Please visit our Sponsors

FAQs on Calcium, Supplements involving Calcium 4

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 3, 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, Kalkwasser & FAQs on: The Science of Calcium & Alkalinity, Importance, Measure, Sources, Use of AdditivesTroubleshooting/Fixing, Products,

Want your biomineralizing life to grow vigorously? Establish your ongoing Calcium and alkalinity.

Calcium forms Hello WWM, First of all I would like to greet you a Happy new year!!! Happy 2003. <and to you in kind> I would like to know how to dose Calcium Gluconate to my reef tank to accelerate coralline algae growth. <Seachem's Reef Calcium has an eye dropper and is a straight dose> Do I mix and drip it like the  calcium hydroxide? <nope... and don't count it as a source of calcium for your corals either... use 2-part or Kalkwasser for that> I'm going to buy some Calcium Gluconate to a chemical warehouse near my place, <OK... but I wouldn't want or know how to tell you to dose it by concentration. You can do the math once you get your hands on a sample.> its also the place where I bought my KI and calcium hydroxide, its a great quality and purity and it does its job well Ca, Alk and pH except for the slow growth of corallines on my live rocks. <understood> I also want to buy some buffers there but I don't know what kind of carbonate and bicarbonates should I buy? <most buffers are overwhelmingly sodium bicarbonate. A little borate and carbonate is also mixed in> Right now I'm using baking soda but I've read that it should not be used in to long run and can also help to grow red slime algae? <not true... did "they" explain how this is so? No worries at any rate... their are compositional recipes all over the internet (check big message boards like Reef Central, Reefland, Reefs.org, etc) for recipes. Even some for the 2-part liquid mixes too> I know I should buy stuff that are meant for aquariums but I think they are just the same. <agreed... they are the same ingredients. But I like paying for the screening of QC and the convenient dosing recommendations as per known concentrations> And one last thing, I wanted to know how to dose Kalk with the slurry method. <this is discussed at length in our archives here on wetwebmedia.com (keyword search from index page on google). It is also debated nicely on reefcentral (browse their search feature just the same). And it is in my Book of Coral Propagation> I've red that the Kalk should be mixed in a cup of cold RO water and then pour it in the tank. <correct> How about the undissolved Kalk? <none... you will have begun conservatively and work ed up to a known useful (and soluble) amount of dry reagent> do I let it settle first? <nope> I use a digital pH meter from Mettler Toledo for measuring the pH of the tank so I think I am well equipped to use the slurry method that involves testing for pH. <yes my friend... the digital pH meter is necessary for this application> I really don't like the dripping method. <agreed... its too tedious and your import of calcium is limited by evaporation and the amount of Ca in a supersaturated solution and NOT by the actual demand in the tank. Dripping is a poor way to dose in the long run> My tank's pH is at 8.4/8.6 and that is 8.4 by day and 8.6 at night. Is there something wrong with my tank? <bizarre! Do you have a refugium that is lit at night?> I know they should be vice versa. <correct> Thank you very much, Ken <best regards, Anthony>

Diatoms/lighting/Ca/skimming Hello again!  My thanks for your excellent responses to my previous few questions, you've earned another couple of questions since you have proven so valuable :) Tank: 150g FOWLR, 3 wks old, cycled & stable, pH 8.0.  Had copepods appear last week and am now getting some diatoms (making a few of the upper rocks brown/rust and spotting the substrate to a good deal), seems to be under control though since adding carbon and reducing light to 8 hrs which is almost 2watts/gal. <Get that skimmer in high gear!> Is that a good idea or not, I've read on your site both ways, to increase light and turn it off completely to avoid diatoms or algae problems.   <Everyone has an opinion. I would turn them down, tweak the skimmer, add some detritivores, and slowly increase the lighting over a month or two until you get it were you want it> Also, after I get fish is it ok to stay to a shorter light period --I know the fish don't need that intensity of light all the time. <Most fish don't care. Just don't put them in a dark tank and suddenly turn on 400 watt halides after a month or two!> I have some coralline algae as well which may be starting to fade (bleach). <Probably they are adjusting to the lighting and tank conditions in general. Be sure your alk and CA are correct> Ca is always about 310 (alk between 10-12) and it doesn't want to get any higher.  I've been adding the 2 part liquids and also TurboCalcium every day.  Should I keep adding it or increase the amount I'm adding or could there be some other problem? <You're not that far off the mark. High levels of CA and alk are mutually exclusive. You might consider dropping the TurboCalcium and use Kalkwasser instead. It's very effective. There is a great article about calcium and alkalinity at Wetwebmedia. Check on the home page under "new articles."> I am only getting about a cup per day of yellow liquid from my skimmer, but what I've read from your site suggests I should get more, and it should be very dark. <Doesn't sound too bad to me. Tune it up so that it takes less water into the cup. If you are curing rock you should be getting more skimmate than this (and darker)> Is this inefficient skimming or is there just not much to be skimmed at this point? <If you have new live rock there is plenty to be skimmed. If not then there probably isn't a lot to skim. I would play with the skimmer and test it at different water levels (most important aspect of getting a skimmer to run efficiently) and adjust the riser/venturi at various levels> Thanks again for the site and faq's I've learned so much from reading them! <Fantastically great! This is why we exist...to help hobbyists! David Dowless> Mike

Misdosing 2-part calcium Here's the scenario...90 Gallon tank, 20gal sump... lot's of hard corals, a few soft corals...many inverts... etc...>www.slabe.net/Reef.htm < http://www.slabe.net/Reef.htm>  for a 3 month old pic (many more hard corals than pictures shows)  I control Calcium/Alk with a two part system. <scanning down through the body of your message, I see several problems... read on> Two Dosing pumps dose B-Ionic <by dosing in this manner, you are doomed from the start. The Calcium portion of this clear supplement must be shaken vigorously before every single dose. In a clear graduated cylinder you can barely see the striation of components separating when left undisturbed as they are in your dosing vessel. The net result is that you are not dosing the balanced 2-part supplement in a balanced ratio/mix> and another dosing pump tops off tank via a float switch with Kalkwasser water. <the addition of Kalkwasser (or any extra Ca or ALK agent) skews the balance of your "balanced" two part liquid even if you were dosing them properly.> >I use three Dosing pumps... >1 - B-Ionic Part 1 >1 - B-Ionic Part 2 (Calcium) >1 - Make-up Water w/Kalk I dose 10 teaspoons of B-Ionic Part 1 every morning followed by 2 teaspoons of B-Ionic Part 2. The make-up water is a 10 gallon tank with approx. 2 teaspoons of Kalk for every gallon of water. <huh? Why the strange mix of reagents... what made you pick these numbers, bud? No worries... the gist of it is this: if you have a tank that through large water changes if nothing else begins with reasonable balance in the Ca/ALK dynamic... then the proper dosing of a balanced 2-part mix will continue a balanced relationship by supplementation. No Kalkwasser or buffer needed. Just lots of expensive 2-part liquid <G>. I personally prefer Kalk and buffer or Kalk and a reactor... but they are more work than the 2-part mixes admittedly> For some reason, the Alk is at 7.0ish and the Calcium is at 420... but according to my Aquacontroller, the pH is varying quite a lot (from 8.15 to 8.45 during a daily cycle). <no surprise as per dosing habits above... easily corrected too. Large water changes to dilute and then resume proper dosing> From everything I read, that's quite a variance and should be buffered more. <agreed... it would be nice to see ALK at 4-12 dKH and pH no more of a swing than .2 down from 8.4 minimum daytime pH> Two weeks ago, I was only dosing 6 teaspoons of Part1 and I increased by 30% thinking that more Part 1 would do the trick... >wrong... the alk levels didn't budge... Please help.... Christopher Slabe...Cleveland C-Sea Member <best regards, my friend. Anthony>

Does His Water Has More Calcium Than A Quart of Milk? Hello All, <Hi there. Scott F. here!> I'm here again with another learning project. <All part of the fun!> I'm wondering if you could help direct me in interpreting my SeaTest Calcium test kit results. I just bought this kit today and promptly tested my water, carefully following the directions. According to the test (I ran it twice to be sure) I'm running  at 1080 mg/1 Ca. <Gosh- I certainly hope not...! LOL> The test kit itself says it only tests 0 to 500 mg. So if your familiar with this kit, when you get to reagent 3 you add drops and swirl on each drop until the test water turns pure blue. <Right..> My test water started to change at drop 62 and became pure blue at drop 72, you now multiply 72 *15 =1080. <Hmm...something is definitely amiss here! A dumb question, but are you sure that you rinsed the measuring tube in tank water before commencing the test? Did you fill Reagent #1 to the mark shown on the dropper in the kit? Another possibility-Did you get all of the contents of the granular reagent out when you performed step 3? Just some thoughts.> If I understand all this, I'm very high on my Ca. Is this a bad thing? <Well, excessively high calcium could be a big problem, but you'd probably notice a "snowstorm" in the tank, as there is only so much calcium that can stay in solution. Unless you have been adding a ton of calcium supplements in a (no nice way to put it) reckless manner, or your source water contains extremely high amounts of calcium to begin with, I'd say that the problem lies with the testing procedure, expired reagents, etc. Maybe you should take a sample to a dependable LFS for a calcium test to see if they get the same result. At least this will eliminate the possibility of ultra-high calcium levels if the test results in a "normal" reading. Also, you may want to contact Aquarium Systems regarding the problem you are having. They may offer a recommendation for correction, or some other remedy for this problem> Tank is a 55g started November 16th 2002. Removed crushed coral substrate 1 week & 2 days ago and replaced with 4" DSB. (My wife suggested out that the new sand bed is probably the cause of the high Ca here). Could she be right AGAIN? :-) <Well- "high" is a relative term. There is "high" (like 400-450 mg/l), and then there is HIGH (1080 mg/l)! Deep sand beds certainly help maintain high calcium levels, among other benefits-but the level that you are recording is really unusual...Try the suggestions that I made...hopefully, you'll get things straightened out!> Thanks in advance for the help. Dave <Thanks for stopping by, Dave- and Good Luck! Regards, Scott F>

