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FAQs on Marine Alkalinity 5

Related Articles: pH, Alkalinity, Marine Alkalinity, Phosphate Understanding Calcium & Alkalinity,

Related FAQs: Marine Alkalinity 1, Marine Alkalinity 2Marine Alkalinity 3, Marine Alkalinity 4, Calcium and Alkalinity,  & FAQs on: The Science of Alkalinity, Importance, Measure, Sources, Use of Additives/BuffersTroubleshooting/Fixing, Products by Name & FAQs on pH: Importance, Science, pH Measure/Test Gear, pH Controllers & pH Buffers/Buffering, pH Anomalies (Troubleshooting/Fixing), & pH Products by Name, Manufacturer,

All marine life is affected by alkalinity.

High Alkalinity, reading  -- 02/02/11
Evening Crew
I am having an incredible hard time dealing with high Alkalinity in my water and it appears to be affecting my corals
<Can, does>
My tank has been sitting at 17 dkH for about a month now and I am trying everything to get this down.
<What do you consider is/are the source/s of such high dkH here?>
I recently determined that the water that I was using for my water change was the culprit in that it was just as high, so have changed my filters in the ro
I just tested this water and it has a dkH of 11 out of the ro, however when I added my salt, brought this up to 15
My calcium has been sitting around the 320 to 350 range and I'm having a huge challenge trying to get it up to where it should be
<Ah yes... these qualities work in opposite/antagonistic ways to each other>
Any suggestions on how to fix this?
<Yes. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/alktrbfix.htm
and here: http://wetwebmedia.com/caalktrbfix.htm
and: http://wetwebmedia.com/caphyschem.htm
Let me know what you think
Thanks in advance
<Teach a person to fish... Bob Fenner>

Alkalinity Question/Nano Tanks 11/8/10
Hey WWM Crew!
<Hey Cory>
Hope everyone is having good luck and lots of cheer on this upcoming holiday season.
<If it weren't for my bad luck, I'd have no luck at all.>
Anyway, I just have a quick question about Alkalinity. I have a 10g Nano reef tank which has been up and running for about 3 months. The question is; how quickly should I raise my alkalinity? My water is testing at Specific Gravity = 1.024 Temp = 79F pH = 8.2 (Daytime) Alkalinity approx 3 (Titration)
<Three what, dKH?>
Nitrite, Ammonia undetectable Nitrate
< 10 I know from reading Mr. Fenner's articles on pH/Alkalinity I should shoot for a alkalinity between 4-6, which I have yet to achieve in this tank. When I first set up the tank and added livestock after cycling I did have some issues with pH and alkalinity, which I dealt with by feeding cessation periodically (maybe one day a week if pH was running low) and constant small water changes (1/2 gal per day until pH stabilized). However, even though my pH has been stable for about 1 month with about a one gallon change every week I still run a low alkalinity. Sometimes I wonder if I am not adding enough Carbonate to maintain to reserve, but I only add about 2ml mixed in tank water slowly into the filter every 2-3 days as needed. I am testing with a Seachem kit which is a simple drop by drop titration.
<I'm not real fond of this particular test kit. The test sample is very small and could cause reading errors. Residue remaining in the pipette from a previous test could cause erroneous readings in the next test.>
How fast can I raise the Alkalinity without upsetting the tank, and should I be raising it faster?
<A couple of dKH units per day shouldn't be of any negative consequences.>
Livestock: 12lbs live rock, 10lbs sand 1 Small PomPom Xenia 1 Zoanthid Frag (literally one polyp i took from a friend because it was not opening in his tank) 1 Blue Damselfish (about 1/2 inch) 1 Pearly Jawfish 15 assorted Turbos and blue legs.
<Most of these snails will starve/die creating more problems. Two Turbos in a 10 gallon tank should be plenty. Is possible one or more may have died creating the loss of alkalinity you experienced.>
I do not plan to add/alter any live stock and everything is thriving. Also, I've been pretty draconian about my feeding schedule trying to keep my pH stable, I feed each fish about 7-8 formula one spectrum pellets daily, and a small amount of decanted Mysis shrimp twice a week. I wonder if I am being too strict... What do you think?
<As long as the fish are consuming the food, shouldn't be a problem. What type of filtration are you using other than the live rock? You gave no info other than your tank size.>
Thank you in advance
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re Alkalinity Question/Nano Tanks 11/9/10
Thanks for the quick reply James.
<You're welcome, Cory.>
Yeah, I was wondering about the turbo snails myself after the lfs recommended that amount and I have been keeping a head count of them and make sure they all move, however, they are all very small, a half inch at most, so I'm not too worried.
<Even so, they cover a lot of ground in one day and they do grow quite fast.>
I will scoop out any that I see stop moving. For filtration I am using a hang on AquaClear 20gal (I believe it is 100-150gph, could be wrong here), and I run activated carbon in it. Lighting is Coralife power compact 30watts 50/50 actinic only. And yeah, to tell you the truth, I'm not too found of this test kit either, simply because the sample size is so inaccurate. But the readings haven't varied more than one drop between two consecutive tests, so I figure it is accurate enough for the time being. However, thank you, because you did answer my basic question, that it is safe to raise the alkalinity faster then I have been doing. So, I'll get right to that!
<Just be careful if using a product that states "safely raises pH", as overdosing beyond the instructed amounts can raise pH too quickly.>
Thank you very much
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

KH Level/Alkalinity 10/12/10
<Hello Eric>
I've been struggling to keep the KH level in my 25g mixed reef at an ideal level. My calcium levels test very high (around 520ppm), which I believe is due to a large section of Halimeda that I left in the tank to decompose after pruning,
<Unlikely.><<Actually, quite likely. RMF>>
thinking it would be a good source of calcium. I usually dose 2-part buffer, but obviously I haven't needed to add the calcium half, just the KH buffer (10ml daily). Anyway, despite this, I've only been able to maintain a dKH level ranging from 7-8. I have Sps and lps corals, and obviously want my parameters to be consistently within the ideal range as possible.
I am stocked a bit heavy, in that I keep a Perc pair, a Tailspot Blenny, a Royal Gramma & an Orange Striped Cardinal. I realize it's a bit much (shameless "bargaining", in 3-2-1...) and I keep up with weekly 20% water changes, run an in-sump skimmer, rated to 100g, and keep a sizable plant of Halimeda in my display, for the sake of both looks and nutrient uptake. I have no visible nuisance algae or anything else that'd indicate excess nutrients, but maybe this is what is driving my KH down? Oh, mid-photo period pH came in at 8.2 on the nose. Any advice here would be very much appreciated.
<Your dKH is just fine where it is. Do not add calcium supplements and in time your calcium level should drop to normal levels. This could take some time without any calcium absorbing animals present, and there is no real need to dose calcium in your system unless you keep SPS/ LPS corals and/or clams. Do read here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alkalinity.htm>
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re KH Level/Alkalinity 10/12/10

Thanks for that.
<You're welcome.>
Additionally, I do actually keep SPS & LPS corals.
I did mention that, but I guess it was missed (I can only imagine the number of emails your crew must read!), which was the reason I thought my KH should be up towards the higher end of the "ideal" range.
<dKH in ocean water averages 7-8 and is where I would keep it as long as your tank is not overstocked/overfed.>
Another note, I've been unable to test for Mg, because the colors my Sera kit produces are impossible to make out (and I'm not color blind).
I'm awaiting a Red Sea kit, which hopefully will be more useful.
<If you haven't read the dailies today, Bob did state that Halimeda could contribute to high calcium levels.
Thanks again.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

dKH 4/1/10
<Hi Bret>
I have a question about dKH. I'm not running a RO just a DI filter. My Alk is 3.5, ph 8.3 and calcium about 450. I have all sorts of coral, soft//hard. My hard do not seem to grow even though I have adequate light and calcium etc., and a few soft (leather fingers) do not open up. I recall when I never use to do water changes that my dKH was in the 7-8 range, now since my dKH coming out of my DI unit is 7 and the salt mix I'm using is specified at 11 (measurable), I'm thinking that my dKH is too high.
<A dKH of 7 is not high. I'm not following...you state above your Alk is 3.5, water from your DI is 7, and your salt mix is 11. Is the end result 3.5 dKH measured in the display?>
I'm thinking about getting a RO unit and letting my dKH fall naturally. Is there a correlation between high dKH and calcium usage by hard coral sps/lps etc., and also could this be affecting my leathers. I do remember when you dKH was lower that they were fully open and doing well.
<Higher dKH can cause some of the calcium to precipitate out of solution making it not available to the animals. I maintain my alkalinity at 4-6 dKH and seeing good coral growth with no ill effects, and providing your tank is not overstocked (excess dissolved nutrients). Magnesium plays an important role in the ability of corals to be able to absorb available calcium, and an optimum reading will/should be 1200-1300ppm mg. An example would be; your Ca measures 400ppm, but your magnesium only measures 900ppm, so in that example, only 300ppm Ca would be available to the corals for absorption. In a nutshell, it works on a 3 to 1 ratio, if you measure 400ppm Ca, magnesium would need to be at 1200ppm to make the entire amount of the Ca available to the corals. What is your magnesium reading, you did not state?>
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Mixing Salt Water/Buffering 5/12/08 What is the importance of buffering water before mixing salt? Why can't (or at least what is the disadvantage) the salt water be buffered after? <Fresh water from the tap will generally not have a dKH of 8 or higher. Lower dKH levels in the tap water will deplete the buffers in the new salt mix and will generally produce a lower pH in the new mix. Read here and related articles for a better understanding of alkalinity/dKH. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alkalinity.htm James (Salty Dog)>

re: buffering water for top up in marine/reef system - Mixing Salt Water/Buffering 5/14/08 I've read the link (and do understand) but it still doesn't answer my question. <Was meant for information.> Perhaps I'm not articulating what I want to say or there's something I'm missing. Wouldn't buffering the salt water after, replenish lost alkalinity? <Sure.> What I'm trying to say why is there a difference in buffering pre vs. post salt freshwater mixing? In the end wouldn't both methods have the same end result. To me its like do I put my jacket on before I put my shoes on before I go out or vis versa. In the end its the same result when I leave the door. <Freshly mixed salt water is very caustic and reactions to other chemicals can be different than with aged saltwater. I've always found myself using more buffer in the post stage than in the pre-stage. The choice is yours, I just prefer doing it before. James (Salty Dog)>

Alkalinity Problem  4/7/08 Greetings, <Greg?> Recently measured my alkalinity at 7.5 dKH.? Decided to boost it up slightly so I added one dose of Seachem Reef Carbonate per instructions.? Waited about 20 minutes and re-tested.? Alkalinity had dropped to 6 dKH, pH went from 8.2 to 8.4? What the heck happened here!? <Precipitation of bicarbonate...> It's not supposed to do this? right?? <...> What should I do now?? Is this much drop in alkalinity dangerous.? Trying to figure out these supplements is frustrating.? <Ah yes... the terminology re is not easy to come to grips with in English...> Should I? switch to a different Alk booster?? Any suggestions?? There was some undissolved solids in the Seachem product after shaking. Thanks, Greg?? <... Read here?: http://wetwebmedia.com/caalktrbfix.htm and the linked files above? Bob Fenner???>

Increasing dKH 12/12/07 Dear all WWM crew <Hello Bagas> This my first time joined the forum' <Welcome my friend.> First I want introduces my self as like the eastern aphorism says if you do not know the person you will never loved them. <How true.> I'm new hobbies from Jakarta, Indonesia, You guys can called my name Bagas, I have small facilities in around my house and because of I loved the aquamarine live I collect pieces by pieces from the local fisherman to complete my collection in my tank. My collection becomes larger to fill my facilities. Now a day I run the aquamarine business for local hobbies. But I have a little problem now. As you know my small facilities only can accommodate a small number of items so the items will come (if the fisherman arrives) and go (if sold to my collage) some time it happen in the same days. That's why I have a problem maintaining the water parameter. Especially about dKH. I counted my dKH value always in number of 5 , That's bad for my parameter right? <Should be a little higher than that.> Any Idea for solve my problem? Please.. How to increase my dKH value to the ideal 10. <No problem, read here and linked articles above. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alkalinity.htm> Thank for help. <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> bgsgnwn

