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FAQs on Supplementing With Kalkwasser 1

Related Articles: Calcium, The Use of Kalkwasser by Russell Schultz, Understanding Calcium & Alkalinity, Kalkwasser, Calcium Reactors

Related FAQs: Kalkwasser 2Kalkwasser 3, Kalkwasser 4, & FAQs on Kalk: Rationale/Use, Calcium Measuring/Test Kits, Sources of Calcium, Calcium Supplements, Mixing/Storing Kalkwasser, Dosing Kalkwasser, Kalk Reactors, Kalk Automation, Alkalinity Interactions, About Kalk Use & Other Supplements, e.g. Magnesium, Troubleshooting/Fixing, CaCl2 (Calcium Chloride)/ Pickling Lime Use, Calcium and Alkalinity


Kalk Slurry 7/18/04 I have read all your forums on Kalk dripping and some of Anthony Calfo recommendations, also info on calcium reactors and Kalk slurry methods.  I want your opinion on which one to pursue, slurry or drip.   <simple my friend... along the way you missed (or did not have/read the original passage in my book)... the Kalk slurry is for people that have so much coral growth or an otherwise high demand for calcium that a drip of supersaturated solution cannot bring enough CA in. If that's you... and you aren't using a Ca reactor, then perhaps the slurry is for you. Else no worries. Run a safe and easy drip> I have a 75 gallon sump-less reef with mostly softies and a few LPS, a one SPS (candy cane). I run a remora hang-on, carbon and 2 power heads for circulation.  I have been having problems maintaining pH (8.0), and wish to start dosing Kalk (have wanted to for sometime, PH problem became a good motivator). <do try dripping it first perhaps... or very tiny amounts in slurry if you prefer> My system evaporates about 1/2 gallon a day, not too light intense (4 X 65 watts pc), open back canopy.  I have been reading up on DIY Kalk drippers, seems easy enough.   <yes, agreed> How much pickling lime do you recommend that I add? Most advice says 1 teaspoon per gallon to drip nightly. <a teaspoon will not dissolve in a gallon of water... only so much to supersaturate. Save some CaOH and shake up half as much> Currently, I top-off about every other day (1 gallon) would it be better to add a slurry or shot of Kalk into my top-off here?  Or would the pH swing be too great?   <also important from the original passage... you must use a digital pH meter with the slurry method. That will help you determine how much to add at once and how fast> If going this route, how often should I check for PH afterwards as I am out the door for work shortly following top off? <check pH about a half hour afterwards> Thanks..........Mike (Toledo, Ohio) <best regards, Anthony>

Kalk info.... on WWM... I was trying to find that article on the Kalkwasser dosing you mentioned, where was that again? <Truthfully, I am not sure what you are referring to. If it was on www.WetWebMedia.com you can use the Google Search engine at the bottom of the page.> Here is another idea I had---can I get away with adding any calcium or buffers if I do a weekly water changes? <In theory if you calcium demand is low enough and your salt mix enriched (higher amounts of calcium and buffers than NSW conditions), but I would not count on this alone. There would be many other benefits to the weekly water changes, the least of which would be little to no need for other additives. -Steven Pro>

Heliofungia Hi, great Heliofungia. I just bought one and it's pretty nice too. It's pretty big. I was wondering if there are any tips you can give me on keeping him.  <must be kept on sand bottom... needs brighter light and less food than most Fungiids. Weekly feeding (or several times weekly if your lights are non-halide) will still be necessary with very fine minced meats of marine origin> he seems to be doing great and loves the Kalkwasser additions. <Kalk and buffer are needed for this and all corals... not Kalk alone> stuff like light, current, nutrients, feeding , etc. anything would be just great,  <please consult Eric Borneman's or my coral book for even more detailed info> p.s. what do you think about adding the Kalkwasser.  <I strongly favor it and describe a handy application tip in the BOCP1... also recanted (free:)) on Reef Central> I have a 38 gal. but I just got a 90 and am so excited to set it up. I'm thinking about a dual 175 watt metal halide system and a euro-reef protein skimmer as my two most expensive equipment. Do you think I could get by with the Kalkwasser in a tank this size.  <all three sound excellent> Thanks, Jamie <best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Kalk dosing Hello and thanks for all of your helpful hints and suggestions!! I am now bringing my pH up to acceptable levels with the Kalk dosing. Was 7.9 and now am keeping it up to 8.25 regularly.  <good to hear... do check recent posts on the FAQs also about low pH and well insulated houses (atmospheric influence) and opening a window to raise pH in the aquarium!> The question I have with the Kalk "slurry" is: Do you mix up the solution and then dump all contents from the glass into the aquarium or do you pour it slowly and stop when the undissolved Kalk starts dripping in? This has been a bit vague in your Q&A forum.  <no worries... both ways can be done. I elaborate on this application in my Book of Coral Propagation if you are inclined. The gist of it though is that it is not so much a matter of slurry or decanted solution, but rather what is your daily demand for calcium (go three days without any dosing and measure calcium before and after then divide by three to get a daily average). Once we figure out how much calcium is needed daily, we then need to slowly dose calcium to fulfill that demand (confirmed by testing that reveals the calcium level isn't straying downward with your x mg of Kalk daily). You could begin with an eight or a quarter of a teaspoon daily (probably a little low if you have a good bit of live rock and/or coral). The only limiting factor here is that regardless of what your daily demand for calcium is, you should never add more slurry or decant than your pH can sustain without jumping my more than .1-.2 (i.e.- before slurry 8.2, after slurry 8.35). For such measures and experiments with Kalk slurries, accurate pH testing equipment is necessary (digital pen or meter). It is uncommon that your tank will not be able to get all of its daily calcium needed through a single dose without spiking pH. Only tanks with massive coral loads need a second dose or more. Remember to only dose Kalk after the lights are out too> Also in my 60 gallon acrylic sump I have hard and soft corals, snails, emerald crabs and a Niger Trigger, one sand sifting goby and a lawnmower blenny. Is it safe to add a baby Clown Trigger or would that not be wise?  <not at all wise: not invert safe, gets too large/aggressive, and will kill most tankmates in time> I have always wanted a Niger and a Clown Trigger and I have the Niger.  <the Niger Odonus is a wonderful and passive species. An exception among triggers> Can I get the Clown too? Thanks as always, Jeff Reed <best regards, Anthony>