Calcium Tests-Shaken Not Stirred??? Kind Sirs, < No "sir" needed! Scott F. here today!> I have a question regarding the Calcium test kit by Aquarium Systems. Guess to be quite honest do I blame the test kit or the tester??? <It's a good hobbyist test kit, IMO. Certainly not as accurate as a LaMotte or a Salifert, but I like it myself> I thought I read that on the site, that although it's not one of the best, it is an inexpensive test kit to help monitor calcium levels. <Yep> It happened to be carried by my LFS. But testing for the past week (first time calcium tester) I haven't been able to get a reading below the 500 limit. The test never changes over to its "true blue" color. If I may go through the >process. Step 1 small vile of tank water, seems easy enough, taken from the top of the tank to prevent hands from entering the tank. Reagent 1 to line indicated, again thought I could handle it, do shake reagent before filling dropper to mark line. Reagent 2, dated March 04, figure still good. Swirl to mix. Should this be stirred??? <Nope- just swirled> Then adding drops of reagent 3. Directions indicate swirl after each drop? <I'd swirl after each drop> Usually  swirl after adding 5,problem??? <This might be> Also should this be stirred??? <nope- I wouldn't stir> A brief supplementation history: Tank 30 gal, about 20 lbs of live rock, upon recommendations of LPS, when purchasing last few lbs of rock, Bought and used Kent calcium, Kent Strontium and Kent Essential Elements. Up until that point I never supplemented anything to the tank. (4 years). Found your site, learned about the ion problem of calcium chloride, strontium supplementation is not really required but still use the Essential Elements to add iodide to the tank (for cleaner shrimp), <I think that you'd do better to just make frequent (2x weekly) small water changes. If you are going to use additives, you need to test for them> Added calcium, a capful every 4 days up until 2 weeks ago (for about 1 month total), I was going to finish the bottle, figured with water changes and only using calcium chloride about 3 to 4 months I wouldn't have an ion problem. (But I learned that I should test before supplementing so I stopped adding until I can get the test kit figured out.) <Great move on your part- you will not regret doing it this way> PH always test around 8.4, no variation between day and night, figure it's the new (closed) house situation that I read about. And alk is always around 3.4 meq. I think it's on the low side, <Actually, that's a good reading, IMO> only buffer added is Red Sea Buffer  that came with the test kit, added to Water change water (not to tank) after instant ocean salt added and aerated overnight. <Good technique, aerating the water before use, particularly if you're using R/O> Not sure if any other tank condition would affect the test. Water changes are 4 gal every two weeks. Also, does SeaChem Calcium have a shelf life? <Yes it does- I'd consult them for specifics (see the link to them on our site> LPS has a few small bottles, (it mostly carries Kent products), and from the dust covering looks like it's been there awhile. Figured I'd switch to SeaChem after using up the Kent Calcium. The only calcium requirements I have for my tank at the moment is for Coralline algae growth. <Seachem calcium is Calcium gluconate, and this stuff will grow coralline like crazy, if used correctly. I'd use Seachem's test kit if using this product, by the way> Coralline consists of  some purple and green growth (little) some bleaching but leaned that's from improper dosing. Think it's form lack of, not excessive. <Lots of reasons for coralline declines> The only other calcium test kit available from LPS would be Red Sea. Would it be worth purchasing and testing or should I look to purchase test kits online? I'd stick with the Sea Test for now, and switch to the Seachem if using their calcium product. (would like to avoid if possible-tank spending monitored to easily) Temp is a steady 78 degrees and salinity is 1.021. <Sounds fine> Thanks for your help, DaveK <Well, Dave- sounds like you're on the right track...Just keep thinking about making your hobby as simple as possible. Unless you have very specific reasons, I'd avoid using lots of different additives. Remember, the adage that we both touched on "don't add something to the water unless you are going to test for it". In many cases (there are, of course, exceptions), simply executing regular water changes can provide all of the trace element replenishment that you will need to maintain a healthy system. If you keep things simple, you'll enjoy your hobby so much more, and will really be successful in the long run! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Re: Ca slurry Thanks for the info Anthony, <always welcome> regarding the PH fluctuations shouldn't my dKH reading of 10 promote a stable PH? <Hmmm... it is the foundation for it, but not a guarantee by any stretch. There are numerous dynamics and neglects that can cause pH fluctuations even with a nice solid dKH of 10. A tank with modest or poor water flow/aeration (very common nowadays... many don't have a 10-20X turnover of random turbulent water flow at home). Another cause would be a large population of coral, plants or algae in the tank (as opposed to a reverse lit refugium for some of the mass which would stabilize pH)> I went through a terrible algae phase but improved the skimmer to a remora and cured the problem, no undesirable algae at all except for the occasional diatom bloom on the sand bed. <yes... all very good and no problem here. You don't, by chance have a huge colony of Caulerpa or Halimeda in the tank? If no to big plants/algae and now with the remora for aeration... I wonder if you don't have accumulated CO2 in the house (winter/summer sealed home problem). Do take a water sample to the garage or a well ventilated part of the house and test pH before and after a 12 vigorous aeration. The pH should not change. If it does... it explains the fluctuations in pH in the tank and part/all of the Ca problem (accumulated CO2 creates carbonic acid that drains the tank of alk)> I do about a 20% water change every 2 weeks, my bio-load is not high. <very fine> I use a canister filter circulating at 350gph and two power heads one 300gph and the other at 145 gph, I have no tank cover, just the lighting fixture. So what is you suggestion for maintaining a stable PH? <yes as per above> Also, I occasionally put in "SeaChem calcium" (sugar based) to promote coralline growth. <yes.. a very fine product for the purpose stated> As always your help is greatly appreciated. Angelo <my great pleasure! Anthony>

Calcification and the Ice Cream Analogy Hello how are you? <very well with hope you are the same> Question regarding my Ca. I have been  dosing daily Kalk using Anthony's slurry method for a couple months now and I can not seem to bring my Ca above 350ppm, <many possible reasons for this. Had you been using liquid calcium regularly before switching to Kalk? But didn't do large water changes to dilute accumulated chloride? Or were you using the dry version of liq. calcium- turbo calcium (Calcium Chloride pellets)?> it fluctuates between about 320 and 350ppm. <A bit low... but not a terrible level at all. Calcification is far more dependant on Ca and ALK stability... not high ideal numbers. Case in point... if you can eat a double scoop ice cream cone every time you go to the ice cream stand... what do you care if they have two scoops waiting for you or a truckload of ice cream on hand. You can still only eat 2 scoops. And wouldn't you rather have 2 scoops available every single time you visited, rather than every other visit eating two scoops from a mountain of ice cream and then none available on alternate occasions? What is the number 400ppm to you? Are your corallines failing at 350ppm? I doubt it... no worries my friend. I would also suggest that you use at least two different test kits (one of them being a Hach or LaMotte brand). Hobby grade test kits are sometimes grossly inaccurate.> It takes about 1/4 teaspoon of Kalk to raise the PH 1.5 (pinpoint ph monitor) which is when I stop. <good application, but perhaps a lot of Kalk for daily> I have a 46G tank that includes 55lbs of live rock, bubble, torch, candy cane, leather and yellow and button polyps. <not a high Ca demand here> My dKH is steady at 10 and PH fluctuates between 8 to 8.4. <jeepers creepers! .4 is a staggering swing between night and day!!! each whole point is a tenfold change on a base ten log  scale. So the swing your tank is experiencing is on magnitude of a 10K change... <<? Mmm, no. A bunch, but not this much. A full point is on this logarithm scale is an order of magnitude... ten times. RMF>>wow. We need much more stability here. .2 max would be nice with 8.2 on the low end (night). Do aerate and test a glass of tank water to see if pH increases indicating a CO2 accumulation problem. Hmmm... do you have a ton of algae of some kind in the tank causing this situation?> Any idea why I cannot get to 400ppm? I use Salifert test kit. Thanks for all your help, Angelo <the Salifert chap is on Reefcentral often. He seems to be very intelligent, very kind to chat with and quite objective. Still... I must say that we get a lot of inquiries about accuracy or difficulty with readings from this brand. May just be tough colorimetric scales and not quality... still. Do test your kit against a Hach or LaMotte kit. Best regards, Anthony>