Information request - Appreciate all your help - thanks... Ecsenius fdg, Alkalinity sources   10/20/07 Hello there everyone, nice to talk to you again! J <Welcome> This is going to be a jumble of information and questions as short as I can make it. You have seen in the past my nano. This is the quick version http://www.reeferscafe.com/nano-reefs/11-woohoo-nano-aquapod-12g-modded.html Currently I have a green banded goby in there ( getting fat ) a tail spot blenny <Ecsenius stigmatura?> ( eating like a machine ) an emerald crab ( picks all day ) and 2 astrea snails ( constantly eating something ). Ever since I put the tail spot in he has basically cleaned off 90% of the rock vegetation ( just stuff that came in on the rocks ) which is great! However, since I don't feed the tank anything other than Cyclop-eeze once a week on Wednesday and pellets to my green banded goby once in awhile I am a bit concerned that the tail spot ( since he is not partaking in pellets ) is going hungry. I have tried algae and he does not like it. Strange.. lol Should I be ultimately concerned about him starving? <If this fish gets thin, yes> I have to assume there is plenty for everyone to pick at on the rock and the blenny does look healthy. http://i117.photobucket.com/albums/o46/mynd/green_banded_goby/PA050013.jpg and everyone gets along http://i117.photobucket.com/albums/o46/mynd/green_banded_goby/PA050005.jpg Keep in mind there are some Zoa's in the tank along with a really nice Acan frag http://i117.photobucket.com/albums/o46/mynd/AquaPod/acan101607.jpg and that is why I feed the Cyclop-eeze once a week. Is there anything that you recommend that tail spot blennies like? <Small diameter Spectrum pelletized food> Whew what an intro for one question. Ok, next. I have been battling a ph dropping issue from day 1 almost 3 months ago. I use Seachem marine buffer to buff up the ph carefully testing the DKH to not go over 10ish. The next day from 8.20 the night before it drops to 7.9. Each and every day. SO, what I did was get an air stone and in the basement office I tested to see if the ph would rise. Wouldn't you know it, next day ( since I test at 9am and 9pm every day with a pinpoint ph meter ) the ph this morning and each and every morning since has been 8.2 on the button. I would assume this means there is a high concentration of CO2 in the tank and the little vent on the AP12 is not getting enough O2 into the tank, <Mmm, not necessarily> thus the air bubbles are now keeping it steady. I want to get rid of the air pump and basically put some Chaeto in the back chamber with some LR and a 10watt submersible light. Before I do this test I wanted to know what you thought was the better solution between the 2 options AND if you think the addition of the Chaeto will ultimately keep the PH up as well as the air bubbles do? <Likely need more of a source of bi/carbonate here...> Whew, hope I explained that well. I have been all over your site and read the new questions daily from start to finish, so anything you might have on this site I have probably seen. You can reference me, but I want to hear your opinions. <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alksci.htm and the linked files above> Thanks again for all you people do. It is a really nice feeling knowing that I can send a question in and get another opinion from knowledgeable people. There is just some security in that. I am not saying we always agree on what the person who answered us has to say or it might be vague, but 99.9% of the time everyone there has some excellent advice and suggestions. So thank you kindly again for all your help and everything you do. Kind regards, Mynd <Thank you for your consideration. Bob Fenner>

Re: Frustrated Over Alkalinity Readings -- 02/22/07 Sorry again I emailed you an incomplete message. <<Ahh, ok...I was just trying to sort through/make sense of it.  I will delete the first correspondence then, and address your questions here>> I am doing water testing and my alkalinity test read that .4ml of my titrate means that I have a reading of 6meq/l. <<This is too high.  Alkalinity in a reef system should be in the range of 2.5 meq/l to 4 meq/l >> Which makes no sense to me? <<...?>> I am working to 6-8dKH <<8dKH should be your 'minimum'...in my opinion>> and the test kit suggests that I reach 4-5 meq/l.  Then when I convert that I get something like 16dKH. <<Mmm, no...would actually be a range of 11.2-14 dKH> Could you set me straight? <<I shall try [grin].  The test kit is actually 'more' correct re the proper desired alkalinity reading than you are here.  Look at it this way...  1 meq/l = 2.8 dKH.  Thus, the often suggested alkalinity target range of 2.5 to 4 meq/l converts to 7 to 11.2 dKH; though most authors agree a slightly higher dKH of 8 -- 12 is fine/recommended>> Thanks a ton, Cathy <<Happy to assist...do let me know if this is not yet clear.  EricR>>

Re: Frustrated Over Alkalinity Readings -- 02/23/07 Thanks so much. <<A pleasure to share>> I am having difficulty maintaining calcium and alkalinity. <<I wonder Cathy...do you understand the correlation between the two?  If you are dosing supplements to establish/maintain these elements I suspect this is where your problems lie.  Without more specific data I'm at a loss to provide meaningful assistance re but will tell you this...most any system of about 150 gallons or less...unless very heavily stocked with calcifying organisms...can easily maintain its balance of earth/bio-mineral elements through generous frequent partial water changes with a quality synthetic salt mix>> The advice you offer is priceless. <<Hmm...you keep talking like that I may have to ask the boss for more money (just kidding Big-B! [grin])>> Thanks again, Cathy <<If I can be of further assistance you know where to find me.  Eric Russell>>

R2: Frustrated Over Alkalinity Readings -- 02/26/07 That makes perfect sense.  I have been overdosing with Kalkwasser and buffer for alkalinity and that probably depleted my magnesium. <<Overuse/abuse of the buffer will depress calcium as well>> I always buy Reef Crystals with the proper calcium...and everything.  I should have been trusting it all along. <<Indeed...frequent partial water changes should fix/maintain your necessary bio-mineral elements>> I am surprised I did not figure this out a year ago. <<[grin]>> Although, I have continually lost a few corals every once in a while. <<Clues>> I have a very stressed tank right now and will slowly replace with just correct change of water. <<Mmm, perhaps a 40% water change to get things going is needed here>> One more question if I may. <<Certainly>> I have to raise pH with buffer since my water is at about a 7.8 after the Reef Crystals are added. <<Strange that it would be so low...though I have seen some worrisome queries of late concerning the Aquarium Systems salt mixes>> I have two types of buffer.  SeaChem and Kent Super Buffer.  Do you have a preference? <<I surely do...the Seachem products are my definite choice.  And a couple things worth mentioning re making up seawater...try adding the buffer to the water "before" adding the salt mix...and do be sure you are adding the salt to the water, and not the other way round...>> Thanks again, Cathy <<Is a pleasure>> And please do ask for that raise! <<Hee-hee!  We're all volunteers here...your continued success is reward enough.  Eric Russell>>

Re: High dKH    2/2/07 Bob,   I have checked my tap water for everything under the sun.  The  only problem with my tap water is phosphates and I am using an RO for  replacement top-off water.  I have been using salt water from the local pet  store when I do major water changes.  A lot less hassle to buy prepared  salt water than mixing it up myself. <Really? I find it's easier to not lug this around... or drive it about... and that I have more control over make-up by DIY...> I tested that water too and it is  fine.  Besides the pet store is a mile from my house (literally) and  we use the same tap water.  That is why I am so perplexed.  I  use Seachem marine buffer to maintain my pH, but I have cut back  on it I only have been adding it once a week to keep the pH up.   <Mmm... best to find out root cause/s here...> I  haven't really been having pH problems as of late, especially with more frequent  water changes. <Good. This is the approach I would take>    The only other problem I have is my Nitrates, which are  high. <These problems are related>   After reading your website, I go rid of a lot of extra mechanical  filtering and those stupid bio balls.  I replaced the bio balls with  coral rock and seeded it with live bacteria.  I also set up a hang-on  refugium and put coral rock and Chaetomorpha (I think that is how you spell  it)<Fixed> to help control the nitrates.  I have about 90lbs of live rock in the  (90 gallon) tank.  I know all this rock may be a little overkill, but extra  rock can't hurt. I know that it is going to take some time to bring down the  Nitrates, so I am doing more frequent 10-20% water changes. Those are the only  problems I am having and I don't think the nitrate problem is related to the dKH  problem I am having. Or is it? <Something else... maybe the additive practice, possibly the substrate/s dissolving... at any length, as long as the livestock is not impugned, I would take the slow steady route as you're doing. Bob Fenner>

Alkalinity Control 1/25/07 Gentlemen, hope your day is well. <Well...I just got back from the doc who gave me a shot in the butt, other than that, OK.> I will try to make this short. I'm having a terrible problem maintaining my Alkalinity. I never let it fall below 8 dKH; however I'm dosing for it three times a week. I have a 75 gallon tank, refugium. Aqua c remora pro, tide pool 2, Marineland filter and a fluidized sand bed filter. All my levels are o.k. Calcium is at 400ppm, alkalinity fluctuates between 8-12dkh. Stock is two brain corals, clam, toadstool, carpet anemone, bubble tip and Galaxea. How can I maintain my alkalinity w/o dosing every three day's? Also is Kalkwasser a way to go, and if so about how much. <Myself, I use Sea Chem's Reef Builder, find it much easier to dose than messing around with mixing Kalkwasser, dosing units, etc.  But, I do think you have a little better stony coral growth with the Kalk.  Keep in mind it is very easy to overdose, and can cause pH levels to rise to an unsafe level.  Care must be exercised with Kalkwasser.> Thanks, I really appreciate all the help, past and present. Do read/find your answers here my friend. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alkalinity.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm <James (Salty Dog)> Mark P. Formica

Re:  Alkalinity Control 1/26/07 Thanks for the info, still confused but I will read on. Just one quick question, is it normal to have to add a buffer three times a week? <This is all going to depend on fish load/nutrient levels.  As waste dissolves in the system, an acidic reaction is created causing alkalinity levels to drop.> Oh, thanks for dropping the info! It never even dawned on me. Hope your butt is doing o.k. <Butt is fine today, but head cold not much better.  Damn Michigan weather. Bob, anybody ever get a head cold in HI? <<Oh, yes. RMF>> James (Salty Dog)> Re:  Color Change 1/23/07 ... colorimetric assay? For... alkalinity ... No prev. corr... We can't remember this much... OK sorry for all the poor communication on my part. I have a problem with  the alkalinity in my aquarium. I can not get it to go down below 5.14 meq/L.   What happens is I check the Alkalinity straight from my RO/DI filter and it is 1.60 meq/L and the PH is about 6.0 so the only way I can add the water to my tank is to add a buffer then the Alkalinity goes up to 2.29 and the PH is then 8.4. Then I add the salt which I have tried several kinds and the Alkalinity goes up to 5.60 meq/L and the PH remains 8.4. From what information I have gotten it could be a problem with my filter. It has been this way since I bought  it new. Thanks in advance for your time and  information. <Please reply with the original query.  We have no idea which crew member you are referring this to.  Thank you, James (Salty Dog)> Crushed coral substrate   1/15/07 Hello Crew, <Hello Lisa, JustinN with you today.> I read someplace (I think on your site) and now I can't remember or find the article/letter.  The subject was about crushed coral substrate and how it loses it's pH benefits over time.  Is this true? <Mmm, yes, tis true, though not only of crushed coral substrate. This is true of any such marine substrate, be it crushed coral or oolitic aragonite sand, and is also true of live rock to a lesser extent. The easily soluble portions of these will be dissolved into the water column over time, and when its depleted, pH, alkalinity and calcium levels will typically begin to deplete.> I have had mine going on 5 years.  All the water levels are good, but as of late I am having trouble with green hair algae and cannot get rid of it.  I go in and the tank with a tooth brush and scrub the rock.   <Is better to do this outside the tank, as all the little strands that are let loose into the aquarium have the potential to take root and become another patch of hair algae.> I also remove the top layer of gravel and pour boiling water over it and let it dry out with the intentions of returning it to the tank (is this okay to do?).   <Certainly> How do I get rid of this "green hair devil" for good, and what should I do with my crushed coral?...Guess that was two questions combined.  Sorry! <Your crushed coral is likely fine, though after 5 years, you might consider exchanging some of it for new crushed coral. Simply remove some substrate and replace with fresh, rinsed crushed coral. As far as the hair algae goes, hair algae is usually indicative of high phosphate and nitrate levels. Have a read here for some more information: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm Hope this helps you! -JustinN> By the way, I would love to contribute a donation, but have closed all my CC accounts.  Is there a P.O. box I can mail a check to (don't worry, it isn't a rubber one)? Thanks for your help! Lisa <Certainly, the mailing address for WWM is as follows: WetWebMedia 8586 Menkar Rd. San Diego, CA 92126. Thanks for the support, Lisa!>

Baked Baking Soda For Alkalinity Supplementation? - 01/13/07 G'Day crew, <<Howdy Chris>> I have 3 reef tanks of 30L, 120L, and 240L (working volumes). <<Neat>> I have been trying to sort out my KH/Ca/Mg balance using Kalkwasser slurry, MgCl2, Seachem Reef Advantage Calcium, and baking soda that has been baked dry. <<While monitoring your alkaline/bio-mineral levels closely I hope>> I know that this removes the bound water, but does this make the baking soda into washing soda? <<By baking the baking soda?  Not exactly...the "baking" process drives out the "CO2" used in the manufacture of the baking soda allowing it to elevate pH as well as buffer alkalinity.  The bound CO2 is why hobbyists can't usually raise pH much above 8.1/8.2 using it straight from the box...though it will still boost alkalinity>> The levels in all 3 tanks are similar within a small range so I will refer to the range of values for simplicity sake.  dKH is 7-9, daylight pH is 8.2-8.5, dark pH is 7.9-8.1, Ca is 350-380, and Mg is 1320-1380.  I worked out the daily Ca consumption rate of each tank to be around 20ppm/day and there are several small and rapidly growing SPS frags in each tank.  I add ¼ tsp, 1/2 tsp, and 1 tsp, respectively, of Kalkwasser slurry to each tank each night and drip RO/DI water with 1/4 tsp, 1 tsp, and 2 tsp of baked baking soda into each tank by day to replace evaporative loss.  I adjust Ca and Mg levels weekly with the aforementioned products. <<Ok>> My question is regarding the use of baked baking soda in this way.  Is this an appropriate use of baking soda to supplement alkalinity? <<Sure...as long as it is closely monitored so as not to drive your alkalinity too high>> I have read a great deal on the tendency of Kalk to lower KH over time and I am hoping to offset that with the baking soda. <<I see>> Would it be more appropriate to add the Kalk slurry in the morning before lights-on and then drip the baking soda/RODI by night? <<I don't think it really matters>> The only reason I was doing so by day was to keep the specific gravity as constant as possible. <<If this works...don't change it>> How do I go about raising (slightly) the alkalinity with baking soda? <<Mmm...start by dissolving a small amount (1/2tsp per forty liters of tank volume) in a cup or two of fresh water and adding this to the tank.  Monitor your pH and alkalinity and repeat as necessary>> Should I avoid adding Ca and baking soda in the same day? <<Nope...just don't try to drive both to their upper limits>> Also, can I mix the Ca additive with MgCl2 in the same cup of water or are there interactions that I need to avoid? <<I don't know the chemistry behind it, but magnesium should not be mixed directly with a carbonate substance...I would add the magnesium and calcium separately>> Cheers, -Chris <<Regards, EricR>>

