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FAQs on Calcium, Supplements involving Calcium 3 

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

Related FAQs: Calcium, FAQs 1Calcium FAQs 2Calcium FAQs 4, Calcium FAQs 5, Calcium FAQs 6, Calcium FAQs 7. & FAQs on Calcium: Rationale/Use, Calcium Measuring/Test Kits, Sources of Calcium, Calcium Supplements, Dosing, Chemical/Physical Interactions, Troubleshooting/Fixing, & Calcium Reactors, & FAQs on Calcium Reactors: Rationale/Use, Selection, Installation, Operation, Media, Measuring, Trouble-Shooting, By Makes/Models, & Calcium and Alkalinity, Calcium and Alkalinity, Kalkwasser & FAQs on: The Science of Calcium & Alkalinity, Importance, Measure, Sources, Use of AdditivesTroubleshooting/Fixing, Products,

Knop's latest/greatest internal (Eheim) pump calcium reactor.

Calcium  Just wanted to get your thoughts, pros cons, on using SeaChem's liquid "reef complete" and "reef calcium" to increase and maintain calcium levels.  <I would not use liquid calcium chloride (reef complete) to raise and maintain calcium from ANY brand! There are serious complications down the road from doing this (accumulated Chloride ions skewing Ca/ALK dynamic causing precip). Calcium Chloride is a temporary calcium fix when needed fast without a pH rise. Kalkwasser has so many more benefits anyway. Reef Calcium on the other hand is a sugar based calcium (gluconate) and although still useless for Ca levels and coral growth... it is OUTSTANDING for coralline algae growth. I highly recommend the use of SeaChem's Reef Calcium with Kalkwasser or a calcium reactor for good coralline algae and coral growth> I read and hear that the best way to do it is by using Kalkwasser for different reasons,  <absolutely correct! Many advantages including phosphate precip, saponification (improving skimmate production), protecting ALK, etc)> but I'm trying to avoid setting up a limewater drip system. <HA... too bad... deal with it kid :) Actually... a Ca reactor would be too expensive here understood. Do consider my Kalk slurry method. Detailed in my book of coral propagation and discussed at length on Reefcentral's message board (do a simple keyword search) or look into our archives on Calcium. Many other great things to learn about calcium in the WetWebMedia archives and FAQs> I have a fairly small tank, 46 gallon. Thanks, Angelo<best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Calcium supplement What brand of calcium supplement would you recommend for live rock? <for coralline growth only I really like Seachem's Reef Calcium (an organic sugar-based calcium gluconate). Simply outstanding for growing coralline algae (pink/purple, etc). 4 months of faithful use and it will look like a whole new tank :) For coral growth however, Kalkwasser supported by proper alkalinity (buffer) is recommended when a calcium reactor is not possible/present. I use a Knop calcium reactor from General Aquatics for convenience but still like Kalkwasser very much. Best regards, Anthony> Elizabeth K. Birdwell

Calcium woes and Magnesium Hi Antoine, Carlos D?z here, from the paradisiacal Guatemala of the eternal spring! <ahhh... a beautiful land that I hope to visit one day!> First, your book is incredible in useful information. It is always in my desk. <thank you, my friend! I am so glad that it is found to be useful> regarding your method to add Kalk, I have a couple of questions and comments (tank: 200 lts,+ sump with DSB, 35 pounds LR full with red calcareous algae, a small colony of zoanthids, one small bush of Halimeda, 5 turban snails, 3 shrimps, 1 brittle star, 2 damsel fish, 1 tang, 2 urchins, 4 blue legged hermits. tank Seven months old.... <very well> At the beginning (first 2-3 months) my shows 350-400 Ca, then my Ca started to drop, reaching 200 or less (I perform 10% bi-weekly water exchange). <wow... I am surprised that this is possible/accurate! Are you sure of the test kit? I seriously doubt this to be true/possible> Because I was suspicious about my test (red sea) I bought Aquarium System test for calcium (Fastest, it has a dry part and a liquid part) but the same, reading around 200.  <wow... very interesting> So I start to add Kalk using your method as follow: 1) I put 1 glass of water (from the tank) for 10 minutes in my freezer (just to drop the temperature) <very well... Kalk does dissolve better in cool water> 2) Add 1/8 of Kalk to the glass, revolve 3) Add to the main tank briefly in a strong flow area 4) I Wait 10 minutes (until another glass is cold) test the PH and 5) repeat procedure until PH climbs 0.2 (I use a Hanna PH digital test) It takes 3-5 glasses until the PH is 0.2 over the original point. <all very well, although I would wait much longer between tests> The very next day (12 hours) I test Ca and neither the red sea or the Aquarium System test shows an increment in Ca. So I perform again the Kalk dosing that night, but the same, both tests shows no increments on Ca. <hmmm... are you noticing any chalky precipitate in the tank? Some concern here about crystalline precipitation. If so... my guess is that your ALK is well above 12 dKH (dangerous, and the reason why your Ca cannot get higher). Halt all Ca and buffer additions. Do a few large water changes to dilute the system and get on a more even level with readings. Then resume dosing. If using purified tap water, be sure to aerate and buffer before adding salt> My Water parameters: Ammonia: 0 Nitrites: 0 Nitrates: 0 Alk.. 3.5 meq/l Phosphate: under 0.1 Calcium: around 200 any idea? tks, Carlos <very strange. Do the water changes my friend and perhaps check your magnesium levels too. They should be at least 1000ppm or basically 3X safe Ca levels. Low Ca, high ALK often coincides with low magnesium levels. Do follow up with a report. Best regards, Anthony>