Kalkwasser still.... Hello again Anthony (It's only me from over the sea....) <Cheers, dear!> I don't know if you remember, probably not now but approx. 3 weeks ago I was asking about dosing my reef tank with Kalkwasser. I was worried about what I thought was high pH (8.5). Do I take it that 8.5 is actually not high?  <correct. It is indeed on the higher end... but a reef tank that was say 8.5 at peak day and dropped to 8.3 at night sounds nearly perfect to me> I say this because you said that a pH of 8.6 would precipitate my high phosphates, support Alk and add free calcium. I thought pH should be around 8.3? <8.3 is a convenient average and one that is promoted (driven) by industry production of overpriced sea buffers that are mostly baking soda which can only bring a system to 8.3 and no higher easily <wink>. NSW averages on actual reefs (not the whole ocean average which is lower) is around 8.45> I still have not started dosing as I am still worried about the affects . This is because I now test for calcium as well as Alkalinity. My tank is 100 gals (Imperial not US gals). The parameters I test for are: Temp normally 78 has crept up to 82 in last couple of days because of abnormally hot weather (for England that is!) <a four degree jump is a rather stressful... do keep a close eye> SG = 1.024 pH = 8.5 (8.3 at 2.00a.m. yawn!....) liquid drop and tablet tests agree here Ammonia = 0 ,Nitrite = 0, Nitrate between 10 and 20ppm Dry-Tabs Master test kit. Alkalinity = 250ppm (is this high?) Aquarium System Fastest Calcium = 500ppm + used all measured dose without sample water turning blue.. previous reading 3days ago 410ppm 10% water change done since then. Salifert CaPro:-Test <holy cow! The calcium reading is very hard to believe. If you aren't adding any other calcium supplements then you have EXTREMELY hard tap water or it is a clear inaccuracy of the test equipment. You are dangerously close if true to having carbonates precipitate out (a snowstorm). Please do not add ANY Kalkwasser until this is clarified.> phosphates = 5.0 (very high even straight from tap, main reason for wanting Kalkwasser, <WOW, yes... 5.0ppm is staggering. Terrible nuisance algae in the tank too?> hair algae plague))  <ahhh, yes> Dry tablets My question is this: Can you have too high a reading for calcium/alkalinity and if so what should be done?  <yes... both are not meant to be held at the high end of the ideal simultaneously. 8-12 dKH for ALK and 350-425ppm calcium is just fine> will dosing with Kalkwasser make the calcium /alkalinity readings even worse? <yes, but in different ways. If you push the Ca higher, you may drive the ALK lower through the crystalline precipitation of carbonates. A bad scene. You may need a RO or DI unit to temper your hard tap water. Starting with purified water, you can reconstitute the mix to a more reasonable Ca and ALK levels> I use Instant Ocean sea salt but am changing to Reef crystals when that runs out.  <please don't as long as you use tap water (if the high CA is true). You already have too much calcium> I tested freshly mixed Instant Ocean and found it had mixed a pH of 8.6 (thought it mixed 8.3 ?)  <usually yes, but you seem to have higher than normal hard water> I again used both dry tablet and liquid drop methods and they gave the same reading. I normally dose the tank, sparingly (less than recommended doses) with Iodine, Strontium and calcium once a week (no calcium for the last 3 weeks) since I realized how high it was but you see it has still gone up since then with no additive just a water change <ahhh.. no supplements, but the water change= definitely hard water evidenced by the jump in Ca. Do consider a DI unit to purify your water. A Kati Ani two column deionizer will be a fine investment> Taking all this into account , would you still dose with Kalkwasser ?<nope> I will just add that I have no room/capability of adding a sump/refugium under the tank much as I would like too, I am saving up for a tank that has all this incorporated in it but this will not be happening just yet! All inhabitants seem happy enough (touch wood!). Many thanks for all your past /future help , I am slowly learning with your help. I have not found any site anywhere with such an abundance of information and people willing to help like you do . Also I have learnt a new word from you , so Kudos to you! <excellent!:)> Bye for now - Jenny <until you make the investment in a water purifier, simply do water changes with Instant Ocean, add no calcium or buffer either so long as they are over 350ppm and 8 dKH respectively. Best regards, Anthony>

Re: Kalkwasser still.... Hi again Anthony What a lightning response!! <we aim to please! Actually... we are just looking for some good fish and chips when we finally do visit the UK :)> You have confirmed what I was thinking about not adding Kalkwasser yet/if ever. We do have very hard water here. <indeed... it all points to that. A blessing for keeping marines and African cichlids, but a nightmare for Amazon and pond fishes> I am now a bit (no, a lot) worried about this snowstorm thing you say I'm close to. Would it have happened when I did the water change if it was going to? Could it still happen and if so what can I do to either stop it or correct it if it happens.  <the event is unmistakable... it looks like snowflakes suddenly and massively appearing in your tank: like a snowstorm. I can say that you have nothing to worry about if you keep doing regular water changes (providing fresh minerals for the corals) and always replace evaporation with distilled water (else you will concentrate the solids in the display by using tap water for evap top off)> will I lose my tank inhabitants?  <it can be fatal yes and must be allowed to run its course... doing a water change during the snowstorm only feeds the reaction with more carbonates. You will be OK if you don't let your Calcium climb above 500 ppm approx> I was going to do another water change soon but I dare not now!  <please do! The water changes are necessary and critical. Your tank draws calcium daily... the water changes help to replace it. You simply must add the distilled or RO water for evaporation make up and you will be fine> Please clarify my next move apart from getting a RO or DI unit (I know what a reverse osmosis unit does but what is/does a DI unit please?) which would you most recommend me to get . <DI is a deionizer and quite similar to an RO unit. Much better in my opinion because it produces no waste water. It can also be fully recharged with household chemicals> Thanks again for such a fast response - I am very grateful. Jenny <My pleasure. Anthony Calfo>

Kalkwasser in deep <Anthony here waking up from an alcoholic haze from visiting our friend Bob and a great time in San Diego. Or maybe it isn't alcohol at all... perhaps just intoxication from all of the noxious gases produced by my body from the unnatural amount of Mexican food that I ate in sunny Southern Cal...Ha!> I was reading an article from Leonard Ho (the article was traduced into Spanish which is my language, so apologize me for my mistakes) in that article he speaks about the use of Kalk in combination of Acetic Acid. <yes... some aquarists have been experimenting with this> It suppose that the Acetic acid gives (or at least function as) all the CO2 needed to react.  <this is not fair, likely or even accurate. I don't mean that the method is wrong... just not exact or easily replicable if proven to be helpful. One cannot fairly say "all"/adequate CO2 needed is provided when such levels vary naturally in displays from inadequate through plentiful> His formula is 15 ml of Acetic Acid (diluted at 5%, as vinegar) in one liter of water (Distilled or from the aquarium) plus 1/2 spoon of Kalk. The vinegar will provide all the CO2 in order that all the Kalk react. This solution will provided a lot of good things: first one: we will obtain more CA++ than using just water <negligible... but acceptable> Second: The Acetic Acid will provide an equivalent to all the CO2 we need to avoid the precipitation of the new calc ions into useless calcium carbonate. <the precipitation of carbonates cannot honestly be assured/prevented just by the application of acetic acid. This is inaccurate. And any such precip by Kalk used alone is easily avoided by proper application of the hydroxide. Adding too much or too fast will cause a local spike that begins the crystalline precipitation of carbonates. Proper dosing of Kalk will not cause this so this benefit is moot> Third: When all the calcium chemistry finished the residual of the acetate ions (from the vinegar) will leave organic carbon which will serve as food to the bacteria which will redound in an improvement in the capability of those bacteria to convert nitrate to nitrogen. <or it can impact the natural pool of buffers just the same> The paper abound in chemistry explanations, and everything sounds good. <My personal opinion is not as bad as it might sound from above. I believe the method may have some merit... but ultimately it is an attempt to "re-invent the wheel" or rather, to fix something that isn't broke, so to speak. Such notions are spawned often from the Misapplication of Kalkwasser. With knowledge the proper application of Kalkwasser is so simple, quick, safe and easy> My questions are: 1) Did you ever heard about this method? <yes, as above> 2) if you heard, do you know how fast this solution has to be poured into the sump?<all Kalkwasser is more effective when dosed gently into the top of the display proper> 3) if you need a lot of calcium, ?can you pour more than one liter at a time?, can you double the acid acetic and Kalk in the same liter of water? <any application of Kalk is entirely dependent upon what the actual daily demand for calcium is... not how much or how little Kalk can be added to a system per day without causing a precip or other negative effect. I have detailed this in my book (regarding Kalk slurries) and it has been rehashed in the wet web media archives (Google search or follow links)> 4) how much time it will take to raise the calcium enough to be measurable with a colored calcium test? <varies by tank/system > 5) how often it suppose that we have to use this formula? <my preference is for plain Kalk slurries and/or calcium reactors> I know it is a lot of questions, but the paper explain a lot about chemistry, but nothing about the dose or protocol of use. Thank you, Carlos D?z <with kind regards, Anthony Calfo>

