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FAQs on Calcium, Supplements involving Calcium 5

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 4, 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,

Hey, how's it goin? Urchins like to hide amongst (sometimes melting down their own homes) and "chew" calcium carbonate...

- Bringing up the Calcium - Hi everybody -- I have frequented the WWM site and forums for the past year and a half, and have successfully kept FOWLR tanks during this period.  However, I recently turned my 72-gallon into a reef tank and began calcium supplementation, and I'm having a problem getting the calcium to rise. The tank started out with calcium at 330, alkalinity at 3.5 meq/L (9.8 dKH), and pH ranging from 8.2-8.4.  I began with C-Balance, and added 3 tsp. of parts A and B (at different times) daily. <You need to add these right after one another.> After about 3 or 4 days, I checked my levels.  The calcium remained the same, but alkalinity was now at 5 meq/L (14 dKH).  So, I held off on additives for a couple days and let the alkalinity drift back down a bit. After doing some research in your FAQs, my next plan of action was to try Kalkwasser to get the calcium up, and then I was going to resume the C-Balance to maintain the levels.  I began using Anthony's slurry method and started out with a very small amount of Kalk, then slowly worked up to about 1/2 tsp. daily.  I continued this for a couple of weeks, and then checked levels again.  The alkalinity was stable at 3.5-4 meq/L (9.8-11.2 dKH), but my calcium was still at 330 (pH 8.3-8.5). So, I began using Kalkwasser more aggressively.  For the past 3 or 4 days I have been adding over 1 tsp. of Kalkwasser slurry over a period of several hours in the morning.  Surely, this would have an impact.   However, after testing again today -- using SeaTest AND Salifert tests -- my calcium is still around 330, even after using C-Balance every other day in addition to the Kalk.  A Salifert test also confirmed the 3.5-4 meq/L alkalinity result of the FasTest, so I know that high alkalinity isn't suppressing the calcium.  Furthermore, I brought a water sample in to my LFS for calcium testing, and they got a slightly higher result (approximately 360 using SeaTest), however, they did not perform the test according to the instructions, and didn't swirl the mixture between each drop.  So, I don't know if that result can be trusted or not. <That would make a difference.> I should also mention that I add the Kalk slowly -- usually over the course of an hour or more, so I don't believe it's precipitating out.  In addition, I perform weekly water changes of 10-15%, and occasionally add a little Reef Solution, which contains iodine, magnesium, strontium, etc.  There is approximately 60 pounds of live rock in the tank, along with about 5 LPS corals, mushrooms, polyps, and a little Halimeda.  Coralline growth is good, and, fortunately, all the corals are looking very good. <I think you should take that as a sign.> I'm just stumped as to why this calcium level is not moving -- up or down -- regardless of how much Kalk I add or what test I use. <Perhaps it is being consumed by the corals/coralline.> Is there any way to get false calcium test results? <Sure, but rare that the error would be consistent between two brands.> If you can shed any light on this situation and offer any advice, it would be much appreciated. <I really don't think this is a big deal. Much is made over having high (400ppm) calcium and really good alkalinity (11-12 dKH) but I personally don't proscribe to this. If you look at the oceans around the world, and more importantly around reefs, you'll see the numbers are closer to what yours are - a high of around 350ppm calcium - higher in some places but on average 350... so, where does this leave you? Use your animals as a guide - coralline is growing, LPS, Halimeda are doing well? Multiplying? Calcium stays about the same... you're doing fine. No worries.> Karen <Cheers, J -- >

- Low Calcium Levels - Hi Crew, Thanks, as always, for offering such a wonderful service! <Our pleasure.> My problem (well one of them) is that I am unable to raise my aquarium calcium level to a normal level.  For the past month I have been working daily to raise my calcium level but I have only increased it from 260 to 280.  Here is the critical information: FOWLR 180 gal tank, Temp = 81F (raised temporarily due to ich), Salinity=1.0235, pH=8.0 (working on raising this too but fairly constant so far), Nitrites=0, Nitrates< 5 PPM, dKH unknown (no test kit yet), using wet/dry sump and Berlin skimmer. <You need to get an alkalinity test... you've only got half a picture here without that data.> I have about 2" of aragonite sand as a substrate (150 lbs Southdown + 50 lbs CaribSea live sand + 10 lbs "GARF Grunge"), about 90 lbs of Fiji live rock and about 200 lbs of limestone base rock.  I used the limestone base to save money and because I had hoped it would help to buffer pH.  The tank has been setup for about 3.5 months and completed cycling about 3 months ago.  I currently have a light bio load with only 3 small tangs (hippo, yellow, Kole), a pair of maroon clowns & BTA, 5 small damsels (can't catch these guys or they would be out) and several substrate sifters. First of all, I am not 100% certain I should trust my Red Sea test results but they do seem to follow a somewhat accurate pattern. <You realize then those results could be consistently bad... but in any case, I've not heard anything good about the Red Sea test kits. At the very least I would haul a water sample down to the local fish store and get a second opinion on the results.> When I test the water in my QT (fairly new water), I get a reading of around 400 PPM and I get a reading of zero from RO water.  I have been using Kent Liquid Reactor every morning for the past 2 weeks (nearly finished the 16 oz. bottle now) and it mentions something like "Calcium tests are notoriously inaccurate... multiplying results by 2 will provide more accurate results." <And Kent products are notoriously junk... I wouldn't use this Liquid Reactor it were given to me. Consider a more reputable calcium addition like ESV B-Ionic.> I must be missing something (like diluting test sample by 50% ?).  Possibly being off by 100% just does not sound reasonable.  My 260-280 PPM results were actual "as-read" results from the kit. I use Kalkwasser in all of my makeup water (~1-1.5 gal/ week) in addition to trying this other Ca supplement.  Since my tank was originally in the process of cycling, I did not perform water changes for the first 1.5 - 2 months.  I performed a 10 gal (~6% net volume) change about a month ago and I performed a 30 gal (~18% net vol) change two weeks ago. I am now considering trying CaribSea AragaMIGHT or AragaMILK, Kent Turbo Calcium or Liquid Calcium or a 2-part mix. <Do yourself a favor, just use the ESV.> I have read your opinions on Kent Liquid Calcium for raising calcium to acceptable levels but what are your opinions on Liquid Reactor and the other products I just mentioned? <My opinion is this stuff is bunk.> Kalkwasser does not appear to be raising my calcium levels significantly. <Your Kalkwasser methodology is not optimal. Better to make a solution in freshwater and dump it all in [minus the settled powder at the bottom] first thing in the morning, before the lights come on.> From what I understand, Kalk is used primarily for maintaining Ca levels.  What do you think could be the cause of my low Ca levels? <Perhaps buffering/alkalinity issues.. get that test kit and we'll know more.> Thank you for the help!  Greg <Cheers, J -- >

Seachem reef calcium 8/8/03 Gentlemen, hope all is well out there.   <and with you> Here's my question, I have a 90 gal. reef and I've been reading that adding the sugar based calcium is good for the coralline  growth.   <yes... quite so, but for little else IMO. Still need Kalkwasser or the like for better coral growth> So I purchased Seachem's Reef Calcium and added only half of the recommended dose to  my tank and my LPS corals immediately shriveled up their polyps (frogspawn, bubbles, hammers) it didn't effect my open brains and clam though.   <I very seriously doubt the product... long time-tested and true... had anything to do with it... something else is at play here> Now I know that was definitely not a good sign as the corals looked stressed.   <understood> They returned to normal in about an hour or so, I have not used it anymore.  Do you guys have some input on this, is it normal for them to act like this with calcium gluconate, should I not add this in anyway to my tank anymore?   <it's not normal... and it's not likely from a half-dose of the product either. Do try again, and if you notice the same thing... I wonder if your use of other Ca or ALK products has allowed the chemistry to stray to a precarious position and the addition of the new product is pushing/precipitating a problem. Is your ALK or Ca scary high (well over 12 dKH or over 400ppm)? > or is there a recommend way or dose to do this for my 90?  thanks.  Jamie <I have literally bought and used hundreds of gallons of this product over the last decade. Its simple and straightforward... no worries. Kind regards, Anthony>

Slurry Method - Calcium dosing 8/1/03 Gentlemen/Ladies: I in the past have been having issues with keeping my calcium level above 220 ppm this while utilizing the slurry method as directed by Anthony. <seems unlikely with any form of Calcium trying to leave such a low range. Indicates excessive use of Ca or ALK in the past and a need to do larger water changes to dilute the imbalance in the system to get the TDS on a more even keel> I had been until recently stirring one tablespoon of Kalk into ? gallon of RO/DI water and dumping it directly into the (265 gallon) display daily (lights off). <that's a lot of Kalk... but perhaps still OK if you have a very (!) large bio-load of corals and other calcifying animals... else you are precipitating out excessive Kalk and that would explain the low CA> To remedy the low calcium issue I purchased a 4lb container of Tropic Marin bio-calcium (expensive) and basically poured it all in over two weeks. <Aieeeeeeee!> Just before I ran out of the bio-calcium I purchased 16oz Kent (liquid) calcium and poured about most of that bottle in over the last week while doing several 5% water changes. <OMG... please stop, my friend. This is a train wreck. The dosing is excessive by any measure... and the water changes are staggeringly too small. You have a precarious situation here with way too many ingredients added way too fast. Cease all dosing... do 2 to 3 50% water changes in the next 2 weeks... and then resume dosing with safe levels of Kalk or a balanced two part mix like Ocean Blend or B-Ionic> Magnesium tested a little low (1170) <That mag level is fine my friend... its arguably high if you obey the rule to keep Mg 3X your Ca levels for proper balance> and I've been supplementing to get it back in the 1300 range and that is taking awhile. <will be easier when Ca is 350-425 ppm> It seemed as if there was a calcium sink in my tank that would not allow calcium to go up <correct... your water changes have been too light in the past and dosing has been too heavy. You were simply feeding the chain reaction> but now I've coaxed it up to about 380 ppm as of last night. Id rather not use the bio-calcium or the Kent liquid to maintain my calcium levels. The slurry method doesn't seem like it will work since more than two tablespoons of Kalk spikes the ph larger than 0.2 (0.25 to 0.3). <2 TBN is an obscene amount of Kalk for a 265 gallon tank> It clouds the tank terribly for about 1 hour but the lights are off and that keeps it from being an eye sore but I'm worried about the stock. <correct> Corals are not huge calcium hogs; I have a toadstool, frogspawn, bubble coral, xenia and various mushrooms. Stock seems unaffected by the Kalk dosing. <hardy indeed> There is about 300lbs of live rock and 50 or so snails of various kinds. Is my only option to go to a calcium reactor? <you just need a better grasp on the Ca/ALK dynamic. No mention of ALK here... but because of the low Ca, I'd presume your ALK was high.> Or now that I have the calcium up now will it maintain that level easier with just the slurry method? <correct with some large water changes> Have I provided enough information?  Any thoughts would be appreciated. Regards, David <as per above... no worries. But please do resist the knee-jerk dosing of large quantities of anything. Best regards, Anthony>

Re: Slurry Method 8/1/03 Anthony, Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. I'll clarify a few issues. <excellent, my friend> Alkalinity ranges from 2.5 meq/l to 4.5 meq/l. (I new I had forgotten something) At the moment (two days ago) it was 4.0 meq/l. <that's a pretty wild range... and the higher end of it is indeed likely to depress Ca naturally. It is somewhat unnatural in aquaria to have/keep both levels high concurrently. A sort of mutual exclusion. Its more like keeping one low-med while the other is high... and that's all right. I suspect you've read the article we have here on WWM "Understanding Calcium and Alkalinity". The hi-lo game is rudimentarily explained therein> I've never precipitated calcium (i.e. snow storm) <on the contrary bub... we have all precipitated calcium as insoluble calcium carbonate (chalky residue in sump, on sand/unseen. But I do realize you've never had a snowstorm... yet the two things are not the same. Or rather, the latter (snowstorm) is the severe shift of the equation. But you can be assured that the heavy dosing of Ca you've done has precip'ed Ca in a slow feed of the reaction as evidenced by the low Ca levels despite garden shovels full of calcium products. The only way this wood not be true is if your test kit was simply wrong and the Ca is in act sky high. I trust/believe you've verified the test kit as accurate though> My water changes are 8% twice per week. I've heard, smaller more frequent water changes keep a system in balance and overall make things run better. <yes... very much agreed... but 8% is very weak IMO. Really needs to be much higher to dilute the untestables and testable undesirables, plus replenish depleted desirables> I've now been doing this procedure for the last couple of months. My normal procedure months on end has been to get up every morning (well most mornings anyway) and mix up a tablespoon of Kalk in 1/2 gallon of RO/DI water and pour directly into the tank. Ph will spike from 8.35 to 8.6 and then settle down to the 8.5 range just before lights off. <be sure to test your pH from the Kalk after about an hour... not minutes after... the real measure of the spike> Next morning 8.35 again. Alkalinity has never been under 2.0 or over 4.5 meq/l and I test it quite a bit. I felt it unusual that with my calcium dosing habits and my alkalinity to both be on the low end of the spectrum? <this is a very common problem and one that we/I hear about often... the "see-saw" effect. Really... take my advice: this is about oversaturation from excess supplementation over time without adequate dilution. As recommended before... 2 to 3 50% water changes in the next 2 weeks and you will be back on par. Read the archives on this subject and you will find people that have begrudgingly done this to the T and wrote back claiming success> I'd say for the last 5 months my calcium as averaged in the really low 200 mg/l and the alkalinity in the 2-3 range. Over that same period of course I've noticed some coralline disappear off the back glass. <seems almost inconceivable for the light demand for calcium in the tank and the generous supplementation> Just over the last couple of weeks, maybe three have I really been trying to push the calcium up with these other products. The bio-calcium pushed the alkalinity up to 4.5 but is now back down to 4 which is acceptable. I started wondering about other causes and so last week I bought my first magnesium test kit and tested and found it to be a little low to what you might find in the ocean but from what you say is still ok. <quiet correct... aquarium husbandry is finessed differently than NSW. We must employ slightly lower temps, SG and sometimes pH> As I mentioned earlier the Calcium level as tested last night was 380 mg/l. That seems sufficient to me as long as the alkalinity stays at or below 4?? <agreed> Could the Kent Kalk I'm using be less pure than what it should be? <I do not/would not use Kent Ca (previous concerns/experience) but do not think it is your problem here> I have several containers of it! <Jack Kent says thanks> I guess in hind-sight I should have worked my calcium up slower (don't want a train wreck) but had been so low so long I wanted to get it up sooner. don't say it) <heehee... no comment> I still wonder if a calcium reactor would be beneficial here or do you think the Kalk is my best bet in the long term? Thanks David <I sincerely think/agree that a calcium reactor is a very fine addition and will make your Ca/ALK supplementation routine much easier/ Still... it cannot correct an imbalance or dilute a problem. You cannot escape the large water changes here. Best regards, Anthony>

- Setup Questions - Hi, I have a 92 gallons corner tank. I want to set-up a calcium reactor. I have a dual gauge regulator. How much I need to set up the pressure for the tank. <I'm not sure I follow... CO2 pressure should be no more than 10 pounds at the regulator before entering a calcium reactor.> How can I set a good co2 flow. <I really don't know how to answer this question... not sure how one would make a 'bad' flow... it's just CO2 and shouldn't be added directly to the tank.> How much is light need. <Enough to satisfy the needs of the animals you want to keep.> I got 4 white Germany lights and 2 blue light is this enough light for this tank. <Hard to say without knowing the wattage and type of lights and also the list of things you want to keep. Cheers, J -- >

 Boosting And Maintaining Calcium Levels I have been looking on the internet and heard of people adding Epsom Salt to their saltwater aquariums--is there any benefit? <Well, usually it's done to treat disorders in fish, such as "Popeye". It helps to draw away swelling> My calcium levels are low and was wondering if the Epsom salt, (which I hear contains magnesium) will eventually help raise the calcium levels. <I wouldn't do this on a regular basis> Mine are at and below 300, 4 hours after adding a calcium supplement.  What can I do? <Well, there are a couple of thoughts. You may want to look into measured direct applications of Kalkwasser (as opposed to calcium supplements) using Anthony's "Kalk slurry" method. Start with a very small dose and use testing to get it right. Or- you may be a prime candidate for a calcium reactor (expensive initially, but it takes a lot of the "guesswork" out of calcium application). Keep in mind that, although calcium is important, you don't want to get overly fixated on a certain number....I'll bet your tank looks pretty good. The animals will "tell" you if the level is adequate or not. The fact that calcium is being consumed seems to be indicative of a healthy, growing population of calcium-loving animals. You probably have good lighting, too, I'll bet! Keep up regular water changes, and one of the suggested calcium additive regimens, and I'm sure that you'll be where you want to be in no time. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Precipitate - 6/27/03 "Your water may also be high in alkalinity to start which could precipitate your calcium" <An old chemistry term: To be separated from a solution as a solid. " Can be found in the dictionary.> What exactly does "precipitate" mean it the above quote? <See above> How can you tell if this has happened? <White flakes can be seen floating about the tank. Looks like a blizzard"> Can you see something or what? <See previous statement. Try typing "precipitate" in our search tool and take a look at our FAQs regarding such tank events. Hope this helps. Paul> Dennis

- Calcium, Calcium, Calcium... - Hello Crew, In trying to justify the purchase of a calcium reactor, I need to ask a few things. <Not for money I hope...> Thanks in advance. I see everywhere, that one should typically use a calcium reactor to MAINTAIN their calc/alk levels, as opposed to elevating them. All the schooled pros advise to elevate with supplements, and maintain with reactor. I would imagine that this holds true to Nilsen style "Kalk " type reactors as well. <Well, that would depend, many people elevate their levels with Kalkwasser. If my ca/alk levels go off balance or test low I like the instant gratification of b-ionic to get things straightened out in a jiffy and let the reactor take it from there.> Now, How does one elevate say using Kalk, when you are only dripping a "limited saturated solution" even if doing a "Calfo Slurry" , how can you really increase with Kalk??? <How can you not? Kalk is a balanced ca/alk supplement and is an excellent way to boost your levels. I can see if your ca or alk was excessively high it wouldn't work, just make sure your levels are balanced first.> I ask in that lets say for dripping, you are going to be adding in relation to the evap. rate? .....I know I know add as it is needed not always to replenish evap. <Replace evap. with Kalk and slurry away when things get low.> But this being said, is everyone saying to increase with other supplements, like two parts and so -on? <I do, Anthony's slurry still scares me even though I know it works well.> One last question, WHEN USING SUGAR BASED CALCIUM ADDITIVES, LIKE GLUCONATE,( SeaChem) CAN THIS TYPE PRODUCT OFFSET ALK? <Sure, it's like adding half of a 2 part. You'll need to balance that out w/ some buffer.> CAN TOO MUCH BE SNOWSTORM CAUSING? <Likely, just don't over do it!> Can one reach the desired levels with this and buffer and then maintain with a reactor? <Yeah, but why not try a 2 part? How would one know how much buffer to add per dose of SeaChem calcium?> Or can you be at a max level for both calcium and alk and STILL add the gluconate? <If you're at your max, you don't add any more. And since this "max" is your saturation rate, you're begging for a snowstorm.> Perhaps to achieve really nice crusty coralline. It seems like some sort of Magic Elixir type Calcium. Like it should have a slogan like lifts you up but won't bring you down type thing.... Lite Beer!!! <Hehe, don't let Marc Weiss hear about that or it will be out on the shelves tomorrow!> Oh yeah..... Anyone interested in a Weekly type of Program aimed at this addictive Hobby.... I am sure it has been thought of before... But I bet there are a few cable channels would love to hear it pitched. Look at the bulletin boards folks... This hobby has exploded. It is totally an ENTHUSIAST TYPE THING. Like Motorcycles, Houses, Music, Cars, Women< (MEN) SEX. All the things that people really like that aren't total couch potatoes......there is an informational weekly type program on. It Is Time!!!!! If anyone wants to bump heads and collaborate please send me an e-mail, I would love to hear your thoughts. <This will hit the FAQ's and anyone interested can see it there. Have fun! -Kevin> Peter

Excessively high calcium level. I have a 55 gal hex tank with 80+ lbs of live rock, 50 lbs of live sand, two power heads on alt. timers, a foam fractionator in the sump, and 2-3 gallons of bio balls in the sump. There are numerous inverts and corals. I have 6 fish, a yellow tang, 2 damsels, a yellow stripe maroon clown, strawberry pseudo and a watchman Goby. There is a T. Clam, 2 doz. + Snails, sand sifter star, green brittle star, 2 peppermint cleaner shrimp and numerous red leg crabs. Water quality stays around 8.3 ph, trace of ammonia, 0 nitrites and 20 ppm nitrates. Alk is normal and specific gravity @ 1.022 I change water at the rate of 6 gal a week and add about 2qts a day of RO due to evaporation.. I have 185 watts of PC on 3 stage timers with the blue first(16 hrs), combo smart lamp next(14 hours) and the white set at 12 hours. The temperature is about 78 during the day with the lights on and dropping to 76 at night. I feed Coral Vital, Phytoplankton, Spirulina flakes, frozen vitamin enriched Brine shrimp and Mysis shrimp at various times and schedules as needed. I shred frozen kelp bass and feed every so often as a treat. I very seldom need to use a buffer. I add Iodine, essential elements and Stron./ Moly. per the bottles instructions. Wow! <Wow is right!> Now to my question. I use a Sea Test Calcium kit and it always shows Ca to be high, around 600 to 700. How detrimental is this. It does not seem to be causing a short term problem, but I wonder about long term. I find your web site to be outstanding and have spent hours reading all the sections on Marine life. <Well, with an excessively high calcium level you run the risk of a "snowstorm" from calcium carbonate precipitation should the level suddenly rise above saturation. You'll need to check your carbonate hardness (alkalinity) to see if this high calcium level has driven it down very low. Since you rarely add buffer this is likely the case. If your carbonate hardness is low, raise it up with a marine buffer; this should also straighten out your calcium level. Give it a shot!> Please don't scold about bio-load. I am moving to a 135 gallon soon. <Hehe, I'll hold back. -Kevin> Thanks, Art Ling

Calcium and kH test kits... Thanks for the quick response. My Alkalinity test kit shows a color chart ,but only 'high', 'low' and 'normal'. <Chuck that kit in the trash, it's of no use to your tank.> According to the color match, I am right in the middle of normal. <And that means what? Unfortunately, "normal" doesn't mean anything. 10 dKH would, as would a reading in alk, so go out and get a decent carbonate hardness kit (Salifert, SeaTest, sera, etc)> Since I first sent the question about my high calcium readings, I tested my source (LFS) salt water. It too tested high, but at the store, it tested 375. <Ah ha! Your kit was likely way off. I'd suggest a Salifert brand calcium kit.> I am in the process of getting a better test kit and a carbonate hardness kit also. Being very new to this, I am quite concerned about the well being of my 'critters'. I will watch Calcium and Alkalinity very close for awhile. <Great! Keep testing. -Kevin> Thanks again, Art Ling

- Calcium Problems - <Good morning, JasonC here...> it's been 2 months and still going since i had these problems with calcium. tank is a 30 gallon saltwater lights 65 watt blue bulb and 10,000 k 65 watt power compact (10 hours a day) Kent sea salt salinity 1.023 ph 8.1 alkalinity 9 dKH mag 1300 calcium 280 has never got above this   rest values normal range buffer with Kent supper buffer i have used Kent 2 parts calcium not luck liquid calcium Kent at 8 ml/cc day nothing (combining with Kalkwasser at this time) and now using Kalkwasser at 1 tsp to 1 gallon dripping at 30 ml/hr do to evaporation of about 750ml day. i cant get calcium up to 400 at all over 2 months. Also my purple coralline is bleaching. But the red/green and violet is growing like crazy and bright in color. and also have green algae on glass that comes of easy ... so what am i doing wrong i cant get a honest answer anywhere... thanks Scott <Scott, there are a couple of possibilities, but what seems to stick out to me is your low pH and low alkalinity. You might want to start by examining your fresh mix-water before adding it to your tank - could be the initial pH and alkalinity are low, so I would start by trying to boost these here, before the water is added to the tank. Likewise, you didn't mention the age of this system... if the system has been running for over a year, then it's time to replace at least half of your live rock and substrate because their alkaline reserves are shot... this is very typical and many people don't replace any of these materials and then are left wondering why their pH is low. As for the coralline, it does need calcium but doesn't need it in bulk amounts like stony corals and clams. Some bleaching is normal, and typically this happens in cycles, with the same algae coming back in other places. Anyway, start off with the basics - try to get the pH and alkalinity up a notch, and then work on the calcium. Cheers, J -- >

Kalkwasser reactor or ca rxn Ok Guys... Girls, <Hi, JasonC here for the coin toss...> What are the thoughts, I want one or the other, But confused? Pros and cons. I like the Kalk as it seems more apt to tie into top off automatic replacement. <Depends mostly on the size of your tank and the amount of water you top off at any given time. I don't like the idea of tying Kalkwasser additions to top-off systems, mostly because Kalkwasser has such a high pH that one can do a lot of damage if the system is not carefully calibrated and monitored. Better to have both as separate systems... as for Kalkwasser reactors, I think you'd be better off with a calcium reactor, and then adding Kalkwasser every so often. I think the Kalkwasser reactor is useful for larger systems but again, not tied into the top-off. Cheers, J -- >

When life gives you a reef tank with low calcium, make cappuccino!- Got Calcium? - <Good morning, JasonC here...> Hi, I just added 40lbs of Live Rock to my 150 gallon Reef tank. I have been monitoring my calcium levels every day and night to see what my tank consumes daily, and then need to replenish. I have heard that Kalk is bad for your water. <Like any other additive, only bad when used to excess - otherwise a good source of calcium.> So i decided to use a pure form of calcium, that i use everyday for myself, morning, lunch and dinner... So i added 1 cup of skim milk, (don't want the fish to get too fat) to my tank for every 5 gallons, my LFS told me this is a great way for healthy fish bones. <No... really... you added almost two gallons of milk to your fish tank? This is not at all wise.> After doing this for a week, and losing some corals, and seeing a weird yellow mist in the water, and buildup on the top, I decided to add a calcium reactor. <Did it occur to you that the weird yellow mist, buildup at the top and the death of your corals could be due to the milk and not a lack of calcium?> I figured I could build one myself, that will use the skim milk that i add daily. <Bad plan.> I did a DIY kit, that ZO gave me, <This is obviously not the Zo I know as he would never encourage such a wacky plan.> and he insisted I use 1/2 cup of calcium everyday, <This is an arbitrary amount... and again, a really, really bad plan to use milk.> so I changed it, and he also told me to put my heater in my reactor to save space. <Also a bad plan.> So after doing this, my calcium reactor started putting out a warm black liquid. <Likely cooked milk.> I had no idea what it was, Do you have any idea??????? <I have an idea, but it's not anything that's good for your tank.> So i decided to put it in a cup and taste it, and you know what? I made cappuccino in my Reef tank.. wow it was tasty and fully of life... <I'd be really careful about drinking fluids from your tank. You might easily end up in the hospital. Do yourself and your tank a favor - stop putting milk in your fish tank. Instead, pick up a two part calcium and buffer solution from a different LFS than the one that endorsed using milk. Cheers, J -- >

Is Calcium also important for fish only tanks? If I setup fish only tank (with DSB and live rock) is supplementing with Ca also necessary? What is the LEAST amount of Ca that fish will tolerate? What about soft corals... do they need high Ca levels, just like stony corals?<Have found a some articles that should help you with the calcium questions   http://www.advancedaquarist.com/issues/feb2003/chem.htm http://www.advancedaquarist.com/issues/nov2002/chem.htm http://www.advancedaquarist.com/issues/apr2002/chem.htm http://www.advancedaquarist.com/issues/mar2002/chem.htm > Thank you,<IanB> Luke

- Calcium Issues - Hi, first time mailer, I have read all of your faq's on Kalk dosing and cannot understand what is going on with my system, which is a 220 liter, (48uk gal) EcoSystem with miracle mud sump, 35kg LR, no skimmer, 5 fish all under 1.5" and a few small corals. All toxic params are 0 but my problem is, I am trying to up my Calcium so I can leave it 3 days to find the daily use. I have been dripping in at about 4am in the morning, 2 pints of RO with 0.5tsp of Kent Marine Kalk (siphoned from previous nights mixing). This replaces my evap loss. Taken reading before dosing 320ppm, in the morning its dropped to 315ppm how can this be??? <A difference of five parts per million when it comes to calcium shouldn't be a concern... as to the cause... I'm not sure.> My dKH is 9.9 and I can alter this easy by adding buffer during the day, the PH is always 8.0. <You need to bring that pH up a bit, I'm surprised this is not affected by the addition of the Kalkwasser - pH should be in the range of 8.2-8.4> Do I need to add more Kalk to the two pints to make it stronger or add more than two pints. <Make it stronger.> Kent's instructions state no more than 2tsp for 1 gallon. Can you shed some light on my water chemistry. <Do be careful - it is really easy to shift your pH to the high end of the scale with Kalkwasser additions.> Cheers Mike Russell <Cheers to you, J -- >

Trying to make a liquid doser by any means necessary 6/5/03 Where can I find a stirring plate and stirring bar? <lab supply houses (selling microscopes, graduated cylinders, etc)... perhaps like Fisher Scientific> What about using an air pump with an airstone?   <never aerate... and never mix both solution parts... it will cause the formation of insoluble calcium carbonate and be inert/useless in aquaria> Will that keep the solution stirred over a 14 day period?  If not, how long do you think? <not sure what more I can say, bud... there is no inexpensive fix for dosing liquid supplements over time. Anything I could suggest would be more expensive even than a calcium reactor (peristaltic pumps feeding from airless reservoirs with spinner bars and plates. All are dear and hardly foolproof in contrast to a simple Ca reactor metered by a programmed ORP controller> Thanks again, Steve <best of luck, Anthony>

2 Part Supplements- dosing over time 6/5/03 Ok, my idea will not work. Do you have any ideas?   <really... a well-tuned calcium reactor is the best method for metering Ca and ALK reliably here. Liquids have too many issues of settling, stratifying, precipitating and becoming easily contaminated in dosing system> Is there another product that will work well in the Kent Aqua Doser over a 2 week period?   <some folks modify these dosers with a stirring plate and stirring bar on a timer to keep solutions mixed> Do you recommend a Vario doser? <no experience with it mate> Thanks, Steve <kindly, Anthony> Kalk slurry excerpt (from BOCP1) redux redux 6/5/03 Anthony.... Could you describe your Kalk slurry method (mixing & administering) please?? Thank you, Pat Marren <indeed my friend. Let me direct you to our archives (really the best way to find extensive data you seek and more... the key is learning to use and manipulate the google.com search tool for our site on the main index page for WWM. In this case I cheated and typed in "Kalk slurry excerpt" and found three pages with it included: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/kalkh20faq2.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/circmarfaq3.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/corlalgfaqs2.htm if you follow the many links on and atop these pages, there is a lot of other interesting data to be found. Kind regards, Anthony>

Re: Slurry question II 6/4/03 Thank you for the quick response Anthony.   <always welcome my friend> You know I have read the marble analogy in your book and on the website, problem was I thought that 11 dKH was considered more optimum and not real high, with high being more in the teens, duh!.    <definitely a hazy range of tolerance to be sure. And I would not say your ALK is dangerous at all at 11 dKH... just sitting on the higher end of the ideal (8-12 dKH). Unfortunately, the aggressive SPS and clam keepers preach much higher levels of Ca and ALK without  lending strong admonitions to non-SPS keepers (and folks without reliable calcium reactors) of the precarious if not dangerous line that is to walk for most folks. It can be done... but only with strict supervision and usually by coral farmers needing the extra growth and willing to take the risks. For most aquarists that want good growth, but stable and reliable... 8-12 dKH is ducky, and 350-425 ppm Calcium is realistic, but both are not to be pushed high at the same time> The bummer of it all is that it was about 8 dKH or so and I added some baking soda to move it up!  Curses!  So I assume it will drop over time then.   <yes my friend... simply let it stray down over days and then resume normal supplementation> Ok, I have another question, stupid as it may be, but  here goes.  You mention that calcium gluconate is great for growing coralline algae, but not good for much else, correct.   <exactly... corals take up various forms of calcium in different preferences... under 75 F they also take Strontium to make strontium carbonate skeletons, over 75 they take Calcium carbonate in preference, etc> Does it raise the level of calcium in your tank?   <it does... just not the ideal/usable calcium> I guess what I am asking, does it matter what type of calcium is added to your tank.  Can too much of any type cause the "overflow of marbles" so to speak and cause a "snowstorm"? <correct again... although it is usually only sever if you dose large amount fast, or generally large amounts over an extended period of time> If I wanted to get my calcium up there, but my ph is at 8.3 - 8.4, could I use Calcium Chloride just once or twice to get the numbers up without using the buffer ( Ionic A and B, skip the B part ), or is this too dangerous. <nope... I do believe that would be fine for a quick fix. Exactly as it was designed for> thanks Paul <kindly, Anthony>

Misuse of Calcium Chloride/Liquid calcium 6/4/03 I found an old faq with this info " Potentially dangerous accumulation of by-product Chloride ions can skew water chemistry and plague Ca/Alk balance with long-term use (1-2 years) Requires aquarist to conduct more frequent and larger water changes on the system to dilute and delay Chloride ion accumulation.   <yep... a common problem with the regular use of liquid calcium supplements... really only best used as a quick fix> so, my question is regarding the liquid calcium supplement I'm currently using. It is Saliferts brand and says it's "ionically balanced".   <balanced with what? Ha! > I chose to buy all Salifert brand supplements hoping to find a "balance" ..these include, strontium, iodine, magnesium, calcium and trace soft.  should i just switch to Kalkwasser and if so, should i continue to use the other Salifert supplements?? your advice is MUCH appreciated!! <there are many benefits to using Kalkwasser (some even over a calcium reactor). It definitely gets my vote: no stray Chloride ions, instead Hydroxyl ions buffer ALK, all improve skimmer performance (saponification), Kalk also precips phosphates... none of the other supplements can claim these. Kindly, Anthony>

Calcium oxide 5/30/03 Hey, I found that calcium hydroxide is used in construction.  Is the white thing they use to make stucco. I think the name in English is lime, <correct... also used in pickling> and they instruct me about the process. They heat calcium carbonate, then it results in calcium oxide.. then they spring the calcium oxide in order to obtain hydrated calcium oxide or hydroxide calcium, this compound is pulverized to be used in construction.... a 45 kilo of this lime is just a few dollars... <yes... but such grade has impurities which can be dangerous or problematic if misused. Its best to by lab grade (purified) reagents. Especially for how little is need in the aquarium. Why risk all of your livestock just to save a few dollars each year on cheap lime?> So why to buy Kalk?? Greetings Carlos   <for purity if it is a better grade. Else, you must never allow the precipitate of a cheap grade of Kalkwasser to enter the system. Only a supersaturated solution decanted off of the solids. Best regards, Anthony>

Re: Calcium oxide 6/3/03 I asked about analysis of this material (nothing formal just by phone) and they told me that it is not 100% pure hydroxide, it has other minerals as silicates (bad thing no?) <correct, my friend... the silicates are a common contaminant and can contribute sometimes fiercely to nuisance algae growth (brown diatom algae)> so maybe in a industrial basis (like a coral farm) the use of this material can be convenient... ok, I will continue using Kalk.  :) Carlos <it is still possible to use a lower grade of Calcium oxide or hydroxide as long as you only use a supersaturated solution (Never a slurry). They are largely self purifying at their high pH (heavy metals drop out of solution, etc). However, like you have suggested/realized... the savings on a small scale home project is generally not worth the risk/convenience. IMO, do stay with research grade hobby Kalk. Kind regards, Anthony>

Re: calcium testing Thanks  Randy That's awesome! that's exactly what I needed. <Hi Bill, took me a little to find an answer, had to consult and expert.> I don't mean Salifert specific, I just mean ___all  __calcium tests in general. <Some test kits report results in ppm calcium ion, and some as ppm calcium carbonate, in which case you'd multiply by 0.4.  The Salifert kit requires no multiplication, I believe. Randy. There you go.> Fun With Calcium! Just a quick one guys, <Scott F. your guy tonight> I have a 55 gallon tank with just live rock, a coral banded shrimp and a peppermint. I do a 20% water change per week and drip Kalk. I want to add calcium gluconate ( for coralline) . If I add calcium gluconate doing a 20% water change per week should I stop adding Kalk and just rely on gluconate and water changes for calcium and add buffer to maintain alkalinity, then start adding Kalk when I get corals later. Thanks, Chris <I would...I like to keep things simple. As you are aware, calcium gluconate is great for coralline algae growth, but so-so for corals. I'd use the Kalkwasser exclusively (per Anthony's "Kalk slurry" method) after the coralline growth kicks in...again- keep it simple...Hope this helps. Regards, Scott F>

Adding Calcium Supplements I Have E-Mailed You Before And Thank You For You Advice. I Have A 240 Reef tank With A Custom Made 100G Sump. I Do 55 Gallon Water Changes Every Other Sunday. I Just Purchased Yesterday A Small Bottle Of Seachem Liquid Calcium, Enough For 1000 Gallons. So I Estimated 1/3 Of Bottle And Dumped Into Sump This Morning. I Came By The House For A Second To Check, And Now The Tank Looks Like It Is Cloudy. After 6 Hours. <Sorry this has happened, it may clear up after some time, but you have several issues you should address. One, these additives have a *maximum* dose that should be added per day. Second, the correct dose should be determined by the results of a reliable test kit for calcium (and pH and carbonate alkalinity as well), not by guesstimating about 1/3 of a bottle of unknown dosage, into an unknown need or lack thereof. Seawater is a delicate balance of many elements, most notably calcium, carbonate and strontium, best to understand this dynamic and perform appropriate tests before supplementing. I would also test for alkalinity now as surely this calcium dose will depress alk. DO NOT supplement without testing! There is only so much the water can hold. Try this: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm Craig>

Calcium dosing 5/6/03 Trying to find out my daily dosage needed to keep my calcium levels around 400ppm. I tested my calcium Friday evening with a Salifert test kit and the reading was 350ppm i waited 3 days and tested again and the reading this time was 320ppm. So that tells me i am loosing about 10ppm per day correct? <indeed... or close to it (as best we can tell with a hobby test kit assuming its accurate.)> That evening i mixed up some Kalk 1/2 tea in a gallon of fresh water and let it sit with the top on for about 4 hours then dosed it into the sump right next to the pump at night at about one drop per sec. The next evening i checked the calcium levels and it read 310ppm. Do i need to add more Kalk to the gallon of fresh water or do i need to and something else to the tank during the day and still dose Kalk at night. <likely some more calcium/Kalk... your dosing attempt was (appropriately) conservative/modest> I do have some Liquid Calcium and Turbo Calcium or should i try something else. <Ack! No please... do research (our WWM archives and beyond) the challenges to using such calcium chloride products. They are really only best for quick fixes IMO... Kalk and calcium reactors are much better long-term solutions for Ca supplementation. Also look into the FAQs or my Coral Propagation book about using a Kalkwasser slurry instead. Kindly, Anthony Calfo>

Kent Marine Part-b calcium Heya guys, <Just guy here tonight, PF with your this PM.> Quick question, I've recently purchased some Kent Marine 2 Part calcium for my reef. The Part B has a big chunk of 'whatever' formed at the bottom of the bottle. <I've never used the product, so I'm not sure what exactly "B" does.>After inspecting the other bottles at another store , I noticed they all had the same problem. <Sounds like they've had time to settle.>Any suggestion on how I could/should regrind or crush this' whatever' into a useable product again? <Well... you could empty the bottle out, fish out the Chunk of Doom, and then using a dedicated blender cup and blade set (fairly cheap at most department/home stores) and grind it back in that way. You can use the cup/blade later for mixing food for your tank, but only wash it with vinegar. Sound like a plan?>

- Bottle of Rocks - Heya guys, <Good morning, JasonC here...> Quick question, I've recently purchased some Kent Marine 2 Part calcium for my reef. The Part B has a big chunk of 'whatever' formed at the bottom of the bottle. <Not uncommon.> After inspecting the other bottles at another store, I noticed they all had the same problem. Any suggestion on how I could/should regrind or crush this 'whatever' into a useable product again? <Use the handle-end of a long screwdriver or similar implement to crush the big chunks, and then make sure you shake the stuff each time before use.> Sorry if this is a repeat email (don't know if the first went through) Thanks, Shawn <Cheers, J -- >

Calcium oxide as a supplement 5/1/03 Anthony is calcium oxide a good substitution for calcium hydroxide   RGibson <yes... very fine/similar (chemically). A little tough to dissolve... but quite good for boosting calcium. Best regards, Anthony>

Calcium compounds Were can i buy it   RGibson Its actually a very common ingredient in most/many of the reef supplements (Like Tropic Marin Bio-calcium). I do not know of a specific place to buy it... but there must surely be thousands of venders. Seek laboratory supplies venders with an internet search. Places like Fisher Scientific I suppose FWIW... I see no advantage to using it... quite content with Kalkwasser

- Administering Calcium - Good morning Bob!! <Actually, you got JasonC today.> Today, I was hoping that you could give me guidelines on administering calcium to my aquarium. I understand that it has to be done slowly, and I was thinking of purchasing a 1400ml Kent Aqua Dose unit to do this with. But, if you could tell me a better way, that would be great!!!   Thanks!! Pat Marren <Pat, I'm afraid this topic is a bit more complex than can be covered in a simple email. You have many options which all have their own set of methods and parameters. Please read this article, it should give you a better place to start from: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm Cheers, J -- >

- Administering Calcium - Good morning Bob!! <Actually, you got JasonC today.> Today, I was hoping that you could give me guidelines on administering calcium to my aquarium. I understand that it has to be done slowly, and I was thinking of purchasing a 1400ml Kent Aqua Dose unit to do this with. But, if you could tell me a better way, that would be great!!!   Thanks!! Pat Marren <Pat, I'm afraid this topic is a bit more complex than can be covered in a simple email. You have many options which all have their own set of methods and parameters. Please read this article, it should give you a better place to start from: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm Cheers, J -- >

- Calcium Problems - <Greetings, JasonC here...> Having a problem keeping my calcium above 350ppm. P.H.         8.4 Alk           8.4 DKH Mag         1320 Salin        1.025 Calc         Around 330 to 350 I have a 55 gallon tank and i am adding 2 capfuls or 10 ml of Kent Liquid Calcium during the day and at night i am dosing Calk at 1/2 teaspoon per 1/2 Gallon per night. I am using a Salifert test kit and I cant seem to get the calcium past 350ppm if anything it stays right around 350ppm. Every thing in the tank seems to be growing just fine. Should I leave it alone or strive for a high level like 400ppm. <350 isn't terrible - we're only talking about a difference of 50 parts per million here... not many parts at all. Do try to work on bringing up your alkalinity a little bit as well... perhaps investigate a buffered two part solution or even better, a calcium reactor - would make these additions much easier.> Here are some picks of what I have in my tank enjoy. Notice pick #4 a piece has separated from the main piece. <Lovely. Cheers, J -- >

Calcium and food additive Hi there. Thanks in advance for the help that all of you provide. It is respected and appreciated by everyone. Now I need your advice concerning my calcium supplementation and testing for my 29gal. tank that contains as follows: 1-Maroon Clown, 1-Bangaii Cardinal, 1-Diadema Basslet, 1-Bullseye Pistol Shrimp, 2-E. Quadricolor anemones, 2- 4" Torch corals, Yellow polyps, 1-Fungia, misc. hermits & snails. Lighting- 2-55w PC (50/50 actinic, 10000K),1-20W actinic. Temp-80F,salinity-1.023. AquaC Remora Pro w/ MagDrive pump. I currently use Seachem Reef Calcium and Reef Complete and use Seachem Reef Status for testing. Tests show 325-350ppm calcium. Torch coral shows good growth in past 6 months (branching from 2 original to 2 separate colonies of 4 branches each) Do you recommend a different calcium addition and/or test?? <In fact, this is the same calcium additive I and others here use. Personally I like the Salifert tests and LaMotte get high marks as well. If you are concerned that your tests are off, try to find an LFS/friend that can test the same water sample to confirm your readings.> Also I have experimented with adding off the shelf Fish oil concentrate (gel caps for human consumption, omega 3fatty acids) to various foods (freeze dried krill, plankton, frozen Formula One) but this causes the skimmer to act up somewhat. Do you think that adding this to the food has any appreciable benefit or should I discontinue?? <I have heard of using this but not tried it myself. Personally I like to soak the food in Selcon.> Thank you very much for your guidance  and I apologize for the long message. <No problem and no apology necessary. I hope this helps. Don> Nathan

Carbonate Snowstorm Hey guys, Sorry to bother you, but again I have another problem… to make it simple my tank looks like giant snow ball. I have read over the FAQ and I think that I should do a water change since my calcium levels are very high, but when I mentioned something to my LFS they told me that it could be parasites like ich or something like that.   I really need to ask you guys what you think, right now my tank has tons of small while "particles" floating around they also attach to the glass and I need to scrape them off with a razor (that's why I think its not ich )   I have 100 gal tank with about 110 lbs of LR and 30lbs LS the coralline purple algae looks great, and even the water would be ok if not for the white stuff.   Now I have just set this tank up and the rock has been in for about three weeks and condition begun about two weeks ago.  My skimmer is still overactive and the only thing that I have added to the water is marine success buff form red sea.  I'm going to have my tap water tested to see if it could be a cause but other than that I'm clueless what to do. <Welcome back Pavel. From your description I believe you are experiencing a snowstorm of precipitated carbonates. You will have to ride this out. Performing 10% water changes over the next few days would help to stabilize the chemistry. In the future I would recommend that you measure both calcium and alkalinity with a good test kit and add buffer and/or calcium to replenish what is lost. You are looking for 350-450ppm of calcium and 8-12dKh of alkalinity. Good luck, Don> Once aging think you for your help. Pavel

- Low Calcium Problem - <Greetings, JasonC here...> Hi, guys...Yes, I know what you're probably saying: "Oh, no...yet another calcium problem!"  Well, I looked through all the FAQs on calcium, but couldn't find anything on point, so am hoping that you might be willing to take a look. I have a 65 gallon reef tank, with excellent filtration, that's been up and running for about 5 months (yes, it's still a fairly new tank).  I have plenty of live rock (Marshall), and, while the sand bed isn't particularly deep, I do a 20% water change every two weeks.  I have two smallish fish (Royal Gramma and Percula Clown), and have slowly but steadily added some corals (all of which are small), including yellow polyps, red mushroom, cabbage coral, white litter coral, fuzzy mushroom, toadstool coral, cup coral and a very small hammer and a small torch.  There's also a sand star, a few cleaner crabs and snails.  The lights (blue and white) run for 6 hours per day.   I have been using Tropic Marin Bio-calcium powder to get the calcium level up, but to no avail.  It was up nicely, to 380, at Christmas, but as I have added the corals, the calcium levels have continued to decline despite my increasing the calcium dosage from 1 scoop every other day (in January), to 2 scoops every other day (February) to 2 scoops every day (early March) to 4 scoops every day (late March).  The calcium was 300 in mid-February, then fell to 200 in early March and has been in the 190-200 range ever since.  (If it matters, the alkalinity has been a bit low (3.5) during much of that time, but I've been adding buffer during the past month, and it's now up to 4.5, while I have slowly been adding Lugol's and now have the iodine level up to .055). <Uh... what was the unit of measure for the alkalinity? dKH?> The strange (and wonderful) thing is that all the corals not only have survived despite this low level of calcium, but seem to be doing reasonably well; they certainly look good. <Many corals look great right up until their last day even though they've been in steady decline... some for a year or more. Do not only use 'looks' as a measure of success - in reef keeping, the real measure is time, and your journey is only just beginning.> Anyway, the instructions on the Tropic Marin say not to add more than 1 scoop per 10 gallons per day (or 5 scoops for a 65 gallon tank, considering the sand and live rock).  So, should I go up to 5 scoops per day and see if that helps?  I tend to doubt that it will.  Or should I go to a different form of calcium additive?  Or might there be another problem entirely? <I think your alkalinity might be too low. Work on bringing that up into the 6-7 dKH range instead.> Thanks so much for taking a look at this.  You guys are terrific. Best, Ralph <Cheers, J -- >

Hi Anthony and/or Crew, <Greetings, and/or JasonC here...> After reading ALL Faq's on calcium I am down to two choices.  I have a tank which I'm trying to convert to reef from FO and have no readable calcium thanks to what I believe is the recent addition of Kent's Superbuffer dKH. <Perhaps get a second opinion on the test... it would be a rare day for a calcium test to read zero in all but the worst-off of systems.> This has diminished my Coralline Algae.  Luckily I have no corals yet just a BTA so I don't think there is an emergency here.  I will be doing multiple water changes then I would like to promote Coralline so I'm considering SeaChem's sugar based Reef Calcium.  Will this product promote Green + Hair Algae which I'm currently battling? <I would think so.> I am debating a temporary CaCl doses to get the Ca up from 0 but after reading the FAQ's I am not sure.  I would almost rather do the water changes add Reef Calcium to promote Coralline then either invest in a reactor or go with Tropic Marin's BioCalcium (another question mark). <Water changes alone will not boost your calcium levels. A reactor is the best way to go, and worth the investment in the long run. In the meanwhile, consider using one of the two-part systems like B-Ionic.> I do not like the unknown factor of BioCalcium. <What's unknown about it?> Any suggestions would be appreciated, can I avoid CaCl being that my calcium is completely depleted? <Again, in use with a corresponding buffer - like a two-part system - CaCl is nothing to worry about.> Thanks! Rich   <Cheers, J -- >

Wacky Calcium Dynamics Hi Bob & Crew, <You have Scott F. today!> I have a 110 which has been a FO for 2 years and I'm trying to convert to a reef. Livestock is Yellow Tang, Coral Beauty, Orchard Dottyback, 2 Scarlet Cleaner Shrimp, 2 Ocellaris Clowns and now a BTA. Tests are Nitrates 0 (since adding deep sand bed), PH 8.3 at peak, alk 3.0 meq/L. Skimming with an Oceanic 6, plenty of circulation. Up until 2 months ago I had calcium at 400 with Coralline Algae flourishing all along (2yrs). Now it is all of a sudden the Coralline Algae is turning pink/white (horror) and calcium is at 0! <<No. RMF>> <Amazing...I'm no chemist, but I can't imagine what would cause an aquarium to lose all measurable calcium...very weird, IMO> This has been verified with a test at fish store. The only thing I have done differently is add a Geissmann Metal Halide light and buffer with Kent's Superbuffer-dKH. I have been told to do one massive water change (35%) and start adding B-Ionic's 2 part calcium additive. I do not like the idea of that large of a water change, a couple of my fish are new and have been stressed enough. I would appreciate your advice, I do not want to use  Kalkwasser and I'm not ready to buy a Calcium Reactor YET.  What is your favorite B-Ionic, Tropic Marin's BioCalcium or Seachem's Reef Calcium (Good for Coralline which I love)?   My water is from a Kent Hi-S RO which I'm now  aerating 12 hrs as per your website's info. Thank you. Rich <Well, Rich- as far as calcium products are concerned- I like all of the ones that you mentioned. If used properly, and tested for regularly, these products do the job quite well. With regards to the plummeting calcium level, I guess two thoughts come to mind. First, there is the calcium/alkalinity dynamic, which can be skewed by misapplication of calcium products (even the two part products). High calcium levels and high alkalinity levels are mutually exclusive. There is a balance.. Curiously, your alkalinity is not excessive at all, though. My second thought is the increased light...Perhaps, due to the increase in light levels provided by the new halide fixture, your corals and other calcium-loving creatures utilized the available calcium rapidly, causing the level of calcium to plummet. Final thought...some test kits do not measure different types of calcium (organic/inorganic calcium...) Of course, if you are not replenishing it regularly, the calcium can remain at a depressed level. Do keep checking, keep measuring, and re-assess your techniques for providing and maintaining calcium levels. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Plummeting Calcium (Pt. 2) Hi Scott,    <Hi there!> Thanks for the quick response.   I think your right as far as the Coralline Algae/Metal Halide using all calcium which having been FO I had never added any calcium supplements.   Strange that the Coralline Algae lasted so long. <I think that coralline algae is remarkably durable and adaptable, despite the common perception that they are delicate. You also have to remember that these algae utilize other compounds, such as magnesium, etc., so having high calcium levels is not the whole picture.>    What about the 35% water change?   Is it necessary to do that large of a change before adding calcium?   Would several 10% be as effective without stressing the tank as much?   I will do whatever is best, I very much want my Coralline back.   Thanks again.   Rich <Rich, I'd rather execute more frequent, smaller water changes. People must be sick of hearing me say this by now, but I think that a couple of small (5% of tank volume) water changes per week will make a big difference. I am not a big fan of large, infrequent changes, unless there is an emergency that is being corrected (i.e.; ammonia spike, poisoning, etc.). I think that adding calcium on a regular, consistent basis, in conjunction with the frequent, small water changes, will do the trick. Good luck! Regards, Scott F> High Calcium and low alk, how did this happen? Hey guys, <Hey Robert!> I've been battling a major high cal. and low alk. problem for a few weeks now. I've changed enough water in my 55 gal tank to fill a swimming pool and I think things are starting to turn around. My question is, how the heck does the calcium get so out of whack? This tank was running great, the corals were growing by leap and bounds and one day the bottom fell out. I bought all the supplements the web pages said as I researched what corals I wanted to put in my tank. Then after reading all the info you guys put on WWM I didn't even open them and decided to resupply everything with water changes. So there's been nothing added but salt at the water changes. So how does this happen? Where did the calcium come from? Help me out here, with the corals I lost and the filter cartridges I used up this is way too expensive to let happen again! Thanks, Robert <Alright Robert (and our other Dear readers): When you use RO/DI water or a TWF you remove all/most of the alkalinity in your source water, it leaves it with 0 alk and usually around a 6 pH. Some salt mixes dissolve to a 2-2.5 meq/L (5.6 - 7dKH) with such water leaving the calcium/alk ratio low from the start, then your new tank, corals and wastes (or varieties of corals) use more alk than calcium, and viola! low alk and high calcium! When you mix your new water you should aerate it for 12-24 hours, test pH and alkalinity, and supplement as needed to 3.5 - 5 meq/L (9.8 - 14 dKH) with a buffer or alk supplement. I like Seachem Marine Buffer or Reef Builder for alk only.  Follow the label directions. Also, you might want to look into calcium supplements and alk support like Kalkwasser and periodic alkalinity supplementation according to test/use and check with bi-weekly tests to prevent this from happening again. Many aquariums require periodic supplementation for these elements. Read Anthony's article about calcium and alkalinity at WetWebMedia.com   This should help! Craig>

Has He Lost His Marbles? (Sorry, Anthony!) Hey guys <Scott F. your guy today!> I've been battling a major high cal. and low alk. problem for a few weeks now. I've changed enough water in my 55 gal tank to fill a swimming pool and I think things are starting to turn around. My question is, how the heck does the calcium get so out of whack. <Well, water has only so much "capacity" to accommodate compounds like calcium. Anthony, in his great "Book of Coral Propagation" outlines what he calls "The Marble Analogy", which, in a nutshell, refers to a bowl that holds 100 marbles, some of which represent calcium, and some that represent alkalinity. The bottom line is that the bowl can only accommodate 100 marbles, period! If you try to put in additional calcium, you have to displace alkalinity, and vice/versa. Something will have to precipitate out of solution...Usually, high calcium and high alkalinity are mutually exclusive. Sounds like what happened to your tank. A balance is a compromise in one area or another.> This tank was running great, the corals were growing by leap and bounds and one day the bottom fell out. I bought all the supplements the web pages said as I researched what corals I wanted to put in my tank. But then after reading all the info you guys put on WWM I didn't even open them and decided to resupply everything with water changes. So there's been nothing added but salt at the water changes. So how does this happen? <Well, as outlined above- water can only accommodate so much dissolved compounds. The calcium had to come from somewhere, since you were not dosing Kalk, right? Perhaps your source water is very high in calcium already...Maybe it has very little carbonate hardness, and the calcium soared while the alkalinity plummeted. Lots of possibilities. Best is to use common sense, maintain a balance between too much and too little (easier said than done, huh?), and keep changing water in small (like 5% of tank volume), regular (I favor twice weekly) quantities.> Where did the calcium come from? Help me out here, with the corals I lost and the filter cartridges I used up this is way too expensive to let happen again! Thanks, Robert <Well, I probably can't solve the problem in this email, but I would like to refer you to the resources on the wetwebmedia site regarding the calcium/alkalinity dynamic. Having a thorough understanding of this dynamic can help you achieve the balance you are so desperately seeking. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

- Knop in Australia - Hi Bob, <Greetings, JasonC here...> Hoping you could help me, <I can try.> I was looking for a supplier of a Knop calcium rectifier in Perth Western Australia, do you know of anyone???? Thanks Bob <I'm afraid there is not a Knop distributor in Australia at this time. Cheers, J -- >

Calcium reactor Will I need to get a calcium reactor or/and a chiller. I live in St. Louis Missouri and it sometimes can gets as low as 5 degrees in the winter but not always but in my house it is usually in the 80's during winter and in the 60's to 70' during summer. < If the tank temp. isn't too high (below 83-84) you can probably cool it enough by pointing a couple of fans at he water surface.  If that doesn't work you may want to invest in a chiller. You only need the calcium reactor if you have coral in the tank, Cody.>

Calcium supplementation 3/6/03 Hi guys when adding a DIY Kalkdoser what is the recommended drip rate? <all calcium supplements should be dosed simply in accordance with the tanks needs for calcium as determined by your Calcium test kit. At first you will need to test a few times weekly to get an idea for your daily need, and subsequently how much Kalk needs to be added as a drip (then later as a slurry). After a short while, you can wane on the testing to just a few times monthly to stay on track. Do be sure to always test for the supplements you add to prevent problems with stray water chemistry. Best regards, Anthony>

Re: Tank cycling and testing Hi Don, <Welcome back Eric> Thanks for the reply.  <My pleasure> I don't have a calcium reading, but my alkalinity is 12dh (carbonate hardness) and my PH is 8.0.  Do I need to get a calcium testing kit of some kind?  I don't think I've even heard of one yet. <Yes there are calcium tests available. You may be able to have your LFS give you a reading. The point is, if the Carbonate Hardness is high and the calcium is high, that will result in a precipitate that appears as white flakes. If your end game is a reef tank then you will need a calcium test kit eventually. See here and beyond for more http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance> Maybe I'm just too picky, but I am striving to get a really clear tank.  I have seen them, so I know it's possible.  A friend of mine was over that's had a marine tank for about 4 years now, and he said the white floating spots didn't bother him any. <Hope you reach your goals, Don> Thanks again, and talk with you later! Eric N

A quick method to add calcium to a 55gal - 2/27/03 Thanks Paul, <No problem at all>     Just a quick question on Calcium. <OK> I am looking for the simplest, hardest<???>method to overdose,<????> way of adding calcium supplements to my water. <Not sure of the question here> I am a brand new aquarist and very afraid of adding supplements to my water as most of them say to add so many drops per gallon but with live rock displacement, water changes and top offs I really don't know exactly how much water is in my 55 gallon at one time and I am really afraid of over or under dosing. <Well, I wouldn't worry much about either overdosing and/or under dosing. Just follow the manufacturers instructions and I think you will be fine. I, personally, subscribe to the GARF method of adding calcium. They add roughly 1 teaspoon of Seachem Reef Advantage to a 1 gallon jug of R/O makeup (fresh) water and add makeup water daily (you should be anyway)>     I know there are sophisticated Kalkwasser set ups but I am only going to have a FOWLR tank and only want beautiful rock and a way to maximize coralline algae and minimize bad algae. <Well, the best way to maintain all mineral supplementation while minimizing bad algae and nutrients is to do regular frequent water changes. =) Take care. Paul>

Sugar based calcium and bio-balls. Hi guys. <Hi Charlie, Don with you tonight> I have a couple of questions. First, while browsing your FAQs on bio-balls I stumbled upon a reference to sugar based calcium supplements by SeaChem to promote coralline algae which is something I very much want to do. Looking at SeaChem's site I found "Reef Calcium" which is described as using a glucose base. Reading the product description I found that they suggest using it with "Reef Advantage Calcium". When, in your opinion, is it desirable to use both in a system? <Reef Calcium is a liquid that is 'sugar' based calcium. Reef Advantage Calcium is a powder that is mixed with fresh or RO/DI water. I use Reef Calcium primarily for curing live rock when I need to 'boost' the coralline growth. I do not use this in the my display tank. I use Reef Advantage Calcium as a supplement to Kalkwasser additions to maintain the calcium level I want in the main tank. I also use this to bring up new salt water to levels I want.> My second question concerns your un-favorite filter element, bio-balls. I just installed a brand new Aqua Medic Turboflotor 1000. When I opened the box I found that the kit includes a small post skimming outflow box filled with bio-balls. (This is not shown on the box, the instructions or their web site - I checked.) This box has a pair of input ports high on one side which clamp to the outflow tubes of the skimmer. Outflow tubes attach to low set ports on the opposite side of the box insure that the box functions as a small trickle bubble filter. From the FAQs, just the FAQs (I couldn't resist) concerning bio-balls I'm torn between removing them to avoid another nitrate source and keeping them as a fine to coarse bubble converter, which they do nicely. So, keep or toss? And if toss, what to do about the fine bubbles that find their way out of the skimmer? (The T1000 design isn't very good about screening bubbles from the outflow, a small nuisance.) Using a sponge instead, as I've seen on a more expensive brand, simply replaces one nitrate source with another, no? <Yes, the to me  the sponge would be much easier to clean. Maybe adding additional baffles to the sump would help as well. Hope this helps> Regards, Charlie H.

- Adding Calcium - Thank you so much for your response. <My pleasure.> I was just wondering my tank has 4 green Chromis, bicolor angel ,4 peppermint shrimp, emerald crab and a banded coral shrimp. and 90 pounds live rock (55 gall tank). Do I need to add calcium supplements to my tank or will simple water changes do. <I wouldn't go nuts adding calcium, but a little wouldn't hurt - some will come in with the water changes as well.> I would like some good coralline algae to grow. Thanks again. <Cheers, J -- >

2-Part Additives and Amphipods Thanks so much for your prompt response... hate to bother you again, but as usual one question leads to another. First off I was questioning about Reef Success +3 by SeaChem - my error, the product is by Red Sea.  Do you know anything about using this as a long term Calcium supplement?  If not familiar or don't like it what do you recommend that is "easy" and "inexpensive" to use?  Your thoughts on B-Ionic? C-Balance? <Haven't used the Red Sea product. The B-Ionic and C-Balance are products I have used...Just follow the instructions and you should be fine...I wouldn't call these products "inexpensive" over time! A better long-term solution is a calcium reactor. Well worth the higher initial investment, IMO> To answer your question on maintenance, except for routine checks on equipment, I perform a 20% (10 gal) water change at the end of every month. I use Instant Ocean.  Water temp 79 deg, salinity 1.023.  I clean/change the filter sleeve in the Marineland Magnum 350 and replace with new carbon in the media container (fill container about 20% of carbon). <Keep up the regular maintenance...Do try regular smaller water changes> Also, regarding the mandarin goby - this is my ultimate goal - how can I "crank up the development of amphipods and copepods" to sustain keeping a mandarin - I though my investment in the Live Rock with the 260W Coralife Power Compacts would accomplish this... have I gone astray? <You seem to me to be on track. I'd begin with a starter culture from a firm like Indo Pacific Sea Farms or Inland Aquatics and culture amphipods in a separate aquarium for a while, then introduce them to your display in "phases". Be patient- it will pay off for the Mandarin to come!> Thanks again for your help by sharing your experience. <Any time! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

- Calcium and Buffer Additions - <Good morning, JasonC here...> Should I have to add calcium and buffer daily to keep the levels at 400ppm cal and alk at 9 or 10 even though I add Kalk slurry twice a day. <Yes.> The tank is a 125 gal reef that has been running 8 years. <You are probably due to replace some of the rock and substrate - this also give up calcium through natural processes and unless you augment it yearly, you are way overdue.> Its heavily stocked and every thing is doing well. I do a 25 gal water change every 2 weeks. It seems like the cal. and alk fall off quick. <Your buffering capacity is probably shot - again, think about replacing a goodly amount of sand.> Is this normal or is there something I can do to reduce the buffer and cal. additions. <Consider a calcium reactor - you didn't mention anything in your system that specifically requires high levels of calcium...> You have been helpful in the past and thanks in advance for your help this time <Cheers, J -- >

Help with Reef Additives????? This question is for Bob Fenner if Possible. Bob, you always have a way of explaining aquarium issues in a way I understand. <Bob is in Hawaii, so you get Craig today.> I am concerned about the long-term use of 2 part additives to maintain calcium/Alk.   I have used them in my 75 reef to maintain my Alk around 9DKH and calcium around 400.  My concern over the long term is about trace elements building up in the tank from this stuff (using it for next 5 to 10 years or however long my tank stays up).  I do weekly water changes to keep my water quality in check and do not feel these added trace elements in these two part solutions are necessary. <Not to worry, these maintain ionic balance in seawater/artificial seawater. Also, water changes and use by organisms keeps these in check. With few exceptions, these supplements are matched to seawater concentrations, depending on your salt mix as well. Your salt also contains these elements.> All the two part additives seem to be loaded with these trace elements.  Can you explain (or point me to the place) and answer the following: 1. How to make my own two part Calcium/Alk buffering system without all the trace elements. <Use Kalkwasser and carbonate/buffer supplements instead. My preference is Kalkwasser dosed as a slurry per Anthony's book or dripped as usual, with Seachem buffer. You will then need to test for magnesium, strontium, etc. which are contained in the ionically balanced two part systems.> 2  Or, if a better solution in your opinion, how to dose Kalkwasser. <To use as a slurry, use a pH meter, 1/16th of a teaspoon Kalk mixed in cold RO/DI water per 100 gallons tank capacity to start, dose until pH climbs .02 only. Can be dosed multiple times per day. OR, use Kalkwasser solution as normal; usually 2 tsp per gallon of refill/top off water per day, drip at night when pH is naturally depressed, one drop per second.  You will need to test magnesium and strontium with Kalk use.  Test at least every two weeks to be sure levels are nominal.> P.S. , my Asfur Angel is doing great in the new 225.  What a beautiful fish and pet.   He waits at the top to eat out of my hand.   I decided to add only a Sohal and some Red Sea green Chromis to the tank to allow them all plenty of room to grow.   Coralline is starting to spread in the tank and it is becoming truly beautiful. Thank you for all your wonderful help.   Andrew Elstein <Sounds great Andrew, I wouldn't worry at all about the trace elements, the cost of the two parters is a bigger threat! Best of luck!  Craig>

Tropic Marin Bio-Ca Sorry to trouble you, but- Tropic Marin Bio-Ca.  So what is it? <a secret proprietary mix of seemingly a bunch of things> Calcium oxide? <yes partly as evidenced by the exothermic reaction of the mix (produces heat)> Calcium Chloride? Calcium carbonate with a power scooter? <all bets are off on the rest... likely some/all> Appears to be a two part powder.  Seems like it is a well guarded secret. <that's the idea> Anyone break the code, hate to put some into the reef if I don't know what it is. <agreed. I believe that it is a good product but I refuse to put an unknown in my tank> Some reefers are singing it's praises. <sure... but there are many other fine products instead that are discernable> Thanks in advance, you have been a fountain of knowledge.  Brian   <best regards, Anthony>

CaCl question Anthony: is a biweekly water change (about 7%) sufficient to offset the build up of Cl ions from dosing 50 ml of CaCl once a week?   <unquestionably not. Its not a matter of water changes with Calcium chloride (because no aquarist is likely to want to do the huge changes needed). It really is a matter of it being a temporary source of calcium. We simply have no consumer watchdog in our industry to hold contrary or dangerous marketing accountable. To be specific... if you did a weekly water change of 50%... that would still leave 50% CaCl behind on the first week... which jumps to 75% the second week... and so on. Its not a fast and furious risk. It takes many months of use/abuse to get the levels of concentration high enough. The bottom line though... there just are so few benefits top using it on contrast to Kalk and/or a reactor> I use your CaOH slurry method on a daily basis with excellent results but find that I have to "catch up" with Ca and CO3 demand once a week by using liquid CaCl and buffer.   <you may simply need to dose your slurry twice a day (or more). Chloride simply is not needed. And it is surprising. Are you sure the Ca is not harmlessly precipitating. Are you literally growing corals so fast that you harvest stony matter more than monthly? Seems very surprising that you have a demand that exceeds a single slurry shot> This routine seems to promote stability but I have read many places that reliance on CaCl can be damaging over time.   <I think it is VERY dangerous with weekly use in the 2 year picture> Is it possible that the Na ions from the buffer would "capture" any excess Cl?  Or am I using a safe level?   <neither... it is a stranded ion. Just verify your daily need for Calcium, confirm that Ca is not being wasted/precipitated... and increase the number of slurry shots as needed (say late night and early morning? Kindly, Anthony> Thanks in advance for your input!  Ed Marshall, Austin, Texas.

Re: stocking a 29g reef I know, lots of questions, but you guys have been so helpful, so thanks in advance. I've reading all the sections on calcium and pretty much understand (somewhat) the balance and dance between alk, ca and ph (both from reading and from keeping reefs in the past). <Yes. The process is a bit confusing at first, but it really is a simple thing> Since I seem to always have a pH of 8.6 dosing Kalk makes me a bit nervous. I'm trying a product called Tropic Marin Bio Calcium. <Tropic Marine is a very reputable and respected company. Based on that, I would say this is probably a decent-great product> After one does it brought my alk up to 9.6dKh from 7.7dKh and my Ca to 390 from 370. This product does not dissolve well, is there a better way to dose it other than sprinkling it on the tank? <I always follow the manufacturer's directions> The store I bought it from said to mix it with fresh water but this seems like it may be a bad idea since it basically is a 2 part but in dry form? Could I mix it in salt water from the tank then pour it back in? <I wouldn't dare respond specifically to this question without knowing/using the product. Forget the LFS...follow the label...always> Also are there any long term negative side affects to using this product? <Again...this is not a product that I am familiar with> I searched your site but only found bits and pieces, although several times Bob mentioned that he liked the product a lot. I'd like get as much info about as possible. My other option would be to got to the Kent 2-part additive, but I wanted to try the bio-calcium based on the recommendation from a trusted friend. <I wish I was more familiar with this product. I don't care much for experimenting with my aquarium. My personal favorite is B-Ionic. David Dowless>

Calcium Supplementation I know, lots of questions, but you guys have been so helpful, so thanks in advance. I've reading all the sections on calcium and pretty much understand (somewhat) the balance and dance between alk, ca and ph (both from reading and from keeping reefs in the past). Since I seem to always have a pH of 8.6 dosing Kalk makes me a bit nervous. <Understood!> I'm trying a product called Tropic Marin Bio Calcium. After one dose, it brought my alk up to 9.6dKh from 7.7dKh and my Ca to 390 from 370. This product does not dissolve well, is there a better way to dose it other than sprinkling it on the tank? The store I bought it from said to mix it with fresh water but this seems like it may be a bad idea since it basically is a 2 part but in dry form? <I'd follow the instructions exactly. When dealing with chemistry altering preparations, it's a very good idea not to deviate from the standard methods.> Could I mix it in salt water from the tank then pour it back in? <That might be a good idea.> Also are there any long term negative side affects to using this product? <When using any product that affects the calcium/alkalinity dynamic, you run the potential risk of having the product "fall out of solution" in a "snowstorm", if not used properly.> I searched your site but only found bits and pieces, although several times Bob mentioned that he liked the product a lot. <Tropic Marin makes some fine products. I do not personally use this product, but I use their salt and find it to be excellent. I have not heard any negatives about this product from other hobbyists> I'd like get as much info about as possible. My other option would be to got to the Kent 2-part additive, but I wanted to try the bio-calcium based on the recommendation from a trusted friend. <I'd stick with the Tropic Marin product, if you are going this route. You may want to post on the wetwebmedia.com chat forum, to see if other readers have experience with this product. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

- Calcium Reactor Selection - Good evening, oh reef gurus. <And hello to you, JasonC here...> Thinking of buying a Ca Reactor, so many to chose from and so expensive.  Before I sell myself into slavery,  which one is worth it?  I have a 220g tank, 70g refugium, and 150 sump.  Ca/Alk have been an unending battle.  Any suggestions?  Korallin, Precision Marine, K2R or Knop? <I'm a huge fan of the Knop units.> Thanks again for all you help. <Cheers, J -- >

Re: Aragamilk - Kalkwasser - PH, Alkalinity, KH So you are saying that using Aragamilk product isn't enough to keep my calcium levels up to par without the use of Kalkwasser? <I don't know if it will or won't, it depends on your calcium usage.> I've never used Kalk in my life, and have been using Kent Marine's liquid Calcium for years and am now seeking a less costly way to dose calcium without having to be "glued" to my tank mixing Kalkwasser then straining it, etc, etc.  Kalk seems dangerous to use unless one is dripping it at night from some sort of hospital type IV line, which would be very unsightly to have hanging over my tank.  So i thought the Aragamilk may be a better alternative. <This is a common fallacy. Read Anthony Calfo's "slurry method" which I use in my grow vats. It doesn't have to be so complicated. I surely don't recommend using the Kent supplement for long term use. It would be worthwhile for you to read the WetWebMedia.com Kalkwasser links to get a better idea of it's undeniable benefits.> I ordered a test kit for KH to keep tabs on my alkalinity.  The kit is from Sea Chem.  I also ordered a pH test kit that has alkalinity test in it as well. You mentioned two types of alkalinity.  I'm not a chemist and don't want to make this more complex then it has to be.  I don't want a reef tank that has to be monitored 5x/day with a bunch of water test kits, etc. I just want to understand the basic parameters of pH, alkalinity, calcium.  I read Anthony Calfo's article on it.  No mention of Aragamilk there...just Kalk, calcium carbonate, et. al <I would just reinforce Anthony's recommendation and ask why you think he doesn't mention or advise these products and recommends Kalkwasser? The Seachem test kit is a good product.  They also have one that tests magnesium, borate, carbonate and total alkalinity which is also a good investment. You simply need to know your alkalinity and calcium consumption, backed by testing every two weeks to make sure you are on target with your supplementation. This is relatively simple with Kalkwasser and a good balanced buffer/carbonate supplement. It is advisable to test for magnesium as well. Test, get a base reading w/o supplementation for three to five days, then test again and divide by the number of days. This is your daily usage and supplemental need.> He suggests using Kalkwasser.  To me, it just seems like a very time consuming method to keep calcium levels up to par.  My tank is in living room and I honestly have no room for an IV type dosing canister and metal pole to hang behind the tank. <Again, see WWM.com Kalkwasser pages and the "slurry" method. As long as it doesn't raise the pH by more than .02 it is safe and effective for both calcium supplementation and precipitation of phosphates.> Also, I have read that Alkalinity is measured in both dKH and GH   (Carbonate hardness and General hardness).  I'm not sure of the difference between the two, so am using a KH test kit to measure alkalinity. <Not a substantial issue. Your SeaChem test kit will perform this function for you.> I am reading that the relationship of Calcium and Alkalinity should never be high on both ends or low on both ends.  If Ca is high then alk should be to the lower end of the range. <They will tend to lower one another, like adding red and blue dye to water. More of one makes it redder purple, or bluer purple, counteracting the concentration of the other in solution or worse, displacing them altogether. Best to maintain mid levels of both.> Question is, if Kalkwasser raises Calcium levels, and also raises pH, then wouldn't it also raise Alkalinity levels at the same time? <PH and alkalinity, although linked, are not the same. The Kalkwasser raises the pH because it has a high pH itself.>   And if alk levels are already high when adding Kalkwasser, wont it make the levels even higher? <No. Re-read Anthony's article regarding alkalinity, pH and Kalkwasser use.> Thanks for trying to assist. Steve <No problem Steve, I hope this answers your questions.  Craig>

Re: calcium additive With the following product, would it be necessary to ALSO have to dose Kalkwasser? http://www.thehiddenreef.com/webpages/productspages/water_treatment_caribsea.htm If so, can someone explain to me why I'd need to dose Kalk if this product supposedly has enough Calcium in it to last several days at a time before re-dosing. Thanks, Steve <Hi Steve, please see this link to understand how and why Kalkwasser is the best available alternative for calcium supplementation. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm This product may or may not do what you want it to do depending on your own individual usage/system needs. These supplements must be used with test kits to determine system requirements, not indiscriminately according to label directions. You will also notice that the "premium" product contains additional buffers. If this product does what it says with pure aragonite, then I ask  why the need for additional buffers?  The fact is these products are more expensive to use and do less than touted. They also do nothing for phosphate reduction as an added benefit. If you are concerned with cost, search Yahoo for Mrs. Wages pickling lime and go from there.  I advise the slurry method in the early AM and a good marine buffer like Seachem.  For $4 for the lime and $14 for a large container of buffer you will replenish your carbonate alk and calcium for some time to come for FAR less than any aragadairy products. Also read the warnings in the above link about liquid calcium products.  Craig>

Re: calcium additive Thanks again Craig for the sound advice. My tank is completely set up "again" after the monstrous outbreak of Brooklynella - Marine Velvet combo. I just received my new test kits in the mail today from www.thatpetplace.com I just tested the pH, Calcium and dKH ph  =  8.3 Calcium = 400 ppm dKH  = 12 to 13 (which i think is high) All things being equal, how can I lower the alkalinity (dKH) to around 10 without also lowering the pH? I've always wondered that. I suppose the only real way to do it is by a small water change and adding no buffer? I haven't started dosing Kalkwasser yet, as my calcium levels are already high in relation to my alkalinity, so I'll give it a few days or until my readings come down. Thanks for any assistance. Steve <Excellent Steve! Now, DO NOTHING!!! No water changes, no nothing. Wait four or five days, then test again. Subtract the test results from today's results. Divide by four or five (however many days you wait to test again). THAT is your daily use for calcium and alkalinity. For alkalinity, I use Seachem marine buffer so I know from the label by adding 1 tsp to 40 gallons I'm raising the carbonate alk 1 meq/L, or about 2.8 dKH. You may have another brand in which case you need to figure out the proper dose. The pH will not be affected significantly if dosed correctly. Please read Anthony's article at WWM.com to understand why this is so and the relationship between alkalinity and pH. For Kalk/calcium supplementation, add in a slurry only the amount that will raise your pH by .02 at a time in the early AM. Anthony starts at about 1/2 tsp (I think for 100 gallons). This is about right to start. It will precipitate phosphates more effectively if dosed into the display. It is fine to dose alk/buffer every few days depending on use and maintained levels. Best to dose Kalk daily, perhaps more with more calcium use depending on inhabitants/use. To answer your question, water changes or simply waiting for use to lower levels will work as will adding unbuffered RO/DI top-off water that reduces calcium and alk in suspension. Your alk is not all that worrisome if left alone. Hope this helps!  Craig>   

Re: Aragamilk - Kalkwasser - PH, Alkalinity, KH Hello, Can anyone give me the basic parameters for Alkalinity, KH, PH for my reef tank? <Sure! 4-5 meq/L total alkalinity of which approx. 1.5-2 meq/L should be borate/hydroxide alkalinity. The result you are interested in is total alkalinity using a balanced buffer/carbonate supplement. PH should 8.3-8.4.  KH is carbonate alkalinity. 350-450 calcium.> Also, I was at a real awesome fish place today that uses Aragamilk in all of their reefs. They told me it's much much cheaper than dosing Kalkwasser, as 1 drop is for two gallons of water and a 16 oz container would last me many many months for a 55 gallon reef tank. <This all depends on your carbonate usage, so a blanket statement about how long a product will last isn't accurate. A few drops may not supplement your system to the desired levels. As far as expense, Kalkwasser (also known as pickling lime, hydrated lime) is far less expensive for dosing calcium and supporting alkalinity. There may/is still a need to supplement for carbonate alkalinity with both products, depending on testing/usage in your situation.  I would tailor the supplements to your specific use. The only way to top the use of Kalkwasser is a calcium reactor.> I know many on the forum are "old school" and do what they KNOW works, and try not to deviate from the norm. Was wondering if anyone has had experience with Aragamilk.  Also would I need to dose Aragamilk at night similar to the methods of dosing Kalkwasser? <No, it doesn't have the high pH of Kalkwasser.> Because I have a refugium that's on a reverse daylight schedule, would dosing Aragamilk or Kalkwasser at night REALLY make a difference due to the fact my ph will be relatively stable due to the refugium's reverse daylight methodology. Thanks again, Steve <Likely not as the refugium stabilizes the oxygen/CO2 content of the water and thus the pH and any advantage of nighttime/early AM dosing.  For more info on water chemistry check out the info in the marine section of WetWebMedia.Com  Hope this helps!  Craig>

- Kalkwasser and Calcium Reactors - Good morning crew. <Good morning, JasonC here.> I was reading some of the archive files and read the mention of possible problems combining a calcium reactor with dripping of Kalk. This was in regards to such thing as higher ph and loss of magnesium. What are the problems associated with a ph of 8.6 or higher should that occur? <There are a number of problems... the whole system is really that, a system of chemical balance - calcification, denitrification, etc... when any one parameter is either too high or too low, one or more of these processes will either slow down, or speed up. In the case of calcium additions, the danger is that alkalinity and calcium levels will become too high, saturating the tank at which point the calcium will precipitate out of solution until the calcium is consumed. This is often referred to as a 'snow storm'. If you are dosing both, you need to keep a very close watch on your calcium, alkalinity, and pH levels. One can does both - a constant from the reactor and perhaps small weekly doses of Kalkwasser, but to allow the Kalkwasser to drip in at a constant rate like the calcium reactor is an invitation to problems. Just like most things in life - moderation is the key.> As always, I appreciate your help and thanks in advance. <Cheers, J -- >

Carib-Sea Aragamilk Hi all at WetWeb, <Howdy> What is your opinion of Aragamilk (not Aragamite) for calcium/carbonate supplementation?  Have too many tanks to buy Kalk reactors for all of them, so I'm looking for a good product, especially for my LPS tank.  Aragamilk offers calcium, carbonate, strontium, etc., all in one, which would be practical for my purposes.   Would you like to opine. . . .???? <Mmm, there are better ways (two part supplements, Kalkwasser, Calcium Chloride and more to supply what this product claims to do. The best? A calcium reactor. Easy enough to test this and other products though... with water samples, dosing... Please see here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm and the linked files (at top, in blue) beyond. Bob Fenner> Thanks,   Peggy

Calcium and pH questions Hello WWM, <HEEEEEEEELLO!> First of all I would like to greet you a Happy new year!!! Happy 2003. <Thanks> I would like to know how to dose Calcium Gluconate to my reef tank to accelerate coralline algae growth. Do I mix and drip it like the calcium hydroxide? <Not necessary. Use Reef Calcium by Seachem and follow the directions on the bottle> I'm going to buy some Calcium Gluconate to a chemical warehouse near my place, 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. <I've had the same problem> I also want to buy some buffers there but I don't know what kind of carbonate and bicarbonates should I buy? <Baking soda works> 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? <Never heard this myself> I know I should buy stuff that are meant for aquariums but I think they are just the same. And one last thing, I wanted to know how to dose Kalk with the slurry method. <Detailed on WetWebMedia.Com under the "New Articles" link on the homepage> I've red that the Kalk should be mixed in a cup of cold RO water and then pour it in the tank. How about the undissolved Kalk? do I let it settle first? 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. I really don't like the dripping method. My tank's pH is at 8.4/8.6 and that is 8.4 by day and 8.6 at night. <Really> That truly is unusual. I would test your tester> Is there something wrong with my tank? I know they should be vice versa. Thank you very much, Ken
<No problem. David Dowless>

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