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FAQs on Marine pH, Alkalinity 8

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

Related FAQs: Marine pH/ Alkalinity 1, Marine pH/ Alkalinity 2Marine pH/Alkalinity 3, Marine pH 4Marine pH 5 Marine pH 6, Marine pH 7, & FAQs on: The Science of Alkalinity, Importance, Measure, Sources, Use of Additives/BuffersTroubleshooting/Fixing, Products by Name & FAQs on pH: Importance, Science, pH Measure/Test Gear, pH Controllers & pH Buffers/Buffering, pH Anomalies (Troubleshooting/Fixing), & pH Products by Name, Manufacturer, & FAQs on: The Science of Calcium & Alkalinity, Importance, Measure, Sources, Use of AdditivesTroubleshooting/Fixing, Products,

Re: E. Pacific Anemones husbandry     4/26/20
My total water volumes consists of a 35 gallon display aquarium with 1" acrylic on all the sides and bottom.
<Good for insulation>
I have a good 1/10hp chiller and haven't had any issues maintaining 55.5-56 degrees F, which is currently
my target temperature.
<I'd let this up during the summer/warmer months... high 50's, low 60's>
In addition to the anemones I have many macroalgae and so I have strong lighting optimized for plant growth, though I've considered switching to bluer light for aesthetic purposes.
<... the strength of lighting is a relative term... 40-50 PAR, PUR for 8 hours a day is fine>
Plenty of flow between return pump, chiller pump, and two DC Tunze powerheads. Plenty of bio media. I am planning on drilling the aquarium and adding a sump to increase water volume.
<Ah, good>
My ph has stayed fairly low around 7.6-7.8- I think the chert rock and sand (common in my area) contributes to this.
<I'd be adding a commercial supplement here. SeaChem Stability is a fave>

Nitrates and phosphates have stayed high, especially phosphates (0.4mg/l, nitrates around 25mg/l).
<Not a worry>
From my discussions with other keepers of coldwater aquaria, these slightly elevated numbers are not uncommon but I would still like to get them down. When I add the sump I'll have a lot of options there, so I am not too concerned.
<Good... DSB there, RDP... BobF>
Re: E. Pac. Nems, now pH boosting       4/30/20

Thanks for the pointers. I have dosed a lot of Dr. Tim’s one and only and a lot of Microbacter7. I'll certainly add in some Seachem Stability as well.
<Do add this last when you do your regular water changes, pre-mixed>
Do you think that will have an effect on ph?
<Oh, yes; should boost over time. A little higher each water change, then dropping some... then up.>
What do you think of dosing sodium carbonate?
<The SeaChem product should be fine alone. You could add both though. Bob Fenner>

Kalkwasser no PH impact
Looking for your thoughts on this one. My tank PH has been dropping to around 7.6 at night.
<Mmm; poor buffering capacity... might drop some... like a tenth of a point, but not much more>

I wanted to try and boost my numbers a bit so I have been dripping Kalk on doser throughout the day to essentially compensate for the tank evaporation.
<Mmm; won't buffer, hold pH up...>

Been running it for 2 days now and the PH is still bottoming out at 7.6 at night with a high of 7.9 per day. Any thoughts as to why its not working?
<Oh yeah mate... time for you to try a mix of carbonate/s, bicarbonate/s. A plug here for SeaChem's products: https://www.seachem.com/marine-buffer.php
And do look up the different twixt pH and alkalinity.... BobF>
Re: Kalkwasser no PH impact

Thanks Bob. I actually have this on hand so can give it try.
<Ah, good. DO add to new, change out water and plan on changing, elevating BOTH pH and alkalinity slowly... no more than 0.1 pH point a week>
Right now the Alk level in my tank is 8.7DKH so I have some room to play around with. Is the marine buffer something that I will need to add constantly/daily or is it more of a monthly fix if the tank loses the
buffering capacity?
<IF your pH and/or buffering capacity is lacking, add a/the buffer every (weekly?) water change. AND do look at where you're lacking such... too olde substrate, live rock (can be added to, substituted), a lack of oxidative mechanisms (use of chemical filtrants, ozone, UV...), too much reductive mechanism addition (foods, feeding...). Bob Fenner>
Re: Kalkwasser no PH impact      4/14/20

Did some playing around with the system and the low Alk is definitely related to the cal reactor.
<... what's the pH of the material coming out of the reactor? This is a CO2 type?>
Just dosing 2 part ph is at 8.2. Because my tank is stocked I am dosing 250ml's per day and may even need to bump it up to 300. Is there any downfall to running a calcium reactor at a lower rate and then compensating the difference with 2 part to avoid dropping the PH in the tank.
<There is not; no disadvantage. Even Daniel Knop who sells his name to have reactors made uses such>
Seems a lot of people mix two part and Kalk but not two part and reactors.
<Welcome. BobF>
Re: Kalkwasser no PH impact      4/14/20

PH out of the reactor was 6.0 with an effluent of 130ml per minute.
<That's too low... I'd adjust the carbon dioxide downward till you have an effluent pH of about 6.8>
Unfortunately TLF's reborn media is no longer available and I had to switch to ARM.
<My ex wife used to distribute Knop Products in N. America... I've picked up literally tons of their fab media>
This is when all my problems started. Reborn melted at a higher PH's so I was able to maintain the same DKH of the effluent at 6.5 verses
6.0. The difference took my tank ph from 7.8 to 7.6.
<... Again, I'd be adjusting the CO2. B>
Re: Kalkwasser no PH impact      4/14/20

At 6.8 the media wouldn't melt sufficient to get any meaningful Alk in the effluent.
<Mmm; well; either have to switch out the media for something more soluble, or run much more flow through it>
When I tested it at 6.8 it was only 14. Reborn at 6.8 used to be 25. Maybe I got a bad batch of media?
<Am a fan of the friends, folks at CaribSea, but not their ARM product. I'd look around. B>
Re: Kalkwasser no PH impact      4/14/20

Thinking about giving SeaChem a try. Not a lot of reviews of the media but worth a try. Definitely a reputable company.
<A good choice, company. B>

Low alkalinity.... rdg.      6/14/14
Started up a mixed 220 Gal about 6 months ago. Started with softies and
gradually added LPS and SPS. Readings this AM were Cal. 500(no additives),
<Too high... reading on WWM...>
Ph 7.2,
<Yeeikes! MUCH too low...>

Temp80,Alk.5.4,SG 1.026. (Salifert tests) No problems thus far, but
wondering if I should start dosing to bring the Alk readings (and PH) up to normal?
<You should read first... as I can't tell from your one message here whether you have a sufficient grasp of the simple chemistry and physics here>

I have dosing pumps not yet pressed into service.
<? More knowledge, to match your gear>
Would rather
prevent problems than correct them afterwards. Your advice appreciated.
<Start here: http://wetwebmedia.com/mphsci.htm

and the linked files above. Proceed cautiously... conscientiously ("with science"). Bob Fenner>

Re: Blueface angel, pH anomaly, no searching, rdg.    12/27/11
Mr. Fenner, Sorry to bother you again. There is something going on with my ph. It was at 7.2 and I got back to 8.3. The day before yesterday it was 8.3. I checked it today and it is 7.2 again. Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate is 0. My sand about the last month has been having a brown shade on it. My phosphates are zero. I replaced my lights thinking that that was it but it still gets a brown shade on it. Do you think I need to replace my sand? Is this why ph is low? Jim
<Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mphtrbl.htm
and the linked files above>
Re: Blueface angel, not   12/27/11

I been reading about my low ph. Do I need to replace all my sand and base rock?
<Is one approach>
 I am sorry but I am so lost. How often do I need to do this?
<Put this question in the search tool on WWM (on every page). B>
Re: Blueface angel   12/28/11

There I went again sending another question with out reading. sorry. I just wanted to give you a update. So I vacuumed my sand bed it should make a huge difference. I checked my ph in my tap water and it is 7.2. I checked my ph after the water change and is 8.0. I will check again when the lights go off. Sorry for being such a pain in the ass. I just don't trust my lfs for advice.
<Read on WWM... where you've been referred... invest in a few good books on the hobby, spend some time enjoying them>

Maintaining pH/Alkalinity Levels 8/30/11
Hello James,
Thank you so much for all your help. I don't know what I would do without you guys.
<You're welcome.>
I am currently having a problem maintaining pH and alkalinity. I have read everything I could about it on your site, but I want to run it past you before I dose to be sure I'm on the right track. I use Kent Marine Reef salt, do 10% water changes once per week. I can't seem to get alkalinity and pH up and maintained. My alkalinity will start at about 10 after a water change, then drop to 7 and my ph starts around 8.1 and drops to 7.9 within a day or two of water change.
<Really nothing wrong/dangerous with those values but overstocking/overfeeding can cause this drop.>
My husband's tank uses that salt, and his pH is at 8.3 although his calcium is low and alkalinity too high at 15.7. We are dosing his calcium daily in top off water which should bring the alkalinity down.
<You're chasing your tail here. High alkalinity will cause precipitation of calcium, correct one parameter at a time.>
He's at the same specific gravity as I am. Here are my current water parameters:
I have a 70 gallon reef display with plenty of live rock and a 4" sand bed.
The return ripples the top water of the tank and I have a Maxi jet 1200 power head utilizing the fan blowing across my live rock. System is about a month old.
<Tank is too new to become stabilized.>
I just put in a pair of Percula clowns and a tiny green clown goby 2 days ago. The above mentioned water issue occurred prior to the livestock and is the same issue now with the livestock although the alkalinity dropped a bit since the addition of the livestock.
<Give your tank some time to age before worrying for not...at least two months. Your sand bed, providing it is aragonite, should stabilize alkalinity (dKH) levels in the system.>
I have a 40 gallon refugium with an AquaC EV-180 with Mag 7 pump (newly set up and not yet broken in) I just threw a fistful of Chaetomorpha in the refugium, have a DSB in there about 5", some live rock and rubble. Running 2 side by side Orphek PR 156-W full lighting for 12 hours on display tank, then down to moonlight for 12 hours. Do you recommend a dark period at all?
<Moonlights are fine, has no detrimental effect.>
The refugium runs a Coralife fluorescent, is off for 12 hours during the display's daylight phase and on for 12 hours during the display's moonlight phase.
Sp G 1.026
ammonia 0
nitrites 0
nitrates 20 ppm
<Higher than what I would expect in a new system unless your live rock was not fully cured before placing in the system.>
pH 7.9
Alkalinity 7.7dkh
<Actually, I prefer to keep my dKH around this level, especially in a reef tank.>
temp 79
calcium 500
<A little higher than needed.>
magnesium 1350
I dosed with 2 t. of reef builder yesterday in top-off water, and pH went up by .2 for a day and then right back down this morning. I have a pinpoint pH monitor newly calibrated. I use Salifert and API tests, and I believe they are correct. I have another tank set up that we test with using these same tests and have done backup testing to verify results, they are all close enough for comfort. I know my calcium is too high, but that should come down with the use of reef buffer once I'm stabilized, correct?
<Has nothing to do with lowering calcium. Reef Buffer is used to raise pH, calcium will slowly deplete when calcium loving animals are present or if dKH is too high. Reef Builder would be what I would use if I wanted to raise dKH.>
My plan is to use reef buffer in my top off water daily until it stablizes.
<What are you trying to stabilize, your system is not out of whack.>
Please advise if I'm on the right track or what you would do.
<Do your water changes and do not dose Reef Buffer or calcium for two weeks. At that time, take parameter readings and get back to me with your results. If you are using RO water for water changes or top offs, you might want to buffer the freshwater before using as dKH levels will be zilch in RO water and will deplete many of the buffers in the salt mix.>
Thanks so much.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re Maintaining pH/Alkalinity Levels 8/30/11- 8/31/11

Hi James,
My intent was to raise the ph to 8.3. I thought it was better to keep a dKH of about 10 in a reef tank based on what I've read on your site.
<Nothing wrong with keeping a dKH of 10. Recently, Europeans seem to have better results keeping the dKH in reef systems lower (personal chat with Lou Ekus, Director of US Operations, Tropic Marin).
Keep in mind that raising dKH from 7.7 to 10 is not going to increase your pH, just your buffering capacity providing no excess acids and/or CO2 exists in your system. As buffers deplete due to excess acids and/or CO2 in the water, pH will begin to lower and then "borrow" buffers from the buffer/alkalinity bank (carbonates) to adjust pH and continue doing so until buffers are depleted. I strongly suggest reading related articles and FAQ's on our site again. Is too lengthy to discuss here.>
When I eventually add corals, wouldn't a ph level of 7.9 and dKH of 7 be too low for them?
<I had an old system where I could never maintain pH above 7.9 and had fantastic coral growth.>
I will take your advice as my tank is very new and let you know what happens in two weeks. When you say to buffer the top off water, do you mean with reef buffer? I'm assuming so since my specific gravity is at the high level to begin with. <??> It won't hurt anything to buffer my RO top off water with a couple teaspoons of reef buffer a day, whilst testing every day to ensure I'm not over buffering.
<Yes, you can use Reef Buffer to adjust top off water and/or water used for mixing salt, just ensure you use the correct dose for the volume you are using and let it mix well 24 hours before use..>
Thanks again, you rock.
<Too old to rock, I may roll a little though. LOL. James (Salty Dog)>
Re Maintaining pH/Alkalinity Levels 8/30/11- 9/1/11

Hi James,
Great information to know. I feel better knowing these levels are normal.
My question to which you entered question marks was not clear. I wanted to know if buffering raises specific gravity. I don't think it does, but just checking.
<It does not.><<Mmm, only a small amount. RMF>>
I have a diatom outbreak right now(brown algae) but I read that's normal and per your advice I added a couple dwarf blue leg hermits and have some Cerith and bumble bee snails on the way to eat it.
<Won't help with diatoms and this should go away on it's own very soon.>
I am feeling pretty good about things right now. I'm going to wait to add corals for a couple months just to see how it goes and start with some easy ones. I really appreciate all your help. It's like my tank has a guardian angel. If anything troubling pops up, I will be in touch. By the way, you're never too old to rock, you just pay a little more for it. LOL. Have a great labor day weekend.
<And you as well. Please research our site before writing. Many if not all of your questions can be found there. James (Salty Dog)>

Quick pH/Skimmer Question 8/24/11
Greetings, crew!
<Hello Dustin>
After several days of feeling satisfied with the current status of my system (a first), and finding no real "issues" that require immediate attention (or, as my wife calls it, an excuse to go out and by more stuff at the LFS), I'm grateful to finally have a quick inquiry to bring to the table.
After reading your articles regarding pH in marine systems, and the proposed solutions for low pH, I started to think more about my skimming setup. My skimmer is a CPR SR3 installed in the middle sump compartment of my Biocube 29. Now one of the suggestions for a skimmer to more effectively oxygenate the water was to run its air inlet to an external source where the CO2 in the air was naturally lower. It finally hit me: the air hose for the inlet is regrettably short,
<For a reason.>

and rests inside of the lid on a closed top system. By simply getting a longer airline and running it outside of the lid, wouldn't I likely be providing a better source of oxygenated air and consequently raise my pH a bit?
<You will likely hurt the skimmer's performance. Less air will be fed into the skimmer with a longer air line unless you feed it with an air pump. I'd leave well enough alone, the large amount of air bubbles produced by the skimmer will drive CO2 out of the system.>
It's not terribly low at 8.0, but I'd like to see it stabilize at around 8.2 (just in case, my dKH is pretty stable at 10 on the German scale, Calcium ranges from about 400-420ppm).
Thanks again for the wealth of information, and giving me something to read during my idle time at work!
<You're welcome and keep reading. James (Salty Dog)>

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

AquaC testimonial, Ca conc./Alk non-anomaly   3/7/11
Hello gang,
<Howsit Cliff?>
First, a testimonial. I bought aqua c ev 120, mainly because wwm loves them. I was cleaning the injection part and cracked it. I wanted to get another and called aqua c to order another. After 2 days of trying to get someone on the phone, I emailed Jason Kim.
<The owner/mgr. and a friend... He's been out>
He was very apologetic and got it out that day. He was a joy to deal with. I told him I bought the skimmer only I really trusted of you and your opinions. Really makes owning the skimmer a joy to have Jason on our side.
Now, I did search this out on wwm, and did not find anything dealing with my situation.
My tank has been running for 6 months.
110 gallon w/ 1 1/2 live sand mixed with aragonite ( only 25 lbs aragonite)
all softies with some lps (Galaxea and bubble coral)
4 x 54 watt 4' long 2 -10k ,1- 6700, 1 actinic, run them 9.5 hours a day
about 100 lbs live rock with all different colors of coraline
30 gallon sump w/ refugium 4 inch sandbed
10x turnover rate right around 1000 gph with 800gph going through sump.
added one small powerhead. I had 1900 gph turnover, bud had a hard time getting water clear. Since I backed off water has cleared.
mated pair Clarkii clowns
yellow tang
sand sifting goby
5 small little blue fish (forgot the name of the fish- they are not damsels, they are very friendly
<More likely than not Chromis viridis>
Amon 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 0-5
ph 8.2
phos not detectable (am using sea chem.s phos guard)
<Your chemo- and mixo-trophs need some HPO4>
calcium 520
<Too high...>
kH 9.5
am not testing any other param.s. These are consistent parameters
My question is about calcium levels. Is this high, or dangerous? it is consistent at 520. I do not use any additives except for ph, (SeaChem's marine buffer) without it ph stays at 7.9-8
<Due to the too high Ca... what re your Mg?>
If this is bad calcium levels, how do I lower them? raise kH? I just do not want to start adding a bunch of stuff I do not need and cause other problems. Or am I ok? I am new to reef tanks and am only going to do softies until I get more experience under my belt <Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm
and the troubleshooting/fixing FAQs file linked above>
Thank you and Love all you guys.
<Whoa! Bob Fenner>

pH In A Reef Tank 1/19/11
<Hi Shelley>
I need some help with my new(ish) reef tank. I have been looking through lots of water chemistry information but haven't found a match to my problem (yet) and my head is swimming.
I have had my 30-gallon reef tank for about 3 months now. It is about ¼ full of live rock (still building as I get $$) and so far I have about 6 small coral specimens plus a large Open Brain Coral, a small Emerald Crab, 2 FD worms, 3 snails, and 2 gobies. I use a RENA Filstar XP1 (no biomedia) and have good flow throughout the tank. No protein skimmer yet since fish load is still so low. I mix my own water using tap water (has a pH of about 8.1) and Seachem's Reef Salt (also use PhosGuard in the filter). I dose with Seachem Fuel twice a week (recommended amount) and Ions once a week (about ½ the recommended amount, which is what the person at my LFS suggested in lieu of getting a magnesium test).
<Why are you wasting your money using the above additives. With your 33% water change every two weeks you shouldn't have to add anything other than calcium and/or buffers when needed. Money would be better spent buying a magnesium test kit as this element is needed by stony corals to better absorb available calcium.>
Used to dose with Calcification once a week (1/2 recommended amount) but stopped a little
while ago once I bought a calcium test because pH was low and I wanted to
investigate my buffering capacity better. I do about a 33% water change
every 2 weeks, and rinse out the filters each time I change the water. Feed
with phytomax every day and Mysis every 2-3 days, plus a few pellets of
Spectrum on days with no Mysis.
Since almost the very beginning, my tank has been at a pH of about 8.0. At the moment, my Carbonate Hardness is about 150ppm (used a KH test)
<Mmm, that's only 3.9 dKH, pretty low. Which test kit are you using?>
and my calcium level is about 580ppm (haven't dosed Calcification in a few weeks).
I have asked many people what to do to bring up the pH and everyone has given a different suggestion/none have panned out. I can add products to raise the pH but always within about 24 hours it drops back to 8.0.
<Is because of the low dKH. I suggest dosing Seachem Marine Buffer and dose nothing else. You need to get this up to 7-9 dKH. I might add the a pH of 8.0 is fine.
Eventually, your water changes will lower the calcium level by way of dilution.>
Everything in the tank seems generally OK, but the corals are not growing as well as I would like.
<What does your lighting consist of?>
I did have one cleaner shrimp who died (not sure if related to water chem.), but nothing else so far. Want to add more fish/corals but I'd like to get my chemistry in balance first.
<As above, and read here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm>
Thanks so much for your great site.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re pH In A Reef Tank 1/19/11- 1/20/11