Follow up (juggling calcium hydroxide... alkalinity vs. calcium concentration... pH...) Hi Again, since I sent the email last night I tried Anthony's Kalk slurry. Start DKH 15, Calcium 280, PH 7.96 @ 4:40 PM At 6:00 PM I added 10 teaspoons of Bio- Calcium. At 8:30 PM, PH 7.95 I added 1/16 tsp Kalk to 1 cup water , I waited 5 minutes then measured PH=8.02, added 1/8tsp to 1 cup PH 8.03, I continued the 1/8 tsp up to the 6th cup where my PH was at 8.07. This morning at 8:30 AM lights off I measured PH 7.98 Calcium ~320 great! but DKH 19!!?? Why with Kalk additions is my DKH rising so much? (or is it the Bio-Calcium?).  <exactly, my friend. Kalkwasser only provides free calcium and does not directly contribute to alkalinity. However, the caustic nature of calcium hydroxide (high pH of Kalk) indirectly supports the buffering reserve/pool of a system. Thus, use of Kalk tempers the need for as much Alk supplements and such supplements may be observed to "work" better when used. So... you need to ease up (not stop per se) on the buffer until you fine a good balance (perhaps Kalk daily and buffer 2-3 times weekly all depending on the rate of calcification in your system> Now I'm afraid to add anything as I know DKH is this range is bad news. Any ideas would be really appreciated.  <perhaps one good sized water change (unbuffered) of say 20-30% to bring the dKH down a little and then Kalk only for the next several days to raise Ca without impacting alk much (Kalk cannot raise Alk, only support what is there...dissolving Arag sand, calc reactor, etc). After a couple of days resume testing dKH and supplement as/if necessary> Larry <best regards, Anthony>

Re: Anthony, about slurry of Kalk Anthony, I have your book and I have been trying to reach you to ask about the slurry of Kalk. I wanted to know if this is a better method of maintaining calcium and Alk then using a 2 part additive.  <Kalkwasser is calcium hydroxide and only provides calcium. carbonates from a buffer solution are also necessary. Two part supplements like ESV have both and are balanced. They are more convenient but more expensive and they need you to start with a healthy balanced ALK/CA dynamic from go. They also do not precip phosphates or enhance protein skimming like Kalk. Still... they are far more convenient> What are the risks involved in doing it this way?  <my apologies, my friend... but we are buried in e-mail today and since you already have my book... it will save me from retyping <smile>. Please do revisit the sections/chapters on Kalkwasser, Calcium and Alkalinity and follow-up here if you still have questions> I was just wondering because I went to the LFS and they told me that this was called dumping and it will not work.  <they are mistaken or haven't been shown how to manipulate hydroxide safely and easily with a pH meter and calcium test kit. Many benefits and dangers to Kalkwasser. Please also do a keyword search here on the WWM engine for many pages on this topic in the archives. And do share what you learn with others <G>. As they say, give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man how to fish, and he eats for a lifetime. Best regards, Anthony> Please clarify. Thank you for your time. Daniel

Re: Bubble Coral Steven, I took your advice to improve my water quality. I have raised my Alk to 4.2 meq/l, pH 8.4, and S.G.1.025 slowly. I made a mistake with the nitrate, it is 0 ppm. <All good.> The only problem I am having is bringing up the Calcium. Right now it is 350 ppm. I use a Kalk drip. Do I make the solution mix a little stronger to bring up the Calcium or is it my Alkalinity bringing my Calcium down? <I would not worry too much about your calcium level now. Do not let it get any lower, but peak levels of alkalinity and calcium cannot be safely maintained. You seem to be on track now. -Steven Pro>

Kalkwasser Hi Bob, <Steven Pro in this afternoon.> I would like to ask your expert advice please. I have a 55 gallon Reef tank with no sump, the parameters are as follows: Temp 77, Salinity 1.255, pH 8.3, Ammonia 0.1 mg/l, Nitrite 0.1 mg/l, Nitrate 3 mg/l, Phosphate 0, Calcium 420 ppm, Alkalinity 120. <I am guessing your alkalinity is 12 dKH which is fine.> The tank loses about 2 pints of water a day (evaporation), so I add 2 pints of Kalkwasser each night using a drip bottle. Is this practice acceptable over a long term? <Acceptable and one of the recommended methods.> If I don't add the Kalkwasser every evening the calcium levels drop to about 320 in a week. I also do a 10% water change weekly is this okay. <Sounds fine.> Thank you in advance for your help. Colin <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Live Sand Mr. Fenner, <Anthony Calfo in your service> I begin by saying thanks for the amazing service that you and the WWM provide. A wonderful and invaluable resource that borders on information overload!  <yes... we have been told that we are really full of it many times <G>> I have been able to research numerous topics with your FAQ's and your added Google search engine! Thank you. <excellent to hear> My question is about live sand. I am seeing "clumps" of sand -- I tried that in the search feature -- and have noticed that the grains seem to be sticking together. <yes, I understand and can explain it> Tank info: 58 Gallon + Wet Dry Ceramic Media)/skimmer + HOT Magnum Ammonia 0 Nitrite 0 Nitrate >10ppm pH 8.1 dKH 10 Calcium 400 I add the Kent CB as the tests warrant and had been using Aragamilk. <bingo... misapplication as part of the problem> My sand "crew" includes: <this has nothing to do with detritivore activity> Sand sifting star, Over-achieving Dragon Goby, <yes... Amblygobius phalaena: this goby is one of the very best and most hardy!!! for sand sifting. I love them> 10 Blue-legged hermits, and a Blue Damsel that has taken to re-arranging the sand in three of the four corners of the tank! What do these clumps indicate about my water chemistry?  <it is exactly precipitated (literally) by wildly fluctuating chemistry. Perhaps unnoticed by you if you test your pH at the same time every day. Some folks get it by pouring in Kalkwasser solutions too much or too fast which causes a temporary spike in pH locally. It may occur from the misapplication of other Ca or Alk products (like your Aragamilk product.. of which I am dubious about its benefits in the big picture) when used too much or too quickly (smaller more frequent dosing is better than large weekly doses. And finally it can happen in tanks (receiving such products or not) that have wild "natural" swings in pH between night and day. I see that you report a pH of 8.1. If this is accurate and a reading taken by day as I suspect (when pH in aquaria is highest by far)... then you have a borderline serious problem with pH. You may actually be dipping down to 7.8 or lower at night (tank respiration). And this is all assuming that your test kit read accurately! What if the kit read high? And your day night readings are actually 7.9/7.6...yikes! No wonder then aragonite in your bed is fusing.> Or is this supposed to happen?  <nope... an indication of a minor flaw in the system that could turn into something bigger. Still not much to worry about> Everything looks fabulous but I am noticing more of these little sand "balls" every day.  <yes... do examine your dosing system and day night pH swings (take a test reading after a long dark night before the lights come on and not after a fresh dose of ca/ALK)> I really did try to find this mentioned in the FAQ section and under LS but I may have been looking for the wrong thing. <appreciate you taking the time to look... hopefully you found other interesting things> Thanks for all your hard work and for sharing your expertise. Have a wonderful day. Lee <best regards, Anthony>