Re: Coral placement I have another question for you if I may: <Rock on my brother> Hammer (below) has one polyp (of six) which has recently started to retract and extend daily. The rest stay extended day and night.  I can see no reason for irritation but my calcium level has recently risen to 520ppm (it is normally kept at 450ppm) due to a faulty top off switch (I add using top off water), could this be a trigger for such behavior?   <not a trigger for the behavior, but an actual value of 520ppm is highly unlikely and at grave risk of causing a snowstorm (crystalline carbonate precipitation.. ALK crash!). Frankly, I doubt your test kit is reading accurately, but do confirm and dilute with water changes if true (slowly... nothing fast here please). And if true, what is your ALK? It must surely be on the lower end (below 10 dKH?)> Is this otherwise normal? <indeed... no worries on the faster hammer polyp cycles. It could simply be because of nearby flow, fish or critter activity- this specimen gets more detritus and plankton and digests more matter. Many actual possibilities here... none are bad. Best regards, Anthony>

Calcium Hydroxide Hi I am now using Kalkwasser as my calcium supplement/additive, but I wanted to know how much calcium is actually added every night. <You can figure this out through testing. Start conservatively and see if the calcium levels drop, raise or remain the same over a course of a week or more of dosing. Then adjust as needed.> For a 75 gallon tank, assuming that calcium is 0 mg/l, if I add 1 gram of water with one teaspoon of calcium hydroxide, that 1 gram would have a calcium concentration of about 400 mg/l. <I don't follow the math here. Perhaps I am not familiar enough with the metric system, but for this kind of calculation I would add X mg of Kalkwasser to 1 liter of water.> If I add it to my tank overnight (dripping) the amount of calcium added to my tank from the 1 g = 400 mg/l divided by 75 gallons would be 5.33mg/l, this is the amount that is being added to calcium concentration every night (also assuming that calcification is off). So every time I add a 1 g of makeup water with 1 teaspoon of Kalkwasser, 5.33 mg/l would be added to the calcium? Is my calculation correct? <I don't know, but I think you are making this too complicated. You have to keep testing anyway. Even if you did the calculations right, calcification is occurring and the larger your corals get the greater the demand for calcium, so you cannot even assume a constant need of calcium. It will continue to grow over time.> So if one has a calcium of 350 mg/l, it would take him/her 10 days to bring the calcium up to about 400 mg/l? (1 g every night) please correct me if I am wrong. <I am not sure if you are right or wrong, but your assumptions make the point moot.> Thanks <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Test Kit I would like to know your opinion on Seachem's calcium test kit , I can get it at a good price at LFS. I know you guys normally recommend Salifert brands but it is a lot more expensive. Should I pay the extra money for Salifert or will the Seachem's kit be fine? Thanx for help. <It's really a matter of preference. I have used both with good results. I find Salifert's kit to be a bit more consistent, but it can be a bit trickier to use than Seachem's. Both are excellent companies that make some very fine products. I don't think that you'd do too badly with either one. Good luck!  Regards, Scott F>

Growing coralline algae I have been trying to get the pink or purple coralline algae to grow in my 55gal tank, but have not had much success. I use Kalkwasser and keep my calcium around 450 and my dKH around 11,(everything else checks out fine also) which from what I've read on here are good parameters for growing the coralline algae. <agreed> A salesman at LFS told me I need to add magnesium to help the calcium get absorbed, but thought i would ask you guys before buying something I might not need. <true... Mg should be about 3X calcium. 1200-1300ppm Mg would be nice here> I do have a few blue legged hermit crabs and couple of serpent starfish, and one regal tang, but that's all as far livestock goes. <no harm> I would appreciate any help with this problem. <do consider using SeaChem's Reef Calcium (organic Ca gluconate) in addition to your regular regime for 4 months (full doses). It is useless IMO for coral growth... but phenomenal for coralline algae growth> Also I would like to know which you prefer using, the Kalkwasser or the two part supplements? Thank you. <2-parts are nice, but still have Ca chloride which is problematic in the long run. They are also expensive and easily corrupted (Ca/Alk dynamic) unless you begin with a tank in perfect balance. Kalkwasser has many benefits over any other form of calcium at any rate. If you can use the slurry method (in archives and my book) to get over the tedious dosing of Kalk, there are tremendous benefits (also detailed over again in the FAQ archives). Best regards, Anthony>

Coralline Algae This is for Anthony. I talked to you yesterday about coralline algae growth and you suggested using Seachem's Reef Calcium along with my Kalkwasser. I just have a few follow up questions. First if i use the SeaChem's' should i lower my dosage of Kalkwasser as to not drive my calcium to high? <simply obey your test kit readings and tanks needs. Use the recommended dose of Reef Calcium and make up the rest of your daily Ca need with Kalkwasser. After a few months your corallines will be great (if you kept Ca and Alk consistent!) and you can go back to using Kalk only> Lastly , i have Seachem's Reef Complete ,can i use that instead of the Reef Calcium since it has magnesium and strontium already in it, plus i already have it and wouldn't have to buy the Reef Calcium? <nope... this product has calcium chloride and not calcium gluconate (Reef Calcium) which is ideal for spurring corallines> I only used it a couple of times and stopped because of what i have read and been told that it is not good for maintaining calcium in the long run because it is calcium chloride and Kalkwasser was better. Anyway thanks for help. <yes... liquid or dry calcium chloride is a bad long term solution. Just a temporary quick and safe Ca boost for neglected tanks. Best regards, Anthony>  

Reef Calcium Anthony, I've seen you recommend SeaChem Reef Calcium a number of times as a great stimulus for coralline growth.   <yes... specifically Calcium gluconate.. a sugar based/organic calcium. Great for corallines, but not useful for most other calcifying reef animals (corals)> Right now, I have a 125g fish only w/ live rock that I'm not adding any supplements to.   <not a crime in a young tank or aquaria with few calcifying animals. Still... calcium and carbonates are being used daily to some extent. If you do weekly water changes you are likely fine without supplements> I'd love to have some coralline growth though.  Can I just add Reef Calcium and nothing else?   <no my friend... sugar based calcium is a temporary boost for corallines only IMO. It is a fact otherwise that your calcifying animals need a consistent and constant supply of calcium and carbonates separately. For this you must test your water periodically and dose accordingly to maintain targets (8-12dKH hardness and 350-425 ppm Ca> I have read through your 'Understanding Calcium & Alkalinity' section.  From what I've read there & in the WWM FAQs, it seemed like the sugar-based composition of Reef Calcium wouldn't necessitate adding other supplements. Am I misunderstanding this? <yes, my friend... enormously. Please read again at leisure. I do understand that chemistry for those of us that aren't chemists is no fun at first. I have always been outspoken that Calcium gluconate is not at all useful for corals. They do not take it up well, quickly or at all in some cases it seem. For the benefit of other daily FAQ readers, the passage from the above mentioned article: "Organic Calcium (Calcium gluconate): This calcium supplement is an exception to the above warnings about the dangers of "Liquid calcium" products. Sugar-based calcium is an essentially safe source of calcium, but has not clearly demonstrated its efficacy for coral growth. It has, however, been shown to greatly accelerate the growth of desirable coralline algae species. As such, it is recommended as a supplement to a primary method for dosing calcium." Complete article here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Anthony%20pics/understanding_calcium_and_alk.htm > Along with this, would there be a long-term negative impact to adding this?   <well... no problems like Calcium Chloride (Most liquid calciums) with skewed Ca/Alk levels... but it IS an organic nutrient and can feed nuisance algae if you abuse it. Reef Calcium is mostly a jump start for corallines until you get into a good routing with Kalkwasser and buffer, and/or a calcium reactor> I've seen you warn about long-term supplementation of liquid calcium, but wasn't sure if this was the same thing. <they are different indeed... gluconate versus chloride base> And if you'll indulge me, let me ask one other unrelated question...I'm building a new sump for my tank to better house my new skimmer (AquaC EV-150). <awesome> I was using a wet/dry without the bioballs, but with the grids, etc.   In the wet/dry, there was a big sponge that all the water flowed through as it went out of chamber 1 into chamber 2.  My wife and I are split on whether I should incorporate this into the new sump in a somewhat similar manner.  (If it helps knowing, we currently have about 50lbs of live rock and were just given another 60-70 lbs worth, which is currently in quarantine.)  Is the sponge a good thing to keep or not, and why? <the foam block can be kept as a polishing filter (and used as a filter in some cases for a quick QT tank when needed). It must be the last thing before the return pump though (never place it before a skimmer or refugium) and it should be rinsed regularly to reduce nitrification (nitrate accumulation form it)> Thanks a ton for your help! (and for your ongoing work on this great web resource!) John <our great pleasure... best regards. Anthony>