Calcium quest! Anthony: Nope, my alk is 3.5 meq/l or +/- 10 dKH... (Alkalinity test from Aquarium systems) When Am adding the slurry of Kalk, some times I see 1 or 2 (not always or often) tiny crystals but it happen when I add from too high, I assume is for the contact with air...  <all minor... no worries here> Ok, I will test for magnesium, but please give some brands to choice, I will buy it from internet... in Aqua System I couldn't find a test for magnesium just supplement... <do try SeaChem... a fine company and brand. Very good quality control in my opinion. > Thank you. After the water changes I will tell you how my Ca goes... Carlos <excellent my friend... I'm looking forward to hearing from you. Best regards. Anthony>

High Ca? Hi gang. OK so tell me, is it normal for my Calcium reading in my freshly mixed replacement water to be at 440 ppm (Salifert test kit)?  <high but not yet dangerous if you keep your ALK level under 10 dKH. I assume that your tap water is very hard naturally> I use Instant Ocean. My Alk reads 10 dKH after buffering with PH-guard as I use purified water.  <ahh... good but do ease up a little on the buffer while Ca is so high. 8 or 9 dKH would be a little more comfortable> My tank reading that has no fish yet, just 5 turbo snails, reads above 500 ppm Ca and a low 6 dKH Alk (using Kent pro buffer to raise this). <the skewed dynamic is believable but not ideal (neither can be on the high end simultaneously... but this is too far skewed)> Just did a water change but nothing's changed.  <all is within your control as you are reconstituting purified water from source. Aim for 350-425 ppm Ca and 8-12 dKH ALK but not the high end of both> I'd like to get the right balance before adding any fish. BTW is this CA / Alk balance necessary if one just keeps fish and a few snails / shrimp and LR? <more important to keep stable/consistent... regular water changes will do this. Weekly is much better than monthly> thanks soo much...again, Justaguy <best regards, Anthony>

Re: High Ca? Anthony, Thanks for the reply. I just tested my tap water and it is at the very soft end. So how do I lower my Ca if my freshly mixed seawater reads 440 ppm? If I do nothing to my purified water, the PH reads 7.0 and the Alk is very low. thanks <you need to confirm the accuracy of your test kit. It using soft purified water and not adding Ca... it is rather unlikely you can get an actual reading of 440 ppm Ca from Instant Ocean sea salt. But... it is true/correct... 440ppm is actually a fine Ca level. Just don't add Ca to go much higher. Best regards, Anthony>

Calcium and alkalinity question Hi Craig, <Hi Jun!> Another question for you. I went to the LFS and have my calcium and alkalinity (is KH and dKH the same?) tested today. My Ca level is 320 and KH/dKH is 160. What do I have to do to get my alkalinity level and Ca level to an acceptable level. Thanks again (just as I promise more questions to come)......Jun A. <Okay. dH, GH, KH, and even dKH are alternate terms the Germans gave us for measuring alkalinity, they are the same. I think you may have your alkalinity test results goofed up, perhaps expressed as dKH when they meant meq/L, or missing a decimal point? Is it 16.0 dKH or 1.60 meq/L? Based on your tests and your Toadstool acting up I'll bet your alk is 1.6meq/L. Please double check. If it is 1.6 it is VERY LOW and you need to get a good Marine Buffer like Seachem Marine Buffer to keep your alkalinity at 3.5 - 5 meq/L (10 - 14 dKH) ASAP. Please test your pH as well which should be 8.3 -8.4 just before the lights go off. Calcium should be around 400-450 mg/L. Seachem makes a good calcium supplement called "Reef Advantage Calcium" which is a good product. Follow the label directions exactly for dosing. I would also recommend investing in a few good quality test kits so you can maintain your water in top condition without stressing your inhabitants (or waiting to go to the fish store). Seachem and Salifert are favorites. Please read more about alkalinity and calcium at WetWebMedia.com. There is much to learn! Craig>

Alk/Calcium Hi gang, hope everything is groovy. My alkalinity reading is 60 mg/l (I'm using a Hagen test kit). Does that mean ppm? What is the conversion equation for dKH or meg/l? (sorry, I've never tested Alk in the past). Also I can't seem to get a reading on my Calcium (readings are indicating sky high, which is improbable) as I use a Hagen test kit for that also. Is there a better/best kit? Thanks, you guys rock.. Justaguy Hey Justaguy! Craig here, and feelin' groovy. The equivalents between measurements is as follows: 1mg/L = 0.02meq/L Americans measure alkalinity in meq/L The German hardness scale is dKH. So, at 60mg/L X 0.02= 1.2meq/L. so using the measurement you got from the Hagen kit your alk is 1.2meq/L VERY LOW.  Most keep calcium around 425-475 calcium and Alk at 3.5 to 5 meq/L (1mg/L=0.02meq/L). Also test pH regularly as well. I suggest purchasing quality test kits to ensure accuracy. Salifert and Seachem are two excellent brands. Have Fun! Craig