Kalkwasser slurry Hello, I was reading through the articles on Kalkwasser and noticed something about a "slurry of Kalkwasser (whisked in cool water)" as an alternative to dripping. I honestly tried to find this information so as not to bother you. I am very interested in this method. I currently drip Kalkwasser, but do it sometimes infrequently laziness). I use a Kent Aquadoser and it sometimes is aggravating because it will sometimes stop dripping during the night. I clean it regularly with vinegar. I would appreciate any help on this subject. Thank you, Steve. <Cheers, Steve... that was my recommendation. I detailed it in my book (www.readingtrees.com and Bob's review at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bkcorlproprev.htm) and have referred to several times here on WWM. It is very easy to apply this way and very easy to abuse... you really need to have a digital pH tester (pen $30-50, meter $75+). Add slurry at night in small doses at first to a strong stream of water. Add no more than what will raise your pH by .1-.2 (critical) limited by what your net daily demand for calcium is (verified by going without a calcium supplement for a day or two, testing before and after and then figuring out through careful and slow experimentation how much Kalkwasser you need daily to keep up with it). This is a grossly abbreviated synopsis of it... but I hope you get the gist of it. Best regards, Anthony>

Kalkwasser Bob- <Anthony Calfo in your service> I never knew how much I didn't know about keeping a marine aquarium until I started reading your forum-thanks for being a source of reliable and objective information!  <always welcome> My questions today all have to do with Kalkwasser, and I assure you that I've scoured this board for info before penning this inquiry. I just want to be absolutely clear on how to use it before I do some serious damage to my 46 gallon fish/invertebrate tank. I purchased Kent Marine's Kalk along with their Superbuffer dKH.  <Kalk to be added at night, buffer during daylight to temper their respective effects on pH> I would appreciate it if you could walk me through the key steps in using Kalkwasser, specifically addressing the following: 1) How do I know if I need to use Kalk? Based on water tests? Therapeutically?;  <water tests yes my friend. Test to see your drop in 24 hours (48 whatever) without calcium additions and then experiment slowly to see how much Kalk needs to be added to make it up and keep your levels at a desirable range (over 350ppm... around 400ppm would be nice) 2) How do I pick a concentration level for my stock solution? Kent's directions give a pretty big range per gallon of stock. (my main confusion is not understanding the relationship between the stock concentration and the size of my tank--- in other words, what is the relationship between the concentration of the Kalk solution that I add vs. how much I add to the main tank vs. the size of the main tank); <the more calcareous livestock that you have, the greater the daily demand for calcium...hence the reason for testing to see your net daily need> 3) Is dripping at night the only way I can add it? Or, can I add it to my freshwater reserve that I use for top offs?;  <the latter is popular but only recommended if it is used fresh (within hours)... limewater that sits for days forms calcium carbonate from the Kalk which is insoluble and useless. In my Book of Coral Propagation (Reef Gardening for Aquarists) I detail another method of adding a slurry of Kalkwasser (whisked in cool water) in amounts that will raise your pH no more than .1-.2. Many benefits... and much more convenient and effective than supersaturated solutions (night drips). Does require accurate test equipment (a digital pH pen ($30-50) or better is advised). Do research more on this application (FAQs. message board forums)) if you are inclined to attempt this. It is very safe if you apply it strictly and carefully, but as a caustic compound can be just as easily abused causing stress or mortality in the system. As always, simply have the knowledge on your side.  4) How often should it be added? Nightly? During freshwater top offs? During water changes?;  <nightly in general> 5) I've read of the importance of using a buffer with Kalk, but is the buffer added to the Kalk stock, <never> or to the main tank separately?;  <yes and during the daytime. Kalk provides calcium and buffer provides corroborate so that calcifying organisms can bond the two elements> 6) any other important caveats you think I should know about? <more is not better with this useful but caustic substance. Always go slow... Good and Bad things should happen slowly in a well maintained aquarium> Thank you in advance for your time and clearing up my confusion. Regards, Walt <best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Kalkwasser dosing To Anthony, Steve or Bob, Thank you for your quick response. The suggestion of adding Kalkwasser is interesting. Is there an acceptable method of adding it to my tank rather than using dosing equipment? <In my Book of Coral Propagation (Reef Gardening for Aquarists) I detail a method of adding a slurry (whisked in cool water) in amounts that will raise your pH no more than .1-.2. Many benefits... and much more convenient and effective than supersaturated solutions. Does require accurate test equipment (a digital pH pen ($30-50) or better is advised). Do research more on this application (FAQs. message board forums)) if you are inclined to attempt this. It is very safe if you apply it strictly and carefully, but as a caustic compound can be just as easily abused causing stress or mortality in the system. As always, simply have the knowledge on your side. Best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Kalkwasser and Cyanobacteria Hello.  <cheers, my friend. Anthony Calfo> I have a 30 gallon reef set up right now. I have noticed very small bits of cyanoBACTERIA that I have been removing manually each time they pop up (infrequent and small, but still present every other week or so).  <removed by slurping out with a siphon, right? not stirring up?> I use RO water for top-offs and changes.  <do aerate first and then buffer before using> My friend who is a fish store guy, told me that using Kalkwasser not only helps with the calcium levels, but can also help (to a certain degree) with alkalinity and might clear out any Cyanobacteria.  <he is very wise on these matters indeed. Agreed> He has done this in his tank. My question is this...I was thinking about using a SLOW Kalkwasser drip in conjunction with Aragamilk to raise both calcium levels and alkalinity respectively.  <I wouldn't bother with the Aragamilk> Is there some danger to this with my mini reef?  <not at all. Kalkwasser used properly is a great benefit. Simply never add so much that your pH jumps more than .2 tenths of a point in a short period of time. Test the first few times you dose to determine how much/how fast. Kalkwasser also improves protein skimming and precipitates phosphates. I wrote about the merits of its use in reef aquariology at length in my book> It is not overstocked at all, and it uses the Berlin system (I emailed before about a couple of Anthias, but they reside in a 55 fish only). Meaning that I use a skimmer and LR for filtration with about a 3-4 inch sand bed made from aragonite.  <sounds very nice> I am looking to avoid swings in pH,  <dose Kalk after lights are off then> boost up calcium, as well as clean up the Cyano, but I am rather skittish about adding anything to my small tank due to the low volume. <again, a simple matter of a concurrent pH test the first few times applied> Currently I simply under-dose Kent Marine Iodine, Molybdenum and calcium on a bi-triweekly basis, which are all supposed to be able to be dosed with Kalkwasser.  <go easy on the liquid calcium (chloride accumulates and is a nightmare in the long-run) and do add SeaBuffer to this program. You'll want an Alkalinity test kit too> Any advice on how to approach starting this new Kalkwasser drip or on how to further avoid Cyano will be greatly appreciated. Thanks! Paullee <best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Clarification: Baking Soda and Kalkwasser Bob (or whoever is on-line today), <The aquarist formerly known as Anthony Calfo... you may now call me Antoine> I am a bit confused about a couple of things and need some clarification. I have been using tap water, filling the bucket, adding dechlorinator/dechloraminator, mixing my salt, and placing (and circulating) in a 10 gal aquarium for a week until my water change.  <that would be about 6 days longer than necessary for the way you've chosen to make seawater> I do this all at the same time, but today on the Q&A page I see someone was getting advice to store and aerate the water for 12-24 hrs before adding anything to it. <yes...IF using purified water (like R/O or DI) which has been demineralized and is temporarily acidic (from carbonic acid)> I don't recall this advice in your book The Conscientious Marine Aquarist, <mostly a reef-keeping thing...not as much purified water use among fishkeepers who can usually get away with tap water like yourself> only to mix up the seawater and store it for several days. Should I continue as I have been? And does aerate mean leave the bucket with the lid off, or will stirring it up once a day do the trick? <after dechlorinating your tap water...circulating the salt mix with a water pump or aerator for 12-24 hours for the dissolution of salt mix and the saturation of O2 from the atmosphere will be fine... relax. If you are not having difficulties such as nuisance algae that could be attributed to source water, carry on> Also in your book, it is suggested to use a teaspoon of baking soda per 20 gallons weekly to keep the PH right. I also see on the Q&A page today to not use baking soda, but Kalkwasser instead, as baking soda is only temporary. <again... the difference between making and maintaining water for invertebrate tanks versus fish only. The baking soda is fine and recommended (nicely inexpensive too) for simple fish only tanks where the unbalanced addition of carbonates (the baking soda) will not skew the dynamic of balance with free calcium (as from Kalkwasser) in the more complicated water chemistry of reef systems (assuming regular water changes are conducted)> My PH was 8.1 all along, but I used the baking soda this week and it is now at 8.3-8.5. I am questioning myself now. Any clarification? Thanks in advance. John Kummer <8.3-8.5 sounds excellent...keep up the good work. Anthony>