Hi James, thanks so much for your quick and HELPFUL response!
<You're welcome Shelley.>
I am relieved (if annoyed) to hear that I don't need all those additives.
<For years, I have only been dosing calcium, buffers, and magnesium, all necessary additives to maintain proper parameters.>
I started this reef tank because someone at the LFS convinced me that the difficulty of salt water tanks was a myth....but ever since I got it, they've sold me tons of care items and it's been very high maintenance.
<That's where the money is and many products with ridiculous claims.>
I will stop dosing (except buffer)
<Along with calcium and magnesium when necessary.>
and be much happier.
<And with a fatter wallet.>
(Incidentally, someone else there told me my pH was low because I needed to do more water changes - like twice a week. I ignored that advice since it made no sense at all to me.)
<You won the first prize. Low pH results from an excess of acids in the water and to better understand, read here.
As for the KH, wow. I thought my dKH was high - I think I have been misunderstanding the test kit. I have been using the Nutrafin KH/GH test (just the KH part in this case) and thought that since it took 15 drops to change the color of the sample from blue to yellow, that meant the KH was 15. I did the Carbonate Hardness calculation to be thorough for you - looks like that was the key to finding my mistake. (However, the test kit says that >125ppm Carbonate Hardness is "unusually high," which helped me think I was correct. Am I missing something?)
<They might be referring to freshwater conditions and/or your conversion was done incorrectly. The carbonate hardness we keep our marine systems at would be considered high for most freshwater animals. The conversion info below may help you get a true dKH read providing your test kit has a conversion for number of drops or ppm into meg/L.
meq/L x 2.8 = German Degrees Carbonate Hardness/dKH>
My lighting is a CoraLife 50/50 96 watt bulb (the tank is a 30-gallon cube). My trumpet coral, duncanops, and open brain are doing fabulous, my Xenia is OK, and my torch coral, star polyp, and mushroom look fine but just haven't really grown at all in 2-3 months despite good feeding. I especially can't wait for the star polyp to take off (it's just a small frag right now).
<One 96 watt PC lamp is borderline at best for your stony corals. What are the dimensions of your cube tank, I can make a lighting suggestion to you.>
Thanks again for all your help and insight, can't believe my fortune to have stumbled on this site.
<You're welcome Shelley. James (Salty Dog)>

high pH  10/2/10
I am writing because I am suffering a problem with high pH. It is off the charts at 8.8.
I have a 50gal fish only (now) tank and had a sand bottom. Down thru the years I have had a few inverts such as coral banded shrimp, chocolate chip star, crabs/snails. I have had this setup for 4 years and have been ok until the last 2 months. I have a sump filter system. About 2 months ago, the pH spiked at 8.8 and I lost all inverts, some fish. I have about 5 left..
Yellow tang, damsels, and a goby.
Parameters are: salt 1.023; pH 8.8; ammonia/nitrate/nitrite are all at 0.
Per the advice of my local pet store, I have added crushed coral
<? Why?>
to the substrate and have done 3 series of 10gal water changes. I can bring the pH down, but then within a week it is back up again. The water I am changing with has a pH of 7.4. When the pH was real high, I even have used white vinegar in small amounts to try to bring it down.
What is my problem?
<Something either in the system that's very alkaline, soluble... or something you're adding>
I am afraid to use the 8.2 buffer. I used it in the past. I was afraid maybe it just worked to raise low pH. I could not understand how it could work both ways.
<Is a combination of chemicals... that can do both>
I was a slacker in the past and did not do water changes like I should have, but now I done better the last 2 months or so. The pH is still getting high and I have been doing weekly 5 gal. changes.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
<Well, the first thing to do is "check the checker"... Your pH measuring kit/tool... either take a sample to your LFS to have them measure or buy another... Next is to read: http://wetwebmedia.com/mphtrbl.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

urgent help... SW, pH, reading   9/18/09 Hello, long time no talk.. <Mmmm> I just bought an expensive broom-tail wrasse the other day. I have my 120 gallon maintained by what are supposed to be professionals. He was lying down a lot first day i thought, ok, he's getting adjusted, big fish around 12-inches new environment. <This fish, as an individual, species is too large for this volume> 2nd day same thing more or less. He was active at the store, so i knew 2 days of this was weird (I acclimated him properly, for an hour with a drip in a bucket by the way) <... no quarantine> I tested my Ph, it was around 7! <!> So much for the professional maintenance! I boosted Ph, and he's looking weak. Hopefully he makes it, any advice before its too late? Thanks, Sam P.S. the Ph booster says it doesn't shock the fish when treating so... <Read... on WWM... re pH, alkalinity. I have no idea what you used, how much you elevated the pH, but this needs to be done slowly... like 0.1 point a day maximum... through water changes... Bob Fenner>

High Range PH, reading   6/27/08 I have a 65 gallon tanks with various fish and corals, change the water weekly, and test weekly also. Just did a water change and all tests are fine except my Calcium is at 380, should be 400, added a capful to help it come up. <Don't worry here... this diff. makes very little diff...> Problem is the High Range pH, I read your article but I am be concerned for no reason. It said that 7 up was ok <?> but my test kit suggests 8.0 to 8.2, <Mmm, yes...> today it was at 7.8 Is this reason for concern and if so how do I bring it up. Marilee <... read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/index.htm scroll down to pH, alkalinity, calcium... RMF>

Judgment question on changing pH... Umm, no... more basal questions re human motivation, thinking/learning processes. Mis-stocked system, iatrogenic errors/problems   4/16/08 Hello WWM Crew, <Jason> I have been extensively reading here at WWM and learned a lot, so thanks for all of the great work. I have a 100g marine FOWLR tank with three triggerfish (Undulated, Niger, Pink Tail) and one moray eel (Chain). <... troubles> I realize the conflict issues with having other fish with the Undulated, but I've decided to take the risk. The tank has been up and running for about 6 weeks now with no issues, aside from an arrow crab that ended up breakfast for the triggers (I figured it was worth a try) and a snowflake eel that escaped (the side of the lid with the heater and pump now has a custom cardboard cutout taped down). <... I do hope not to be reincarnated...> After all that reading I've come to the conclusion that sometimes trying to adjust the pH is more trouble than it's worth. <Okay...> My current pH is 7.7 - 7.8 according to the LFS and my API 5 in 1 test strips. <Not accurate> All other numbers are good, KH is just under 300 (I have a piece of coral that seems to keep the Ca levels up). Alk is around 10. From what I can find, the triggers pH range starts at around 8.1 - 8.2. Should I even bother trying to raise the pH? <Mmm, a larger issue than this... Should you attempt to keep them period? Depending on what gear you're employing, there is much more than pH that will need to be addressed in such a small volume... Re the pH by itself, yes to reading, understanding the relationship twixt it as a static reading and alkalinity/alkaline reserve as a driver, sustainer of pH... though it's not really the issue here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm and the linked files above> That leads me to my second (and less important) question. Sometimes the triggers (mostly the Undulated) swim around hitting the live rock. <Very bad behavior> I'm pretty sure it's not a disease as they are showing no symptoms. I think they're just being aggressive and checking which rocks they can move at their current size. I was wondering if it's because of stress or just typical trigger behavior? <Is symptomatic of real trouble here. Behavioral and physiological. You seriously need to examine your own psychological profile as an aquarist, perhaps more here... What is it you intend by jamming all this incompatible life together in such a small, unsuitable volume? Really. Do you understand what I'm stating here? Know yourself, then go out an act in the world... What you currently have is untenable. Won't work... Re-read on WWM re the Systems, Compatibility of what you have crammed together here... Trade, give most of it away. Formulate a work-able stocking plan. Bob Fenner> Thanks for the insight, Jason

Re: Judgment questions on changing pH 4/16/08 Hello WWM Crew, <Hello> First of all, thank you for responding to my e-mail. I'm writing in again because I don't feel like my question was answered. The more info I provided the more the response drifted away from my main question so I'll be direct. My Local Fish Store (not sure how you determined they're wrong) says my pH is consistent at 7.7 - 7.8 and the fish in my take need a minimum pH of 8.1 - 8.2. I understand the relationship between pH and Alk, as I said I've done much research. Question: should I attempt to raise the pH to within the range of the fish? <Yes, these are not freshwater fish which will tolerate a certain amount of variance in pH. Marine fish do not have this ability, they are adapted to live in the stable pH environment of the ocean. This pH change does still need to be done slowly though.> Now that I've directly asked my main question and hopefully receive a direct answer, I'm going to take a second to respond to a few of your points. I have had a successful trigger tank with a Niger, Picasso and one Arrow Crab so I did have reason to believe the crab could work. <Evidence would seem to indicate otherwise.> I knew eels are escape artists so I did put effort into keeping the snowflake in the tank but he was more resourceful than I expected. There was no intent to harm the animals. I'm not sure why my 'psychological profile' was brought up but I believe the WWM staff are professionals so I'm not going to take that digression personally. <Well, you are asking these creatures to go against their nature. Its thousands of years of stimulus/response here, and not likely to change.> I put the Pink Tail in the tank first, than the Niger, followed by the Undulated so by order of aggressiveness and size and the time they've had to settle in it should minimize the conflict as much as possible. If any of the triggers start to get beat up I will definitely be trading them in to ease the stress in the tank, but that isn't happening now. <Will happen, I am guessing the niger first, the pink tail, the Undulated should be the last.> I am anticipating eventually having to give up either the Niger or Pink Tail as they grow. <Both, but by the time you realize it is time to get rid of them the damage will be done, behavioral and physical damage will already have occurred.> The Pink Tail and the Niger get along fine. <Not really, just their fear of the Undulated is probably distracting them.> All of the Triggers get along with the Eel. The Undulated stays by himself most of the time. <Big dog doesn't hide behind other fish.> I also have much live rock with many caves and hiding spaces for them and I keep them well fed. <At some point the weakest of the triggers will no longer be allowed to feed, then the next weakest, then perhaps the eel assuming the Undulated is the last one left.> I understand what you are saying but I also understand every situation is different. If the consensus is this setup is impossible, please advise on what could work. In order of what I want to keep it goes: 1) Undulated, 2) Moray Eel, 3) Niger, 4) Pink Tail. <One trigger and the Eel, although an Undulated Trigger may still decide to sample an eel. Basically your tank is not sustainable as currently stocked.> <Chris><< and thank you Chris... for this further resp. My BP can't handle much more. RMF>>

Understanding pH And dKH 1/10/08 Need some advice ? 125 gallon reef running almost 2 years, 25 gallon sump, skimmer, ~ 120 lbs. live rock, 10000K MH outer orbit with blue actinic compact fluorescent lighting. Phosphates 0, Nitrate 0, Nitrite 0, ammonia between 0 and .25, SG 1.025. calcium 440. I do a 6 gallon water change every week (not ro/di),? well water aerated and mixed day before). <Have you ever had this water tested for alkalinity, pH, and total dissolved solids?> Tank has Flame Angel, Yellow Tang, male Anthias, 4 reef Chromis, 2 clown fish, 5 spawning Peppermint Shrimp, nice amount of copepods and worms, a few crabs, snails, mushrooms, Torch Coral, a few zoos, Pulsing Xenia, Colt Coral, some cool sponges popping up once in a while. I've also noticed my snails are not laying eggs like they used to. My issue is with pH and dKH. My pH is 8.8+ by the end of the week and my dKH is around 6. I recently started adding baking soda (~ 1 t per 20 gallons), added to sump early morning before lights go on. When I check pH and dKH they are in acceptable ranges. pH 8.4 and dKH 11. Within 3 days of re-testing, pH and dKH were off again (ph 8.6 (on the rise) and DKH back to 6. I did more baking soda and tested. ? pH and dKH were in acceptable range (8.2 and 11). I haven't tested again yet. I have seen lots of information on raising pH, but I seem to have the opposite problem. First off, I'm stressing that the constant big swing in the pH and dKH are not a good thing. Is it safe to keep adding baking soda and if so, looks like I may need to do it twice a week, or what would be another method to help control. The calcium seems not to move too much one way or another, is this because the water is not buffered correctly? <Stop using baking soda for a while, see if you dKH/pH isn't more stable. Adding baking soda is just raising your dKH/carbonate levels.> I'm wondering with the amount of coral I have in the tank, should the calcium be used up or is the 6 gallon weekly changes supplementing enough to keep the calcium to 440, or am I not buffered correctly so the calcium isn't being used at all? <The dKH levels you are averaging shouldn't be causing any calcium precipitation.> Wouldn't skimming somewhat deplete the calcium too? <Not enough to matter.> The corals are growing, but I noticed after adding the baking soda, the torch coral in particular really opened up nicely. Should I do larger water changes? <Ten percent every couple of weeks is fine.> Any help much appreciated. <I'm thinking the use of unfiltered well water may be aiding the problem if it is loaded with minerals. Do run some tests on it if you haven't done so already, most pure water shops can test for TDS. Do you filter the well water with any chemical media before mixing the salt for water changes? Also, let's read the links posted here for a better understanding of pH, dKH, and calcium. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm Love the site. <Thank you. James (Salty Dog)>

pH Concerns 10/27/07 Dear Crew, <Josh> I love your website and I am so grateful that you are there. You folks make all the difference for us aquarists. <Thank you and glad you enjoy/learn.> My setup is as follows; 70 gallon tank Sump 5 inches sugar fine aragonite 90# Live Rock Euro Reef Skimmer I Currently have 3 damsels and am awaiting the delivery of my detritivores. SG 1.024 dKH 9 Calcium 440 ppm To overcome environmental conditions within my home I installed an exhaust fan. It has helped by bringing the avg pH up from 7.9 to 8.1 With a window open and exhaust fan running, pH fluctuates between 8.11 - 8.18. After adding C Balance my pH tops out at 8.25 and then comes back down gradually to 8.18. On the overnight the pH goes back down to the 8.11. As you know, my average pH is close but still below the recommended parameters. I have been dosing part A and B of the C balance at 30 ml per day. I usually wait about an hour between Part A and B. In effort to increase my pH, Should I add more C balance? Should I be dosing with Kalkwasser? Should I not be concerned? I would appreciate your thoughts. <I would not be concerned. With your 8.11 reading, I have to believe you are using an electronic pH measuring device. Some of these devices only have a accuracy of +/- .2 which could give you slightly inaccurate reads. Your pH is fine, no worries. James (Salty Dog)> Thank you for your time. <You're welcome.> Josh

pH And Alkalinity 10/22/07 Hi, <Hello> I was wondering how my pH could be low and my alkalinity could be really high? Also, do these numbers effect <affect> fish? Starfish? What about hermit crabs and turbo snails? <It can affect fish, and especially starfish. Read here and linked files above for a better understanding of pH and alkalinity. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm James (Salty Dog)>

Re: ph and alkalinity   10/23/07 Thanks for the link. <You're welcome.> I'm still unsure if a really high alkalinity is harmful if the pH is good. If so, how can I bring down the alkalinity while maintaining the good ph? <You do not say what your alkalinity really is. What's too high, what is the reading from your test kit? James (Salty Dog)>

Re: pH And Alkalinity 10/23/07 I'm new to the whole thing, but I think it is 9 meg/l. The high end was supposed to be 4-5 meg/l. <Wowsie, something has to be wrong with the test kit or test methods as this relates to about 25 dKH. Have you added any alkalinity buffers in this system? Do read the instructions for the test kit and make sure you didn't add too much/too little of the reagent, make sure the test was done properly. James (Salty Dog)>

Re: pH And Alkalinity 10/24/07 I added baking soda when my ph was low. <Do not any more buffering agents. The dKH will slowly drop in time, do monitor weekly. Your high dKH shouldn't harm any of the inhabitants, but will it will do is keep your calcium level from rising which is not beneficial for SPS/LPS corals. I try to keep my dKH around 8-9, I seem to get the most out of calcium supplements in that regard. If you multiply you meq/l reading by 2.8, it will give you the dKH equivalent. James (Salty Dog)>

Re: pH And Alkalinity 10/24/07 My alkalinity has been testing high with two different kits even before I added baking soda for the ph problem. I am still trying to cycle the tank. As I said, I'm new to this hobby. This being the case I added fish way to early. My damsels and clown fish seem to be doing well. My chocolate chip starfish is not. It was doing fine for a week and a half. Things changed when I did a 20% water change. I brought the sg down from 1.026 to 1.024. Now I don't know if the starfish is having problems because of the salinity change, cycling of the tank, or high alkalinity. <I'm guessing yes. Starfish are very sensitive to changes in s.g. and pH. One thing to keep in mind is that, never expose the starfish to air, this can/will cause more problems. Do read here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/cav1i4/echinoderms/echinoderms.htm James (Salty Dog)>

Re: pH And Alkalinity 10/25/07 What are SPS/LPS? Thanks, <You're welcome.> What are SPS/LPS? <Well now I know you do not have a reef tank. SPS/LPS are acronyms for short polyp and long polyp stony corals.> Also, is the white residue on my tank from calcium deposited from high dKH? <More than likely. James (Salty Dog)>

Saltwater chemistry, pH and Alk.   - 7/20/07 Dear Crew, Please let me extend my thanks for being there for us. <:)> I am currently seeking some guidance/advice. I have had a 10 gallon tank set up for a while. I have one damsel, 5# of live rock and a small piece of start polyps (Yes I am aware of the susceptibility to change of a small tank. I have kept marine tanks for years.) I keep a close watch on evaporation and water change about 1.5 gals/week. I have never closely monitored pH and alkalinity before. I have always relied on water changes to keep things balanced. I know that this is a bit cavalier but it worked. My goal at this point is to get a better handle on ?water chemistry? before I dabble into a larger reef setup. I finally have a pH meter on the tank. I do calibrate it frequently. No matter what I do, I cannot seem to get my ph to stay above 7.79. After I do a water change the pH reads 7.85 and then starts to drop. (I do keep an airstone in my mix water and also one in the tank). When I add Kalkwasser it shoots up and then comes back down, usually settling at around 7.74. For a while I was trying to push my alkalinity up with buffer but have ceased this activity as the polyps stopped opening after readings of 7 dKH. <I highly doubt your star polyps stopped opening because of the alkalinity change.> (When I say push my alkalinity I am talking about cautious additions; ¼ tsp. of SeaBuffer every couple of days). <That's a good method and pace for raising alkalinity. You could also just use 1/4 tsp baking soda or washing soda.> Following a calibration of my meter I get the following readings. The Ro/di water starts at 6.1 pH. I mix salt to 1.021 and the I get the following, <Your salinity is too low. For reef tanks, salinity should be right around 1.025 to 1.026.> pH 7.60 Alk 5 dKH <also too low> In the tank, After daily additions of Kalkwasser; pH 7.7 dKH 6 Additionally, coralline algae has been in decline no matter what I attempt. I am anxious to hear your ideas/suggestions. <Well, you probably already know this, but you need to raise your alkalinity. I also suspect that your inside air might have a high concentration of CO2. About the only practical thing you can do for this is to keep using Kalk and raise your alkalinity (in your case I'd try to make it closer to 9dkh). You should also raise your salinity.> Should I add anything to my make up water to sustain the weekly pH gain due to my Kalkwasser additions? <Raising your alkalinity will help the tank retain the pH achieved with the Kalk.> Thanks . Josh <No problem. Good luck. :-) Sara M.>

pH Issues 'The Need For More 'Understanding' -- 07/01/07 Hello, <<Greetings>> In a previous email, I was recently advised regarding my Nitrate problems and want to say thanks for the help. <<Don't know who this was, but am sure you are most welcome>> My Nitrate is around 20-30 ppm and improving each time I check. <<Ah good, but still a ways to go>> It is easy for me to maintain now with partial water changes...that darn wet/dry was the culprit. <<These devices serve a purpose, but I agree this is often the case>> Anyhow, my next and maybe even more important problem is my pH levels. <<Oh?>> It is always low. <<Mmm'¦>> I use RO/DI water with Red Sea or Oceanic salt. <<I would use a better/more consistent mix 'perhaps Seachem'¦or Tropic Marin if you can afford such>> Recently, I've been using Kent Marine "Liquid Calcium Reactor" for buffering new water added, but not the whole main tank though. <<Again, I suggest you abandon this product and try one actually formulated to boost/maintain pH. Seachem's Reef Buffer is such a product. (are we starting to see a trend here? [grin])>> I have even added small amounts of baking soda, (about 3 teaspoons dissolved at one time) but this does not seem to be helping. <<The Sodium Bicarbonate will help bolster Alkalinity but really does little for boosting pH; it contains CO2 as a byproduct of its manufacture. I've even seen pH fall from the addition of large amounts of Baking Soda. Driving-out the CO2 from the Baking Soda will render Sodium Carbonate, which 'will' raise pH but requires careful use not to overdue. If you wish to give this a try'¦spread the Baking Soda on a cookie sheet and 'bake' in the oven at 300-degrees F for about an hour. Or save yourself the time and possible grief and use the Seachem product. I've found you can even save a little money by mixing Baking Soda with the Reef Buffer on a 3 to 1 ratio and still attain satisfactory results>> I try to be cautious to change things in a slow manner, not abruptly. <<Sage advice in most instances>> My tank is a 160-gallon FOWLR tank with about 19 small to medium fishes, 120-lbs of live rock, and around a 4-inch aragonite sand bed. Last but not least, just before writing I took a pH reading of around 7.4 and a 9.6 dKH on alkalinity/hardness. <<Hmm'¦how are you measuring pH (meter, test kit, strips)? I would validate this test as I think a true pH of 7.4 would be having a deleterious effect on your fishes>> I think my buffering is ok, but not the pH, obviously. <<Maybe, maybe not 'validate that test with another/newer test kits or a borrowed meter>> Is there anything you can suggest based upon this information? <<As already stated>> This is a new area for me. <<Ah yes, well 'you need a bit more understanding of the topic. Start reading here and among the links in blue: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm >> Let me know if you need any more information. Have a nice day. Christopher <<And you as well. EricR>>

PH<ALK<CAL -- 06/28/07 OK, so I am writing again because, well frankly you guys give the best advice!! <Hello again Matt!> I am now having issues with my parameters according to what I am reading and observing in my tank. I have what I thought was a well established 24G NANO (please don't frown!). However, my corals are just not doing well, losing some critters and coralline dying. SO, I went to my LFS, where I purchase all of my tank critters, LR, etc...they directed me to purchase Strontium, and the B-Ionic calcium buffer component (one is ALK one is Calcium). I was adding Purple up since day one to supplement the calcium, they said it was only an enhancer, not 100% calcium. Not problem...I also bought and ALK tester...The guy said "your reef tank should be right around 3.5 mEq/L. It was exactly that the first few days, so I did not add the B-Ionic supplement as it is there to bring the ALK up, correct? <YES!!! Do NOT dose Alk supplement unless Alk test drops below 3.0meq/l. Calcium is fine at 400ppm. PH is not as big of a concern and will naturally fluctuate, Just avoid extremes. If alk is in normal range and calcium is 400ppm then pH will be fine.> However, now today(June27th) my ALK has gone up to 4.5mEq/L. What is supposed to be?? I thought if the PH and calcium are good, the ALK will follow. <Do not buffer pH directly, let the calcium carbonates in the system do it for you.> I have been adding the calcium and it is at 400ppm, I was told around 450ppm is good (which is where it normally is). I add the Strontium once a week per the bottle, and iodine everyday(2 drops). Water changes with Nutri -Sea Water, no mixing needed and it is what I started the tank off with, but switched a few months ago. I have gone back to it. PH is at 8.2, Phosphates at 0, nitrates 0, Temp 77.5...Any advice is always appreciate as usual! <Keep up on the water changes and make sure that tests are run on the source water for make up (evap) so that you are not adding unwanted nutrients to the system. Let the tank adjust back to the Nutri-system brand salt. Order a quality phosphate test kit so that you are sure of the readings. Let's give the Nutri-system 30 days to improve things and remember to change the water(10gallons) once a week for that time period. Keep us informed of progress!> Thanks, Matt <Rich aka MR. Firemouth>