Alk/Calcium Hi gang, hope everything is groovy. <yep... just as soon as I get my bong fired up> My alkalinity reading is 60 mg/l (I'm using a Hagen test kit). Does that mean ppm?  <nope> What is the conversion equation for dKH or meg/l? (sorry, I've never tested Alk in the past). <hmmm... I don't recall the conversion off by heart. Are you sure it isn't in the test kit literature. It surely must be... I've never seen a test kit that didn't have it> Also I can't seem to get a reading on my Calcium (readings are indicating sky high, which is improbable) as I use a Hagen test kit for that also. Is there a better/best kit? <definitely... I like Aquarium Systems brand Calcium test kit. Inexpensive and easy to read the titration point> Thanks, you guys rock.. Justaguy <best regards, Anthony>

Chromis and Calcium Dear Bob & WWM crew, <cheers> You have helped me avoid heaps of learning through "experience". I've found that most journeys are less stressful when a map can be used... thanks for the "map". <with pleasure... do pass your wisdom along in kind> I want to add 5 small Chromis viridis to my 55 gal reef (48in.) and would like to know if this might be too much stress on the bioload or territory partitioning? <fine and peaceful fishes... they will fit with your below listed bio-load very well> The system includes 50lbs live rock, 2" fine sandbed & Reef Devil skimmer in sump. The bioload includes: 1 Brazilian Gramma, 2 Ocellaris, 1 Banggai, 4 serpents, 1 Sand Star, 1 Cleaner shrimp and various LPS & soft corals. Also, other than Kalkwasser, what additive will help raise pH without building much alkalinity? I'm running 7.9 to 8.1, the tank looks good, should I concern myself? Your thoughts would be appreciated! <I find Kalkwasser to be the very best at this with added benefits of saponification (improved skimmer performance) and phosphate precipitation. Best regards, Anthony>

Re: Calcium Question? You asked what I was keeping that needed calcium? I have about 65lbs live rock, xenias, green star polyps ,mushrooms, button polyps, Kenyan tree coral, and this piece. Cant remember what it is? Here is a pick. <<Looks like one of the Sinularia species to me...>> Would the calcium levels that I have now be sufficient for what's in my tank or will I need to bring it up. <<None of these are incredibly calcium greedy like a clam or SPS coral would be... is would help to keep calcium up, but perhaps not strive for the higher end of the scale.>> Thanks Again <<Cheers, J -- >>

Re: Calcium Question? <<Greetings, JasonC here...>> The calcium levels in my 55 gallon tank are still not moving above 285ppm so I bought a Salifert Magnesium test kit and I checked the water and it is at 1050ppm is that what is causing me calcium levels to stay were they are at? <<Not necessarily 'keeping' calcium where it is, but certainly in line with your calcium reading - recall should be 'about' three times your calcium values.>> If I need to raise the magnesium in my tank what would be the best way? <<With a magnesium supplement.>> Also what way would you recommend me raising up the calcium. <<I would look into bringing up your buffers/alkalinity a bit - not too much, but your alkaline buffers could be on the edge of being depleted which it makes it difficult to impossible to get calcium to come up. Out of curiosity, what are you keeping that 'needs' the calcium?>> I have Kalkwasser, 2 part solution and turbo calcium. <<You can might also increase the dose on the two part, or consider a different one if this one seems not to be working. Make sure you don't dose more in a 24 hour period than recommended by the manufacturer.>> Thanks  <<Cheers, J -- >>

Calcium problems hi bob I have a 130g reef. My calcium is getting lower and lower although I am adding about 60ml of a and 60 ml of b from Kent's cb twice a day . <hmmm... sounds like you are feeding a precipitous reaction. At some point you began adding supplements in excess or too fast> this seems to be a large amount don't you think? <yes> The level is around 300 tested with two kits. I have noticed hard clumps in the sand ,am I adding a too large amount at once? <exactly> How should I add the calcium and the buffer. <temporarily halt all supplementation and do several large but gentle water changes to dilute the excessive supplementation that has skewed the Ca/ALK dynamic in the tank. When the water changes have brought the readings into a realistic balance you may then resume using the two part mix in balance to carry on, or instead you may use Kalkwasser at night (tedious but has benefits over liq calcium... see archives on FAQs) and use buffer by day in small amounts as necessary to maintain 7-12 dKH. Also know that both parameters are not meant to be simultaneously high.. they cannot easily exist that way. So a Calcium of 375 to 450 ppm will be appropriate with a dKH of ALK on the low end (7-8) and vice versa. Best regards, Anthony>

Re: this is my problem and I don't know what to do. (Calcium) In your opinion, what's the best way to do the calc addition? should I turn on the calc reactor now? <Calc reactors are the best way to boost alk/ca> I plan on using tropic Marin triple buffer. will this be enough?  <a fine brand but may not be necessary with the Ca reactor> we don't get the brand that you guys specified in the forums. <no worries... most all are the same ingredients: Sodium bicarbonate, borate and Carbonate> Francis <best regards, Anthony>