Kalkwasser and Feeding Query  hey there, I just started using Kalkwasser and i want to make sure i did it right. I have never used this stuff before. I followed the directions on the can. I have an 18 gal R.O h20 tank for my top off , I mixed 2 teaspoons per gallon in this tank, whooshed the water around real well and let it sit for @ least 5 hours before I plugged in the top off device, and now it is in operation. <meaning you are dripping it in slowly or that it is part of the automated evaporation top off system?> In the next few days I will be going out of town and I don't want any casualties when I get back, I read an email from a guy who went to Atlantic city for a few days and when he came back everything was dead! ( I have gotten really anal about my tank, why? I don't know). All of my water parameters are fine, I did the test 2 days ago My tank is 150 gallons with a 40 gallon sump underneath, and an 18 gal RO top off system, ( what I call It) about 180 lbs. of live rock and 380lbs of live sand, my calcium levels were @ 476 ppm. All my animals are doing well. Also you think I should have someone feed my fishes when I am gone??? I'll be gone for 5 days. Please put me @ ease. <your fish will EASILY weather five days without food. Relax, my friend. Anthony> As always thank you for your help! Walter <Spiffy... and thank you>

Kalkwasser Greetings, Can you please answer some questions about Kalkwasser: 1.In a mushroom only tank do I need to dose Kalkwasser <No... but you/they do need sufficient alkalinity and biomineral content> 2.Does Kalk increase alkalinity <Can initially... but long-term, constant (and definite over-)use tends to diminish alkalinity> 3.what is the wetwebmedia site for Kalkwasser and mushrooms <Mmm, there is a search feature on the Home and Index pages... as well as Indices to Articles, FAQs: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/MarIndInd.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/kalkh2ofaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/corallim.htm> 4.any other particulars that i should know about Kalkwasser <Please read through the above and where the links, your interest leads you. Bob Fenner>

Kalk Mess Bob, I had a question about Kalkwasser. <er, not "a"> It see when I make a solution or a mix the Kalk begins to separate. <Yes, interacting with the carbon dioxide in your solution/water, and more coming in from the air. Best not to "mix" in the presence of atmosphere, to use "degassed" very clean water, and place, keep in a container with a minimum of "air space"> What I do is I take a gallon jug and add 1 teaspoon of the Kalk. I mix it up and let it sit for about 4 hrs. <With a cap on the jug I hope> I add the solution to the tank drip method) the mix leaves a flaky residue on top of the water. I make sure the solution I add from the jug is between the top and bottom of the jug. Am I suppose to filter out the Kalk before I add it? <Hmm, no, this is rarely done... could be your water you're mixing with, quality of the Kalkwasser, exposure to air, combination of the previous...> Or am I doing something wrong? I my just stick with Kent Calcium Buffer A & B. Thanks, David Garcia <This may be your best bet. BTW a friend in the interest wrote you yesterday re your EcoSystem filter: RE: Dumping the substrate Hi Bob This is the forty gallon gal and no not the LONG email, too bad for you! :-) Just saw the words Ecosystem... <Okay> >I just received the Eco System 40 last night and I installed it. > According to the Eco people you do not need substrate but you and I know it >serves a vital purpose. My question is if I decide to put back the substrate Imo, the Ecosystem people are wrong on this. Nobody I know of that runs one does not use substrate. <Agreed... just saw, had lunch with Leng Sy this past weekend...> Tell David to come on to the chat forum if he wants to hold forth or back and forth on Ecosystems. <Rats! Delete "trash can" every day... and lost his email... will post your input and hope he sees. Thank you. Bob Fenner> --Jane J <Bob Fenner>

Re: Kalk Mess Thanks for the info Bob. There must be something funky with my water. As for the person who wrote to you about the substrate. I will like to get in contact with because I do have a couple of questions. <Hmm, will post this message to her, and let her choose to respond. Otherwise, you might find her by posting to our Chatforum: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/ Bob Fenner>

What a Drip Hi Bob, I tried your advice about the Kalk. You told me to dose the tank at night using the drip method. So I did and I tested the water about 18 hs later and my Calcium, Alk and ph dropped to Calcium 350 Alk 2.2 and ph 8.0. So the next night I increased the drip a little bit and added the Kent Marine CB A&B normal dosage. I tested the water about 3 hrs later that night and my ph went to 8.6 and Alk to 2.8 but the calcium remained at 350. I haven't tested the water this morning but is there a buffering factor to the Kalk. that it takes a while for the calcium to rise?  <Yes...> I don't want to over dose the tank by any means. Since I have used the Kalk. my invert brae have been pretty active. Please let me know if I am doing something wrong. Thanks, David Garcia <Keep gingerly experimenting here my friend. 350 ppm of calcium is enough. Bob Fenner>