High Ca/Low Alk Hello there, Hope all is well with you. <thanks, wish hope you are in good health and spirit as well> I am a little concerned. <me too... pomegranates have been so expensive this year! $2 each in my hometown... last year they were only $1. Must have been a bad growing season> My 55g tank is over 9 years old, but the current set up with 55 lbs of LR (45 Fiji, 10  >Atlantic) has been running since June of this year. There is tremendous coralline algae growth, as well as snail shell growth (about 20 snails). Right now my  Ca is near 600 (according to SeaTest), <inaccurate likely, unless you have been abusing liquid calcium supplements. A dangerous level indeed over 450ppm> and alk is close to  2.0 meq/l (?)... <hmmm... you have indeed misdosed liquid Ca. It has precipitated your carbonates> I haven't added any supplements since first week of November (I use a two-part called Oceans Blend). <a common problem with these supplements is that aquarists don't mix them vigorously before every dose. The components of this clear solution stratify and get dosed out of proportion which causes an imbalance in the Ca/ALK dynamic> Early November, the measurements were about 500+ for Ca and about 2.2meq/l for alk. <Yikes... still way too skewed. The other problem with the two part mixes is that they will carry any imbalance you start with. You must have a tank in balance (large water changes will do the trick) BEFORE you begin dosing two part liquid supplements> I stopped adding the two-part at that time hoping to lower the Ca. I am preparing to do a 10% water change this week, followed by another next week. <wow... 10% weekly for normal maintenance is not enough in a healthy tank when using liquid Ca supplements (chloride ions build up and need to be diluted). In a problem like this... you need a few large water changes... 25% on the low end, weekly or better for a few weeks> What could have cause the increase in Ca? <starting with a tank out of balance and then not mixing the solutions vigorously before dosing to reiterate> Could it be the LR dissolving? <nope... its happening, just not making a difference here> I have noticed that the rock has "shrunk" a little... <Oh yes... dissolves in time. And your tank would benefit from some fresh rock for certain. But it will not help the alk issue> some pieces are not as big as when I first put them in. I don't think it's due to settling as holes in the rock have gotten noticeably bigger and rocks stacked upon other rocks are not covering the same amount of area as before (could my eyes be playing tricks on me?). <nope... you are correct. They dissolve chemically and from internal organisms/activities> I was doing weekly water changes for the first 3 months, then bi-weekly, tri-weekly since then. <ughh... stick with small weekly. Best (IMO)> I have been using Purified water sold at the grocery store for changes and top off...it says on the bottle that it is ozonized and de-ionized. I aerate the water overnight, buffer it the next, then add Instant Ocean the day after that. <perfect my friend> I have a corner overflow with polyester filter floss which flows down under the tank over Chemipure and Polyfilter, goes into 10g sump housing Aqua-C Urchin, and returned by Mag9.5 (throttled to about more than half way opened). <the prefiltration is severely limiting skimmate potential/production. Please never prefilter water before a skimmer... only raw. Prefilter afterwards> >I have: >1 Kole Tang >3 Damsels >20 Astrea snails >2 keyhole limpets >10 blue legged hermits >1 unidentified crab >4 inch Brown Acropora >1 green open brain >1 colony yellow polyp >2 colonies of green star polyps >3 rock anemones (will be trading in soon) >1 bubble tip >7 blue mushrooms >1 Pink carnation All seem to be doing well for now, no deaths since earlier this year. <a very strange mix of corals... ultimately incompatible. Too long to explain hear. but very different light and feeding requirements. Under your standardized lighting and care... some will thrive and some will die prematurely in the 10-18 month picture. Study this issue more my friend.> Fish are getting bigger, corals are solid in colors and multiplying (except carnation...it seems to have lost some color and shrunk a bit...I may trade it in soon). <your carnation coral is starving to death.... please do not re-buy until you understand their very specialized needs> I feed Sweetwater zooplankton, Mysis shrimp, Nori, flake food. For the Acropora, I blend (in a blender) phytoplankton, zooplankton, Mysis shrimp, clam and lightly squirt polyps with a turkey baster. <hmmm... some issues here (particle size/usability). Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fdreefinverts.htm and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/growingcorals.htm The parameters are ammonia=0, nitrite=0, nitrate=0-5, pH=8.2,temp=76-78, SG=1.026.Thank you, RY <best regards, my friend. Anthony>

Aragamilk Sorry to bother you guys but I have a question about Carib sea Aragamilk. Do you know any pros and cons about this stuff <hmmm... need to know more precisely what it is you are asking...  very general question. Ultimately though, I will say (having used this product and tested in my coral farm/greenhouse) that I have a clear and defined (many FAQs here on wetwebmedia to this effect) preference for calcium hydroxide and/or a calcium reactor. They are more consistent and reliable and have more benefits beyond Ca and ALK supplementation> TIA, dab <best regards, Anthony>

Calcium, Magnesium & Alkalinity W/O Sump Sorry to bother you all again, <no bother at all, my friend. Welcome back :) > I am trying to stabilize my water quality before I add anything to my reef tank besides snails and live rock & Sand.   <excellent> My levels and set up are as follows: DSB 100 lbs Live Rock Protein Skimmer PH 8.2 DKH 10.4           Magnesium 1050 Salinity 1.022 Temp 78 Calcium 320 Nitrates, Ammonia, Nitrite 0 Phosphates 0 <Ca and Mg are in balance 1:3, and Alk is nicely high> I have been dosing liquid calcium (7 days at maximum dosage w/o an increase, tested with two different Salifert kits) trying to get calcium up above 350, so that I can then maintain it at this level using ESV 2 part.   <Hmmm... Kalkwasser or water changes with Reef Crystals might be much better here than liquid calcium.> W/O a sump I can not use Kalkwasser, <nope... you're mistaken my friend. You don't need a sump for Kalkwasser for any reason (super solution or slurry/dry application). Kalk has so many more benefits than Ca Chloride and few if any disadvantages. Simply add it slowly to a strong stream of water in the top display and never more than will raise the pH by .2 (add at night). You can use the mfg drip method or my slurry method (described here in the WWM archived FAQs or in my Book of Coral Propagation)> any ideas of how to bring up the Calcium w/o a reactor.  Also can I use baking soda to increase the PH to 8.4-8.6 as Anthony suggests.   <alas no... baking soda will not get you above 8.3, but Kalkwasser will> I have only been using the liquid calcium for a short time so I presume that the liquid calcium is not interacting with the PH.   <agreed... it takes at least 4-6 months to impact pH or Alk negatively with liquid calcium use> I change 10% of the water every week.   <pretty good> With the magnesium where it is should I start supplementing to keep levels around 1200, and if so what would you suggest. <indeed... it would be nice to get 400 Ca 1200 Mg and Alk can then drop to 8-10 dKH> Thanks again for your time, I will be ordering your new book next and look forward to receiving it. James <thanks kindly, my friend... best regards! Anthony>

Dying tank!!!! Hi guys, <whassup buttercup?> I have a 155/gal bow front mini reef that has been up and running for about 4yrs.  I run 6 96watt power compacts, two of which are blue. Berlin skimmer, sump filter with live rock, UV sterilizer, and I use a Kent Maxima RO/DI for all water that goes into the tank.   <you didn't ask my opinion on it, but... the UV is doing more harm than good here. I assure you that it is weak at best under most applications for disease control (needs a bare bottomed system, heavy carbon/ozone water clarity, polished prefiltered water, etc to have a prayer of working). It IS however, probably killing a lot of good plankton for your corals> Chemistry as of yesterday: PH:  7.9-8.0 Alk:  4 <Hmmm... that pH is scary low for a daytime reading (no doubt drops much lower at night)... And... is that ALK in meq/L? If so, very fine. If not (in dKH): frightening> Ammonia:  0 Phosphates:  1.0 <Doh! Algae farm... even more evidence of how poor Berlin skimmers can be. Do consider if you are getting dark daily skimmate every day here. If not, may I suggest a better skimmer> Nitrite:  0.22mg/L Nitrate:  10mg/L Ca:  480mg/L <too high to almost even be believable. Are you sure of the accuracy of the test here? Over 450 you run the risk of a crystalline precipitation of carbonates. Very unlikely to stay safely for long near 500 ppm. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Anthony%20pics/understanding_calcium_and_alk.htm > Salinity 1.024-1.025 We do 25% water changes 1/wk.   <awesome!> Residents include:  Sail fin Tang, Mandarin, Xmas wrasse, 6 Line wrasse, Fairy wrasse, Yellow Coris wrasse, 8 clown gobies about ? inch each, Percula clown, yellow spotted watchman goby.  All fish are less than 2 inches.   <except the tang, I assume... all fine while the tang behaves> Clean up crew consists of about 150 hermit crabs, <Doh! and not so live sand for their activities <G>> 1 emerald crab and 20 turbo snails.  I feed the tank two cubes of frozen Mysis/day and Spectra Vital 1/wk.   <cool> The tank has been thriving up until about a week ago.  I mean it really looked incredible. Now, my frogs spawn and hammer corals won't open at all. They're slimming or disintegrating.  I've already completely lost two frog spawn heads.  Mushrooms looked shriveled, polyps won't open up either.  Brain corals, trumpets, and plate corals seem to be fine.  I also noticed a bit of red slime algae on the sand. <it looks to me like you may be having a pH and alkalinity issue... perhaps mitigated by high calcium dosing. I'm guessing that you use liquid calcium instead of dry (Kalkwasser). If so, you are having a common experience that the mfg conveniently forget to mention: Calcium Chloride impart chloride ions that accumulate in time. After a year for most people (on monthly water change schedules) or longer for those with more frequent/larger water changes (dilution of chlorides) the buildup causes depressed alkalinity and can even crash a tank (causing a precip/snowstorm). The key here is dilution and target chemistry of pH 8.5 by day, 8.3 at night (never lower!), 8-12 dKH ALK and 350-425ppm Calcium> On 11/4/02 we added two 175watt metal halides and started to leave the lights on longer.  Previously we only had the lights on for 10 hours/day. <more than 10 hours metal halide light can be dangerous. But don't back off abruptly either. Shorten by 15 minutes daily until you reach 9-10 hours> Any advice on this would be greatly appreciated!!!!!  We're desperate! Thanx for your help! Kristie <best regards, Anthony>

