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FAQs on Calcium, other Biominerals and Alkalinity in Seawater 3

Related Articles: Calcium and Alkalinity Explained, Calcium, Biominerals, The Use of Kalkwasser by Russell Schultz, Calcium Reactors, Marine Maintenance, Marine Water Quality, Magnesium in Seawater, Strontium in Seawater, pH, Alkalinity, Marine AlkalinityLive Sand, Marine SubstratesReef Systems, Refugiums

Related FAQs: Ca/Alk 1, Ca/Alk 2, & FAQs on: The Science of Calcium & Alkalinity, Importance, Measure, Sources, Use of AdditivesTroubleshooting/Fixing, Products, & Calcium, FAQs 2, Calcium FAQs 3, Calcium FAQs 4, Calcium Reactors, & FAQs on Calcium Reactors: Rationale/Use, Selection, Installation, Operation, Media, Measuring, Trouble-Shooting, By Makes/Models, & pH, Alkalinity, Marine Alkalinity, Marine Alkalinity 2, Marine Alkalinity 3Marine Supplements 1, Marine Supplements 2

Naso brevirostris (Valenciennes 1835),  sometimes called the Shortnose Unicorn Tang


I can't figure out what's wrong!   Gen. reef maint. and Alk. f's   1/22/19
I am writing to ask if you can think of something other than the normal tank parameters that might cause a new reef tank to not be quite right.
<Mmm; a bunch of possibilities>
I have a Fluval Peninsula AIO 13 gallon tank that is doing very very well, live sand, live rock, 2 small fish, lots of hermit crabs, snails, bristle worms and copepods. 2 peppermint shrimp and several happy corals. Pulsing Xenias, snowflake toadstool, yellow elegans toadstool, Zoas, colt coral and even a tiny frag of Montipora, and a tiny frag of Pocillopora, (both recommended beginner sps corals). All the corals are out and happy, growing and doing well. I do weekly water changes but don't add a lot of supplements
...just Seachem Plus. Per Sally Jo Headlee at GARF.
<Looks very nice indeed>
In the 13 gallon I have one Midas blenny, Lowly Worm. And 1 Firefish Incognito. You never see him except to eat. There is a crab of some sort in the live rock,....he never comes out so he must be a filter feeder or eats copepods. I don't know, but he's never hurting anything so I leave him alone He's not even eating my beautiful bristle worms! I have a wonderful group of them now. I like them a lot. Do you know they have faces with eyes!!
<Ah, yes; and facial palps!>
I got really close with my camera and actually was eye to eye with one,.... what a revelation. I thought they were like earthworms, but they are not!
Cute little faces really.
Per my API test kits,...this tank has 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, 0 nitrates.
Calcium is high like 800 on the test, and the KH is high too. It took 16 drops to turn the test from blue to yellow.
<Do reduce these by serial dilution... and cutting back on supplementation>
Any way, this is my successful tank, and I love it. But the corals are growing and I'd like to move the
ones that will get bigger(the toadstools and the Colt coral) to my new tank
..............and herein lies the problem!
My new tank is a Innovative Marine 25 gallon Lagoon style tank. Short and square. I wanted more floor space and not a lot of height, I need to be able to work on my tank. Like the other tank, it's an AIO. Sump in the back, which works well for me, much easier to work on back there instead of on the floor! I used to have a big tank with a big sump. What a pain! .
In it has Live Sand, but instead of real ocean rock it has that Walt Smith brand man made rock (I was trying to do the "right" thing and save the reef!). It's done with the cycling and diatoms,....and it's nice and clear.
It's been about 2.5 months it's been running.
I have a little bit bigger pump than came with the Lagoon tank, because their pump was really bad and really noisy, so I put one of my backup pumps in. I have lot's of flow and my jets are aimed up to always ruffle the water we need lots of oxygen in the water after all. I do this in the little tank too. Both jets are aimed up.
<Should be fine>
So, my testing is showing the tank to be on the downward side of the Nitrate spike you get at the end of cycling,....it's between 20 and 10 ppm on the API Test Master Salt Testing kit. The Ammonia is 0, the Nitrite is 0 as would be expected. The KH is high, just like in the 13 gallon tank,....our well water is high in dissolved minerals. And although I haven't tested the Calcium I'm sure it's fine too since it's a new tank and nothing is using it up. The Walt Smith Rock is calcium carbonate.
<Yes; Walt and his wife Deb are friends, have been to their place in Fiji a few times>
It is my plan to add more live sand,....it's on it's way. I just read on your site that if you are going to have live sand, 3 inches deep is better than 1 or 2 for the nitrate bacteria.
<This is so; the deeper the better; IF not deep, then finer grade>
I have added my cleanup crew, hermit crabs (reef safe ones) and a variety of snails. I have added copepods. I have some of Sally Jo's Garf Grunge mixed into the sand bed too. I also seeded some of the 13 gallon tank's sand into the new tank. So, I do have copepods, but no where near the thriving community of them I see in the 13 gallon tank which is just crawling with creatures. This tank has a few of the larger copepods walking on the rock now and then,....a few of the little ones that look like shrimpies with big white eyes. Mostly though I see things zooming around in the water, against the black back of the tank,....millions of them. They aren't floating, they all have different trajectories, so I know they are alive. But there is almost nothing inhabiting the rock,...I don't think they like that Walt Smith rock,....but it's too late now to take it out. I don't want to kill the ones that are living in it.
<This takes time. I would move a good deal of the substrate from the 13 to the 25>
The one thing that both tanks have in common is the PH. It is always between 7.8 and 8. It doesn't go up to 8.2 or 8.4. The only supplement I use is Seachem Reef Plus,....Sally Jo said I need to use that 2 times a week.
Otherwise, I only feed New Life Spectrum Thera A pellets, no frozen thawed food at this time. Lowly Worm and the Firefish are happy with the pellets and so are the other creatures.
Ok, so the problem is this,.....Despite the water parameters being ok,...not perfect,....but getting there.....why won't my little pieces of corals open up?
<Mmm; could be a few things... from the too-low pH, a lack of useful food/s, to a deficiency in "something"... like iodide/ate, iron....>
I have a tiny piece of colt coral, a small cutting of my big gorgonian coral,...and some button polyps from Sally Jo. Only the Button's are open all the way, the colt coral is all scrunched down in his barnacle, and the Gorgonian won't open his polyps. He's just laying there with them poking out but not open. All three of these are fully open and growing like weeds in the 13 gallon tank. I'm so frustrated. I thought that softies like some nitrate in their water for food? Am I wrong?
<All in balance; but yes, some NO3, HPO4....>
I can't buy any fish for this tank until I know that things are balanced and thriving! I don't want them to suffer and die. Can you help me figure out what I still need to correct?
<For now I'd experiment with adding just one thing at a time... DO try some fine frozen food/s (or a blended product), OR iodide-ate (SeaChem's line is a fave), OR Fe...>
I've done many small and 1 large water change, to bring the nitrates down,..
..I will of course continue doing so. But I can't figure out what I've done wrong in this new tank. I will take a couple pictures for you,....maybe you can think of something I haven't. Thank you. Pictures below.
First the 13 gallon tank that's doing well. It is right next to a window, has plants behind it, but still get tons of real sunlight. I think that's partly why it does so well. And I don't scrape the back wall, the snails need something green to eat, there's no algae in the tank any where. Plus the algae filters the light coming in a little.
<Yes; I'd leave this be>
The 3 month old Lagoon tank...looks like mars or some place uninhabited! I hate that look. I hate that Walt Smith rock too. It's ugly. But it's better for the environment I hope. The new tank has a fancier light,....better for corals it said. It's a Current light. With the fancy interface, but I don't use that part really. The one thing I don't have in this tank is pumps,.. there is so much flow I didn't think I needed more. I have them if I need them though. .
Thank you for taking the time to even read this massive post,....I hope the pictures aren't too huge.
<They're fine; thank you>
Amanda Wilson in Jackson, NJ, USA
<Do please keep me/us informed as time goes by with what you're trying, the apparent results.
Bob Fenner, San Diego, CA, USA>

13 gal.

25 gal.

Re: I can't figure out what's wrong!       1/23/19
Thank you Bob for you fast reply! You always amaze me.
<Welcome Mandy>
About the calcium and hardness, I don't ad any calcium to my water,...I'm not sure why it's so high, maybe it's just my well water. I guess I should test it.
<Please do... the SeaChem product likely adds... Do you have, make reverse osmosis for your drinking, cooking? I'd cut the well water with this if so>
And since it doesn't seem to be a problem in the 13 gallon tank I hate to start to do serial dilution of anything. I will only upset the whole thing!
The corals seem quite happy there and so do the fish and other creatures.
<Real good; I do agree>
About taking half the substrate from the 13 gallon tank and seeding it into the 25 gallon, I can do that....I have new sand coming and it can replace
what I will remove,....but it will stir up what Sally Jo calls a "Sewer" in my 13 gallon tank!
<Ahh, good>
All the stuff suspended in the substrate will be in the water after I do that. Won't that cause the 13 gallon to have a huge nitrate spike and kill all my creatures? Perhaps I don't understand this well, please elaborate?
<Use a siphon hose, and pour off the supernatant... the floating water and debris>
I have considered taking half of the live rock in that tank, (chisel it into two pieces) and move one side to the new tank, but at this point the Xenias on that live rock will all die in the new tank, the last little group
I put in scrunched down and just disappeared! It was so sad. I don't feel I can do that to them even though I have lots of extras. They are my favorite coral of all. Sorry. I know many people don't like them, people consider them to be weeds, but I love Dandelions best too. I'm a nut.
<Then we are nuts>
So, about the Iodide, I have the Seachem Iodide already, I lost my one and only cleaner shrimp when he was molting a few months ago, so I thought I might need more Iodide. I only used it once though, because then on your site it said do not add things you don't test for, and I don't have an iodide test kit. (I will get one though.)
<Do use this>
Why would I add Iodide to a new tank with new saltwater mixed up,....I use Instant Ocean Reef Crystals I assumed that the salt has the correct amount of Iodide in the mix?
<It "drops out of solution" very easily>
But if you think that might be what's missing, I can add it. I'm not sure about Iron,...it's in the Reef Plus I believe. So is iodine....but it's very small amounts. Maybe I need more? Once again, I though that salt mix would have all these things in the proper amounts,... and I've been doing water changes too,....lot's of fresh saltwater.
<Try just one change at a time... Good science!>
You know, there is one thing that was different in the new tank than the older one,.....I started it with a different salt mix. Red Sea Coral Pro Salt. It had great reviews and I thought it might be a step up from the Reef Crystals, I wanted to try a SPS coral,....but when I told Sally Jo she said NO. Go back to the Reef Crystals, and I have for the last few water changes.
I don't know if that might be part of the problem. The RED SEA Coral Pro salt is much heavier they say in Magnesium, Calcium and Carbonates and some other coral building stuff than regular salt mixes.
From their label on the can of salt:
"Coral Pro Salt Mix provides the biologically balanced, elevated levels of the foundation elements (Calcium, Magnesium & Carbonates) necessary for sustainable, accelerated growth and enhanced vitality of all corals."
Maybe this Red Sea Salt mix is why my calcium and my hardness are so high?
<Could well be a contributor>
I didn't really use test kits when I started the first tank,....so I didn't test it until after I used the Red Sea salt,....and both tanks are the same.
Even the old tank got some new water made with the Red Sea Coral Pro salt.
Maybe thing just aren't balanced because of it?
<Again; a possibility>
About adding food, I do, I feed the hermits and snails a few pellets everyday, don't want them to starve in such a naked tank. There's nothing left to eat in there since they ate all the diatoms.
<A fine small food, like Cyclops (-eeze) would be my first choice to add here>
Ok, I'm sorry I think I have too many questions!
<No worries. BobF>
Re: I can't figure out what's wrong!       1/23/19