Kalkwaaaaaasup Hi Bob it is me again. I had a question about the Kalkawassa Mix. I made a gallon of solution for my 45 gallon tank. I use the drip method to administer the Kalk. and it drips 24 hr. My ph went up 8.4 which is not a lot and my calcium is 400 and Alk is about 2.8. My question is how many gallons of solution should be used in week.  <Hmm, depends on a host of factors... principally the concentration of the solution, what you hope to have it do...> I looked on your web site and a lot of people only add the Kalk at night and still good results. <Yes, better to add during "dark phases"... Are you aware of the reasons?> I am satisfied with I am doing now. I am starting to see the Coralline Algae growing on my pumps. I also put in once a week Kent Marine CB Part A&B Buffer when I do a water change. <Do some simple experiments here... try adding just at night for a while... take care not to diminish your alkaline reserve. Bob Fenner> Thanks, David Garcia

Re: Kalkwaaaaaasup Hey Bob why at night to administer the Kalk?  <The prevailing conditions then allow for more of the calcium hydroxide to stay in solution...> Could I dose in large amounts such as a 1/4 cup of solution at night or not a good idea or dripping is better?  <Dripping... you are encouraged to read over the FAQs re Kalkwasser, its use: http://wetwebmedia.com/kalkh2ofaqs.htm> Is there some type of dosage pump available on the market that I am able to use with this product? If not I could always design one. <Yes... a few... even DIY projects... see Oz's Reef link on WWM... Bob Fenner> Thanks David Garcia

Kalkwasser additive Hi Bob, I just measured my alkalinity/KH and calcium levels in my tank for the first time. My alk=3.7meq/L (KH=10.4dKH). pH=8.2, Calcium = 0mg/L <What? Zip calcium? Not likely... have this kit tested...> Obviously my alkalinity/KH is good (maybe a little high) and I realize I need to start a additive drip for calcium purposes. My question is this: should I just do a calcium drip or Kalkwasser? My concern with the Kalkwasser is that it will also raise the alkalinity/KH level. Is this alright considering my level is right above the target level by my addition of nada? Is there such a thing as 'too high' alkalinity/KH? <Yes> <You can adjust the biomineral content in a few ways... and a very good idea to investigate these thoroughly... can/will save you a bunch of money and headaches... take a read through your reference books and on our site (if it's up): http://wetwebmedia.com/watrqualmar.htm> Also, I was given a comment this weekend that if I put sugar fine sand in a tank with a high current that the sand will sweep all around. I am concerned about this because I plan on having corals, which require a high current, and burrowing, sand-sifting fish, who require a fine, deep sand bed. Is this problem solved by adding a portion of larger substrate? <Or by not circulating the water too vigorously at its level> (by the way, what measurement is "sugar-sized"? The bags they come in don't indicate the size of the grain.) <Very fine... let's say 1/64th of an inch diameter or so or smaller> Thank you for your advice, Jana <Keep studying my friend. Bob Fenner>

Supplements: absolutes in a relative world Bob, I got the clowns, lights and the live rock and live sand on Saturday and was up until 3 AM getting everything put in place. <Yowzah, late night> Now I have some live rock with a fair amount of macro algae growing near the top of the tank. I have not installed the new lights yet (two Hamilton 55w bulbs, one is sun-light the other actinic blue) because I need to rig them somehow... <Yes> The guy I bought the stuff from seems pretty knowledgeable and he sent me the message below that emphasizes the need for calcium/Kalkwasser to promote the growth of the macro algae. Do you agree with this? "I must emphasize, especially now that I can't be accused of peddling my Kalkwasser, that is paramount that you add calcium supplementation to the tank with the rock, without it the macro alga will stop thriving as it is the calcareous type, and the micro inverts present in the rock (a few of which I showed you) will also die off. The rock will not produce any more ongoing life either. Piddling micro life, yes. Healthy micro fauna populations, no. You need to add either balanced ionic solutions or add calcium via limewater (Kalkwasser) additions." <Yes, I absolutely agree with the need to supply biomineral and alkaline reserve. Not necessarily via Kalkwasser though. Bob Fenner> Thanks, John

Dosing Kalkwasser Bob, I would like to start dosing with Kalkwasser. I have an 80gal. reef with no sump, yet. The instructions say to use 1-8th to 2 teaspoons of mixture for a gallon of water. Would it be best to start on the low end of the spectrum and go on from there?  <Umm, careful here... the instructions are for making "stock solution" of Kalkwasser, NOT the amount to directly, indirectly put in your tank per gallon. Put another way, this is the amount of Kalk you try to get into solution for dripping into your tank slowly, at night, in an area of rapid mixing... NOT two teaspoons per gallon of your system/tank...> I am thinking of getting the 2.5 gal. Kent marine aqua-dose for this. Is this a good choice? <Yes, a good product> My calcium is @430, pH @ 8.3, dKH @ 8(I need to work on this).  <These are fine values.> All the corals in my tank are healthy except for a fading elegance. I read in the FAQ that you can feed them. What would I feed an elegance coral? <Most any large, small meaty food items... applied right to the animals polyps when open... with plastic feeding tongs if possible... once or twice a week...> One last question, is phytoplankton a recommended additive for a reef tank? I've never used said product before but have read a bunch. <IMO/E, yes... very useful> Your input always helps, THANX. Charlie <Glad to be here my friend. Bob Fenner>

Bristle Worms, Calcium Reactors and Kalkwasser interactions Hi Bob, Thanks for your help/reply with my ?algae problem (CYANO AKA BGA). What I actually did is followed everything you told me to slow down the CO2 of the reactor, unplugged the 2nd power head that feeds to the reactor, did another 20% water change, while scraping off the algae off 4 sides of the tank, although it is hard to scrape on certain areas due to small space between the wall and rock.  <I understand. Good work> Besides having a UV(25watts) I also plugged the Ozone to the Berlin skimmer, which in my guess 03 would kill these BGA since it is considered a bacteria kept it at 350 with 25mg/hr.  <Yes, this would help.> I read an article on the web site link that I should also stop adding Iodine so I can starved them, but I'm afraid that I would also starve the Macro Algaes, and I know that Iodine supports the well being of both soft and hard corals as well, and for the shrimps to molt, so I'm afraid I have to add one tonight since I skipped last night. Anyway the final result was THE BGA seems to slow down a bit, and the Alk is now 9.5dkh instead of 15 last time, Ca is also down to 400 instead of 498ppm,  <Very good... you will see improved results as time goes forward> but I heard if you have SPS it should be above 400ppm, I have purple Montipora, and 1 yellow Porites is 400 ppm okay, <Absolutely... natural seawater has a calcium level that is much lower than this...> oh! I also drip Kalkwasser for water make-up and also to precipitate Phosphate <What? Along with using a calcium reactor? Don't do this... a real source of trouble... and likely the principal source of your troubles... disproportionate loss of magnesium... at any length, cease the Kalk use> that could be leaching from the additives and activated carbon.  <Doubtful> Anyway my biggest concern now is I believe it's bristle worm, I went to the site to check out pictures of bristle worm, but mine are small and so many that they are all over the rock and corals, one of my finger leather, flesh was coming off and some areas are turning black. I read somewhere to use a glass and place food so this bristle will come inside, and they won't be able to come out, have not tried that yet, i decided to buy a trap, along with 2 sixline wrasse. Somehow I thought I read something about this wrasse keeping the population of bristle worms in check.  <Most of the time, small bristle worms species are no problem... and a proliferation of them an indication of something else amiss... too much food, lack of predatory checks...> Here's the results, have not placed the trap yet, one of my wrasse died 2 days later because the bigger wrasse is a bully. Anyway what this wrasse do is eat the bristle worm the whole day and he has a big stomach and swims left to right eating every worm he finds, since I feed lightly now due to the previous BGA problem, I even saw the yellow tang swallowed bristle worm. I guess I solve 1 problem, but have another, which I read from the FFExpress Faq's that as long as the bristle worm are small it is okay and in fact they are beneficial (meaning that they will eat detritus I assumed, and they are part of the fauna). <Yes...> Sorry I ask too many question, but I just have one more (PLEASE!) I was planning to use the reef filler that I bought from Champion. <Good idea> My plan was to somehow figure out my evaporation rate and keep using the Kalkwasser slowly <Just use clean freshwater... leave out the Kalk> dripped and keep running the CA reactor because it's doing so good maintaining the Ca/Alk level, then Premixed my salt water (along with Iodine and Trace elements) in a 40 gallon tank for1-2 days then transferring them to a big container like 180 gal drum, which sits for 2 weeks with powerhead and heater at all time, and some how taking the 5% out from the sump and adding a 5% from the 180 gal premixed. This process is on a continuous basis, but occasionally will clean the detritus out of the tank when necessary. I also bought a Tsunami AT1 auto top off, but can't figure out how it works, <Contact them...> I'm assuming that new water have to be the same level as the sump in order to work, but I'll have to try that.  <Doesn't have to be the same level> Is small frequent water changes better than a big monthly changes?  <Yes... weekly probably ideal> Thanks a lot Bob I don't know what to do without you! I heard you were planning to be in Monterey (some type of reef convention) this year along with other DR's when will that be, and is anyone welcome to go? <Yes... the Western Marine Conference... their link is on the Links Pages on the www.WetWebMedia.com site> Thank you very much!!!! Rommel <You're welcome my friend... you're on your way to great improvement. Bob Fenner>

Substrate Compaction Hello again, Bob. Thank you for such a speedy response on my questions. I tapped into the water line before my softener to the R/O. Man, what a difference! My dkH went from .6 to 11.8.My calcium readings were like 170ppm(with the help of Turbo Calcium) to 280ppm with nothing but R/O water salt (partially softened water still mixed in, so my readings should get a little higher on my next batch). Hopefully, this will boost my coralline algae growth.. <Yes... good moves... you should see a difference with days to a few weeks> I also switched to Instant Ocean not mixed any yet). Another note; I've moved my rock to my 65 gallon tank I've just set back up. It is longer and shallower than the 58 gal. tank (better, right?). <In general yes> Besides, the 58 gal. was borrowed from my brother, which I had planned on purchasing from him, but would be better off using the money elsewhere. I've caught you up, so here's another problem: I've used Kalkwasser off and on in the past. I've also had a problem with substrate compaction. I don't always vacuum the gravel (Seaflor) like I should, but when I do, there are big chunks that are hard to break up. I've heard Kalkwasser causes this. Is there something I'm doing wrong or is this unavoidable? <These are likely related events... and yes to prevention... simple dragging of a wooden or plastic dowel/rod through the substrate during weekly maintenance will prevent a good deal of this compaction/aggregation> Would a larger substrate size help?  <Perhaps... or adding some to the existing> I also thought about not using a substrate, but I would lose my buffering. What would be my best option? Thanks in advance, Steve. <The best option? Not using the calcium hydroxide at all... but availing yourself of a carbon dioxide type calcium reactor... If you use the Kalk, only drip it in slowly... only at night... only in a vicinity of rapid water mixing... and only as much as needed... Many intermediate approaches to consider... Bob Fenner>

Nuclear Meltdown Bob, I am still in a state of morning. I left Tuesday for a convention in Atlantic City, NJ. When I left that morning my 75g reef tank was doing well. I left a neighbor (familiar w/ aquariums) to watch over my tank. When I got home Thursday night, I went to check the tank and noticed it was cloudy. Then I looked at all of the carnage. Everything in my tank had been killed off. The fish, inverts, hermits and even the bristleworms (didn't know I had that many!) I was able to save approx. 12 left-handed hermits and 1 green stripe goby. These were quickly placed in my quarantine tank and are doing fine. I could tell from the smell that my ammonia levels hit the top of the charts. I attribute the die-off to 2 possible solutions. The first the use of Kalkwasser. I think it became too caustic.  <This stuff is way too toxic for its intended use period... a very poor idea/choice in folks trying to sell "something" to the public IMO...> The second I am unsure about. My neighbor noticed that my protein skimmer was not working. He assumed that I had unplugged the unit. Would a failure like this create this sort of problem? <Yikes, oh yes... a chain of bad reactions> Also, is the live rock worth saving? I'm talking about a nuclear explosion. Am I back to square one? <Yes, worth saving... if nothing else, not too hard to re-culture with some new LR on/over the old. And yes to being near to square one> Thanks for your insights as usual. Bob Wrigley <Very sorry to hear of your losses, troubles. Patience and retrospection my friend. Such adversity can be instructional. Bob Fenner>

Kalkwasser / Mushrooms Bob, I hope you can clear something up for me. My LFS stated that it would be ok if the milky stuff went into my tank, but all other materials instruct me to separate the lime water from the milky bottom. If the milky bottom does enter the tank what is the impact? <By and large best/better to leave out the Calcium hydroxide precipitate... too toxic if/when it settles on livestock or gets passed over, onto fish gills, etc... Very alkaline, as in burning...> I have a mushroom that was doing fine until I had a spike in my temperature (82 to 86) that last approximately 12 to 18 hours. Since then it has not opened up. I do not add iodine and was thinking about purchasing some to see if it would help. <Maybe... just time going by should right things> All other water parameters are fine, except for high phosphates. Nick <Look into more live rock, growing macro-algae somewhere to absorb the phosphate, other nutrients. Bob Fenner>

Hey bob, you just answered a question of mine comparing dosing Kalk to the calcium reactor. you stated that dosing the Kalk was relatively toxic as well as see-sawing a system back and forth, rendering depletion of alkalinity...what about dosing liquid calcium, such as "C-Balance", or a solution similar to it, is this stuff better/same than Kalkwasser??...just curious if there was a difference... >> Such one and two products are superior IMO... for safety and function's sake... best/better to have some casual understanding of the simple underlying relationships... and to utilize test kits, and sodium bicarbonate (simple baking soda, yes) for a supplement in conjunction with the "liquid calcium". Bob Fenner

I am wondering if one can dose too much Kalkwasser? Is it safe to add it on a continuous drip when your levels are already at 450? I would like to use it to raise pH and help get rid of phosphates as you had previously suggested, but I am concerned that it may raise my calcium levels too high...is that something to be worried about? Thanks! By the way thank you for your suggestions on curing my rock with light! My new rock was cured in 9 days! (A record for me.) >> Thank you for writing for clarification. There is such a thing as having too much free calcium in your water, and overuse of Kalkwasser can lead to this scenario. An upper limit for me is about 500 ppm, which in the vast majority of settings (natural and synthetic water, decor and substrate, supplement conditions) should allow for an elevation of pH to the desired temporary range of 8.4-8.5.  The real potential downside to even higher calcium levels has more to do with the antagonistic relationship of Kalkwasser (calcium hydroxide) solution with the equally important consideration of alkalinity. In so much as adding the Kalk (at night, dripped in, near an area of rapid mixing like a powerhead discharge) doesn't reduce alkalinity below let's say 3.5 meq/l, I wouldn't worry about how much calcium there was present. Put another way, I'd drip in the Kalkwasser in attempt to elevate pH, precipitate your phosphates up to the point where your alkalinity was diminished below 3.5 meq/l. Bob Fenner

I have a reef tank that has a white colored film/deposit all over the aquarium glass (mainly the front and around the top of the edge) that appeared in about a 24 hour period. This is a very hard substance that I can't take off with any pads. What is this, and what can I do? >> Very likely this "white, hard material" is some sort of calcium deposit from.... one of a few possible sources: all coming from your actions! Do you use Kalkwasser? Calcium chloride? Other, white, chalky supplements? This is the source of this scale. How to get rid of it? Carefully... in a glass or acrylic tank this is the place/possibility of bad scratching.... If it were me, I'd wait about a week without adding any more of whatever you've been adding, and see if much of this material goes into solution. If not, I would CAREFULLY use a plastic scraper made for the purpose of removing algae in marine tanks (they're made) to see if you can gently wedge off this material from the viewing panels. If you can't easily scrape it free without scratching, you might consider (this is what I would do) draining the tank, moving all out, and dissolving the precipitant with a dilute vinegar (i.e. acetic acid) rinse... just white vinegar successively poured over the inside panels of the empty tank. Do this outside as it is stinky, and can result in stains in your carpet... and wear plastic gloves to prevent your hands getting red and rough. Going forward, study up re alkalinity and pH, and calcium and other biominerals in captive systems, and use test kits for all of these variables if you're going to try manipulating them. Bob Fenner

Kalkwasser supplementing I currently dose Kalkwasser into my system. I do this by pouring the Kalkwasser (which is mixed up in a glass cup) into my Emperor filter and let this go over night. At the time the tank was set up, a sump was not used. So I have an Emperor (which is only a hang on) and a Magnum 350. I realize this isn't the best filtration system or the best way to dose Kalkwasser. This is why I came to you. I was wondering if you could recommend a better way of supplementing the Kalkwasser? At this time, a calcium reactor isn't exactly in the budget. Thanks for the help. >> Actually, there is little wrong in "just" doing as you do... if the Kalkwasser is not too concentrated, you're not adding too much, too soon (you would/could know this by measuring your system pH, calcium, even loss of alkalinity...or all three. Or the effects on your livestock), you're fine. If it were me, I'd develop a standardized routine with this operation. Mixing up a given amount of Kalkwasser to use in the next few days to weeks, measuring and recording the above parameters, and measuring in the pre-mixed material in recorded volumes. Alternatively, of course there are automated "feeders" that rely on "just" gravity, are dripped in, metered in in conjunction with probes... Is their slow, more-measured input safer (no), more reliable (no), better (debatable) than hand pulse-dosing? Bob Fenner

Dosing with Kalkwasser I have a 90 gallon semi-reef tank with about 50 lbs. live rock and a few invertebrates. I have been adding liquid calcium but I am interested in switching to Kalkwasser because I here it is less expensive and a better choice at keeping ph up. Right now I use a one gallon jug to drip the liquid calcium into the sump. I put enough in to last a week. Would this method work for Kalkwasser or would I have to put so much Kalkwasser in a one gallon jug to last a week that it would precipitate out of solution? I would just use it with top off water but my evaporation rate is about 4 gallons a week and a jug that big wouldn't work under my tank; also I would hate to have to make up a solution four times a week. Any suggestions or advice would be appreciated , thank you. Paul Groth. >> Hmm, I do agree with the Kalkwasser being a better raiser of pH... It will not precipitate out of solution (I take it you will be mixing your own from dry)...  I am a bigger fan of occasionally administering Kalkwasser than the auto-fill mechanisms others use... some real trouble in balancing pH and alkalinity with the real possibility of too much Kalk too fast... Do you understand the relationships between these three variables? I would strive for a balance of pH (8.0-8.1... not the 8.4, 8.5 that Kalkwasser can easily drive a system to), a calcium concentration of 350ppm or so... in order to preserve alkalinity (at about 3.5 milliequivalents per liter)... You may find all this easier to do with a little "dosage practice" in your system... with measuring some given saturated solution of Kalkwasser along with RO or other clean freshwater for make-up... Bob Fenner

Kalkwasser Hello again, My most used Christmas present has been your book. However, my newly found knowledge has come with newly found questions.  (Ah, outstanding... you can imagine how happy it makes a writer feel to see such statements) First, a small anecdote of an improvement in my tank initiated by your book. The tank was brought into my home on a whim one Friday morning. A friend's wife decided that she did not want anymore. I previously had no idea on how to manage such a system. Luckily my fish have survived so far. I have always thought the protein skimmer that came with the tank was made of thick black plastic. After reading your maintenance chapter, I decided to tank the skimmer apart and wash it. I was very surprised to find that the plastic was actually clear after I removed about an inch of 'mud'. I am now happy to empty the protein skimmer cup once or twice a day. Previously, I never had any bubbles in the cup at all. My friend told me that the water was just really clean and that was the cause for not seeing the bubbles!?!?! The blind leading the ignorant. (Ah, clarity of mind, water and foam fractionators' materials is indeed pleasurable) Thanks to your FAQ, web site, and book, my free diamond in the rough is getting extracted and polished. I expect to have a healthy thriving tank soon.  (Wonderful) Now for my question. Your book mentioned that I could increase the coralline algae growth by increasing the calcium concentration. I have added an aragonite substrate to my tank, that should ?? increase the calcium concentration. I doubt that will raise it to the concentration you suggested for algae growth and spread. Would you recommend Kalkwasser addition to the tank to increase the coralline algae growth? The tank is a fish only tank but I plan on adding 1 or 2 starfish after I have purchased additional live rock.  (What lessons we can learn from the microcosms which are captive aquatic systems! Here's an important one on "further introspections on the nature of the truth"... One way of stating this example: "Is the amount of calcium desired in a system a matter of graded response or a threshold?" Well, it's really the former... i.e., every bit of aragonite you placed can/does contribute to the calcium available in your system... is it enough? Are there downsides, other than obvious costs of adding Kalkwasser or other source of calcium, etc.?  Getting to my own point of view on this question, I would "just" go without the Kalkwasser additions (or other supplements) at this point/time... and in a while ( a few weeks?) if you're interested, acquire a calcium test kit (and maybe an alkalinity one as well). Some coralline growth will occur with the arrangement you have now... Maybe adding Kalkwasser will be the way for you to try next to boost it... With how many other factors (lighting, predators, nutrient-competitors...) to consider.... I would like to encourage you to look into building or buying a calcium reactor instead... or in the long term. Bob Fenner 

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