Re: Dying tank!!!! Hi Anthony, <Cheers, my friend> Thanx for the info.   <my pleasure> The Alk in my tank is 4 meq/l.   <very well... no higher though please> I'm having a lot of trouble getting the PH up.  Not sure why.   <as I described in a previous e-mail, it can easily be from the use of liquid calcium products (imbalance of imparted chloride ions). We had a reader reply after he read your post realizing he had the same situation. You simply need to do several large water changes to resume balance, and then dose simply with Kalkwasser (at night) and baking soda by day. Heavy aeration would be helpful too> My Berlin skimmer seems to be working fine, <if that means you get 4-8 oz of coffee color skimmate daily, then I agree that it is working fine indeed. Else, yours is like most of its kind... finicky, inconsistent and unreliable. Too common with such skimmers. Any tank that has fish in it that are fed several times weekly, if not daily, can easily produce a full cup of dark daily skimmate> however; what type of skimmer do you prefer?   <Depends on budget and willingness to make adjustments. Good mid shelf skimmers require minor adjustments a few times weekly. Top shelf skimmers require very little adjustments and still produce very consistent skimmate. Euro-reef and Aqua-C get my votes for two of the best> Also, what's the best salt, <Instant Ocean for a staple... Tropic Marin for top shelf> test kits, <Hach or LaMotte brand> and additives to use in the tank?  Every LFS recommends something different.   <the reef fundamentals are Kalkwasser (calcium hydroxide), iodine and some sort of alkalinity booster (baking soda alone is usually fine)> Let me know what you think. Thanx, Kristie <My "Book of Coral Propagation" gives over 200 pages to basic reef keeping (husbandry, water quality, etc). A 450 page book. Do look it up on Amazon and beyond to read reviews and see if it might not suit you. Else, you certainly can rely on weekly water changes as a very good stand-by for dilution of bad elements and replacement of trace elements. Best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Dosing with liquid calcium Anthony, <cheers, Scott> I have very similar water parameters to Kristie (low PH, high alkalinity, high calcium), and I HAVE been dosing liquid calcium for 3 years (alternating Coralife Invertebrate Calcium Supplement, SeaChem Reef Calcium, SeaChem Reef Complete) as you guessed in your response to her (attached below). Lately, coralline algae growth has stopped, and green nuisance algae has started to appear. <yes... a common problem, although your success to reach three years without complications for having used mostly liquid calcium is testimony to your good aquarium husbandry> Do I need do anything more than switch to Kalkwasser? <nope... it can be that simple. For a scientific explanation of how this works, chemist Randy-Holmes Farley on Reef central and beyond has explained it in great detail. You will still need to keep an eye on Alk levels and dose carbonates (baking soda) on occasion (possibly). Target 350-425 ppm Ca and 8-12 dKH. Higher than this can be dangerous. Consistency is far more important than unnaturally high levels of either>> What about the already high levels of calcium? (usually around 650 mg/l with SeaChem test kit). <I'm not worried about it because I am certain you don't have 650ppm Ca. It is almost impossible, and precariously dangerous if true. I suspect that you are getting a misreading or something in the water is lending to the misreading. Do a large water change (dilution) and test with another kit (try LaMotte or Hach for high end, or Aquarium Systems SeaTest for an affordable kit> Tank is 75G reef with 30G sump/DSB refugium & weekly 10% changes with RO w/SeaChem Marine Buffer & the now banished liquid calcium. <the weekly water changes have benefited you here and in so many other ways. Do keep up the good work!> All fish & corals are healthy. One difference from Kristie's parameters is my salinity which I have always kept at 1.021 at suggestion of LFS. I plan on slowly raising this to 1.023 by topping off with saltwater rather than fresh over the next month or so. <no worries either way... stay lower (1.018-1.022) for mostly fishes, and higher (1.022-1.026) for corals> My skimmer is an Aquarium Systems Seaclone which I have always suspected to be mediocre. <at best...> Should I replace it? <absolutely. A good skimmer is one of the single most important pieces of equipment for your marine aquarium. And while Aquarium Systems is a favored company of mine with many fine products... the Seaclone is not one of them! I personally wouldn't take one for free... heehee, Sorry to say> I have read the Skimmer FAQ's and know which brands you guy's consider good, I just haven't heard your opinions on this model. <two words: "wheel chuck" Ha! Indeed, my friend... after you have seen and smelled the product that a good skimmer like a Euroreef puts out daily and effortlessly like clockwork, you will be converted too :) And the drastic reduction in time spent algae scraping is pretty sweet as well!> I just ordered your book through ReadingTrees and hope you will autograph it for me. <with pleasure my friend! Kind thanks indeed> Thanks for all that you & the WWM crew are doing to advance our wonderful hobby, Scott <our great pleasure helping good and empathetic aquarists like yourself. With kind regards, Anthony>

Chloride issues? Gentlemen, I have a general question on calcium addition to a reef aquarium.  I am in process of setting up a 70 gallon Berlin style reef, and am very interested in keeping things as simple and self maintaining as possible--to ensure that the enjoyment level is higher than the maintenance level. <Ahhh! A true conscientious aquarist!> I am planning on using an AquaC EV-120, a Custom Sea Life 4-96W compact fluorescent system, and was going to use Seachem additives including Reef Complete, Reef Carbonate, and Reef Plus.  After reviewing much of your website--much more to go however, I am now questioning the Seachem products.   <Excellent products.  You will likely only need calcium and buffer.> I understand that Kalkwasser or a Calcium reactor are the preferred methods of pH/alkalinity/calcium maintenance.  But. . . Even with the calcium reactor, sometimes you advise using Kalkwasser also.   <Yes, it's caustic nature sequesters phosphates, supports alk and maintains pH at night.> For me, the advantage of using a reactor would be to avoid the hassle of the Kalkwasser. <Yes, a common problem for some.> I am concerned about the Seachem releasing the free chloride ions that you've mentioned. <Seachem calcium is Calcium Gluconate, not Calcium Chloride, so no worries.> Is this something that will eventually build up to intolerable levels even with normal water changes? <Yes, if you use Calcium Chloride products.> I do not want to set myself or my tank inhabitants up for failure before I even get started.  Is there a way to control the chlorides to manageable levels?  Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.  Thank you for all of your information in your website. Scott <For a 70 you are right at the break even point for the expense of using a two part calcium and alkalinity supplement. Some of these, like B-ionic, have some of the benefits of Kalk with less hassle. A calcium reactor will not likely need much if any Kalk supplementation and you could also choose to use another calcium supplement (Seachem) if the reactor doesn't keep your calcium levels where you want. For much more on this topic please check out this link: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm  It should help.  Craig>

Dosing Ca & Supplements Hi WWM crew, <Hi!> My Berlin reef tank is 6 months old now... have a few fish and corals in it and I'm constantly replacing evaporated water with kalk+vinegar. The tank is 100gal and daily evaporation is about 1/2 gal. As you can see this isn't enough to keep Ca levels above 400 range with Kalk, especially as I added some LPS corals 2 weeks ago... <DO test calcium and carbonate alkalinity and determine your usage and from that, your dosage.  Don't guess,> Should I go and buy some calcium chloride to extra elevate my Ca levels? What's the best dosing method? <The best article on the best method is right here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm   Anthony wrote this recently just for this occasion!> As I also dose strontium and iodine once per month, I would like to know if it's ok to mix them into my Kalk solution (just once per month of course), as this way I wouldn't need another dosing equipment.  Thank you, si-reefer <The strontium may be, but both of these can be dosed directly to a high current area of the display as easily. Again, I recommend testing before dosing.  Follow Anthony's advice for supplements if needed.   Craig>

