I see "Reef Advantage Calcium", but that seems to be just Reef Complete (although I've seen this product recommended in the FAQs by some of the crew members).  Various "two-part" systems say that they contain "balanced ionic calcium" but don't give more details. <The two-part supplements are very fine assuming you start with a tank that is already in balance (or do a very large water change to return the tank to balance> Can you help clear this up?  If you were to pick a liquid or powdered Ca supplement for systems with relatively light calcium intake loads (soft corals, a few LPS), what would it be? <I'd choose a good two-part supplement if I had to use liquid> Thanks! Dan <Best regards, Anthony> New Concept/Raising Calcium Levels - 08/06/05 Hey guys my name is Frank I have been keeping 2 large (120gal) saltwater tanks for about 2 years now. I have recently 4-5mnths ago started a small (32gal) reef aquarium.  I had a scare a month ago where my hang on pump died out on me, my ammonia levels shot off the charts.  I was able to save my fish using bioballs from one of my other tank systems. now three weeks down the road with my biofilter growing in, I find I have higher nitrates than I'd like (due to the bioballs of course). <<likely>> I check your site from time and trust your guidance, and while searching for additional information to create a good solution I ran across an interesting concept.  During the aerobic process of nitrification ammonia is oxidized into nitrite, but it also produces a large amount of (almost twice as much) carbonic acid. Here is the break down--> For Nitrosomonas (Aerobic bacteria): 55NH4++ 76 O2 + 109HCO3- C5H7O2N + 54NO2-+ 57H2O + 104H2CO3- In English (1), ammonia (NH4+) is combined with oxygen and hydrogen carbonate to produce bacterial cell mass, nitrite (NO2-) , water and carbonic acid, <<Um...ok...I'll take your word for it <G>.>> <This is accurate. RMF> As is well known, carbonic acid is the key to a calcium reactor, it lowers the pH of the water to dissolve the calcium. <<agreed>> I couldn't find anything on your site where someone has attempted the same thing, so I've decided to experiment with it myself.  I haven't quite settled on my prototype design yet, basically I'm going to attempt to put my nitrate factory to work.  I figure if I can get the freshly processed water to react with aragonite/c.c. before the carbonic acid dissolves/evaporate/dissipates it could work.  If you have any tips please help me out, other than that I'm turning my tank into a guinea pig and ill keep you posted. <<Well Frank...I'm far from being the brightest bulb in the box here at WWM, and if someone more knowing sees this hopefully they will jump in...and the last thing I want to do is discourage innovative thinking, I think you're to be commended...but I would think if a wet/dry filter reduced pH as much/fast enough to do what you describe they would have been crashing systems long ago, especially the smaller systems/volumes of water.  Perhaps it's as simple as trapping/testing the effluent to see if there is a significant pH drop right out of the filter (7.8 or less?).  But please, proceed with your assay and let us know the result.  Regards, EricR>> <<A comment... the "original" mini-riffe systems of George Smit (in the mid 1980's) incorporated a calcium carbonate bed to capitalize on the reductive effects of wet-dry media... effectively melting down a bit more, while buffering water, adding biomineral. RMF>>

Calcium at 350 a bad thing?? I think not - 7/23/05 Good morning WWM crew: <Mornin' amigo, Ali here> Thanks so much for a great forum that has helped me so many times I've lost count. Ok now to my question for today. I have a 72gal bow front with 110 lbs of live rock, Remora Pro hang on skimmer and UV sterilizer unit (believe it or not the UV has saved me a couple of times). I did a full water param.s check last night and it looks like this: SG: 1.025 PH: 8.3 ALK: Normal (my kit doesn't give me numbers) Ammonia: 0 Nitrite: 0 Nitrate: 0 PO4: 0.05 CA: 350 <Not bad..> Note the low number in the calcium department. I have tried several products to get the CA up to 400 or a little better to no avail. <What's the big deal about going above 400ppm?> I have used Purple Up, Seachem Reef Calcium, and Kent calcium products. The number never seems to go above 350. <As long as your calcium readings are stable at 350ppm you are good to go. Full blown Acroporid reef systems, maintained at 300ppm can experience phenomenal growth, coloration, etc. etc. Point being - you don't need to have super high readings of calcium to properly maintain a healthy reef aquarium. Especially if your system contains mainly Soft corals and perhaps a few 'LPS' corals. The key to the whole thing is stability. If you can successfully maintain your calcium readings at 350ppm, it would be far better than having readings of 400 one week, 300 another week, 500 the week after, down to 250 the next. A stable 350ppm calcium reading is nothing you should be too worried about. As of now, focus more energy in a means to bring your phosphate levels completely down to zero.> My Toadstool Leathers really don't polyp as often as they should. They spend most of the time looking like a leather pad, and recently a couple of branches on my Torch Coral died off. I also noticed my very large button polyp rock is now dieing off too. The rest of the corals are doing fine. <This has nothing to do with your calcium readings whatsoever. Keep your fish bioload low, increase water change frequency with clean RO/DI water and relax a bit with all of the additives. A good two-part calcium/alk. supplement such as C-Balance or B-ionic is all that you need.> Can you recommend a good calcium product that will help me increase the number. Also can you offer advise on helping the leathers look healthier. <Increased water circulation/current, followed by the above recommendations will go a long way.> Thanks in advance ... Ray <No sweat Ray, good luck and keep researching my friend. - Ali> Calcium Delivery Change Hi Bob, Hope all is well with you. I would appreciate your input regarding my plan to change calcium supplements from a powder form (Tropic Marin Bio Calcium) to a two part liquid form (Kent Tech CB). The powder does increase the calcium level as advertised, but is somewhat of a mess to deal with. If one adds it directly to the tank, <I would NOT do this... pre-mix it and drip into a sump, into a powerhead discharge...> I find the white powder "snowing" all over the livestock, as it takes a bit to dissolve. If added to my sump, there is no snow in the tank, but it runs havoc with my pumps, with this strong solution of calcium leaving the sump and depositing on the pump impellers, eventually shutting them down (the ca level in the tank is at the appropriate level). I plan on adding the 2 part liquids directly into the tank where the current from the return pumps are the strongest. Is there a protocol you would follow in making the switch from powder to liquid?  <Both products, approaches do "about what they're supposed to", but do agree that the two part is far less messy, more complete... I would keep the TM product handy for boosting just calcium... with the pre-mix approach... and just start utilizing the two part series in its place initially.> It worries me that the calcium itself is probably different, and that it is coming from different companies.  <Good to be concerned, but no problem here.> Outside of the pump problem (and deposits of calcium in the sump, on the heaters etc.), the tank is healthy, and in excellent shape. If this is going to cause more problems (or any for that matter) I may just stay with the powder until the budget will support a calcium reactor. Having to breakdown the pumps for cleaning every two weeks or so ( for a soaking in vinegar) is making me think a change is in order. Thanks. Have a good day. Steve <Thank you for your well-thought out, written mail... I assure you these products are "mix-able". Bob Fenner>

Re: Dosing Calcium Hi Bob, >I have been reading the FAQ's on Calcium, as I am now thinking of the best way to increase calcium in my tank. >I have updated my web site and it includes all the background information I have on the setup of the fish tank: Please see http://www.cia.com.au/winone <Guess the "maintenance" section is a "work in progress"> yep, I have not finished it yet. >What I was thinking was using a small dosing pump (the Dupla model) to dose SeaChem's "Raises Calcium" product at say 25ml per day over a 24-hour period. The dosing pump would look after how much liquid to put into the tank. With this idea, there is not much equipment needed and it is relatively simple to run. >The other method is to get a Ca reactor and all the equipment needed and start adding Calcium using a Ca reactor. PH probe + controller, reactor tube and CO2 bottle and all the rest of the materials needed. ><Mmm, don't necessarily need all this... I don't run a probe, controller with mine... just have set-up "about right"> >I worked out that I could dose the SeaChem product for 3 years before the Ca reactor would become cheaper. I spoke to a SeaChem employee and they told me that the animals can use the Calcium in the "Raises Calcium" product far easier then the Calcium coming from Kalk. The efficiency of the SeaChem product was much more efficient then Kalk. Is there any truth in what he told me? ><Does, raise calcium easier, more directly... but what about pH, other biominerals?> The claim is that the PH is un-effected by the "Raises Calcium" product. It also includes some other goodies like Magnesium + Strontium. <Hmm, pH is affected, albeit indirectly. The materials binding with the feeder stock, and/or ones in your system that determine pH go in/out of solution with this products use.> >I suspect you can imagine what I am going to ask you? Which is better? ><Both work... one is cheaper, easier to use in the short term...> >What is the long term effects of using the SeaChem product? ><Mmm, can spell a loss of other biominerals, alkaline reserve by simply dosing in over weeks, months, w/o checking, augmenting these other >materials> >Do you know of anyone that has maintained Calcium using this method and was it successful? ><Yes> >Many thanks for your time. It is much appreciated! ><You're on the brink of discovery my friend. A bit more reading, reflection. >Bob Fenner>

Ca in salt mixes I will keep on looking. Is it easy to convert the Aqua-Medic de-nitrator to a calcium reactor? On the picture they look surprisingly similar. <The body of the unit is similar... the conversion not so easy, but possible.> The thing that puzzles me is:- I notice the coralline algae grows quite well after water changes. This is all I do at present and you can see what the tank looks like on the "My fish tank" web page. I have good coralline algae growth. I just want more! I assume (I could be wrong) that there is something in the Marine Environment salt that helps the coralline algae grow?  <Sure, in all salt mixes "worth their salt" (sorry, couldn't resist), there is more alkalinity, free calcium... than natural seawater... this likely is the "boosting" material> Maybe I could just add some extra of whatever it is in the salt?  I would still do my water changes every 2 weeks. <Sure> I also notice that my calcium levels increase after water changes. What is causing this? <The contents of the salt mix> If water changes are improving the growth rate of coralline algae and increasing calcium levels, then there is something in the salt that I can dose the tank with? That is what is puzzling me! <Don't be simply puzzled my friend. Test the new seawater, compare its constituents with your "used" water.> Warmest regards Lucien Cinc PS: As I have been learning more and more, I am starting to think that the tank as it has been setup is using the Berlin methodology: Lots of live rock + lights + water movement + calcium + skimmer? <A very simple, effective, stable approach. Bob Fenner>

Dosing Calcium Hello Bob, How are you today? <Fine, busy as always> I have been reading the FAQ's on Calcium, as I am now thinking of the best way to increase calcium in my tank. I have updated my web site and it includes all the background information I have on the setup of the fish tank: Please see http://www.cia.com.au/winone <Guess the "maintenance" section is a "work in progress"> What I was thinking was using a small dosing pump (the Dupla model) to dose SeaChem's "Raises Calcium" product at say 25ml per day over a 24-hour period. The dosing pump would look after how much liquid to put into the tank. With this idea, there is not much equipment needed and it is relatively simple to run. The other method is to get a Ca reactor and all the equipment needed and start adding Calcium using a Ca reactor. PH probe + controller, reactor tube and CO2 bottle and all the rest of the materials needed. <Mmm, don't necessarily need all this... I don't run a probe, controller with mine... just have set-up "about right"> I worked out that I could dose the SeaChem product for 3 years before the Ca reactor would become cheaper. I spoke to a SeaChem employee and they told me that the animals can use the Calcium in the "Raises Calcium" product far easier then the Calcium coming from Kalk. The efficiency of the SeaChem product was much more efficient then Kalk. Is there any truth in what he told me? <Does, raise calcium easier, more directly... but what about pH, other biominerals?> I suspect you can imaging what I am going to ask you? Which is better? <Both work... one is cheaper, easier to use in the short term...> What is the long term effects of using the SeaChem product? <Mmm, can spell a loss of other biominerals, alkaline reserve by simply dosing in over weeks, months, w/o checking, augmenting these other materials> Do you know of anyone that has maintained Calcium using this method and was it successful? <Yes> Many thanks for your time. It is much appreciated! <You're on the brink of discovery my friend. A bit more reading, reflection. Bob Fenner> Warmest regards Lucien Cinc

Dosing Solution Hi Bob, I am a Mechanical Engineer working on a dosage problem with my solution. I am making a gallon of solution of Kalk. to drip into my Saltwater tank. I would like to leave the gallon of solution below the tank in side of the cabinet. The approx. amount of drops that are going into the tank is 7ml/min. (.166 ml/sec.) Using this amount I have designed a way to dose into the tank without leaving a gallon of solution on top the tank to be siphoned. If I had a sump I wouldn't be in this situation. My questioned is if I dose into my tank every hour using the above amount(7ml/min.)= 420ml/hr. will this amount have a negative affect in the tank? <Mmm, for how big a tank? This is a bunch of material if saturated for a typical hobbyist system... might overflow it even... And, you don't want to apply the Kalkwasser during the day... at least probably not. Are you infusing carbon dioxide? Do you plan to utilize a pH controller or some other automated metering device with the supply? Please read the following "Kalk FAQs": http://wetwebmedia.com/kalkh2ofaqs.htm> I know that Kalk. has some kind of residual effect I am not to sure.  I may perform a test but I figured I would ask for your opinion first. Thanks, David Garcia <I would study first. A few, very important effects... potentially and really toxic. There are other, better ways of supplying calcium, hydroxides/pH stability, other biominerals... Bob Fenner>

Re: Dosing Solution I have a 45 gallon tank the Bio load is not very high I only have Live Rock and 1 Starfish. I also use a EcoSystem w/ a "PROTEIN SKIMMER". I know Eco proclaims not use a protein skimmer however, it is beneficial to remove some waste. <Agreed... though Leng Sy (the owner/manager) is a friend, indeed an advertiser/sponsor of our principal site (WetWebMedia), I am of the same opposing opinion> I may use a buffer type chemical like the Kent A&B. The only problem I have had in the past is I could never get my Calcium above 350 PPM.  <This is likely fine... you can read about why this... and alkalinity mentioned below are likely challenged, limited in your system on our site> and my Alk to be stable. I would add these chemicals two or three times a week, maybe I should lower the dosage to once a week and see if that will work. <There's more to this then simply changing the dosage interval. Read on. Bob Fenner>

Calcium (additives, alternatives) Hi Bob, Here's another version of the bazillion dollar question for you. Tank: 90gal, 90lbs LR, 80lbs cc, 30gal sump w/ DSB and Caulerpa, amm, nitrite 0, nitrate 10ppm, 80F, 1.023, (tank is fallow, will raise temp and lower salinity soon), ph 8.4, alk 3.4 meq/l, ca 250-300. Tank inhabitants include 2 cleaner shrimp, 1 peppermint shrimp, snails and hermits, 1 leather toadstool, some polyps and mushrooms. I'm trying to boost coralline growth. I'm adding C-balance to try to raise my calcium levels, which have never gone higher than 300. I've tried a large water change to try to "re-center" my system. Would it be a good idea to add calcium chloride in addition to the 2-part ca/buffer solutions?  <Yes... worth trying... a bit at a time... like a half gram or so> Or use the calcium chloride alone until I get desired ca levels, then use the C-balance?  <Better to use a little of both> Isn't it basically the same as the "part A" of the C-balance?  <To a good extent yes... I might also experiment with the addition of an ounce or so of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) per day> I have access to calcium chloride dehydrate. How much of this should I add to say, 1 gal of water before dripping into my system? Sorry, for the book. I know you recommend ca reactors, but I need a temporary solution I can use while I save up the $400 bucks or so needed for the reactor. Thanks. <As Captain Jean Luc might say, "Make it so". Bob Fenner>

Re: Calcium Hi Bob, Thanks for the quick reply. Forgot to mention, but yes, I will also add baking soda along with the calcium chloride to keep up my alk levels. I will also be testing for ph, ca and alk throughout the whole process. <Ah, certainly> Another question, if calcium chloride combined with baking soda is basically the same as the 2 part ca/buffer additives, what's the benefit to using the more expensive 2 part additives? <Hmm, there are some other compounds... a bit of borate, calcium carbonate... finely ground, proportionalized, neatly bottled and labeled... As with other chemical products, a matter of convenience, cost> Wouldn't regular water changes replenish all the remaining minerals provided by the additives? <Yowzah! This is a bold statement... and true, given "enough water change"... as in "lots"... We can carry on this discussion if you'd like> I'm just trying to get a clearer understanding of what I'm putting into my system. Thanks for helping me get "there". <You are expanding your consciousness in important ways here my friend. Don't allow your mind in terms of feelings to become fixated. Bob Fenner>

Calcium level Dear Robert, I have a small tank with three pieces of small live rock, some tiny tangs and damsels in it. Currently I bought a Coralife calcium supplement for enhancing the coralline algae grow. I put in twice a week as per instruction, 3 drops per gallon. But this week my husband made mistakes when he filled in for me. Instead of 3 drops, he put in 6 drops per gallon two times this week. <No worries> Do you know if overdose of calcium liquid additive will cause problem to the live rocks or the fish? <No problems... this product is very safe...> I thought that the calcium test kit isn't necessary when following instructions. Even I only have three live rocks, but I still have some fish to utilize the overdose calcium. Right? <Mmm, well, am actually a fan of using tests for any/everything added to systems. But likely no problem here my friend. Bob Fenner> Warmest regards, Joan

Help? Question Hi, I have an question to ask you if you don't mind. I have a 55 G reef tank that has been set up now for about a year. Everything is testing fine but my alk. is testing at 5.00 meq/l and my ph is 8.0 How can by ph not be higher than this value if my alkalinity is high?  <Easily... these measures are not directly positively correlated. Alkalinity is a measure of.... resistance to downward movement of pH... is simply a static value... a place... one can be high, the other low...> I'm trying to get my ph to a stable 8.2. I did accomplish this for a time with Proper PH 8.2 buffer but it dropped back to 8.0. My calcium is about 460.  <Ah! Likely your focus on driving the biomineral content of your water is your real nemesis here... self-caused. Please read through the various sections on pH, alkalinity, calcium... posted on our site: WetWebMedia.com and accompanying FAQs pages> What is causing my ph to drop if my alk. levels are high? Please help... thanks <You can only help yourself... give up your fixation on any one given value... the linearity of your thinking is the source of the "trouble" here. Bob Fenner.>

Calcium I tested my tank for calcium and i found that i have 700ppm. I know it should be at 350ppm-450ppm. Is there any harm in having 700ppm. <Yes... a few important problems... inability of your livestock to uptake other materials... precipitation of carbonates...> How do i lower it etc? <Hmm, stop doing whatever you're doing to elevate it... change some water with pre-made synthetic of lower calcium concentration... There are a few ways to extract biominerals that we can discuss if necessary... Bob Fenner> -Matt

Calcium too low I have a 72 gal. reef tank with a 1.5 inch sand bed w/canister filter. I can't seem to get my calcium up past 250. PH @ 8.0 in morning and 8.3 during day. Alkaline stays around 3.5 via use of Kent Super dKH. <This may be the source of your control difficulty. This product is likely precipitating out your free calcium.... either use their other supplement products to maintain both biomineral content and alkaline reserve, or switch to another line, or... go to using a calcium reactor for both> Phosphates stays around .02 and I have no problem with unwanted algae. I've been using Turbo Calcium to increase CA levels via makeup water.  <Oh...> I have mostly soft corals and a few fish. All live rock is covered with coralline algae and does grow on glass. I bought the small Aquadoser 1400 by Kent .  <Hmm, likely your healthy corallines are taking up a bit of the calcium here... any idea of your magnesium level?> I would like to start using Kalkwasser via use of makeup water to drip in tank. My evaporation rate of 1/2 gal. a day. How does one determine how much KW to drip in?  <Actually... there are rules of thumb... but best to "just experiment" with a given solution strength...> Do I drip a 1/2 gal. of KW at night to keep up with evaporation?  <If the solution is dilute, yes> How much KW do I mix in a separate 1 gal. container to add to doser?  <Use a set of plastic measuring spoons here... start with a half teaspoon and see what this results in the next day. And don't stir the water and Kalk too vigorously in mixing together... Bob Fenner> Need your advise please. Thanks.

Calcium Chloride Hello Bob - Hope all is going great for you. <Things and life are fine my friend> I'm currently saving for a CA reactor, but in the meantime.... After reading the Calcium FAQs on your website, it seems that it is possible to keep calcium and alkalinity at acceptable levels using just baking soda and calcium chloride. Where can I purchase calcium chloride? <Hmm, yes, possible. The latter is available by local and mail-order chemical supply outlets. Check your "Yellow Pages" and the etailers listed on the WWM Links Pages> BTW, I thought I'd share some of my experience with your readers who are contemplating the move to reefkeeping. I have kept a fish only tank for several years and have moved into reefkeeping. I have found that after doing a lot of reading (like your book), it is actually easier to maintain the reef tank than the fish-only tank.  <Thank you for this... I am in agreement... much less trends to fight> There are three reasons why the fish-only tank requires more maintenance, that I can think of: lack of live rock (which keeps nitrates in check) in my fish-only tank, lack of snails and hermits to clean the tank (b/c they would be eaten by the fish), and finally, the large amounts of waste and mess produced by bigger fish such as lions, puffers, and triggers. When I bought my first aquarium I would almost not even look at the reef tanks in the LFS because I thought they would be much too difficult to maintain. But if you are determined, and do TONS of reading first, it is definitely possible. My corals are now growing so much, they are like 'mutant' corals. And live rock is one of the most amazing things because new organisms keep appearing almost daily, months and months after the rock was placed in the aquarium. I can't imagine what the rock will look like several years from now! And I have finally, and perhaps most importantly, come to understand what is meant by an aquarium 'system.' Best Regards, Andre <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Calcium Supplements Bob, re: Should I be testing for Ca to see if I NEED to supplement? <If your animals require it, yes> I have 4 fish (2 percula clowns, a yellow tang and the engineer goby), live rock with macro algae, a bunch of assorted crabs and snails. Is calcium important for these types of animals? If so, what level of Ca should I try to maintain?  <For the fishes, yes indirectly... in concert with other minerals, calcium serves to maintain pH, alkalinity... overall chemical balance. For the algae and invertebrates much more directly yes> On source I have suggests that it is important and that a level of 450 ppm is good. Do you agree? <Hmm, yes... please see the www.WetWebMedia.com site re "Calcium"... anywhere between about 350-400 ppm is fine... too much less or more is undesirable. Bob Fenner> Thanks, John

Calcium level what is the correct calcium level for salt water.  <Depends on a few factors...types of livestock, what you're trying to do with them... but somewhere between 350-400ppm> also, i bought a bottle of calcium chloride, is this ok to use. <Can be... to initially boost free calcium... not safe to use to move all at once, continuously...> also, is Kalkwasser the best additive for calcium, or is liquid calcium, like what i bought ok. thank you <Best? None at all... somewhere between... calcium reactors of a few designs... You need to study my friend... not ask questions here... Do get/read over some of the current text works in the field of marine aquarium keeping, join a listserv on the net... read over the WWM site... these basic questions are all answered more completely on the stated forums. Bob Fenner>

Ca Woes You must be on a nice trip! I hope everything is OK, as you've been incommunicado! <Just a couple of days in Palm Springs...> My system is still in limbo. I tested Ca this morning--Ca was down to 225 ppm, alk is still around 4.5 meq/L. The calcium reactor effluent is running at 20 ml./min. Effluent pH is 6.8 on the nose, has alk of 7.5 meq/L, but Ca is low in the effluent as well--300 ppm. <Dump, replace this... the easily soluble constituents are about gone...> I did a 15% water change yesterday, and it didn't seem to help. I also added the SeaChem Reef Calcium, and the Ca level has continued to drop.  <Yes... and do you know why? Less money in here, and more knowledge, intelligence... please... you can't mix and match these technologies/products.> The plate had to come out yesterday, and the maroon clown looks lost as his "house" is now gone. The elegance will probably have to come out today, as its polyps have released from the skeleton all the way around now. (Is recovery from this condition even possible, or am I risking total system contamination by leaving it in at this point?) <Yes, possible, probable with just placing this specimen in a "dirty" sump and leaving it alone, occasionally feeding it...> Through my studying and scouring the FAQs, I've come to the conclusion that Kalkwasser may help correct the imbalance, as it appears that Ca is not soluble in my system and perhaps there are excess carbonates from all the prior supplementation.  <Yes.> (My supposition is that the Tropic Marin was releasing the alk component and not the Ca--the clogging of the filters resulted in a brown residue all over everything, which I suspect was the Ca component precipitating out of the solution.) <Something like this.>> In spite of my misgivings, I'm going to try a Kalkwasser drip to see if I can jump-start the recovery process. It seems to make sense--perhaps removing excess carbonates that are precipitating out the Ca (and preventing the Ca from entering solution in the reactor effluent), also helping to boost pH. It seems to make sense to me--and I have alkalinity to spare at the moment, low Ca and low pH. I'm going to try it and see if it helps get things back in line. Does this make sense? <This is a dangerous see-saw that is almost impossible to get off...> Sorry for the long series of messages over the past few days--it doesn't seem that I can find good advice anywhere--the LFS was stumped yesterday when I spoke with them. And often self-study, at any rate, is the best way to learn and grow. <Agreed my earnest friend> Hope you are well. I'm sure you'll have hundreds of messages to scour through when you get back. Look forward to chatting again soon. --James Deets <Tienes razon, honto des, te veritas, you are right. Bob Fenner>

Re: Ca I did a partial water change yesterday--I'm going to do several more this week as well to see if there is any improvement. I can't really go back to my old ways of boosting Ca levels--the reason I got the Ca reactor is because the old ways had stopped working--becoming increasingly ineffective. So I've got to move forward on this. The only supplements I ever used in the tank in the past to boost Ca and alkalinity have been Kent Superbuffer dKH and Tropic Marin Bio-Calcium. <Yes... but do check and replace the stock/meltdown materials... in your reactor... they are spent if the calcium in the effluent is very low...> The latest is that my tank is leaking in the back corner--either a bad seal or a crack in the bottom glass. When it rains, it pours. . .  <Oh man! I'll say> But maybe this rain will make the grass greener. I talked to the LFS--if we confirm a leak, I will probably replace the tank with another one identical to the current one. I could just switch the biofilter media from my old tank to the new one. <yes> IF this comes to pass, I'll use all new synthetic water. <Very good> I've got live sand substrate right now--based on my current biomineral problem, I think I should discard it.  <Hmm... a shame... if it were mixed into a much larger system... like the dealer's... or someone with a huge system...> I'll replace it with coral sand of some kind. It does need to be relatively fine consistency, however, for some of the livestock (sand stars, banded goby and horseshoe crabs that I never see. . .). I will also start the Ca reactor with all new reactor media. <Ah, good...> Will the current live rock be OK? Should I wash it off or soak it in something while switching out the tanks, before putting it back in the new tank? (Ideally, I should start completely over, with the exception of the biofilter media, but the LR is the most costly item in the tank. . .) <Yes, the live rock is fine to just move> One other point--I top off with RO/DI water. I checked the pH of newly drawn RO/DI water today and it was 9.3.  <What?!> I thought that newly filtered RO/DI water would usually be slightly acidic, as opposed to being so basic. Am I mistaken on that? <No... this is very strange... how is this water made? I mean whose gear is this? Something rented/leased?.... I would be calling them schnell, hyaku, ahora mismo... and asking for a guaranteed analysis... this is a very likely huge spot of trouble...> When I initially filled the tank, I used premixed RO/DI water purchased from the LFS. One thing that needs to be investigated is whether my RO/DI system is leaving something in the water that, with biweekly partial water changes, has eroded the system water slowly over time and destroyed its ability to maintain Ca in solution. It's certainly something to investigate--what tests should I do on the RO/DI water? <About the same ones as your aquarium... Alkalinity, calcium, pH... conductivity also (grossly) if you suspect this is a yes/no question... in other words, is this unit working...?> (Perhaps I should just send a sample to a lab for quantitative and qualitative analysis. . .) Incidentally, with BOTH of the plate corals that have passed, both showed their initial "shock" and decline in connection with a partial water change. I will overcome these issues! There is just a little more investigation and cogitation needed to get there! <Yes my friend. Press on. Bob Fenner>

Re: Ca Reactor, other help Is the reef listservs like a newsgroup? Are you speaking of a specific group, or just generally? Where is it? I'll try it for sure. <Generally... reefs.org, the coralreef listserv... links to these and others available through the "Hobbyist" Links on WWM site. Bob Fenner>

Re: Ca Thanks for the quick response! I checked the RO/DI water again--pH monitor was 9.2, and FasTest pH test was "off the chart" to the high side. I also tested it, however, using one of my swimming pool test strips--the dip strip method. And that particular test showed pH "off the chart"--but on the BOTTOM end--it actually indicated the pH was slightly acidic. So there are different reagents--whatever is making the pH high is nonreactive to the reagent on the pool test strip, apparently. (Don't worry--I trust my pH monitor and FasTest over the pool stuff--just an observation.) The pool strips do read "0" for chlorine/chloramines and bromine, which is comforting. <... I guess... if you had sufficient halogen to register on these... no life...> I will contact the seller of the RO/DI system immediately--this particular system is marked specifically to aquarists--and if this is the root of the trouble, they need to correct it before many others get "up against the wall" as I am. (It's starting to make sense--remember that I couldn't get the Tropic-Marin Bio-Calcium to dissolve in the top-off water at all???) FYI--the web site where I got it is www.aqua-clear.com. <Yes... alkaline materials don't dissolve easily, much in alkaline solutions (remember the KOH of sodium carbonate? I do... taught high school physics and chemistry to pay my "debt to society" years back...> I'll let you know what I find out. I'll talk to them tomorrow and I am also considering consulting a chemist to see if they can pinpoint what exactly is going on here. <Hmm, good idea> Chat again soon. --James D P.S. I also posted this theory on a newsgroup--so I'll see if maybe I'm not the only one this has happened to. Until then, I guess I'd better go buy some RO/DI water from the LFS for top-off purposes and hold off on the water changes. . . <Yes... unless the water to be changed with has a pH that's okay. Bob Fenner>

Re: Ca reactor, water... Solution Hi Bob--a quick update. I spoke on the phone for quite some time with a chemical consultant today--he believes that the RO/DI unit IS the root of my troubles. He explained that the high pH in the water is because the DI is removing all the cations from the water, and is leaving the anions.  <Yes... the root and source stated are my surmissions as well...> The 9.3 pH indicates that the concentration of anions left in the water is a multiple of 300 times what it should be in pH-neutral water.  <About so...> The anions are reacting with whatever form of Ca goes into the system, and precipitating it out of solution.  <Bingo> (This would also be precipitating all other desirable cations--like magnesium or anything else that should be there. . .)  <Yes... and undesirable ones... indiscriminately> Based on the color of the precipitate I've been seeing, he suspects that the anionic constituent is either some ferrous compound, or nitrite. (Wowzah--hopefully I haven't been topping off with a dose of nitrite every day. . .) <Likely not... but what you have been using... very unhealthy... a real boon to the supplement biz though> The incremental 40ppm/day drop in Ca level I've seen recently would correlate with the addition of the relatively fixed volume of top-off water every day--from the same RO/DI system! (Ca was at 210 this morning. . .) <Yes... all correct suppositions> I ordered all new reactor media last night--assuming the tank doesn't have to be replaced, the plan now is successive massive water changes with RO/DI water from the LFS that I will mix up myself, until I get a relatively stable Ca level just from the water changes. Once I start the water change process, which will be tonight, I'll cease all supplementation and shut down the Ca reactor, as it can only screw up the "fresh start."  <Hmm, not really... going forward just do "one or the other in the way of adjusting pH, alkalinity, biomineral content..."> After achieving a stable Ca level through water changes, I'll then fire up the reactor again with the new media. (Assuming I don't have to replace the tank, should I replace the live sand substrate anyway?  <I would not... but would likely thoroughly vacuum the substrate in the course of upcoming water changes... over time the near-soluble materials will be gone> Or should a good vacuuming in connection with the massive water changes be sufficient?) Are 50% water changes OK, or is that too much at a time?  <Oh, here's that bit... at this point, the massive water changes are fine... going forward... no more than 20%...> My guess is that I'll have to replace at least 150% of the water (i.e., 5-30% water changes or 3-50% water changes) before I see appreciable improvement--and probably wont be there until the total volume change exceeds 200%. As an alternative, would I be better off getting the LFS to come and do a 100% water change with thorough substrate vacuuming in the process? (And perhaps a tank patch instead of a new one at the same time. . .) <Hard to say... at this point, I would do it myself...> The potential cause of this situation is that the DI filter on this unit was not defective, but has been exhausted. The chemical consultant said that DI filters are much better at removing cations than they are at removing anions.  <Yes... and a "BTW" here to future browsers... this is part and mostly the parcel of my dislike for hobbyist Deionization units... I hope I have been consistent here... just use Reverse Osmosis (perhaps with an inline mechanical and chemical filters...> and leave off with the DI...> So when they're exhausted, it makes sense that the presence of elevated relative anion concentration would be the first sign. Instead of second-guessing the efficacy of the DI filter in the future, would it be OK to just use an RO filter and leave the DI part completely out of the picture? What's the benefit of the DI process? (I now know what the downside can be--if exhaustion of the filter is what has happened here. . .) <You're starting to frighten me... we're thinking, at least keying the same sorts of ideas...> Looks like the proof may be in the pudding here--or water, that is. <Ah yes, and an end (finally) to your and your livestock's travails. Bob Fenner> James A. Deets

Woe is my alk/calc Hi Bob, Please don't shoot me. I'm still trying to come to terms with which calcium reactor to buy for my 75 gallon (leaning to George Weber and his waiting list) but I have a problem. 3 weeks ago I tested and had a calcium of 350, and alk of 7 reported by my trusty LFS. 2 weeks ago my alk tested at 2, calcium at 300. I use Kent A/B, and began adding more frequently (10 ml each every other day). Last week, my reading was alk 1.7, calcium 270. I began adding 15ml of each every day. Today my alk is 2, calcium is still 270. My LFS recommend continuing with A/B and supplementing with Kent Calcium. I have heard that a reactor would take a while to bring my levels up anyway, so do I bump up my additives? My 3 inch live sand bed is about a year old, have I just lost all my buffer that my live sand was providing? <Hmm, no to the shooting... best to be cautious... diligent in ones hobbies where big money or life are involved... And your system "is healthy" in that it is "using up" available biomineral and alkalinity... and yes, you can replace/supplement same with the products listed, no problem... and a reactor can do this in a few days... Less of the alkalinity booster here... Bob Fenner> Thanks, Marty

Alkalinity/Calcium relationship Hey Bob, I hope everything is well with you. I have read your responses and information regarding alkalinity and calcium level issues, but I still have a question regarding my system - my calcium levels are testing in the 480 to 500 ppm range, but my alkalinity is still in the 2.5 to 2.75 meq/l range. How should I raise the alkalinity level without further increasing the calcium level? <A few things could be done...> I have recently purchased the two part Kent Marine A & B products, but I am now afraid to use this since my calcium levels are high. Baking soda?  <The "B" is ostensibly this...> If so, how much? <Try a teaspoon per ten gallons... mixed in with system water... drip about half in and re-measure/test...> What about the SeaChem marine buffer 8.3 ph product? <A good mix of carbonates, bicarbonates...> I have a 92 gallon reef set up with 5 small fish, cleaner shrimp, various clean-up crew members, and 5 hardy type corals. My tank is about 8 months old and has maintained good consistent water parameters otherwise. Thank you! <You're likely aware of my liking of calcium reactors (calcium carbonate et al. stocks melted down by carbonic acid/carbon dioxide in solution... this is the single best method of achieving the ends you seek (stable, optimized pH, biomineral content and alkalinity)... For alkalinity alone, you want to add, slowly a mix of carbonates, bicarbonates (not just the latter through baking soda in the long haul)... can be added through compounds that contain both (as in one/two part products made in/for the trade/hobby... or you can buy/administer the same materials... A few co-factors do help... skimming, water changing, a dearth of feeding, adequate light/photosynthesis, ozone use/UV use... aeration/circulation... Bob Fenner>

Calcium Levels Hello Bob,  Is a calcium level of 500+ too high? <No... as long as there is sufficient alkaline reserve, no problem... this is however at about the upper end of where you likely want to be> Should I stay around 420 - 450?  <Would be better in many/most circumstances yes> Will a calcium level of 500+ hinder proper growth of coralline algae or does it help?  <Will help... if alkalinity is okay... need to have both> Is there such a thing as too much calcium in the tank?  <Yes> Thanks, Terry <Take a read through a couple of the current reef, marine husbandry books for their treatment of alkalinity, biominerals, pH and their relationships... and consider the utility, safety and savings of a calcium reactor. Bob Fenner, www.wetwebmedia.com>

Aragocrete, diminished alkalinity, biomineral  Dear Robert We have some questions. What is Aragocrete and where is it available in South Africa and in which form?  <Think you're referring to the calcium carbonate and cement conglomerate/product the folks at G.A.R.F stick together... you can find their website listed on the www.wetwebmedia.com links pages> If it is not available, what alternative can we use? <Hmm, make your own? Any source of "limestone", biological or not... and hydrated calcium/cement product... do like the "plastic" low alkalinity types of the latter myself... and a bit of ingenuity... curing not in a marine aquarium...> Also I would like to know why my buffer and Calcium drops so quick? My tank is a 1.8m, 500 I tank with a trickle filter on the side as overflow going to the sump. The sump is a 4ft tank with two 2500l Sicce pumps. My protein skimmer is 2 1/2 ft long with a 2500l Sicce pump. I have got two internet DIY nitrate filters on. On the inside of the tank I have three 800L/H Sicce pumps for circulation. Nitrite reads zero, nitrate is zero to 2.5ppm, ammonia is zero, specific gravity is 1,022, PH is 8.4ppm, Alkalinity is 7.6 and Calcium is 360ppm. I have 2 Coralife 6500K, 4 are 50/50 Actinic and 4 Actinic lights. Regards, Gert <Hmm, the units of the alkalinity aren't meq/l I'll assume... Likely your "nitrate filters" (denitrators for you all in the west) are eating up the biomineral... If you're happy with what system of supplementing you're employing (drip of calcium hydroxide or such (Kalkwasser) at night, with or w/o carbon dioxide, liquid supplements...) I would just increase the dosage/rate of these... If you want the best available, most appropriate long term strategy, buy or fashion a calcium reactor with a carbon dioxide infuser... Many plans on these available through links on the WWM site. Bob Fenner>

Calcium Problem A strange one, Bob. Began using the Salifert Calcium test a few weeks ago. My level jumped in the last two weeks. Here are the overall readings: Ammonia - 0 Nitrites - 0 Nitrates - 0 Ph - 8.2 Salinity - also jumped to 1.032 <What?> Calcium - went from 450 to 1000 <Nah. Something awry here> Have begun slowly bringing the salinity down with partial water changes, over the last four days, presently down to 1.028. However, the calcium still is around 1000 mg/l. We ceased adding anything that contains calcium two weeks ago, and have been using only Coral Vital and Kent's Invert twice a week. I have been unable to find the cause of the additional calcium. I now have the following live stock: <Stop right here... and stop using the sugar/vital product(s)> yellow tang royal Gramma six-line wrasse green Chromis yellow-fin damsel yellow-tail damsel percula clown long-tentacle Anenome peppermint shrimp emerald crabs Hermits snails pagoda cup frogspawn mushrooms bubble finger All appear fine except the bubble and finger, though both are coming back around with the partial changes, 2 gallons of fresh/day, no saltwater mix added. I intend on going to a 10 gallon change tonight, and bring the salinity back down to 1.025, but still am concerned about the calcium. Any ideas?? Rick Farris <There is a false positive with the Salifert Test... you will soon be about right... just drop the Weiss... Bob Fenner>

Calcium additives? Pardon my intrusion, but I would like to hear your opinion re: calcium additives. <In a nutshell... they're worthwhile... two part better than one (i.e. separate biomineral and alkaline input components), with several variations of calcium reactors all being superior in turn...> I have a fairly low-load tank with mostly soft coral.  I do have a Frogspawn and Favia Brain.  I have been looking at a couple of liquid calcium additives, but I've heard mixed reviews of these products. <Good for your efforts> I have heard very good things about Kent's 2 part calcium/alkalinity system and thought I'd ask your opinion. <Safe, effective formulations... with testing, knowledge of what you're doing, and regular (diluting) maintenance> I know dosing Kalk seems to be the most widely accepted method, but I have a 4-year-old daughter and I'm not keen on the idea of keeping a vat of Kalk in the house. <I agree with you... calcium hydroxide... better for use in cleaning ovens (like the more common sodium(OH)... Kalk will soon be a bad memory of the hobby... and a large deposit in the bank acct.s of those who have been unscrupulous enough to hawk it>  I am a diehard "low maintenance" fan and I am willing to forego the addition of more calcium dependent critters if there is no simpler way of introducing the calcium to my tank.  I am currently using Thiel's Vital Gold and Iodine supplements, so I don't have any concern with strontium or the like, just calcium.   <There are a few other ways of getting "enough" carbonate, bicarbonate, calcium, magnesium, strontium into your water... like much more live rock, a refugium/macroalgae filter, deep sand bed of fine Aragonitic material, plenums... All pale in comparison to using calcium reactors... Trust me... as the next few years go by, computers will become faster and cheaper and folks will be using Ca reactors> Please reply to this email if you have a moment.  I would really appreciate it! Thanks, Becky McAlister <Be chatting my friend. Life to you. Bob Fenner>

Calcium Hi Bob, I have a question for you re: calcium, if you have the time. We have a calcium test kit from a company called "Hagen" the test name is Ca Test. When we perform the test, the readings are off the chart, over 800 ppm. We add no calcium to the water, however, we live in Montana and our water source is the Missouri River. Much of the river runs through limestone canyons. In your opinion, do you think that it's more likely the test is inaccurate, or would you think that our calcium could be that high?  <This is very high... but possible... Yikes, "liquid rock", even rockier than good ole San Diego...> The reason I question this is because our purple coralline algae looks like it's bleaching out. <Actually not surprising... think about this. The corallines require both high alkalinity and biominerals (like Ca)... but too much alkaline earth (e.g. calcium) will greatly reduce alkaline reserve... Ah...> To refresh your memory, we have a 125 gallon tank. Our lighting is 3, 175 watt MH and 2, 160 watt actinic. We run a Berlin style filter with a Turbo Flotor foam fractionator and a wave maker. I think my lighting, filtering, skimming and water movement is good. Do you think we could actually need to add calcium?  <No> Throw away the test kit? If you think that this test kit is inaccurate, could you recommend one that would be reliable? <Maybe have a shop "test your tester"... but it may be fine> All of our other readings are good, with the exception of our PH. Our PH has always, for the 5 years I've lived in Montana, been a little on the low side. Never as low as 7.5, but never a good strong 8.0, probably somewhere in the vicinity of 7.8 if I had to guess. Even with water changes we can't make that figure budge. Is there a relationship between the two? I read your web site religiously and your column in the fish mag, but get a little confused. BTW, I'm a San Diego native, transplanted to Montana due to job relocation. Thanks for any input you care to share. Betsy >> <A few possible relationships at play here... If it were me/my system and home, I'd just get and use a decent reverse osmosis filter system for making water for aquarium use as well as cooking and drinking... Do look into one of these (Home Depot, Lowe's... or pet-fish relabeled brand... And don't think about not-so sunny Cal... the traffic is horrendous here (even for dodgers like myself who rarely venture out), and folks are becoming way to mean, small-minded for my blood. Bob Fenner>

Supplements involving Calcium Mr. Fenner: Thanks for your advice about using calcium chloride and sodium carbonate solutions instead Limewater. <You're certainly welcome.> When I dissolve the CaCl, one tsp, in one liter of tap water it becomes very cloudy. After a while the liquid turns clear and an important part of the powder settles at the container bottom. <Hmm, milky precipitate and opaque solution are to be expected... but don't use tapwater... look into distilled or at least RO or deionized water to make your stock solution... and see below:> With the carbonate the solution turns clear immediately. <No... will be cloudy to some extent as well... not very soluble in water, new or system> The question is: in the CaCl case, should I add to the main tank the cloudy or the clear liquid? <The cloudy is fine, as long as added slowly (as in a drip... some folks siphon into their tanks with airline tubing... or place on the intake port of a venturi type power head.... a great idea... with an all-plastic airline valve.> Another questions : could I store this both solutions for later use? Special container? I'll try less CaCl powder to avoid important lost of insoluble part? <Can't be stored effectively for more than a few days, even with starting with very clean water... make up fresh at least once a week.> Muito obrigado <You're welcome again my friend. Bob Fenner> Fl?io Ribeiro

Calcium In my 20 gallon reef aquarium I am having trouble raising my calcium levels from about 300 ppm. I am testing with a Red Sea calcium test kit and it reads 300 ppm. My alkalinity is pretty stable at 3.2 -3.6 approximately. I top off my evaporated water with a Kalkwasser solution of either 1/2 or 1 teaspoon per half a gallon of water every few days. I only have some star polyp mats and button polyp rocks now but I will add some stony corals and clams in a few weeks so that's why I am concerned w/ the calcium levels. What would you recommend doing to raise and stabilize my calcium level ? Also what is the lowest excepted level for supporting clams in the aquarium? Thank you , Adam Matt  >> The Kalk is holding you back... need to understand the relationship between alkalinity and this hydroxide... and/or get involved with using calcium chloride... or better still, devise or buy a calcium reactor (with CO2), which is what we do. Oh, and check your Mg. Bob Fenner, who entreats you to read over the materials on these subjects stored on our site: Home Page

Supplements involving Calcium Mr. Bob Fenner  One year and a half 100 gallon marine aquarium, 5 fishes (1 happy?! Mandarin, always "picking" on the rocks), 4 soft corals, 1 small Tridacna, 6 Hermit crabs, one Atlantic red starfish (Madeira Island is my home), and more or less 30 Kg of live rock with a lot of growing red/purple calcareous algae, genus Mesophyllum.  I use natural sea water mixed with tap in order to decrease the salinity - 1022  During last January, I e-mail you about an algae problem, and to know your opinion about lighting, UV, and sump. Now the algae problem is a very small one, I think because the UV and, less feeding. The livestock is looking great. <Ah, good to hear.> This time my questions are about some water parameters, looking for your help in this issue: - The daily water top-off is about 2 liters from one Tap-Water-Purifier (Aquarium Pharmaceuticals); - May be once or twice in a month I use top-off Kalkwasser, because it is very difficult for me to make it fresh in a regular base (daily); - I don't use any additives, except strontium and iodine solutions, +1 tsp monthly ; <Good idea.> In this case, could I use a solution of NaHCO3, to substitute the Kalkwasser and provide the system with the necessary capacity of neutralizing acids, and, through a solution of Calcium Chloride, increase the calcium in the water? <Yes, indeed, this is the route I would/do take.>  The tests that I have made today:  PH - 8.2 ; KH - 5?d ; Ca - 360 ; Temp. 26?C.  The calcium is not so bad.....? But I think the KH is low....Would the addition of carbonate solve the problem? <Not bad at all, really... not worth the time, risk, trouble of elevating if you are satisfied with your results... they sound fine to me...>  I respect very much your opinion, and so I want to know, in the case that you agree with the administration of the above solutions, the amount of them per week? month? The concentration of the solutions? In the present case add both of them, just the carbonate, or none? <Once a week for the calcium addition will be fine... I would not be concerned with the starting concentration of the mix... just develop over time from testing, about how much boosts your readings... really, and I would try adding (on different days) the calcium chloride (solution), and the carbonate... that is, I would utilize both (for biomineral and alkalinity) applied on different days.>  I know you recommend the use of a calcium reactor. May be one day I will get one. In the meanwhile the best procedure is.....? <Or even design and build one... not hard to do.>  One more question. The values of my tap water are: PH - 7.9 ; KH - 4?d ; ORP - 500 ; No nitrites or nitrates. Silica unknown (volcanic rock island). The water from the Tap Water Purifier (?) is more or less the same values, except for PH - 6.7 and ORP - 430. What do you think about using normal tap water in this case? <Wow, the ORP of the tap/source water is high... but still, all should be fine.>  Thank you very much for your precious help. Fl?io Ribeiro >> <You're welcome, my friend, "el gusto es mio", Bob Fenner>

Calcium low Hi my name is John, I know Mike Kaechele from Scripps hospital who says he is a friend of yours (Sorry if I did not spell his last name right). I have a question about my 55gal reef tank. It has low calcium levels (270-300ppm). It has about 45-50 pounds of live rock in it with three hard corals in it (frog spawn, torch, and a plate coral). I checked the magnesium levels and it was a little low so I raised it up a little (1100 ppm to 1300ppm) and I am drip feeding Kalkwasser into the tank nightly and sometimes daily. I just brought the magnesium up about a week ago so I am thinking to give more time or there just maybe to many organisms sucking it down as fast as I put it in. Can you please let me know what you think. Thanks John  >> Nice to meet you. About how did/are you elevating the magnesium concentration? If by means of Epsom salt (MgSO4), you should keep adding this... slowly. The Kalkwasser additions by night should show more increase with time... but I'm concerned about the ancillary effects of low alkalinity... Do us the favor of reading through the articles and FAQ files on our site: Home Page to gain an understanding of the antagonistic effects of these phenomena... and we'll chat. Bob Fenner

Re: calcium low Thanks for responding back. Yes I used Epsom salt and yes I did it very slowly. As for the alk levels they are about 8-10 dKH... Thanks John >> Ah, well am I answered. All sounds fine. Bob Fenner

I am really frustrated with my 55 reef. I can not get my calcium up above 320 and my alk is 10-11 DKH. I have no Nitrate or phosphate My coralline algae does not look pink in high light areas. Only low light areas. It is turning from pink to white. I add Kent AB daily and not helping. My lighting is great, URI VHOs and IceCap 660-balast only 3 months old (3 bulbs and 330 watts). Should I add more calcium? How can I stabilize this. I think I may be affecting my LPS corals from all opening consistently Please help, Andrew >> You describe an all too common scenario of imbalance (induced) from the use of proprietary supplements... and there are a few ways to change the mix of alkalinity versus calcium concentration in your system. Very basically (pun intended) the high alkalinity in your system is keeping the calcium down... in addition to the latter's rapid uptake by your biomineralizing life, principally the encrusting algae. If it were me, I'd leave off using the Kent products for now, and instead use either Kalkwasser (calcium hydroxide), or calcium chloride solution in the following manner. 1) Mix up what you want to use daily in RO, DI, or distilled water. 2) Drip/add it in an area of high circulation (my fave is through a piece of airline tubing into a venturi fitting of a powerhead), at night (to allow for sufficient carbon dioxide being present so the calcium is not immediately precipitated). 3) Test in the morning to see if the amount you're adding (of the solid mixed in with the water) is having the decided effect. You should see noticeable increase in calcium concentration, and a similar, related drop in alkalinity (though not much in the last)... You might want to add some simple buffer like sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) if/when your alkalinity drops below 9 dKH (or less than 3.2 meq/l). This can be added during the day. Bob Fenner

Hi Bob: I have a 110 gallon reef system and I can't seem to get my calcium above the 300 ppm level. I've been adding the C-balance 2 part for several days in a row, and it the level won't budge! My alkalinity is around 4 meq/L. The test kit is the Fastest brand. Any ideas?  Jill  >> All sorts. Likely that some other carbonate based additive is complexing (precipitating out) your calcium additive... This "story" can get quite involved... but I would use something cheaper, "faster" like calcium chloride solution or Kalkwasser (calcium hydroxide) solution dripped in at night to "get rid" of the excess carbonate... to the point where your calcium is about 400ppm. Bob Fenner

I use C-Balance to supplement calcium and alkalinity in my system, and also as a solution to inject Aiptasia with. Part A of C-balance is a solution of calcium chloride along with lesser amounts of other salts (which give a natural seawater residual when used in equal amounts along with Part B, which is largely sodium carbonate/bicarbonate along with lesser amounts of other salts). I have found that I can use Part A to inject Aiptasia. If you get the needle into the column (especially if you get a good jab near the foot) and basically inflate the anemone with the C-Balance, the Anemones are killed quite well. I don't use Part B for injection because it forms a precipitate when initially mixed with seawater that I'm afraid might irritate nearby organisms (normally, C-Balance is added to a strong water stream where the precipitate is dissipated quickly so that it redissolves), but I do add the same amount of Part B to the system as what I inject into the anemones. This balances the Part A used for injection and maintains proper water chemistry. I like this approach because it seems to get around the problems inherent to using hydrochloric acid (Muriatic acid) or other solutions for injection that would deplete alkalinity or cause other water chemistry imbalances. This would be a viable option to try even if you don't otherwise use C-Balance for calcium/alkalinity maintenance. I'd think B-ionic could be used just the same way, though if I'm not mistaken, it is Part B of B-ionic that is the calcium chloride part (don't take my word for this though...check the label to be sure). The problem with all of these injection methods, however, is that I have quite a few Aiptasia in awkward places and/or anchored in deep holes in rock where I have yet to succeed in getting the needle into the anemone's base! Bill What exactly is the proper way to add and maintain calcium levels in your tank. i plan on adding Kalkwasser with a dosing system (about 1 drop per second), and using an electronic pH monitor & a SeaChem calcium test kit. the only corals i plan on buying are leather corals, hammer or frogspawn, torch, possibly some sponges. should i also use "c-balance" in addition to the Kalkwasser. is this method i plan on doing acceptable as well as practical, or am i missing a step/procedure? i know i email you a lot but this is an expense hobby and your expert advice is hard to come by, i trust whatever you say. >> You have asked the bazillion dollar question... the current status of information and actual practice in maintaining both alkalinity and biomineral content in captive marine systems is a mess... voodoo... flux...  Kalkwasser (Ca(OH)2), Kalk and calcium chloride... with carbonates/bicarbonates as additives can work... as will dosing two-part products that are ostensibly the same materials... The best approach STILL is utilizing a calcium reactor with carbon dioxide infusion... If you are going to use Kalkwasser, do so at night, very slowly, through a port where it can be mixed quickly with your water (as it otherwise reacts antagonistically with alkaline/buffer matter...). Folks do need both alkalinity and biominerals to grow biomineralizing livestock, and to keep water chemistry stable period... they don't need to make the supplement businesspeople multi-millionaires... Bob Fenner, who invites you to commiserate with others by reading over the materials on the subject stored at the site: Home Page 

Invert problems Bob: I have two systems of approximately the same age. Zoanthids and E. quadricolor do well in the one system and very poorly in the other. The zoanthids won't open and the anemones deflate and stay that way. Several tangs, a flame angel and a melanopus clown are doing very well in the troubled system. The only parameter I can measure that is different between the two systems is alkalinity. The good system is 4.0 meq/l and the invertebrate challenged system reads 7.0 meq/l. I suspected low alkalinity not high. The calcium levels in the troubled system are low at 250 ppm.  Could the alkalinity be that high? Might my titrant be a problem? What do you do about high alkalinity? My make-up water is a well source with no detectable phosphorus or nitrate, and a alkalinity of 2.5. This seems very strange to me. Thanks for your help. Dave  >> Doubt if your test gear is awry, but the high alkalinity is a likely problem... can be bought down in a few ways... the easiest, simplest, cheapest is by addition of Kalkwasser solution... try dripping in some portion and check next day what your resultant alkalinity is... The free calcium will drop out the carbonate... understand? Bob Fenner

Is there a big difference in the effectiveness of using a calcium reactor compared to using, lets say, "C-Balance" liquid calcium additives? >> Yes, huge differences... the calcium reactor works to adjust pH, alkalinity and biomineral (depending on the feeder stock you use... just calcium to strontium, magnesium and more in addition) continuously... The two part additives, liquid calcium additives... can only hope to approximate these balanced needs... In particular is the paradox of increasing calcium at the expense of decreasing alkalinity... with the additive game... A few years from now, all serious marine aquarists will have calcium reactors. Bob Fenner

Calcium Is it possible to have to much calcium in your tank? I know about 450 is the highest but what if its higher? Is it bad? I'm trying to get my coralline algae to cover everything. I have my alk at 5. (according to FasTest from aquarium systems). I use Seachem Reef Advantage and use Kalkwasser mix to replace evaporated water. I use di water to replace and do water changes with. I do have problems with hair algae that is a mix between green and brown. How do I get the coralline to explode???? thanks  >> There is such a thing as too much calcium... and 450 is about the high limit I would recommend... the alkalinity you state, is that in milliequivalents per liter or dKH? NO problem if the former... and with both high and constant, and a lack of coralline algae eaters in your system, it will grow... with time. Bob Fenner

Re: Alkalinity Will do on the water change. By the way, FF lists something called a CALXMAX dual alk/ph buffer solution. Is this a product worth getting while I try to convince the missus that we need to spend another $350 on a calcium reactor for my hobby. (She's already grumbling that I should have taken up golf -- it would be cheaper.) Matthew >> Two part alkalinity and pH systems can work... as can Kalkwasser... with test kits and understanding...  Bob Fenner

I am still using the bio calcium product and the levels in the tank will not  go above 200 ppm. I removed all the sponges . In addition the corals do not seem to be doing to well. Could it be the bio calcium addition? i am adding max levels every day. In addition I had 3 abalones in the tank. The shells are there but no abalones. I have a scopas tang a Coral beauty and an Anthias in the tank. I have a 75 gal clean up crew as well. what is eating the abalones? >> Yikes, maybe a mantis "shrimp", some alpheid (Snapping, Pistol) shrimps... maybe just an adverse reaction to water quality... At this point, if your adding the BioCalcium isn't raising calcium levels... something is wrong... in the way of soluble carbonates... and/or lack of carbon dioxides in your water... At any length, without knowing more, I myself would seriously consider a huge water change (with as much pre-mixed water as you can make up)... gravel vacuuming out what precipitate you can, to get you back near zero to start building your biomineral content back up... But first, do us a big favor and have someone else test your tester... Have them check a water sample to see if your test kit is on the up and up. It may be that your calcium is actually very high... and that this has precipitated out all bicarbonate... and that would create the problems you list... Bob Fenner

Thanks for you reply on my calcium problem. One other thing I forgot to mention is I am currently also using a nitrate pillow as a preventative measure and a phosphate pillow as I did have a small amt of phosphates and i also have a carbon pillow in presently along with a silicate pillow. could these items be depleting the calcium? My alkalinity level last night was 4.5 and ph was 8.2 thanks >> >> Bingo... yes, this is likely where all the calcium IS going... read their labels... even carbon will remove calcium (et al. biominerals)... except for one brand I know of... Amazing isn't it? Bob Fenner

I recently started using Tropic Marin Bio-Calcium. I am having difficulty  reaching 400 -450 ppm with this product. I was told that it would take awhile to have tithe readings at this level. I was told to keep adding the product daily.  My levels are at 250 ppm. Have you heard anything about this product, and if so what is your opinion on its use? >> Know the product and company very well. Both are exemplary. What you may have is established or contrary supplement additions in your water interfering with the added product... what else have you poured into the system? Any chance of a large, diluting water change? Bob Fenner

Raising Calcium levels Hi Bob, I have a question on how to raise calcium levels. I use a Kent Bare Bones R.O unit for water changes  Ammonia=0, Nitrite=0, nitrate=1.0, PH=8.2 Phosphate is around 0.1 - 0.2, Alk = 3.2, KH= 214.8 ppm and Calcium maintains around 30.  <I hope you mean 300 ppm... not 30> I have read an article that KH should be lower than what it is. I use Kent's Kalkwasser that I mix in a 5 gallon bucket then take the care liquid once it settles. I use a 1 gallon container to drop the Kalkwasser into the tank (don't have a sump) at a rate of 1 drop per second. Once a week I add Kent's Liquid Iodine. But still have a reading of 300 for calcium. My test are done with Red Sea's kit's accept for the KH which is Aquarium Pharm. How effective is Liquid Calcium, I understand it will not affect my PH. Thanks, Jim >> <I wish, as in "if wishes were fishes, we'd all have full tanks", that you and I could do the Vulcan Mind meld... You need to start a bit further back in our discussion with what you know re the relationships of biominerals and alkalinity... Liquid calcium won't elevate your pH (much at least)... Please do take a look at the articles et al. on these topics stored on the URL: www.wetwebmedia.com and we'll talk. Bob Fenner

Question. bob, I've got a question. In my 75 gallon tank with about 100 pounds of Pago rock, corals and five fish and a few snails and crabs, brittle stars, I stopped the Kalkwasser, as you suggested. I have been adding 5 ml of calcium each day, plus 5 ml of Tech CB A and 15 ml of Tec CB B (Kent) -- the instructions said to do so if alk was down. Well my pH has dropped to about 8.2 but my alk is down to 1.7. I added 45ml of baking soda tonight and that always raises the alk. My problem is: how do I keep the pH and alk in balance with pH around 8-8.2 and alk around 3 or so? thanks - Dan Wheeler <It's a balancing act okay... just stick with your additive routine for now... And the situation should come up.... in both alkalinity and calcium... soon> PS: Everything seems to be doing ok except a chili pepper coral that has been hard as a rock for the past two weeks (when I got it). But it still has bright red color. I have moved it around the tank and now it is on the sand in the center. I can't seem to find any place that it fills up and waves in the breeze! Any suggestions? >> Leave this animal in the sand... and don't be fastidious about cleaning around the animal... They like higher nutrient levels... Light not important, nor circulation to the extreme. Bob Fenner> 

Re: Raising Calcium levels Hi Bob, I got a reply back this morning from you, but there was nothing written in it. Just my original message. Here is my problem again.  <hmm, more ghosts in the machine?> I have a question on how to raise calcium levels. I use a Kent Bare Bones R.O unit for water changes Ammonia=0, Nitrite=0, nitrate=1.0, PH=8.2 Phosphate is around 0.1 - 0.2, Alk= 3.2, KH= 214.8 ppm and Calcium maintains around 300.  I have read an article that KH should be lower than what it is. <Likely, especially since in your case, it is coming at the apparent expense of having much in the way of free calcium> I use Kent's  Kalkwasser that I mix in a 5 gallon bucket then take the care liquid once it settles. I use a 1 gallon container to drop the Kalkwasser into the tank (don't have a sump) at a rate of 1 drop per second. Once a week I add Kent's Liquid Iodine. But still have a reading of 300 for calcium. My test are  done with Red Sea's kit's accept for the KH which is Aquarium Phar. How effective is Liquid Calcium, I understand it will not affect my PH. Thanks, Jim >> Well, you could increase the volume of Kalkwasser, could add liquid calcium in addition/instead... could do a bunch of other things... I would try to raise the calcium to about 350 ppm or higher... Is this your question? Maybe take a look at the myriad of options on providing alkalinity and biominerals posted in materials on the URL: www.wetwebmedia.com Bob Fenner>

I am still very confused by the huge selection of various additives and supplements for my reef tank. Is Kalkwasser better than liquid calcium? Can you suggest what is really necessary and which products work the best for you? thanks, Jill >> I wish I could do the complete (at least my humble version) of what should be known by hobbyists re additives, especially calcium (as the principal biomineral), and it's interactions/effects on pH, alkalinity... There is not enough time, space here to cover all the myriad "different" approaches, their probably downsides for the many types of marine systems... However, in a few lucid moments, did cover the basics of these issues and have posted them at the URL: www.wetwebmedia.com for alls use. Do take a look there, and then let's re-continue this "conversation" covering specific questions... Yes, "boosted", crowded systems... with copious lighting, feeding... do benefit from a balanced approach to adding biominerals AND alkaline reserve...Both are necessary... Supplements, either Kalkwasser or one or more "parts" in bottles can be made to make sense (rarely are they used where they do...), calcium reactors are the zenith/best route to go... store bought, or DIY... test kits are absolutely essential...  We'll be chatting, I have no doubt. Bob Fenner, who does not use Kalk, supplements...

Calcium at 250ppm Could you please lend me some more of your advice. We add calcium every other day to our reef tank, and it doesn't get over 250ppm. From what I have read it should be around 400ppm-450ppm, also the water that we are using is presoftened by resin exchange. We use a Kent two part A and B calcium. Could the sand be absorbing the calcium? The phosphates are at zero, and NO3- is also at zero, but the ammonium is at 0.02 so i did a partial water change.  >> Could be... or some living component(s) in your system... like calcareous algae, biomineralizing stinging-celled animals... Or, could be your test kit... maybe have a water sample checked by your local LFS (fish store)... Or maybe precipitating in the absence of ions... the salt parts that are being used to recharge your water-softener... My advice really... bypass the softened water (take a look at the softener for a switch/valve to do this temporarily)... OR bring in a garden hose from outside to pre-mix your synthetic (the water from there is not softened...). And check your water in a week or so... to see if it's any better... it probably will be. Bob "cation-anion" Fenner

Help and tks for Conscientious Marine Aquarist Thanks for your expedient reply. What exactly would you recommend alone the "combined" alkalinity and biomineral supplement lines?  >> Take a look at the one-shot products for these important variables offered by Tropical Marine Centre, Kent Marine, SeaChem... or skip ahead to your destiny: a calcium reactor with carbon dioxide infusion. Bob Fenner

Calcium problem Hello, My tank has been set up for about 2 weeks now. I have a 75 gal. I built a plenum and I am running with it an AMiracle wet dry system, and one emperor 400  I am trying to set up a reef tank, and have about 30 lbs. of live rock. w/live sand.  The question i have is all my levels check out okay, but my calcium is over 500. I am not sure of the numbers because my test kit wont go higher than that. Is this a potential problem? and if so, how do I fix this?  >> Try this simple remedy... Add a few teaspoons of simple baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) this will help precipitate out the excess calcium... which you can get back on to the scale of your test kit by diluting water samples from your tank with deionized or distilled water... half and half and you have.... half the concentration...! Bob Fenner

One Final Piece of the Puzzle I have been a relatively successful reef keeper for the last seven years. I have done my homework and read as much literature concerning the hobby as time will permit me. I have acted successfully on that knowledge by utilizing popular methods and commonly recognized equipment and have what I believe is a good reef tank. However, despite my success, despite my knowledge and despite my trial and error efforts, there still remains one thing that I cannot master or resolve within my system.  What is the secret behind raising and maintaining adequate alkalinity and calcium levels at the same time? As you are well aware the two water chemistry parameters are inversely proportional to one another. Raise calcium and you will lower alkalinity and vice versa.  I do not wish to discuss my methods as it is clear to me that they are inadequate for this particular topic.  Can you please provide a recommended method/technique/secret to raise and maintain adequate alkalinity and calcium levels at the same time. Bob, with all due respects please do not respond by telling me it's my salt mix or my test kits or a lack of magnesium in my water. I must have heard all those recommendations a thousand times from various local reef shops and so called hobby experts. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance. >> Ah, you and I could make the proverbial bazillions by utilizing such knowledge of our near futures.... Yes, soon your computer, TV, phone, library, personal assistant will all be one and mobile/with you... And just as assuredly, many folks in "the west" will discover the simplicity and utility of calcium reactors... melting down "old reef" with carbon dioxide gas (as carbonic acid in solution)... this (to answer your query) is THE BEST way to moderate/maintain both Alkalinity, pH and Biomineral content... Well am I asked, humbly do I reply... Now, for the full feature presentation of how to effect the same balances with pouring in chemicals and not going too broke... will take me more than my requisite six minutes a query... but not impossible. Be chatting, Bob Fenner

BOB, I wanted to say that I really enjoyed your "Fishwatcher's" book. I also own the "Conscientious" book you wrote. Very insightful. When will I be adding any future works to my library? What can I do to get my calcium level past 350 ppm. I drip Kalkwasser at all different concentrations with no improvement. I just cant get it over 350. If I add too much, the PH goes through the roof (8.6). I drip strontium and iodide with the Kalk use R.O. water. One more thing. If I see a new acquisition with ick, and there is no way to get him out of my reef, what is  my fate? Bye DV  >> Thank you for your kind, encouraging words... do have a couple more titles done and "on the burner", just no funds, publisher to get them into print as yet... and so much of "other" work.... Yikes, like these queries! There may be a few things operating in your defeat in trying to raise calcium levels... I will make my most gratuitous plea first: give up on the Kalkwasser and buy/make a calcium reactor instead.... this will solve all (here's a big endorsement!) your alkalinity, pH and biomineral concerns...  Barring this innovation, still give up on the Kalkwasser and start using a one or two part alkalinity AND biomineral product... the lines from Kent and Sea-Chem are amongst my favorites here. More to come, you betcha, Bob Fenner

Live Rock Hello, I took my water into the local pet store and they tested the calcium and alkalinity. The first time he tested for calcium it read 750. The reading was very high so he decided to test it again. The second time it read 1000. The alkalinity read 3.0meq/l or 155ppm or 8.4gdh. I hope these numbers make sense. I bought a LUX meter and read the following Morning & Dusk Simulation Left Center Right VHO Only 10:00-11:00 3" from top 3000 3000 3000Lux 14" from top 2000 2000 2000Lux 27" from top (bottom) 1300 1300 1300Lux Noon Simulation Left Center Right VHO & 2 Side MH 11:00-5:00 3" from top 22000 4000 20000Lux 14" from top 7000 4000 6000Lux 27" from top (bottom) 4000 3000 35000Lux Bright Afternoon Simulation Left Center Right VHO & All 3 MH 3:30-5:00 3" from top 30000 30000 28000Lux 14" from top 10000 10000 9000Lux 27" from top (bottom) 5000 5000 4000Lux Evening Simulation Left Center Right VHO & 1 Center MH 3:30-9:30 3" from top 3000 20000 3000Lux 14" from top 2000 6000 2000Lux 27" from top (bottom) 1500 3500 1500Lux Morning & Dusk Simulation Left Center Right VHO Only 9:00-10:00 3" from top 3000 3000 3000Lux 14" from top 2000 2000 2000Lux 27" from top (bottom) 1300 1300 1300Lux Thanks! John Heiberger >> Wowzah... Well your calcium is sky high, and your alkalinity is too low... not too surprising... and you need to adjust both... A few possibilities, but at this point, one thing you definitely want to do is dilute the calcium and possibly remove some of the other chemicals in the process that are interfering with your alkalinity... I'd get whatever you do to make a massive water change and do about a fifty percenter... then take some water back to the shop, or invest in the kits (they're not much) and check your water again... Don't add any supplement whatsoever till we talk after the change and the re-testing. Bob Fenner  Ca shortage?  Hello, > I purchased live rock from Ffexpress about 4 months ago. The rock looks ok but I am getting concerned that I do not see more growth on the rock. A couple of spots here and there but nothing to say that it is very active. A friend of mine says it could be a lack of lighting but I tend to disagree. About the only thing that is growing are clumps of hair algae and another type of algae I purchased from a local fish store. None of it is really on the rock though. Do I need a supplement or should I give it more time? How long does it take? Do I need to dose calcium? Am I bleaching the rock with too much light? > 220 Gallon Reef/Fish > 680 Gallons of Circulation Per Hour > R/O Unit - Automatic Replenishment > 3 175Watt 10K Metal Halides - Sides (Noon - 5:00pm), Middle (4:00pm - 10:00pm) > 1 VHO 10K - 12 Hours per day > 1 VHO Actinic - 12 Hours per day > Trickle Filter - 24 x 7 > Protein Skimmer - 24 by 7 > 50 Micron Mechanical Filtration - 24 by 7 > 25W UV Sterilizer > No Carbon > No Dosing > No Buffering > 170lb Live rock > 40lb live sand > 1 Hippo Tang > 25 Snails > 15 Crabs > 3 Cleaner Shrimp > 1 Long Tentacle Anemone > 1 Bubble Anemone > Ammonia = 0ppm > Nitrites = 0ppm > Nitrates = 0ppm > Copper = 0ppm > Ph = 8.4 > Temp = 76-79 Degrees, 77 Degrees Most of the time. It does fluctuate. > No Water changes. Automatic Replenishment from R/O Unit (1 Gallon Per Week) > Various Additives (No Schedule) > - Coralife, Iodine > - Kent, Essential Elements > - Kent, Coral-Vite > - Kent, R/O Right > - Kent, Zoe > Feed, Once a day > - Flake Food > - Cut up frozen shrimp > Thanks, John Heiberger >> > Thank you for writing. It may well be that you have a situation of not enough light... even though you list 3 MH and types of fluorescents... this is a big tank... you might want to borrow/buy a PAR meter to check how much useful illumination is reaching various parts of the bottom, live rock... and consider adding more/larger MH or compact fluorescents. > Alternatively/additionally, you may well have either/or both a calcium (and to a lesser extent other biomineral) and/or an alkalinity deficit. > Invest in test kits for at least calcium and alkalinity... and ring me back when you have these data. The starting water and replacement is not supplying sufficient Ca, Sr, Mg, carbonates, bicarbonates... are these available through your substrate, feeding, other supplements? I doubt it. The only way to "tell"? Through testing. > A minor factor may be your "clean up" animals and tang... they might be consuming a modicum of the live rock life. > To re-cap, what I would do is: > 1) measure PAR (photosynthetically active/available radiation). > 2) measure calcium concentration > 3) measure alkalinity > Then contact myself, others and seek their input on how to address your situation. > Bob Fenner, who really likes to help solve these "mysteries"

Calcium and salinity Hey Bob, I recently set up a 55gal tank and have been "slowly" dosing with Kalkwasser to help bring back some of the coralline algae that died off during the curing process. I noticed the other day that the salinity had risen a great deal, from about 1.023 to 1.026-1.027. I have heard that calcium chloride can raise the salinity and throw off the ionic balance if not careful, but does this stand for calcium hydroxide as well. I plan to do a 10%-15% water change to correct the high salinity. What is your insight on this matter. Thanks, Patrick >> Good point... yes, adding more solids (solutes) into a solution... does increase its specific gravity! And Ca(OH)2 does this, but not nearly as fast as calcium chloride additions... along with altering... deleteriously... the chemical make-up of seawater... and is part of the reasoning behind "frequent partial water changes"... and "knocking escaped salt crust back into a system"...  All things being not so equal though, along with other good maintenance practices, this is/should be a minor matter... do make your water changes... and along with adding calcium et al. materials, be aware and adjust your spg at the same rate... Bob Fenner

Let me make sure I understand your statement. Are you recommending stopping Kalkwasser dosing and the SeaChem dosing, or just eliminating one of these (since I am not currently using a calcium reactor). I have to have a source of ca somewhere. And are you recommending a calcium reactor over manual dosing, and if so, why??? I figured you would recommend water changes, so I have plenty ready to go. Gary L. Henkel  >> Sorry for the confusion. Yes, just ONE or the other. A calcium reactor will become the dominant method of providing alkaline earth materials (Ca, Mg, Sr) and buffering reserve for a few reasons: it's the safest, steadiest, least-toxic and most inexpensive method of supplying these essential materials. Bob Fenner, who also apologizes for being so emphatic... It's just that there are so many folks who "cry out in the darkness" re these matters... or wipe out their systems and quietly quit the hobby. 

Calcium level Bob- This should be a quick and easy one for you. What is the optimum level of Calcium that I should maintain in my reef tank to support soft and some hard corals. Thanks. Rob >> Soft and some hard? Hmmm, I'd say somewhere twixt 400-450ppm... but hard to get into too much trouble with this biomineral... precipitates out at 550ppm or so... More important is how/what chemical system you're employing to deliver the calcium (or if you're expressly doing so)... MANY chemical supplements sold WIDELY in the trade work antagonistically making calcium unavailable to captive corals.... Bob Fenner 

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