Coralline Algae and Seachem Reef Calcium Bob, Anthony Calfo in your service... although Bob has returned from Indonesia tanned and smelling of peanut oil and Vienna sausages.> Would turbo snails have an effect on the Coralline Algae growth?  <no harm whatsoever... if anything they support it by controlling competitive nuisance algae species> I am trying to grow it back. My live rock is starting to show this red-purple on it, but as the snails come on by the leave it clean or almost completely clean.  <they cannot/do not eat calcareous algae. The purple color you are seeing is not coralline or the snails are not Turbo species> I have added calcium and iodine and the necessary minerals needed for the Coralline.  <is your alkalinity as consistent as your calcium? Both are critical to test and monitor for consistency> Now does this algae come in soft and then hardens?  <nope> If so, I guess I would have to remove the snails until the coralline have set it good. <nope... they truly have no impact on corallines although other gastropods like Chitons and limpets may graze corallines. Consider adding SeaChem's "Reef Calcium" too... this sugar-based calcium supplement is excellent for growing corallines. It does not replace the need to dose Kalkwasser though> Thanks, Javier <best regards, Anthony>

Calcium Question Please help!!! I am having problems getting my calcium levels up pass 300ppm. I have a 55 gallon reef tank with about 65 lbs live rock, couple of fish and a couple of soft corals. My pH. is around 8.3 during the day and my Alkalinity has been around 8.4 to 9.8. I tried to raise the calcium levels by using Kent liquid calcium and Kent tech cb 2 part solution as directed and that did not work. I am now dosing Kalkwasser at night mixing 1/2 teaspoon with 1 1/2 litters of freshwater. I have been doing this for the past 4 nights and my calcium levels have been around 270 to 280 ppm and are not rising. Should I add more Kalk to the freshwater or is there something else I might try? Thanks, Shawn <Hmmm... it does not seem likely or believable that your calcium did not raise at least with the Ca chloride or hydroxide doses. Have you verified the accuracy of the test kit against another brand or batch? The 1/2 teaspoon of calc alone for 4 nights should have raised Ca even too quickly. Your test kit for calcium is wrong or you may be dosing too fast (causing hard clumps in sand?)>

Re: calcium / buffer question Thank you. Will a PolyFilter pull the calcium out or can I keep it in? <PolyFilters will not remove calcium... they are excellent chemical filtration media.> Also, will it bring the color back into my live rock? <adequate and consistent (this is important) levels of Calcium and Alkalinity will certainly fuel recovery of corallines. SeaChem's Reef calcium is a nice supplement to Kalkwasser for this purpose> I noticed that my yellow tang is acting strange. His tankmates include: Purple tang, hippo tang, Huma trigger, copperband butterfly, Volitans lionfish, snowflake eel, and 2 tomato clowns. <sounds like you have or need to have a big aquarium for these fishes as adults (200+ gallons?). Snowflake is 18-24" as adult, lion 12", trigger and three tangs a collective 30+inches...plus butterflies and clowns... a lot of bio-mass in the 3-5 year picture> I noticed he his swimming into everything, glass, corals, heater, other fish, etc. He is not eating and sometimes either lays on the bottom or floats on top of the water.  <not symptomatic of a specific disease but do remove to a quite QT tank ASAP> His tail fin is frayed and my purple tang is picking on him. Can fish sense when another one is weak or ill?  <yes indeed> His eyes are not cloudy, but it appears he is breathing heavy and faster then usual. Is he on his deathbed?  <cannot say for certain... does indeed sound bad. Still... keep and learn to use a proper QT> Can he be poisoned by the lionfish?  <unlikely... death by envenomation is quicker and stung fishes show erratic twitching behavior> Thanks, JPK <best regards, Anthony>

Low pH and alk but high Ca Hi WWM Crew, I seem to be having a problem with low pH and alk in my 50 reef. My readings are as follows: pH-7.9 alk-2.5 Ca-490 I am adding daily Two Part ESV B-Ionic 25ml of each. I also add 60 ml daily of Kalk. Additives are all added manually. The tank is 3 years old and I do two 10% water changes monthly. For the last three months I have been using ocean water for these changes. <I would recommend going back to synthetic water.> I have noticed my green star polyps have not been opening full for about 3 weeks. Could the low pH and alkalinity cause this? <Yes> All other organisms doing fine. Any advice greatly appreciated. Mario <I would do several large (50%) water changes to bring your parameters back into line. Once they are good, you should be able to easily maintain them with the Two-Part additives. -Steven Pro>

Re: Low pH and alk but high Ca Thanks for the quick reply Steve, why would you not recommend natural ocean water? <Generally, chronically low in pH and possibly contaminated with pollution, parasites, or bacteria blooms.> I figured the plankton in it may help feed some of the SPS corals, clams, etc. <Parasites are also in that plankton. -Steven Pro>

pH alk? I have a few questions on pH and alk. I've seen in different books that dKH should be between 7-10 and also 12-18. which is correct?  <8-12 dKH is safe and healthy IMO. Closer to 8 if you run a high calcium level (over 425ppm). ALK over 12 dKH is dangerous (crystalline precip) and only recommended for hardcore coral growers that test water daily and have many scleractinians. Most people will have problems with such a high ALK in time> my problem is... my dKH is 16-17. my calcium is low, like around 300.  <typical... neither can easily or safely be at the high/max end. Still... the tank would be better off around 10dKH and 400ppm> my pH is around 8.0-8.2, but will drop without the addition of SeaChem marine buffer to 7.8ish within 48 hours.  <a lack of aeration (not circulation) may be indicated here (accumulated CO2). Aerate a glass of aquarium water vigorously with an airstone and see if the pH rises after 12 hours. If so... you have a CO2/aeration problem.> how can I raise the pH without increasing the alk? <Kalkwasser> my alk is so high right now that I can't seem to increase the calcium without clouding my tank.  <exactly... a crystalline precip. Do several large water changes to dilute this imbalance then add Kalk and buffer as necessary> also, why would the pH drop like that if the alk is high?  <many reasons... CO2 being one of them> I have a 50g breeder w/ 50lbs LR, and few snails and hermits and some polyps. no fish yet and I'm not feeding anything. 20g sump w/ skimmer that needs to be emptied every 3rd day. all other readings are where they should be. thanks, Neil <best regards, Anthony>

Ca drives down Hi (Bob or Antoine) Thanks for your site, its a great deal for a new aquarist (and for the most experienced too!!) <thank you ... a large dedicated crew here to make the WetWebMedia machine work> Here it is my situation... My tank: 200 liters, with sump, 10 ponds of ground coral in the sump, 3 pound of Bioglass, an Azoo Skimmer with a 12oo l/h pump, a 1200 l/h return pump in the main tank 2 800 l/h pumps. Right now I only have 2 damsel fish (blue devil and yellow tail) and a 3" Yellow tang, 1 tiny blue legged hermit crab and a really little colony of polyps (no more than 20). 35 pounds of live rock and 1.5" of fine grain live sand. <do consider that the 1.5" sand may not be an optimum depth in the long run. Deeper than 3" will be necessary if denitrification is a goal/need> As you see, nothing (excepting the rock) is a demanding Ca living form, <well... not exactly. Many things draw calcium... sand fauna, crustaceans/mollusks, polyps/coral, etc> but my calcium is going down... when I started the tank (3 months ago) it was in 450 (in the beginning I used tap water). Since 1 month ago Am using DI to replace the evaporated water also for the 10% weekly water changes. This water is 100% free of calcium,  <Wow... unbuffered DI or RO water is not only a significant burden on the Ca/Alk of the tank... but it is just plain dangerous in the long run. Many reasons to read discover about this if you like. The gist of it though is that all such purified water needs to be aerated for 12+ hours... then buffered and mixed for another 6-12 hours BEFORE you can even think about salting it or using it for evap top off. The carbonic acid in this water and the naturally occurring nitric acid in the tank are a hug draw the buffering pool of the system. You have underestimated this my friend> so I'm not expecting keep the calcium over 400 but 2 weeks ago it was 350 and now is just 300 (the mix with DI gives a 350 reading) <just aerate and buffer your new water... this alone will make a big difference> Why the calcium is going down???? My parameters are: SG 1.023 PH 8.17 (2:00 pm reading) <yes... rather low and a product of the above dynamic. Minimum of 8.3 by day would be ideal... towards 8.6 nice> Ca: 300 (and going down :( ) DKH: Normal (sorry my lab test, reef test from red sea, only shows: low, normal and high) ammonia: 0 Nitrite: 0 Nitrate: 20 Greetings <best regards, Anthony>

Re: Ca drives down Hi Antoine, Bob, and all the crew! <howdy> Following your instructions I bought a little pump & I started to aerate the DI water for 12 hrs, then I add a buffer (Kent buffer is the only one I could find here) and continued the aeration for 12 hrs more. now I am using this water for evaporation top off.  <excellent and appropriate... despite your buffer brand choice...heehee> My new PH is in 8.4 at day time, but my Ca is still 300. <not that big of a deal. After a week or so, you can add small amounts of liquid calcium to bring it up, but don't make a prolonged habit of it (accumulated chloride ions)>> My question is: 1) Can I use this water (DI water with buffer) to prepare de Kalk slurry?  <possibly if you are not using excessive amounts of buffer...just reconstituting to reasonable levels> or for this matter I use DI water without buffer?? <not recommended usually> 2) It suppose that I have to add the Kalk slurry at night (lights off), but how many hours before I shut down the lights?  <no hard rule about it... later the better. Test the pH to verify the fall. You simply don't want to add Kalk at a high point and make the pH go higher> When I check the PH in the morning before I start the lights, the PH is around 8.3, and when I check the PH around 1 hour before I shut down the lights the PH is 8.4 <wow... very nice and stable> 3) the same with the buffer, at what time after the lights are on? 4) Ok, assuming I decide to keep my sand just 1-1.5" how can I achieve the nitrification?  <not going to happen here (too shallow)... you'll need a DSB refugium or inline vessel of deep sand> it is impossible using other media or method instead DSB?? <there are many media to be used with varying degrees of success. DSB is easily the lowest maintenance and least expensive> My best wishes for you, Carlos <kindly, Anthony>

Re: Ca drives down Hi Antoine: Regards Ooohhh you open my eyes in this matter... thank you, but now I need 2-3 clarifications... <very well, my friend> 1) Why I need to aerate the DI or RO water? what the air will do with the water? <the freshly purified water (demineralized) is very unstable as unbuffered) and contains carbonic acidic that will use up/waste buffers. Aerating drives off the carbonic acid and raises the temporary pH> 2) May I use Baking soda to buffer DI water before use it to top off? dosage (a rule or direction)? <buffers are mostly baking soda, so yes... you can. Still, I prefer a tri-buffer like "Seabuffer" from Aquarium Systems> 3) The last one need explanation, and is a multiple question (Hee)... you told me that if Am seeking denitrification I need at least 3" of sand, <yes... the bare minimum. 5+ inches is better> (I suppose it is to give room to the anaerobic bacteria development) but...  <exactly correct> Do I need to buy live sand or I can just add regular sugar size sand over my actual 1.5" live sand?  <no live needed (or just add a cup full to inoculate with fresh)... but if your current sand is not fine, then settling will occur. It is best to have all fine sand for this purpose, else you may need to put a fine screen over the course before adding the remaining fine sand. And with all sand beds, be sure to have very strong water movement in the tank to prevent pollution of the sand bed> If I just add regular sand the colony of bacteria will die?  <all will recover within weeks... it is OK> Why other reef keepers do not use even a mil of sand? Give me a little explanation on this, please. <deep sand beds to require extra attention/supervision and incur some risks (if neglected, they accumulate nutrients). Aquarists that have no need for denitrification keep little sand in the display.> As always, thank you for your tremendous help! Carlos D?z <best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Re: Calcium and Alkalinity You said ... part A... is typically sodium bicarbonate - baking soda. <<Well - typically... I was looking at my bottle of ESV.>> I checked and the contents are deionized water, calcium salts, and trace minerals. Part B says deionized water, sulfate, bicarbonate, carbonate, and borate salts. So I should use B instead of A. to bring up the Alkalinity. <<Interesting... their parts are just the opposite of the ESV which requires that one put the buffer in first. Couldn't imagine it would be practical to empty one bottle before the other. You can actually use regular Arm & Hammer baking soda to boost the buffers in addition to the regular two-part doses. Cheers, J -- >>

Re: Calcium Levels We should have you up to the MAST meeting in Toronto, lot's of topics we could discuss "off the record" <heehee...Oh yes, it would be a pleasure! And I assure you that I am opinionated, not shy and will back up my convictions with honest information. I can just as easily be persuaded with like/better evidence in kind.> btw nice edit.  <Ha! yes, my apologies. For the benefit of the broad audience that views the FAQ posted pages... I'll try to give a fair shake to everybody including products/companies (even perceived bad ones) that could be unfairly judged by readers that only see one of X number of e-mails spread over x days/posts/pages. My argument supports actions that serve the greater good even if that doesn't make me happy <G>. Bob is even less shy than I am about such things/naming names> Larry <kindly, Anthony>

Re: Calcium Levels No apologies necessary I clearly understood what you were doing. Last question for tonight, with the large water change underway I will run out of Tropic Marin sea salt.  <a very fine sea salt mix> I have a good mail supply house close by (save shipping) with great prices, but they don't carry this brand. They carry Aquarium Systems "Instant Ocean" and Aquarium Systems "Reef Crystals.  <for price, value and QC, I strongly prefer Aquarium Systems Instant Ocean. If I was rich and famous like some other folks up north... I guess I would use Tropic Marin too though...heehee.> The reef XL's are $20.00 more for the 200 gallon mix. Is it worth the difference?  <not for this application IMO> Would you recommend either of the names (looks like same manufacturer)?  <definitely Instant Ocean> If not what's your preference. Thanks Larry <actually... I love Aquarium Systems sea salts and test kits... but I don't hold their electric products in such high regard. Although Reef Crystals has extra Calcium and minerals in it, it is unnecessary for most reef tanks by virtue of the fact that most need extra supplementation and testing for Ca, etc anyway. My advise, save your money, buy the Instant Ocean... it is a very fine salt and VERY reliable/consistent. Reef Crystals is great for folks that have smaller tanks and/or do regular water changes as the primary means of mineral/trace element replacement rather than supplement. Best regards, Anthony>

Re: Calcium Levels Hi Anthony, My R/O water is just about ready to go and I have a stupid question for someone who has been doing this for 5 years. I have never buffered my change water prior to salt addition.  <arghhhh! Blasphemy!> I just add the salt to the RO water adjust to 1.0225, throw in a power head and heater and after two days change the water. (I think when I started I did check calcium levels... but you do it a few time and if all is O.K. then you stop).  <I should stop preaching the re-mineralization of purified water and buy stock in buffer, calcium and test kits :) > Do you put in something like Kent SuperBuffer?  <I have absolutely no problem saying that I prefer most any other brand. But yes, you can> I can check Calcium in fresh water (my kit says it's good for fresh) but I know the DKH test will not work in fresh water. Thanks, still learning the basics after 5 years...  <still a great journey and education. Keep asking questions!> or maybe trying to better understand what I took for granted! Larry <essentially... to not reconstitute wastes buffers in sea mix or tank system... this will also be reflected in lower calcium and pH levels. Best regards, Anthony>

Re: Calcium Levels Anthony you make me laugh! I still have a grin on my face from your "Blasphemy" statement. o.k. o.k. I still haven't finished your book, going on vacation for two weeks this Friday so I will have some time to read.  <do you really expect to spend that much time in the bathroom to catch up on reading.> I just read your water sections around page 168...lots of good info that I never considered.  <good... part of it is even true <smile>> Anyway I thought you may enjoy some pictures of my 125g , hopefully you have a good connection so I don't bog you down.  <good connection... but lots of mail. Always a pleasure though... thank you> I've shrunk the quality so the file size is smaller.  <much appreciation> One final question. I really don't care what manufacture I buy as long as it is excellent quality, can you suggest one or two brands you have had good experience with? Thanks Larry <I have literally used hundreds of pounds of Aquarium Systems Seabuffer and Seachem's like products. The are two companies with outstanding quality control. Never steered me wrong. Other good brands out there for sure. And indeed... sea buffers and fairly similar to one another. Do get a few beers into me at a marine conference or society meeting one day and I'll elaborate :). Anthony>

Calcium and Alkalinity Been reading and learning a lot from your web site. Glad I found it. I have a 55 gallon reef tank and the calcium and Alkalinity are a little low. Calcium 320 and Alkalinity 8.4 dKH. <<Hmm... among reefkeepers perhaps those numbers are low, but compared to natural conditions, these are quite normal and adequate.>> If I use a two part solution like Kent Tech CB will that bring them up? <<It will bring up the calcium if you up the dose.>> I also read that 1 teaspoon of baking soda per 20 gallons will bring up the Alkalinity. Is this correct? <<It will help.>> If I use the baking soda to bring up the Alkalinity can I still use the two part solution or should I just use the two part solution and not use the baking soda. <<You can use both, but I'll let you in on a little secret... part A... check the ingredients, is typically sodium bicarbonate - baking soda.>> Salinity 1.024 pH. 8.2 Ammonia 0 Nitrite 0 Nitrate 0 Phosphate 0 Temp 79 <<Looks good. Cheers, J -- >>

Re: Calcium Levels Thanks I'll fire up the R/O into my large Rubbermaid container and let it sit for two days before changing to ensure the water parameters are close. <yes...aerate first (12+hours), then buffer and mix (6-12 hours) and only then salt and mix (6+hours)> Your question about Bio-calcium and Kalk, no I never did add the two at the same time. Bio during the day and the Kalk was dripped over night from a two gallon container with 2 teaspoons left to settle for a few hours.  <very well> I have looked to see if I am causing some precipitation but the water remains clear even while adding the slurry.  <a crystalline precipitation does not necessarily have to be evidenced. At best you may only notice a powdery sediment blended atop your sand. Clotting/clumping sand would be a dead giveaway though. See if you notice this when gently stirring the sand bottom surface> BTW I did add more Kalk before I received your reply, I'll stop now. I did test Calcium, I normally wait a good 4 to 6 hrs. and surprise, at 4:45PM I had added the 4 cups then measured at 6:20PM the calcium is at 320. It does seem to go up quickly but drops again within 6 hours. I thought a precipitation was a nasty easy to see snow storm....  <when it is carbonates that precip out yes> my tank is crystal clear. I purchased a new test kit (the old one didn't expire until 2003). I'll try that while the new water is mixing. Thanks... losing my hair Larry <well... at least you'll have a new reflector. Best regards, Anthony <smile>>

Calcium Levels Hi Bob or Anthony, In have been trying to sort out low calcium levels in my Reef tank for a while and don't appear to be making any headway. First off background, my tank is 5 years old and this is a recent (last month to two) problem. 125 gallon, 35 gallon sump, 3 inches aragonite, 250 lbs+ live rock, coralline algae completely covers back and all live rock. Approx. 14 hard corals and 20 soft, large orange sponge tree, Maxima Clam 4". 8 fish Hippo Tang, Yellow Tang, Pseudochromis Porphyreus, Royal Gramma, Scooter Blenny, Flame Angel, Arc-eye Hawkfish, False Percula. Water changes every 4 to 6 weeks 5 gallons then every 4th time 10 gallons. I do add Strontium and Iodine from SeaChem, and had been adding Bio-Calcium until my problems started (Anthony had advised against with my DKH issue see below). My problem is the Calcium is always low and I never had this problem before. I have added in some new hard corals recently but I can't believe the demand, I think something else is going on.  <agreed...and you can confirm this by withholding all calcium supplements for several days and testing the Calcium before and after to figure out the daily demand in your tank for calcium (as mentioned in that new book you got <wink>). With that number... you can refer to published reports of available calcium by weight for Kalkwasser or confirm the replacement yourself through supplementation and testing. This is need to know info in this case> My tank was at 280 mg/l and my DKH was 8.4 when I initially started about 2 1/2 weeks ago to build it up. I added in about 20 teaspoons of bio calcium and dripped Kalkwasser.  <just curiously...they were not then and never have been dosed at the same time have they? They can precipitate if you do. Kalkwasser is always and only added by night after the lights have gone out and buffer solutions are added by day when lights are on (pH is higher)> This I had sent a previous email, where Anthony suggested the Kalk slurry....so here goes. Purchase new Kalkwasser to be sure it's potent. Jul 8th DKH 11 Calcium 260 at 5:40PM PH 8.0, added some bio-calcium 5 tsp. Temperature always 78 degrees so I won't repeat. Jul 9th DKH 15, add Kalk slurry which I started at 1/4 teaspoon per cup water 4:40PM PH 7.96 add 2nd cup ending PH 7.98, 8:30PM PH 7.95 add 3rd, 4th, 5th & 6th cup ending PH 8.07. I may have added in Bio Calcium (see Jul 10 for DKH increase) I stopped after as Anthony recommended. Jul 10th 8:30 AM DKH 19, PH 7.98, Calcium 320. Add during the day 12 cups Kalk slurry only keeping PH between 8.10 to 8.20 at 9:00PM PH 8.16. Jul 11th 5:00PM Calcium 300, DKH 15, PH 8.12 add in 4 cups Kalk slurry only. Jul 12 8:30AM PH 8.13 add 2 cups Kalk ending PH 8.20 ; 6:00PM Calcium 300, PH 8.14, DKH 13 add 4 cups Kalk ending PH 8.20 ; 9:15 PM PH 8.2 add 2 cups Kalk ending PH 8.25. Jul 13th 9:00 AM PH 8.14 add 3 cups ending PH 8.20. 12:30PM PH 8.14 Calcium 320 DKH 14 add 2 cups ending PH 8.19. 9:20 PM PH 8.15 add 2 cups. Jul 14th 9:45 AM increase Kalk slurry where in 1 cup I add 3/4 tsp Kalk. Calcium 280!!!!! Arggggg! DKH 13 PH 7.92 add 4 cups ending PH 8.08. 3:15PM Calcium 300 PH 8.10 add 4 cups. 8:15 PM 2 cups PH 8.17. between 8:30 and 10:00PM I added another 6 cups Kalk! Today July 15th I added 2 cups Kalk at 7:45AM. At 12:45 Measure Calcium 280!! still!! after 17 cups of slurry with 3/4 tsp Kalk in each cup poured into top of aquarium. DKH is 13, PH 7.95. <my friend...please stop ALL additions until we have more info. The amount of Kalk that you have added is STAGGERING and honestly dangerous. You clearly have a precipitous even going on. No further additions until you have turned the entire tank volume over with water changes in the next 7-10 days (1-3 good sized water changes properly conducted temp, sg, ph, etc matched... aerated and mixed water in advance, etc). Your chemistry is whacked and you need SERIOUS dilution at this point. After which you can resume a two part mix... adding balanced supplements to a balanced (via dilution) Ca/ALK dynamic...or... buffer/calcium reactor with Kalk> Any Ideas how to get (keep) my Calcium up. I can't believe that my tank is sucking all that calcium in so short a time, am I missing something?  You either have a precip going on or your test kits are WAY inaccurate. The amount of calcium you have put in should be able to grow basketball sized corals in days. Yes... something is very wrong here> Thanks Larry P.S. The corals all seem the be doing fine, I propagate and the cuttings heal quickly, maybe not growing as fast as I would like, but at least now I think I know why. <dilution is the solution to pollution. Do the water changes and test less often afterwards...seriously. Once monthly is fine and once weekly is very good. More often will give you an ulcer. Anthony>

Calcium levels Bob, I'm at a loss to describe what is going on! For the last month and a half, my calcium level has gone from a respectable 420 down to 330, when I checked it tonight. All the other water parameters checked ok, with the pH @ 8.2, and the dKH @ 3.95 meq/l. The confusing thing to me is that all my corals, (SPS, LPSs, and leather corals) are doing great. <Coral can still grow at 330. It is just not the maximum amount that is dissolvable.> I also tried a different test kit, just because, <Good idea.> and that one tested @ 340. I recently added a metal halide light system to my set-up, last Wednesday as a matter of fact, and since that happened, my SPS corals especially are starting to show an amazing amount of growth. My filtration is an ecosystem sump, with lots of Caulerpa. I use the Little Giant 3-mdxq as a return pump. I probably should mention that this all works on a 80 gallon reef. I also have a Remora Pro hang-on skimmer, that is in use constantly. Is the system using that much calcium? <Sounds like it.> Within the last 2 months I have also noticed a great increase in my coralline algae. I don't think I can continue letting the calcium level drop like this, can I? <You, at least, should maintain your current level.> As of now, I am using Seachem's reef advantage and reef complete to try and keep the calcium levels up, <Look into calcium reactors.> but this is obviously not getting the job done. I also use Aragamite, at the rate of 2 cups every time I top off my tank, about 1.5 gallons every other night. I don't particularly want to start dosing Kalkwasser, so is there any other alternative. <See above note on calcium reactors.> It's kind of hard for me to believe that all my stuff is doing as well as it is with the level as it is! Any ideas would be useful, you guys haven't failed me yet. Thanks again, Charlie Ehlers <You are welcome. -Steven Pro> 

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