Ca/dKH I am in the process of converting to a reef. <awesome and welcome!> Currently I am using Anthony's slurry method of raising and maintaining calcium. <very convenient when applied carefully ;)> My 46G tank consists of a couple fish, about 55 lbs of live rock, and a leather coral. If I dose daily using this method (dose Kalk until ph rises .2 using a pinpoint ph monitor) how long do you think it will take to raise Ca to say 400ppm? (Calcium is currently about 275ppm using Salifert test kit) <not long at all... this young tank has a very small demand for calcium at present. Days here> also I am using SeaChem's "reef builder" to buffer the water. <very fine... but baking soda would work almost as well... in some ways better (less complicated)> Should I just follow the manufacturers recommendations for dosing, dKH is 8.0 (Salifert). <a fine dKH when your Ca gets over 350ppm> Also, at what point can a sudden precip of calcium carbonate "snowstorm" be caused? <the Ca/ALK dynamic has to be severely skewed or you can instigate it with a sudden and excessive influx of Ca. If you dose slowly and properly, and don't exceed 425ppm Ca by much if ever at all.. I don't expect that you'd ever see a "snowstorm"> If it is related to pH, is there a certain pH level that it will happen at or does it depend on your Alkalinity too? <really a sudden spike in pH/Ca with Kalk... can happen in reverse though with extremely high ALK just the same. The key is staying within safe parameters: 8-12 dKH and 350-425 ppm Ca>> One more question, If I am dosing Calcium gluconate  for Coralline Algae growth, how often should I be dosing given my setup, can I do it at the same time I am adding the Kalk? Thx. <dose as per mfg spec and concurrent with Kalk... sugar calcium does not contribute significantly to calcification like Kalk does. Best regards, Anthony Calfo>

The Ying-Yang of Calcium/Alkaline Reserve Hi all, <Hi Don!> Hmmmm, just when I think I have a grasp on something, it slips away. <You aren't that far away my friend!  Read on.> First, tank spec: 75G (18x18x48) 100#LR, 1200gph flow with powerheads (stop! I know!), Remora Pro skimmer, 4" course aragonite sand bed, 110W PC Actinic 12hrs/day and 220W 10K PC 11 hrs/day, temp 80F, SG 1.025, ammonia/nitrate/nitrite 0, phosphorous 0, magnesium 1220-1280, calcium 400-420 and alk 12-15 dKH, weekly 7G water changes with IO salt. 5G refugium that has been up about 2 wks. Change water is RO/DI aerated at least 3 days then add salt and aerate 4 more days. Pods and other critters abound! Inhabitants 2 Amphiprion ocellaris, 2 Nemateleotris magnifica, 1 Lysmata amboinensis, 1 Mithrax sculptus, a colony of about 20 Parazoanthus species, a colony of about 15 Actinodiscus cardinalis, 1 Sarcophyton sp. frag (cut by Mr. Calfo himself!) assorted Astrea/Cerith snails. The mushrooms have been in the tank about 6 months and have doubled in number and after seeing Anthony's presentation a couple weeks ago am trying to muster the fortitude to hack a few off the rock and transplant them. The yellow polyps have been in about a month and already there are half dozen babies growing from the parents and coralline has gone crazy the last 3 weeks. So, something is right, would like to get the alkalinity down - pH up though. BTW, for others reading this, I am feeding the yellow polyps Fenner Food every other day and the growth has been phenomenal! (Thanks Bob!) <If you were to ask Bob, he would tell you to stop worrying so much, a slightly depressed pH has it's advantages...but there is something you can do, no worries.> I am adding B-ionic and SeaChem Reef Advantage, nothing else. About a month ago I was having trouble with depressed calcium (250-300ppm) and was up to 50ml B-ionic 1 and 70ml B-ionic 2. At Craig's advice, I did 5 daily 10% (7G) water changes, backed the b-ionic down to 20ml (1ml/4G as directed) each and used SeaChem reef advantage to slowly bring the tank to 400ppm calcium. (Not difficult as the water changes go me up to about 350) Then did a calcium starve for 5 days and calculated the calcium use. Since then, I have been able to keep the calcium at 400-420ppm, thanks Craig! But, I have continued the alkalinity battle. It has varied from 12-15dKh, occasionally down to 11 but not below, over this time. And, the pH is low 7.9 to 8.1.  About 10 days ago I brought the B-ionic down to 10ml of each (1ml / 8G as directed with dosing calc) and still can't get the alk down. I know I am flirting with a precip snow storm but can't figure out where the additional alk is coming from. Maybe the rise in coralline growth? Overfeeding?   <It's coming from the b-ionic. The part 1 is buffer/carbonate alk additive. The part 2 is calcium, etc.  Before you had an ionic imbalance the other direction, now you are in the saturation area.> My thoughts are this: Stop the b-ionic for a while and continue the calcium additive and monitor. Maybe bi-weekly water changes. Should I use a buffer (SeaChem marine has been suggested before). I was hesitant to add the buffer as the label states it will RAISE alk. Am I just waiting for the system to center? I can't believe that I am that far away from stability (which I am striving for before adding any more corals). Thanks much, Don <No worries Don, you are right there. I honestly would suggest Kalkwasser dripped as usual (at night) to maintain calcium, push your pH to where you want it, and then test alk and supplement buffer/alk supplement to maintain alk. With *just* Kalk, your carbonate alk will lower over time (likely a week or so). Please don't feel alone, this is the most widely misunderstood area of marine husbandry!  Anthony wrote a piece to help simplify it for our WWM readers that he is still working on. Let me refer you to it and see if it helps you. Go to: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm  I would follow his first choices in your case and also follow his advice to maintain parameters in the mean (mid point).  Don't hesitate to write if you need any further assistance. (and let those levels fall to the mean)  Craig>

Re: Calcium supplement Thank you so much! I will purchase the Seachem's Reef Calcium but should I also purchase a product from Seachem that will be able to be used with the calcium but will help maintain ph and alkalinity? If so, what Seachem product (or other brand) do you recommend? Thanks! :) <You do need more products and information, my friend. The reef calcium is specifically for growing coralline algae quickly but is not helpful for much else. Aquariums with live rock, etc need Calcium, Alkalinity and pH testing and dosing as necessary. This may be accomplished as simple as using Kalkwasser and common SeaBuffer. Some people like a more high tech/lower work (less dosing) method by installing a calcium reactor. There are many choice to be made here. My advice is to read up on reef tank chemistry first before deciding which products suit you best. In the meantime, regular weekly water changes will serve you very well. There is a lot of aquarium chemistry information on the web, and I cover it in simple layman's terms in my Book of Coral Propagation as well. My advice for simplicity is Kalkwasser and basic SeaBuffer. I would not use liquid calcium chloride for calcium dosing. Best regards, Anthony>

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 This is a great site, thank you for your time and patience. I have a 75 gallon reef tank with two refugiums (8 and 20 gallons) both have deep sand beds and one has a couple different types of Caulerpa growing in it. My problem is calcium. I can't keep the calcium level up. I am using Instant Ocean salt mix, aerated and buffered RO water (8.3) <I always make a point of testing my new water to make sure that it has the appropriate parameters prior to use. I use DI water and Instant Ocean or Reef Crystals, so I am similar. I also use Seachem's Reef Builder and Marine Buffer to reconstitute the water. I aerate and heat the water for 24 hours, then add the salt and mix for 24 hours, then test for pH, calcium, and alkalinity and adjust as needed. There is no point doing a water change with water that is lacking something. This is no knock against Instant Ocean. You must add additional compounds because of the purity of your freshwater.> and B-Ionic for alk and calcium (around 25 ml of each every day as instructed). <That may also be a problem. No instructions can compensate and guess for all possible tanks. You must dose and test and adjust to your particular tank's needs.> My alk is 4.8 (actually down), pH 8.2 end of photo period, and calcium 200-250, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate is undetectable. My pH is usually 8.0-8.1 early in the morning. I do a 10-20 gallon water change almost every week but have never gone more than two weeks. Yet I can't keep the calcium levels up. I have lost some coralline algae and my Xenia is still pulsing but shrinking back a little. Any suggestions about what might be causing my problem? <See above. I would perform several larger water changes (50% weekly) to get things back on track and then you can settle back to testing, dosing, and your routine water change schedule.> I do shake the B-Ionic before dosing. <That is good and it is a fine product. -Steven Pro>