Ph went way down  6/9/07 Good Afternoon, I have read a lot about adjusting PH on your website but afraid to change things too drastically. I have a 75 Gallon Saltwater Tank. Live sand, live rock, corals ranging from polyps, frogspawn, mushrooms, Kenya tree, Alveopora, Goniopora, pearl bubble, leather, Zoanthids etc. Also have a yellow tang, blue hippo tang (both small) one damsel, coral beauty, dragonet and two clown fish. One sand sifter starfish, cleaner shrimp, peppermint shrimp, lots of snails and hermit crabs. So far they are all doing great and thriving. My dilemma is that my PH dropped to 7.4 at night and is only showing 7.8 during the day which is too low. <Yes... think about the inputs here... bio-mass/metabolism, foods... their reductive effects... and the countervailing alkalinity/components of your seawater, calcareous substrate/s... and measures such as skimming, ozonation, water changes... the net result? A reductive environment...> I was told not to use Proper PH 8.2 as it may not change it due to the alkalinity being way up there. <... My friend... Please... Read... Don't "just pour something in" w/o understanding where you are, how you got there, what you're doing> Instead I am beginning to use Kent Marine Tech CB Calcium Buffer Part A only as I was told that adding this daily may adjust the PH more gradually. My biggest concern is that I don't harm any of the corals, fish or invertebrates in the tank. They all seem to be thriving right now, all get along and my other chemical readings are showing in good limits. Just PH and alkalinity seem off. Any advice you can give me would be highly appreciated. Tank has been up and running for 18 months. Most things in the tank have been in there over a year. I was doing water changes every two to three weeks but now am beginning to do them weekly. Have some problem with red algae and yesterday cleaned off the rocks with a brush and netted all floating material. The tank looks beautiful today but know with the PH being so low per what I have read will harm the fish and the corals so want to make sure I am headed in the right direction. Thank you for any assistance you can give me in this matter. <Start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm Maint., pH, Alkalinity... Bob Fenner>

pH and Alkalinity, Important Topics...With Much To Read And Comprehend - 04/27/07 Hello, <<Howdy>> I've reviewed your site for more info, but still am confused. <<Ok>> I set up a 90-gallon tank with live rock and sand from another tank (55 gallon).  Lost a French angel and a maculosus angel in a couple of days. <<Mmm, aside from the fact this tank is too small for these two fishes, if you did not allow the new tank to cycle the presence/build-up of nitrogenous compounds likely killed the angels>> The pH was 7.7 and other parameters were fine (including the alkalinity). <<Even so...it is likely a high organics load was/is suppressing the pH...and is reaching "toxic" proportions with the addition of fish>> I corrected the pH to 8.3, bought a damsel, the next day the fish was dead, pH 7.7 with a some ammonia present (alkalinity was fine). <<Well there you go...please do stop placing fish in this system until it has had time to cycle/stabilize>> I've never had this problem before with switching tanks, and don't know what is killing the fish. <<Many folks make the same claim...but I always suggest letting a new setup cycle/balance for a week or so even when established from a previously mature system and even if initial testing seems to indicate all is well.  It is likely you had some die-off occur in the transfer and the system is not ready to handle this and the additional bio-load of introduced fishes>> I'm not sure when the pH is lethal.  Is this killing the fish? <<Not on its own, but in concert with...>> If it is, how can the pH swing when the alkalinity is fine?  This is confusing. <<Though there is somewhat of a "relationship" between the two (and all aquarists have a need and obligation to "learn" about the relationships and functions of the essential earth elements/bio-minerals that make up their systems and how these affect the balance/livestock/suitability/et al), alkalinity is not an indication of pH and vise-versa.  Please have a look here ( http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alkalinity.htm) and do follow/read among the links at the top of the pages...much more to absorb/comprehend than can be passed here>> Thanks in advance.

pH Balanced for a...(rock, but strong enough for a fish?) 3/21/07 Hey guys, <And gals... Greetings to you, Adam.> I really appreciate the Q&A section you have set up.    Really very helpful. <Is what we shoot for, thanks you for the props. Hobbyists need a place to sift through everything they read/hear/are told.> Ok question is this: I just set up my new tank, 24 gal saltwater, 40lbs live sand, 25lbs cured live rock.  It's been running for 2 weeks now with no sign of any ammonia or nitrite spike so I am still waiting to add my clown, brittle star, and frogspawn from my old tank.   <Ok, possible that the cured live rock and sand has cycled the system for you. Have you tested for nitrates?> My PH has tested at 7.8 and I wish to raise it up and keep it up.   <A worthy cause.> Is there a preference to Kent Marine Superbuffer or SeaChem's buffer product? If so, why the preference?   <Hmm, product research is something I personally leave to the individual aquarist. But here is some reading for you: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mphprods.htm Read to the bottom and every link in blue up above. Pay attention to the links that appear on each new page, because the cross-referenced links are very useful too.> Is it important for me to raise my PH at this point or will it raise with my weekly water changes? <Mmm, at two weeks, I wouldn't be concerned with a 7.8 pH yet. When you get some photosynthetic life forms in there; i.e.., algae, then you'll have a daily rise/fall in pH due to the production/metabolized carbon dioxide. They produce O2 by day, and CO2 by night. Also something to consider: you don't need lights on right now, as this may fuel a nuisance algae-bloom before you are inclined to deal with one.> If I do begin to use a buffer product, will I need to use it on a regular basis? <Only as your tests tell you that you need to. I find that a salt worth its "salt" is good at buffering when you do your water changes regularly. In addition to your pH test kit, you will want to invest in a carbonate hardness test kit. You will see why when you read the link above.> I really don't want to use a product which will make my tank reliant upon that product.   <Good thinking. I like to use the least amount of supplementation that I can get by with. -GrahamT> Thank you   so much, ADAM

Re: Ph problems....   1/28/07 2 Astraea snails 2 Chestnut turbo snails (Turbo castanea) 2 Dwarf red hermits 2 Peppermint shrimp "A bit much on the snails for this volume of tank." Agreed for a 10g. I originally had only the Astreas, but they weren't making a dent in the algae, which itself was not very heavy at all. <Well as long as you are aware of the long term effects, personally I think the "human" cleaning crew can be much more effective when dealing small amounts of algae...there are other factors to consider as well including nutrient build up (doesn't take long in such a small tank), water flow, and photoperiod....> The Chestnuts, which are smaller than traditional Turbos, are doing much better. If there seems to not be enough algae to keep them fed, I may take a couple back to the LFS. "Kemp...this should answer all if not most of your questions; let me know if you need more detail: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nanoreefsysart.htm ." Yes, been there, done that already <Okay....relax.> , and I still have the questions indicated. I'll keep reading, but if you can help with this particular question, which has me most perplexed, I would be grateful: Issue Two: Water quality is good overall so far, but for some reason >there is a pH/alk problem. My parameters are consistently: - SG = 1.023 - Temp = 78-80 deg. F - NH3/4  = 0 - NO2 = 0 - NO3 = 0+ (barely detectable) - Ca = 300mg - KH = 170 mg/L ( = 3.4 meq/L,  = 9.5 dKH) - PO4 = 0 Here's the interesting part: - pH = 7.9 I can't figure out why my pH is 7.9. It appears that it's not the water because I am using RO, and my RO tests at KH < 20 mg/L, GH  20 mg/L, Ca < 20 mg/L. It is not a function of the tank environment because the salt mix (Instant Ocean) mixes to 7.9 in an empty, open top bucket. It appears that it is not a CO2/O2 issue because I have mixed the salt both inside the house and outside on the porch and it is the same. Plus, my house is poorly insulated and, being that it is winter in Florida, we have the windows open a lot. It appears that it is not an aeration issue because the pH is stable at 7.9 within an hour of mixing, <If the Ph is this low at mixing, I would point to he source water,  have you tested it? What source water are you using?  It sounds like the alkaline reserve of the source water is very low....it may need to be pre-buffered.> still stable after mixing for 24 hours, and stable in the tank. I am using an open egg crate diffuser cover on my tank. The only other variable I can think of is the test kit (Hagen - expires 2010). It is a wide range kit, and it is a bit difficult to read, though I am confident it is reading slightly below 8.0. I am purchasing a new narrow-range kit just to make sure. Any suggestions? What could I be missing? <Would not hurt to confirm the readings with an LFS or friend either.> Thanks again, this is a wonderful service to the aquarium community. <Anytime.> Kemp <Adam J.>

Reeeaaallly low ph     1/14/07 <Hello Jennifer, Mich here.> Need emergency HELP! Got a 55 gal saltwater.  Right now fish are in a QT due to ich.  So just inverts, CBS, 2 porcelain crabs, 3 hermits, 1 green crab and some limpets. All crabs and shrimp seem ok, but limpets haven't been moving, but not dead...yet. <Monty Python fan?> I checked water and ph was at 6.5.... <Yikes!  If you don't have a pH buffer, add some Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda) at a rate of a teaspoon per 20 gallons.> I just did my weekly water change (2.5 gal) with water I get from a LFS. I've been using their water for 3 weeks now.  Other info you may need...I've been adding Kent Liquid Calcium as instructed, also Lugo's iodine as instructed. <Are you testing for the supplements you are adding?> The tank is only 3 months old.  The ph in my QT is 8.3 (saltwater I make everyday and change out) so could it be their water?   <Yes.  Have you been buffering the water you use in the 55 gallon? What do I need to add to this to get the ph back to 8.3?  Any procedural info would be very appreciated!!! <Baking Soda at the very least.> Thank you...a devoted and daily visitor (drives my husband nuts) <Welcome!  -Mich> Jennifer

Lighting interference with pocket pH tester   1/12/06 Belated Happy New Year! <Thanks> I thought I would pass on an experience I have had recently that cost me dearly. I bought a Milwaukee pH tester, waterproof, very nice. Next I bought a new Jebo pc fixture with 2 65W half 10000K and half actinic lamps. This fixture has an external ballast which is very nice, lighter in weight and easier to hang above the tank. Now for the bad part. When I used my new tester on my tanks, I have 2, it read perfectly, 8.2 to 8.3 on each tank. Before I checked my pH levels again I bought the new light and was using it. On my smaller tank the pH was still 8.2 to 8.3 but my big tank was 6.9!! I panicked and got some buffer and started trying to get the pH up. Nothing was working. I don't know how much I finally ended up adding but I couldn't get the pH above 7.3. Hindsight being 20/20, I realize how big a mistake I made and won't repeat it. But I didn't find out what was the problem until I tried  to show a friend the way the pH tester worked and had it in a cup of water and turned on. It was reading 7.2 in the cup but when I brought the cup up to the top of the tank to test the water there the reading dropped to 5.4! I moved the cup with the tester in it back and forth a few times and watched the reading go up and down. Finally I turned the Jebo light off and the reading stayed put. And it tested the same as the test kit showed. I never thought about a light fixture interfering with a tester. <Mmm... RF... electronics...> Unfortunately I didn't learn until after I burned up most everything in my tank with high pH, 8.8 was the highest it tested. And of course then I started doing water changes and everything I could think of to bring it back down. It seemed to take forever to stabilize. I lost all of my 'pods, some snails, my serpent star, and cleaner shrimp which had gotten so big. I was heart broken for I don't know how long. The good news is that after what has seemed like forever my tank is back healthy. Even my 'pods are back and I have baby Nassarius snails too. They look really cute in there. I am still dealing with algae problems like a newly cycled tank but it's getting better. I am telling all of this to hopefully keep someone else from having a similar disaster. Agnes <Mmm, Please do consider writing Jebo re this interference issue... Could be very important to their business... especially when the folks at UL catch up with this part of the trade again. Bob Fenner>

LOW SW pH...HELP!!!    1/10/07 Dear Crew, <Mark> Please try to help me figure out what's happening with my tank. I'm having problems maintaining my PH levels. I started my reef tank about 2.5 years ago. I started with a 30gal tank, 20gal sump, and 10gal refugium. For about 10-11 months my PH was maintained at about 8.3, and then started dropping down to about 8.0. <Very common occurrence... the readily soluble portions of your substrates (gravel, LR...) have been exhausted... Part of the reason I suggest periodic addition, switching out some for new> So I rearranged my tank, and did about a 50% water change. <Will only help temporarily in most cases> Everything was good for about another 9 months and my PH started dropping again. Thinking that I might have gotten lax in my maintenance, I again did another rearranging and about 50% water change. Still my PH remained low. So I started raising my buffered top off water until my DKH hit about 20 (tank DKH stayed about 10-12). I then started trying Kalkwasser. I was to nervous to use it consistently <Good> so I used it 2-3 times a week, either in a drip or slurry method. Still I couldn't maintain my PH around 8.3. Then I got a new 65gal. tank and my 30gal became my refugium. <Very good> I added some more LR, 4' DSB (in main tank, and 6' in refugium). I've done a lot of research on Kalkwasser and Alkalinity. I have switched salts from Instant Ocean to SeaChem in order to keep Calcium levels up. <Mmm, both fine products in this and other regards> I have now been dripping Kalkwasser 24/7 <Mmm... I would not do this...> at a rate of about ½ tsp per gallon of water as I don't need much calcium with the new salt. My DKH has stayed between 9-10, and I don't have to add any buffer. I did this for about 6 weeks with NO (or very little) effect on PH. I then got a case of ICK, set up a QT tank (had to learn the hard way) and my tank has been fallow for the last 2 months. This last weekend I changed about 25% of my water (about 25gal) and my PH still remains at 7.8-8.02 (I got a pinpoint monitor for Christmas). <Another nice tool> I use RO/di water from my local fish store always. I will aerate my water with a large air pump for 24 hours, then buffer to about 8 DKH for 24 hours, then add salt to 1.025 and aerate for another 24 hours, then do my water change. After mixing up my saltwater my PH will be about 8.4 but after about 3-4 hours it drops to about 8.1 and has no effect on the tanks PH. Also If I don't use Kalkwasser and just use SeaChem's buffers (Marine Buffer, Reef Buffer, or Reef Builder) it will take about a TBL spoon a day in order to maintain my DKH between 9-10. I have a large brown polyp colony, a very large yellow star polyp colony, a small Candy Cane, a med. Anthelia sp, and an extremely small flower leather that is trying hard to recover, and also a hairy mushroom. The leather is the only coral that has shown any ill effects to the low PH. One other thing, I live in an older mobile home so I have plenty of ventilation, (no carbon build up) as I have also tried aerating my water outside for about 6 hours with only about a .01-.02 rise in PH. So now to my question. What is happening to my tank and how can I raise my PH. <Mmm, likely simple reduction, the water/system tending to go acidic... and... I would not "sweat" a pH of about 8 ish... Really... if you so desired, you might supplement (differently) the change-out water... with a product of more carbonate base... see SeaChem's line here IMO... But... I would likely leave all as it is. Bob Fenner> Thanks for your help and thanks for your site. Mark

Struggling To Raise pH - 01/09/07 Hi, <<Hello!>> I've got a six-gallon marine tank. Alk, 10 dKH, Ca, 400, pH 8.0-8.1.  This is what it stays at with weekly water changes.  I want  to raise pH to 8.3-8.4 or 8.5, mainly because of the shrunken xenia but also for Cyano control. <<I see>> The problem is, is that there doesn't seem to be any room to add B-Ionic or really any need. <<Agreed>> Also, there really isn't enough of a Ca demand to justify adding limewater. <<Agreed again>> The tank also isn't accumulating too much CO2, <<You know this how?>> so I've ruled out increasing aeration as a solution. <<But have you tried it?  If your home is new/well sealed, CO2 accumulation may well be depressing the pH (though really, consistent readings of 8.0-8.1 are not "bad")>> I do use deionized water and Tropic Marin salt for water changes. <<A good salt...perhaps buffering the water before mixing in the salt will help.  You can try this with simple baking soda (about a teaspoon per ten gallons of water), but don't expect to get the pH above 8.3 with this method.  Seachem also offers great buffering products>> Do you think that switching to Seachem salt mix will get the pH up to optimal readings? <<Don't know...I suggest you purchase a small quantity of the Seachem salt and test it for your desired result>> I'm really struggling with this, so any tips or solutions would be greatly appreciated. <<In this small tank the Seachem products are a worthwhile try...and do have a read here and among the links in blue at the top of the page:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm  >> Thanks, Greg <<Happy to assist, EricR>>

An ongoing disc... High RedOx, pH in a Service Co. tank   11/26/07 Bob, <Scott> Here's quick stats (or at least as quick as they get): 8'x8'x30" 1200g tank 16x16 center overflow 5600gph Tunzes w/multicontroller for oscillating flow x8 8000 gph closed loop 1200 gph return pump x4 125g sump 75 gallon deep sand bed refugium x2 UV Sterilizer Ozonizer x2 (not running) Korallin calcium reactor (not running) AquaC custom EV skimmer w/Iwaki x2 SpectraPure 90gpd RO unit Auto top off Aquacontroller III Pro -          Temp Probe -          ORP Probe -          pH Probe 400w HQI PFO Halides x8 160w 6' VHO Actinics x16 PolyFilters Purigen 50g water changes w/IO salt weekly SG - 1.024 Ca - 420 Alk - 3.0 meq/L <A bit low...> Mg - 1200 Temp - ranges from 79.0 - 83.2 ORP - ranges from 475 - 500 <Mmm... a bit high...> pH - ranges from 8.75 - 8.95 <...High... From?> No ammonia, nitrites or nitrates detectable The tank is about 2 and half months since we finished cycling (/we last saw nitrates). I have spoken with you previously about the high ORP.  You suggested that we likely had a faulty probe.  Due to some (*cough*) user error, this probe demanded replacement regardless of it's potentially faulty readings.  The new probe however is telling us the exact same thing.  So my question is what would that imply? <Mmm, that there is an abundant source or reduction-oxidation potential driving the level to the upper side... Of the gear, situation you list, the UV is likely the principal contributor here... this and a dearth/lack of reducing organisms, activity...> Our probes are in the overflow - is there something about that environment that could affect our readings?   <Mmm, yes> Also, there isn't that much in the tank right now.  There's a few fish, a handful of corals, and a handful of other assorted invertebrates. <Ahh... with their addition, you'll very likely see a reduction... make that a lowering in ORP> The things that live, thrive.  There are a handful of things that just don't however and I was hoping for an opinion on why.  Just as a prequel  - we did have a few days where the lights got taken off auto and ran for three days straight and the temp got up to 86.7.  We've lost every Acropora we've ever put in there, about 6 large aquacultured specimens all together now.  We lost a Blue Linckia, several Sea Hares, a medium sized aquacultured Abalone, and a few other assorted critters.  Our encrusting Montiporas don't seem to be doing that great, even the ones that were put in after the big heat spike. <Mmm, try turning off the UV> The temperature issue is being dealt with.  The tank is central in an orthodontists office, and so all of the equipment is underneath the stand and generates lots of heat.  As long as the cabinets are left open the temperature stays below 82.0, usually between 80 and 81.  But being that it's an office it's hard to control that, and occasionally the doors do get closed which is when the temperature rises up to 83.2.  Is this small difference enough to slowly take out the SPS corals? <Not IMO/E> There is also this encrusting algae, that I suppose I should know what it is, but I don't.  It's just small brown spots that grow pretty exclusively on the acrylic, like coralline's ugly little brother.  The spots are very, very tough to get off, and I feel like I'm destroying the acrylic in my attempts to do so. <Yikes... careful here> We filled the tank up with tap, and now use exclusively RO. <Good change> As we continue to do water changes (50g/week) will these spots recede? <Should in time> I've never experienced this type of algae in my store, but it's pretty bad in several of the other tanks that I maintain - and none of those tanks use RO for their top off.  The only other thing these tanks have in common that I don't, is their more expensive higher quality lighting. In another tank in the same office (250g w/good water quality), we have a Thalassoma wrasse who is doing rather poorly.  One day when I came him and was looking rather "prunish".  The skin on his face and head was all kind of rippled, like he had dried up in the sun.  He has since refused food (to my knowledge) and has lost a ton of weight. <Genetic problem/s likely... not amenable>   I was concerned he wasn't eating the food from the auto-feeder, and wasn't getting enough frozen food (2x/week) to sustain him but the decline seemed to happen rather quickly and doesn't explain the wrinkles.  I have been adding live SW feeder shrimp to sustain him in case he's refusing all non-live food but I'm worried that the problem is not so superficial.  Really - all this story to say - have you have seen anything like this before and if so what was the cause/solution? <Cause/s unknown... solution likewise... to my experience, all such animals perish> Thanks for your input, Scott <Do try amending the alkalinity (simple bicarb., carb. addition), turn off the UV... see where this situates the RedOx and pH. Bob Fenner>

Raising My pH -- 11/16/06 Hi Eric, <<Hey Ken!>> Are you still in Hawaii?  Hope all is well with you. <<Yes mate...though my wife and I have to be on a plane back to reality in less than 8 hours time...bummer.  But on a high note, I had a great dive yesterday morning and a great meal with good friends at a very nice restaurant on the water's edge last evening>> Have some new questions and some points I wanted to clarify in my mind. <<Shoot>> My tank cycled a few days ago.  I did about a 40% water change.  My nitrates actually were not that high.  They were about 7ppm nitrate nitrogen before the water change (The one where you have to multiply the results by 4.4 to convert).  I also added two fish, a Sailfin tang and a yellow tang.  I know they are both Zebrasoma, but I figured 90 gallons with a lot of rock and spaces and put them in on the same day, it would probably work. <<Agreed 'though it is my opinion that 90 gallons is much too small for the Sailfin>> So far they hang out together.  They both ate the same day I put them in the tank.  I just put on the lights yesterday.  I decided to wait until after the cycling. <<Ok>> So right now, generally speaking, my pH and my alkalinity/calcium will just be what it is based on premixed salt water since nothing is taking up the calcium or alkalinity etc. <<Not at a high rate anyway>> In other words, the tank is pretty much "dead" until I get some reaction on the live rock from my lights, and until I get waste from the fish. <<Not true mate 'actions/reactions going on as we speak>> I want to get the lighting, get the tank stable, and at least past the diatom stage (if I get that) before I add any hardy corals. <<Do expect diatoms, Cyanobacteria, hair algae 'all part of the natural alga succession.  As for not adding any 'hardy' corals yet 'do consider that the corals use much/many of the same nutrients the alga will be using'¦>> My pH varies from about 8.02 to about 8.08 with no lights. <<Ok>> Actually I don't know why, but my pH is higher when I wake up in the morning than at the end of the day.  Isn't that backwards? <<Hmm, maybe 'is the tank near an open window during the night?  Maybe just a result of reduced respiration of the tank inhabitants (just a guess)>> My alkalinity is 11 dKH. <<Towards the high end of the desirability scale but likely fine>> I am not sure of my calcium, but I'm sure the levels are "normal" at this point. <<Mmm'¦without 'testing' how can you be 'sure'>> So if my pH is in the range mentioned above, and my alkalinity level is at 11 dKH, can I raise my pH without increasing my alkalinity level? <<Sure 'use sodium bicarbonate 'increase water flow within the tank>> I tested my premixed saltwater, using Reef Crystals, and the alkalinity is 10 dKH and my pH is about 8.10 so obviously this is my starting point. <<Indeed 'maybe even consider trying/testing other brands of salt>> I have the calcium reactor as you know but I do not have this turned on presently as there is nothing to really take up the calcium etc, and my alkalinity is at the high range of acceptable.  Obviously I am thinking the way to raise the pH is either a Kalkwasser drip or by adding it as top off water. <<Do be careful with this approach'¦>> Can I do this without raising my alkalinity? <<No>> I am getting ready for the algae shoe to drop and would like to be able to raise my pH now.  What regimen do you suggest I follow at this point? <<Run your lights on a 10-14 hour photoperiod and buffer (with sodium bicarbonate) your top-off and saltwater makeup water.  If you find the bicarbonate does not give you the pH boost you desire then obtain a proprietary product for this purpose (I am fond of Seachem products).  I suggest you hold off on the Kalkwasser for now/until the tank matures a bit more>>>> Also with regards to water changes, should I do any weekly changes now, or is there not enough going on in my tank at the moment to warrant that? <<The presence of those fishes warrants frequent partial water changes>> Thanks very much. Regards, Ken <<Always happy to assist.  Eric Russell>>
R2: Raising pH - 11/18/06
Hi Eric, <<Hi Ken>> Have a safe trip home. <<Did...thank you>> The Sailfin is about 2 ½' so he has a long way to go. <<Mmm, not in my opinion...behavioral/developmental retardation comes from "growing out" these fishes in "too small" systems as much as placing re when mature>> I will take your lighting suggestion already. <<Best at this stage I feel>> At least I found out that my chiller works. <<Ha!>> I can save on heating bills now for my den. <<Indeed>> I will put the 108 watts of T5's on for 12 hours.  How long per day for the two 250 watts of HQI? <<On 30-minutes after the T5s...off 30-minutes before the T5s>> I have the lights hanging from the ceiling.  How high off the water do you suggest? <<8-12 inches...experiment to find what best suits your livestock>> With regards to my pH being reversed?  The tank is not near a window.  I will call up Aquadyne and ask them what they think as it is their controller. <<Likely just something we haven't figured on/explored.  See what happens with the lights on>> So you are saying that I should get some hardy corals to start to compete with the algae for nutrients. <<Yes>> I guess it is the same philosophy as when I set up my plant tank and added lots of fast growing stem plants at the beginning. <<Indeed>> What corals do you recommend to start with and how many? <<What is your stock list/stocking plan?  Will this be a biotope or species tank?  A "mixed garden" reef?>> Will the corals also be able to bring down the alkalinity? <<Just feeding/the mere presence of your fish will depress/consume alkalinity.  Aside from calcifying organisms, anything that respires/produces organics wastes will affect alkalinity.  Please read Anthony Calfo's article here ( http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alkalinity.htm) and follow the associated links at the top of the page for even more information on this all too often confusing subject>>>> I will check to see if I can find a chart online of the various salt mixes to see if alkalinity of each mix is published. <<Be sure to do your own tests to confirm>> By the way, do you know of a good calcium test kit? <<I find Seachem test kits to be an excellent balance of quality and price>> So at this point right now, should I not be concerned with my pH being at about 8.10 and just see how things progresses with the tank, or should I try to get the pH higher? <<The former, 8.1 is quite acceptable in my book...as long as it is maintained/kept reasonably stable.  Trying to maintain an artificially high pH can be/is a real pain>> I don't want to start adding cocktails to the tank unless it is necessary. <<Agreed>> You mentioned baking soda, is this a safe way of raising pH without altering calcium and alkalinity? <<It is>> My alkalinity is at the high end of normal already as you know and don't want to have it increase. <<No worries...the baking soda will serve you well here>> What does washing soda do? <<Washing soda is much more alkaline, with a pH of about 11 as compared to baking soda with a pH of about 8.1.  Washing soda will give a higher pH rise than baking soda but is also dangerous to use (to both you and your livestock).  As I mentioned in a previous response, if you want a higher pH rise than the sodium bicarbonate provides, you should obtain an "aquarium" product designed for this purpose and follow the manufacturer's directions closely>> You mentioned adding baking soda to my top off water and to my water change water. <<I did, yes>> How much baking soda to how much water? <<Start with a teaspoon per gallon and adjust as/if necessary>> Is the 'dosage' the same for both top off and water change water? <<To start, yes>> Is this a common practice? <<Fairly common, yes>> Up to what pH level do I want to continue this practice until? <<Anything 8.0 or above will likely be fine...you will need to "fine tune" this process to suit your system...and you will likely need to make additional adjustments as the system matures/ages>>>> If I don't have an automatic top off system for adding top off water, and have to do it manually, how much can I add at one time without the pH going to high? <<Perform your top-off on a daily basis at most (twice daily is better but absolutely necessary) and you shouldn't have any issues>> Is there a down side to doing this? <<Buffering your top-off water?  Not in my opinion>> By the way, the water flow in my tank cannot be an issue as I have 600 gph coming from the sump and two Tunze Turbelle Stream 6000's inside the tank. <<Excellent>> Once the tank matures, do you think that the calcium reactor along with Kalkwasser for top off is a good way to go? <<Will depend on the "consumption rate" of the tank/tank inhabitants.  Hook up/tune the calcium reactor first and add the Kalkwasser only if it can not "keep up">> Do you have any feelings on Kalk-stirrer devices like Deltec's? <<I add Kalkwasser to my system via automated top-off (Tunze Osmolator) through a DIY Kalkwasser reactor.  If you decide on/determine you need/want Kalkwasser additions I feel these reactors are a great way to supplement this>> How often and what % do you recommend for water changes? <<Opinions will vary ( http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water.htm), but 15%-20% biweekly seems reasonable to me for your system.>> Thanks again. Regards, Ken <<Quite welcome.  Eric Russell>>
R3: Raising pH -- 11/19/06
Hi Eric, <<Hi Ken>> Glad you made it home safely.  I'll be leaving for business to Hong Kong and Thailand in about 2 weeks. <<Mmm, long hours in a plane seat'¦>> I put off my trip to make sure all was set up with the tank.  I guess I know my priorities. LOL. <<Ha!  Indeed>> There is a few block area in Hong Kong with fish and corals.  Store after store after store. <<Ah yes, I watched a documentary re a few months ago>> The prices are incredibly cheap.  It goes to show how much the price that we pay here is a result of airfreight. <<A large component>> I have been running my lights. <<Good>> Starting to get the brown diatoms on the rocks. <<normal>> Do you think I have too much light in my tank if I am only keeping LPS and softies? <<Many can adapt/will do well under the high output.  Besides, the glitter-lines/overall look of halides in much more desirable in my opinion.  You can always move the lights 'up' to decrease intensity if necessary>> I did pick up a small colt and finger coral.  I put them at the bottom of the tank on the sand to acclimate.  How many days should I leave them there before moving them to a more permanent location? <<I would put them in their 'permanent' locations now and raise the lighting fixture (lowering it a few inches every couple of days) or use multiple layers of fiberglass window screen to 'shade' the corals (remove a layer every couple of days).  Do read here ( http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acclimcoralslight.htm) and among the associated links>> You had mentioned about putting in coral to compete with the algae for nutrients in the tank. <<Yes I did>> Should I limit how many I get now? <<Do allow a week or two between additions>> I was wondering if I get that wonderful snot algae etc, will I have to be concerned with the well being of the corals, or will they survive the potential outbreak. <<They will likely be fine>> I think this will be a "mixed garden" tank as you referred to. <<I see>> With regards to my pH, something interesting.  I had read about high alkalinity and CO2 in the room, and letting fresh air in the room. <<Ah'¦>> I opened my window and in a period of about 3-4 hours my pH went from 8.06 to 8.17. <<Very telling>> Gee, I hope I don't have to do that all winter. <<Indeed 'perhaps you can figure a way to introduce/vent fresh air to/from your system>> I guess I can hold off on the baking soda for the time being as my pH seems like it is ok. If down the road I get the algae mentioned above, and my alkalinity is fine, then I can adjust my pH with Kalk as top off. <<The presence of high concentrations of CO2 may well be a limiting factor even then.  But no needs to panic/overreact now 'wait to see how things develop>> By the way, the Tunze Osmolator, is that just a fancy float switch? <<And then some.  The device uses infrared light to 'sense' the water level and will detect a change as small as 1mm.  Though a bit pricey (about $175), these are very accurate and very reliable devices for tank top-off>> Any benefit of this over the standard float switch? <<Better function/more reliable 'in my opinion>> Also you mentioned that you have a Kalk reactor, is there a benefit to this over a magnetic stirrer? <<One and the same 'just different mechanics (mine uses a powerhead to 'stir' the Kalkwasser)>> Are you running a calcium reactor as well? <<I am 'but I have a large (500g total system volume) system heavily stocked with stony corals/calcifying organisms>> I did find out some info on the salts.  I.O. and Reef Crystals have a 12 dKH.  This explains why when I started at 15 and did a water change, I couldn't drop down say below 10. <<I see>> Tropic Marin is 7.5 dKH. <<My fave salt mix 'if money were no option>> Maybe my next water change I will use this, or maybe the life in the tank will eat away at the alk.  Oh yea, again, thanks for the good call on the needle wheel skimmer. <<Welcome 'hard to go wrong with a quality unit>> Thanks and regards, Ken <<Cheers mate, EricR>>

Salt Water Math??? 10/20/06 Hello Crew,    I've been doing some research on freshwater planted aquaria, and have found an interesting equation. I'm assuming that given low or non-existent phosphates, and having carbonates as the primary buffer, that the CO2, pH, and KH relationship remains true for saltwater or freshwater. If that's correct, is the math formula CO2 = 3 * KH * (10^(7-pH)) also correct for the saltwater relationship? If there isn't something I overlooked then anyone with a high pH could certainly do this little calculation and know if circulation is adequate, bio load was too high, etc. Any help on the subject would be appreciated. <No such formula exists as it would be impossible to calculate based on individual systems.  CO2 production is largely based on the amount of fish and plant life that exists in the aquarium.  The heavier the load, the higher the CO2.  Higher levels of CO2 can deplete the dKH quickly which can lead to pH drops.  Obviously, it would be pretty hard to have a reasonably accurate formula with so many factors that can affect this.> Thanks, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> <<This formula is approximately accurate for saltwater. RMF>> Steve

Small errors on http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm page  9/25/06 Hi, on your http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm page you have a few small errors: 1) In sentence : "The fancy mathematical expression for pH, is that it's the negative (or one over, the reciprocal) of the logarithm (base 10) of Hydrogen ion concentration, or: 1-log10[H+] or alternatively, ---------------------- log(10) [H+]" pH is -log10(H+) or log1/10(H+)  (log base is 1/10) not 1-log10 or log(10)  (I assume (10) means negative base in your logarithm) <Mmm, likely something (am ignorant of) in the transliteration of the old word-processing software this article was in, and HTML "compiler" (?)> 2) In sentence : "Maybe one last illustration (or two). Let's say the hydrogen ion concentration is 10-7.8 or 0.00000078 Moles/liter." 10e-7.8 is not 0.00000078 but  ~ 0.0000000158489 <Ah, yes... my error> 3) I don't know if it is my browser or something else, but I don't see your pictograph or any other graphs on your page (should be in your "Biological Importance" section) Mladen Covic <Thanks much for this... will correct, look for the old graphics... many of the "pieces" of WWM are quite old, even pre-dating (1981) my use of computers... re-keyed quickly, and through influences that I know naught re... have lost their image work through time. Bob Fenner>

Low PH & High Alkalinity   8/30/06 Good Afternoon, I have done a lot of reading from your website, and have gained a great deal of knowledge.  However, I can't find any info specific to my situation. Please help. I have a 25 gal tank (HQI Metal Halide 70W, 14,000K), 45 lbs live rock, 30 lbs live sand, with (2) Fire Shrimp, (2) Cleaner Shrimp, (1) Brittle Star, (2) Emerald Crabs, (1) Sally Lightfoot Crab, (3) Porcelain Crabs, (1) Royal Gramma, (1) Bubble Tip Anemone, (1) Anthias, (1) Blue Damsel, several snails, Hermit crabs, a couple of stony corals, a bread crumb sponge, Pulsing Xenia, (2) sea squirts, & marine plants.  I perform regular water changes and am continually baffled as to why my alkalinity hovers around 12 dKH and my PH is around 7.88 AM, 7.93 noon, & 8.05 PM. I have a stock pump, a MaxiJet 1200, and an AquaClear 30. How can I maintain a PH of 8.1 (AM & PM), with a dKH of 10?  In the past I tried adding reef buffer and part A&B (not at the same time), but in addition to raising my PH it also raised my alkalinity which is already way to high at 12 dKH. What am I doing wrong? <Your main problem is that your tank is overstocked, too many nutrients bringing down pH faster than it can buffer itself.  The Anthias requires a much larger tank than yours, and, most only do well with groups of their own kind.  Anthias can grow up to six inches in the home aquarium.  You do not state which Anthias you have so I cannot give much more info on this. The anemone has no place in a 25 gallon tank and shouldn't be mixed with non-anemone safe fish.  The Bubble Tip should be in nothing smaller than a 55 gallon tank.  They are sensitive to water parameter changes which occur in smaller tanks.  In addition, your filtering system is border line and I would recommend the addition of a protein skimmer.> I dose 4 drops of  iodine daily. Levels: Temp            78 F Salinity          1.024 Phosphates    0 Nitrates         0 Nitrites          0 Ammonia       0.1 Calcium         310 Thanks, <You're welcome.  I have deleted your last name and all other personal information for your own privacy as these queries are placed in our daily FAQ's for thousands to see.  Do delete this info in future queries. James (Salty Dog)> Jacqueline
Re: Low PH & High Alkalinity   9/2/06
Hi James, <Hello Jackie> Thanks for the quick response. <You're welcome.> I absolutely agree that my tank is overstocked.  I am making plans to get a 75 - 100 gallon tank within the next 6 months. <Great, keep in mind length and width are the most important factors to consider. Go for the larger area rather than depth.> However, I am wondering if my marine plant life could be contributing to my low PH issues by increasing the CO2? <Could see a drop in the evening after the lights are out.  Shouldn't be a problem during the photoperiod.  Also keep in mind that your pH is not dangerously low at all.  Read here and related links above.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm> What are your thoughts? Thanks, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Jacqueline

pH & Alkalinity/Salt Mixes & Buffering - 08/22/06 Hello crew, thanks for taking the time to provide valuable experience and information. <<Is my pleasure to assist when/where I can>> I use Oceanic salt for my FOWLR system.  The pH is generally 7.9 to 8.0, I don't monitor alkalinity but have read through your site that Oceanic brand sea salt mix does not have adequate alkalinity and a slightly lower pH than sea water. <<Mmm, indeed...better (proven) brands to be had (Instant Ocean, Tropic Marin)...but you can improve on this a bit with some buffering of your make-up water>> I haven't had any issues using Oceanic in my FOWLR systems for the last few years. <<Ok>> Should I be more concerned about this or is it not a concern as I am not trying to maintain a reef system which will require more control of these water parameters? <<The reef system is more demanding, true, but you should still strive to maintain natural saltwater chemistry for any marine system.  If the alkalinity of your salt mix is below NSW levels you can try buffering with simple sodium bicarbonate (baking soda).  This "may" also give an increase of a tenth of a point or so to your pH (aerate for 24 hours after adding to drive off the carbon dioxide used in the manufacture of the baking soda).  You might also want to consider replacing/adding some new live rock to add fresh buffers/earth elements to your system>> Thanks again for your help. <<Always welcome.  EricR>>

Why won't my pH stay buffered? Keeps dropping to 7.8...   8/18/06 Hi there ladies and gents, <Hello Andy> I do hope you can help me. I'm in the process of setting up a 20g nano-reef tank and I'm doing something wrong... I can't seem to buffer the pH to anything ABOVE 7.8 for any extended period of time. The tank is only a couple of weeks old and hence has no livestock in it currently. It just has 1.5" of substrate (CaribSea Arag-Alive), RO water mixed to 1.024 SG with Kent Salt, a couple of maxi-jet powerheads, a Hagen 50w heater and a Hagen Fluval 2 internal filter which I have filled with a (well pre-rinsed) Tropic Marin "Elimi-Phos" bag and a net of "Kent Nitrate Sponge granules"... All of the equipment, water and 'ingredients' are brand new. I have attempted to buffer using Kent Marine Buffer and initially got a good reading of 8.3 but upon re-measuring around 24 hours later, the pH level has dropped to around 7.8 (or possibly even lower!). Now I'm no genius but even I can work out that it's probably either the Elimi-Phos, Kent Nitrate Sponge or the Substrate that is causing this but I'm at a loss as to which. I've not yet been able to get another load of RO water to do some serious testing, but I mixed a bucket of new RO water with the salt and buffered it to 8.3 with no problems but as soon as I poured some of the CaribSea in there, it immediately lowered slightly. However - this does not give the Elimi-Phos or Nitrate sponge a clean bill of health - all three could be adding to the problem I guess. Currently, I am not really equipped to have a load of buckets, each with a heater and powerhead, to run a test on the pH reduction abilities of each of the three products, so I was wondering if anything in my list of products rang alarm bells for you? I checked thoroughly and could find no instructions that warned against using the Elimi-Phos and Nitrate Sponge in a constantly submerged filter like the Fluval but I'm thinking that maybe that's adding to the problem. Since I knew that I would have to start the tank again, I decided to over-buffer it (I was planning on renewing the water, cleaning the tank and the things in the tank anyway) and even after adding more buffer than you'd ever expect to have to, the tank simply covered itself in the messy deposits from the buffer (time to scrub with filter wool methinks!) and the pH was back down to 7.8 the following morning... Very irritating! I have now removed the Elimi-Phos and Nitrate sponge from the filter and have replaced it with filter wool so when I get a chance to get more RO and to clean the tank I'll be keen to see whether it can be buffered with the substrate and filter-wool only... If not - I guess it's the substrate that's at fault and I'll reverse the test: no substrate, but put the Elimi-Phos and Nitrate Sponge back in. If THAT doesn't work, I'll simply put the Fluval with wool back in and remove the substrate and see how THAT fares... Any thoughts/suggestions are very much welcome - this is frustrating me now! Thanks! <Andy, before going further, I'd like to know what your dKH reading is. James (Salty Dog)> Andy
Re: Why won't my pH stay buffered? Keeps dropping to 7.8...   8/19/06
Thank you for your reply James, <You're welcome.> I will measure the dKH this evening when I get home from work. I expect that for the water I removed from the tank, it'll be a bit swayed by the amount of buffer it's had to absorb, but the tank is now all pristine and clean and simply has RO water, salted with Tropic Marin and a couple of powerheads and the heater, so hopefully the reading will be normal. I will get back to you. <Yes> I've also got a couple of bags of fine-ish substrate which is the brand of TMC who - in case you hadn't heard of them (being a UK company) are a very big distributor of Marine products in Europe. (please don't think I'm being patronizing - I just wasn't sure if you'd heard of them) :) http://www.tmc-ltd.co.uk/aquarium/sand-gravel.asp <Not familiar with the letters TMC.> <<... see review posted... on WWM re... by RMF>> I plan to rinse this out this evening and - after testing for pH drop in a bucket of water prepared to the same standard as my tanks water - introduce to the tank tomorrow. I really hope this won't drop the pH again because I'll be at a genuine loss as to why. I'm hoping it'll have been the Nitrate Sponge that's caused the drop I experienced but even that shouldn't have happened... <No, should not affect the pH.> Hmmm... Anyway - thanks for the reply James, I'll drop you the results of the dKH test later on. <Good> Many thanks! <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Andy

RO/DI...Misapplication/Buffering/pH - 08/09/06 Dear Crew: <<Lloyd>> Hi.  I just set up my first marine tank over the last two weeks and have some issues. <<I see>> The tank is a 180, and will be a FOWLR if I can ever get to that point. <<Let's see what I can do to help you get there>> I filled it with tap water, which is relatively clean, but hard.  Alkalinity was at 300 KH and pH at 8.4.  I treated it with Amquel Plus, added Oceanic salt, (SG is .019), and put in 120 pounds of CaribSea Geo Marine crushed coral with aragonite. <<I know this is a FOWLR system, but I really think you should increase the salinity to natural seawater levels (1.025/.026).  If parasitic infection is a concern then arm yourself with a quarantine system and read up on/perform freshwater dips when transferring your fish, but don't subject them to a continuous hyposalinity environment in the display.  Think about it, another term for hyposalinity is OST or Osmotic "Shock" Therapy...it has its uses for some short-term treatments, but not as a permanent environmental element.  Your fish will exhibit better behaviors, colors, and "long-term" health in my opinion if kept at a salt concentration closer to/matching that from which they came>> I washed the gravel extensively but still have somewhat cloudy water.  Should I use water clarifiers or just filter it out mechanically with a 50 micron pad? <<Nix on the clarifiers...you can use the filter pad if you wish, or just wait for the "dust" to settle on its own...usually a matter of days>> My more distressing issue is with pH.  I have been reading a great deal in the FAQ's regarding the use of RO/DI units and how they affect water quality. <<Can...if misused>> While I certainly may have missed something, (yes, I used the search tool), I seem to be finding conflicting information. <<Differing opinions abound>> I am currently running RO/DI water directly into my sump to top off one to two gallons per day as a result of evaporation. <<Yikes!  This is an example of "misuse"...adding raw unbuffered RO water to your system contributes to the rapid depletion of buffering elements as your system tries to make up for what the newly added water lacks>> I read that this is an acceptable practice, <<Mmm, no...not in my opinion...a recipe for trouble>> however, my pH has dropped into the 7.4 range and the alkalinity is at about 80-100 KH. <<And there is your proof my friend.  If you are going to run the RO/DI water directly to the tank then run it through a Kalkwasser reactor first...else I recommend you discontinue this practice and store/aerate/buffer the water in a separate container before adding to your system>> I have also read that processed water often has a very low pH and that it should be aerated to dissipate CO2, which "consumes" alkalinity, which would seem to confirm my problem. <<Aerating/dissipating CO2 will provide a small increase in pH, but you will still likely need to give it a boost...and you still need to boost/buffer alkalinity>> I'm a bit confused. <<Have you read here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm >> By the way, I'm using Jungle 5 in 1 test strips, so I'm not positive about how accurate these are.   <<Useless...low quality/inaccurate, too easily affected/corrupted by atmospheric moisture.  Do look to Hach, Salifert, and Seachem for good test kits>> I have a reservoir for mixing salt water and would prefer to use tap water, mixed and aged, for water changes only and continue to run the RO/DI water directly into the sump with the use of a float valve. <<Depending on the water in your area using tap water for a FOWLR system is quite possible, but running the raw RO.DI to your sump for top-off is not...in my humble opinion and for reasons you have already experienced>> This will allow me to minimize my use of the filtration unit and save having multiple floats and pumps, while still maintaining an automated top-off. <<But at the expense of system stability an the associated detrimental affects on your livestock>> Should I use additives to raise pH and alkalinity or is there a better method? <<Using additives to "continually" adjust pH and alkalinity in your system creates a roller-coaster effect that will surely have deleterious affect on your livestock.  The "better method" is to adjust pH/alkalinity prior to adding the water>> I have a general aversion to using additives of any kind and seem to remember reading that manipulating levels in this manner is to be avoided. <<Indeed>> What to do? <<Already stated>> Thanks for any help that you may provide.  I had hoped to not bother you with an e-mail and find answers on my own, but the more I read, the more overwhelmed I am with the vast amount of information. <<No worries mate...am here to help>> I have been reading on your site for a year prior to undertaking this project.  I also refer frequently to Bob's "Conscientious Marine Aquarist". <<Ah, very good...but don't limit yourself to a single source of information.  You've already noticed the differences in opinion just on this site...best to gather/learn from differing sources and use your own good judgment to make a decision>> Both have been outstanding sources of information and I appreciate the time and dedication that all of you put into this hobby, or in your case, profession. <<Mmm, not my vocation but more an avocation...no "expert" here, merely a "student" of the hobby>> Thanks again, Lloyd H. Columbia, MO <<Happy to assist.  Regards, EricR in Columbia SC>>

Raising pH   8/1/06 Crew, <Andrew> I've tried ALL the tricks that I have read on your web site to raise the pH of my reef tank and have yet to achieve success.  My tank hovers around 8.0-8.1 while I drip Kalkwasser 24/7 (1.5 gallons per day).  If I stop dosing, the pH settles down to 7.8 quickly.  I tried opening a window, aerating more, etc... After mixing fully aerated RO water with IO for a water change, the dKH reads between 12.2 and 12.5, with a pH of 8.0.  As a result, I am unable to add any buffer to raise the pH for fear of raising the dKH too high and starting a snow storm.  See my dilemma?  The raw RO water has a dKH of 0.3, so the IO alone is buffering more than I would like, leaving no room for Reef Buffer to adjust the pH.  My goal is a pH of 8.3-8.4 and dKH of 9-10. <Assuming your test kit is reading correctly, nutrient level low, and nitrates low, I would buffer the RO water to achieve a pH of 8.0-8.3 before mixing the Instant Ocean.  Overstocked tanks can add to the problem also.>   Thanks for your thoughts and insights. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog) Regards, Andrew.

My pH has fallen and I can't get it up  7/30/06 My pH is dropping steadily everyday. It hangs around 7.75. I use B-Ionic, drip Kalkwasser, purple up, SeaChem reef buffer. <Uhh, depending on how you are administering the above, you are likely precipitating out the carbonate... lowering/buffering the pH...> My parameters are :    pH                     7.85 Salinity                36 Spec Gravity        1.026 Ammonia            0 Nitrite                 0 Nitrate                0 Phosphate            0 Calcium                371 Alkalinity                4.5 Silica                    0 No matter what I do the pH keeps dropping. Help <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm and the linked files above. I'd lose the Kalk habit for a while... Bob Fenner>
Re:... pH drop... SW....   Still not reading... sigh....   7/31/06
Kalk is being dripped in about 1 drop per 2 seconds <... keep reading. RMF>
Re: Still not reading? Get in line bub! Low pH and rudeness  7/31/06
what should I do to maintain pH? Last night it dropped to 7.65, I added B-ionic to raise it. <... which part?...> How long will it take for the tank to recover? <...? Uhh... you don't know enough to ask the right questions... Incredible... follow the directions on how to write us, use the search tool, indices... please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm and the linked files above... Edge you mah cate yo'self. RMF>
Re: Still not reading? Goodbye, good luck, good riddance  7/31/06
I've looked on your web site and I can't find anything to help me. How do I keep my pH up and not increase alkalinity? <First, by knowing what you're about... read... where you've been repeatedly referred to... go elsewhere. RMF>

High Calcium Low pH  7/15/06 Hi, <Hello> I have a question I hope you may be able to help me with.  I tried searching your database but couldn't locate an answer there.  I have a new 120 gallon saltwater setup.  The only things in it right now are 120lbs of Caribbean live rock and 120 lbs of live sand.  I use R/O water and Kent's Sea Salt to mix the water.  The calcium reading I am getting is almost 600 <Way too high...> with a pH of some were between 7.8 and 8.0. <A bit low... and not surprisingly... the overly high concentration of biominerals is depressing (precipitating) the alkalinity...>   A couple of weeks ago approximately 2.5 gallons of Kalkwasser solution was inadvertently put into the tank in about 6 hrs. <...> (The adjustment on the Aquadoser was rolled the wrong way accidentally.)  I'm not sure what the calcium reading was before this but the pH has never been above  7.8 since <... yes> I began testing it just after the live rock cured in May.  The exception being when I tested it just after the Kalkwasser incident when it was at 8.4,  but it quickly dropped down again within a week (not good I know).  I am adding Seachem's Marine buffer to try to raise the pH put am seeing little affect after 4 days of use.  Is the high calcium level preventing the pH from going up (I know calcium and alkalinity go hand in hand and alkalinity affects the pH somewhat)? <Oh yes> Also is that calcium level dangerously high or is it OK for now unit it comes down over time.  The coralline algae has taken off with it at this level and is gradually lowering the calcium level  at it uses it, the level was at 660 just after the accident with the Kalkwasser. Thanks in advance for you help, Brandi    <You need a bit of practical chemical knowledge, understanding... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm and the linked files above... You'll soon know what went on, your possible courses for improvement. Bob Fenner>

Lowering pH of Fresh Water for FW and Methylene Blue dip  7/12/06 Hi Bob, <Art> I read on the 'Dips FAQ' page that Baking Soda  (sodium bicarbonate) could be used to raise the pH of fresh water for a FM/Methylene blue dip for marine fish, <To a pH of about 7.8 tops, yes> but how do you lower the pH of the fresh water for the dip? My RO fresh water is 8.4 <... something's amiss with your reverse osmosis device...> and the water of the destination tank is between 8.0 and 8.2.  Thanks for your help, Sincerely, Art <Mmm, likely the use of a safe, commercial sodium bi/phosphate based "downer" of aquarium pH here. Do have someone check your RO membrane... it's shot. Bob Fenner>

Help! pH non-anomaly with new water   6/8/06 Hi there.  It's Chris again with yet another ph issue.  My tank has consistently been at 8.5 to 8.6 for the last 10 days.  I've also had 5 gallons of replacement synthetic seawater "brewing" in a large plastic container for a week.  This water was made with RO water, instant ocean salt mix (salinity at .025), and Seachem Marine Buffer. After one full week brewing in  this covered plastic container, with a powerhead, the ph is a consistent 8.5 to 8.6.  What am I doing wrong in that I simply cannot get my ph in the 8.1 to 8.3 range?   Thanks, as always. <Mmm, nada... this is "about right" considering the salt mix brand, the buffer product added... and not a worry... will drift down over time/use. I would not be concerned here. Bob Fenner>
Re: Help! pH non-anomaly with new water and Zoanthids   6/8/06
Thanks, Bob. <Welcome Chris> Should I consider a premium-brand salt mix? <Mmm, no... or I wouldn't... Instant Ocean is a mighty fine product... consistent, well-formulated...> On another note, I have recently purchased a Zoanthus colony, which looked great at my fish store, however, since adding it to my tank on Saturday (today is Thursday) it has yet to fully bloom. <This/these can take a while to adjust...> In fact, I would say that it's blooming at about 15% of capacity.  Is this a ph issue? <Doubtful>   I'm adding Reef Solution daily (1/2 capful), <I'd hold off on this...> have it placed very high in my aquarium. <I'd start new cnidarians lower, lowest...> The colony had been placed near the middle so I moved it hoping for better bloom. <And not move them around much at first...>   I also just recently started adding phytoplankton. <Most cnidarians don't eat much of this...> By the way, the tank is a 37G "high" tank with 130W of compact fluorescent lighting. Thanks again, your expertise is invaluable. Chris <Do please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/zoanthid.htm and the linked files above. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Dosing Kalkwasser/Inadequate Feeding/Falling pH - 06/02/06 Dear crew, <<Greetings>> Thanks for doing us all an invaluable service.  Your time and effort with this site is greatly appreciated. <<Ah, thank you for these words>> I have a 30gal reef, 20gal sump, with AquaC Remora Pro and a 10gal refugium with Chaetomorpha. <<Very nice>> Lighting consists of 2x96 watt10k/actinic, and 65 watt 65k lamps.  My ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates 0, alk 10, cal 325, pH 7.9.  I have about 4" DSB in my main tank and 6" in my sump. Substrate is CaribSea Aragonite Seaflor Special Grade Reef Sand Grain size 1.0 - 2.0 mm.  I employ 5gal weekly water changes with RO and salinity is kept about 1.025.  Calcium is usually maintained around 400 using Seachem's reef complete. Circulation is about 20x using a MAG 7.5 connected to a SCWD and a Rio 600.  The last few months I have been getting more and more hair and BGA algae.  I have a pajama cardinal and a royal Gramma.  I have an emerald crab, red and blue legged hermits, and a serpent star.  I also have some narcissus, <<Nassarius>> turbo, and Astrea snails.  I feed 1 cube of Mysis shrimp or bloodworms every other day and do not drain the packing juice. <<You need to feed a better selection in my opinion.  The brine shrimp and bloodworms are fine as a "supplement", but neither should be fed as a staple diet.  The bloodworms, being a non-marine organism, are lacking in those elements needed by your fish...and the brine shrimp is sorely lacking in "any" real nutritive value (mostly water).  Please feed marine-based foods such as frozen Mysis/plankton/krill and a quality pelleted food such as New Life Spectrum>> Lately I started using Kalkwasser hoping for the benefits.  I use the slurry method using about 1/8th tsp every 2-3 days. <<Hopefully you have an electronic meter to monitor pH as you dose...strive to add enough to raise the existing pH by two-tenths (e.g. - 7.8 to 8.0)>> Now my pH has dropped to about 7.8 to 8.0 and it has never done this before. <<Mmm...how do you measure pH?  If using a test kit, perhaps it is time for new reagents.  I would also stop dosing the Seachem product and see if this affects you pH>> Even when I first started to use Kalkwasser it only elevated my pH. <<It would/is expected to do so, yes>> So now I'm unsure what to do to raise my pH back up other then trying to change about half of my water to try and get back to par. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. <<Do the water change, stop dosing the Seachem product (the Kalkwasser should handle your calcium needs), renew your test kit, and read here, being sure to follow the associated links: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm >> Thanks Mark <<Quite welcome, EricR>>

Help! Tubiculous Polychaete spunk, now pH lowering...   6/1/06 Thanks for the quick reply and I have one quick follow up for you.  What can I do to lower my ph?  I have makeup water almost ready but it's ph won't drop below 8.6. Thanks again. Chris <Mmm, I wouldn't fool with this pH... I would read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

pH and Ammonia out of whack!!!   6/1/06 Hi Bob! <Jen Here> We are just getting started with a 90 gallon salt water tank with the filtration system in the bottom, T5 lighting  with Berlin (hang on the side) skimmer. The problem we are having is that we can't stabilize our pH one day it will be fine 8.1 and the ammonia 0 one day then next time I tested it, it will be up. We have our rock, snails, hermit crabs, emerald crab,  sand sifter star fish, diamond goby and just got some mushrooms. What do you think we can do to stabilize the problem we are having? Looking forward to hear from you. <More than likely you need to just wait and let it stabilize itself with a new tank.  However there are ways to alter your pH.  Search on WWM re: pH.  But with a new tank this sometimes happens, however you probably should have waited until your readings stabilize to stock the tank with the fish and some of the inverts.  It's all about patience here!  Do some reading on WWM and good luck! ~Jen S.> Thanks Mr. & Mrs. Dennis Gardiner

Low pH  - 5/11/06 Hi There, <Good morning.> Please forgive me if my question has been asked before.  I've searched through the articles and FAQ's and don't find it, so here we go. I have 120gal fish/reef system.  When I set it up a year ago, the pH was just fine (around 8.2).  Over the course of the last 6 months, the pH has dropped too low (about 7.8).  I've tried everything to get the level back up, trying not to be too drastic about it and upsetting everything.  I've used multiple mini water changes (5 gals each, 2-3 times a week) in addition to the regular 10% a month for about 2 months. <<The 10% water changes should be done at least twice a month.>> I've tried using several commercial buffers (Kent, etc).  It just won't budge.  I really haven't changed very much about the residents of the tank.  Still basically the same group and mix. <<For starters, how many and what kind of fish are you keeping?  Do take a pH reading of newly mixed sea water one day after you mix it and let me know the reading along with your latest nitrate reading.  I will then give you some suggestions.>> Any ideas? Thanks very much. <<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>>
Re:  Low pH  - 05/13/2006
Here's my reply.  Thank you so much for your help.  You are a terrific resource for a rookie like myself. I have a 14 month old 120 gal tank with 90lbs live rock, 3-5' sand bed, canister filter <<Canister filters can add to high nitrate levels if they are not cleaned on a weekly basis. Same goes for the filter pads/sponge, need to be changed or cleaned weekly.>> and wet/dry filter, chiller set at 77 degrees.  I have 1 Red sea star 1 Green brittle star 1 White sand star 2 feather dusters 1 stony coral An assortment of mushrooms (red, green, hairy) 1 leather finger coral About 50 assorted janitor snails (turbo, Cerith, margarita, etc) 1 yellow tang 1 blue damsel 1 yellow tail damsel 1 blue-green Chromis 1 lawnmower blenny 1 cinnamon clown 1 false clown 1 sleeper goby 1 strawberry Pseudochromis- for my Bristleworm problem, not helping 1 bi-color Pseudochromis- for my Bristleworm problem, not helping 1 painted fairy wrasse ½ small hermit crabs The tang is the biggest at about 4', the rest range from 1-3" (they were tiny when I got them). For water changes I use tap water, <<Ahah.  Did you every take a nitrate/phosphate/pH reading of your tap water?>> Instant Ocean salt mix, the recommended about of Amquel and Nova Aqua to remove the chlorine, et al.  I tested the pH overnight before going into the tank and it's 8.0.  <<I'm guessing here that you do not aerate the water 24 hours before adding the salt.  The aeration will remove excess CO2 in the water which will reduce the pH of your newly made up salt water.  Not necessary to use Amquel or Nova Aqua.  The 24 hour aeration will take care of any chlorine present.  Before adding salt to the aerated freshwater, do adjust its pH to at least 8.0 by way of buffers.>> Ammonia and nitrite look very, very good.  My nitrate is out of control (over 40 ppm), but it has always been.  <<You do not mention the use of a protein skimmer.  Is one being used?  High nitrates do contribute to low pH.  Do read here also.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm>>  Doesn't seem to improve with the multiple things I've tried but the animals look happy and healthy.  The pH is the thing that's changed.  I really appreciate your help.  <<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>>

High Alkalinity, low pH 5/7/06 Hello Team!  After reading your document on understanding pH & Alk , many sites around the web, I am still confused a bit.... <<This is sometimes a tough topic!>> Tank in question is a 46g reef w/6w per gal compact lighting.  How do I get in a situation with high alkalinity and low pH (8.05 to 8.15 tested using calibrated digital meter w/ ORP of ~260, 79 degrees F).  The only explanation I can come up with is high CO2 levels.  While I have not tested CO2, I do have excellent surface agitation with 2 x magnum 350's and 2 x 600GPH power heads, approx 1.5 to 2" of space between water surface and aquarium lid, + air stone to get fresh air into tank surface.  I also have a newer home which I have heard could cause elevated CO2 levels by the tight insulation/seal.  I feel I have done all I can short of breaking the bank on such a small aquarium to keep gas levels close to normal.  I also use R/O D/I water w/ Reef Crystals brand mix, agitate for 24 hours prior to use. <<Your pH is not that bad, and you did not list a value for alkalinity.  To test for CO2 build up, aerate a sample of water out doors and re-check the pH.  If the pH rises significantly, the you have CO2 accumulating.  High alkalinity can occur from overuse of buffers/alkalinity supplements.  Your choice of salt mix and procedure are fine.>> Questions: 1.) What other factors could cause high ALK, low pH <<See the comments above.>> 2.) I usually dose with SeaChem buffer to raise pH and reef builder alk supplements if necessary.  I have Kalk mix but decided to not use it yet w/ all of the human health hazard stickers on it.  What would be a good alternative to boost pH w/o raising Alk, I fear I could drop calcium levels to far by over-using Alk+pH supplements. <<Both the buffer and reef builder are similar products.  Both are buffers and will raise alkalinity.  I would discontinue or reduce the use of these until your alkalinity approaches normal.  Continue whatever calcium supplement you are using.  When both the calcium and alkalinity are in normal range, resume the alkalinity supplement to keep both in the normal range.  If you confirm CO2 accumulation with the outdoor aeration test, address that issue separately.  Also, FWIW, Kalkwasser will raise pH more than any other calcium/alkalinity supplement.>> 3.) If over nitrification, over loading (we have decently loaded system), over feeding (we have cut back to once per day, small amounts of frozen shrimp to figure out pH issue) were to blame for my pH dropping wouldn't this cause a drop in Alk also.  Thank you for all your help! <<Yup, it would.  Feel free to feed normally, but please do the outdoor aeration test and consider Kalkwasser.  As for the health risks.... avoid creating dust and if you do, avoid breathing it.  Also be careful not to splash it in your eyes and rinse it promptly if you get it on your skin.  It is not poisonous, just caustic.  Best regards.  AdamC.>>
High Alk, Low pH part 3... test results 5/11/06
Hello and thanks again! I gathered a small cup of aquarium water, stirred outside of tank with digital pH probe for a few seconds indoors, it maintained a pH of about 8.17.  I opened the door to outside and stirred the water again for a few seconds, immediately the pH jumped to about 8.31.  It sounds like I do have an excess of CO2 in the house, but is this change enough for a concern? <<Considering that the pH scale is logarithmic (every one point change in pH is 10x the H+ concentration!), that is a significant change.  I would say you have confirmed the CO2 theory.>> What if I put a few plants in the same room as the aquarium, wouldn't they consume CO2 and produce O2?  Would it really make any difference.  I have my tanks in my finished basement which is probably around 1,000 square feet.  Bryan <<A couple of plants probably would not make that much difference.  Remember that plants, like corals and algae only photosynthesize during the day.  At night, they respire and consume O2 and produce CO2.  The best solution is to get some fresh air into the room.  Some aquarists leave a window open just a hair and some have plumbed some pipe from the outdoors to their protein skimmer.  Your exact circumstances will decide what is appropriate.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>>

pH anomaly and RO/DI, logical rise in pH with commercial buffers  - 5/12/2006 Dear Crew, My water out of my RODI unit tends to have a high pH (8.4) even after adding new resin. <Something amiss here>   Have you ever heard of this?  Also, I added Purple Up to my tank and my pH has risen several tenths.  This is the only thing I can attribute the rise to. <...? Should be higher with this addition>   Have you ever used this additive or heard of it causing a rise in pH?  Thanks again. Jeff <... Your tapwater pH is what? Likely your water filter membrane is shot... The addition of alkaline material/s will elevate pH... Bob Fenner>
Re: High Alk, low pH CO2 TEST RESULTS + plants in room  - 5/12/2006
Thanks for all the help.  I would not be overly thrilled w/ plumbing to outside for many reasons including adding poisons to the tank from frequent lawn treatments, we also have a high radon levels in Kansas City, and adding humidity to the house. <Understood, and agreed> Are there any other solutions to reducing the CO2 problem?  I dose w/ Kalk to 8.6 but it frequently travels back down w/n 24 hours to about 8.3 <Mmm, none more practical than venting more air out, new air in... a pH of 8.3 is fine all the way about for captive marine systems. Much more to "be had", gained by leaving, having this steady than trying to elevate much more. Bob Fenner>
Re: High Alk, low pH CO2 TEST RESULTS + plants in room  - 5/12/2006
Thanks Bob!, I have been looking for your book here locally but the local Borders and Barnes n noble doesn't seem to carry it. <How dare they! Heeeee, do believe these folks do sell CMA on-line... Know Amazon does> Would you agree I am better to have a swing of 8.6 to 8.3 rather than 8.3 to 8.15 to 8.0? <Mmm, actually, no... For a few reasons it's better to let pH in almost all settings vacillate with 8.3 to 8.4 being the high/er point. Do you want to review these reasons?> It seems from reading your site the answer would be 8.6 to 8.3 would be better.  Of course in an ideal world it would remain stable at whatever it is.  Is there such a thing as a O2 reactor, I have heard of CO2 only.  Would this help? <Mmm, only minimally... if anything, I would first look into adding/using an ozonizer... O3 would serve many useful purposes... among them to elevate and stabilize pH directly and indirectly> I have learned so much from your website, have you thought about adding a forums to your site? <We do have such a BB: WetWebFotos.com> I think it would bring you a nice traffic increase and allow visitors to help other visitors with their own experience. <Yes... thank you for this suggestion. Am in agreement. The (current) design of WWM is a bit different... would really like to see it unfold/evolve into a "Wiki" sort of tool/offering> Of course your team and moderate the forums when time permits. <Heee... and I hasten to add the universal human ingredient of "patience"> I would highly recommend vBulletin forum software for the features and security ( http://www.vbulletin.com/).  I am an Internet entrepreneur, if you have any questions feel free to let me know! Best Bryan <Again, thank you for your input. Bob Fenner>
Re: High Alk, low pH CO2 TEST RESULTS + plants in room  - 05/13/2006
Thanks Bob, so 8.4 swing to 8.1 or 8.2 would be better but not perfect it sounds.  Even w/ Xenia which stops pulsing at below about 8.25 for me. Other than not pulsing, does it also prohibit/slow their growth? <Mmm, perhaps some, yes> Unfortunately I did use crushed coral in this tank w/ a deep bed before I knew much and am having higher nitrates.  I can dilute w/ water changes (w/ RO d/I water) but the nitrates creep right back up in no time. <There are other countervailing strategies... covered on WWM>   I do gravel vac but a good part of the rock is not in a location that is accessible as I have a lot of live rock coverage.  Unfortunately given the small tank a sump (w/ plants) are a bit out of the question and plants in main tank would be picked by fish.  Any other suggestions biological/chemical w/o removing crushed coral and going sand? Thanks for all the help Bryan <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm and the linked files above. Perhaps reliance on a good two-part biomineral/alkalinity supplement (B-Ionic e.g.) would do the most good here... Bob Fenner>

Saltwater pH, Buffering For Use  - 04/27/2006 Hello crew! <Hello Wayne, Josh here from IMAC.> I've got a question that I couldn't find on the site. I'm sure you'll be able to help. <Hope so.> I currently buffer my top-off water with Reef Buffer by Seachem.  I buffer it until it reached 8.3 before adding to the tank. I also plan to use this same water to mix with saltwater for water changes. I use Instant Ocean salt mix.  When mixed with unbuffered water, the PH is up around 8.3.  Should I mix this salt with un-buffered or buffered water? <Well, I bet you won't have a problem either way, but remember you can always mix and then buffer.> By mixing this salt with buffered water, won't I run the risk of having the pH be too high? <Doubtful with this salt mix.> Thanks again! Wayne <Sure. - Josh>

QT help, high pH and High Alkalinity  - 04/27/06 Greetings Crew from the Coal Region here in PA.  I am hoping to get a really quick response if possible.  Please don't let the length of this email deter you from reading it right away.  I had sent 2 separate emails almost one month ago, resending each one a second time about a week or more after not hearing back, with still no response.  I know how busy you all must be, and I hate to be a pest. <If we did not respond, we did not receive your messages> I was reading through your article and FAQs, but couldn't quite find what I was looking for.  So, here it goes... I followed some recommendations in setting up a QT.  It is a 10 gallon.  I used 6 gallons of water from my display tank and made up the difference with new salt water.  I should note that my display tank is a 46 gallon up and running with 2 TR ocellaris clowns, one skunk cleaner and 5 snails for almost 2 months.  It probably cycled in about 2 weeks, but it wasn't for almost another 6 weeks until anything was added, so my tank is about 4 months along I guess.  I did not initially have a QT, but I have since purchased one and set it up for new livestock.  I had guilt issues, what can I say? <What you wish, can> I know it was absolutely the right thing to do, and I had taken a risk by not doing it first, but I am happy to report I have not had any problems with my current critters.  I am lucky. Anyway, I actually set up the QT a few weeks ago, if not longer.  It has been running with just the water and heater for that same time.  My plan was not to wait this long to buy livestock, but life just happens, and things don't always go as planned.  I did have to add about 6 gallons of new salt water to the QT after I had to remove about 6 to refill my display tank.  Reader's Digest version:  I woke up the other day to the sound of running water.  Low and behold, for some reason unbeknownst to me, my protein skimmer (Super Skimmer, my second one... had a Sea Clone first) was overflowing out of the collection cup.  It must have started at some point in the wee hours of the morning.  So, I needed to replace what was all over my floor and down into my basement!  Since I had no water yet prepared for a change, I used it from the QT.  And let me tell, at that moment, I was so pleased I had it set up. Oh yes, back to my question.  My husband and I were actually planning a trip (for the last month) this evening to the only place we will buy livestock from because they have been so wonderful, That Fish Place in Lancaster, PA. <A fabulous retailer. One of the best>   Anyway, I checked some things, and my PH is at like 8.6 and the Alkalinity is high, as per my test kit (Marine Lab by Red Sea).  I am guessing this isn't a good thing? <Mmm... not necessarily bad> If I do a water change, adding water from my display, will that do the trick? <Likely will help... or just time going by...> I also want to note that I will be replacing one of the filter pads from my Fluval with the one currently in the filter that came with the 10 gallon.  I did not want to do that too soon with nothing in there to feed the bacteria.  I know QT's can be set up in an emergency if needed by doing the things I have said, but I just don't want to act in haste.  I am overly anxious to bring home a new friend, even though they won't meet for weeks.  I hope you understand. <Yes> I really hope what I have asked, albeit in the novel version, makes sense.  I know it is a lot to ask, but if someone can get back to me soon, that would be great.  My sincerest thanks and appreciation.  Have a good day. Tiffani Tobin Hello again.  I just sent this email down below, but I forgot to mention that the temp of the water in my QT is 79, and the SG is 1.023.  Thank you for your time. <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Adjusting pH on RO/DI Effluent - 04/24/06 Hello WWM Crew, <<Hello!>> Great to be talking (typing) to you guys again.  I have a question for you as to how you might go about treating the water leaving an RO/DI filter used for automatic top-off. <<Mmm...>> The filter is plumbed to a "T" connector in my basement.  One effluent line connects to a float-valve in an aerated 42 gal trash can in the basement that I use for water changes, the other line runs to another float valve in the refugium under my tank, both floats are working well and all water levels are stable.  The tank is a 72 gallon bow-front reef with LPS corals and fish.  My concern is stability in the tank, most specifically PH. <<Ok>> The RO/DI filter is continually topping off my tank with water of a very low PH. <<Indeed...as well as no buffering capacity and little to no oxygen content>> Tank measurements for PH are running about 8.2 during the day, but are dipping to 8 at night. <<Not that bad really>> I have never had this problem before, so I am attributing it to the fact that I am now feeding the make-up water directly into the refugium without buffering. <<Yes, probably so>> My RO/DI filter is a six-stage setup that finishes the treatment with two REFILLABLE DI chambers, both utilizing the same type of resin.  My thinking was that I could remove the resin from the last DI chamber and fill it with washed aragonite or some other sort of slow-dissolving mineral that would boost the PH of the make-up water prior to releasing it into the tank. <<Maybe, but I'm skeptical the sand will make much (enough) difference...perhaps if finely ground>> Whatever is used would need to dissolve slowly because water sits in the cartridge all day and is released into the tank very slowly. <<I recommend you place about a cup of Kalkwasser in the last chamber.  This configuration would work similar to the Tunze Kalkwasser dosing system: https://www.marinedepot.com/aquarium_dosing_pumps_top_off_tunze_osmolator.asp?CartId= >> I love the auto-top-off in that it keeps the salinity in my tank at a very stable level and reduces the number of trips I have to make up the stairs with a bucket of make-up water, but I do not like the idea of putting water into the system without buffering it first. <<Nor do I>> Do you think that this would work?  Would you use aragonite? <<I would try the Kalkwasser>> Do you know of anything else that may work better?   <<Dosing through a dedicated Kalkwasser reactor such as this ( https://www.marinedepot.com/md_viewItem.asp?idproduct=PM4111), but I think just adding some Kalk to the last chamber on your filter unit might do the trick...would save the added expense of a reactor>> Any insight you can offer would be greatly appreciated! Best Regards, Bart <<Cheers, EricR>>

High pH and low calcium... pouring in dem chem.s   4/18/06 Hey Crew, <Eric> I can't seem to figure out the chemistry in my reef tank.  My afternoon pH is shooting up to about 8.8 <Yikes!> and my calcium is dropping to less than 200 ppm, <Yes... can be antagonistic, "mutually exclusive"> while my alk is staying around 8-9 dKH.  Other factors are staying the same Nitrate 2-4, Nitrite 0. I have been dosing with CaOH, <... here's the issue, along with...> and sodium Bicarbonate.  I have been placing the mixtures in the sump at separate ends. <...>   I was wondering what was causing the Ca to precipitate out of solution while my pH is still so high. <Mmm, the calcium carbonate is leaving the hydroxyl bonds behind... Stop!> Tank specs: 180 gallon 300 lbs live rock 200 lbs live sand Filtration is just a skimmer. (1/4 - 1/2 cup of skimmate a day) A few fish and a few corals (2 hard, 5 soft). What should I do to fix the problem? <Read: http://wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm and the linked files at top. Bob Fenner> Thanks for the help, and all the past help Eric

pH and Calcium supplements 4/10/06 What product do you recommend to raise pH and calcium levels? <<Be sure you understand and test for Alkalinity.  pH measures how acidic or basic the water is.  Alkalinity measures the buffering capacity of the water, or in other words, the ability of the water to resist changes in pH.  Both are very important, and alkalinity is widely under-appreciated.  In any case, Kalkwasser is very useful in supporting pH, Alkalinity and calcium.  It is cheap and easy to use.  Grocery store pickling lime can be substituted for cost savings.  B-Ionic by ESV, C-Balance by TwoLittleFishies and TechAB by Kent are all two part preparations (one part calcium, one part alkalinity) that work extremely well and are extremely convenient to use, but are somewhat expensive.  There are recipes for "home brew" two part additives floating about the internet, but are probably best followed only by those with some chemistry background.  Last, but not least... you can use commercially available dry calcium and alkalinity additives. They are cheaper than two part additive systems but require a bit more care in their use.  Tropic-Marin makes a great dry product called BioCalcium that adds calcium and alkalinity in one product.  Any of the above can work very well.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>>

Adding Bi-Carb Soda for Ph    3/31/06 Hi Bob, <Joe> In your book you mention adding Sodium Bi Carbonate to maintain the required kalinity in a SW tank. I am confused as to whether your prescribed amount of 5 grams per 20 gallons is what we should add each week based on the entire volume of system water or just the amount of water that we are replacing? <Better just for replacing. The actual bolstering and maintaining of "enough" alkalinity is a bit more involved, and for the majority of systems can/will be "made-up" with regular water changes. For some folks... with lots of life/metabolism, feeding, inadequate "other" sources (substrates, live rock), commercial alkalinity prep.s containing carbonate/s, borate/s are sometimes a good idea> Also, does Sodium Bi-carbonate have a limiting Ph (i.e. it will not go higher than a certain ph value regardless of how much is added)  or will it keep raising the Ph past the desired range of 8.0 - 8.5? <Does have a limit... all else "being equal" (what universe is that?) Sodium Bicarbonate will not elevate (by itself) pH more than about 7.8> Although sometimes I get confused as to whether Bi Carb Soda raises the pH or the alkalinity?? <Will... as you will see through experimentation, application. I do wish I had the capacity to "re-teach" folks such important concepts as "non-Euclidean" thinking... basic chemistry that is non-linear, multiple factored... instead of hints and glimpses as here. Perhaps a stint back as a H.S. Science teacher would do me. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Joe

Low pH   3/16/06     I have a 72 gallon reef tank with the salinity at 1.024, the kH at 12dkh, the calcium at 400ppm, and my pH is at 7.8-8.0.  I've tried taking a bucket of the tank water and aerated it outside with a power head on the bottom pushing the water up, did not help, I talked to different LFS and it does not make sense to them.  I tested my water when I make it and is has the same pH of 7.8-8.0 as my tank. <Mmm, could be your salt brand/mix... this pH is not terribly low though...>     I have a SpectraPure 4 stage RO/DI unit that I run my water through, I aerate it for 24hrs. and the pH is at 6.9-7.2.  I add a 1/2 tsp. of Kent dKH buffer.  I let is aerate for another 24-48hrs with the power head on the bottom of the bucket, my pH is then at 8.3-8.5.  I have a bucket of water that is just buffered  for top off and one that I add salt to.  When I add the salt ( I've tried Oceanic, Oceanpure, and Instant ocean ) <The last is best/better> to the water the pH drops from the 8.3-8.5 down to 7.8-8.0 instantly and stays there, even 48hrs. later, I buffered the salt mixed water after 48hrs. up to 12dkh even tried up to 14dkh, after 24hrs the pH is back at 7.8-8.0. <Mmm, might be your "tester"...>      I have thoroughly read through the other situations posted on your site and could not locate a situation like this. If you have any suggestions please let me know, which I will greatly appreciate. Your site is an excellent site with a huge amount of information that has been very helpful to me in learning the hobby as my setup is going on 2yrs. old. All my fish and corals look healthy which is the main thing. <Well, there are other chemical prep.s you could avail yourself of... but if it were me, my system, I would first, check your checker... with another pH test kit/device, and not be overly concerned re the measures you list. Rest assured, many aquaculture and public aquarium settings have far lower values. Bob Fenner> High pH in reef system   03/9/06 Hello WWM crew, <Hello Gary.> My reef system has been up and running for the past 2 years with no real problems up until now.  I have found some good info on your site to reduce my pH but the pH seems to go back up within a few hours.  Here are the water parameters: tank: 50 gallons 36L x 18W x 18H live rock: about 100lbs. sand: 2-4 inches sump: 20 gallons with 20lbs. live rock skimmer: EV 180 main return surge 6000 (850gph) with 4 MaxiJet 1200's in main tank 2 250w metal halide 10K about 6-8 inches over water salinity: 32ppt alk: 3.0 calcium: 430-450 ammonia: 0 Nitrate: 2-3 phosphate: 0 sps: 15 (all about 2-3 inches in size) LPS: 1 (frogspawn) 2 gorgonians fish: one clownfish 1.5 inches one watchman goby 3 inches one Naso tang 5 inches this tank also serves as a quarantine tank for fish, he will be going into the 300 next week) feeding: one large chunk of frozen Mysid shrimp per day Cyclop-Eeze per day cocktail of marine snow, phyto, and zooplankton per day pellets and flake 3 times a day About a month ago I hooked up a pH monitor and began to notice the pH steadily increase from 8.2 to 8.61 today.  I have checked the pH probe and it is working fine. (tested on my other tank and it is holding steady at 8.18)  I have recalibrated it twice and still I get the same readings.  I do not use Kalk but a 2 part SeaChem system of alkalinity and calcium.  I am dosing the maximum of 2 teaspoons of each every other day to keep up with my tanks alk and calcium needs.  When I add them to the tank I do not see any change in the pH so I am assuming that this is not the problem.  I have used a few tricks from you web site to lower my pH such as blowing into the protein skimmer, which works but the pH will quickly return to 8.61 within an hour), adding white distilled vinegar which will lower the pH for 3-5 hours before returning to 8.61).  <I wouldn't keep adding both parts of the SeaChem mix every other day.  First I'd concentrate on the dKH and get that up to 8-12, then take a calcium reading and see what you have.  If need adjust accordingly for a level between 350-400.  This is what I don't like about the two part products.  I use Sea Chem myself but use Reef Builder and Reef Advantage Calcium (powder form).  James (Salty Dog)> As always thanks for your help.<You're welcome.> Garrett Hoskins

Ph / Co2   03/07/06 Good day crew. <And to you Mark.> In starting my question I would like to thank you for such a wealth of info. <You're welcome.> My question/concern is in regard to Ph in my system. I am currently seeing only about a .1 PH drop over night. <Nothing wrong with that.> I have a refugium with Chaeto which runs on a reverse cycle. <Which is why you are not seeing much of a ph drop.> Which I am assuming is keeping the drop this low. My lights on Ph is running around 8.05 and will drop to around 7.95 over night. I have found what I believe is the problem. After taking a glass of tank water outside for a couple of hours the Ph rises to around 8.2. I am using baked baking soda as a buffer. My alk is 10.5 and my ca is 420. I am thinking that Co2 in my house air is the culprit. <Unlikely unless you have about 20 people living there.> My plan is to run the air  line to my skimmer outside and to also run an airline to a MaxiJet powerhead to aerate my Make up and water change H20. Ph is measured via a Pinpoint monitor.  My target is 8.25. Just wanted to hear your thoughts on my plan. <Best to aerate the new water 24 hours before adding salt, this will ensure all CO2 is removed.  The pH problem you are experiencing is very minor to say the least. Thank you in advance <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Mark

Big pH drop in quarantine tank ... forgetting Arm/and Hammer - 02/16/2006 Hi guys, I have returned to the saltwater arena after a two year absence.   Had a 125 gallon for about 3 years previously.  I have two tanks.  The main tank is a new 125 gallon which has been cycled with 90 lbs of live rock for about 5 weeks.  It has no fish. Parameters: temp- 80 F, Nitrates 10 ppm, Nitrites 0, pH 8.2, ammonia 0. Quarantine tank has been running for 24 hours before the fish was placed and a sponge and filter that was in my main tank for 2 days was placed in it.  QT has a Whisper power filter rated for 20 gallon tanks. QT Parameters: temp 80, Nitrates 10 ppm, Nitrites 0, pH 8.0, ammonia 0. The QT tank was filled with half fresh saltwater that had been aged for 2-3 days and half water from my main tank. I  have a 4 inch volitans lionfish in a 20 long quarantine tank for the 2nd day today.  I acclimated her yesterday and she did fine overnight.  I did not feed her.  I fed 3 tiny feeder shrimp today which she ate well. I will train her to take non live marine foods  ASAP. Attempted some frozen krill first but she spit it out.  I quickly removed the uneaten krill. After she ate the feeder shrimp I did a 20 percent water change with fresh same aged fresh saltwater. About three hours later when I looked in the tank she was gasping and very pale and lethargic. I then quickly checked the pH in the QT and it was about 7.6.  I then did a 4O percent water change using water from my main tank and almost immediately her color improved and went back to normal and respirations slowed and she became more active. <Good observations, relating> I have now added an airstone and turned out the lights and she looks better.  I will probably not feed again for a day or two.  Should I change the water again tomorrow using water from my main tank only and if so how much do you think I should change. Any other suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated.   Thanks, Brian <I would continue as you state with one change. Using simple baking soda to bolster (increase) your alkalinity. Sodium bicarbonate is safe to maintain pH longer... in this setting, though one could avail themselves of using a commercial buffering product (which are largely... baking soda). Bob Fenner>

High pH in seahorse tanks?!   2/9/06 Hello WWM crew:)  I have a concern that I would like to run by you.  Though I have never really had a problem of this nature in the past, it seems as though my luck has run out.  I recently tested the pH of my three dwarf seahorse tanks, and the results were completely different for each of the three tanks- 8.2, 8.4 and 8.7.  I know the first two values are acceptable, but the 8.7 is concerning me, especially since it is a juvenile tank.  I have not seen any ill effects as of yet, but I know that value is well beyond the normal range these animals are accustomed to.  Any ideas as to what I can look into? <... what is different about this last system? Substrate, use of ozone, UV?... water treatments?> I tested the KH for all three, and all of the tanks tested between 9-10 dKH, so I know this is not being caused by excessive alkalinity.  I have not added any calcium or other mineral supplements at all as well...so I am a bit baffled.  I would not say there is an excess of photosynthetic activity either, and I am not overly aerating the tanks.  Any ideas? Thanks again,   D Conners <Mmm, I would not be overly concerned here... there is a good deal of physiological adaptation (esp. over time) re pH and most marine fish groups... Bob Fenner>

High pH   2/8/06 Bob <James today> I have come across the WetWebMedia website and find it extremely useful in helping me maintain my marine tank, <Good to hear.> however recently I have had enormous problems with my tank, I have a PH spike with a reading of 9.6. With the result of the high PH I have lost all my fish except for one blue devil damsel who seems to be doing fine.  Is there a way in which I can lower my PH and how do I go about doing it, I am unaware as to what is causing this PH spike. <Very unusual to get a ph reading that high.  Have you confirmed with a different test kit?  What is the dKH and salinity reading of your water?  One way to lower the ph is  dosing Sea Chem's Acid Buffer. This is a freshwater product so it won't be found in the marine section of your LFS.  DO NOT follow the dosing instructions on the bottle, use half that amount and no more than one dose per day and monitoring ph levels daily.> Could you please assist. Many thanks <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Mohammed
Re: High PH
Bob <James again> Thank you for your feed back, my salinity of my water is 1.023 and alkalinity reading is 23, which is very high, <Is this 23 dKH? Yeow.> I have not tested with a different kit but that shall be my next option I shall also try the Sea Chem acid buffer. <Just remember not to full dose. We don't want that ph coming down more than .2 per day. James (Salty Dog)> Mohammed

Low pH  02-05-06 Hi there. Congrats, very helpful site. <Thank you.> Quick question. I just set up a  24x16x16 nano with a 3 inches sandbed (half aragonite, half crushed coral) and 28 lbs of cured live rock. I plugged a Prizm skimmer (seems not to be quite effective, not too much skimmate, very pale),<Tank is too new to realize much skimmate.> AquaClear 50 with Coralife carbon, and three 150 gal/h powerheads. Light fixture with three t5 30 watts-each bulbs, two 10 000 k whites and one blue actinic. So far I'm just turning on the blue one four hours a day. It's been two weeks  since then. Ammonia=0, nitrites=0, nitrates=20, alk=10, calcium=420, pH=8. I tested pH with 2 different kits from different manufacturer and both of them read 8. I've been using  C-Balance from "two little fishies", once full cap of each bottle once a week. Is this pH reading low or is it ok??? Should I try to raise it??? If so, I got "Seachem Marine buffer" from a friend, could I use this product? How often?... <Ph not dangerously low at all.  Pretty typical in new set ups.  If your dKH is 10, why would you want to add buffer?  Concentrate on 10% weekly water changes along with vacuuming the substrate while doing.  Do search our site, keywords, ph/alkalinity and learn more here.> p.s. Overall, is it a good set up? <Sounds good.> I think I'm on time to make any necessary fixes. Thanks a lot, and greetings from Guadalajara, Mexico. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

Low stable pH good?   2/3/06 First, thanks for an excellent site with a great knowledge repository. <Thank you.>  I have been reading through the questions related to pH and I am sure there has been an answer to my question(s) so I apologize for any redundancy. Here is a little info on the tank, 90g with 30g refugium with venturi skimmer, mixed reef but slowing converting to SPS only. The tank is 1.3 years old. The pH is consistently 7.8 to 8.0 regardless of am or pm according to the liquid test kit I use, temp 76-78, alk 4.5 meg/l, magnesium 1450, nitrate 15, calcium 460, <I'd keep this around 400.> salinity 1.023 (swing arm). I do 15% weekly water changes. <Good> I do not see anything negative in the tank that leads to believe that my parameters are off, good coral growth, very minimal algae growth on glass. However, from what I have read it seems to indicate pH of 8.3 is ideal.  As with most reefers I am seeking perfection and the optimal reef which is what keeps me passionate about the hobby, so do I need to worry about adjusting pH or changing other parameters?  Also, my nitrates never fluctuate, but I have never been able to get it below 15.  Any advice would be appreciated. <Let's deal with the ph first.  You are not dangerously low so no need to worry here.  What will help get your ph up is aerating  your water change water  24 hours before you add the salt.  This will insure all carbon dioxide is removed, one of the causes of low ph.  Overfeeding, filter pads not being changed/cleaned on a weekly basis is another negative along with overstocking a tank.  Vacuuming the substrate during water changes will also aid in raising the ph.  In a nutshell, the more organics you can remove from the system, the better off you will be in regards to both ph and nitrate levels.  Do search our site for topics on nutrient control and nitrates for more information.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks

Praise for you and High pH   2/1/06 Hi Guys, <Howdy> I have a 200 litre corner tank with a 40 litre Miracle Mud/Caulerpa/Chaetomorpha sump. Set-up is as follows; Sump Turnover: 1700 Lph pump and LifeReef overflow box Tank Turnover:4 MaxiJet 900 powerheads. 50 kg live rock 65w actinic PC 65w daylight PC 150w Metal halide The system is setup for two months now with 10 hermits 15 Trochus snails and one serpent star, all doing well and I have no plans to introduce fish for another month or two. Parameters are as follows: Temp:  77-79F salinity: 52ppt American Marine Meter pH:  see below Calcium: 400 dKH:  11 Ammonia: 0 Nitrite: 0 Nitrate: 0-2.5 Phosphate: 0-0.3 Weekly 5% water change with IO salt and RO water all aerated and aged. I add 1/4 teaspoon Kent Turbo calcium and 5ml Reef Solution per week. At the moment I feed the tank a small piece of homemade food (a la Fenner and TCMA) which is taken greedily by the starfish and crabs but I suspect is behind the nitrates and Phosphates which had settled at 0. I dose Kalkwasser via automatic top up and a Ratz reactor. Under normal circumstances pH is from 8.43 in the morning to 8.57 at full lights on.  I add Kalk to the reactor weekly or when I see the morning pH drop into the  8.3s My question- sometimes my pH rises as high as 8.7.  I can see no obvious reason for this, perhaps excessive evaporation? <Mmm, no. Tis the Kalk, reactor...>   Should I worry about this, try and manipulate it or just leave what appears to be well enough, alone? <I would do the latter... nothing> I think the tank is close to a point where all is well, stable parameters, tons of life, no algae, and coralline algae growth taking off, and all in no small part to you guys and WWM.  Thanks, and if you were ever looking for someone to contribute to the site on sumps, overflows etc., talk to Jeff at LifeReef, a font of knowledge and really obliging. regards, David <No worries re the pH here. In time you will see/find this drifting lower. Bob Fenner>

High pH   1/26/06 Good Afternoon all, <Good morning Dave.> I currently monitor my PH with a PH monitor and have had consistently high readings. 8.45 -8.57 late in the day and 8.4 in the morning hours. <Not really that high.>I run a refugium on reverse lighting cycle and have tested the PH probe several times. I have had C02 problems in the past and have temporarily stopped using a calc reactor for the last seven months and use a two part calcium\buffer. I do water changes every three weeks. My question is what are some potential causes of excessive high PH? As always thank you for your time. <Dave, I'm assuming you have a good macro algae growth in the refugium.  Plants utilize carbon dioxide and eventually the bicarbonate ions during photosynthesis and give off oxygen.  If your tank has poor buffering and excessive plant life, the ph level, during the photo period, can rise.  The slight increase in ph is caused by carbon dioxide below atmospheric equilibrium levels.  With lights out, the carbon dioxide will rise thus lowering the ph slightly.  I'm thinking you must keep your tank pretty clean since average levels of dissolved organics will lead to a lowering of ph.  James (Salty Dog)> Dave M.

Seachem marine buffer 8.3 and Kent nano reef  01/01/2006 Hi, first of all happy new year to you all :D <And to you>      I've been running my tank for quite a while now and my pH seems to be fluctuating between 7.8 to about 8.0.   I believe it seems a bit on the low side and was wondering if adding Seachem marine buffer 8.3, i.e. the one that says will maintain pH at 8.3  would be any good to my system. At the moment I'm not adding any additives, just salt water  only.   I was hoping to raise the pH to 8.2 or 8.3. My alkalinity at the moment is around 8dKH and I hope adding SeaChem's marine buffer won't over dose it to ultra high dKH. <I like Sea Chem's Reef Builder, will increase dKH gradually.>      Also a side question.  I want to eventually keep LPSs, I understand they use calcium. My calcium is around 370 ppm at the moment and was wondering if the Kent nano reef 2 part do well if I also use SeaChem marine buffer at the same time ? Would the SeaChem buffer or the part B Kent nano reef be affected by each other in terms of alkalinity etc...as I do not want to get silly high dKH. Yet keep my calcium around 430-450.  <Personally I don't like the Part A/B additives.  Your best bet would be Sea Chem's Reef Builder and Reef Calcium (both in the dry formula)>.      Everything else is fine in my 20 gallon tank :D only got a single zoo polyp (there's an old anemone next to it that's disturbing it slightly though and I can't get it away from my zoo :(   - came with my live rock) and a mushroom rock. Thanks for everything and good health to you all for the new year :D <Thank you.  James (Salty Dog)> Ern
Re: Seachem marine buffer 8.3 and Kent nano reef  - 1/6/06
Hi again, sorry to trouble you again. <Not a problem>      I have dosed SeaChem's Marine buffer 8.3 and my water parameters which are relevant are at dKH of 11 I believe. I was using Nutrafin's KH/GH test kit and KH was determined at 210, which I divided by 17.9 to obtain the dKH value. <OK>      My water pH is at 7.90 this morning, I believe it is still a bit on the low side though I do not want to buffer the water any further as that may lead to over buffering with little effect on my pH. <Yes, your dKH is OK.  The ph isn't dangerously low.>      My aim is to get morning pH to 8.2 or 8.3 however I am unable to achieve this and do not know how to solve the problem. I tried the aerated water test, by getting a cup of water from the tank and aerating it outside in my garden for 5 minutes, stirring it vigorously. I manage to obtain a pH rise of 0.05, i.e. my reading was 7.95.      Does that mean my CO2 level is causing my low pH in my tank or could it be other reasons ? I have only 2 clown fish and a mushroom rock together with 22 lbs of live rock, a Prizm skimmer by red sea and a SEIO 820 pump for flow and MH lighting all in a 20 gallon tank. <I always recommend aerating make up water and water used for water changes for 24 hours to remove excess CO2.  And yes, CO2 will lower your ph along with any other acidic conditions that exist in your tank such as uneaten food, detritus in the sand bed/substrate etc.  Do you vacuum the substrate during water changes?>      Please advise. I'll be trying to test my newly made salt water in a few days when I do a water change to see if it is the salt mix. apart from that, would there be any way on such a small tank to increase pH to 8.2 / 8.3 safely without increasing KH further. <Ernest, unlike salinity, heat and nitrogen levels where the more you add the more you have, you cannot add ph, its not a substance, it is a measurement scale of the hydrogen ion level in water which indicates the acidity conditions.  Keeping nitrate levels low, weekly water changes, vacuuming the substrate and a careful feeding routine all contribute to reducing acidic conditions that cause low ph.  Do monitor dKH at least on a weekly basis.  Another point is to clean your skimmer cup weekly.  I use the same skimmer on my 30 mini reef and it is amazing how much gunk gets collected in the riser tube in this short time.  In not doing so greatly reduces the effectiveness of the skimmer.>    Thanks, you crew are always helpful and I very much appreciate your help. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Ern

pH and alkalinity Hello again. <Hello Stephan> Thanks again with all the previous advice you have so generously given. <You're welcome.  I only wish you would have replied with the original query relating to this as to refresh my memory as to what was said.> My question today is regarding Calcium, pH and Alkalinity. I have a 175 gal. reef  with a 4" sugar size sand bed and 200 lbs of live rocks. I also have two refugiums. The upstream is 45 gal. with Chaeto and no sand at this time. the other is a 50 gal downstream with a 4" seafloor sand bed and live rock without lights. Including the sump this amounts to about 300 gal. The system has been running for now almost a month and testing show consistent with a PH: 8.0 Calcium: 400 and Alk:6.2. PH and Alk seem low. <Ph not bad, alk a little low.  8-12dkh is what I'd strive for.> I have been having a hard time raising the pH to 8.3  and alk above 7. I am using R.O. DI water for salt mix and evaporation. <Do you aerate the RO/DI water 24 hours before mixing in the salt.  Need to get rid of any CO2 that may be present.> The pH for the R.O is a 7.6 which I buffer to bring it up to 8.6. Some of this R.O water is used every day to replace evaporation water. So the buffered fresh water is now mixed with incoming low pH water thru the float valve. I don't know what to do except adding buffer on a daily basis which seems extreme in my opinion. How do I keep the water buffered in the R.O reservoir? <???By using buffer.  I'd mix the buffer in a separate container till dissolved before adding to the reservoir.> Also In my mixing reservoir I get this white chalky residue on the bottom and walls. <Do not add any buffer to this reservoir until the salt is completely mixed.  Again, do aerate the water 24 hours before adding salt and do mix buffers in a separate container before adding. I use a one quart milk jug, cap and shake well. Something is going on in your process causing precipitation of buffers/calcium already present in the salt mix.  James (Salty Dog)> Stephan Gaudreau <Any tie-ins with the Wallendas?:)> Trapeze Arts, Inc.
Re: ph and alkalinity  1/16/06
Thank you for your quick response. Even on the week end, wow! <You're welcome> Yes, my RO is agitated or aerated with a Mag drive 3, 24/7. Is it OK to have this pump intake and return submerged? <??The intake has to be submerged.  The return should break the waters surface for proper air exchange.> The R.O. water enters a 20 gal. reservoir and filled until the float valve shuts off. To that reservoir an automated pump takes water out of the sump when the level drops 1".Should I worry about the new low pH water entering the reservoir and buffer it? <I wouldn't be too concerned with it.  The top off water is going to be a very low percentage of the total volume.  Do monitor ph/alk in the display and buffer when necessary.> I do not know at this time how much evaporation I get each day in the system but my guess is 5 gal/day. <Seems like a lot for a 175 gallon tank.> Can I rely on both DSBs to buffer the tanks. <It will help some.> For water exchange regimen I empty the 20 gal. reservoir into a similar reservoir. Then I put in the salt mix and mix it with a Mag 7 for three days until I exchange it with the same amount from the sump. I do this two times a week which amounts to about 15% a week. Is this good? <Ten percent would be sufficient, and yes it's good to do weekly water changes.> At this time I have not much of  bioload except hermits and snails. I feed a home made sea food blend <Be careful on overfeeding as this can/will lead to lower ph.> every other day to help with the pods population. I would like to add some kind animal. What do you suggest? Brittle star? sand sifting goby? Feather duster? I know this might be too soon <With a one month old tank there isn't going to be much of a food supply for brittle stars without supplemental feedings.> but I would like my first coral to be Ricordea  Florida. When should I add one of these. <You could add it now keeping in mind proper lighting requirements for these inverts.> One last question. In the refugium with live rocks and  DSB  do I need sand sifters and what should they be?  <A sand sifting starfish works well but wouldn't add this until your system gets some age to it.> In the Chaeto refuge do I need a DSB? <Not necessary,  1 1/2 inches works well giving you something to anchor the Chaeto down with. Do read about DSB's and refugiums on the Wet Web Media.  Loads of info here to help you.> Thank you so much for everything. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Stephan

Salt Water pH  1/1/06 My pH is running 8.8 after adding a buffer last night.  All the info I  find tells me how to raise the PH, but nothing about lowering it.  Is 8.8  safe?   Or should I try a water change? <I believe you will see it gradually lowering within a few days.  You can lower ph by using SeaChem's Acid Buffer (freshwater), but only half dose.  Your pH isn't dangerously high so I'd leave well enough alone.> Thanks! <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

Falling pH  12/24/05 Hopefully this is the right forum to ask this. I have a new 75g tank - cycled for 2 weeks w/ no fish.  1 partial (25%) water change before adding fish.  I added 4 damsels and 4 Redleg hermits (I was already getting algae).  It is now 2 weeks later and I am having a problem with the ph falling.  I have done 1 25% water change, which helped, but the ph is falling again to 7.6. I have 1 1/2" of crushed coral on the bottom and DIY base rock that I cycled for 4 months.  <what salt mixture are you using? I would read over the faq's on the wetwebmedia.com website on pH buffer... You need to use a pH buffer to get the pH to 8.2 to 8.4. I would use a good salt mixture. such as instant ocean, etc. good luck, IanB.> Any suggestions??? Thanks! Dan

pH Woes  12/15/05 Hello Crew, <Michael> Once again I find my self seeking your guidance.  Your site is invaluable to us amateurs.  Thanks for all of your work.  First let me assure you that I have been searching the FAQ's for the answer but I cannot find an exact fit.  I have a recently established 210 gallon reef tank with an 85 gallon sump.  Circulation is as follows, return pump Iwaki 100 RLT t'd to two returns, three closed loop systems cycle on/off randomly every 7-10 minutes powered by 3- Gen X 40 pumps. Skimmer is an MRC MR-3 powered by a Gen PCX-55. Lighting on the tank is 3 250 MH's and I am in the process of adding two 6ft super actinic VHO's ( as soon as the canopy is back from the wood shop). <For looks I'll presume>   Make up water is all run through a 100 GPD RO/DI system - TDS meter shows 90 ppm on incoming, 0 ppm on outgoing. <Good> Make up water contains Fiji gold in it -settled to the bottom.  Water change routine is accumulate 30 gallons of RO/DI water, put in a submersible pump for 24 hours and bring the water to temp, mix in salt and let it circulate for another 24 hours.   Tank contains approx 200 lbs of live rock (88 Pukani, 88 Kaelini and 40 Fiji premium), 80lbs Fiji live sand (approx. 2 inches deep) and I have added Aragonite fine sand as well as some Crushed coral to increase the depth to one quarter of the tank and plan to continue until I have approx 5"DSB - one quarter at a time over a decent period.   After approx 2.5 weeks, the tank cycled and Ammonia and Nitrite 0, Nitrate approx. 60 so I started the next phase adding 11 small green Chromis.  Small bloom of diatoms ensued and after about two weeks I added an assortment clean up crew of approx 70 hermits and snails who cleaned up the tank nicely. There are two sand sifting starfish in there but I have discovered that they should be removed as they will eliminate the fauna population rather quickly. <Yes>    I also added two percula clowns, a yellow tang, two Anthias and one wrasse all of which went through a 5 week quarantine. <Good> Water parameters: Temp fluctuates between 77.3 and 77.6, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, nitrate 30, calcium 390, ORP 300, DKH 10, PH was running at 8.3 to 8.33, however over the last week I have noticed the pH escalating and the daily swings getting larger - with today being the worst - 8.37 at 6:00 am lights on and 8.51 at 2:00 pm lights off. <Mmm, not a problem... this shift/range is induced at this stage by your lighting, mix of photosynthates/algae... alkaline reserve will be nicked away in a short while on its own> I do not have hair algae although I have noticed that the rock is obtaining a green tinge almost as if you spotted it with a pale green magic marker. I am sure that being a novice is the problem and I am bit stumped since I know low PH is the norm.  I was going to shorten the photo period to soften the swings - good idea? Any other suggestions/sources of the problem?  Thank you very much for your time.       Michael <I would not be concerned with the data you present, your set-up... All appears to be about right, and will be self-correcting... Aging captive aquatic systems are "reductive" (as in RedOx)... go acidic... Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Question regarding symptoms of low pH  12/2/05 Hey guys. Happy Holidays!  <And to you Bryan>  I have a 30 gallon tank that had a nitrate/nitrite disaster several weeks ago because the biological filter was not established, and I lost all my fish. After running the tank for two weeks the biological cycle stabilized and nitrate, nitrite, ammonia, pH, salinity were all fine.  <Two weeks is not enough time>  3 days ago I bought 2 small false percula clowns, 2 small damsels and a small yellow tang (I know...the fish are incompatible...sorry!). <Too many fish to add at once to a 30 gallon tank.>  The fish all seemed to do fine the first 12 hours, but then they all started breathing very rapidly and scratching  <The scratching hints at a parasitic disease.>  against the sand and decor. Both clownfish died. I checked all the levels and they were all fine. I was very worried about losing the tang and 2 damsels so I brought a water sample to my local pet store. The guy there, when he heard the symptom "rapid breathing" immediately said that either I had bad aeration or low pH.  <<I wonder how he can narrow it down so quickly considering the host of maladies that cause this symptom.  Marina>> I knew my aeration was not a problem since I have high water tension and lots of bubbles. So he checked the pH of my water and it was 7.9-8.0. This was so strange to me because I had checked the pH with my test kit at home and I got 8.3. It's unbelievable that my test kit was inaccurate! Well, I bought another one, and when I went home, yes, my pH was low.  <7.9/8.0 is not dangerously low. My system rarely exceeds 8.1. Inexpensive test kits are not dead on accurate, but close enough for our needs.> But still, I am confused. I have never read anything that low pH causes rapid breathing.  <I never heard of it either. There probably are other problems involved along with the low ph that would cause rapid breathing.>  <<Me, three.  Marina>> I have only seen info that parasites such as ich causes rapid breathing. Please confirm yes or no: can low pH indeed cause rapid breathing and scratching?  <In that regard alone, very unlikely.>  I have a suspicion that the pet store expert has incorrectly correlated the rapid breathing symptom with low pH.  <All pet shop owners are not necessarily "experts".>  <<I bet he calls himself an expert, watch out for that type of over-confidence, and do rely on checking up via other sources.  Marina>> Yes, I did have low pH, but perhaps there is still another mystery culprit? There are no visible symptoms of parasites so I have very little to work on.  <You generally don't see the signs until the cells of the parasite start to multiply just before bursting into many more parasites looking for a host.> At the current time I am slowly raising pH.  <<OH GOD DON'T DO THIS!!!  When and how are we going to get people to stop mucking around with this parameter when it isn't necessary?  Marina>> Hopefully the rest of the fish will make it, but they are still breathing very fast. If low pH is not a possible cause of fast breathing, please let me know so that I can continue my investigation. What are other possible causes of fast breathing and scratching besides parasites?  <Could be a chemical compound in the water such as over-spray from Windex etc. Here is a link to our site with FAQ's on the subject. http://www.google.com/custom?q=rapid+breathing&sa=Google+Search&sitesearch=wetwebmedia.com > Thank you very much for reading my long-winded question.  <You're welcome>  I really do appreciate your help because I know you guys are very knowledgeable and I can depend on your answers. THANK YOU!  <James (Salty Dog)> 

Low pH and dKH in a Reef Tank  12/2/05 Hello and thank you for your wonderful site! <Hello and thank you.> I have a 4-month old 40 gallon saltwater tank (live rock), with recently-added corals (star polyps, red mushrooms positioned rather close to star polyps, <How close? At least a few inches I hope.> button polyps, yellow scroll coral, xenia). Also present are 2 Firefish, 5 Chromis, 2 cone snails, a bubble Brittlestar, 2 peppermint shrimp, and a few snails and hermits. There has been a lot of brown algae, possibly diatoms according to LFS, plaguing my tank from the beginning. <Quite common in new tanks for diatoms to emerge due to the presence of excess nutrients. Water flow and Water changes are your friend.> Suddenly, 3 days ago, the brown algae disappeared: the water is crystal clear and the sand is becoming white again. At exactly the same time, the xenia crunched down and stopped pulsing <This is due to your low pH, xenias tend to pulse on the higher side in my experience, 8.3 to 8.4.> and the star polyp retracted completely. <Possibly also some issues with the pH. Star Polyps are also sensitive to algae growing on top of them so for this reason they appreciate healthy water flow.> I should tell you that this was about 4 days after adding the xenia, yellow scroll, and red mushrooms. My question is this: is the sudden water clarity a good thing or a harbinger of trouble; <Well clean, relatively nutrient free water is the way you will find it to be on a natural reef.> if good, is this what's caused the star polyp and xenia to retract, and they will recover over time? <Possibly I would slowly buffer your pH to an acceptable range (I like the 8.2 to 8.4 area) and keep it stable. Also the dKH is also a bit low 7-12 is the best in my experience.> Here are measurements just after everything changed: temperature 76-80 F salinity 1.022 <Acceptable, though also a little low for a reef tank.> nitrate 0 phosphate 0 pH 7.8-7.9 dKH 6.4 <Both are a bit low as mentioned above.> Calcium 475 ppm Noting low pH and dKH, I started adding a bit of B-Ionic Part 1 (alkalinity solution). Now the pH is 8.2, and dKH is 8.0, <That's better but I hope you did not raise it to quickly, also you need to find out why it dropped so low to begin with so that you can keep it from happening again.> but the star polyp is still hiding and the xenia are kind of compressed looking (though they occasionally pulse a tentacle weakly). Have you experienced this sort of thing? <I would give them time now, and don't move them around. These are sensitive creatures. Though the star polyps are highly adaptable and my guess would be that they will eventually thrive. The Xenia is notably "less-tough" to such changes.> Will the star polyp adapt? <Should see my above comments about algae and water flow.> Should I take out the red mushrooms, having learned from your site that they are stingers -- they're quite close to the star polyps. <If they are touching each other, yes they need to be moved.> Many thanks!! <Welcome, Adam J.> 

- New tank, low pH, High Alkalinity - 11/30/05 I wish I had found The Conscientious Marine Aquarist, The New Marine Aquarium, and this web site before I pursued a saltwater tank. Six months ago, my wife purchased a used 54-gallon FOWLR corner marine aquarium for my birthday - something I've wanted since before we were married 11 years ago. It has consumed much of my disposable income, given me hours of enjoyment,  <I understand entirely> and now has the following equipment (some of which came with the setup): a) Magnum external canister filter b) Three power-heads (two with rotating heads) c) one small HOB refugium (opposite light-dark cycle w/ Chaetomorpha) d) 1/4 hp chiller unit (I could not keep the temp below 88-degrees Fahrenheit without one) e) One Penn-Plax Cascade 600 internal filter f) Approx 75 lbs of live rock g) Approx 1-inch crushed aragonite bottom h) Excalibur HV-1 HOB skimmer I change 6 gallons of water each Sunday with RO/DI pre-mixed saltwater purchased from my local fish store, except when I change the filter material. On those days (about every six weeks), I change 12 gallons of water in the event I release too many nitrates. The water is aerated for one week prior to these changes. <Good> Salinity is 1.0235, and the temperature is between 77 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit. My water specifications (based upon test kits from Aquarium Pharmaceuticals): pH - between 7.6 and 7.8 (also verified by the local fish store and a Hagen test kit) NH3 - 0 ppm NO3 - 0 ppm NO4 - 0 ppm Based upon Salifert test kits, the following specifications apply: dKH - 9.2 Ca - 430 <How do you measure salinity? If it is with a swing-arm hydrometer, it could be inaccurate (mine read specific gravity .006 too low). I would verify your salinity, and then gradually bring it up to natural marine levels (1.026 - 1.027). You may find the higher salinity will help you support a higher pH.> I realize the calcium is a little high. <No, this level is fine> I previously used the FasTest calcium test, which indicated the level between 380 and 420 ppm. When it was empty, I switched to Salifert and the calcium read 500 ppm. The fish store verified this reading, and it's been slowly falling for about 6 weeks. I have not added buffer for two months, since all it did was raise alkalinity (it was once over 14 dKH), but did not affect my pH.  <That's what buffer does> In reality, I don't believe I ever got more than 7.8 pH. I was advised by the fish store to allow the alkalinity to fall a little more before adding buffer. I used a powdered-buffer, but now have the two-step liquid solutions available. I test the pH in the morning and at night, but do not find much of a difference between the readings. <It is very painful testing pH with liquid reagents... I would recommend a (cheap) electronic pH meter> I also have Chaetomorpha in the main tank, green microalgae growing on the glass (which I clean every 2 - 3 weeks), and coralline/green microalgae growing on the rocks/powerheads. My fish (3 yellow Chromis, 2 blue Chromis, two clowns, and one flame angel), 3 peppermint shrimp (which helped, with Joe's Juice, to get ride some Aiptasia), hermit crabs, and snails, all appear to be doing well.  <Good> Should I be concerned about the low pH, or allow the alkalinity to drop and increase the pH with a buffering agent? <If everything is OK, I would not loose too much sleep, but it would be nice to bring it up to more "normal" levels, certainly. I would not allow the alkalinity to drop much further> I don't really know how else I can get the water into closer balance. I must admit I do not test the new water prior to its change, but again hesitate to add more buffering agents. <Sam, with only fish in the tank, there are no immediate worries here, but there are a few things you could try. First of all, I would execute a series of larger water changes to see if that brings the pH into check. I would recommend testing the alkalinity and pH of your store-bought water to ensure its efficacy. Larger regular water changes will likely also be beneficial -- I try to change 15-20% weekly on my 55 gallon. I would also undertake to either clean the canister filter and hang-on filter more regularly (weekly or twice weekly), or remove them altogether (and let your live rock and skimmer do the work) if this is unmanageable. Without corals in the tank, calcium and alkalinity are not critical, but I prefer to maintain alkalinity around or above 10 dKH to make conditions less favourable to nuisance algaes. If you live in a modern/well-insulated house, make sure the room your tank is in is well ventilated.> Thank you for your help and this great website.  Sam <Good luck! And let me know if none of these approaches work. John> 

pH follow-up - 11/30/05 Thank you for your guidance.  <My pleasure> I'll send you a follow-up in a few weeks with the results. I purchased 10 gallons of RO saltwater yesterday (29 NOV 2005), and will make my change this Sunday after I complete the aeration. <Keep us posted> Just a quick question - are the liquid pH tests reliable? I have an electronic pH meter, but it may be too cheap, as it gave me varied readings even after setting it to 7.01 with the buffering agent. <I prefer the electronic meters as I find the colours for the liquid tests too subjective. Most pH probe/op-amp arrangements should be accurate to within at least .05 units. Best regards, John> Sincerely yours, Sam in Virginia Beach, VA 

Follow-up (new tank, low pH) - 12/20/05 Thank you for your help last month with my alkalinity and pH problems.   <You're welcome!> I increased my water changes to about 9 gallons a week, and tested the replacement water.  It had a good pH (8.3 - 8.4), but low alkalinity (around 6 dKH).  I started to bring my replacement water's alkalinity up to "normal" before aeration, then testing it prior to pouring it in the tank.   My pH now runs at about 8.2 with a dKH of 11 and calcium at 450.   <Sounds good... I wouldn't let your alkalinity get much higher> I'm watching the calcium, as that level obtained from the fish store seems to run a little high.  However, at least I don't need to worry about paying for supplements.  The fish are doing well.  One blue Chromis died (reason unknown - it seemed okay the previous night), but my new neon goby seems to be doing fine.  I'll use the money saved for a better skimmer. <Good idea. Did you ever test your salinity with a refractometer, and try to bring it up to natural sea levels (1.026)? Best regards, John>

Depressed pH? - 11/29/05 Hello again, <Hello Aaron. John here.> I've been trying to read up on all the information you make available to us, it's difficult not to feel inundated, and perhaps a bit dense, I apologize for constantly asking questions,  <No worries>  and thank you so much for all the wonderful information. I've written many times before, but I'll include my technical spec.s just the same, again thank you. I have a 180 gallon reef setup, 40 gallon refugium, 20 gallon LifeReef sump and skimmer, 2x400 watt 15k metal halides 1x250 20k HQI, 2x140 watt VHO super actinics. Over the refugium I have a 150 watt HQI and 2x65 watt PC actinics. <I assume you are or have looked into lighting your refugium on a reverse photoperiod?> 2 little giant pumps, one for the skimmer, one goes to a manifold that is in turned tee'd between 2 returns and the chemical filtration chambers. Additional circulation is provided by 4 Tunze 6000's and a multi-controller. I run 2.5 cups of carbon changed weekly and utilize a phosphate reductor with RowaPhos continuously. I use a Korallin Calcium reactor, the small one, and a Tunze Osmolator coupled with a calcium dispenser/Nielsen reactor. There's a total of about 300 lbs of Tonga live rock, 250 lbs of live aragonite sand over a plenum. It's a mixed reef, with mostly stony corals. SG is 1.024, Ammonia is 0 Nitrite 0 Nitrate is less that 1 ppm? don't know pink is pink!  <Excellent> I use an Aquacontroller to monitor pH, temp and ORP. PH is running a bit flat, 8.0 to 8.2, morning and evening respectively, ORP is 410 to 397, morning and evening respectively, I don't use ozone.  <Sounds very healthy> Alk hangs at around 8 dKH. I do not detect phosphates, not sure if that is accurate. Calcium hangs at 410. I do 30 gallon water changes weekly. I have decent stony coral growth, depending on the species, I've crashed a few wild colonies, and learned not to purchase them- albeit a bit late, my aquacultured specimens do very well. I keep reading that my PH is too low, and I spoke with a very nice gentleman at my local LFS store that said I really don't have anything to worry about. Is that true?  <Your pH is almost perfect. I would agree with your LFS. Additionally, if your corals are all doing fine and growing healthily, then you have nothing to worry about, do you?> I've read in Reefkeeping Magazine that while running a Calcium reactor, you may experience low pH.  <Yes> To counter this, or so I thought, I've been utilizing a Nilsen reactor. The gentleman at my LFS said that I should probably not use both, is this accurate?.  <No, they can both be utilized concurrently. A good way to counteract the depressed pH from the calcium reactor.> If I stop using the Calcium reactor, my Alkalinity drops, but only slightly, while my calcium goes up. If I stop using the Nielsen reactor, my alkalinity goes up, my calcium goes down, and my ph is slightly suppressed, but never goes below 8.0 in the morning before the lights come on. If I use the Nielson reactor during the day, my pH stays at around 8.3, but then drops at night back to 8.1 or so.  <as is normal. Very good parameters> If I only use the Nielsen reactor at night, my ph hovers at around 8.1-8.2 during a 24 hour period. Opening a window, and aerating the sump had no effect. I use the Nielsen reactor for top off water, which is becoming minimal during the winter- the tanks been running for 11 months, still new I know. So my question, thank you for bearing with me. 1) Should I allow evaporation during the day and use the Nielsen reactor at night only? <I wouldn't> 2) Should I take the Neilson reactor off, and just add buffered RO/DI water? <no reason to> 3) Is my current pH dangerous to stony corals? Should I try to raise it? <No... and as you said yourself, they are growing and doing fine.> 4) If I try to raise it, should I turn down/off the calcium reactor? Seems to be the only way. <If you're really concerned, you could try turning the CO2 input to the calcium reactor off at night. You may have to increase the throughput during the day to make up for it. Additionally, you could run the calcium reactor effluent into a turbulent area (such as your skimmer) to help off-gas the CO2.> 5) Should I raise my alkalinity in hopes that it will better buffer the solution, perhaps discontinue using Kalk altogether as the gentleman at the LFS stated, or perhaps a more mild solution/effluent. <I prefer to keep a slightly higher alkalinity, but again, if it ain't broke...> 6) Are the two devices, the calcium reactor and Nielsen reactor somehow working against each other? <It doesn't look like it. Do you get a lot of alk / calcium precipitating out of solution onto flat surfaces (powerheads, etc)?> I really don't want to change anything if I don't have to, and I'm pretty much just guessing as to what will happen if I remove one or the other, but I'm guessing removing the Nilsen reactor will cause my ph to remain pretty low, how then, is it possible to maintain the kinds of numbers that I see so often in marine aquaria, i.e.: Calcium 450ppm, 11dkh ph 8.3-8.4? Should I be shooting for these numbers?  I just don't see how, my Kalk solution has an Alkalinity of 8 dKH, ph is 12+ and calcium is off the scale. My calcium reactor effluent has an Alkalinity off the scale and Calcium off the scale, and yet if I use both, my Alk stays between 8-9.2 dKH, calcium stays at 410-420 and pH is always 8.0-8.26. My wife says I should just tape 100 dollar bills to the outside glass of the tank, it would be cheaper, and more of a conversation piece at this point.  <No, you should tape the bills to the outside of *my* tank :P> Any information you can provide would be greatly appreciated, I don't want to make any more mistakes than I already have, and I'm hesitant about changing anything when everything seems ok, but am I looking at problems in the long run? <Your system sounds very fine to me. I would not change anything. Best regards, John> Thanks and Sorry this is so long,  Aaron  

High Ph, lack of knowledge  11/9/05 Hi, I have read a bunch <Then why are you spelling pH Ph?> and still after adding baking soda to the water, the Ph in my 20 gallon marine tank is still high, like 8.79. <... why would you add sodium bicarbonate thinking it would lower pH?> I have an accurately calibrated digital unit. I have read that aeration can drive up Ph. I took notice to this because this all started right after I added a Berlin airlift skimmer to the tank. So seeing that is a temporary situation I am to leave it alone? <... no> Prior to reading this, I had done a 50% water change, and with baking soda had brought the tank down to 8.3, but over night it goes right back up. Is leaving it alone and not adding any other buffer matter going to be enough for it to come back down on its own? Tank has a 2" Coris and a 1/2" damsel. No live rock, fine powder like sand. Thanks, Dan. <You lack an understanding of what pH, alkalinity are... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm and the linked files above where you lead yourself... till you know what you're doing. Bob Fenner>

Re: High pH 11/1/05 Thanks for your quick response. I tried a different pH test kit, but the results were inconclusive. I had started using a new Nutrafin high range kit recently and compared it to my old Red Sea test. The old test read 8.2 today with the lights on and the Nutrafin test read 8.3 or so. Not bad in any case. I then bought a Nutrafin KH test kit and found that my carbonate hardness was low - about 80mg/l.  <Jeff, as I mentioned in the last email, KH isn't what we are looking for in a marine system. You need to get a marine alkalinity test kit. We need to know what your dKH/meq/l level is, not KH level.>  My calcium level checked out at 360 mg/l. Does this suggest anything?  <Calcium is a little low, but OK.>  I haven't done any buffering for several months and I have been adding only fresh water every week to top off my tank at the proper salinity levels. Many thanks again, Jeff. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>
Re: High pH - 11/6/05
I'm a little confused by the KH vs. dKH test. My kit is definitely a marine kit and the fish store says it is what they use to measure alkalinity. I read the manual more completely and it has a conversion table to mEq/L. If I take the 90 mg/L that the test reads today and use their conversion, the resulting number is 1.8 mEq/L. The fish store guy thought that 90 mg/L is the same as 9 dKH. Is either of these the proper scale? If not, I'm sorry for wasting your time and will buy another test kit.  < OK Jeff, lets forget the labeling confusion. 1.8meq/l = 5.04dkh. 90mg/l = 5.04dkh. To convert meq/l to dKH, multiply the meq/l reading by 2.8. Hope this helps you. Either way the dKH is too low. James (Salty Dog)> 
Re: High PH  11/8/05
OK, thanks. One more question before I stop beating this poor horse. I assume that I need to add buffer to raise the dKH, but won't that raise my pH (which has been too high)?  <Under normal conditions with ph at 8.0-8.3, the buffer shouldn't raise your pH. The buffer is like an alkalinity bank. If something in the tank is causing the water to go acidic (dead fish, detritus etc), then withdrawals must be made from the bank (such as my wife does) to keep the ph level up. When the alkalinity bank gets low (such as my bank account), then there isn't enough reserve to keep the ph in place. A good dKH level is 8-12 dKH. Much higher than that can cause calcium to precipitate. Hope this is clear for you. James (Salty Dog)> A million thanks!  <And a million you're welcomes> 
Re: High KH Low Ph 11/6/05
Salty Dog, <Yes> Thanks for the response. I did the water change. Inverts seem to be happy, but not the corals. I did a check of the calcium and I am 120 mg/l. I know that is low. I stopped dosing the ph, should I continue adding calcium (Tropic Marin Bio-Calcium)? Or wait two weeks on the calcium as well.  <I'd try to maintain around 400ppm calcium level. James (Salty Dog)> I appreciate all your help.  <You're welcome> 

Low pH and Excessive CO2, and excessive algal growth 10/25/05 Crew, Scott Z. from Reefland.com. here, hope all is going well! I have a question regarding low pH and excessive CO2 and their effects on nuisance algae (that is the growth of, not elimination of). I have seen reference's over the years that low pH and/or excessive CO2 can increase the growth of nuisance microalgae. I, however, have never seen any details regarding this. For example, if one's pH is terribly low (5 hours after lights on, pH is at 7.8) can this be the sole cause of nuisance algae growth absent any "alarming" NO3 or PO4? <Can be a significant contributing influence/factor> And obviously the algae is a consumer of CO2 but would excessive amounts be a sole contributor to an "outbreak"? <Not hardly ever, but yes... sometimes> My questions come from an outbreak that I had not long ago which occurred shortly after the addition of a CA Reactor. Nitrates and Phosphates are undetectable (likely from the algae consuming any traceable amounts that were present prior to the addition). Prior to the addition of the reactor and the following outbreak, PO4 was undetectable and nitrates were <10ppm. I have no vegetable filtration (which I know would help) so I increased frequencies of water changes to 10-15 gallons per week (in a 75-gallon) and although it has drastically helped the pests it has not totally eliminated it. Before I move to more drastic measures to finally rid the rest of it, I want to get past the thought that the reactor (and subsequent low pH and CO2) is a contributing factor.  Despite all my best efforts to increase the pH (nightly lows 7.6 to daytime highs of 8.0) with Kalk and additional aeration, and with the comments I have read, I can't get over that this may be part of, if not the major contributor of, the nuisance algae encountered. These included Bryopsis, Derbesia, Valonia and an unidentified brown wafer type algae. Thanks! Scott Z. <Likely these have become entrenched, are poisoning other photosynthetic life/activity, modifying the environment for their own ends... The best route would be to go with veg. filtration as you mention, a DSB, chemical filtrants... and biological controls. Bob Fenner> 

Low pH 10/21/05 Hi there, <<Hello - Ted here>> Thank you for all you help so far, this site has been fantastic - A real wealth of knowledge!! I was hoping someone could help me yet again with a pH problem. I am getting different answers from everyone including my LFS and I just don't know what's right.  Our 2 Perc Clowns and anemone have been in the tank now for two weeks. Our pH has been at 7.4 for one week now. Our LFS sold us Kent Marine PH Buffer, which we have been using but it's not working the pH is still at 7.4. We also took off the lid to the tank so the CO2 could escape better from the tank, but still didn't make a difference.  I went to a different LFS and I asked them if they had the KH test because I've read that can effect your pH and they told me I don't need it, and to just put crushed shells in the bottom of our tank to naturally raise the pH? Which would be better? Would Crushed shells do the job?  <<Mmm, maybe, but likely more to all this. RMF>> We have running along with our filter, also an undergravel filter a powerhead sucking up from underneath and blowing back out into the tank because one LFS told us that this undergravel filter and powerhead setup would be good for the tank, but after talking to a lot of other 'fish' people, they have told us that undergravel filter is bad for the marine tank. One LFS also said that the undergravel filter could be the cause of the low pH. We are moving soon so we will be reconstructing the tank at the new place.  Do you think we should use the undergravel filter again or just go with crushed shells or sand... or what? I know it would be hard for those giving advise, but I am starting to think there are a lot of people in the aquarium business that have absolutely NO IDEA!! So I need your professional help!!  So after all that, my questions are, how to raise the PH the best, do buffers really work because Kent Marine Brand doesn't and to go with the undergravel filter again or not?  <<Please search and read on WWM. Start with this article on pH http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm. Jump to "How to Shift, Maintain pH" at the end and then read the rest of the article. After reading that article, please read this article on system setup http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marineSetUp.htm. You don't need to use an UG filter but it's also possible to maintain a healthy system using one.>> Thank you in advance for the helpful info that I know you will provide. Cheers T&S <<You're welcome and good luck - Ted>>

Unstable pH 10/13/05 Hey Crew, I have searched your website for answers but have not had luck with finding a solution for my problem. My problem is with falling pH levels in my tank. The pH starts at 8.3 but within a day drops to 8.0 and after two or three days goes to 7.8 or so. <Mmm, a lack of alkalinity and/or some overwhelming reduction source/s> I perform 20-30% water changes (Oceanic salt)  <Oh! This salt mix brand is notoriously inconsistent, but generally lacks much in the way of alkaline reserve...> weekly with gravel vacuuming and have been using Seachem pH 8.3 Marine Buffer with tap water during each change. I still am seeing the same pH drop within a day of a water change. For now, I am using the Seachem buffer to keep the pH up to 8.3, but really need your advice on finding the root cause. <Among other things, the salt mix> I thought this may be due to overcrowding, but two LFSs' have told me that I have plenty of room to add more. Obviously I won't until I can figure this out. Here's my stats: 90 gallon FO (plan to seed my 60lbs Tufa rock to live rock) <The Tufa has little buffering capacity as well... you want carbonaceous rock and substrate... of more easily soluble make-up> with sump/bio balls <Also a source of reductive chemical behavior> Ammonia, Nitrites, Nitrates at 0 Excalibur Protein Skimmer (about one cup a week of skimmate) A 4" Juv. Emperor Angel (just starting to change) A 4" Powder Blue Tang <Both these fishes need larger quarters> A 4" Yellow Tang (the tangs actually get along for the most part) A 2" Flame Angel Two False Percs (about 1.5" and .5") A green sea star, couple of snails, and a purple urchin. I thought I may be overfeeding as well, but I would like your opinion. I prepare the following in each meal (I do eight days at a time, hence the fractions you see) 1/8th cube frozen Formula One 1/8th cube frozen Formula Two 1/8th cube frozen Pygmy Formula (Ocean Nutrition) 1/8th cube frozen Angel Formula (Ocean Nutrition) ~15 pellets of Formula One (cut up to smaller pieces) ~15 pellets of Formula Two (cut up to smaller pieces) Add Garlic Guard and Kent Marine Zoe supplements Each night I tie about 4"x4" piece of Green Marine Algae to snack on. Finally thought: I recently added some decorations I picked up at PetSmart. They are Blue Ribbon Coral Reef ornaments. Four pieces are made of a harder material and another piece of a softer rubber material (Staghorn coral). Could any of these be a problem to the pH? <Mmm, nope. They're chemically inert> Thanks for any help you can provide, Ian <Mmm, please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm and the linked files above. You need a basic understanding of acid/base, aka reduction/oxidation (gaining, losing electrons) in your chemistry knowledge... and more alkaline buffering capacity in your system... and a larger system. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

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