Re: Baked Baking Soda For Alkalinity Supplementation? - 01/15/07 Thanks Eric. <<Quite welcome Chris>> I have been keeping a close eye on KH and Ca and I know that high levels of each are mutually exclusive for the most part. <<Good>> If I can get alkalinity to stay steady at 9 dKH and then keep Ca toward the higher end of the range at around 400 I will be happy and so will my corals I think. <<Likely so...though using these as your high-end set points and allowing readings to fluctuate between these and something somewhat below these will make your life much easier as opposed to trying to 'peg' a specific reading all the time>> What about Kalk and baking soda interactions?  If I continue to buffer my top-off with washing soda on a pretty constant drip, do I need to suspend the drip for a period of time surrounding the addition of Kalk? <<Nope...not in my experience>> Thanks again and I forgot to mention how helpful WWM has been to me in my last email. <<We're happy you find us of benefit>> I hate to admit it, but I spend more time reading the FAQ and articles on WWM than I do literature for my PhD thesis. <<Ha, indeed!  We do tend to gravitate toward our true interests/pleasures...>> Cheers, Chris Dunedin, NZ <<Regards, EricR...South Carolina, USA>>

Re: Dropping Alk  1/2/07 To JustinN <Hello again, Flávio, JustinN with you once again... and a happy new year to you!> Thank you very much for your advice. <No problems, I enjoy doing it *grin*> I just finish measuring the CaReactor effluent DK and I read 27. Too low I think. Heard about more than 40? I' ll increase the CO2. In the meantime using the Tetra Plus and Calcium Chloride separately I will boost the Alk and the Ca in order to achieve 11or 12 DK and about 400 Ca. I'm planning dissolve 1 tetra plus tsp in 500 ml of water and add it daily and do the same with de CaCl. Do you agree with this. If not please correct me. Best regards Flávio <Sounds good, Flávio, but may I suggest, don't focus too hard on maintaining the peak levels of both calcium and alkalinity... anywhere from 9-12DK and 350-420 on calcium should be just fine. Hope this helps, sorry for the delayed response! -JustinN>

Re: Dropping Alk   1/4/07 To JustinN Thank You for your input about alk and Ca. In this moment, the Ca has raised to 320 with the CaCl2 adds and the alk is 8 DK caused by the baking soda. So, with respect for your advice, I am going to stop adding those and hope that the CaReactor could do the job for me, maintaining those values. Best regards. Happy New Year. Flavio <Hello again, Flavio. I feel you are wise for this decision. Do keep us updated, shoot a line back if you have any further issues. -JustinN> CA Reactors'¦Calculating Dissolution - 12/31/06 Good morning, <<Hello>> I would like to ask a question pertaining to the "Calcium Reactor without CO2? - 12/14/06" thread. <<Ok>> I have been considering the same thing as the original inquiry.  I have well water with a pH of 5.7-5.8 after RO/DI. <<I see>> I know enough chemistry to be dangerous, which is not much.  I seem to remember it would be possible to calculate the amount of Ca liberated by raising the pH from a given point to the point it will no longer react with the media.  The problem is I cannot find the equation anywhere. Thanks <<Hmm, don't know what that equation would be either...I'm sure Bob will chime in if he knows.  But so you know, the media will "react" at "any" pH level...it's just that at the higher pH more bicarbonate has been converted to carbonate leaving less "room" for the media to dissolve before reaching the point of saturation where the reaction stops.  According to Randy Holmes-Farley... "At a pH of 6.5, about 50 times less carbonate is present than in the same solution at pH 8.2"...  The difference here being the lower pH allows "much more calcium" to dissolve before reaching saturation.  Regards, EricR>> <There are solubility product constants... and I do believe/think that these can be calculated further for different pHs... the KOH for carbonates being? Perhaps a go with a CRC reference... or trip to a large (college) library, help at a Chemistry dept... Am out in HI, and too bushed from traveling to do much more than make these vague generalizations. RMF> Re: Ca Reactors    1/5/07 thanks for the prompt reply. any word from Bob. <Mmm, strange you didn't see this... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/maralkfaq5.htm about the third response down. RMF> CA Reactors. Calculating Dissolution - 12/31/06 Good morning, <<Hello>> I would like to ask a question pertaining to the "Calcium Reactor without CO2? - 12/14/06" thread. <<Ok>> I have been considering the same thing as the original inquiry.  I have well water with a pH of 5.7-5.8 after RO/DI. <<I see>> I know enough chemistry to be dangerous, which is not much.  I seem to remember it would be possible to calculate the amount of Ca liberated by raising the pH from a given point to the point it will no longer react with the media.  The problem is I cannot find the equation anywhere. Thanks <<Hmm, don't know what that equation would be either...I'm sure Bob will chime in if he knows.  But so you know, the media will "react" at "any" pH level...it's just that at the higher pH more bicarbonate has been converted to carbonate leaving less "room" for the media to dissolve before reaching the point of saturation where the reaction stops.  According to Randy Holmes-Farley... "At a pH of 6.5, about 50 times less carbonate is present than in the same solution at pH 8.2"...  The difference here being the lower pH allows "much more calcium" to dissolve before reaching saturation. Regards, EricR>>

Re: Ca Reactors  1/5/07 Thanks a lot.  I had been watching the Ca Reactor FAQ.  Anyway I am off to the library. Bart <Real good. Please do report back on your experiences, findings. Bob Fenner>

Dropping Alk  12/30/06 To the WWM Crew <Hola Flávio, JustinN with you today.> I have a 500 L. reef tank, with a calcium reactor. I've noticed that the Alk is dropping (6 or 7 DK and the pH 8.0), so I must, slowly, add some carbonate. <More likely, I think your calcium reactor may need more fine tuning.> The Tetra Ph plus is sodium carbonate or sodium bicarbonate ? <I would think it is likely a combination of the two. You can cheaply make your own reef buffer using six parts standard baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to 1 part standard washing soda (sodium carbonate) and save yourself a few bucks over the commercial stuff. If you're unable to locate washing soda, you can prepare your own by placing baking soda on a cookie sheet and baking it for 30 minutes at 450 degrees.> Thanks in advance Flávio <No problems, Flávio, hope I've helped you! -JustinN> Those pesky ratios ...using SeaChem buffer   12/18/06 <Hi Eddie, Mich here.> I use a 5 gallon bucket for deionized water. Seachem says to use 1 teaspoon for each 20 gallons of water. I use 1/4 teaspoon in the 5 gallon bucket. Is this about right? <Yes.  This is correct.> I use it to replenish from evaporation in my 55 and 90 gallon saltwater tanks. Thanks,  Eddie V                 <Welcome. -Mich>

Coralline Algae/Alkaline Precipitation/Ca Reactor Tuning - 12/07/06 Hi Eric, <<Hey Ken!>> I hope all is well with you. <<Indeed it is...thank you>> Things have been going well with the tank, but I have a few questions. <<Ok>> The tank is set up 6 weeks now.  The few soft corals and star-polyps look good. <<Excellent>> I did buy a clean-up crew about 10 days ago.  I feel like I should put the snails on the payroll.  In the first two days they cleaned all of the greenish algae I had on the rocks. <<Cool!>> The tank looks good.  My nitrate is less than 1-ppm and phosphate is zero using LaMotte Colorimeter. <<Very good>> The pH is usually 8.10 to 8.20 and ORP has been about 415MV. <<More good news>> I also have gotten more and more pink coralline algae on some of the rocks.  My first question has to do with that in the last couple of days I am getting areas of a burgundy color on the rocks. <<Coralline algae comes in "many" colors>> It looks to be more on the areas that have some of the pinkish coralline. <<Conditions in those locations are likely "optimum" for both species...everything competes for space on the reef>> Also I notice the burgundy color is all of a sudden on a lot of the turbo snails. <<Very common>> Is this just another color coralline? <<Indeed it is>> I am hoping that it is not like red Cyano or something. <<Can usually tell the difference>> I don't see this on most of the rocks and none on sand, powerheads, sand etc.  I tried scraping it off with my fingernail and it does come off somewhat.  It doesn't seem as hard as the pink coralline algae. <<Differences in structure/composition>> I'm not sure if this is coralline or not. <<Likely so>> I would say that I see this burgundy color mostly on places that had pink to begin with pretty much.  My next question has to do with my AGA Mega Flow.  Their isn't really any algae on my rocks or tank, but I do have some thick greenish layers of it in the overflow box only.  Should I leave it their, or manually remove it, or can I put a couple of my turbo snails in there to eat it. <<Can remove or leave, whichever you prefer...I would not put turbo snails in the overflow box (will probably get there sooner or later anyway, but...) as they will get in to the overflow pipes and restrict/block flow>> I thought about snails and overflows but the Durso pipe and the return pipe are sealed unit and nothing could get in there.  What do you think? <<If you have some kind of "screen" on the Durso then this may be fine>> By the way, if I manually remove the algae will anything? <<...?>> I don't want to spread it around the tank?  Also is it possible that this algae is in its own "container" and it can act like a refugium in a way? <<Sure...on a very small scale.  If nothing else, it is removing nutrients...but I'll bet close observation will reveal some tiny crustaceans living there as well>> My last question and most perplexing and bothersome to me has to do with my calcium reactor.  I have an MTC Pro-Cal calcium reactor.  I don't run it all of the time as my tank is only 6 weeks old and there isn't much in the tank to take up the Alk and Ca.  When my alk gets down to 8dKH, I turn on the CO2 and run it at 1 bubble per second and the effluent at .02 ml as per the instructions.  This is their starting point. <<And as good as any>> I will shut of the CO2 once the alk hits 10 or 11 dKH.  My Ca usually is in the 410 to 425 ppm range.  The strange thing is that once I run the Ca reactor for a day or so, I see some of the rock (usually more evident where the coralline algae is) start to get a whitish tone to it.  It does not blow off.  Also, and more importantly, when I take a turkey baster, I can blow off what almost looks like ash. <<Sounds as if you may have some carbonaceous material falling out of solution>> This has happened all three times I ran it. <<You may want to consider experimenting with different reactor media>> I was wondering if it was calcium precipitate, but how could it be? <<Easy enough...the water can only "hold" so much material.  Maximizing alkalinity (11dKH) and calcium (425ppm) over saturates the water with carbonaceous material.  Try test your alkalinity AND calcium after one of these events...likely BOTH have fallen as a result>> All of the parameters are in check.  I am not using limewater or any additive and I do 20% water changes weekly with Reef Crystals. Do you have any ideas? <<The reactor is probably "too large" for the system (right now anyway) and is producing to much alkaline and calcium reserve than the tank can "use."  I would turn to one of the two-part alkalinity/calcium supplements for now.  Based on your future stocking levels/specimens, you may find you don't need the reactor>> By the way, I am using CaribSea Geo Thermal aragonite for the media. <<Mmm, I see...this product is likely soft/more soluble than others...try adjusting the reactor effluent to a pH of about 7.0 the next time you use it and see what results>> I did buy a Kalk stirrer and plan on using it with my dosing pump and float switch for top off water once I have the time to set it up in a few days. <<Proceed with caution here...for now anyway>> I appreciate your help. Regards, Ken <<Always happy to assist.  EricR>>

Re: Coralline Algae/Alkaline Precipitation/Ca Reactor Tuning -- 12/07/06 Hey Eric, <<Ken>> Thanks for the reply. <<Welcome>> With regards to the calcium issue, is it possible that my magnesium could be too low? <<Testing would tell...but no, this is not the reason your alkalinity rises so fast when the reactor is operating>> If so, what supplement do you recommend? <<I prefer the Seachem product...though 'small and infrequent' adjustments can be made using simple Epsom Salts>> By the way, the person at MTC said that I should switch to Instant Ocean instead of Reef Crystals. <<tomAto-TOMaTO...made/distributed by the same company.  But the Instant Ocean will be fine (is what I use) and will save you a few bucks to boot>> He said why use salt with all of the extra ingredients in it when you are supplementing the tank anyway with a Ca reactor?  What do you think? <<The difference in the mixes is of small consequence here...in my opinion>> Also, I have been doing 20% water change per week. <<Ah...though water changes are the single best function you can perform, you might consider reducing this to every 3-4 weeks to better give this 'new' tank time to stabilize/reach a balance between these changes.  Once the tank has 'matured' for a year or so, and if stocking levels warrant, you may find you need to 'up' the frequency>> Do you think this is too much at a time? <<Too much too often at this stage, yes>> I can tell you that after the water change, the corals close up for a while and my ORP drops quite a bit. <<The salt mix is quite 'reactive' and irritates the corals/fish...best to let newly mixed salt mature for a week or two while being aerated/moved around with a powerhead>> All goes back eventually of course. <<But not without exacting a 'toll' in energy used/lost>> With regards to a two-part supplement, what do you recommend? <<E.S.V. or C-Balance>> Do I need to use both parts together to make it work? (Sorry for the dumb question). <<Yes...do follow manufacturer's instructions closely>> Lastly, wouldn't the addition of limewater as top off and no further supplementation or Ca reactor work for me at this point as long as I watch the alk and don't let it go over 11 dKH? <<You need to monitor both alkalinity AND calcium...these elements are mutually exclusive at the high end of their ranges, which is why you experience the precipitation events>> I am at 7.5 dKH right now. <<A 'tad' low>> Why did you note to proceed with caution? <<You are already having problems with high alkalinity and calcium when running the Ca reactor...utilizing Kalkwasser in conjunction will compound the issue>> By the way, I evaporate approx 4 or 5 quarts per day right now. Thanks again. Regards, Ken <<Cheers mate, EricR>>

R2: Coralline Algae/Alkaline Precipitation/Ca Reactor Tuning - 12/08/06 Hey Eric, <<Ken>> All noted. <<Cool>> You did mention that I had high alkalinity but the testing doesn't bare this out. <<...?>> It was high when I first set up the tank, but has been in the 11-12 dKH range ever since. <<And this is the "high" end of the acceptable range...couple this with calcium levels above 400ppm and you have the "potential" for precipitous events>> I waited until the alkalinity hit 7-8 dKH before turning on the CO2.  I measured morning and night.  The alk never hit 8dKH but I still got the precipitate. <<Mmm...pretty sure you stated in a previous query your alkalinity had reached 11dKH and with calcium at 425ppm>> Something is odd here I think. <<Hmm, maybe...though likely much to do with the newness/instability of the system>> Oh yea and Ca was about 415 ppm. <<Again, on the high end...>> I didn't even have the CO2 running for 24 hours? <<I'm still guessing the reactor needs more tuning/backing-off on bubble/effluent rates>> I am definitely confused.  Good thing that I can rest on the fact that this is a relaxing hobby. :) <<Ha!  Indeed...>> Regards, Ken <<Be chatting, EricR>>

R3: Coralline Algae/Alkaline Precipitation/Ca Reactor Tuning - 12/08/06 Hi Eric, <<Hey Ken>> I did have alkalinity at 11 dKH and calcium at 425 ppm, however the alkalinity was at 8 dKH when I turned on the reactor. <<Understood>> I was just confused at the precipitate in the tank. <<As previously explained...I think (?)>> I also thought that 1 bubble per second and effluent of .02 ml was not a lot. <<Is all relative...may very well be/appears to be too much for "your" system>> I guess I am wrong? <<Just new...and learning...>> Anyway, I ordered a new solenoid as the one I have now I cannot adjust under this amount of 1 bubble per second as it doesn't seem to be too fine. <<Mmm, I see...might have been able to use a simple pinch-clamp on the hose in conjunction with the current solenoid/metering valve>> Also from what the Ca reactor maker said, it should be running all of the time and not off and on. <<Bull...how can the "maker" know what your system's needs are/what's best for your tank?  Only by testing can you/anyone determine if the Ca reactor needs to be fed CO2 on a full-time basis.  To help with pH swings, I have my Ca reactor on a timer that turns off the CO2 when the lights come-on on my vegetable refugium (refugium is on a RDP)>> I will try it at maybe 30 or 40 bubbles per minute and watch the tank and test morning and night for a few days and see what happens. <<Once you reduce the bubble-rate, adjust the effluent until the effluent pH is about 7.0 with the CaribSea media>> If I still have issues, should I use something like ESV two-part or Kalkwasser (watching pH of course) until my tank has more of an alkalinity and calcium demand? <<Try the two-part over the Kalkwasser for now...but honestly...with your current stock list/stocking density, monthly 20% water changes should be quite sufficient for maintaining the tanks earth elements>> Also the Ca reactor maker recommends aragonite for his reactor, is this a good choice? <<It is, most all reactor media is a "form" of aragonite.  Do look in to the larger "European style" (10mm nominal) medias as carried by 'Premium Aquatics' and 'Aquarium Specialty' (the latter is owned by a friend of mine).  Scott at Aquarium Specialty also has a Magnesium granulate that can be added to the CA reactor and may help with maintaining this element as well>> Lastly, I will cut back on my water changes as per the last email. <<For the best I believe>> What percent and how many times a month do you recommend? <<With the tank so new and lightly stocked, I think 25% per month would be just fine>> Thanks, Ken <<Always welcome.  Eric Russell>>

R4: Coralline Algae/Alkaline Precipitation/Ca Reactor Tuning - 12/12/06 Hi Eric, <<Hello Ken>> The tank looks good, but I am still trying to figure out the Ca and alk deal.  I haven't added anything to the tank in a week. <<Good>> My alk was 9 dKH and Ca was about 385 ppm last night. <<Both excellent values>> I changed about 5% water last Friday. <<...thought we agreed to cut back on this and let the tank find its "balance" *grin*>> Right now I guess there is no need to do anything. <<Agreed>> At what reading do you think I need to take action? <<As long as alkalinity stays within 8-12 dKH and Ca between 350-450 ppm; and keeping both from being at the high end of their respective range at the same time, then you need do nothing.  If any adjustments do need to be made then make "small" ones>> I don't want to get involved in that two-part addition additive. <<Ok>> I have the Ca reactor and the Kalk stirrer and I would rather go that route when the time comes. <<Indeed...both are better methodologies.  And you could probably go ahead and use the calcium reactor...with a different (harder) media and "fine tuning" of the reactor effluent>> By the way, I had checked my Mg and it was somewhere between 1230 and 1260.  So this doesn't appear to be low. <<Nope>> You mentioned about a larger media for the Ca reactor.  What would the purpose be for using this over the CaribSea aragonite that I have? <<Slower dissolution...as it appears now, the calcium reactor is overwhelming your system> By the way, I did get myself a better Co2 controller for better control over how much is added.  I will hold off on the reactor until for the present. <<I would try a different media, crank-back the output, and see what happens now>> With regards to the Kalkwasser stirrer, can I dose some amount with my top off water? <<You can...if the system will handle it...>> I have a Liter Meter and it administers is whatever you want to set it at.  It just takes that amount you want to deliver in a 24 hour period and divides it into 150 doses. <<Understood>> That looks to be a dose each 9.6 minutes.  So if I dose as per my evaporation rate of a gallon per day, this would mean it would dose .85 of an ounce every 9.6 minutes.  I could also set with a timer and only have it dose for the 12-hour lights-off period.  I would then tell the Liter Meter that it doses 2-gallons a day so that it can dose the 1-gallon in that 12-hour period that is needed. <<Mmm, better to run 24/7 for better system stability if will be your only means for top-off>> I could also use a timer and have it dose 1/2-gallon in 12-hours with limewater and then does the other 12-hours with just my ro/di water.  What do you think? <<Ah, even better to run/dose separately.  I would set the meter to add the fresh top-off water (minus whatever volume of limewater you decide to dose) throughout a 24-hour period, and then set the limewater to be added during "lights out">> Getting back to my "ash" debris on the rocks.  I had mentioned previously that I noticed this after I ran the Ca reactor. <<Maybe another indicator that the CaribSea media id being dissolved "too fast">> However I have not run it in a week and I still noticed it when I blew off the rocks the last few days. <<Likely the material will not go back in to solution and is resettling...along with detritus in the tank...this is not uncommon/unusual>> Maybe it is not from the CO2 reactor and maybe not calcium precipitate? <<Possibly detritus>> It's hard to describe what it looks like on the rock except debris.  Almost looks like blowing ashes. <<Does sound like "precipitate"...hmm or maybe...you haven't added a flocculent to your system have you?>> It is not powdery like what I get when I use the turkey baster and blow out the holes in the rocks. <<I see>> Could the rock be breaking down at all? <<Doubtful>> The tank itself looks good.  The two tangs and the few soft corals/star-polyps look good.  Phosphate is still zero and nitrate is .15ppm using LaMotte. <<All good>> Thanks and regards, Ken <<I'll wager everything will "settle in/stabilize" with time and less "fiddling" of the system.  Regards, EricR>> Tropic Marin Bio Calcium ... alk. anomaly    11/28/06 Hi guys/gals, <Laura> I have been using tropic Marin bio calcium (powder) for 7 weeks as a way to boost calcium in my 75 SPS tank. I add 1.5 teaspoon per gallon of Kalkwasser for evaporation hooked to a auto top off. <Good methodology> Before using the new product I measured calcium at 365 and alk at 4.0 meg/l. After first week calcium was at 380, and alk is 5.0meg/l. <I would stop here> I am adding the dose described on the jar, I scoop per 5 gallons. Problem is my alkalinity is soaring it is now 6.0 meg /l and calcium is still at 365-370 after 7 weeks. I need help, I emailed tropic Marin and asked if bio calcium raises alk, and they quick reply was no. <Mmmm> Something is not right, I have not added anything else to the water except for Kalk. <Not so... new salt mix... and Kalk> I use IO salt and add a little magnesium as IO is lacking it. I fail to believe my 75 SPS is using 40ppm of calcium a day. Any advice? thanks     Derick <I would slow to stop the use of the Bio Calcium product... allow the alkalinity to drop on its own. Bob Fenner>

Excess alkalinity   10/27/06 Folks; hope you're well.  I have an embarrassing problem and couldn't really find an answer on your excellent site. My tank is a 46 gallon reef, running very well for 4-5 yrs, using two-part B-Ionic; parameters are usually "right on", but  I returned from a trip and somehow began interpreting my Salifert KH/alk test backwards(!) and have been adding excess alk. component of B-ionic so that now my dKH is almost 16 (hopefully not higher; that's the top of the range on the test kit).  Ca is 440; pH is 8.2. All fish, corals, and inverts seem totally fine, and I have no snowstorms. <Best to just "back off" of the two parts here... adjust through regularly scheduled water changes> How urgent is it to decrease the dKH? <Mmm, not very>   Should I step up h2o changes drastically, wait it out, add a buffer of some sort, or....? <Just the regular...> Thanks in advance!  I'll have my head examined as soon as my tank is back to normal! <Heeeee! We might start a club. Excess alkalinity Hi...  Cheers, BobF>

75 Gallon FOWLR Alk   8/17/06 I have been cycling this tank for four weeks now and current levels are: PH-8.2 Ammonia-0 Nitrites-0 Nitrates-20 Calcium- 520 <A bit high...> Alk- 8 dKH I haven't added anything to the tank chemical-wise. <Odd that both your Calcium and Alkalinity should be so high... and your pH...> All I have in it now is about 100 lbs live rock and 3 peppermint shrimp which already took care of a growing Aiptasia (sp?) problem. The substrate is AragAlive. How could my calcium level have gotten so high? <The salt mix and the initial porosity of the LR and sand> I am worried about coralline growth down the road. <Not to be...> IS there a way to raise my Alkalinity without raising the calcium at the same time? <Oh yes... a few ways... and this can/will likely occur with just time going by here in a while. I would NOT start trying to adjust, add anything here> Or is this just normal in a new tank? <Mmm, no... variable, depending on the nature of the substrates, water make-up, the "quality" of the new LR...> Also there is some brown algae on the tops of some rocks and on the sand. I believe I read here that this is normal and will go away soon. Is there anything I should be doing to assure this? Thanks for the help. <At this point... reading: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner> Brian

Baking Soda as a Buffer?   7/18/06 Hello WWM crewmatie, <<Ahoy me heartie!>> I have a question about using baking soda for buffering RO/DI top-off water. <<Alrighty>> I have a 125 gallon mixed reef tank with LS, 125 lbs. LR, calcium reactor and Milwaukee MSM 122 pH monitor.  My tank was established in May 2006.  Generally speaking, so far, so good. <<A very young system...>> I have not been adding anything to the RO/DI make-up water I have been using these past couple of months (5-10% water changes ~monthly and weekly for evaporation as needed). <<Best to do so in my opinion>> This could explain why my Xenia are not doing so good-right?. <<Mmm no, more likely attributable to the "newness" of this system>> I did read the article listed in your website by Anthony Calfo on "Understanding Calcium and Alkalinity" where he mentioned using baking soda vs. a retail product is generally not advised. <<I actually "cut" the retail product with baking soda to stretch its use/my dollar>> Since I can and do monitor my pH real-time, (1) can I use plain baking soda to prep my top-off water and, if so, (2) is it best to add the baking soda just before use or 24 hours before use while aerating it with a powerhead? <<You can use plain baking soda to "buffer" your makeup water.  Just don't expect it to bring up your pH much past 7.8 without some help.  If you want it to increase pH as well you will need to spread it on a baking sheet and bake it in your oven to drive off the C02 used in its manufacture (300F for an hour I think, but check the Chemistry forum on RC to be sure).  As for when to add to the makeup water, do this at least 24 hours prior to use and aerate as you describe>> I do monitor KH with readings between 10-14.  My pH has been ranging between 8.0-8. <<...?>> I realize I should be maintaining it at the 8.3 range and want to do so starting with buffering my replacement water. <<Nothing wrong with 8.0, but if you wish to boost your pH you'll need more than just baking soda.  If you want to try my recipe...mix 1-part Seachem's Reef Buffer with 3-parts baking soda.  You can adjust the portions depending on how much of a pH boost you need>> Installing an automated top-off system is my next project. <<Very worthwhile>> I'm no Homer Simpson, but every now and then I do deserve a "doh!" for pulling a you-know-what. <<Indeed my friend...been there...done that>> Gracias. Steve <<Cheers mate, EricR>>

Re: Baking Soda as a Buffer? - 07/18/06 Hi Eric, <<Hello Steve>> Great Advice. <<Glad you like it!>> A follow-on comment and question regarding pH. <<OK>> First, my pH has been ranging between 8.0-8.1.  Guess I was missing a digit in my initial email. <<Ah, okay...and still an acceptable value>> I have read that most RO/DI water made from tap water has a pH of around 7.0 or so. <<Usually a narrow window to either side of the scale, yes>> Last night, I checked mine (am using a 4-stage Spectrapure unit) and found the pH to be 8.5! <<Have heard/read of this before, and my own experience is not too dissimilar...likely not a large concern>> I live in Southern California and understand the water is particularly alkaline. <<Indeed...have heard Bob mention more than once the "liquid rock" in that area>> Is it unusual for RO/DI water to have such a high pH level? <<While true one would expect pH to fall after passing through the unit consideration need be given to the elements/concentration of elements in the water, quality/age of the membrane, as well as the quality/age/suitability of the resins used.  With my own situation my tap water measures a pH of about 8.4 but my TDS consistently reads at about 80ppm.  Since the majority of aquarists (including myself) use a TDS meter to measure quality/useful life of a RO membrane, who's to say what may be getting through/keeping the pH elevated that we don't know/think about because it doesn't register on our TDS meters?  If your filter unit is up to snuff I wouldn't be too concerned re the pH of the effluent...If you are curious enough, you could talk to a chemist at the water company to try to determine the reason for the elevated pH after filtration.  And do understand, this is all my own opinion/observation>> This might explain why my pH has been OK even while running a calcium reactor and maintaining Ca levels of 400 ppm without a drop in pH. <<Yes, maybe>> In any event, I did purchase some Seachem pH buffer and used it this morning. <<A good product/manufacturer in my opinion>> A salesperson at the LFS that I went to also mentioned putting baking soda in the oven and cooking it for a while.  She did not know why, but your advice answered that question. <<Ahh...good>> OK, one last question.  Since my RO/DI water has such a high pH, should I even bother with baking soda or a buffer like Seachem? <<Probably, yes...you will still likely need to buffer/boost alkalinity...which should not be confused with pH>> Thanks! Steve <<Happy to assist.  EricR>>

Lowering KH: Fish panting  7/14/06 Hello WWM Crew you guys are great! I have been reading through articles trying to find a Q&A about lowering KH found a lot of article but nothing to specific.  I have a 55g SW FOWLR and cleaning Crew had my water tested at the LFS yester day Parameters Where; <And were?> Ph 8.3, KH: 25, S.G of 1.025 Ammonia 0, Nitrite: Trace, Nitrate: 10ppm Temp stays steady at 80 I only have 2 Maroon yellow stripe Clowns and 2 Damsels (Velvet, yellow Tail) 1 sand sifting star and 1 Chocolate Chip Star Cleaner are 7 Nassarius, 9-12 Blue Leg Dwarf hermit, few scarlet reef hermits, 2 turbo snails All the fish where... are slow moving and breathing heavy... <Good observation, bad behavior> How do I Lower the KH or is it even a problem for them I also am running a Berlin Airlift 60 Protein skimmer and power head with a with a wire wheel and an airline mixing in some oxygen so I hope the power head was from a knock off SeaClone skimmer... <Mmm, really, the best way, and with many ancillary benefits here, is to change out a good deal of your water (like a quarter) and replace it with new that is of a lower KH... do this every handful of days...>   I also had a yellow tang die yesterday :-( my wife's fave. fish too!!! What could have caused this? <... Life... No way to tell from here> It had been doing well for almost a month. <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ytangdisfaqs.htm and the linked files above... Anything look familiar?>   Then no more than him hitting the sand for a sec about 6 Nassarius snails and three emerald crabs were on his poor dead body just feasting is it normal for them to be so aggressive and fast at getting on the dead fish? <Yes... a good sign that they're healthy, not overfed> I fed frozen Mysis shrimp every other day and Seaweed to the tang every other day (was)... What am I doing wrong...? Help me please!!! <Read on my brother. Bob Fenner> ALK of Water   7/4/06 Hi Folks, I thought I wanted/needed a Ca reactor. I just tested the water of my 12 month old 55 G aquarium for dKH for the first time to find results of 21 dKH. <Yikes!> My Ca++ is 400-420. <...?> Both tests use the precipitate method. I seem to need to soften my water rather than purchase a Ca Reactor? <Mmm, no... but I would check these test results with other gear> What alarms me is the hardness more than the Ca, although it too approaches high end level. <This situation is anomalous... but also likely not what it appears> I do not treat with anything except iodine once a week. I do a 5 G water change every week, no  extra buffers just IO salt mix & aerate a few days before use. I also top with 5 G FW each week after aerating. I also use stability enzymes <What are these?> once per month. pH 8.2, everything else is 0 except PO4 which I am reducing with Phosguard ~ 2.0. Currently exploring a whirlpool WHER 25 R/O for use...trying to find out if it reduces phosphates/silicate adequately enough. <... should reduce to near zero. You have 2 ppm of soluble phosphate in the water exiting from this reverse osmosis device? Something is amiss here if so> Ordered some ROWAphos to eliminate from incoming water and tank water till I install R/DI unit. <Oh... go with the RO> Is there something I should do today with these CA/ALK results or just continue as planned? <Continue, try other testing equipment... the RO device. Bob Fenner>

Alkalinity Problem  6/5/06 Hello again. <Hello Ryan>  I need to bother you again, sorry.  Anyway I am having problems with my alkalinity it is always too low about 1.7 meq.  I work at a saltwater fish store and the water is DO water which I read on your web site strips the minerals from the water.  I tested their saltwater (tropic Marin)  and the alkalinity is much higher than mine about 2.8 meq. and I change about 7 gallons a week on a 55 gallon tank.  So I don't understand what the deal is, alkalinity is a weird thing to me.  My PH is always really good about 8.2-8.4 but according to your web site it could crash at anytime.  I have been adding a buffer to raise the alkalinity but I was wondering if there was a long time solution to this problem.  Could this be caused by over skimming (remora pro)? <No> Currently I have 80 pounds of live rock, 50 pounds of sand, kole tang, clown fish, Trachy brain, Favites brain, bubble tip anemone, mushrooms, green star polyps, finger leather, torch coral, and a couple small frags of Montipora.  All doing well except for Favites which is showing a little recession.  Any advice would appreciated.  Thank you very much, Ryan Nienhuis.  P.S.  All my other water parameters are good calcium 400, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 0, phosphate .2,  PH 8.2.  I use tropic Marin bio calcium when I need to...not very often. <Have you compared readings with a different test kit?  Would try this first.  Do take a dKH/me/q reading of your new water before doing the actual water change, see what that reads.  Excess CO2 in the make-up will lower dKH.  Do aerate the freshwater 24 hours before mixing salt.  You may want to try a different brand of buffer such as Sea Chem's Reef Builder.  Do reply and we will go from there. Thanks again. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>  

Re: Alkalinity Problems    6/6/06 Hey thanks for the response. <You're welcome.> The saltwater I use is pre mixed at the store I work at and is stored in a 300 gallon tub that is currently mixing via a dolphin pump.  When I measured the alkalinity at the store it is exactly the same thing I'm putting in my tank and it is what they use in their tanks and they do not have any alkalinity problems.  I have used my own test kit and the test kit at the store and they both read the same.  Based on your reply it sounds like alkalinity can be affected by poor aeration, correct? <Yes, high nutrient levels will cause a drop also.  Watch your feeding.> I have plenty of flow in the tank about 9 gallons per hour being circulated, the powerheads are pointing on a upward angle so there is a lot of surface agitation.  To me it seems like when I add the saltwater to my tank something is either using (not the correct way to say this) all of the alkalinity (minerals) or it is somehow disappearing.  I am really stumped about this.  Since I am emailing you anyway I have another question.  The Favites brain I was telling you about (receding) is a different color.... more neon green than It was before and the tentacles are not coming out at night.  It almost looks as if it is covered in a thin layer of mucous. I tried to rinse it a little bit but that didn't help, any ideas? <I have none in this regard, Bob may inject something here.> 230 watts of pc lighting, about 10 inches below water line (lights on for 10 hours a day).  I will try and attach a picture. <Ryan, I believe you are borderline on lighting for this coral.  The green brains are usually found in shallower water and therefore require more light than the brown/red varieties.  Another point, they seem to do much better placed on a sandy substrate.  Another point, are you dosing moly, magnesium, strontium, iodine, etc? Occasional feedings of micro-plankton in the evening when the tentacles are out will also benefit the coral.   On the alkalinity issue, I've posted a link for you to read which will give you a better understanding of alkalinity. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alkalinity.htm Thanks, Ryan.

Re: Alkalinity Problems  - 06/07/06 Once again thanks for the response. <You're welcome.> I do not believe that I am over feeding ( 1 pinch of pellets per day) but it is possible that I have a high nutrient concentration, because I have a lot of Aiptasia and bristle worms but my water quality (things I can test) are all 0, so if I was overfeeding shouldn't I at least have a higher nitrate reading (like I said it is 0 ). <Sounds to me like excess CO2 in the make-up water and/or system.> I have ordered the buffer you suggested and will try that.  Oh, yeah by the way I meant to say my water is cycling 9 times per hour via my powerheads not 9 gallons per hour. <Yes, quite obvious.> Thanks for your time I will leave you alone for at least a little while.  Thanks, Ryan Nienhuis. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

Re:  Alkalinity Problems   6/8/06 Ok now I'm really sorry for bugging you again, but you said that it sounds like excess CO2 in my system, how exactly can I fix this problem.  I have plenty of water movement, would lowering the salinity help <Nope.> (mines 1.024) or maybe lowering the temperature a couple of degrees <Nope> (79-80 currently)? <If you are using a sump with a drip plate, that should take care of any excess CO2 in the display tank.  Do aerate your freshwater 24 hours before adding the salt.  Use the aeration feature on your mixing powerhead.  If your using a deep sand bed with little or no critters to stir it up, the hydrogen sulphide emitting from the bed will also cause a drop in dKH.> Thanks, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Ryan.  P.S I will see if I can find anything on your website about this. <More than likely in the FAQ's.>

Raising dKH   6/1/06 Hello WWM Crew, <Hello Colin> This is the first time I contacted you with a question. Your great site has provided me with tons of useful knowledge. My livestock and I wish to say a most sincere thank you. <You're welcome, and thank you for the kind words.> Now then, on to business. My tank is a 125 gal mixed reef, which I consider to be quite healthy. All my parameters are well in the norm, and my bio load is quite low. I'm more into corals than fish. I recently began using Kalkwasser with my top offs. I've followed the instruction, and setup a slow drip system using minimal amounts until I can determine the ideal amount to maintain my calcium levels. My question is basically how Kalkwasser will affect my dKH? My dKH is down to 8 from 9 or 10. I'd like to have it a little higher. Can you please explain in simple terms, a safe way to raise my dKH. I'm concerned a buffer might work against the calcium I'm constantly adding. Am I way off here? <Colin, I use Sea Chem Reef Advantage for doing this.  Have not seen any lowering of CA in doing this.  Levels of 8-12 dKH are quite acceptable.> Thank you much, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Colin Deveau

When adding sodium bicarbonate fails... seesawing alk. and Ca concentrations  - 4/11/2006 Dear Crew   <Mike> Thank you so much for the Knowledge you have given  me.  I have gathered tomes of information in my first year as an  aquarist.  Thank you!  Now for the fun part :)   <My fave> I  have heard that if you use baking soda (cautiously) you can increase  your dKH levels.   <Mmm...> I have tried this method to no avail.  Even  when putting a teaspoon of baking soda (Arm & Hammer brand - 100%  sodium bicarbonate) in a gallon of water (from a water change) and  testing that gallon one hour later, the results show (for both my test  kits) 0 dKH.  How does that work out?   My tank is suffering from 0 dKH. <0?>   Specs are as follows:     55gal   nitrate, nitrite, ammonia, phosphate, all at 0.     calc is 475ppm <... source of precipitation of your alkalinity>   trace silicate (< .1ppm)     My PH varies wildly (as I would expect) but always on the high  side.  night readings in the 8.3 area - day readings nearing 8.8     No corals (yet), livesand 4" deep, 1 maroon clown (in QT now, soon to be added), few crabs and snails, lots of live rock.     I do not use an RO/DI unit as my tap water is near perfect.  It  has no phos, nitrate, nitrite, or ammonia, and has high calcium (in  fact, I don't dose calc and still maintain 475ppm).  Is my lack of  water filtering perhaps the problem after all?   <Mmm, not likely> I have tried  mixing my make-up water (my weekly change - 10%) with two teaspoons of  baking soda (as prescribed by the forum members and LFS) but still  haven't seen an increase in dKH.  I was previously using Kent  Marine Superbuffer-dKH in the same fashion with the same results.   I've Been doing this for about 2 months now.  What else can be  done to increase dKH and stabilize my PH?   <... a bunch> One other thing  that might be worth mention (suspect #1 on my list) is that fact that I  am not sure what material my sand bed is.  I originally bought a  cheap sugar-fine type of white sand (specifically for marine tanks -  not "play sand") though, sadly I do not recall the brand name.   Would slowly adding a few more inches of an aragonite sand help my  issue?     Thank you again for your time, effort, and inspiration.     Sincerely,   Mike Price. <... Mike, please take a read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm and the linked files above. You are "this close" to the momentum/understanding... and Antoine's article ought to bring some light. Bob Fenner> Alkalinity Control    4/4/06 Hi Crew, <Hi Leif> I'm hoping you can help me out. I have been reading through all of your alkalinity FAQs and read Anthony's article several times and have gained what I think is an understanding of my problem, but would like to check if I may? I have been adding calcium to my marine tank for several months (Tropic Marin Bio Calcium) and had been maintaining a calcium level of around 350-400 ppm without problems. Recently I have noticed that the coralline has stopped growing and is receding and bleaching. I tested calcium, which was around 200 ppm and have recently bought an alkalinity test kit (Aquarium Systems) which shows my Alk as 6.5 meq/l (18dKH) which I now realize is drastically high and more than likely the reason that my calcium has dropped. <Yes.> I think, from reading your FAQs, that the best way for me to remedy this is to perform some extra water changes. ( I had been adding sodium bicarbonate to buffer my RO water for water changes but I will now have to monitor this much closer as I had never tested alkalinity until yesterday.) <Not good.> My question, other than asking for confirmation that I understand the above correctly, is, will this high alk affect my other livestock?  <Should not.> I have mushrooms, polyps, snails, shrimps, crabs, some brown, red and green macro algae and a few fish. I have noticed that the polyps haven't been doing too well lately and look a bit shriveled and not opening fully like they used to. Could this be due to the high alk? <Don't think so.> Also I had a few snails die mysteriously last week, could this too be due to high alk?  <Again, don't think so.  May have lived out their lives or other water parameters amiss.> I change out at least 10% of the water weekly and put new PolyFilter and carbon in the canister monthly. There is plenty of water movement and about 30lbs of live rock with about a 1cm covering of crushed coral substrate. My other specs are as follows; 30 Gallon, Ammonia + nitrite 0, Nitrate 10ppm pH 8.4 - stable (never changed and I test regularly) Calcium - 200ppm Phosphate - trace. Lighting is 2 x 30watt - 10,000K Ocean sun (zoo-med) 1 x 30 Watt Phillips Coral Life (purple coloured). <Purple, assuming it is an actinic tube?  You're lighting is border line for keeping soft corals.  Suggest at least 120-150 watts of lighting.> Any help or clarification would be much appreciated. <You can reduce the alkalinity by using SeaChem's pH reducer (freshwater product). Do not follow dosing instructions on bottle.  Use 1/2 recommended dose and only dose once daily till dKH levels drop to 8-12dkH.> Thank you,  <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Leif Re: Alkalinity and Calcium levels    4/4/06 FYI I found out why my Alkalinity was so low. The test kit went bad:-( I bought a new kit and tested the values of my tap, RO and tank water. All are just fine. That is a new lesson learned for me!   <Ah, good to hear. Thank you for the follow up.  James (Salty Dog)> Alkalinity Problem (I'll Say!) - 03/22/06 I have a 20 gallon reef tank with only some yellow polyps and a gorgonian in it.  I also have 7 or 8 small gobies in the tank, which are around an inch each.  I have calcium levels around 420 and my alkalinity is really high 20meq or higher. <<Yikes!!!>> How do I lower this?  Please let me know. <<Mmm...are you adding supplements?  If so...why?...considering your tank inhabitants.  But I think your test kits are suspect...I seriously doubt your calcium and alkalinity are that high and you're not having other issues (rapid and catastrophic precipitation of the earth elements from the water volume).  But to be safe, perform a couple large water changes...then retest with new/different test kits (both calcium and alkalinity). Thanks... Robin <<Regards, EricR>>

Alkalinity Problem (I'll Say!) II - 03/24/06 I have been adding Reef Buffer (Seachem) because every couple of days my pH drops and if I so not add that it will keep on dropping and the fish will be dead.  When I first put the buffer in the pH is 8.3 but in a few days 7.9 to 8.0. <<7.9-8.0 is not as bad as you may think.  Did you validate your test kit readings?  If so, I recommend you stop using the buffer.  It has its uses but in this instance I think it may be being misused/overkill (not necessarily your fault).  On a 20 gallon tank, with the inhabitants you listed in your previous email, I think you will be much better served to do a 20% water change weekly to maintain pH, trace/earth elements, etc..  The water changes also have the added benefit of removing/reducing pollutants and keeping calcium/alkalinity in balance...something the buffer can't do. Regards EricR>>

Re: hi alk and hi calcium  - 03/12/2006 > > Just following up with your recommended changes on the high alk/calcium condition I have from last week. > > I took Bob's suggestion to read and after spending hours scavenging over FAQ's and related articles on your website I still have NOT found any clear answer to my issues, but I followed Bob's recommendations and several website recommendations and so far had little success.  This is what I have done.  1-removal of some or all of substrate as Bob recommended-I removed roughly 60% of my crushed coral substrate over my plenum-about 3". 2-removed some bio stars out of my Rena xp3 filter because > > one FAQ stated once there is an established  plenum or substrate, bio material out of the filter can be slowly eliminated to reduce the nitrates <This is so... in an otherwise stable, established system> > > that the filter naturally produces.  My nitrate is hovering around 40ppm prior to changing out the bio stars and replacing them with more carbon. I  need to wait and see on this one since it was only done two days ago. <Yes> > > 3-increased salinity to 1.025 from 1.021 slowly over one week and so far all corals and starfish are doing fine except for my mushrooms! 4-lowered tank temp from 82-77.  My tank fluctuates approx. 2-3 degrees through the course of an 8 hour 250x2 metal halide lighting cycle and I heard on the FAQ's that this is NOT a big deal but please reconfirm. <Should be fine> Now the tank is at 77 at night > > and 79-80 prior to the lights going out. I performed water changes over a one week period I changed over 50% of the water but maybe I should change more? <I would likely not change more> > > Readings for alk 15 dKH, calcium 500ppm.  I checked my Salifert check kits by checking r/o and top off water and they are o.k. and relatively new plus the alk did come down about 3 points. <Good> > > The only other suggestions Bob suggested or that I read in the FAQ's that I haven't done yet are; > > 1. removal of all substrate/plenum and replace with live sand. > > 2. add a fine sand over top of existing coarse coral/plenum like Carib-sea Special grade. (approx. 2-3")This would obviously be the easiest thing to do and I would hate to remove all corals, live rock etc to take the plenum out. > > 3. change R/o filters which I have on order but I was told I need a TDS test kit > > to properly measure dissolved solids and I should not just refer to nitrate readings of 10ppm that I have now with current aged filters. <Mmm, you could take a sample of water into a business that specializes in water treatment (see your "Yellow Pages") and have them test...> > > 4.  continue with massive water changes. > > 5.  switch from Red Sea to Instant Ocean salt.  It seems like quite a few aquarists have done this. <Yes> > > I am at a loss now and would like any further suggestions. > > regards, > > Al Standaert <Really just what you've done and listed... and time going by. Bob Fenner> Alkalinity question   2/9/06 Hi Guys!!! <And gals!> Greetings from Canada! <And from Michigan.> I was wandering whether you have a spot in your busy schedule for few questions.<Just found one.> So, here is what I worry about. I have quite a new tank, about 3 months old. Only at the beginning of January I start adding live stock to it ( http://www.math.ubc.ca/~barannyk/Aquarium/FishTank.html). Last weekend I did routine tests and decided to check Ca+ level. It used to be ~400 ppm (Aquarium Farm.) but now it is 370 ppm. Still in the appropriate range according to the article on your site. <It's fine.> So I decided to check Alkalinity as well, just in case. Though I never perform that test. So I bought a Salifert kit and did a test yesterday, it showed 4.23 meq/L It's higher then 3, the number indicated in the article by Anthony Calfo). But I am not sure that it is high enough. Would you suggest to perform any steps at this point or should it stay as it is? <Your meq/L reading converts to 11.8 dKH which is fine.  I like to keep dKH in the 8-12 dKH range.> The another question is actually about my anemone, it seems like it does not feel good and honestly I don't have any idea what is wrong with it. <Anemones are difficult to keep long term to begin with.  Do you do 10% weekly/20% bi-weekly water changes?  Are you dosing strontium, iodine, etc?  You don't mention what kind of anemone it is or type/wattage of lighting you are using.  Most require intense lighting to survive.> I feed it once every three days. <Do read here.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/cnidaria/anthozoa/anemones.htm> And the last one is connected with the first question. I observed strange white spots on the shell of my red shrimp and emerald crab. Could this be connected with the lack of calcium in the system? <No on the calcium issue. I'm thinking there is a lack of iodine in the system and these animals are trying to molt and require iodine supplements to help this process along.> That is probably it. Thanks in advance  <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Alex

dKH problem  - 01/12/2006 I currently have a 65 gal tank  ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 10 sal 1.024 temp 76.4 phos 0, but currently my dKH is up to 14 and the calcium is at 480 I'm not really sure what happened but what can I do to fix this or   will it subside safely back to  normal level. FOWLR tank <Don't do anything, it certainly won't increase any and will lower with time.  James (Salty Dog)> <<Mmm, how did these values get to be so high? RMF>>

Lowering my Alk  1/1/06 Greetings..<Hello Bruce> Have learned a lot from your site. a lot of good information posted.  So much so that I'm getting a little confused. I have a 55 gallon tank that has been up and running for about a year. For the longest time I used the Kent Calcium Supplements (1 cap full a day). Tank was doing well I was happy. Then I changed to the Tropic Marine Bio-Calcium about a month ago. After a week of using this new product I noticed a white substance on the water heater and was told by my local fish guy that I had a Calcium/Alkalinity problem. I did a Calcium Test and got a number of 120.  Didn't have a dKH tester at the time. For the last two weeks I have done about 3 water changes (approx 25%) Tonight did a water test:  Calcium 225, Alkalinity dKH 18+ Ph is 8.4. water source is RO.  Also, there still is a little bit of white stuff on the heater (Calcium build up?) After reading all of the articles, I understand that I need to do a water change in order to lower (dilute) my dKH # But how much of a water change should I do? (25%, 30% or 50%) and if your recommending a 50% change is that over the course of a week or same day? Also. a water change should also mean less Calcium in the water too right?   . I'm just unsure what to do next after I've done the water change.   Add more Bio-Calcium or go back to the Kent products? Ugh. I'm so confused. as I can tell my tank is stressed. I liked the article about the marbles that helped  me understand the relationship between Calcium and Alkalinity. <Bruce, don't add anymore calcium until you get your dKH down.  The high dKH is just depleting the calcium.  It isn't totally necessary to change water to resolve this.  What you want to do is buy some SeaChem Acid Buffer (freshwater). DO NOT follow the dosing directions on the bottle, divide that by half, we don't want sudden ph drops.  Use daily and this should lower your dKH by 0.3 per day. The idea here is to start taking some of that buffer out of the bank by means of introducing acid into the system.  James (Salty Dog)> Water so hard you can chew it - 4/12/05 Hi Crew, I hope someone responds quickly in case I need immediate action.  <How's this?> I prepared two five gallon containers of salt water a week ago for a small water change. I checked the pH of the mixed salt water and it was slightly low as was the Alkalinity in my tank, so I added buffer to the two containers of pre-mixed salt water. <Good to use the buffer to address low alkalinity... but not pH alone.> I mixed well and aerated with a small power head and added to the tank. The buffer evidently was not dissolved and the entire tank clouded up. <As in "went milky" with cloudiness? It sounds like you had an imbalance in calcium/alkalinity -- calcium too high for the water to be able to support this additional input of carbonates. The result? The whole darn lot falls out of solution in a self-perpetuating reaction.> I mixed 3 teaspoons in each five gallon container (instructions were 1 teaspoon per 80 liters of water). <This is a lot of buffer to add to five gallons of water.... too much.> I have added before to make up water without any problems, but this time it did not dissolve. I know the salt water was well mixed as it was aerated for a whole entire week. My tank is 250 gallons in total capacity. I have added carbon to try to clean, but do you think I have a big problem? It seems to me I heard somewhere that if buffer does not become soluble, it can precipitate something and cause a big problem. I used Kent super dKH buffer. Please let me know if I really messed up. <Do you add calcium supplements? If so, you do need to be testing for calcium in addition to alkalinity. In addition, you should only add an amount of buffer that the water can support -- whether this be your change water or the tank water.> Thanks for your quick response. <I would let the reaction run its course. Once the "cloudiness" has disappeared altogether, you will likely find you have very low calcium and alkalinity. A series of water changes will help to bring them back up. Steven <Best regards, John>

Water so hard you can chew it - II  12/5/05 John, Thanks for your quick reply. <Welcome!> Update: water cleared completely and I checked the Alkalinity and ph. The alkalinity is a color chart (no numbers) and it read almost exactly the color that is the highest alkalinity. Ph is right about 8.3, this is also with a color chart. I have a reagent style Red Sea test kit which is relatively new. <Sounds good. You need to get some decent (reagent or electronic) test kits> I added a calcium, iodine and strontium supplement as you indicated my calcium may be low. I don't have a test kit for calcium; however I will try to get one tomorrow.  <I think you misunderstood my previous response... an imbalance of alkalinity or calcium is what is causing you these problems. You need to be testing for both calcium and alkalinity.>  Any chance this event was toxic to the fish, snails, or crabs? They seem to be acting "normal" grazing off of the live rock and ate some sea veggie sheets I fed after the water cleared. <Unlikely> I had thought it was normal to buffer pre-mixed salt water, but I guess not the case here. I am assuming there was too high of a calcium level in the salt water I mixed to sustain the buffer as you indicated. I will buffer in the future if needed using the top off water, as I have never had any problem doing so. The water is double carbon pass, double RO pass, double UV pass, and then deionized so it is doubtful there was an issue with the water. <Yes, it is normal to buffer it slightly.... but three teaspoons per five gallons is an insane amount of buffer to add to pre-mixed saltwater.> In any case I hope all is well here and with you.  <Very well. Thanks for writing... John> Thanks, Steven 

Saltwater Chemistry 10/31/05 I've had fish in my 40 gallon tank for a month now (after a month of 30 lb of live rock cycling). Future plans call for soft corals. <Okay> For the past month, pH has been 8.2 -8.3, temp 75, nitrite 0, nitrate 0, specific gravity 1.023 - 1.024. Calcium started at 330 and I've slowly increased it to 450 with Kent liquid calcium. My Mardel test kit lists alkalinity at 240 (which is the middle of their buffer zone). How does this alkalinity scale relate to dKH? <Is one measure... carbonate hardness... generally principal component of total or general hardness... often described as alkalinity: http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?cls=0&cat=1968&articleid=2765 > Before finding your web site, I chose 1 1/2 inches of dolomite as a substrate. It is about 3mm diameter. I'm considering replacing it with 1 inch deep of aragonite. <Dolomites are compounds of calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate... Aragonitic material is principally calcium carbonate... more soluble...> I thought I would leave a couple inches of the dolomite around the live rock (whose foot print is about 40% of the tank floor) to avoid major stirrings of the tank. Is this a practical move with fish already in the tank? <Mmm, yes> Does algae grow on aragonite more or less than dolomite? <Less in most circumstances> I've read "Conscientious" a few times and have "Reef Invertebrates" (Calfo & Fenner) and "Aquarium Corals" (Borneman) on my Christmas list. <Good books. Bob Fenner> 

Alkaline test kits  9/21/05 Bob, <James today> Great website and you guys do a great job.  I have a question regarding Alkalinity Tests.  I'm using a Nutrafin KH test (titration).  I dropped 40 drops and multiplied this number x10 (as per test instructions). Why do I see a reading of 400mg/L and a lot of your website's conversations refer to numbers in the low double digit range?  Should I be converting my results by some formula? <Allan, if my memory serves me right, I'm thinking you have to divide this number by 50 for a dKH reading.  If I'm incorrect, Bob may insert something here.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks, Allan Re: alkaline test kits  9/22/05 Thanks.  That dKH reading would still  be around 200. <Allan, 400mg divided by 50 = 8>  Does that make any sense?  Also, I recently switched a 125 gallon over to marine.  I've been "trying" to cycle the tank with 80 lbs. live sand and 100 lbs. cured live rock for exactly two weeks.  I have off-chart ammonia reading since this past week with 0 nitrites. <You will have.  There is a tremendous amount of die off in live rock.  A recent tank I did took three weeks for the ammonia levels to start dropping.> I added 6 ounces bio-Spira because I believe in fantasies.  All visible live forms on the rocks have died (contributing to the ammonia, I believe).<They (most of) will come back>  Is the ammonia level so high that it will kill nitrifying bacteria and no start cycling?  I've been referring to my non cycling tank as DEATH VALLEY! <If there was a good colony of bacteria present the ammonia level would have dropped.  You have to remember that ammonia levels in a established tank doesn't require a huge bacterial colony to denitrify.  I a new live rock situation, as you've experienced, the ammonia levels are off the scales.  It will take longer for a large enough bacteria colony to develop to handle the large load.  Have patience my friend.  Patience will be the #1 thing going for you in this hobby.  If you are low on patience, this hobby is not going to be rewarding for you. And, read, read, read.  James (Salty Dog)> HELP! Thanks, Allan Alkalinity additives part 2 8/12/05 Thanks Adam, I like your method. Would it be ok to add the part B-Ionic while the lights are off? I leave my house at 4:30 AM so it would be difficult to try and space them out in the same day when I returned home from work. Or do you think it would be a better idea to dose the tank using alternating days. Part A one day and part B the next? Thanks again for your help! <Adding the alkalinity component before you leave for work would be ideal since this is when the tank pH is the lowest.  It is OK that the lights are off.  You could then add the Ca component in the evening.  Alternate days are OK too, but easier to lose track of.  Best Regards.  AdamC.> Alkalinity too high? Hey boys, < And girls... but boy tonight. > I have a bit of a dilemma and I'm hoping any of you could help me out.  Here it is, my 155 gal has been running for about five months.  During the first few months I was listening to my LFS and dosing baking soda in my water change.  < Not a bad idea, but usually new tanks are not in need of such additives. > As a beginner, I thought that my LFS knew what he was doing. Fortunately, I didn't loose any stock and the last four months I'm trying to correct the alkalinity problem with regular weekly water changes.  Here's the thing, I'm not able to bring the alkalinity down from 5.5 Meq.  < Don't worry, that level is perfectly fine. > I've tested the kit ( which is accurate), the tank water with a test kit at my LFS. My tap water reads 0 alkalinity but my new salt water is 5.5 Meq.  So, I've found the source which is my water changes.   I use Instant Ocean salt mix and I use RO/DI water with an air pump and a heater and let it sit in a garbage can for two days. < wow you do all the stuff you should. > Right now, I think that there maybe remnants of baking soda in the garbage can.  So I rinsed and scrubbed out everything I can.  Do you think it's the salt mix?  < Instant ocean is a little high in alkalinity, which is why I use it. > This is my second tub of Instant Ocean and both waters have the same reading.  As of now, my calcium is 300 and my alkalinity is 5.5Meq (=15.4kH).  As of now I would really like to get my calcium levels higher so I can add some hard corals and stimulate coralline algae. < I really don't think you have a problem.  In fact I would love to be in your situation. > I still have a fair amount of algae.  Any thoughts would be appreciated. < Okay ready?  Here is what you do.  You need to start adding a small amount of a Calcium only additive.  Something like turbo calcium.  But do not add a two part solution like B-ionic.  Just slowly bring your calcium up to 400 and keep it there.  Your alkalinity will slowly come back down over the next few months (as things in your tank use it up).  Just try to hold your calcium where you want it.  And trust me, high alkalinity is far better than low alkalinity. > Nilesh <  Blundell  >

Alkalinity I have just purchased a Hagen KH test kit. The instructions are to multiply each drop by 10 to obtain reading in mg/l or ppm.  They state a final reading of 125 mg/l or ppm is unusually high.  I have a reference book I use written by John H Tullock and it quotes the readings to be between 9-12 dKH or 160 to 220 ppm. I am now confused why there is a big difference regarding this statements. Most likely I have gone wrong with some conversion. Just want to double check before i continue. At present I have stopped at 9 drops Regards Alan <<Mmm, perhaps a difference of opinion... maybe a statement re freshwater versus marine... RMF>>

Alkalinity Hey Bob, <James, today> Jason here.  I have been reading various articles on your website regarding pH, KH in dKH & CA.  I have reefkeeping for almost 10 years now and I rarely have issues with my  test readings.  During the past week or so my KH reading is 4.8 and it normally averages around 11-12.  Ph is 8.2, Ca is 350 and KH in dKH is 4.8.  If everything else is testing ok, what would make the KH go down if Ca & ph are fine?  Also, what can I do to lift it?  All inhabitants are looking fine.  0 nitrate, 0 nitrite & 0 ammonia.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  I am presently using a Salifert KH/alk test kit.  Thanks!!! <Jason, one thing that will lower dKH is CO2.  My preferred method of making up new water is to aerate the freshwater with a powerhead with an  aerating feature such as the Hagen's.  This will rid any CO2 from the makeup water.  You don't mention what kind of alkalinity booster you are using.  I find Sea Chem's Reef Builder to work very well.  Excess nutrients in the system will also cause this along with an overstocked system.  James (Salty Dog)> Confusion On Alkalinity - 06/09/05 Hello, <<Howdy> I've been reading your FAQs for months now and couldn't do without it! <<Lots of good info there, yes.>> I have a couple of questions.  First I have a 55 gallon tank that has been cycling with LR for about 4 weeks. Ammonia .25 Nitrites 0 Nitrates 0 pH 8.4 Salinity 1.023 Temp 80 I've notice my LR is starting to turn white in several places. <<A common occurrence...bleaching of the calcareous algae that was on the rock when shipped/received.  It will recover/be replaced with new in time.>> I did the following tests:  General hardness and got 16 dKH  and Carbonate hardness and got 1dkh. <<Mmm...I would use carbonate hardness to test/measure your alkalinity...and get a new/different test kit, I don't think that reading is correct.>> I'm wondering if I should try and take care of this hi/low problem now or wait until the cycling of the tank is finished. <<Not a high/low issue here...don't make this harder than it needs to be by trying to measure GH/KH against each other; use carbonate hardness as your measurement for alkalinity and retest with a new kit.  And yes, I would wait till the tank finishes cycling before trying to supplement/make corrections with additives.>> I used tap water that has been dechlorinated and that has sat for at least a week.  Could this be part of my problem as well? <<Not sure you have a problem here, but I would recommend looking in to some type of water filter (R/O, Kold-Steril, etc.), and buffer all water used for evaporation replenishment and saltwater prep.>> Oh, I have no substrate in the tank yet.  Planning on sand and crushed coral, will that help too? <<Yes>> Thanks in advance!!!!!!!!!!! <<You'll find some useful info here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alkalinity.htm and at the related links in blue.>> Anne <<Regards, Eric R.>>

High Alkalinity - 06/04/05 Greetings WW Crew I hugely appreciate WWM and all the effort you put in to sustaining a well informed , thoughtful, AQ community. Your work is important and should accompany every tank sold as required reading. <<Wow, high praise indeed...the Crew thanks you.>> I have recently ( 3 mo.s) taken over husbandry of a 100 gal reef tank with the following population: Live rock, 3" aragonite bed, two open brains ( 3" dia) , one hammer coral , 10 or so small Caulastrea polyps , two small mushrooms , one large mushroom (3"), some zoo's, two clowns in a green carpet anemone , 1 blue damsel , 1 watchman goby, 1 Pseudochromis and assorted cleanup critters. It has a Turboflotor 1000 skimmer and about 10x/hour cycling through the system with an additional 10x flow from a second current pump. For the past 2 months I've been wrestling with getting my Alk / Ca balanced , well , a little more balanced. <<Should not have to "wrestle" with this.  Let's see what we can do...>> Ca hovers around 300 ( never lower , sometimes a little higher, Seachem test) and my Alk is consistently in the 14.5 - 15.5 range (Salifert test) , varying up and down over the course of 10 days. <<Have you tried a different test kit for both?  Either a new kit or even  a different brand, just to validate your readings.>> I use Instant Ocean salt and commercial R/O water for 20 gal water changes every 2 weeks. <<Very good.>> R/O water tests as almost zero alk. I haven't added Kalk for a while (once in last month) as I assume it'll push the alk even higher. <<Maybe...but should be of little concern if monitored and applied correctly.>> I've trawled through the FAQ's and while there's a wealth of info on raising ALK there seems to be a dearth on how to lower it. <<"Raising " does seem to be the more common problem.>> Everything in there seems to be doing fine and seems stable. <<Yes...your readings (if accurate) are not as bad as you may think...stability here is the key.>> However I'd like to be able to raise the Ca and slowly steer the tank over the next year toward SPS rather than the mixed population it has currently but am not sure how to proceed safely. Any advice or a redirect to a good source of info would be very welcome. Let me know if you need to know more about my setup. <<I'd start with a large (70%) water change.  Be sure to aerate and BUFFER your R/O water before adding your salt mix.  You might want to test this before adding it to the tank to see what is going on here.  Test your calcium and alkalinity after the water change and see if things are more "balanced."  Considering your current stock list, once balanced, you should be able to maintain your calcium and alkalinity with the water change schedule you mention.  As odd as it may seem, not buffering your R/O water may be what's throwing things askew.  You can use simple baking soda for this, though I like to mix mine 3 to 1 with Seachem's Reef Buffer for the added boron.  I'd also having a peek at the Reef Chemistry Forum (http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?s=&forumid=112) on Reef Central...lots of good info to be found.>> Thanks, Dan <<Regards, Eric R.>>

High Alkalinity...Thanks - 06/06/05 Thanks for your reply - I've got more water coming tomorrow so I'll try the adjustments you suggested over the next few days and let you know. Interesting about the buffer... Thanks again, Dan <<Much welcome.  Do write back to let us know how things progress.  Eric R.>>

- Buffering and Kole Tang Feeding - Greetings to all, 1.  I have been adding RO water to my tank on a regular basis, about a gallon every two days to replenish evaporation.  I have  looked at the pH of this top off water and noticed that it is typically below 7.0, usually between 6 and 7.  To adjust the pH I have been adding baking soda to bring the pH to about 8.2 (per red sea kit).  I was wondering if this is appropriate or does the baking soda stay behind when the water evaporates like the other salts in the synthetic sea water. <No... buffers in your water are used up over time. Buffering your top-off water with baking soda is the best approach.> If  it does would the pH continue to rise or does the pH get "used up". <The latter.> I do weekly 10 gal water changes and the tank is an 80 gallon tank.  Have not had any water quality problem to speak of but have noticed a tendency of the pH to drop over time but I was not adjusting top off water back then. <Is typical.> 2.  Recently purchased a yellow eyed tang (Kole tang).  Fish is healthy and all but so far has not been feeding.  He/she has found a spot in the rockwork that faces the rear of the tank so it is difficult to observe. The fish has been in the tank about 3 and 1/2 days. <Give it some time, with some luck it will feel more at home in the tank and decide to come out more.> I do have a  fair amount of micro algae on the back glass. <Is this truly micro algae or Cyanobacteria - the tang won't eat Cyanobacteria.> Other residents are a fox face, ocellaris clown, skunk cleaner shrimp and a pair of emerald crabs along with some snails.  Feeding a sheet algae product to the fox face and pelletized food to the clown which the fox face also eats.  Looking for suggestions for the tang and for an idea as to how long this guy can go without eating. <Not more than a week or two... would try and get some algae down to where it lives as it might fear competition with the Foxface. Cheers, J -- >

High alk? Hi crew, Just wanted to start by saying thanks for all the help. It's nice to have somewhere to ask questions without someone trying to sell you something. I notice that just after I do a water change, my alk goes really high. I did a water change Sunday night and today my alk is reading 16dKH(5.71 meg/L). It usually settles down to around 14dKH after a week. My calcium is also about 380ppm. Is this too high? <Mmm, not too high, but the alkalinity is on the high side> If so, what can I do to correct it. <I would not "do" anything...> The only thing I add is I drip Kalk at night. If it matters, I use Red Sea salt in my tank. I keep hearing of people having trouble getting alk up but never trying to lower it. Any advice would be great. Keep up the good work. Thanks Larry <Thank you Larry. Try cutting back on the Kalk habit and see if this has any discernible effect in a week or two. Bob Fenner>

Questions Regarding Alkalinity Hi there, I've searched the FAQs and the net for some quick answers to my questions, but haven't found what I was looking for. It seems that the responses only complicate the answer and confuse me more... So here are the questions Thanks in advance! 1. If my alkalinity is low can I use Kalkwasser to increase it? <Mmm, no... calcium hydroxide has no carbonate, bicarbonate content...> 2. Will Kalkwasser impact my pH? <Yes... hydroxides are strong bases...> 3. Is Kalkwasser's main purpose to 'maintain' KH and Ca at the current levels (not used to increase them)? <... please see WWM re...> 4. Assume that Alk is low and CA is low... should I use separate additives to reach desired levels... and then begin dripping Kalk? <You can...> 5. Dripping Kalk won't actually increase levels unless it drips faster than the evaporation rate correct? <What? No... almost all that evaporates is simply water... Please take your time here, learn what these concepts are, their interrelationships... not difficult with some application of your time, focus. See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm and follow where the linked files at top lead you. Do you have a marine aquarium book? I'd look into Baensch Marine Atlas V.1... for simple, complete explanations of the basics of aquarium chemistry and physics... Bob Fenner>

High Alkalinity in Newly Mixed Water Dear crew, <Christopher> Thanks for the great site. I have been reading on WWM along with other resources for several months, and have recently started my first saltwater tank, which I intend to be a FOWLR tank initially. I'll probably bore you with all of the details of my set-up someday, but for now I have specific issue that's really bugging me. My question involves calcium/alkalinity. After preparing my first batch of water starting with an RO/DI unit, then aerating/heating x 24 hours, and then adding Instant Ocean, the readings were as follows: alkalinity dKH 16 (Salifert), calcium 520 (also Salifert) with pH 8.3, SG 1.023 and temp 80. Is this even possible? <Mmm, yes> I tested the RO/DI water prior to adding salt just to check, which had very low calcium and Alk (as expected I guess). <Yes, should be> This evening I prepared another garbage can full (clean Rubbermaid used just for this purpose), using the same protocol and same Instant Ocean batch, and ended up with these numbers: Alk 15, similar pH and salinity at same temp. Now I can't even get a calcium reading. The Salifert kit requires adding "Reagent #3" until the initial pink color turns blue. The problem is it turns blue prior to adding any "Reagent #3", making me think the calcium is very low (?).  <Shouldn't be> My 'pre-cured', but overnight-mailed live rock has been in the tank for 5 days and the tank is in need of a water change. For this reason I used 6 gallons (conservative) of this second batch to do so (matched salinity and temperature, but ? calcium concentration). The calcium in the tank (65 gallon with 10 gallons in sump) dropped from around 450 to about 250, checked 1 hour after this water change.  <Not surprising... this happens... part of my years back pitch to Walt Smith to make "Fiji Gold" products...> I observed no obvious precipitation. The alkalinity in the tank at this time was 14.7, with pH 8.3. I fear this was a bad move. <No... no problem> Do the kits sound obviously messed-up, or is it the owner of the kits? <Neither> My plan for tomorrow (Oh, look at the time, I mean later today), is to buy new synthetic seawater mix, take a sample of my tank's water and new mixed water to my LFS for analysis, and consider new test kits if there are discrepancies. I understand Salifert is a good brand, but I can't find an expiration date on the kits. Sorry for the circuitous explanation, but any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Chris <Instant Ocean of late has become something of an anomalous inconsistency... your readings for new water, use with/for live rock curing are fine. Bob Fenner> 

Beginner w/Soft Corals, actually marine alkalinity, biominerals Hello Crew, I hope that you are able to respond to this email as none I have sent previous to this one have been answered. I have been reading your website extensively but the more I read the more confused I get. I am a beginner trying soft corals and need your advice. Tank Facts 55 gallon w/2 clownfish only and 50 lbs live rock EV 120 Protein Skimmer and no mechanical filtration Tank and top off water from SpectraPure 5 stage w/new cartridges Tank is 1.5 years old Water changes 10 percent weekly Ammonia 0 Phosphates 0 Nitrates 0.05 Temp 76-78 Lights VHO 95 watts each bulb. One white actinic and one super actinic PH 8.2 dKH 8 Calcium 310 (LaMotte test kit) <Too low> Additives: Dose according to package. 2 capfuls of Kent Liquid Reactor Daily 1 capful of Kent Liquid Calcium <I'd switch brands... to SeaChem... Bob Stark's ESV...> Soft Corals: One pulsing Xenia, mushroom and yellow polyps, green star polyps My problem is that I can't seem to raise my pH and Calcium to the desired range for corals which is supposedly 8.4 - 8.5 for PH and 350 to 450 calcium. My xenia is pulsing and my other corals seem to be open and doing well. <... read on WWM re this issue... only a few possibilities> I have read a lot about the dangers of long term use of Liquid Calcium but I am confused as to how to safely get my calcium and ph factors up. I am a bit afraid of additives and get so much conflicting advice ! <Dedicate yourself to study... thinking about this situation... go with other brands. Bob Fenner> Baffled by Buffering...Or Lack Thereof! Scott, <Hello again!> Thanks for your quick informative response. <My pleasure!> I will wait for the ammonia to go down. One more set of questions if I may.......... <Ask away!> I have a KH of 5 as discussed and I have been adding buffer in the prescribed dosages for 2 days with no rise in KH at all. This is puzzling. It's been a while since my last water change. I know this is a very dynamic hobby and one thing affects another,  but is there any insight you can give/offer. <Hard to be certain, but it may simply be because your system's buffering demands are high. The cause could be anything from a high bioload to limited amounts of buffering materials (i.e.; rock and/or sand) available to the system.> I now  know I should have used fine sand for the substrate , but I do not want to disturb the rock again. You said good husbandry will prevent any bad implications from the substrate I have. Do you mean by good husbandry-frequent water changes, or other maintenance items, please elaborate. <By "good husbandry", I am referring to regular small water changes, careful attention to feeding, stocking levels, and monitoring of water chemistry, just to name a few. It's so important to create a stable environment; even more important than trying to hit some targeted numbers for environmental parameters. Steady as she goes, as they say!> Again thanks for the input. I cloud not have gone this far w/o your help. Guy <Thanks for the kind words, Guy. Really, you're doing all the work-we're just throwing out a few tips for you to think about. Keep up the good work! Regards, Scott F.>

Alkalinity help Hello crew, <Mark> Thanks for the wonderful site you have and great job you do. <Welcome> Anyway, my question is about alkalinity. I have a 30 gal tank with a 20 gal sump and 10 gal refugium. Specs are, amino 0, nitrites 0, nitrates 0, pH 8.2-8.3, dKH 8-10, phosphates .2, ro/di water only and Oceanic sea salt with an occasional dose of SeaChem reef complete to maintain calcium between 400-450. The tank is about 18 months old and the refugium is about 6 months old. For the last 15 months I've only had to add about ½ tsp of buffer weekly to my 5 gal top off water bucket and an occasional additional amount (about 1/8 tsp) mixed directly to the tank to maintain my alk at about 12 dKH.  I added some razor Caulerpa to my refugium a few months ago and saw a slight increase in the amount of buffer I had to use.  <Yes, good observation> After doing to much reading about Caulerpas I pulled it from my tank. After watching my nitrates rise after removing the Caulerpa I decided it was better to use it so I now have it back in my refugium. Now for the main problem. I cannot keep my alk above 10 dKH. I am now using 3 tsp of buffer a week. This seems a little drastic to me. I have mushrooms, xenia, green and yellow star polyps, flower leather, feather duster, and the only new addition to the tank is a maxima clam. Is my clam using up all this extra buffer or am I doing something wrong? <Mmm, nothing really "wrong", but you might try changing two things... One, the salt mix... I would move to Tropic Marin or Aquarium System's products... far more consistent... Secondly, at the age of this system, I would move out some of the live rock and/or calcareous substrate or add more... as the more soluble components (among other advantages) are becoming exhausted... a good practice to continue doing this augmentation, switch out every half year or so.> Your help is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance Mark <Bob Fenner>

Alkalinity additives 8/9/05 Dear Bob and Staff, I was having a problem raising my alkalinity. I am using a two part alkalinity & calcium A & B product by ESV. So I tried Seachem Reef Builder to try to bring my number up (calcium 400 alkalinity 2.5). I started adding the Seachem very conservatively but my alkalinity was not really going up? <It can take quite a large amount of buffer to raise the alkalinity.  I am pretty sure that both the ESV and SeaChem products tell you how much of the product is required to raise x of gallons of water by y mEq/l of alkalinity (or perhaps that each ml of product contains z mEq/l of alkalinity.  From that information, you can calculate how much will be required to raise the alkalinity in your tank to the target value.  You can always use more of the alkalinity component of B-Ionic to raise the alkalinity.> I called the tech support over at Seachem and the gentleman told me that when you add an A & B product you have to wait 24 hours between adding the two parts or they will cancel each other out. I was curious to get your take on this? Thanks again! <This is possible, but unlikely.  In my experience and opinion, it is better NOT to add both parts at the same time.  For example, the alkalinity component will significantly raise pH, so I always added that part in the morning when the pH was low and added the calcium component in the evening when I fed the fish.  However, as long as they aren't added within minutes, the risk is probably small.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>

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