Re: Calcium supplement Sorry for bothering you again.  <no bother at all my friend> I think I've decided what products to purchase based on our last emails. Would you mind looking over my list and letting me know if you see something unnecessary or against your recommendations? <very well... and looking at it, it is truly more than you need... explained below... simply know that what you really need (the basics) are calcium (I recommend Kalkwasser) and buffer (something to raise Alkalinity). With water changes, that's most of the picture... calcium (Ca) plus carbonates (ALK) equal calcium carbonate growth. You may want to test for magnesium levels too just to make sure they don't stray. Mg should be about triple Ca (say 1200ppm). For soft coral growth and color in some coral, an iodine supplement is nice too> I've decided to go with the following Seachem products: Reef Advantage Calcium Reef Builder Reef Complete Reef Plus Reef Calcium <Reef Advantage Calcium is the dry version of Reef Complete. Pick one or the other to Kalkwasser instead (calcium hydroxide). The Reef Builder is fine for a buffer (ALK). Reef Calcium is fine to boost the corallines (discontinue perhaps after 4 to 6 months and good coralline growth). The Reef plus is fine for iodine too. So... in summary, it sounds like all is fine except for the Reef Advantage/Reef Complete combo... pick one or use Kalkwasser instead. I recommend Kalk because it has many advantages over calcium chloride products.> How long do you think it will take to see improvement in my live rock? <it should begin to improve easily in 2 months... may be quite impressive in 4 months> Also, speaking of live rock, the other day, I picked one up to rearrange it and noticed that the bottom of it was covered in what looked to be a white net looking substance. I kept watching it later on in the day and it looked like tiny little feather dusters had opened all over it. Is this normal? Is this OK?  <yes... wonderful!> I have also noticed a little area of the same looking stuff appearing on a base rock -- do you know what this is based on my description? <indeed... a common fanworm. Do enjoy :) > Thanks for your help AGAIN! As always, you are a great source of information and I appreciate your help. <our great pleasure. Anthony>

Alkalinity/calcium I have a question about alkalinity: <OK> During the last two or three weeks I have begun using B-ionic to raise the alkalinity and calcium. Tonight, I tested the water for the fourth time. I am some what befuddled by what I discovered. <you may not need to be confused. A common problem with these 2-part mixes is that aquarists do not shake the calcium part vigorously before every dose. The product stratifies in the bottle and all components do not then get dosed equally or in balance. So what happens in a short time is that the Ca/ALK dynamic gets skewed. Any doubts, simply put the calcium part in a clear glass bottle and let it sit overnight. You can see the stratification> It took sixteen drops of alkalinity fluid to get the color from pink to purple. The kit states that one must multiply the number of drops by ten and that will produce the carbonate hardness. Using this method, the carbonate hardness of the water is 160 mg/l. In order to get the meg/l (which is an often referred number in aquarium literature), one must divide the 160 by 0.02 Using this measure, the mEq/L is 8. Isn't this scary high?  <Doh!!! yes! At risk of precipitation!!! Please confirm this reading on another brand of test kit and if true simply do water changes to bring down> I'm thinking no more calcium or alkalinity additives until this number gets down to about 2.5-5.0 Am I in the ball park?  <Oh, ya!> I really want to get the dKH but I can't find how to measure this. Can you tell me how to find the dKH? <dKH is carbonate hardness... which makes up most but not all of GH (general hardness). No worries here... just use the conversion factor in the test kit (all have)> Now. . .the calcium level just isn't moving at all. I don't have very many calcium using animals, but I am feeding the corallines, Halimeda and a bubble coral. Every time I measure the calcium, it stays between 260 and 280. What do you suggest? <this is low because of the high ALK... they are somewhat mutually competitive/incompatible. One cannot naturally have high Ca and high ALK. One should be moderate while the other approaches the higher end. Aim for 350-450ppm calcium and 8-12 dKH but not the high end of both> Ph is a solid 8.3 Lights 420 watt VHO are on for twelve hours each day. All of these test were performed with a fairly new Hagen test kit. <hmmm... not exactly known for high quality/accuracy. Do test on another for redundancy> Thanks for the help gentlemen. I am somewhat concerned about all of this. . . Dave D. <no worries, water changes will dilute and get you back on track. Best regards, Anthony>

Re: Calcium Levels testing too high? Bad readings? I just purchase another Salifert Calcium test kit thinking the last one may have been on the self to long.... <very good to be considerate of test reagent dates. I would never use or recommend a test kit that doesn't have a date on their reagents> When I test water from my R/O I get 0 calcium.. When I test purchased sea water from my local vendor it measures at 360 ppm. When I test my tank it is over 880 ppm. <I assure you that it is not. What has happened is that some additive used in the tank has masked your test kit readings.> I thought that I have a bad test kit but I am more concerned that an additive (CombiSan Trace Elements or Kent Strontium) may be interacting with the test kit and giving me false results.  <bada boom bada bing> I cannot find a website or another way to contact Salifert regarding any known issues. <alas I am not aware of such a support site/contact. Do let us know if you find it though:)> I cannot find anything on the internet (google) with a "Calcium too high" problem.  <again... your calcium is not too high. Before it would have hit an actual 500ppm a precipitous reaction would have occurred dropping calcium carbonate crystals in the tank (the infamous "snowstorm"). Your calcium levels are likely just fine. The best solution here is simply a few big water changes : dilution of the problem. Everything should be just fine after that> I don't add any calcium additives to my "Berlin Method" system. Any information would be useful. Thank you #@!reefer <best regards, Anthony> Re: Calcium quest! Hola ?como est?? (Hi, How do you doing?) <very well my friend, and hoping you are the same> This weekend (Saturday) I performed a 20% of water exchange! the water was prepared 3 days before and its parameters was as follow: Ammo: 0 Nitrite: 0 Nitrate: 0 Phos: 0 Ca: 350 Alk: 3.5 Meq/L (+/-10) My Ca before the water change was around 200. Monday night I read Ca and it was more depressed 180-195 (Aquarium system)  <interesting and unusual> and no read from sea, because it start from 200 (If my math is not wrong I expected at least an increase from 200 to 225-230) <agreed... it should have climbed> I suppose that magnesium is the issue here,  <possibly> My LFS (Guatemala, Central America) doesn't have neither Magnesium test nor Magnesium additive. So I'm trying to buy my test from internet. Yesterday night after read my Ca tried to use the Anthony slurry method (panic) but after 3 glasses and 10 hours of waiting the Ca doesn't climb a zip. Any advice? <yes... simply keep doing water changes on a weekly basis to maintain adequate calcium levels until we can test and know for sure if Mg is the issue. Don't worry about dosing calcium until you can test for others. Or... just dose very small amounts> My tank parameters: Ammonium: 0 Nitrite: 0 Nitrate: 0 Alk: 3.5 meq/l Temp: 80 night - 82 noon Ph: 8.25-8.42 Phos: 0-10 <all fine> Ca: 180-195 Magnesium: Who knows! Carlos D?z <no worries in the mean time, water changes will carry you through and have so many other benefits. Best regards, Anthony>

Re: Calcium supplement Brands When I emailed my local fish store to ask if they had these products that you recommended below they had this to say: "I hate Seachem Products. You should be using Reef Former for Calcium, Sealk for ph and alkalinity, and you also need to use mg up which is magnesium along with the calcium because calcium cannot be used by anything without magnesium." Jason Booth Aquatic Realm "The Aquarium Experts" <did they explain why they don't like Seachem products? It may be that they don't have a convenient distributor or that the product they recommend are more profitable <G>. Perhaps they simply haven't taken a good enough look at the company. Founded by a chemist... time tested and proven reputation of the company... extensive research and development of products as well as quality control... and they invest in the hobby/industry (aquarium societies, conferences/trade shows). They are a fantastic business model for a company that makes good products: period. And I say this as a consumer of their products for over ten years (and not one free sample <VBG>). > Is this true? Should I be using mg?  <it is helpful to test for magnesium although dosing is minimal if at all for most aquarists doing regular water changes. Mag levels should basically be about three times calcium levels. So... 400 ppm calcium and 1200 ppm Mg would be fine. Most aquarists that have fantastic reef tanks, do regular water changes and maintain adequate ALK and CA... never test for or dose Mg. My advice is in fact to do so anyway... an inexpensive test and its nice to have another reference point> I haven't been so what harm have I done if any?  <likely no harm at all my friend> Do you like the products he mentions or is your opinion to still go with Seachem?  <The NatuReef products he mentions might be very fine. I've never tried them and am not likely to in the near future. Seachem is simply a big company with a long standing reputation for excellence. I like to buy my products from such companies. That's why I like using Instant Ocean sea salt (and many agree). Sure there might be salts with slighter higher levels of some minerals... but Instant Ocean's consistency and quality control is unmatched. They are the biggest... and they were the pioneers in the industry. For that they get customer loyalty. > I put a lot more value on your opinion than Jason's but wanted to see what you had to say before I purchased anything. Thanks so much for your help. :) <quite welcome... thank you for inviting me to do this infomercial...heehee. Many fine products out there. Indeed, just make a consensus and pick one that you can live with. Its sometimes interesting to do a keyword search on some of the big message boards for these brand names and see which ones get consistent high marks and which ones have their share of flak. Kindly, Anthony>