Ok! I didn't think about using a siphon! But when I pour off the dirty water won't I lose copepods and bacteria too?
<Not much of them, no. For bigger animals (like crustaceans), pour the water through a net>
Isn't that why you want me to move the sand to begin with? To move copepods and bacteria? I could use a fine net for the bigger creatures I guess.
<Ah yes and yes>
OK. I'll do that. It's Oolite sand, that's my favorite. Even if it does get stirred up easily. It's still the prettiest and softest sand. Then there is a little crushed coral on top.
Then after I get the sand back into the newer tank, I can add 1 dose of Iodide.
Perhaps that will help.
<Am hoping so>
One thing though that I still don't understand is why do I have such a hard time keeping the PH up.
<Mmm; it's likely a good deal due to your high Calcium level... there's a negative interaction twixt high alkaline earth (Ca, Mg...) content and pH>
It's very stable,....it's stays at 7.8 all the time on my tests.....maybe too many people breathing in the house?
<I hope not... though too-sealed homes can have such an effect>
I've read that any where from 7.6-8.4 is ok,....but only for fish. Corals and inverts need 8 and above. I've added baking soda,....several times, it never stays up.
The other tank is at Ph 8. Not high enough really either,....but again, everything is thriving. I just don't get it! I think it must be the liverock is just a much better Rock.
<Likely is the rock>
It's real ocean rock,....and millions of thing live inside it, I see them crawling around when I use my camera and get really close, there are thing in there that are just amazing! Long whiskers and funny curly bodies,... things that walk upside down and then flip over and never miss a beat!
I love watching them. My favorites though are the ones that look like tiny shrimp and have big white eyes....they are so fast! They love the barnacles best.
Bob, there is nothing in my life more wonderful than that 13 gallon tank.
It s like looking at heaven. I really want the 25 to be just as happy.
<In time... B>
Re: I can't figure out what's wrong!       1/23/19
Thanks so much Bob, I will give it more time and do the things you suggested
<Thank you Mandy. B>
Re: I can't figure out what's wrong!       1/23/19

I tested my well water, straight from the tap, not through the Pure filter.
It only took 2 drops for the color to change on the Calcium. Very low.
And it only took 3 drops for the KH to change! So, we don't even have a lot of minerals in our well water.
<Not ones involved in hardness at least>
We do live in the Pine Barrens in NJ. The soil is very sandy and acidic I believe. Lot's of mountain laurels and pines.
<Have been to a few places in New Jersey; many small water districts in the Garden State, and the ones I'm familiar with do have good/great water for human use... not much dissolved solids>
There is a little Phosphate,....it showed .5 ppm's.
<Likely fine for your set-up/s>
The PH of the tap water was the lightest yellow (lowest reading),...7.4. Of course, it doesn't measure lower than that on the test, so who knows it might be even lower.
<Mmm; yes...>
I have drinking water test strips, I will check it with them too,....can always use a second data point.
Ok, on the drinking water test strip it was again at the lowest color, which says reads ph 6. So, I guess our water is somewhat acidic. I wonder why the test strip doesn't go lower than ph of 6?
<Just what the kit is made for. There are lower colorimetric assays for pH et al. I taught H.S. chemistry and physics>
I wonder how that affects my water in my salt tanks?
<Yes; this water's "hydrogen ion content" will eat away at the alkalinity, reserve in your mix, and that of the substrates (rock, gravel/sand) in the tank itself. You might... should look into increasing the amount of baking soda, or using (better) a pH bolstering product. Again, another SeaChem product is my choice... This should be mixed into the change out water ahead of use, all allowed to sit a few days... if you can, a week ahead of its use next maintenance interval>
So, it must not be my water that is sending the Calcium and hardness up so high. I must have been the Red Sea Coral Pro salt mix.
Or maybe the Walt Smith rock gives off a lot of minerals in the beginning?
<Indeed it can. It is touted as being "ocean cured" after being made (on shore)... but the cement part is quite alkaline for a while>
They do say to let it cure until the PH gets up to 8 or higher in the fine print online.
Is that what's happening? I thought because there is no ammonia or nitrite it was all cured?
<Could be>
Do you even have to cure dry rock?
<Not for the same reasons as live, but yes; it does need to soak... to remove excess materials that are easily soluble>
It's never even been in the ocean,...why would you have to cure it at all?
<If it's the product I've met with... made in Fiji; then it has been cured... again, by being placed underwater on the shallow reefs for months>
The sand is just regular CaribSea brand. I don't think it's the sand releasing the calcium,....or minerals,.....or is it?
<Also a potential factor>
I just had a light bulb come on in my head! IF the water comes in slightly acidic....does that do what vinegar would do if you dosed the tank with vinegar?
<Indeed; yes. All acids are proton donors, electron acceptors>
I've read that people do that to release more calcium and minerals from their rock and substrate. Maybe it's just happening naturally in my tanks because of the water being at PH of 6.
<Well; actually all this is a mix... IF you add equal numbers of Hydrogen ions (acid) and Hydroxyl ions (base), you end up with a neutral pH solution: 7.0... >
When I had large reef tanks, 150 gallon and 50 gallon, they were all fine too with this local well water....something's different in this new tank.
And the only think that's different is the Walt Smith Rock.
<You could soak or to save time, boil a piece in tapwater, measure the water pH after....>
This is weird.
<Mmm, just unknown for now. BobF>
Re: I can't figure out what's wrong!       1/23/19

So, I guess that reading isn't too weird,...for the pH in the tap water.
I read this that says that a pH of 6-8.5 is normal in underground water.
Like well water.
https://www.water-research.net/indexphp/water-treatment/tools/the-ph-of-water  In general, a water with a pH < 7 is considered acidic and with a pH > 7 is considered basic. The normal range for pH in surface water systems is 6.5 to 8.5 and for groundwater systems 6 to 8.5. Alkalinity is a measure of the capacity of the water to resists a change in pH that would tend to make the water more acidic.
<Ah yes. B>

Re: I can't figure out what's wrong!      1/24/19
Bob, the Walt Smith rock I got is not the one they put in the ocean. I spoke to them on their FB Page and he said I bought the one that is never in the ocean.
<I see; like their 2.0 product... quite alkaline>
They also make one that is put in to the ocean,....but Liveaquaria doesn't offer it on their website, so I never knew about it.
I wish I had. It wasn't cheap and I believed it had been put in the Ocean because I watched their video where it shows it being in the ocean for a while then shipped out.
But that was the 2.0? Or 2.1? I don't know. Either way, I ended up with just dry rock.
<The test I mentioned. B>
Re: I can't figure out what's wrong!      1/24/19

I just checked the Reef Buffer online and it says it raises Alkalinity a lot too,....will that be ok in my tank?
<Ah yes>
I already am off the chart on alkalinity. It took 16 drops to get the color change.
Maybe baking soda is better for my situation?
<Try it and see. The carbonate in commercial products is "stronger" and  more persistent than bicarbonate... BobF>

Dosing vs. calcium reactor/Kalk top off     7/25/16
Hi all
Recently I have had a few issues with my aging aqua medic calcium reactor.
It has served me well but with a few panic Kalk additions because of low alkalinity I had a massive precipitation issue where the excess calcium baked itself to my system pump impeller wrecking it.
Not my finest aquarist hour I assure you. I have seen some advanced systems using dosing pumps for the maintenance of Kalk mg and ca (and it seems to be very precise and would assist me long term I feel).
<... the most appropriate, best available technology per your system, organisms....>
It is as you know a huge cost and I was wondering whether my existing setup is suitable enough or is getting a bit old school and I need to invest?
Btw my stock is large Euphyllias. Caulastrea and blastos plus some leather corals.
<.... the wife used to distribute Knop Products in N. Am. for five years...
I'd go w/ simple A/B additions here. Likely SeaChem's Fusion line>
Thanks muchly
<Pleasure. Bob Fenner>

Dosing Ca and KH       7/19/16
Thank you for taking this email.
I have a 110g reef tank of 3 months. Which is about my level of expertise, sorry. The tank has done well with many frags of coral, some fairly large.
A good number of inverts and a few fish. I use the Apex Dos system to do five 1g water changes per week. 2 days to get the replenishment tank filled and dialed in with salinity and temp. I currently dose Ca and KH manually every other day.
<Good. Am a fan of SeaChem's Fusion products, but Bob Starks, Sprung's copies C-Bal will do>
I maintain at the bottom of the spectrum...9/360. I am trying to work it up slowly,
<Also bueno>
I got behind do to ignorance. All other levels Ammonia, Nitrate, Nitrite, PH are 0. I average ph 8.3, temp 76, salinity 1.022-1.024.
<Mmm; I'd raise this to 1.025-6>
I may eventually buy another Dos, but in the meantime....could I dose up the levels of my replenishment tank(currently using Instant Ocean Reef Crystals which keep levels at 11/390) to the upper edges of the spectrum, say 12/420?
Given that depletion rate in the tank might bring it back to mid levels.
Sorry if this is a dumb question.
Ken Birgfeld
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

KH and Ca Dilemma 10/12/09
Hello Staff,
<Hi Mando>
Thanks for your previous help, its always appreciated... very helpful site too.
<You're welcome.>
I have a problem with my water chemistry. I have a 90g reef tank with few mushrooms and 2 LPS polyps and a frogspawn head. I have 40 lbs. of live rock.
an Aqua C Remora skimmer, a canister filter with filter floss, and Chemi-Pure Elite carbon. 2 inches of live sand. 6 T5 HO's .
I tested my water using Salifert test kits, today my Ca is @ 600 ppm , KH is @ 18dKH, magnesium @ good 1320ppm. PH is @ 8.2 Salinity @ 1.025 temp 78F , Nitrate, Nitrite and Ammonia are all @ "0"
I have not added any calcium, purple up or Salifert all in one or KH/pH buffers in over 2 months. Have done a 40g water change over a 2 month period. Any suggestions?
<This is the reason I'm not a fan of "all in one" or two part products, parameters can get out of whack as you have experienced. You will need to purchase a product called Acid Buffer, made by Seachem. The product converts alkalinity into CO2 thus lowering dKH. DO NOT use the recommended dose, only 1/4 of it to prevent the possibility of rapidly lowering the pH.
Dose once per day and test dKH the following day, continuing daily until dKH lowers to 7-9dKH.>
I have supplemented the recommended iodine, and recently added trace elements with vitamins. from Brightwell Aquatics. Any suggestions? FYI, last month my Ca was @ 560ppm and KH @16
<You may want to read here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm
James (Salty Dog)>

Re: And Then There Were Six, LTA... Now, Ca/Alk ish f'  6/30/09
Hi Bob,
The LTA seems to be getting better, well, not worse anyway...
Regarding my "bit too high" Ca levels. I went out and bought a KH test kit to answer your question. I hadn't been measuring Alk. previously.
It came in at 8 dKH, which according to the WWM Alk. FAQ is at the lower end of the acceptable range, which makes sense. So my question is, what should I do about it?
<Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm
and as much of the linked files above as it takes>
I currently rely on fortnightly 20%
water changes to maintain the water chemistry, without any supplementation. I use local tap water aged for two weeks in a plastic trash bin for two weeks - continuously stirred with a small powerhead.
Thus far, this has worked well. The readings I gave you haven't budged since the tank finished cycling and I'm not too keen on jumping on the supplement rollercoaster if I can avoid it.
<You very likely can... again, please just read>
Currently the only calcium consumers users are the coralline algae, 1 Euphyllia, 1 Faviidae, some hitchhiker Fanworms, and some Clavularia. I've intentionally kept the system understocked as I'm new to the hobby, lazy, and want a nice, but relatively maintenance free system with some margin for error.
<Understood... and my focus as well>
The system is almost entirely diy. 50 gal display w/ 50+ lbs LR, 15 gallon sump. Flow is about 400 gph. Supply = 1" DIY PVC pipe siphon overflow,
Return = Calfo style closed loop manifold. I know I need a bigger siphon. It's huge pain to keep it balanced, fiddling w/ partial siphon makes me nervous... I like the horizontal overflow design but haven't been able to upgrade just yet as it necessitates a tedious breakdown to drill the tank. I'm currently planning to simply
build a larger-diameter overflow with the only other difference being a larger diameter sleeve over the siphon intake to get more water from the top.
The occupants include:
1 C. strigosus , 3 Chromis viridis, and the aforementioned M. doreensis.
+ incidentals
A few small patches of (growing) Porites. three or possibly four species of Zoanthid, M. sculptus (several), various Fanworms, micro- Brittlestars, sponges, tunicates
+ pests
A. Majano, small Xanthidae, Bryopsis, Lobophora, some sort of (S)tomatopod, which is tiny and looks like Gonodactylellus affinis.
Thus far these guys haven't been too bad. The stoma whacks a crab every now and then but I didn't want those crabs anyway. The algae are kept in check with some very occasional yanking and low nutrient
levels from underfeeding, currently about 10-15 Spectrum pellets twice daily + some fine meaty goodness (mixed blended mussel/shrimp/etc ) for the LTA and Torch on Sunday. No Spectrum on Sunday since the fish clean up any scraps.
This stomatopod, I suppose he precludes the introduction of skunk cleaner shrimp?
<Would likely be consumed, yes>
I'd like to get one or two but I don't want them to get whacked. He's just a wee little thing, but he's wily and thus far evaded all attempts at capture.
<Sounds/reads as a very nice system/project indeed... and with a bit of looking/seeing, perhaps changing salt mix brands... you will very likely be able to get your alkaline earth, biomineral ratio in enough balance. BobF>

Fun w/ Calc/Alk 6/30/09
Thanks Bob,
<Surely welcome Darryl>
Ok ok, RTFM it is then. <!> That's cool. Phew, that was a lot of reading.
I sorta get it, I think, though it's been a while since I've had chemistry 101. pKa and all that. So, I guess this is fairly common.
<Ah yes>
I'm using Red Sea Coral Pro salt mix, and I'm sort of stuck with it as it's the only salt mix my LFS seems to sell.
<Try mail-order... there are some deals about>
There's nothing in the FAQs mentioned about that specifically but I did see a lot of talk about fiddling w/ supplements to try to bring up alkalinity. Ok, I can go get some Kent buffer powder
<Look to SeaChem...>
and see if that works. But first a few observations. ( It's nice to use my ChemE degree from time to time. ;-)
First I tested my tap water. It's soft as a baby's bottom, dKH was unmeasurable with my test kit ( < 1 dKH ) and the same with Ca ( < 20 mg/l ) but there's about 0.25 mg/l of PO4 and SiO was very high, off the charts. I'm hypothesizing that this is what's throwing off my mix.
<Could be>
Then I tested the aged mix. First, there's an off-white precipitate, so something's definitely up there. Calcium Phosphate and/or Silicate is most likely. So, drum roll please. PO4 had dropped to 0. Ah ha!
<There's a clue>
I didn't bother to test for SiO but presumably it's dropped a bit as well. I've measured it in the display and it's present, but at much lower concentrations (~ 2 mg/l). Though I don't clearly understand (yet) what the impact of these anions have on the mix but I can see how they might compete with the carbonates, though, by removing Ca from the mix
<Yes... this and Mg (which you should test for) and to a much smaller extent Sr...>
I'd expect it to have the opposite effect, high Alk, low calc, but I'm gonna run with it anyway. Besides, nobody seems to really understand seawater chemistry. ( A little rationalization's good for the soul. )
<Till it becomes too self-delusory... e.g., witness "U.S. Defense"... nothing defensive about traveling halfway around the world, murdering other countries' citizens... in the "cause" of "peace". Murder begets murder>
So here's what I tried. I added about 1/4 tsp of Sodium Bicarbonate to the water (12 gals), not the tank, just the premixed. Then measured it up again. dKH = 12, Ca more or less the same but I expect it will drop some, and the pH was unchanged.
<We'll see>
Now, I saw that NaHCO3 is generally not advised because it can radically increase the pH, but here it's just a bit of a tweak with no appreciable increase in pH. Do you think it's ok to continue down this road or am I just asking for trouble?
<There are better approaches... and likely none worth really pursuing, given your set-up, stock, intentions... Myself? I'd simply change salt brands, perhaps mix with mostly R.O. water if you make it at home>
I suppose RO/DI is an option
<Oh! Yes>
but at 25c a box. Bicarbonate sure is attractive.
<Am an old timey advocate>
I plan to test it again before I change the water, and have an unadulterated barrel of water in the wings in case its radically off.
<Real good. BobF>

pH issue and Alk/calcium, just natural reductive events, lack of reading  -- 4/17/09
Hello again!!
Last time I had inquired about some off the reading test numbers, and you were correct...the testing reagent was bad. The company replaced it.
Now my PH is dropping...I do not understand why.
<Mmm, happens>
This is a new tank with about 320 gallons of water in 4 tanks.
My ph had been about 8.0 for the 1st month. 2 weeks ago it climbed to 8.2...now it is down to 7.8
2 weeks ago the calcium was reading around 350+
Now my calcium has dropped. I thought my KH may have changed. With 2 different test kits I come up with 9 to 9.5 dKH on both.
Calcium is now 280
<A bit low for systems housing biomineralizing life>
FOWLR Tanks with Berlin style sump
SG is 1.025
Phosphates have dropped to 0.35ppm {I know still high you wanted me to get it under 0.3 at least, but this is still lower than my water source...will have a RO set up soon to fix that}
Nitrates are reading 0 {first time ever!!}
Temp has risen the past couple days...79.5 F
Haven't really been feeding much but Skimmer is pulling out loads of stuff.
Maybe 3 cups this week.
The red slime is slowly going away, diatoms are growing crazy, hair algae shows growth, Caulerpa in sump is growing slowly {I think it is the lighting} My Aiptasia are bigger than ever. Even my coralline looks brighter in color.
<I'd ditch the Caulerpa... replace with other algae... See WWM re>
So I am confused as to what is going on. Some of the algae/bacteria are giving me conflicting signs aren't they?
<Mmm, no>
The fish are active and hungry....that lot of poor ghost shrimp are gone!
Wes and Tracy
<Uhh... what you're observing... a loss of alkalinity and alkaline earth materials is "par for the pet fish course"... Captive systems are almost always overly reductive... lose pH, Calcium et al. over time... hence water changes, careful feeding, skimming, aeration, possibly the use of Ozone...
countervailing strategies to slow down this process... Read here: Actually, am at an airport and WWM is loading too slowly. Please, learn to/use the search tool, indices on WWM before writing us... For your answers and much more, take a short/long read re marine pH, alkalinity, Calcium. Maybe peruse here to start:
Bob Fenner>

Water Chemistry: KH, Ca and Water Changes 4/11/2009
Good morning.
I have a question or two about a few of the areas of reef keeping I don't fully understand.
<You've come to the right place.>
I have become a member of several forums and read quite a bit about the hobby but a few things I just don't fully get the actual relation or terminology of...mostly "good flow" and KH...however I do know what KH is....so I guess that's a start :-) I have a 20 gallon long tank with 22lbs of LR with 2 false Percs, a watchman goby and his pistol shrimp buddy as well as a cleaner shrimp a few snails and a few hermits. substrate is Aragonite sand. Lighting is 2x65W PC.
<With you so far.>
My tank is running at about 410 Ca and a dKH of 8, pH of 8.3...this is constant from after a WC to testing before the WC.
<Excellent - a nice stable system.>
I have SG at 1.025. I have mushrooms, pulsing Xenia, zoos, a leather coral and 2 LPS; a Torch Coral and a candy cane coral. Like I said, very constant but from what I have been reading lately is that LPS do better with higher Ca and dKH closer to 12.
<If you are really trying to push growth, otherwise, if everything is healthy and growing, consistency and stability is key.>
Chemistry has never been my strong point so I shudder to add anything to alter either of these readings
outside of WCs weekly, but I don't know if the people that have written this info have A: a lot more of a Ca using load and the higher KH helps maintain the Ca between WCs or B: a constant higher KH is advised for the health of these LPS species. Should I mess with my dKH or calcium or be happy that I am keeping them consistent?
<You can read/learn more here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm
That said, I would be happy with nice consistent readings like this.>
The second question I have is about flow. I see that "good flow" is needed in a reef tank...what I don't know is the relationship between GPH and circulation or what defines good flow without causing too
much movement on the mushrooms for example. I think you can have gargantuan GPH and have terrible circulation as well I think moderate GPH with diverted circulation is possible...I have a shallow tank so
some HOB filters with high GPH can cause problems with my sand. What I currently have is a modded Aquaclear 70 Aquaclear refugium using a mini impeller at 100gph, a SeaClone skimmer with the MaxiJet 1200,
<Do invest in a better skimmer.>
a HOB whisper at 200GPH that I run a Polyfilter in and a Aquaclear powerhead 201 cranked down a bit for diagonal additional circulation....is this adequate? How do I know? I don't find debris on my rocks or corals, but I am not sure if I have enough...I see many pics of nano systems running a huge Koralia in either corner and their corals looking like dogs with their head out of a car window,
<Heheheh... a good analogy>
but that seems to be too much for anything "soft". Any help would be greatly appreciated.
<You can read a ton of information starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/circmarart.htm
But again, if everything in your system is growing and healthy, I wouldn't worry too much.>

KH, Ca, Po4, Grr, No3, SG, Grr, algae....
Nutrient Control/Understanding Calcium And Alkalinity 3/20/09

<Hello William and Pegine, Mmm, unusual name.>
I certainly hope you can help us. I know you have helped countless others.
<Is what we do my friend.>
We have a 29g aquarium that had been setup for almost a year before we moved it. It was doing pretty well except for the snails that ate my Zoanthus and we started to have some BGA when the Metal Halide went bad. We never got rid of the BGA. We moved the tank to a new dedicated fish room for this 29g and one of the Cardiff tanks, we call it a bullet tank. We have visions of a 180g in the years to come, but only if we can overcome our current nightmare.
<Perseverance always wins.>
Tank Details:
29g Tank (Not the bio cube)
Tunze Nano Reef Pack
Tunze 6055 Nano Stream cranked up all the way and pulsing
Tunze 6025 Nano Stream
Viper 70 MH light. We put a new bulb in back in December.
25lbs live rock
Clover Coral (Clavularia)
Frog Spawn
Christmas Tree Rock
My remaining Zoanthus.
Cocoa Worm (very happy)
2 birds nest frags
1 Montipora frag
Mushrooms of some sort
Cleaner Shrimp
Serpent Star
Pistol Shrimp and paired Yellow Watchman Goby Cherub Pygmy Angel
<Tank a little small for the angel.>
The nightmare began on 2/21/09, we finally moved the tank to the fish room...
<Mmm, do you live on Elm street perhaps?>
We started by making sure we had plenty of mixed saltwater waiting in the wings (Tropic Marin) and lots of buckets and coolers for temporary holding.
We got some new substrate rinsed and ready.
<Well thought out here.>
1: Took the old stuff out and preserved about 1/2 the water
2: Mixed the old substrate with the new and added it. (Bad idea given the previous issue with BGA) The sand bed is about 3" now
<Yes it is, you are inoculating with BGA.>
3: Added Water, LR, Corals, etc.
4: Tinkered with it about a week getting the flow right and doing some minor adjustments. All the while siphoning off the algae, Grr.
5: After 2 weeks we figured we were ok and added the Angel and Goby. (We were monitoring pH, NO3. Not to concerned about NO3 yet, it was under 10.
6: At 4 weeks we are still in a mess..
The mess --- our nitrates will not drop below 10 and we can't get rid of the algae. I'm doing 5g water changes twice a week (Tropic Marin, trying Tunze now). It should be better, but it ain't. Also our KH won't go over 7.5
<Still a reasonably good dKH. You do mean dKH hopefully, as the KH reading would have to be divided by 17.9 to convert to dKH.>
despite adding buffer as needed (about twice a week lately). Hmm, we need to do more testing. We have been monitoring SG, Temp, KH, pH, Phos, No3, Calc for the past two weeks and added a Mg test this week.
Test Data from tonight, 3/19 Temp 78.5, SG 1.027, KH 7.5, PH 8.1, No3 10, Calc 250, Mg 1400.
-pH is very consistent 8.1 to 8.3(Elos, I can't quite tell the different colors)
-KH Tetra Test, consistently 6.5 to 7.5
-Phos, haven't tested it much, but we have algae so we have phosphate.
<And excessive nutrients, the later likely the culprit.>
Our one test showed .1 (Sera). It is worthless I cannot tell the difference between light blue and lighter blue.
<Likely at the residual of the kit. Phosphates generally are consumed as soon as available.>
- Nitrate, Elos test, Started at 5 the first week and is 10+ now. (I know not good)
<But not terribly bad either.>
- Calc, this is where it gets fun. Started at 280, with some buffer
<Buffer, or calcium supplement?>
got it up to 330. Changed to Tunze and it was briefly at 400 (a day at most), but
back to 350 now. We have not had to use any calc buffer since the move to Tunze salt.
-Mg, With all the fun we figured our Mg must be low! Nope, it is 1400
<Is a major element of sea water and needs to be maintained at 1250-1300>
I also siphon off as much algae as possible with a turkey baster, usually nightly.
<I would siphon out the affected substrate during this process, will help lower the spread.>
How do I get rid of the algae, why won't my KH go above 7.5,
<Because of the acids present in your tank, excess nutrients.>
why can't my calcium sustain anything greater than 350ish, and how the heck does magnesium play into this picture.
<Magnesium and calcium go hand in hand. Magnesium helps calcium loving animals absorb the calcium providing the magnesium levels are maintained at natural sea water levels.>
BTW our Birds Nest has grown like wildfire. The Montipora stays a bit white, but it is also growing.
<May be bleaching, may not have enough light for this coral.>
I have attached some pix. I removed some of the glare from the substrate on the full tank shot so the algae looks a little grey but I wanted to show how wide spread the coverage is. My other pix show the true color.
I have additional photos that chronicle the tank after the move at
<Have looked, appears you have a good coralline growth, a good sign as far as your calcium/magnesium levels. Have you compared your Ca reading with another kit or had a dealer test? I suggest you read the following links and related articles/FAQ's, will lead
you to the promised land.
<No need to be humble. As the song goes, "it's hard to be humble, when you're perfect in every way". James (Salty Dog)>
William and Pegine
P.S. Our bullet tank is rocking. We have all sorts of critters, amphipods, copepods, while the tank mentioned above seems to be almost devoid of them.
<You also have animals in the tank mentioned above that are munching on them.>

Re Nutrient Control/Understanding Calcium And Alkalinity 3/20/09
If my last email wasn't long enough, here is some more information. I completely forgot to mention what we feed the tank. We are working very diligently to not overfeed the tank, and keep the fish alive.
We do 1/2 capful of DTs 3 times a week.
<Supposedly live phyto, shouldn't be a problem.>
A small, very small, pinch of Daphnia every night. I make sure the goby and pistol get some by target
feeding, the rest just goes in the tank. We also cut a krill into thirds and feed the Nassarius, we call them zombies, serpent star and the cleaner shrimp.
<Do not think the latter is necessary, I've never fed my clean-up crew.
I'm kind of a clean-up crew in my home, my wife states that there has never been a bottle of beer that has spent the night here:). James (Salty Dog)>

Re: Tank upgrade, snowflake injury from escape Tank upgrade, snowflake injury from escape, now Calcium, alkalinity - 11/18/2008 11/24/08 Thanks for your quick response! <Welcome!> Just an update, the eel is doing fantastic! He seems much happier, swimming around with ease and exploring to find a new cave to make his home. <Okay, sounds good. I hope the tank is eel-roof now.> I would like to start adding corals in the next few months, however I would like to get my calcium and alkalinity levels stable first, and am having trouble doing that. Here are my current levels: PH: 8.0 specific gravity: 1.26 Nitrates: 10 (am trying to reduce, already dropped from 15) Nitrites: 0 Ammonia: 0 (have reduced from 0.25) Phosphorus: 1.0 (am making a trip today to get phosphate balls to help this) Alkalinity: 12 dKH Calcium: 350 I have read that an ideal calcium level is around 400, is that correct? <Yes.> Also, what is the best way to decrease the alkalinity? <Simply do not add anything, which might increase it. Alkalinity will be used up by microscopic (and macroscopic) life in your still very young system. 12 dKH is not that bad, just do not let it raise much higher. If you want to increase Ca, use organic Calcium (Calcium gluconate), often sold as a liquid. See http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm. Alternatively, simple water changes can help if the mixed water has the desirable parameters (if it does not, use a different salt) and will also help to drop Phosphate and Nitrate concentrations. Kalkwasser would be a third option, but due to your high alkalinity it may result in precipitation, cloudy water or/and CaCO3 crusts on the heater.> I have Kalkwasser but am having problems with it. It says on the label to mix it and let it sit for a few hours until it forms layers, and to use the second layer from the top. Well, I have mixed 1 teaspoon with a half gallon RO/DI water, but no layers are forming even after 12 hours. What am I doing wrong? Was there not enough Kalkwasser mixed in? <You could have used your mixture, it likely just had a smaller concentration of Calcium hydroxide. Kalkwasser is the mixed product. Calcium hydroxide (Ca(OH)2) powder + RO/DI water. If you do not see any sediment, you can add a little more of the powder. The clear liquid on top of the sediment is your Kalkwasser, which can be added to a tank. Also, watch your pH if using Kalkwasser.> Thanks in advance for you advise! ~Michelle <Welcome. Marco.>

Calcium and buffer additives 11/16/08 Hello Bob, Antony and crew! It has been a long time since my last email. Thanks to your advices I started a reef  4 years ago and it is going quite well. <Great> There are always problems which I deal with, this is of course the challenge of our hobby. I have done a lot of reading through your pages about the matter of calcium and alkalinity, and now I have the following question: I have been using for a long time the KENT Turbo Calcium and the KENT Superbuffer dKH and kept the Calcium to 400-430 and the alkalinity to 8-11dKH. I measure the PH with electronic PH meter and the Alkalinity and Calcium and Magnesium with Salifert test kits. I also added Reef Advantage Magnesium for keeping the Magnesium at 1250. Lately I visited a chemical store and bought the following: Calcium Chloride (dry), Baking soda and Magnesium Sulfate. I now use the Calcium Chloride for two weeks but I can not get the Calcium more than 400 ppm. I know of coarse that 400 is not bad at all. Now I am starting using the baking soda and check how it impacts my alkalinity. I have not used the Magnesium Sulfate yet, but I read that Magnesium Chloride would be better, because it does not add any sulfate <Well, Magnesium chloride adds chloride, so... unless you can find Magnesium gluconate, you're stuck with one of these. You could also use Epson salt. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mgmarfaqs.htm> to the tank. Is this true? Do you think this new way of adding supplements is going to work if I use it with careful measuring and find the right dosages? <I don't see why not... so long as you keep careful track of everything. Personally, I've never used much of the "fancy" stuff. You can achieve and maintain all desired levels of Ca, alkalinity, etc. with just Kalkwasser, baking soda and Epsom salt. When I've needed a more targeted Mg supplement, I've used ESV MgCl and more recently, DT's MgCl (which are both relatively cheap).> I also cannot get the PH more than 8.2. At night it is 7.9 and at daytime max 8.2. Do you think I should use Kalkwasser (slurry method) in addition to Calcium Chloride or use it alone? <This pH level and cycle is actually fine... good even. If you really want to raise it, you should try getting more aeration into the system.> If yes, can I also buy it fro the chemical store (Calcium Hydroxide?). <Calcium hydroxide? My friend, Calcium hydroxide is the same as Kalkwasser.> Thanks and best regards from Greece Thanasis Papavasileiou <Best, Sara M.>

Water chemistry ok? Reading needed on Ca/Mg and Alk.   4/18/08 Hello! <Dana> I am still trying to get my KH and alkalinity up and not sure if I am doing something to hinder that from happening or what! Here is my set up: Established August 1, 2007 55 gallon reef (tall, not typical long 55) Built in overflow Berlin turbo hang on protein skimmer (rated for up to 250 gallons, also, plan to upgrade to ASM G2 skimmer, after I add a sump!) Nova extreme pro T5 lights, 6-39w, 3 actinic, 3 10k daylight purchased in January 2008 (lights are on total of 12hrs, should I go down to 10?) <Mmm, maybe... with the actinics on an hour before and after the "whites"> Roughly 80-90lbs live rock 60-80lbs live sand (DSB at 4 inches which, btw, helped cure the nitrate issues. While I'm thinking about it, would adding more Nassarius snails help get rid of the nitrogen gas that builds up there? ( has that rotten egg smell at water changes) <Not good... I'd spiff up stirring, substrate maint. activity. See WWM: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/index.htm scroll down to mar. subst.> or would a diamond goby be better? Or none?...) <Up to you... see WWM re sand stirrers...> Live stock 1 lawnmower blenny 1 cherub pygmy angel 1 false percula clown (2 more in QT) 1 anemone 2 soft corals 2 turbo snails 4 Astrea snails 6 Nassarius snails 2 peppermint shrimp 1 cleaner shrimp 5 hermit crabs Lots and lots of copepods! Food Frozen mysis, reef plankton, pellet and flakes w/garlic I feed very small amounts once a day or once every other day I also feed my anemone the same frozen foods in small amounts often and occasionally minced silversides or scallops, stays open and very happy and never wanders the tank. Water parameters (the fun part!) Temp 76 Salinity 1.024 Ph 8.2 (recently went up from 8.0) Alk 1.6 (Using Red Sea test kit, try to rely on the KH result more than this but, can't get it up to even 3!) <... Mmmm> KH 6 to 7 Calcium 400 to 480 <Too high... this is an issue> Magnesium 1280 to 1400 <This may be also... want to be about 3X Calcium, no higher> I did read all the articles I could find on this awesome site and understand that I can fit only so many 'marbles' in my water at one time! However, after reaching and attaining good mag and calcium levels, my KH still won't budge! <... not surprising> I ordered Kalkwasser, I believe I should have started adding this as a slow drip at night from the beginning <No, not necessarily> but, I would love to know if you see something that I might be doing or not doing, to contribute to the KH/Alk staying so low. So far, everyone seems happy, my Kenya tree is about to split in many places and the tank itself looks healthy although, maybe not so much because there is some Cyano on the sand that I syphon out each morning and I have the nice brown algae on some sand and green film algae I scrape off the glass twice a week. <I'd be getting that sump, fitting part out as a refugium, DSB... much of these chemistry/physics issues will be thus solved> I feel I am still learning <Good> and always will about how to better take care of my little piece of ocean, but, before I add anymore livestock (mostly corals, my birthday is coming soon!) I would LOVE to get this KH/Alk settled and see the ph stay at 8.2. I appreciate any suggestions/advice you can give me! <Allow your calcium and magnesium levels to drift down... look for a good line of buffering... like SeaChem's> P.S. I don't know if this would help, guessing it might but, my next plan is to add a 20 or 29 gal sump with a refugium and the ASM skimmer. <Ah, good... the larger the sump, the better here... more flexible> Also, regarding the Kalkwasser, I read an article about mixing a small amount of white distilled vinegar (5% acidity) to the Kalk mix to help with the calcium bicarbonates, is this sound advice iyo? <... not a good idea... as you'll see if you try this> Thank you so much, Dana <A bit more reading: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/index.htm scroll down... Bob Fenner>

Almost forgot! I am so sorry I didn't put this in my original post, I do weekly 5 gallon water changes with the smaller ones during the week to help get rid of the Cyano and/or surface gunk in my overflow. I only add Tech B when magnesium is low, calcium is usually normal to high normal range. Magnesium falls every two-three days. Thanks again, Dana <I'd use Epsom... salt, MgSO4... mixed in with make-up water... no more than 3X desired Ca levels. B>

Calcium vs. Alkalinity -- 12/11/07 Greetings you wonderful folks, <<Why...howdy!>> I apologize if I have overlooked previously discussed similar issues. <<No worries>> I couldn't find a match in the postings. <<Does happen...how can I be of service?>> I have a 100g reef with several softies and only a handful of fish, crabs, starfish, snails, anemones, <<Not compatible...>> and one 'Acropora' I was told. <<Okay>> My question is regarding alkalinity. I have tested the tank water with results of Ca 400 using Hach test kit. My Alkalinity shows 6.5dKH using Salifert kit. <<Mmm...Alkalinity is low...as I'm sure you are aware>> For some reason this sounds odd considering 1) most of the postings on your site seem to have issue with the reverse higher Alk vs. lower Ca levels; <<Hmmm...likely just coincidence, or maybe the possibility most hobbyists find it easier to 'over-dose' Alkaline boosters. Your case is not an abnormality in the sense that the balance of bio-minerals/Earth-elements can't be skewed in either direction...they certainly can>> 2) I haven't supplemented Ca for some time now. <<Your tank probably doesn't have a high 'demand' for such and you are 'keeping up' with partial water changes>> I will now check tap/RO source for Ca levels as per readings on your web site. <<If you are using RO, I would expect this reading to be low>> My primary question is first of all, is this real/possible scenario? <<Certainly... Check a batch of fresh saltwater...is possible your salt-mix is high in Calcium yet low in Alkaline elements, thus creating the imbalance>> Second, if this is possible (higher Ca w/ lower Alk), is there a way to increase Alk without increasing Ca? <<Indeed... You can try Seachem's Reef Builder or Reef Buffer (depending on whether you need/want to impact pH)>> Is my Ca/Alk level dangerous? <<Not for the short term, but do try to boost your Alkalinity to about 8-9 dKH for optimal health (while keeping your Ca at/around that 400ppm mark)>> Thanks for all your wonderful effort and gracious sharing of your wealth of knowledge, many times over. Great, great site. Wes Jones Southern CA <<We're happy to assist. Eric Russell, Central SC>>

Re: 2 part solution: getting in balance... reading ref. for a more complete understanding  -- 10/18/07 Hey thanks a lot for the help. Sorry to bother with more stupid questions. I have Kent tech cb 2 part solution. Solution A is clear and solution B has powder which collects at the bottom. Is solution A the calcium? <See Kent's website...> Also, what do I do when I reach my target calcium and Alk levels in my main tank. Do I stop adding daily and maybe just once a week? As far as buffering my make-up and water change water do I just keep adding 1 solution (test) then the other solution (test) and keep doing this until I have reached target level. On another note, to clarify, you can add more of one solution than another as desired? Many thanks! <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

My Tanks Calcium and Alkalinity Requirements    9/9/07 My current system has 250 litres of water in the display tank and 100 litres in the sump. I have 10 cm crushed marble 1 -- 2 mm sand bed (so this supplies no calcium or alkalinity). I have the following corals One 8 cm open brain coral One 8 cm folded brain coral One 6 cm torch coral One 12 cm bubble coral One 10 cm mushroom coral One 6 cm pineapple coral One 10 cm frogspawn coral There very little coralline algae and the tank which is over one year old. There is one cleaner shrimp, two clown fish, one damsel and one Chromis, none of the fish exceed 5 cm. I use updated Salifert test kits for all my measurements. pH 8.3, Calcium 350 and alkalinity 3.5 -- 4. Magnesium 1300, NH4 = 0, NO2 = 0 NO3 = 2 ppm My tank has an open top, and a large area sump, temperature is 27 degrees C. so I have 6 litres of evaporation each day. I add 2 litres three times a day, but slowly (over two minutes) poring this into the tank next to a TUNZE Turbelle 8000 litre/hour pump so water and supplement additions are circulated quickly. Each morning I add two teaspoon (10 ml.s) of baking soda, and in the evening one teaspoon of CaOH in each two litre container of water (so two teaspoon per day total). I let the water stand for ten minutes, and poor this in and toss out any non dissolved CaOH that settles in the bottom of the jug. This is a saturated solution. The pH before I add the CaOH is 8.3, and 20 -- 30 minutes later in may go as high as 8.5 (or less) and this is back to 8.3 about 45 minutes later. This would help in precipitating out PO4. This should add 12 mg/L of calcium per day. <Okay...> The web site http://www.advancedaquarist.com has extensive information on this topic even during my transient pH spite there should not be excessive non biologic precipitation of Calcium carbonate (i.e. your substrate turns into concrete) Non biologic ppt of calcium when Ca = 410 Alk = 4.2 pH = 8.45 I surface gravel vacuum the substrate about three times a week, and it has not turned into a slab of concrete, though some of what I vacuum up looks like white suspended powder. Even this level of calcium addition is not enough to meet demand and I have to add liquid calcium Salifert Coral Calcium, about 100 ml.s a week just to maintain my current level of 350. This is more than the container states if used as a sole source of calcium alone. Not adding any calcium at all to my tank causes the calcium level to drop about 10 mg/L per day. The bottle states though that average aquarium depletes 5-8 mg of calcium per liter, each week. Anthony Calfo has stated that the addition of CaOH using a slurry method (I don't need to slurry this as I have so much water to replace each day) should meet the demands of most 100 gallon aquariums. <... am not a fan. Too easy for alkalinity to get out of ratio...> I was thinking that adding a TUNZE Comline calcium reactor to supplement, my current calcium requirements (I may be able to do away with the baking soda, and use much less Kalkwasser) <An excellent idea> I talked to the LFS that has a several hundred gallon tank with a heavy coral load in it, and they don't seem to be adding the amount of calcium I do. They do not even use a calcium reactor, just supplements. <Can be done, yes> Something is very wrong here. All I can think of is that the pH spike may be a lot higher than the test kit is stating, and I am precipitating this out more than I realize. However the colors are easy to read, and it never goes as high as 8.6 <Mmm, doubtful... given the amounts of material you list> Can you get back to me with your suggestions? All the Best Mike Lomb <Much, actually too much to state here... I would read a bit more: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm and the linked files above, and set upon one course of supplementation... Either the careful use of a two-part commercial system for biomineral (alkaline earths) and alkalinity OR the calcium reactor... Bob Fenner>

Ca/ Alk Questions  7/31/07 Hey guys! I just started testing a few new parameters in my tanks and got some interesting results... these results span 2 tanks, so I'll keep them separate. Tank 1: A smaller tank with only a clam as any sort of carbonate demand. I checked the alkalinity today, and it's 300 KH! I was very surprised, as I thought the clam would have sucked up most of the available carbonate. <... Mmmm> I haven't done a water change in about 2 months (ouch) because I had tested the water I was buying to change water with and it had more than detectable levels of nitrate, near 15 ppm. <... and how much Calcium, Magnesium, alkaline reserve?> I also checked the PO4 levels in the tank and found them at zero, despite the obscene levels of WONDERFUL grape Caulerpa and hair algae. <This may be taking up the biomineral (Calcium mostly) and leaving the carbonate, bicarb., behind> I sent a pic of this a while ago. I suspect this is because the available PO4 was already fixed in the algae themselves and free PO4 was being taken up? <Quite likely, yes> I plan to start algae-picking soon and using phosphate remover to absorb PO4 as it releases from dying algae. Is this a good course of action? <Mmm, likely regular harvesting of the macro-algae will "do it" here> Tank 2: This tank has a pretty low calcium demand, being a small chunk of Favia, some Caulastrea and a Trachyphyllia. However, I tested the calcium and it was 480 ppm! Is this because of the slow-growing nature of the corals, or maybe because something is stunting the growth of the corals (maybe they need more spot feeding?). <... What re the initial make-up of the system, maintenance, source water?> There's one question that pertains to both... I've heard rumblings on various reef boards that keeping Ca and Alk high can help other undesirable algaes from reigning over your tank by ,presumably, increasing coralline algae growth. But as it is said, "The plural of anecdote is not data," <Interesante> so I thought I'd bounce that one off you guys. <Do agree with the idiomatic expression, though not re the general issue of algal predisposition> Now tank 2 has some hair algae, but it also has a diversity of other algae... many types of Valonia, calcareous greens (in film form), some reds in small quantities, a little Sawblade Caulerpa (Ugg), a veritable slew of Neomeris, some maybe-Tydemania, and a respectable quantity of the venerable coralline, although more on the walls than the rocks...I'd love to get rid of the hair algae, but I guess you can't be completely rid of the stuff! <Mmm, don't agree> By contrast, Tank 1 has a very homogenous algal population... grape Caulerpa and prodigious amounts of hair algae---no coralline, as none was on the live rock! I suspect that the lack of nutrient competition and coralline in Tank 1 has let undesirable algae take root, and quite firmly! <We concur here> Every time I try to pull of algae, it gets better, but it always comes back... and seemingly tougher! I plan on letting loose some turbo snails on tank 1 after a thorough picking and add some phosphate remover, coupled with regular water changes with less nitrate-laden water... if such does not avail, I plan on breaking down the tank and starting a mantis species tank with better quality live rock. Is there any other course of action that you can think of here? <Reading> Thanks so much for reading my long rant...the questions are liberally sprinkled throughout. <Here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/index.htm Scroll down... take your time... good notes... Send along data, further questions... BobF>

Need Help - Very High Alkalinity and Very Low Calcium, using WWM  - 7/23/07 Dear Crew, I have a 90G Reef Tank. I have couple of problems. 6 months ago I had lot of algae problem and I had to take out all of my live rock and rinse with vinegar and dry it SUN for a day (made them as dead rock) and place it back on my tank. <?... no> since then I have done several water changes. I had lot of Coralline Algae in by tank which should have been sufficient to spread to my live dead) rock in the last months. But my rocks have not turned purple again yet. <There are a few factors...> Only very few places are purple and red even though it has been 6 months since that exercise. All of my tank glass has got coralline algae. But not the rocks. My dosing chart as below B-Ionic two part 30ml every day. 10ML Reef Iodide - every other day For my top-off water I add PH buffer. Last week I upgraded my lights to T5 lights from VHO. I had 440W VHO earlier and switched to 312W T5 (6x 52W) Retrofit kit. My tank parameters are as below. Phosphate - 0 Nitrate/Nitrite - 0 Ammonia - 0 PH - 7.8 <... low> Alkalinity - 16.5 <What units? High> Calcium - 150 <Way too low...> Two problems 1) VERY High Alkalinity - 16.5 2) Very Low Calcium - 150 Probably low calcium is what preventing the coralline algae growth ? <Likely at least these> How to bring down the Alkalinity. <Read> Please advise. <Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/index.htm> Thank you so much for your help. Regards, Suresh <RMF>

Calcium and Alkalinity question for newbie!  -- 07/19/07 Hello everyone at WWM. I'm a newbie-1 year into the marine hobby after many years of freshwater fish. I still have a 180g Clown loach and rainbowfish tank.:) <nice> I am fairly new to marine aquaria and am a bit confused and after searching all over your website, I can't seem to find what I am looking for being there is so much info to sift through. I have spent many hrs here. So I have a few questions for you if you have the time. I have picked up A LOT of great help in general looking here as well. Thanks for that! Here is the history of my tank before I throw out the big question(s). :) My tank is a 4 1/2 month old 55g (set up as the GARF 's bulletproof system on March 3rd) I have seen a lot of differing opinions regarding their info on setting up a reef, but it has seemed to work out well for me. Nothing has gone wrong and it made this pretty easy in setting up. I began dosing my tank as they suggested, but I began to think that this was "a lot" so I stopped. Also, I previously had a 12g nano reef for about a year that has been upgraded to this 55g. My param.s are: *Salinity 1.025* -just a bit higher than this *Ca+* is testing at *580ppm* -WOW! high, I know. This is where one of my questions lies. ;) *KH* is testing at *110 mg/L (6.14 dKH)* a bit low here. This is the 2nd part of my question. ;) *PO4 *is between 0 and* 0.25* *Nitrate* is *20ppm* (I feed my tank very well!) Hoping water changes brings this down soon. <Yikes. It's good to feed your tank well, but if this doesn't come done soon you'll have to consider less feeding or using more filtration.> Nitrite 0 *Ammonia 0* I think. It is a test strip and difficult to be sure here. <Most test strips are inferior testing tools. I encourage you to get a more conventional test kit.> *Temp 83** So my tank is a 55g DSB with plenum (Seaflor special Grade Reef Sand -LIVE sand) and GARF grunge. CPR large hang on refugium with Chaetomorpha growing out of control and lots of good bugs! :) <cool> I have about 20 lbs of live rock that came from my nano and another 70 lbs of base rock that is now thriving with life. As well as the live sand that came from my nano. Maybe 25 lbs or so. My livestock is: **2 Ocellaris clowns* (one from the nano) and a **Mandarin* that came from here as well. I got VERY lucky with him as he eats Ocean Nutrition formulas 1 and 2 as well as the live bugs. (Info I found out after I bought him, that he may starve to death.) <If he's eating Ocean Nutrition you are really lucky! Sometimes it's difficult to even get them to eat supplemented live food.> But he is fat and happy! I research everything now before I buy! <good> **2 blue damsels* (tried to catch them, but they are too smart for me. They have actually not bothered anyone else and hope they stay this way) **3 Chromis* **3 Chalk Basslets* and *1 very happy little rock-grazing *Coral Beauty*. There are various hermits and snails (maybe 25-30 total) and 1 Astrea snail. I have 2 MaxiJet 1200's, a PowerSweep, and a Emperor 400 set up for the carbon filtration. There is a lot of flow, but still not enough to keep debris from settling on the rocks and behind them as well. <More flow wouldn't hurt. However, short of putting a fire hose in your tank, nothing will completely prevent debris from collecting anywhere at any time.> It seems that if I add any more, my fish won't be able to swim. <Actually, you'd be surprised what reef fish can swim in.> I was checking into adding 2 of the Hydor Koralia Water Circulation Pumps to my system. Do you have any input regarding these? <I've never had these specific pumps myself, but Hydor as a brand has never disappointed me.> and my lighting is the Nova Extreme T-5 Fixtures w/Lunar Lights. They are on day/night timers and my refugium is off set with the lighting and it comes on at night (hence, the overgrowing Chaeto). For my reef I have a rock of *blue/purple mushrooms*, a rock full of *orange mushrooms*, a few various *striped green mushrooms* and *green Rhodactis mushrooms* from my nano that are all multiplying rather quickly, various *Zoanthid/Paly frags* ( 11 types ), a small colony of *green star polyps*, a tiny colony of *pink star polyps*, a small colony of *RPE's* "red people eaters" and a *green toadstool mushroom,* about 3-4" when fully expanded and plumped* *up and which is thriving as well. I bought this for my clowns which still haven't hosted in it. They seem to like the heater more. ;) There is definite coral fragging happening in my future. ( I am patiently waiting for the new release of Anthony Calfo's book of Coral Propagation as I can't find a copy anywhere. Sigh! ) I have another 55 cycling especially for this. ;) I also have a RODI unit I use for my water. I do not have a skimmer yet, but am thinking about your suggestions of the Aqua C Remora very soon. <Remoras are awesome. I'd strongly encourage you to get one. This will likely help with your nitrate issues too.> So, now that you have a history of my set-up, my main question is regarding my Alk and Calcium readings. My Alk is testing a bit low and ca is reading high. <This is a very common situation. Think of alkalinity and calcium as being on opposite ends of a teeter totter. When one goes up the other goes down and vice versa.> My calcium began testing high a few weeks ago, so I stopped adding any ca to the tank. I had been adding coral vital/purple up alternating and adding about 2-3x/week in the hopes of coralline growth. <You don't need these products. I suggest you stop dosing them. If not forever, then at least until you can correct your water chemistry.> My Ph just recently has stabilized to 8.3-8.5 during the day after adding a Sea Chem reef buffer and reef builder. It was hanging around the 8.0 mark. BTW. When is a new tank, not considered "new" and finished stabilizing? <It depends on who you ask. But generally, reef tanks are considered "new" if they're less than a year old.> After searching all over your site, I did see some others who had questions about bad test kits. I am thinking that this is a possibility for my calcium test. All I have done over the past 2 weeks or so is water changes (5g weekly) and slowly adjust the pH. So, is there any reason that my Ca level should be testing so high? <580ppm is a pretty outrageous calcium reading. There *might* be something wrong with your test kit. You should probably try a different brand of test kit (Salifert is good) to get a "second opinion."> I am confused about why it is high and what I should do to lower this level and raise my Alk. <Assuming your calcium is too high >450ppm, then you can lower this by raising the Alk with baking soda or washing soda. Mix up a teaspoon in some RO/DI water and add it to the tank. Do this daily until your Alk is where it should be.> Are calcium and Alk additives supposed to be added to the tank together or can they be added separately? <When something isn't right, you should add them separately. This gives you more control and better awareness of what you're actually doing/adding.> In other words, can I adjust the Alk without adding/adjusting Ca? <Assuming your calcium is >450ppm, then yes... and this is what you should do. However, you should keep measuring your calcium after every teaspoon of baking soda or washing soda you add to make sure you're not causing your calcium to plummet too far.> I have noticed that my coralline growth has slowed, if not stopped, and it looks as if some is receding and fading away. How could this be if my Ca readings are high? <Coralline needs more than calcium. If your alkalinity is too low, this might be why the growth as slowed.> Bad test kit? <Possibly> Also, shouldn't my corals be using this Ca for growth? All my softy's are doing very well, and none seem to be lacking anywhere. <Soft corals need less calcium.> I have Nutrafin Ca+ test kit that expires in 09), What do you recommend I try next? <Try Salifert.> I also recently saw on your pages of valuable info, that make-up water and replacement water is supposed to be aerated, then buffered, then add salt and add to the tank 24 hrs later. (I believe this is what I saw) This is the first I have seen of this. I have been aerating my RODI make-up water for only an hour or so before adding to my tank. (both salt and top-off) I haven't had anyone react badly to this. I am glad I found this out. Thanks! Could you tell me why this is needed as I didn't see it on your site? <Different aquarists strive for different levels of prudence. We tell you what is ideal (i.e. what we believe to be the best way to do things). But many aquarist do things their own way. Aerating the water helps with pH and oxygen levels. Circulating the water for 24 hours helps make sure the salt is completely dissolved. Buffering helps keep the water chemistry stable. Will your tank suddenly crash if you don't always do exactly as we tell you to? Mmm... probably not.> Also, I still am getting diatom algae on my glass (daily glass cleaning) and on the surface of my sand. <Relax, your tank is still new. Adding a protein skimmer should help a lot.> I stir the top of the sand a couple times a week as well. I don't want to vacuum the sand as I don't want to suck up any little bugs that my Mandarin eats. Is this enough in keeping the sand clean? I am going to add about 20 Nassarius snails as I only have 2 at the current moment. Is this okay to do? <20 is way too many! Try adding five.> Any other suggestions are very welcomed and I am sorry for all this information and I hope I didn't confuse you with my questions. <No problem, I hope this helps.> Thanks so much, again. Jody <De nada, Sara M.>

Cal/Alk help -- 06/04/07 Hello Crew <Wayne> I've read your Cal/Alk pages, and I have to say I'm a little overwhelmed. So much info, and on top of that, chemistry is definitely not one of my strengths. So. I'm trying, and could use your help. First...my system 210g been running for 6 months now (upgraded from 120 that was running for 1year), 55 gal Sump/Ref, AquaC EV240, AquaMedic Oceanlight T5/MH combo (3x250w, 4x39w T5), 230# of LR Livestock 9" Volitans Lion 1" Yellowtail Damsel 4" Emperor Angel 5" Harlequin Tusk 4" Sohal Tang <Do keep your eye on this alpha fish... there may be issues with the Emperor, other fishes going forward> 3 - Colt Corals (Fragged) 2 - Devils Hand Leathers (Fragged) 1 - Large Zoa colony 1 - Open Brain Coral - Had him for 2 weeks. I've been trying to feed finely minced frozen meats. Won't eat, and haven't seen tentacles yet. <... Please see WWM re...> Auto Top off with RODI water, and 30 gal water changes/gravel vacuuming are done weekly with RODI water that's buffered with SeaChem's Reef Buffer. I use Instant Ocean Salt mix. I dose Iron every week to help my Chaeto grow. <Mmm, don't do this w/o testing for...> I have not been successful. The Chaeto has not grown for over a year (when I had my 120 also). I've tried new Chaeto, increasing water flow, using different lighting, alternating light cycles... just not growing. <Something/s amiss here...> Besides the Chaeto and Open Brain, all is well. Surprisingly, algae in my tank is not all that bad. Maybe it's the weekly water changes?... ok let me get to my point. <Okay> I want to add 3-4 more corals Frogspawn or Torch coral, Montipora, and Acropora. After that...I'd like to think I'm done! ;-) To get ready for these new additions, I'm starting to think about Cal/Alk additives. I just tested my Calcium 340 mg/l. I used SeaChem's Alk test kit which leads me to my first question. The test kit says that 1 drop = .5 meg/l followed by "The number of drops to get to yellow divided by 2 is the total alkalinity." My test took 6 drops. Is my Meq/l, 3.0? <This> or 1.5? The reason I'm questioning this is that I also tested the reference water (which is supposed to read 4 mEq/l) that came with the kit. This took 9 drops. <About right> Following their instructions that would equal a little over 2 mEq/l. If I follow the 1 drop = .5 mEq/l method, than the reference sample is closer to what it's supposed to be 4.5 mEq/l. Any experience with this test kit? <I think you're dividing by 2 twice here> So.. with a Cal reading of 340, and my Alk reading is 3.0, I'm assuming I don't have to add Alk/cal supplements now. <Mmmm> But should I add now, knowing that over the next few months, I'll be adding more coral? If my Alk reading is 1.5 mEq/l, than I think I need to add something. Are my assumptions correct? <I would be reading, looking about for means of boosting both alkaline reserve AND biomineral concentration here> If I do have to add, I plan on adding B Ionic 2 part additive. If I start adding B Ionic, Should I stop using the Seachem Reef Buffer for my top-off, and "water change" water? <Mmm... no, not necessarily... I WOULD buffer the new water ahead of use...> I read that B Ionic shouldn't be used in mixing tanks. If that's the case, what should I buffer with? <You could use this product alone (the two parts) w/ or w/o the SeaChem line... or use just the latter's products... but they are miscible> What other supplements should I add considering my wish list of corals? Iodine, Strontium, Magnesium? <Mmmm, you should READ re these... I suggest a good book... the Net is hard (well, at least for me) to follow re such expansive topics... better to have ideas, concepts, principles laid out systematically, completely... See Baensch's, Fossa and Nilsen's tomes here> Is there an "all in one" reef additive that contains everything I need? <Uh, no> Or will my weekly water changes be enough to meet the demands of my tank? <Along with feeding... Could be... only testing, experience can/will tell> Would increased Cal/Alk aid in my Chaeto growth, and Open Brain issue? <Likely so> Thanks for all your help! Wayne <A few good books Wayne... Bob Fenner>

Switching from Calcium +3 to Kent two part A and B? Makeup water??  - 02/21/07 Hello my name is Brian and I have a 45 gallon reef tank with a ten gallon refugium.    <Hi Brian, welcome to AA -- Aquatics Anonymous. *grin* I'm JustinN, glad to help.> For over two years I have been using Reef Success Calcium+3 in addition to Kent Superbuffer-dKH.  I kept my calcium level at 400ppm.   <Excellent> I was scared to hear that by using the calcium+3 for long periods of time I could eventually cause "marine snow." <This is a bit of a misnomer here... the problem is people who don't dose appropriately, meaning they don't test for what they are dosing, they simply follow the instructions on the product. If you are maintaining things as you say you are, I would not be concerned.> Is this true even with the addition of the SuperBuffer?   <All depends on your application, which I believe you have correct.> In fear I purchased the Kent 2 part calcium, but I don't know how to transition.  What would be the best steps??    <Personally, I would not change what has obviously been working for a while for you.> Another problem is that a gallon of water precipitates from my system every 2 days and I need to add it back regularly.  Before I would just add 5 ml of calcium+3 and 5ml of SuperBuffer to a five gallon bucket of fresh water which had a powerhead for water movement.  I would add makeup water from this bucket to my tank and my calcium levels would stay constant 400ppm.   <Excellent game plan, my friend. I would continue this regimen.> I am afraid that if I don't add calcium to my makeup water my calcium level would slowly lower.   <Likely you could manage it without the top-off water step, but why change something that's been keeping stability for you? Stability is THE key here!> So how do I add the Kent 2 part calcium to makeup water???  Thanks for listening!!     <If you were to attempt to add the 2 part solution (I assume this is a typical 2 part solution, where one part is a calcium supplement and the other is alkalinity), I would add your dosage of either one or the other to your top-off water, and mix the other in a small amount of fresh water and add to the sump directly. However, I firmly believe you shouldn't change a thing, from the game plan that has been working for you for so long. Hope this helps! -JustinN>

Calcium Precipitation - 2/21/07 <Hey Ray, JustinN with you today.> Thanks for your response, <As I'm not the original responder, I cannot take credit, but I'm sure whomever did respond is quite welcome.> I would, however, like more detail on the snow effect I notice with adding the calcium supplement I use.  What more information do you need? <Don't think any information is needed from you on this one, pretty self explanatory.> Your input is greatly appreciated! Thanks, Ray    <Well, Ray, the "snow effect" is the precipitation of calcium out of your water. This is occurring because your water chemistry is skewed, out of whack. This problem stems from the misapplication of buffering and calcium supplements. To simplify the concept, water can only retain so much of the calcium solution, and when this amount is exceeded, it causes the calcium to bind and become unusable, creating the snow globe effect you speak of. First as far as solutions go: Stop dosing! Get a reliable alkalinity test, get a reliable calcium test, and have a thorough read through this excellent article: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm and the linked files in blue. Don't skim this article, read it, know it, learn it, live it! Every time that you cause a precipitory event in your tank, you are starting a roller coaster of chemical stability that you no longer have control over! Good luck, my friend. -JustinN>

Alkalinity, calcium and pH  2/18/07 Hi Everyone, I have a 72 gal FOWLR tank (with a 1" bed of live sand - aragonite) that is almost 4 months old with 2 percula clowns, a six line wrasse, a yellow tang, and a coral beauty angel. I have a regal tang in quarantine almost ready to join the others. The fish are very happy and healthy, but I'm not! <!> My problem is that my alkalinity has gotten too high (6.57 mEq/l), my pH hovers around 8.0 to 8.15, and my calcium level is 280ppm. I think I know how this happened. In my quest to raise the ph, I added Proper pH 8.2 <Mmm, this product should only be used in freshwater settings> to excess not realizing that it was cranking up the alkalinity. My question is this:  How do I correct this situation? <Mmm, best with time going by, regular water changes... and leaving this product out> My plan is to do 10% water changes daily (or every other day - I routinely do them weekly) <Good... but I'd stick with the weekly... with pre-mixed/stored water... and 20-25%> to gradually bring down the alkalinity using RO/DI water (with Instant Ocean salt).  This is where I get a little lost.  What do I do to get pH and calcium levels in order.  My goal is pH = 8.3, calcium = 350-400 ppm, and alkalinity = 3.5 mEq/l.  Are these proper values for a FOWLR system? <Yes>   I'm trying to increase the coralline algae growth on my live rock.  I need a plan of attack - a recipe for success if you will.  Hope you can help. Thanks in advance. Mike. <Thank you for writing so clearly, thoroughly... The water changes with the Aquarium Systems salt mix, the stock, substrate you list... should "do it"... in a few months time. Bob Fenner>

Alkali calcium chloride prills 94%    2/16/07 Greeting to all, <David> I'm trying to create a two part calcium-alkalinity solution.  Would Alkali Calcium Chloride Prills 94% be adequate for aquarium use? <Mmm, no>   It is supposed to be min. 94% pure Calcium Chloride, maybe 5% Alkali Chloride and a 1% max of other impurities.  If this doesn't match up with what you guys know please advise. Let me know if this product is safe for aquarium use. Thank you very much in advanced. Sincerely yours, David <Is a relatively "harsh" formulation... meant to be readily soluble... for use in de-icing roads, reducing the alkalinity of cement mixes... Not useful for biological systems. Bob Fenner>

Dosing Question -- 2/8/07 <Hi Scotty, Brenda here tonight> First of all, let me say you guys are the best!!! <Thank you!> Now, I searched the forums and got some of my answer to this question, but need you to finish it. <I'll try> I add part 1 and part 2 of the Oceans Blend calcium and alkalinity supplement.  I have added over 48 ml in the last 72 hours, but my test kit is showing no increase in calcium (stays at 350ppm).  My pH has been rising, even though I have added an equal amount of part II (alkalinity).   <I need actual results of pH> I do not have an alkalinity test kit yet (will get one soon), so I have no idea to see where that is, and am basing any decision I make on an unknown. <Yikes!  Please stop!  You will also need a Magnesium test kit.  Mg should be in the 1300 -- 1500 ppm range for everything to balance properly.> So my question is should I continue with both parts until my calcium gets to 400 ppm. <No> Should I use one for a few doses without the other as a way to balance out the pH?  Or should I just sit tight and let things get settled? <Sit tight until you get some more test kits.> Best idea is to listen to what you guys <or gals> have to say. <Never dose calcium, alkalinity or magnesium into your tank until you know what your levels are.  Please read for a better understanding:  www.advancedaquarist.com/issues/nov2002/chem.htm
www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2005-03/rhf/index.php#3    Also, here is a calculator to help you with dosing.  It sure makes my life easier:  http://home.comcast.net/~jdieck1/chemcalc.html > Scotty, NY <Good luck Scotty, and be patient!   Brenda>

Calcium/Alk 2-4-07 Help please   2/6/07 Hello Crew   I'm thinking I might have a problem in my 125 reef? All my corals are open and happy.   But my Alk is at 3.0 <mEq/l? Not a problem really>   Calcium is 420 and keeps rising in 10s as i test every other day? <Uhh... what are you doing such that this is the case?>   Phos 0.5 ....2 weeks ago it was over 10. So i removed my charcoal and got some Phos-Zorb to lower the phosphates which it has to 0.5.....I do 10 gallon water changes every Sunday to help with water quality. <The chemical filtrant may be involved in removing alkalinity here...>   Ammonia 0   Nitrite 0   Nitrate 20 <Borderline high>   Ph 8.2 time 11:00am   Ph 8.4 time 4:00pm   I also stopped over feeding and only feed twice a day in am and pm only.   Questions   1 Is it possible for Calcium to rise while Phosphates lower? <Yes>   2 How can i raise my Alk to 3.5 without using Kalk <See WWM... many ways...>   3 Would a reef buffer help my Alk rise. And stabilize this tank I don't use one currently. <Could... depending on the make-up of your water...>   I use a two part supplement of calcium and buffer called C Balance for supplements. <Good product>   I read on WWM everyday and get so much info from this. Maybe just send me a link please and point me in the right direction maybe I will catch on..   I guess I'm lost or just missing something simple.   Thank you so much for your time and help.   Brian <Just a matter of reading, trying to understand a bit more... Bob Fenner>
Re: Calcium/Alk 2-6-07 Replying Back Thank you  2/7/07
Bob   Thanks for the reply. I appreciated it very much;)   Sorry I left some thing's out.   Tank's age is 9 month's.   I use RO water for water changes   I know my Nitrate is border line high 20.. I'm hoping the water changes and me slowly removing bio ball's from the sump will lower the Nitrate's. <Should, yes>   Yes Alk is 3.0 Meg ..And Calcium is still 420 today. <These values are fine>   Sal 1.024   Temp 78 steady all day and 77 after light's out and also steady.   So I will test everyday and keep a eye on my levels.   Dumb question please? (IF) the Calcium gets much higher for say 470-480 due to Phosphate's lowering should i start day lie water changes in fear of a snow storm? <... Mmm, a tentative yes>   Thanks Again for your time and great website!   Brian <Do take a read where you were referred to please. Bob Fenner>

High alkalinity low PH and low calcium, knowledge from reading  2/1/07 Hey Hey <KB> I have a Question about High alkalinity low PH and low calcium. I was adding in a PH buffer <Product? Make up?> but when my Alkalinity skyrocketed and PH didn't move I stopped adding it. My Alkalinity 3 days ago was at 6.4, PH at 8.1 and Calcium at 300. I did 30% water change and added calcium <Just Calcium, as in Ca?> (which I have been doing for the past 3 weeks.) and the Alkalinity went down to 5.7 but still very high. My brother had an aquarium as well but recently joined the military and asked me to take care of some Zoas for him. Sense I have inherited them they have not opened and I don't want to kill them. I was just wondering 1. If the Zoas not opening can be because of the wacky stated of the tank? <Maybe, or your efforts at changing such. All this needs to be done through water changes (the new water adjusted outside the tank) and gradually> And 2. How do I go about getting my tank back to normal? It's a 30 gallon tank with 250W metal halide lights I have a 15 gallon sump and a prism protein skimmer. It been up and running for about 3 years with only 3 fish in it. In the last 3-4 months started adding coral. <I'd stop here... until you know what you're doing> Any Ideas (keeping in mine I'm a student so I can't go out and buy a calcium reactor or spend crazy amounts of money I love my tank but sadly am pretty damn poor.) Any suggestions would be much-appreciated thanks in advance Kyle <You need to read... re what pH, alkalinity are... the effects of adding Ca products. Please start here: http://wetwebmedia.com/watrqualmar.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

High dKH  2/1/07 Hello.  I appreciate the time you folks take in answering all the  questions thrown at you.  I have been spending hours on your website going  through all the data. My question is this:  My alkalinity is at 20 dKH  and my pH is at 8.3.  If I lower my dKH to acceptable levels (8-12 dKH),  will it lower my pH below acceptable levels for a marine aquarium? <Mmm, possibly... depending on the means utilized to lower, and the percentages of what is involved in rendering the KH what it is...>   I  believe my pH should still be stable and remain at 8.3 considering my dKH is so  high to begin with.  Is this correct? R/ Jeff <Mmm... do you have a notion, input as to the nature of the high, too-high KH? Is this from your "starting", tap water? If so, I would just blend in some less-solute-laden source... like RO, DI, or RODI. Bob Fenner>

Kalkwasser/Calcium Reading 1/22/07 Hello how is everyone doing. <Hi, so far, so good.> Pretty crazy here in Ohio with the snow and everything. <Brrr> I have a 125 gallon reef tank and I have read just about every article on Kalkwasser mixing and dosing. I am currently using one method which involves a quart of RO water, half teaspoon Kalkwasser and 15 ml of distilled vinegar. However, ever method that I have used I have not seen any satisfaction with. What I mean is when I test the Kalkwasser with my pinpoint calcium monitor( and yes it definitely perfectly calibrated) I get calcium readings of 180 or 200 ppm !!!! I do not know if I am not reading into some hidden water chemistry or I am doing  something wrong. The calcium in my main tank is at 328 ppm right now only do to dosing calcium chloride (aka: liquid calcium) I have a calcium reactor with new media and it is only there to keep dKH levels stable. I cannot keep calcium levels up without using excessive calcium chloride. The tank does not have a   top, and the filtration methods are a wet and dry, Tunze protein skimmer and refugium. Please help Thank you Water parameters PH 8.0 Ca 328 DKH 10 Sal 1.25 Amm 0 N 0 Nitrate 0 RedOx 355 Phos 0 <I'd try getting your dKH down to around 8-8.5.  Higher alkalinity readings can cause calcium to precipitate.  Secondly, try mixing the Kalkwasser without the vinegar and see if your readings don't go up.  Vinegar is an acetic acid and may cause erroneous readings on your meter.  You may also want to try reducing the vinegar to 10ml.  James (Salty Dog)>

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