Calcium Hey, what's up? I was interested in you opinion of "Salifert's Coral Calcium" for raising and maintaining Calcium levels as opposed to Kalkwasser? <I have never tried it.> I realize that liquid calcium chloride will screw up your Ca/Alk dynamics but check out the claims they make, are they true? <I have no idea. I would seek out the advice of fellow hobbyists who have actually tested the product. I have used various two-part additives (nice, but expensive on anything over 30 gallons), Kalkwasser (my strong preference), Seachem Reef Calcium (works well for coralline in FO or FOWLR), and soon a calcium reactor. I plan to use the reactor plus Kalkwasser to get the best of both worlds.> Coral Calcium Salifert's Coral Calcium additive is manufactured using a very special and exclusive procedure. This results in a highly concentrated additive that not only makes calcium addition easy, but also avoids any disturbance in the ionic balance (as calcium chloride does) and without affecting the pH level (as calcium hydroxide does). 8 fl oz treats 25 gallons of water for 50 - 80 weeks. <This really tells me nothing about what the products is or how it works.> Also, one more thing, would I be ok with the Remora for a 55 gallon tank as opposed to getting the Remora Pro (a little bigger). <The regular Remora with Maxi-Jet upgrade should serve you well.> Thanks, Angelo <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: Calcium supplement Thank you so much! I will purchase the Seachem's Reef Calcium but should I also purchase a product from Seachem that will be able to be used with the calcium but will help maintain ph and alkalinity? If so, what Seachem product (or other brand) do you recommend? Thanks! :) <You do need more products and information, my friend. The reef calcium is specifically for growing coralline algae quickly but is not helpful for much else. Aquariums with live rock, etc need Calcium, Alkalinity and pH testing and dosing as necessary. This may be accomplished as simple as using Kalkwasser and common SeaBuffer. Some people like a more high tech/lower work (less dosing) method by installing a calcium reactor. There are many choice to be made here. My advice is to read up on reef tank chemistry first before deciding which products suit you best. In the meantime, regular weekly water changes will serve you very well. There is a lot of aquarium chemistry information on the web, and I cover it in simple layman's terms in my Book of Coral Propagation as well. My advice for simplicity is Kalkwasser and basic SeaBuffer. I would not use liquid calcium chloride for calcium dosing. Best regards, Anthony>

Calcium woes Hi I hope your all doing well!  <smashing... I've got music... I've got rhythm.. who could ask for anything more?> As usual I hope you can help or answer a few Calcium problems.  <one more calcium question from you bub and I'm gonna send you a subscription to a reptile magazine <G>> If this is Anthony  <you guessed it <VBG>> you may remember that I did a large massive water change this summer after I had problems raising my Calcium. After the change all my parameters were good. Calcium 380-400, DKH 10-11,  <excellent and as they should have been> PH after lights on for 8 HRS 8.3 , ORP 350, Magnesium 1350.  <just ducky> However since then my Calcium has been eroding slightly each week, even though I have gone to 15g water change every two weeks on my 125g tank. My calcium has been in the 240-260 range the last week, and I can't seem to get it to rise ( the other parameters remain unchanged). The Kalk slurry doesn't seem to get the calcium into solution,  <it simply must... there is something else here at play> so I tried T.M. Bio-Calcium the last two days and I have had little luck,  <were you only using Kalk prior to this or was there some two-part as well. If two-part, be sure to shake vigorously before every single dose... the calcium part settles severely and can cause a serious imbalance in dosing> probably because I am afraid to use too much...just putting in 3-4 teaspoons/day to see if the Calcium changes. I will try the old Kalk in a bucket, and drip 5 gallons tonight, but if the Kalk slurry doesn't work, I have little faith that the drip method will.  <agreed> Is there any suggestions you have on what may be going on?  <I don't know what else if anything you are dosing... is it really just water changes and Kalk, my friend? If so... I am a bit stumped. Mag is fine... pH is reasonable. I'm assuming that you don't over buffer evap water> I think I might just bite the bullet and buy a calcium reactor, but this is expensive...and the Kalk should work.  <agreed on all counts here. Do buy, they are expensive, and yes... the Kalk should work> I also realize that the reactor only works well if your reef is in "balance" to start,  <exactly... but water changes will assure this> so I don't think the reactor will fix my problem.  <it may if you stop all other supplements for the reactor> Thanks Larry P.S. All corals still seem fine, the Xenia I purchased this summer is three times the size, I've cut off a piece and it is doing well on the other side of my tank. <awesome... and hoping to see you on a fine track soon. Anthony>

Re: Calcium woes solved? Two part-fiasco! Thanks Anthony, great speed, and really great patience. I was wondering if I should write... <never hesitate, my friend.. Its only a crime to not ask> Thought I may get an answer like "how can someone who has been is this hobby for so long ask so many $#%^ calcium questions. (The reptile quote made me grin)  <Ha! the intent <G>> I think you may have finally said something that is the root cause of my problem.  <Amen and pass the ammunition!> I was using B-Ionic two part, however as knuckle heads go, I was dosing the Alk portion, but grabbed the Alk portion again for part two.  <Doh! Houston... we have a problem> I noticed immediately as the water clouded so I stopped and decided to pour the remaining back in the alk container.......well I put it in the calcium bottle.  <Sweet vicar in a tutu!!!!> It did not seem to make much difference it just precipitated a little in the bottom of the container. <oh, you do have a reptile mag subscription coming... <G>> However here is my problem.....since then (about two months) I have NEVER shaken the containers for fear of disturbing the precipitation.  <and it never crossed your mind to buy a new supplement and waste $20 rather than risk the several thousand dollar investment in your tank <G>? Not to mention your time and worry on the efficacy of the matter...heehee. How about this one... if it was actually safe to keep the two parts together in the first place, you'd think they mfg would put them together in the same bottle as testimony to their marketing genius <G>. OK... one more :) Or... if it was OK to keep the two parts together as long as you didn't shake them, why not sell them in one bottle with two straws!!! More profitable and what a novel boon to sales! OK... I think I'm done now. Thank you for putting up with my sense of humor, bud. Heehee... I still can't get over the sheer number of fish friends that write in to us here at WWM for this kind of abuse. The root meaning of "aquarist" must surely be synonymous with "masochist". I love this country> So I believe this may be my problem,  <ahhh... ya> although I have not used B-Ionic for about 4-5 days, the 1 gallon container is almost empty which means my water is probably unbalanced as you state below. <"unbalanced" isn't the first word that I would use to describe your water chemistry now... but who really wants really wants to hear a Haiku that rhymes with "trucked" anyway?> So how do I fix this?  <"Dilution is the solution to pollution"> I hope not massive water changes again,  <that would make you "beat like a red-headed step child" at this point. Water changes it is> I'm on my third bucket of salt in the last few months. (I will however if it makes sense) Is there some way I can measure something to determine what is out of whack?  <aside from the inability to maintain normal and balanced water chemistry against all odds?> Here are some measurements I did a day or two ago with my Magnesium test. Total Alk 4 meq/l or 11.2 DKH, Borate Alk 3.5 meq/l, Carbonate Alk 1.5 MEG/l. Does this tell you anything?  <yes... you have a complete set of test kits. Excellent my friend> I am truly amazed that my tank has suffered no loss with my supplementing/fussing.  <corals are quite tough... and the water changes have surely spared much> Possibly due to not going overboard enough to have induced a snow storm.  <agreed> If you ever do make it up...the beers on me! Larry <Dutch, my friend! You have been most accommodating to my sense of humour. Best regards... now go build those biceps and do some water changes! Anthony>

Re: Calcium and Two Part shenanigans I have to respond, but am having trouble through my near convulsive laughter..... <and never be ashamed of involuntary incontinence> I know you should never mix the two parts together, but I applied Larry's knucklehead rule which says... do not mix equal portions together, so if I accidentally dumped a little bit of the Alk into the calcium, it would just end up on the bottom of the gallon container, and I'll just dispose of the last few inches in the bottom. I can't believe I am actually writing this. (or that I thought this was O.K.) I really was stupid.... plain and simple, to even try to justify this action!  <Ha! alas... we all have our moments> I will get new B-Ionic tomorrow, mix up a big batch of water, repeat as in summer...onwards and upwards.  <rock on my brother> BTW I don't mind any sarcasm, although I have to say I don't really find anything abusive in your writing comments.  <all well intended at any rate <G>> No one is harder on me than myself, you should hear what I have been calling myself this afternoon.....and to think I offer advice....maybe I should warn others to beware of the source....me! Last comment, I do read the daily writing on this site and I have laughed at the bone head moves some reefer's make...I guess I need to add my name to the list..... <which list: bone-heads or reefers? (I'll reserve my opinion)> hopefully I taught myself something...you can always learn...just don't do stupid things you know are stupid then ignore the consequences. Thanks Larry, I'll have a double martini to night forget the beer! <best regards! Anthony>

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: