Please visit our Sponsors
FAQs on Marine pH, Alkalinity 7

Related Articles: pH, Alkalinity, Marine Alkalinity, Synthetic or Natural Seawater, Water Changes/Changing, Understanding Calcium & Alkalinity, The Use of Kalkwasser by Russell Schultz,

Related FAQs: Marine pH/ Alkalinity 1, Marine pH/ Alkalinity 2Marine pH/Alkalinity 3, Marine pH 4Marine pH 5 Marine pH 6, Marine pH 8, & 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, & FAQs on: The Science of Calcium & Alkalinity, Importance, Measure, Sources, Use of AdditivesTroubleshooting/Fixing, Products,

Some marine life is much more sensitive to changes in pH.

pH Controller Probe Placement - 10/04/05 Heya guys.. first and foremost.. what a great site.. I owe a great deal of thanks to you guys and gals, info from aquarium shops in Australia is some what to be desired.. and very much 'made up' in most cases. <<Unfortunate>> Your info and advise is worth its weight in gold! <<Thanks, we're happy to help.>> Now on to the serious stuff...  I have recently purchased an Aquamedic calcium reactor (the price was way to good to go past, even if it is not 'the best'), Aquamedic regulator, and today I have ordered a Sera pH controller (price.. it was half the price of all the other brands + the unit incorporates a solenoid valve within the controller).. <<interesting>> Now my question.. where should I place the pH probe itself? <<Do you have a sump?>> Should I make a small container and have the water out fill this up and then have it spill into the sump and have it testing the water in the small container (and obviously have it set to 6.5 or similar), or should I just plunk it in the sump and set it to 8.2 or similar.. <<The latter...>> Also have you had any experience with these products mentioned.. reactor, reg.s, controller? <<I use a Precision Marine reactor and a regulator, but I don't bother with a controller... I merely monitor the pH of my system.>> Thanks very much for your quick replies as always.. Garth <<Always welcome, EricR>>

pH controller placement  10/5/05 Hello again, thank you for the link, please see below regarding placement of ph probe, I have asked AquaMedic about setting up, but they will not comment on probe placement due to it not being their brand (sera).. any suggestions would be greatly appreciated as to have it measuring the effluent PH or reading the tank PH.. pros and cons, cause this has me stumped. <Garth, its actually a no brainer.  You would want to measure actual tank ph and control the reactor to give you the ph selected, so therefore, place it in the sump to constantly monitor tank ph. In future queries please do a spelling/grammar check before sending as it takes more of our time to correct these before being placed in the FAQ's. James (Salty Dog)> thanks in advance, Garth

Puzzling pH problem 9/13/05 Dear WWM masters, I have been deeply puzzled by the low PH problem of my salt water mix.  This is what I normally do: 1. Fill a bucket with RO water, the PH at this point is 7.9. <OK> 2. Aerate the water using a powerhead attached to an air tube extends to outside of the house (to eliminate high CO2 inside the house) for 24 hours.  The pH at the end of the 24 hours is 8.5 (temp 80 F) <OK> 3. Add PH buffer and let it mix (powerhead still running) for another 24 hours.  The PH remains 8.5. <Why are you adding buffer if the ph is already at 8.5?> 4. Add salt mix to SG 1.024.  Let it mix for 8 hours.  At this point, the PH drops to 7.8 and stay there no matter how long I aerate it.  I can add Kalk water and move the PH to above 8, but it drops back to 7.8 after just a few hours. I use a freshly calibrated Hanna PH meter. Is this normal?  I thought the problem was caused by the Coralife salt I was using, but got the same result after switching to Instant Ocean.  Somehow I got the impression that the salt should buffer pH to about 8.3, but my experiment shows the buffer point is around 7.8.  Am I missing something here? <Bernard, what is the dKH before and after you add the buffer?  James (Salty Dog)> Best Regards, Bernard Chang Puzzling pH problem  09/13/2005 Thanks for the quick reply, James.  I really appreciate it. I decided to add buffer because I would like to keep pH above 8.3 after adding the water to the tank, and I have not much faith in the buffering capability of the salt mix I use.  Was I totally off in assuming that? The dKH readings (measured by Salifert) are: 1. Aerated RO water (PH 8.5) - 3.8 2. After buffering #1 (PH 8.5)- 12.9 3. After adding salt #2 (SG 1.024, PH 7.8) - 11.8 As a controlled group, I add salt to unbuffered water from #1 to SG 1.024, the PH becomes 7.8 and dKH is 9.2. Hope the data can help you make some sense out of this. <Bernard, I never buffer fresh water.  As you, I aerate the fresh water 24 hours, add salt, then make my water change.  After the new water has been in the tank 48 hours, then I check dKH.  Rarely to I have to add buffer.  High calcium levels can also play a role in the dKH also. I keep my calcium no higher than 400ppm. Try my way and see how it goes.  James (Salty Dog) Bernard Puzzling pH problem  9/16/05 Thanks James, I will do it your way. I still can't understand why the PH of my salt mix is so low.  Is it because of my source water?  Or could it be something else.  Any recommendations of raising the PH (I use Kalk water, but it does not address the source of the problem) would be greatly appreciated. <Bernard, the only things I know that can affect ph levels is low dKH, nitrates, ammonia, excess CO2 and low calcium levels.   Let me know what happens on your next water change using my method.  James (Salty Dog)> Bernard Stabilizing pH  9/11/05 Hello, After reading your website about starfish and their inability to handle pH fluctuations, I'm really worried about my inability to keep the pH in my tank high enough. I have had a 29 gal saltwater tank for 1 year, with 2 seahorses, Astrea and Nass snails, a small starfish, and some miniature serpent stars. I have live rock, live sand, a protein skimmer (CPR Bak pak) and 3 Fluval filters for mechanical filtration and circulation.  I also use a poly-filter in the outflow chamber of my CPR Bak pak-it turns dark in about 1 month, so it too is removing something from the water.   I am meticulous about not having leftover food hang about in the tank-my seahorses have an acrylic feeding station which attaches to the side of the tank for each feeding (Mysis) and is then removed.  I remove leftover food when the starfish is finished eating.   I typically do 5 gallon water changes every 1 or 2 weeks.  I use aerated RO/DI water for water changes, because my local tap water has nitrates.  My ammonia, nitrite, nitrate levels always measure at 0.  I use Oceanic salt mix at the recommended 1/2 cup per gallon.  I add 1 tsp of Kent marine powder mix as a buffering agent.  But still, the pH drops during the week! When we went on vacation for 2 weeks, and our pet sitter was topping off with RO/DI water without adding the Kent Marine mix (I forgot to tell her to do that),  the pH had dropped to probably a bit less than 8 by the time we got home.  The seahorses had live red volcanic shrimp (20 per day) while we were gone to avoid a problem with dead Mysis degrading the water quality, so ammonia, nitrites and nitrates were still at zero when we got home from vacation. I did a 5 gallon water change this past Wed., since then, the starfish won't eat and has been fairly immobile.  I'm afraid that I raised the pH (back to 8.3) with the water change, and now my little starfish is in trouble.  Meanwhile, the seahorses are very happy in my tank and mating.  I conclude that the little starfish is more sensitive to water quality variations than the seahorses are. <Yes, correct> After reading about ways to stabilize pH on wet web media, I'm thinking of adding coral sand to my live sand bed to help as a buffering agent.  What do you think?   <A worthwhile change> How much coral sand or gravel? <A half inch or so> Would I layer it on top of the live sand or stir it together? <Will be mixed in eventually on its own> Is there another supplement I should be adding when I do water changes, or adding in-between water changes, to help maintain pH? <Mmm, not really... considering your set-up, maintenance as listed... I might look into switching salt brands... the one you list is too variable...> I'm also frustrated with pH measuring kits-I have 2 types (Mardel and Kordon) and both rely on the color judgment of the viewer, with too wide a color window between 7.8, 8.0, and 8.3.  The color gradations are so subtle to my eyes, that it is hard for me to gage the pH accurately.  Could you recommend a  pH measuring kit or tool that is more accurate than what I have? <Hach, LaMotte, Sera...> What I really would appreciate is a list of the steps I should take to keep my pH stable, for example, what I should be adding to the water and how often, given 5 gallon water changes weekly (I'm open to suggestion on the frequency and amount of water changes). <Weekly is best... with pre-mixed water... You are doing fine with the protocol you detail. Bob Fenner> Thank you, Chris

pH help  9/9/05 Dear crew, <Mark> I'm having a problem maintaining my Ph. The last few weeks I have been using Kalkwasser in my tank using the slurry method by adding I tsp Kalk to about 1-2 cups refrigerated di water. I use RO water for top-off and making fresh saltwater. Since I started using Kalk my dKH has been staying about 10-11 without adding any buffer and my RO water dKH tests at about 3 dKH. I never use to test my ph after lights out as I have a refugium with Chaeto and Caulerpa (razor). My ph use to stay about 8.2-8.3. Now since using Kalk my ph drops to about 7.9-8.1 and then raises to about 8.3-8.4 after adding the Kalk. <Normal...> I have been adding the Kalk during the day a couple hours after the lights come on and I'm wondering if I should be doing anything different. <... Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/kalkh2ofaqs.htm and the linked Kalk FAQs at top> As of right now I don't have anyway to drip at night as is the reason for using the slurry method. Keep up the great work. Thanks for all your help Mark <Don't worry re the perceived pH swing you relate, but do switch  the Kalk administering to night. Bob Fenner>

Trigger & buffer question  8/30/05 Hi, I have experienced 2 different times where a trigger of 4 and 5 inches in length started out fine in my 100 gallon tank and after a couple of weeks they stopped eating, then got a bloated stomach, started breathing hard, then 3 days later would die. There is a big undulate (almost 7") in the tank but it never bit them, she would let them know she was there, but did not chase them. When a trigger is stressed, is the stomach thing I saw common? It just looked like they had a full stomach. <Is very likely "just" stress... like you having a "friendly" tiger in your house, no way to get out> Second, I have been experimenting with baking soda and borax. I have been reading all I can find, and with my own experimentation have found that 2 parts baking soda and 1 part borax produces 8.2 Ph. Have you guys heard of this before? <Oh yes> I have been using it for about 3 weeks now without trouble (besides the noted triggers) from a niger, louti grouper, lionfish, undulate, miniata, Coris wrasse, Humu. (they are in various tanks!!!!) Thanks, Dan. <These are the principal ingredients in most "pH buffering" commercial products. Bob Fenner> Proper PH 8.2- Raises my phosphate levels... something screwy re AP product, water test/ing... alternatives 8/9/05 I have a 54 gallon 6 week old FOWLR tank. I cycled the tank with live rock. My PH is a consistent 7.8 in the A.M and 8.0 in the P.M. Maybe my lighting is off or I need glasses when I check against the color chart. <Nope... does drop during dark periods> Once I  started a consistent water change schedule (3 gal. every week with instant ocean) my ph is now close to 8.2. and my phosphates are 0.5 or less. <Lower the better> Before achieving a higher stabilized pH  I tried Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Proper PH 8.2. I added 2 capfuls of this product to my tank, per instructions, over a 2 day period.( 2 capfuls is only enough to treat 20 gallons). I noticed my in tank phosphate level rose to 2.0 afterward introducing this product. <Mmm> My well water has Zero phosphates as did my FOWLR before the addition of this product. I then tested a 10 gal. bucket of tap water for phosphates. It read zero for phosphates. ( I used Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Phosphate test kit). I then added 1 capful of proper PH 8.2 <I see on AP's website that they state this product contains no phosphates> and let it cycle over night with a heater and pump. The next morning the phosphate levels were 2.0. I called AP'S Tech support who returned my call the next day to state that Proper PH 8.2 contains no phosphates and something is wrong with my water. <Really?> They also stated that their Phosphate test kit is not affected by the addition of Proper Ph 8.2 and the results are not skewed . <... I'd try another test kit... and press them to tell you what material this product is made of... or better still, let me "cut to the proverbial chase" and tell you that I would not use this in a marine setting...> I then retested with demineralized water  and also took it to the shop where I purchased. They were surprised to find that it also instantly raised the Phosphate levels in their water. Aquarium Pharmaceutical never returned my 2nd call in which I stated the results of these further tests and  gave them the lot # of my product thinking their may be a problem with it. Has anyone else ever arbitrarily tested this product. Can someone shed some light on this. I can not figure out why Proper PH 8.2 raises my Phosphate levels of my tap/tank water unless it contains Phosphates. Thanks. Sincerely Wayne <I wish the old owners wouldn't have sold... I would call them for you and check on all this... Instead, please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm and the linked files above... till you understand the concepts of pH, alkalinity, your options... Bob Fenner> pH Too High? (Nope) - 08/05/05 Hello, <<Hey>> I'm terribly sorry for bothering you guys, I know you are very busy and I appreciate all your help in the past. <<No worries, happy to help.>> I have a few questions regarding pH, I was actually wondering at what level I should start to worry if it is indeed too high. <<Mmm...would strive to maintain below 8.6>> I have a 180 gallon reef with 200 lbs. of aragonite sand, about 200 lbs. of live rock.  I use a sump below the aquarium and a 42 gallon refugium next to it that is filled with various forms of macro algae, live rock and sand. <<Suggestion...keep a single specie of macro algae in your 'fuge.  Algae competes for space just as corals do.  If they are fighting in your refugium they are releasing noxious chemicals to kill/retard growth of each other.  These chemicals will be/are affecting your display tank as well, not to mention keeping the algae from performing at its best as a means of nutrient export.>> On the 180 are 2x400w 20k halides and 2x110 15k VHO tubes.  On the refugium is 1x150 10k HQI and 2 65w actinics.  The sump is LifeReef design with 36" skimmer and carbon tubes.  I don't use any mechanical filtration other than the sponges in the tubes. <<Cleaned weekly I hope>> I use a Korallin calcium reactor with 10lb Co2 bottle with a fast drip and about 2 bubbles every 3 seconds (seems like a lot, but the reactor gets trapped Co2 in it, poor design I think). <<Hmm, have friends using this reactor...seem to like it fine.  I will assume you've already experimented with drip/effluent rates...measured pH of effluent.>> The system has been running for 8 months.  I've added animals slowly, I've had very few losses, algae is in check- I use a 6 stage RO and Coralife salt (and perhaps this is my problem) The source water (RO) is at pH 6.5, roughly, with an average of 5 TDS. <<Source water?  Do you mean the "effluent" from the R/O unit?.  Fairly normal readings, and a good reason to buffer all evaporation/salt makeup water.>> My ph, never falls below about 8.35 and tends to get pretty high during the extreme photo periods, I've seen 8.51 on occasion. <<Golly...these are actually quite "good" readings!  Many a marine hobbyist would love to be able constantly maintain pH values within these parameters.>> I use a controller with pH and ORP, ORP is never below 400 unless I do a big water change, at which time it dips 10-20 for a day or two, pretty normal I think. <<400 is not "normal" for most, nor necessary...would advise caution about going above this level.>> I've been toying with the photo-period on the refugium to make the pH more stable, but it still seems very high, is it dangerous at this level? <<A swing of less than .2 per day is not unstable...quite the opposite.  Your pH values are excellent in my opinion...would strive to maintain...>> My dKH is between 11 and 13, it hit 10 once when my Co2 bottle was empty and I had to wait to get it filled.  My calcium level is at 400ppm and I do not notice any animals being stressed, hard and soft corals do well, and the fish seem fine, algae is in check, present but acceptable. <<All good, but would not try to keep alk and calcium maxed out.  The two are mutually exclusive and can cause problems at such high levels if not carefully watched (do some reading here and at the associated indexes: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm).  I would let one or the other drop a bit.>> So, I've read, actually in a number of places, that on the reef, pH during the day can hit this level, but I was wondering if it's ok and, if it keeps rising, why and at what level I should start to worry. <<As already stated.>> Should I cut back the light on the fuge, remove a large portion of the macro algae, or leave it alone? <<Other than the "mix" of macro algae in the 'fuge and the comments on your cal/alk, I think you're just fine.>> Honestly Baffled, Aaron <<Here's some informative reading on pH: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm...not that baffling really <G>.  Regards, EricR>>

Reactors, Probes, pH - 08/06/05 Thanks Eric! <<Welcome Aaron>> I'll prune out everything from the fuge that is not dominant. <<Tis best my friend>> I think my ORP is set to compensate for pH, it's around 350 without the compensation. <<Mmm...the presumption would be the ORP reading is more accurate with the compensation...i.e. - 400>> I believe the Korallin reactor works well, but I can't seem to get the alkalinity or calcium level lower than this, the effluent pH is 6.5- <<Fairly common reading for reactor effluent.>> I thought perhaps I could run the RO effluent through the reactor instead of using Co2, but for the few hours I didn't use the Co2 my alkalinity started to fall, and since top off water only hits the sump a few times a day it might have an adverse effect, but it could lower my alk enough that it's not quite so scary. <<Maybe you can try reducing the bubble count of the C02...try to increase the effluent pH to about 6.8 or so.>> I'll try to adjust the reactor again first, perhaps a new needle valve will help, mines getting a bit old. <<Most of the stock needle-valves are quite "rough", I do believe the are some aftermarket valves that are more precise...at a price of course.>> I really appreciate your help and I'll add an if/then statement to the halides that turns them off if the pH hits 8.59, trip the alarms and page me. <<Ahh...a programmer eh?  All good.>> I've never seen it get higher than 8.51, and if I don't have to worry at that level, I'll start making the other adjustments you suggested. <<Yes, not a problem.  In fact, a good level to maintain.>> On the ORP though, if I turn the pH compensation off, the reading is 350, with it on, it's 400- when you say I should be concerned about this- what do you mean exactly?  Are you saying I should be concerned about the compensated ORP or the uncompensated ORP?  And why? <<Firstly, if your probe/monitor is designed to be used with pH compensation, use this measurement.  Secondly, I didn't mean to imply an ORP reading of 400 was dangerous...it's when you get much above this (over 450) that problems can arise.  Ozone is a very powerful sanitizer (more so than chlorine), It can be very useful to aquatic systems but must be used responsibly.  For most purposes/systems an ORP reading of 350-375 is adequate...I just want to instill caution when readings start to edge above 400.>> It doesn't go any higher, and falls if I change carbon, I do 2x50 gallon water changes a month and it falls a little then, but pops back in a day or two. <<All normal...and "kudos" on the water changes.>> Also- this might be a strange one, if I measure RO (effluent) with an electric probe calibrated at 7 and 10, it reads 8.95 (unbuffered RO).  I've three different probes, and calibrated one to 4 and 7- it reads RO at 6.5- <<I believe this to be "more" accurate>> but, and perhaps this is my dilemma, if I add 2 tsp of buffer (Seachem) to about 5 gallons, the dKH hits 10, and the effluent reads 7.6. <<Yikes!  Might be a problem indeed...I believe if you read the label, one teaspoon treats 40 gallons!>> Perhaps too much raw unbuffered effluent is getting near the probe and inflating my pH values- am I off-base here or should I try to send the RO through the reactor first? <<Mmm, try easing up on the buffer first.>> It's difficult to read a reagent test for anything much above 8.3- purple is pretty much purple. <<Yes, is why I prefer an electronic pH meter.>> Why do my probes, if calibrated for sea mix measure RO effluent so high?  If I use a reagent test, it shows at 6.5.  You think RO is getting too close to the probe and inflating my PH reading?  I know it's at least 8.3 with a reg test (the tank). <<The probe calibrated with the 7 & 10 reagents performs better when reading a pH above 7.0 or so...that's why I said I believe the probe calibrated with the 4 & 7 reagents was a more accurate reading (6.5) of your RO effluent.>> Is there some way I can prevent erroneous readings using RO in an auto top off system?  I add it through my overflow into the carbon chambers, but the probe is on the other side of that, I thought the drop to the sump would ensure mixing, is it too close?  Can that cause these types of problems? <<Are you adding raw RO water to your system?  Not the best application, should be buffered (properly) before going in to your system.  As for your "problems", your calc/alk are at their upper limits, but your pH is fine my friend.>> Thanks, Aaron <<Regards, EricR>>

Sudden low pH reading 30 Jun 2005 Hello, <Hello Anne> Just when I thought everything was cool........... A little history...tank has been cycling for 6 weeks.  All readings are 0 (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate) salinity 1.024, temp 82 .  The pH on Saturday was 8.4 and today (Weds) it was 7.4.  I have LR and crushed coral substrate in the tank along with 3 scarlet hermits and 6 turbo snails, the  critters were added on Saturday.  I did a 6 gallon water change a week ago(55 gallon tank). I just started using RO water but only for top off water.  I didn't use that for the 6 gallon change.  Any ideas of why the pH dropped so quickly? Thanks (and I love this site!) <Anne, if you measure the dKH of the RO top off water, you will be surprised at the reading.  It will be low.  An alkalinity supplement should be added to the RO top off water, such as Sea Chem's Reef Builder.  You don't mention what the alkalinity is in your tank.  Do a reading and get back with me.  James (Salty Dog)> Anne <You might notice all of your info  has been deleted for your privacy as these queries do get posted on the Wet Web>

Re: Sudden low pH reading 6/31/05 Well...........I took another reading last night when I got home and the pH was 8.4-8.6.  Obviously I  goofed somehow when I took the first reading. I plan on getting Seachem Marine Buffer to add to my RO water.  Is that ok, or would you recommend the Reef Builder additive instead.  I suppose it might depend on my alkalinity, which I will check this evening. Now for a totally different subject............. I am planning on adding my first fish in another week or so!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Just want to make sure all values etc...are stable.  I have a quarantine tank that is ready to go.  All values are the same as the main tank.  I would like to get a yellow watchman goby.  Will he be alright in a tank that doesn't have any substrate in it?  Everything I have read about setting up a qu tank says to keep it simple with nothing on the bottom.  Is it also a good idea when you start to add fish, to add the least aggressive fish first? Thank you for getting back to me so quick!  Like I said before, this site is wonderful! <Anne, the Reef Builder is what I prefer.  It doesn't skyrocket the ph and it doesn't deplete calcium, magnesium or strontium which usually precipitates with increasing alkalinity.  The Yellow Watchman is a good choice for your first fish.  They eat anything that flows by.  They are much happier with a sand bottom than one without and adding to this is that they are usually associated with pistol shrimp which prefer sandy bottoms.  You may want to get a pistol shrimp for the goby.  Don't be alarmed if a bond doesn't form between them at first.  My goby and pistol shrimp didn't hook up for about three months.  About two inches of sand will be fine if your interested in doing this.  Good luck.  James (Salty Dog)>

Re: Sudden low pH reading 6/31/05 My main tank has sandy bed of about 2-3 inches, so that should probably work for the YWG and shrimp. <Yes>  Would they both be alright for a for weeks<? "for a for weeks"> in the quarantine tank that has no sandy bed? Since these would be my first fish, would it be ok to skip the quarantine tank and put them in the main tank? <You could put the shrimp in the main tank, but I'd QT the YWG. Keep in mind the water from the dealer may contain some ich cysts, so once you add the shrimp to the main tank, do not add any fish to it for a minimum of three weeks, and that is also the time span the YWG should be in QT.> I'm assuming that the YWG and the pistol shrimp will not know each other at the LFS,<Not on a first name basis:)> so putting them together once I get them home will be alright? <Yes> I'm sooooo excited about this.< Anne, it is a very interesting hobby.  Do search for articles you are interested in on the WWM.  Reading is the best thing you can do.  James (Salty Dog)> Thank you once again Effective Way To Raise pH Of Water Change? - 06/28/05 Hello: <<Howdy!>> Since my pH is on the low side in my 9 month old 90 gal reef,(7.9 to 8.0)- (the usual Ca reactor woes). <<Umm, maybe...back-off on the CO2...reduce the effluent rate...add a vegetable refugium on a reverse lighting schedule.>> I am looking for a way not to add to this problem by doing monthly water changes with water that has low pH as well. <<Always a good plan.>> My R/O water when mixed with Instant Ocean to a SG of 1.025, has a pH of around 7.9 and DKH of 12. Hmm...aerating/buffering the water before mixing in the salt?>> Until now, I have not been aerating this raw water mix for 24 hours as suggested by many. <<Ah...ok...(see the puzzled look on my face?)>> My question is, assuming that the pH in my R/O water/salt mix does not go higher with aeration, what would be an effective way to raise the pH in this water without raising the alkalinity?  I realize that there are different opinions regarding buffering R/O water.  I would certainly appreciate yours. <<My pleasure <G>.  I find that one-part Seachem Reef Buffer mixed with two-parts baking soda does a dandy job.  I would still aerate for 24 hrs. to drive off excess CO2 and increase dissolved oxygen.>> I once recently tried ReefBuilder.  I used 1 tsp in a 5 gallon bucket of R/O water mixed with 2 3/4 cups of Instant Ocean.  It raised the DKH to 20 and caused the Ca to precipitate.  The water remained cloudy and would not clear. <<Water/salt mixes should be aerated for a minimum 24 hrs. AFTER mixing before adding such products, several days is even better...chemical reactions still going on after salt "looks" to have dissolved)>> Reef water: Temp 80, Alk 10.3, Ca 470, refugium lit 24/7.   Thanks for all your help.   Paul    <<Regards, Eric R.>>

pH >8.8 Hi guys. You may remember me as the guy who got spray paint in his 90 gallon reef tank. The good news is that with the use of skimming, a PolyFilter, and carbon it appears that we had no die-off at all (except maybe a few snails and recently a finger leather is not doing well, but I'm guessing that's related to the subject of this question). Before the spray paint incident the pH had been relatively stably maintained at 8.2-8.4. Since then it regularly reads at 8.8, which is the max of our test kit. We have pretty heavy algae growth which we guess may be the cause so we have begun to only have our lights on for 10 hours out of the day, but don't want to make it hard on our corals. I've read all of your FAQs on pH and realize the dangers of intervening with the pH but this seems dangerous. What do you recommend to lower the pH? The advice that I've read elsewhere seems all over the board, and I have grown to trust your advice. Thanks for your help. <I would try SeaChem's Acid Buffer.  Use this product very carefully.  Do not full dose.  Add a little daily until ph is where you want it.  This is a freshwater product and won't be found in the marine section.  James (Salty Dog)> -Jacob

Differing pH Levels (6-11-05) Hi <Hi Adam, Leslie here representing the crew this evening> I purchased my fish and corals for my 29 gallon saltwater tank pretty much from two different LFS.  All the fish that I purchased from one of the stores have died within one week of purchasing them. <So sorry to hear that.> All the fish and coral from the other store have flourished in my tank. <That is much better news I am happy to hear that!> The fish I have purchased that died were 1 Royal Gramma, 1 Fox Face Rabbitfish and 1 True Percula Clown. <I am sorry to hear about the losses. It's hard to say what the problem might be without seeing the shop or fish, but my first thought is to stay away from the shop where you purchased the fish that died, at least for now. They may have something going on in their tanks that needs to be resolved,  before you continue to purchase fish from them. If you like the shop and want to continue doing business there I would recommend that you place any fish you are interested in on hold.  Go back and observe it a few times prior to purchasing it and be sure you see the fish eat before you bring it home.> I also purchased a Blue Tang that I took back when I came home to find the Clown and Gramma dead. <Very wise decision my friend.  Your 29 gallon is much to small for a Tang or a Rabbitfish. Both fish get to big for that size tank and need quite a bit more room to be happy and healthy long term.> When I came home with the Blue Tang I tested my water and everything tested good, Ammonia 0, Nitrites 0 and pH 8.2. <That sounds fine.> However when I returned the Blue Tang (because I didn't want to chance another fish from that store dying), they tested my water as well.  Everything tested the same except for my pH, which they tested at 7.4. They claim this is the reason my fish have been dying, however my other fish and my corals (which are supposed to be more sensitive to poor water quality) are doing great.  When I got home, I decided to test my water again just to make sure.  I again tested my pH at 8.2.  My question is why would my pH be different when I test it and they test it when we are using the same pH formula to test the water? Adam < The pH difference seems a bit drastic and if the pH was really 7.4 it could have caused the losses but I would expect that your other corals and fish would be suffering as well.  The shops test kit reagent may be expired or perhaps left out and open to long rendering it inaccurate. Hope this helps, Leslie> Depressed pH = Depressed Reefer - 05/29/05 I am starting up my first full reef tank, I already have 3 other FOWLR. <<Ok>> Well I'm having troubling balancing my pH. I have a 115 gallon tank with a 20 gallon mud refugium. I have 2 lionfish, a yellow tang, a copperband butterfly, three brittle stars, two yellow gorgonians and some featherdusters, sea hare, snails, and crabs in the tank. <<Mmm...what specie of lion? I fear you are probably overstocked.>> I have about a 120 lbs. of live rock with about a 4 inch DSB. <<Sugar-fine sand I hope...if not you'll need more depth to your substrate.>> The water movement in the tank is fairly strong. <<I hope "fairly strong" means 1200 gph or more.>> The calcium is high, approaching 500 mg/L, and the alkalinity is high at about 4.5 meq/L. <<Yikes! Do take action to bring both down a bit. Stop dosing (if you are) and perform a large water change to try to achieve balance again. Strive for readings of about 3.5 mg/L alkalinity, and 350-400 ppm of calcium. Have a peek here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm  for a great article by Anthony Calfo re this topic.>> The problem is my pH is consistently below 8.1 and I can't seem to get it to raise even with pH buffer. My nitrite, nitrate and phosphate are all undetectable and the livestock in the tank is doing fine. The problem is I would like to add coral to this tank and I can't seem to achieve the 8.3 pH. <<Not unusual. My experience with these products are they are "short-lived" requiring frequent re-application. A temporary "band-aid" so to speak.>> I thought at first that it might simply be my testing equipment but I have run the test with several different company's kits now, Salifert, Red Sea, and Aquarium Pharmaceuticals. <<A good first step.>> The pH I have tested with an American Marine pH monitor as well as the test kits. Any thoughts would be appreciated, I'm at a loss. <<If I can assume when you say "consistently below 8.1" that you mean in the 7.9-8.0 range, then this is not as "bad" as you may believe as I have heard/read of wild reefs in this range. But that said, I also believe we should keep our captive system's pH in the 8.3-8.6 range as an added margin for error, suppression of nuisance algae, etc. But back to your question...there's a few things you might try. If you haven't already, add a skimmer to this system. Aside from other benefits, it will help blow off excess CO2 and increase O2. If your water flow is less than I stated, step it up. Also make sure you have free gas exchange (no sealed tank tops). The judicious daily application of Kalkwasser is also a good way to raise pH, and is a better method for maintaining CA/ALK than the bottled products in my opinion. Also...make sure you are aerating/buffering your make-up water. Eric R.>>

pH Conundrum Hi Gang, <Brandon> I am about bald from pulling my hair out. No matter what I do, I cannot keep my pH above about 7.85. I add Kent Super ReefBuilder every day, and that helps for a few hours. I have a 4" deep bed of aragonite. I have plenty of live rock. The tank has been established about a year. I paid a lot of money for a calcium reactor that I can never use because the Neptune Systems Aquacontroller keeps it turned off because of pH levels. I tried adding some macro algae to refugium, but that isn't helping. What are all of the reefers out there with constant pH's of 8.1+ doing? <Mmm, not adding chemicals that precipitate, change carbonate... Drop the Kent line> How can they keep it that high and still use their calcium reactors? I've tried Kalkwasser, but really no difference. Thanks, pH Punchy... <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm  and the linked Related FAQs at top... You're "Boris Karloffing" your water chemistry here... dropping out alkalinity by elevating calcium haphazardly... Know what you're doing, dilute the mess you have through water changes, and you'll be fine. Bob Fenner> 

Re: Fw: B-Ionic Calcium Buffer System Dear Crew, I did get an answer..... Steve <Ahh, thank you for sharing. Will post. Bob Fenner> In a message dated 4/24/2005 " Dear EVS,  When using your 2 part buffer system can you use just 1 of the solutions. Example: my calcium is at 425 and my alkalinity is at 7.2 can I just use part 1 to raise my alkalinity? Also if the situations were reversed and I wanted to just raise my calcium could I just use part 2? Thank you for your time in advance. Steve" Steve, Sorry for this late reply. No problem using more of one component than the other in order to tweak the chemistry back in balance. Be careful with the component 1 (alkalinity) in that you don't exceed 1 ml/per gallon per day and/or allow the pH to exceed 8.45. Best Regards, Bob Stark (ESV)

Your pH help please Hi!  I have been reading and need to isolate your advice for my particular tank. 514 watts of mixed actinic and 10k days 90 gallon acrylic with two openings at top always left open 10 gallon fuge (to the side but below of main tank with its own lighting) 13 gallon Tidepool sump with -filter pads in 3 trays <These are of concern...> -a bio wheel I am thinking of removing -an area for macroalgae, (with grow light on at night- Chaeto and red Gracilaria)   -TurboFlotor skimmer -mag drive 18 with 3/4" tubing -little Giant 150 gallon pump for refugium with pods and macroalgae -another 150 pump for sterilizer that has been turned off for a while 2- 300 gallon powerheads in tank Return is a spin on closed manifold with pvc across whole back with 4 tees Approx. 100 lbs of live rock (Lalo and Fiji) At least 3 inches of crushed coral Four inches of sand in 10 gallon Dear pets:  Red Sea purple tang Blue tang Flame hawk 2 ocellaris Sailfin blenny Ruby-headed fairy wrasse Royal Gramma Coral beauty Mandarin Cleaner shrimp, snails, a couple of hermits 1 green star polyp, spreading nicely I set up this aquarium with distilled water and have always used distilled water or RO for top offs. <Mmm...>   As I have been seeking an answer to why this low pH and average Alk, I discovered in my journal of this aquarium from the beginning,  that I have always had this problem from the beginning.  I also noticed that after I did a 25 gallon water change (about once a week) pH would be great a couple of hours after I did that.  But then a week later, down again.  By down I mean 7.9-8.0 during day.  About 7.8 at night.  Now I was not buffering the distilled prior to adding salt or aerating it either before or after salt.  I mixed, then dumped and top off was just pour in the distilled straight.  Just recently from your site have I discovered the proper way to prepare water.  (Thank you)  Now I see I have a problem.  But how to correct it? <Mmm, a few ways... you can/could add a buffering compound to your new water... another easily soluble source of carbonate, bicarbonate to your system...>   I wanted to move on to some corals but I will not press on until I have this under control.  2 nights ago I tried the baking soda thing.  It brought it up the next day to a more desirable pH and Alk but then in another day, it was right back down. Now all my energy is trying to fix this.  Can I?  What should I try next? <I would definitely try removing your "filter pads"... see if this results in any discernible water clarity problem... they are a major source of alkaline loss here... I would add a buffer to your make-up water and your new seawater...>   I will correct my water changes and top offs to the correct way and I am also considering the CO2 thing. I'm pretty sure my set-up allows for ample oxygen or am I wrong? <Should be fine here> Our house is about 10 years old.  This is our first year in it and all our family had more colds than ever!  I'm wondering if we don't have a build-up of CO2. <Very common... I would at least invest in a cheap carbon dioxide monitor for your air inside the house...> I'm experimenting with aerating some tank water in a separate container and monitoring pH.    And opening some windows although Michigan weather is not warming up too quickly here....I have noticed that I have brown film algae and harder brown little spots that take much muscle to get off that can come back in less than a week after scraping clean.  And I wonder if those gills aren't pumping pretty quick....... One last bit of info.  I prepared water last night for water change.  Distilled, added baking soda, <Need carbonate as well as the bicarbonate provided here> aerated, added salt, and aerated all night.  I tested pH and Alk.  On those dip sticks both colors came up very quickly and right to the mark!  Then this morning I checked and I did not get the same reading.  It was lower on both readings. I am perplexed but sure wishing I could get this under control.  Please advise me.  Thank you so much. Renee' <What you have is a system that has a bunch of life in it, not much inherent alkaline reserve, little added via your salt mix constituents, a reductive (acidic) filter (mainly the pads)... And an almost complete understanding of what is going on here... I would not be overly concerned re CO2 build-up as it relates to your tank... but look to simple, routine methods of boosting your alkalinity... Please read re this issue on WWM... you are "almost there". Bob Fenner>

Low Ph, High dKH Hello, first time here and I have read and read on your sites, thanks for all the information - really quite amazing what you have provided here, a thousand thank yous.  I have a question; first, my water parameters: Ph: day 7.9, night 7.75 dKH: 16 Ca: 380 Mg: 1230 NH3: 0 N02: 0 N03: .5 Salinity: 1.024 I have a 24 gal.. nanocube with 7 corals, 1 anemone, 6 hermits, 2 snails, and no fish. - 104W of CF - Water changes 25%/week 25 lbs. of CaribSea live aragonite 45 lbs. Fiji and Tonga live rock 2 power. heads (Rio 50 and MiniJet w/Hydor) in addition to the one that the system comes with The tank has been up for 7 weeks now and cycled in the first three weeks My problem: I cannot get the ph to 8.0, let alone 8.3, even with Kent buffer or Seachem builder, however, I have had dKH off the charts (high) I am using Salifert test kits and have tested them with LFS water to ensure they are accurate . . . I am using an American Marine pinpoint Ph meter calibrated just one week ago and have confirmed the low ph <Yes... most due to the "break in" processes... the decomposition of a good deal of your live rock life... the small volume, lack of a skimmer...> Each time I use the reef builder or other buffer to increase ph, it goes up for about 4 hours and then back down, however my dKH just keeps going up (1.5 ml or 1 1/2 plungers of reagent to turn color if you are familiar with Salifert test kit making it anywhere from 16-24 dKH, guesstimate since I'm not sure if that's how it works once you go through the first plunger) <Is how it works> I had been using Catalina water, so I did a 15 gal. water change with Tropic Marine mixed at LFS to see if that would help. <It will... in time> No one at several LFS stores can figure this one out and I have tried to open up the house thinking the CO2 in the house was too high and no effect . . . I was going to get an air pump to start trying to oxygenate the tank more and see if that helps . . . just thought I would ask for some help first . . . this has been going on for 4 weeks now and is a real drag . . . corals still look good, but I'm afraid they will start to decline in time given the low ph . . . and fish or other helpful inverts, forget it.   <... this system has been up for seven weeks... with an anemone mixed in with other stinging-celled life? Dangerous... in such a small volume> I used to have a 60 gal but had to break it down when we moved, never had these kinds of problems, making me realize that smaller tanks are more difficult to monitor/maintain? <Indeed they are> HELP! Thanks Bill <Due to the newness, the livestock listed, the small size of the system, I would just continue nudging the water quality along with the TM water, careful addition of just pH buffer (sans alkaline earth components)... likely something with just sodium carbonate and bicarbonate (no calcium, magnesium)... go slow here Bill... all could crash. Do add a skimmer if you haven't already... Bob Fenner>

Water parameters out of whack Hello Crew, how you guys doing today? <Mighty fine, thanks> Well I decided to go back into the aquarium hobby after being away for about a year and everything had being going well until I started having some problems with my PH. This is what happened. I filled up my 380 gallon aquarium with some Oceanic salt and let it mix in for a week, then I added some crushed coral and 200+ lbs of Live Rock. I noticed that PH was low ~ 7.7, therefore I started adding super buffer dKH and brought it up to around 8.2 but it started going back down therefore I kept adding Kent super buffer DKH until I had poured 2 pounds of Super Buffer DKH in a week's time and my PH was still hovering around 8.0 - 8.1 . Believing that my PH monitor was off I tested the PH with another test kit which showed the same result, that's when I decided to test the other parameters, which are: <Mmm, the LR is "settling in" and you started with a bunk, inconsistent brand of salt mix> Temp 79.4 F SG 1.021 CA 330 PH 8.0 AK 16+ DKH Went off the Salifert Scale. <Yes...> WHAT in the world, how can I have a 16+ DKH and an 8.0 PH . <Surprising that you have such a large system and lack of understanding of basic chemistry (pun intended)... look at the ingredients of the Kent products... realize you have a situation... with the decomposition of the LR... that is exhausting the carbonate/bicarbonate... but not the hardness... Voila! Low pH, high hardness> I'm truly lost and I know I should have tested the ALK before I kept adding buffer, but I did not have an ALK test kit available and I figured hey it's a lot of water and Oceanic salt is known for having High Calcium and low PH. At this point I'm probably going to do a 80 gallon water change with Instant Ocean Salt unless you guys have other ideas. <All sorts of ideas... yours will work.> Thanks. <Bob Fenner>

Re: Your pH help please Dear Mr. Fenner, You wrote back several things.  One, you mentioned the three filter pads were of concern.... I have read your book The Conscientious Marine Aquarist and you state yourself that it is still appropriate to screen gross particulate matter and that some mechanical filtration is needed. <Yes... I encourage you to replace these pads (if necessary at all... this you will be able to assess by their removal) with a Dacron "bag" such as the ones made by Emperor Aquatics... get two, maybe even three... for daily (yes) cleaning, drying, replacement, and rotate their use. These are tied over the return. discharge into the sump/filter... and catch particulates... biological mainly for ready removal> Now I took the bio balls out without a trace of effect and I want to pull out the BioWheel and fill that area with macroalgae, but why would I want to take ALL my mechanical filtration out? <Mmm, short answer, you don't... it's a trade-off, as is so much in life... you have other means of such filtration...> I pull out and rinse clean, and every month I replace the pads altogether so why the conflicting message about this?  Please elaborate.  What could I put in those trays to filter without causing a "reductive filter?" <Not much... that allows the accumulation stated> How would you configure this Tidepool?  What would you keep in those three trays? <Probably coarse aragonitic material> If I take the BioWheel out and drill lots of little holes in the bottom plate, I can get the water to "rain" out and where the BioWheel would have been I can stuff some macroalgae in there.  Then water would flow over the divider to the heater, skimmer, main pump and to the pump for the refugium. I only have one divider in the sump, should I put in another to separate this other stuff? <A good idea, yes... particularly if you intend to mount/place a skimmer in this "box"... you'll want to keep the water level in this area constant> Today, I finished my experiment with the tank water.  I aerated a small bucket of tank water in the closed house yesterday and not much change at all in the pH.  Stayed at 8.0.  Then today I put the pump and glass of aquarium water outside and aerated it from noon to 4pm and guess what?  It was 8.3.  When I checked the aquarium water this morning it was around 7.9-8.0.  So it climbed that much.  I do believe that is part of the problem.  Where can I get an air pump that I can keep outside all year? <Tetra's Luft Pumps are excellent here... can handle weather... though not be submerged of course> Do I just run really long airline tubing to the sump? <You could... you might also, alternatively want to look into getting/using an ozonizer... even a good ultraviolet sterilizer... to raise ReDox, dissolved oxygen... and pH here> I also believe my treatment of water (both top off and replacement) has not been very helpful. I can change that.  Would you say that R/O is better than distilled? <Yes, absolutely> I have been told it will have more nutrients to it than distilled.  That would be better, right? <The reverse osmosis...> You want something in that water or else I would imagine the system would get depleted very rapidly. <Yes> From what I told you about the tank you remarked that I have very little alkaline reserve.  Doesn't the rock, substrate, regular water changes, etc. all mean a reserve. <Only to some extent... and diminishing with time... loss of solubility, volume, three dimensional aspect/surface area>   Pardon my lack of understanding.  Do I have lower readings on these because I cured my live rock in this tank? <To an extent, yes>   I have read that when there is die off these two can be lowered.  Maybe I went on with the aquarium and the live rock wasn't done curing and now I have a constant draining on the pH and alk. <Bingo! You are correct here> I will read about boosting alkalinity reserve. <Good> You commented that I have a lot of life.... does this mean I can't add a few more very hardy corals? <You could... I'd do this sooner rather than later... better to start with space between, allow these mixed to grow up together> I love to watch those polyps flow back and forth. Beautiful!  Thank you for your time and your encouragement.  There isn't any way I can join a marine club so I am thankful I have your website to look to for advice.  Blessings to you. Renee' <Thank you my friend. Bob Fenner>

My pH is Low Hello Crew, <Shaun> I have a question for you that none of my LFS seem to have an answer. My Ph and Alk. always seem to run low. Ph runs 7.8 to 8.1 (night to day) and my Alk. seems to always fall to 5 or 6 dKH. I bought Seachem Marine buffer 8.3 and added it to my water change bucket 1/4 teaspoon to 5 gallons and use Reef Crystals. I aerate the water for 2 days prior to adding the buffer and salt with a power head and keep aerating for about 5 days after. Also I use distilled water. <Mmm, why? Is your tap/source water "that bad?"... You are likely missing a good deal of needed mineral by going this expensive water route> The problem is that when I just mix the salt everything is fine but if I add the Marine buffer I end up with a brown film on the surface of the water and coating the bucket and powerhead. I tested this water and found elevated ammonia and nitrite levels. The bucket is an old Reef Crystals bucket so I wouldn't think this is the cause. Any ideas? <Strange... SeaChem and Aquarium Systems products should produce no such result...> Thanks, Shaun. <Don't know the root cause here, but I would try finding a source of reverse osmosis treated water (check with your fish stores... or buy, install, use your own... especially if there is real trouble with your tap)... and see if your water quality improves, you lose the mysterious brown scum. Bob Fenner>

High Ph Hello, Please help me, I am having high pH problems. I just checked my pH tonight the pH 8.6 and the ALK is 3.5 meq/L and the calcium 420 ppm. <The ph is not abnormally high.>  I did have a case of high calcium and high alkalinity due to the use of Oceanic salt. I switched to Instant Ocean salt to bring down the ALK and calcium with water changes of course over a few weeks. Anyways could the pH be high because I checked at night after the lights have been on all day?  <The evenings usually produce a little lower ph.>  I used to check the pH at night before and the pH would come out fine at 8.2. I know that pH and alk and Ca are related. But not sure why the lowering of the alk would kick up the ph that high. The Alk is at normal levels thus wouldn't the pH also be at normal level of 8.2. I also have a 3 in sand bed of aragonite. Please let me know what to do, if I should add baking soda or something. That would def shoot up my alkalinity. Please get back to me soon. Thanks!  <Saurav, I wouldn't do anything. It will adjust itself in time. It's not dangerously high. James (Salty Dog)>

Seachem Marine Buffer and precipitation Hi Bob, <James for Bob today> I am new to the Marine world and have a couple questions.  I have been reading many articles from the WetWebMedia site and find the volume of information almost overwhelming. <Yes, very useful info, keep reading.> I have an 80 gallon tank that has been running for about 3 months.  Like many others I set it up before finding all the information on this site. It has an under gravel filter powered with 2 powerheads, about 1.5 or 2 inches of crushed coral, 26 pounds of live rock, and the Coralife Super Skimmer configured as a hang on the tank skimmer.  I have 1 clown fish, 3 damsels, 1 brittle starfish, 1 starfish (can't remember the name), and a couple small soft coral creatures (don't know their names either, I'll have to look them up).  It has the standard fluorescent light that came with the tank.  I know that I need to get better lighting. I also have an empty 20 gallon tank that I use for preparing water for water changes in the 80 gallon tank. Here come the questions. I've been putting Seachem Marine Buffer in the main tank to try to bring the ph to 8.3.  After just a few days the ph goes down to about 7.7.  A few days ago I was getting ready to do a water change and decided to add the buffer to the 20 gallon tank rather pouring the buffer (dissolved into a couple cups of fresh water) directly into the main tank.  Well, as soon as I added the buffer to the 20 g tank, it precipitated so much that every surface of the tank, heater, and water filter became covered in white powder.  I let this sit for a few days thinking it would dissolve but it never did.  I used about 15 gallons of the water (clear water since the precipitate had settled on everything else) to do a water change, then added freshwater back to fill up the 20 g tank.  I haven't added the salt to the 20 g tank yet, thinking that this new fresh water would dissolve the rest of the precipitate.  Well, it doesn't look like any of the precipitate is dissolving.  Is this precipitate still useful for buffering or is it a byproduct that I should get rid of? <Not useful> Why doesn't it dissolve in the fresh water?  Now, I am afraid of putting any buffer into the main tank. <Do as you have been.  Mix the buffer with freshwater and put into the main tank.  I use the same product and don't have any problems.  I don't mix it with make up saltwater.  You really should aerate your make up water for 24 hours to rid it of excess CO2.  This excess can cause a ph drop.> The second question relates to the setup of the main tank.  I've read some of the articles about the UGFs and am really wondering what I should do.  I like the look of the crushed coral more than sand but I want to go with what ever is the easiest and most useful setup.  Easy maintenance is a plus.  I've read that deep sand and live rock help buffer the tank, sounds good.<So does crushed coral>  If I were to keep the UGF, what depth of crushed coral would be best? <About an inch and one half.> I was told to keep the UGF well vacuumed but I've also read that disturbing the bed (even with sand) can cause the tank to cycle again...so what is the proper way to vacuum the bed? <Use a gravel vacuum during your water changes.  This is a must to prevent hydrogen sulphide from building up in the gravel bed.  No, your tank should not cycle again.> Since the UGF is made up of two pieces, I could remove half of the UGF and put sand on that half, then sometime later (maybe a month?) remove the other half of the UGF and finish out the sand on that side. <If your sand bed exceeds 1 1/2 inches, then you will need sand stirring creatures to keep the bed from developing hydrogen sulphide.> Then triple the amount of live rock to maybe about 75 pounds?  I don't intend to have any hard corals, just some small fish, live rock, and maybe a few soft corals. What would you do? <I would eliminate the UG all together and just go with a 1 1/2 sand bed.  As a newbie it will cause less problems.  Later on if you decide, you could go to a live sand bed by simply adding live sand on top of the layer that is in there.  The live rock can be your sole source of denitrification with about 120 lbs of live rock.> Thanks, Greg PS. I know everyone says this, but I really do appreciate the website and all the time and effort you folks put into it. <Your comments are appreciated.> I can't donate any money but I am a web developer, programmer, and database designer by trade (but not really a graphics artist) and would like to offer any assistance to you and the rest of the team.  Just let me know if there is some way I could help. <I'll see that the proper people get this message.  Your volunteering is much appreciated.  James (Salty Dog)

High pH (3/22/05) I've filled my new tank so far only with salt water and aragonite reef sand. When I test the pH, I get a purplish color which is not on the chart. <What brand of test? Some are less reliable than others.> I'm guessing it's very high. I'd like to add the live rock soon. Should I add something to bring down the pH, or just leave it alone for it to come down eventually? Thanks for the help. Mitch  <I advise against adding chemicals (acids) that only temporarily adjust the pH. I recommend giving the tank a week or two to stabilize. I'd also suggest you take some water to a store that does water testing to see what they get. You need a real number that you can trust. Steve Allen.>

pH Issues Follow-up (3/23/05) The test kit is a Hagen high range pH test kit.  <I've had good experiences with this brand, but I use an electronic pH monitor because I'm not so good with subtle color differences. I'd get it tested at a store to be sure what the pH really is.>  Also, I was going to start using Kent Marine Superbuffer-dKH at some point. If I start it now, will it raise the pH even more?<Probably not, but it won't let it go down because these marine buffers are meant to neutralize acids and resist lowering of pH.>  Mitch  <Again, I'd have it tested by someone else to be more certain, and I'd give it a little time to see where it goes on its own. Steve Allen.> 

pH test I filled a new SW (54 gallon) tank and so far have just put in the salt today and the substrate 2 days ago (reef sand). The specific gravity was 1.026. I'll need to adjust that. I tested the pH with a Hagen high range test kit and the color it shows is not on the chart. It is like a purplish blue. Is the pH way high or way low?  <I'd say high. James (Salty Dog)> 

Marine Water Issues - pH Won't Come Up Dear Crew, <Hello> Thank you in advance for taking the time to read / respond to my email. I have been using your site for a few months now, and will be for a very long time to come. It is proving to be invaluable and very costly to me at the same time! I keep finding improvements to make to my tank! <I know what you mean; my tank went from a FO to a FOWLR to now a semi reef in a few months as well.> My tank has been in process for a couple of months now (Just finished a 3 week live rock cycle) and I was wondering if you might be able to provide some insight into my salt water test results. Nitrate: 0 Nitrite: 0 Ammonia: 0 KH:12 Calcium:350 Phos:0.1 Salinity:1.022 PH:7.7 I do not know what to do to bring my pH up. I thought that KH acted as a buffer for pH and that seems to be at the right level.  <Yes and no unfortunately, there is something else dragging your pH down. Is there light on the tank? pH goes up and down throughout the day slightly, I would look into something that specifically buffers the pH and or get a product called Chemi-pure, it buffers the pH and helps filtration as well.>  The only thing I can think of is that it is my source water.  <Is possible. Are you using RO/DI?>  The other problem that I have is that my tank is being taken over by diatoms. I am assuming this is because of [the] phosphate level. I will be purchasing a RO/DI unit in the next week to try and solve my algae problem. I hope this will take care of my PH as well. What are your recommendations?  <Yes this will help but the algae growth may be part of the cycle with the LR and should pass with time, the RO unit should help lower the phosphate yes. A good investment.>  One last thing, is it normal for the cheaper salinity testers to be off by .03?  <The swing arm meters are not nearly as accurate as a refractometer, however a .03 difference is a lot, do you have bubbles on the swing arm? Or is it an old unit? Try washing it with freshwater and letting it sit full of freshwater for a day or so to clean the salt out of the unit and retest.>  If not, can you recommend a good one; I have a red sea and it is off by .03 when compared to the LFS precision monitor Thank you Frank <I got my Instant Ocean unit with the salt I bought at my LFS, and that one is the same one they use at the LFS so I know they are ok to believe the numbers. However, if you are worried that you salt is off and you need an accurate measurement, I recommend getting a refractometer, I know several lab quality units are expensive however one is online recently for 45 dollars I believe and is well worth the money, do Google for one and see what you can find.> <Justin (Jager)> 

pH problems... not really Hello, I have a problem. My 75 gallon tank has been cycling for about 2 and a half weeks now, and when I check the pH it reads about 7.9. So I went out and bought Reef Buffer to raise the pH to 8.3. It did but the next day I checked and it read 7.9 again! Could you tell me why it wont keep a pH of 8.3 when cycling? Thank you write back soon. <This low and continually dropping pH is due to the cycling process itself... it's reductive... as in ReDox/acid-base chemistry... I would not worry re the 7.9 pH... and only add a "dose" of the buffer product if it drops below 7.8... in a month or so, when the tank is fully cycled, you can switch out some water, do some other things that will boost it. No worries. Bob Fenner> 

pH, O2 and ozone 2/16/04 I aerated a cup of water outside, and sure enough the pH went up from 8.01 to 8.18.  <not uncommon in well-insulated homes. Yet its not that much of an increase. Not much to worry about here... other causes for your low pH (bio-load, weak skimming/nutrient export, etc)> I also measured dissolved oxygen, and it was down to between 2 and 5.  <Yikes! not likely that low (2ppm). Do retest with another kit. Scary if accurate> I opened up windows and doors in the house, but the pH in the tank didn't budge. Even if it did, I can't keep windows and doors open all year.  <true... but you can pump air from outside with a weather resistant pump (like a covered Luft pump) into your sump, skimmer, etc. The same effect> Therefore, I am concluding to implement an ozonizer connected to the protein skimmer. Would that be your recommendation? <they are very useful tools that will help here and have many other benefits. Be sure to run with an air dryer, controller and carbon on the effluents only> Regards, Jerry <kindly, Anthony>

Low ALK and low pH Hey Blundell !!! Sorry, but that's what you said to call you. < That's my name, Hi Tom! >  You were very generous with your time and knowledge before and now I am in need again. < I'll do my best. >  Actually my corals are in desperate need. We "spoke" a few months ago about converting my 125 FOWLR tank from U.G. and canister filters to DSB and more live rock. < Still sounds much better to me. >  All went well and has been going well. But...now I am having trouble maintaining my pH. First things first. 125 gal. acrylic, 5 to 6'' DSB live sand and easily well over 120 lbs. of live rock, all from Tampa Bay Saltwater. (An aside here, before I had used the word "yuck!" in my description of this rock; I spoke too hastily. It is very attractive!  < I to like this rock. > Lots of beautiful purple coralline and worms and "open-cup corals" and nice macro algae and seaweeds. Also lots of crabs! And Mantis Shrimp!!! 8 and counting.) Back to the present: S.G. 1.025, temp. 80, ammon. 0, nitrites 0, nitrates 0 (never more than the faintest hint of color) calcium 375 to 450 ( I am never positive with SeaTest calcium color test, do you have a recommendation?  < Not really, I would use that kit as well, and say you are good enough in that range. >  Alk. is 8.  < This is probably low, but not sure what units you are in. >  All tests are with SeaTest except the Alk. which is with Tetra liquid. Turboflotor H.O.T. skimmer that pulls at least one-half cup every 24 hrs. And I change approx. 20% every 2 weeks (usually), with Coralife Salt. The tank has 3x175 watt, 5500K mogul MH bulbs and 2 36" 96 watt blue PC lights. Oh, and 5 powerheads,4 of which do 400 g.p.h. except that I have these rotating whirly-gigs on them and am not too sure how much they restrict the flow but they rotate continuously, breaking the surface of the water and constantly redirecting the current.  Inhabitants of the tank:  2x Firefish, 2x one inch Chromis, 1x Yellowhead Jawfish, 1x 4in.Blue Gudgeon (his partner jumped and will be replaced), 1x 4" Scissortail Dart (his partner... well... remember the crabs I mentioned? one I missed got quite large! and hairy! and now is in a separate holding cell), 1x 3" Yellow- Eye tang, 1x 6-Line Wrasse, 1x 3" Coral Beauty and 1x 2.5" Flame Angel.  < A lot of fish for such a recent change over. >  All are happy, healthy and get along great! (the two angels dosee-doe once in awhile but only for a few seconds and NEVER make contact). They also have been with us several months. Also one fat, sassy Blue Mandarin. Corals are one Elegance, 8 weeks now and seems to be fine, open, inflated, eating leftover Formula 1 and 2, Brine Shrimp Plus, Prime Reef and Sweetwater Zooplankton. Ditto the Galaxea (astreata, I think) and I can see obvious growth on it. However I also had 2 clumps of Caulastrea that are almost completely gone. One living head (out of 20) on one clump and 10 stalks out of 20 alive on another. My Hammer has retracted all his polyps completely, I can barely see them and it has not opened in a week at least.  < Bad sign. >  My beautiful Protopalythoas have curled up their edges and don't eat anymore. Also on a couple of the Protos' edges there are small grey areas. Not fuzzy but not colored like before. None of these animals are any where close to one another and I also have an AquaClear 110 (428gph) that I change the carbon in every week. One cup easy of Marineland Black Diamond carbon. Geez. I realize this is long and I just realized I babbled right past my pH. problem. This morning, before lights on, the pH was 7.8!  < Low indeed. >  Six hours after the lights it was maybe 8.0. I say maybe because the first test was with my last SeaTest and the second was with the Tetra Saltwater pH test. Well this is everything I can possibly think of and I probably forgot something. Ha! The Lights are 9" above the surface, the Hammer is directly below one MH bulb about 5" below the surface. The Caulastreas have been the same but are now moved off to the side a little lower; moved after they started dying. MH lights are on 14 hours. And also I seem to have lost a lot of my coralline. Whew, I think that's it! Can you please help? < Well this doesn't sound all that bad. Or I should say not too difficult to fix. I would immediately look to Kalkwasser. I say start mixing some in with your top off water. You don't want it to be cloudy. You want to mix a cupful in a big bucket, then let it sit, then use the clear water on top. Right off, I think that will increase your alkalinity and your pH. Maybe even a little too fast, so take it easy. Second, I'd consider using a two part solution like B Ionic and dosing with the label instructions. Try this for a month then write back. > Thank you, EVERYONE!, for your time and this site. DianeV., LVNV. < Blundell >

Fixing pH and Alkalinity Blundell, Tell you what. I'll call you Adam if you'll call me Diane.  < Okay but there is another Adam here so hopefully he won't get your emails to me. >  (Tom is my very indulgent husband, 10 tanks and growing!)  < Wonderful to see people find such supportive, or at least tolerant, spouses in this hobby. >  Thank you so much for your quick reply to yesterday's questions. You guys amaze me! About my fixing the water in my tank. I have here in front of me Reef Evolution Calcium Hydroxide Kalkwasser mix (Aquarium Systems) that I have mixed according to directions, 1 & 1/2 tsp. to 1gallon of freshwater. Do I add 1 cup of this mixture to my top-off water or do I mix up 4 gallons of Kalkwasser and add all that to my tank?  < The smaller the dose the better. Or I should say the safer. Is that a word, how about more safe. >  Also I have Aquarium Pharmaceuticals' Proper pH 8.2, Coralife's Carbonate Hardness Controller ( "for boosting and maintaining Carbonate Hardness in Marine Tanks") and something called Buffex Plus by Aquatronics which claims to do miraculous things also.  < I would just use the Kalkwasser mix and not add any other calcium or alkalinity buffer at the same time. That can have adverse reactions. >  I have never used these products, am leery of getting in the habit of "quick fixes", and they have been sitting on the shelf for at least a year. Did use the Proper pH after reading on the BBs several people recommend it but it didn't seem to work so well for us. Readings didn't change. The Coralife product says it will "improve the buffering capacity so that pH can be maintained at the desired level of alkalinity". My Alk. is 2 meq/L with the SeaTest but my KH is done with the Tetra liquid and it takes 13 drops to turn from blue to yellow and directions say that 1 drop equals 1/2 degree German KH. So today my Alk is 6.5?!! < 1 meq/L is equal to 2.8 dKH. It is just another way to read it. Like Fahrenheit and Celsius < Yesterday it was 8, is that possible? I had just changed 20% of the water yesterday before the tests. Our sandbed consists of 2" of the original crushed coral, 2" of Seachem's "Pearl Beach" aragonite, and the 250lbs of live sand from Tampa Bay Saltwater, I don't know what this is made up of but comes from the ocean. If I can use these great, but if not I am more than willing to run get the B ionic.  < I wouldn't run out to buy anything. Actually with a 20% water change here is what you need to do. Nothing. Already you know that a good portion of your water is perfect. I doubt the rest of your water was the bad. I'd say don't add anything at all for 6 weeks, then test again and see if there is a problem.> < Blundell (Adam to you) >

pH and Alk Part III 2/3/05 Good Morning Adam, hope you slept well. This is Diane again with just a "quick" question.  <Welcome back!> I have been up since 3 a.m. reading about calcium and alkalinity and pH and I should have had the coffee first.  <Ha! This can certainly be a daunting topic for those without a chemistry background. See here for a great discussion by Randy Holmes Farley: http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2002-04/rhf/feature/index.htm > I added one cup of the Kalkwasser mix to my top off water but my pH is still below 8.0. Should I just put one more cup of mix straight into the tank now?  <This is hard to say based on the available information. Adding Kalk will increase both your calcium and alkalinity along with your pH. If the calcium and alkalinity are OK, but pH is low, you have another problem. pH normally falls at night (7.9 is probably OK just before the lights come on) and rises during the day. This is because CO2 (which forms carbonic acid) accumulates at night, but is used in photosynthesis during the day. If your pH is low with normal alk, you need to fix the CO2 problem rather than continually adding Kalk. This can be accomplished with better aeration, better water movement, or a refugium that is lit at night (or some combination).>   And in my Drs.F&S catalog (pg. 145) they have 2 Little Fishies A & B and Kent A & B. Which one would you recommend? Am familiar with Kent name from my freshwater keeping but it says you need both A & B and I don't see anything else labeled just B-ionic. Thank you so much for your time AND patience. Diane.  <Out of the three 2-part additives you listed, B-Ionic is my favorite. Two Little Fishies is second, but none of them are bad. Read carefully.. sometimes B-Ionic (which calls it's components calcium and an alkalinity rather than A and B) is only sold as a set, so the catalog may not list separate parts. Best Regards! AdamC>

Water Quality Help part 2 2/22/05 Thanks, Adam. I'll try the CO2 test. We have a 3000 sq ft house with something like 25ft ceilings...big and open, as is the tradition in Phoenix. So, I didn't consider it, but I'll let you know. Hopefully, that is all the problem. <Sorry for the slow reply! The issue has more to do with modern construction that is very weather (and air) tight. Even large houses can accumulate a surprising amount of CO2.> Calcium, as measured yesterday, is at 380. Probably because I'm adding so much Kalk.  <This is an ideal level.> I feed the fish once a day. Two little cubes of ground up shrimp, and two pinches of Formula Two. All gets eaten. Every couple of days, I squirt some ground up Formula Two on the colt and Capnella. Sound good?  <Sounds OK, but I doubt that these corals are capturing any of the ground up food. Best Regards. AdamC.>

Ideal sump and low PH I have a 75E tank with a 20 gallon sump I built myself using a 20 gallon high tank with Plexiglas baffles. In the first section I have the water from both overflows going into a sock filled with carbon. <Good> In the same area is my SeaClone 150 skimmer and a Red Sea bubble skimmer. the water then goes over a partition thru a drip plate and over 2 gallons of bioballs. then under a partition and over a partition to a Quiet One 3000 pump and up to a closed loop manifold. I have had the tank for about a year and my water log ranges are: temp 78-80 ph 7.4-8.4 sg 1.023 ammonia 0-0.25 nitrite 0 nitrate 0-10 calcium 380-500 alkalinity 3.09-4 phosphates .03-1 <All but the phosphate looks fine> I have a devils hand, yellow polyps, button polyps, Nephthea, galaxy, Favia, colt and Montipora. they are all doing well. for fish I currently have 2 clowns, dwarf lion, and a yellow tang. who are all doing well. I have lost a yellow tang, Niger trigger and Volitans lion all around Christmas for no apparent reason. and I just lost a copper banded butterfly from a bacterial infection.  I also have about 70 lbs of live rock and 260 watts of compact fluorescents and 80 watts of regular fluorescents.  My questions are: 1 what is the ideal setup for my sump? <Mmm, well... if the occasion presented itself, I would ditch the two less-efficient skimmers for either an Aqua-C or Euro-Reef unit... this would greatly improve your water quality...> Remove the bioballs and replace with live sand? <Mmm, I would NOT do this... as the water flow would likely be too much in this size, type sump... Now, if you have room, could add another sump next to this... make it into a refugium, with a much diminished water flow rate... THERE I would place LS...> put carbon last before the return pump? <Matters little in this scheme where the carbon is placed... becomes exhausted, more of a biological filter media within hours...> I want to re-do the sump but I want to be sure to do it perfect this time so I don't learn more and find I am doing everything wrong and have to do it again. <Sounds good> 2 My pH keeps dropping and I would like to keep it stable without buffering it. I do water changes weekly but it doesn't seem to help enough. Is buffering pH a normal part of reefs? <Mmm, good to great question... yes is the short answer... along with enormous dilution (currents, the sea), photosynthesis, wave action... the recycling, making, un-making of carbonates, bi-carbonates...> Thank you for all you do, Paul <You appear to be a "perfect candidate" (in a sensitive, receptive period) for considering a refugium... addition. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm and the linked files (above, in blue)... and consider your options. Bob Fenner>

Re: Weird water chemistry. Ongoing misunderstandings of pH, alkalinity Right! I'd thought of CO2 in terms of flora respiration, but not oxygenation (or just circulation?) driving out the dissolved CO2. <Does so> I think I have this mostly figured out now -- can you check me here? 1. Water comes out of tap at 8.2 with lots of KH. <Okay> 2. I add "liquid acid buffer", but this is not really acid buffer at all! <Likely not... just an acid period... that is, an electron donor, proton acceptor... gets used up... is gone... doesn't continue to modify pH> It is simply something that reacts with the KH in the water and forms CO2, which forms carbonic acid, which... 3. drives down the pH. <Yes> 4. Circulation then releases dissolved CO2, and...  5. there are is still enough KH (or GH?) remaining in the water to drive the pH back up again. <One way of looking at this... again, there is HUGE room for confusion with the terms "alkaline", "acidic" and "alkalinity", "acidity"... the former are points... on a scale... the latter are measures of resistance to change in points...> What I have observed is that the initial treatment with "acid buffer" reduces the homeostatic pH point (i.e. the pH level when water is circulating) from 8.2 to 7.5. Therefore it is removing a lot of something, fast and permanently. <Fast, but not permanently> But then, while repeated treatments will result in a rapid but temporary lowering of pH due to CO2 increase, the pH remains at 7.5 once the CO2 is gone. <More likely, the easily solubilized parts of your water's alkaline reserve are depressed... but re-assert themselves in short order> So it seems that while my "acid buffer" permanently "eliminates" some part of the KH, there is another component to KH which is ~not~ permanently eliminated. <Yes!> ~That~ component continues to react with the acid buffer to produce CO2... <The carbon dioxide analogy is not accurate... easier, more complete to imagine the change here in terms of carbonate... bicarbonate exhaustion> ...but simply serves as some sort of catalyst in this reaction, and is itself not permanently altered. Thus, in the absence of any substantive acid buffering capacity (other than the temporary CO2), the pH remains high.  Am I still on the right track? <Sort of...> Btw, this seems to explain that odd problem I wrote to you about a couple of weeks ago, where I had added some pH 7.5 water from my tank to a bag of pH 7.0 water from the fish store and got a resulting pH of 6.4. What must have happened was that the "acid buffer" in the tank water was continuing to produce CO2, which was being removed via circulation. When I put that into the bag, a non-circulating system, the CO2 levels shot up and the pH shot down... Thanks again -Dave <Mmm, actually more likely an interference with some portion of the water in the bag... and your test kit... Bob Fenner>

Low pH Problem I need help with a low pH problem. <Ok, maybe I can help.> My pH currently stays around 7.8. I have tried different types of additives (buffers). This normally only works for a day or less. I do not have a calcium reactor. Instead I use additives for this. My alkalinity is 5 meq/L. I have a 90 gallon tank with 2 actinic lights and 2 175w metal halides. The filter is an eco-system which is currently due for a partial mud replacement. The temp is 82. Calcium is 450. No real measurable amount of nitrates, nitrites or phosphates. The tank is 2 years old and I have basically had a problem with this for most of this time. I have asked locals and searched the web for help with no luck. I thank you very much for any help you can give. Thank You.  Dale <Dale, Have you tested the magnesium? Low magnesium will prevent your pH from ever stabilizing. Also, what time of day are you testing the water? If you are testing the water in the morning the pH will be lower than if you test it at night. Doing a partial mud replacement will also possibly help. Another thing to consider is that the light on the Eco-system should be on 24 hours a day or on during the night when the lights are off the main display tank. I hope this helps. MikeB.> 

Question on pH Hi all, Sorry to bother you with this question re pH. I just started a 180g marine tank and a 75g sump, with 160p of aragonite sand and 180p of Caribbean live rocks, 3 days ago. I didn't start the MH lights yet I just run the moon light 12 hours a day. <I would run the other lighting some hours per day> I check daily ammonia, nitrite and nitrate and the nitrogen cycle is starting as planned. The temp is about 79. I have a  controller that I use to control pH. It is always 7.9 whatever the amount of buffer I put in the tank. Is it due to the cycling of live rock? Thanks, Didier Champauzac <Yep... Read re cycling same... on WWM, water quality and LR... Curing... Lighting... Bob Fenner...>

Re: High pH question I get the impression from your comments that I don't need to worry about the high Ph.  It still seems high.  Its now 8.63 but its hard to tell if its rising  since I recently recalibrated the probe. <Am still concerned re the cause of the elevated pH... the decor... have you removed and cured it as yet? If so, water changes, time going by should see your pH drifting lower>   I continue to have unexplainable fish deaths:  Fish that are eating fine for weeks suddenly die.  I have about 10 fish, I start to add more and they start dying mysteriously and I end up back at 9-10 fish.  This has happened more than once - it is getting very frustrating and expensive!  For example, some mystery deaths include: In tank #1" A large Adult Imperator angelfish (~ 7") was doing fine for years.  I had him for over 4 years.  One day I noticed he didn't come out to eat.  The next day he was dead (around Sept of this year).  No visible signs of illness - other than not breathing. a Niger Trigger that I bought in May was doing fine.  In Sept he jumped out, or was forced out, during a "feeding frenzy" however I was by the tank when it happened and I immediately put him back in.  He continued doing fine - he doubled in size by Dec.  All of a sudden he disappeared.  For almost 3 weeks I couldn't find him - I figured he was dead somewhere but couldn't find a corpse.  Then he appeared on Dec 26th, near death lying at the bottom.  He died two days later.   A juvenile French angel (3") that was originally in the other tank.  However he was severely harassing all the other fish.  It took me three hours to catch him and when I did, he actually had a heart attack and stopped breathing.  I revived him by lightly tapping on his chest and pushing and pulling him by the tail in a small bucket of water.  Once he regained his strength I put him in this tank.  He did fine for about a month.  Then all of a sudden I found him dead at the bottom.  No visible sign of illness.  Weak Heart? <These species, sizes of fishes are NOT easily lost... there is something amiss with your system... maybe a metal poisoning (a pump, clamp?), other source of toxic influence> The only other fish in this 750 Gal tank are: A 10" "Dog Face" Puffer  (>3 yrs; older than the tank - was in my previous tank) A 6" "Dog Face" puffer (different colorations/markings) (>3 yrs-older than tank - was in my previous tank) A 10" Maculosus Angel (>4 yrs; older than tank - was in my previous tank - he has a "dormant" case of lateral line/hole-in-the-head that stopped progressing over a year ago) A 5" Naso Tang (bought in Nov) In Tank #2: A juvenile imperator (2.5") that I bought on Nov 22 - was eating fine up to the day he disappeared (about a week ago - haven't seen him since; assume he's dead though I can't find the corpse).   A Saddle back butterfly that I had since Feb - was eating voraciously.  Then one day around the beginning of Dec, I found him dead, floating at the top.   The only other fish in this 750 gal tank are: A 3" purple tang that now appears to have some fin-rot and lateral line (bought in Late Oct but was stressed out and harassed by the Juvenile French described above) A 3" sailfin tang (Bought in early Nov) a 4" Cow fish (Bought in Feb) A 4" Magnificent Fox Face bought in late Nov Both tanks are tied together via the same filter system. I thought maybe its an oxygen problem??? I ran some tests and it seems ok.  Though I want to try a test from a water sample taken near the bottom among the decorations. <Given your good notes, descriptions of species, sizes, NOT likely anoxia/hypoxia... otherwise other mix of species would have succumbed> Temp ~80F; Salinity ~ 1.18; Ammonia / Nitrites read 0; I have a lot of UV (~320W). Protein Skimmer.  A sand filter (typical swimming pool type filter - saltwater safe) combined with a Wet/dry system. Thanks, Mike Spizzirri <My suggestions as are before: remove, cure whatever the source of the excess alkalinity (concrete rock?) outside these systems, and use PolyFilter to identify and remove possible metal/s. Bob Fenner> pH Issues Hi Jim. Thank you very much for your response. I think I will give the Boxfish a back seat until I get myself a larger tank unless you think I could have the Ostracion cyanurus Boxfish as this only grows to 6", I would consider returning the filefish if you think this would help. One problem that I do have at the moment is that the pH keeps dropping to 8, do you have any ideas on how to stabilize it? In my 55Gallon tank I have approx 30Kg of rocks and a coral sand substrate, with some dead corals for decoration. I regularly do a 10% water change every 2 weeks. Look forward to hearing from you. Regards Daniel >>>Hello again Daniel, Back when I kept fish only tanks, and crowded ones at that, I never did a pH reading. As a marine aquarist that now has 20 years of experience, I still don't. I don't even own a Ph test kit - never have. I DID keep up with my water changes though in those old school fish only tanks! In a fish only tank like that especially, I would just keep up on the water changes and not get all the dither about Ph if I were you. Boost the water changes up to 20% first of all to see if that helps - it should. I DO add supplements to my tank to balance things - B-ionic to be exact. I dose, and I test the alkalinity and calcium levels once a month or so, but that's it. You can purchase a Ph buffer and start dosing every other day or so, then testing to see the results. Soon you'll know exactly how much to add to keep your tank stable, and you will not have to test very much at all. Like I said though, I never worried about it with fish tanks. Good luck Jim<<<

pH Issues with new setup <Ryan helping you today.> I've been reading this site for the past several weeks, also picked up Mr. Fenner's book and read it a couple times and I am still clueless.  I have been taking my time trying to plan things carefully, not rushing this.  I purchased a 75gal tank and plan to do SW/FO, maybe LR in the future (6 mo.s).  I set up all the filters/powerheads - Magnum 350 Pro, AquaC Remora - 2xRio 1200's.  Filled the tank with tap water and let it sit for 7 days.  spg-.022, ph7.8 <pH should be more like 8.2> Due to space constraints I can't have 75gal worth of water sitting in buckets (and only 3 buckets=5 weeks wait - NOT!) to age then mix, so I mixed the salt in the tank.  I then gave it 3 days to thoroughly mix.  I then rinsed and deposited 40lbs of crushed coral into the tank.  According to LFS this would finally buffer my ph into an acceptable range.  Woke up the next am....8hrs later and the ph has not moved!  <I'd use a pH buffer- substrates rely on dissolving solids to raise the pH- This will deplete your substrate, and take longer.>  Is this not enough substrate?  The wrong kind?  Or has not enough time passed?  By tonight when I get home from work my guess is the ph will still have not changed at all.  How do I get the ph to the correct range?  <Use a buffer.  Cheap, effective.>  What am I missing?  How come salt mix+water+substrate does not equal an acceptable ph?  <A lower pH can also mean that your water is not being aerated!  Try powering up your skimmer to add some oxygen to the mix.>   How come after dozens of hours of reading this site and others I can find no answer to this question?  <People rarely understand this relationship- But there are plenty of pages of questions relating to Marine pH issues: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphfaq.htm> I appreciate all the hard work that has gone into this site I guess I am just frustrated that something to me that seems to be a "no brainer" is totally overlooked? <Sam, aerate your water, get a decent buffer, and you'll be at the right level in a few short days.  You're well on your way towards a great tank.> Thank you for any help, -Sam I killed a tang. pH adjustment Hi Crew! How do you get fresh water ph to equal your system water ph? It is impossible to do with test kits.   <Pre-mix your tap with sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)... a very safe material, as it will not elevate pH too high> I did my best with a couple test kits and fresh water dipped a tang and killed a very healthy beautiful fish. <Not likely with just this error> I had aerated distilled water for 24 hrs,  matched temp and tried to match ph, I dipped for 5 minutes, he made it through the night but when I got home he was dead.  I know it was the ph, I had a feeling I was way off.   I get the feeling that fresh water test kits don't work so well when dealing with pure water. The scale colours don't match at all. I have many different kits and all do this when dealing with distilled water.   <Don't use distilled... other problems here... with osmotic shock principally> Is there an exact amount of baking soda I can add to  1 gal of water that will bring it out to 8.2? <Yes... with the use of an alkalinity test kit and your mind> I am now afraid to dip fish.  My tang had a few black spots..   I know formalin works, does copper? Thanks so much! <Please read on www.WetWebMedia.com re Yellow Tang Disease. Bob Fenner>

Re: I killed a tang Thank you so much Mr.. Fenner,  I will in the future use tap water and prepare it  ahead of time. <Ahh, good. You will find that this preparation is actually quite simple> I  have TCMA and will likely receive your other book for Christmas. You are my reference that I trust  much more than anybody else. Thanks for being there and I sure hope to be able to repay you <You have done so here. Thank you my young friend. Bob Fenner>

High PH question <Hi Mike, MacL here with you this evening.> I had emailed you 2 years ago for advise.  I don't know if you still answer questions, but If you do... <He has branched out and has a whole crew of people to answer now.> Is there something I can use to help lower my PH? I have a large marine fish-only aquarium (1500 gals) and the PH sits too high ~ 8.5 to 8.6. Someone suggested dosing with vinegar. Is that safe? I don't know what that would do to the water chemistry. Others suggest a calcium reactor.  Seems like an expensive solution.  Would a CO2 injection setup lower the ph? <I think before you work on lowering it you need to figure out why your ph is high.> I already have a Ph controller - it was part of my PH/temperature controller -but I have never used the PH part of the device for anything more than monitoring. <Mike, is it consistently high? I think that perhaps the tank is out of ionic balance. Water changes will take care of that but there has to be a reason why its going that high.  There are multiple things to address high ph but I always suggest people look at the reasons behind it.> Thanks, Mike Spizzirri

High pH follow up <Hi Mike, MacL following up with you here.> I believe it is consistently high and I believe I know the reason. Why I am noticing it now:</ The tank has been up for 14 months.  I didn't notice it so much through the summer months because I use evaporation to help cool the tank and my refresh water trickles in at a ph of about 6.5 (R.O.) - so my ph always seemed solid at 8.35-8.4. AHHHHH, understood.> Now with the winter months my evaporation is reduced and so there is not as much refresh water going in. What is the cause: I am pretty certain that the high ph is due to concrete "rock formations" that I made for decoration. <Definitely could do it. The secret is in the curing, something to be honest I haven't conquered yet so I don't make my own.>  I overlaid structures of PVC pipe and ceiling light lattice with 1-2" layer of Portland cement and crushed oyster shells to form hollow rock structures - They are large, ~ 50 to 100 lbs a piece and there are 8 of them (I believe it took 7 90# bags of Portland cement and 10 40# bags of crushed oyster shells).<Wow they sound great though.> There is no way to remove the structures - so I am looking for a way to compensate.  Monthly water changes of ~125 gallons seems to keep it from going much higher than 8.6 but I would like to get it down to more normal levels.  I have lost several fish within a day or two of acclimation - likely because I can't seem to get a good process going (I noticed that the "bag water" drops to 7.8 - I probably throw the fish into ph shock) <Definite possibility on the ph shock. I'm sitting here trying to think of ways to lower your ph in a consistent manner without having to really go crazy on the chemicals. What strikes me immediately is that this problem could potentially get worse as more and more of it letches out into the water. There  is no way to remove it? Okay so you do know there are chemicals to drop the ph and you could plan on dosing them every day.  Let me ask, have you checked the levels at night? Are they staying consistently high during the evening hours as well? You could lower the ph of the water you are adding rather than treating the tank, which might be another way to attack the problem.  But in the long run I fear the problem is going to become quite overwhelming. Perhaps doing something like a Kalk reactor but the opposite way where you'd set it up to drop water with low ph rather than high? Mike I'm going to pass your letter to another of the crew and see if they can come up with anything as well. MacL.> Thanks, Mike Spizzirri

Re: High pH question I don't know if my previous message got through so I am resending: <Good> I will copy the conversation below: My original Question: I  had emailed you 2 years ago for advise.  I don't know if you still answer questions, but If you do... Is there something I can use to help lower my PH? I have a large marine fish-only aquarium (1500 gals) and the PH sits too high ~ 8.5 to 8.6. Someone suggested dosing with vinegar. Is that safe? I don't know what that would do to the water chemistry. Others suggest a calcium reactor.  Seems like an expensive solution.  Would a CO2 injection setup lower the ph? <I think before you work on lowering it you need to figure out why your ph is high.> I already have a Ph controller - it was part of my PH/temperature controller -but I have never used the PH part of the device for anything more than monitoring. The first Response: Hi Mike, MacL here with you this evening.> <He has branched out and has a whole crew of people to answer now.> <Mike, is it consistently high? I think that perhaps the tank is out of ionic balance. Water changes will take care of that but there has to be a reason why its going that high.  There are multiple things to address high ph but I always suggest people look at the reasons behind it.> My Follow up interspersed with responses that I highlighted in blue I believe it is consistently high and I believe I know the reason. Why I am noticing it now.  The tank has been up for 14 months.  I didn't notice it so much through the summer months because I use evaporation to help cool the tank and my refresh water trickles in at a ph of about 6.5 (R.O.) - so my ph always seemed solid at 8.35-8.4. AHHHHH, understood.> Now with the winter months my evaporation is reduced and so there is not as much refresh water going in. What is the cause: I am pretty certain that the high ph is due to concrete "rock formations" that I made for decoration. <Definitely could do it. The secret is in the curing, something to be honest I haven't conquered yet so I don't make my own.>  I overlaid structures of PVC pipe and ceiling light lattice with 1-2" layer of Portland cement and crushed oyster shells to form hollow rock structures - They are large, ~ 50 to 100 lbs a piece and there are 8 of them (I believe it took 7 90# bags of Portland cement and 10 40# bags of crushed oyster shells).<Wow they sound great though.> There is no way to remove the structures - so I am looking for a way to compensate.  Monthly water changes of ~125 gallons seems to keep it from going much higher than 8.6 but I would like to get it down to more normal levels.  I have lost several fish within a day or two of acclimation - likely because I can't seem to get a good process going (I noticed that the "bag ,water" drops to PH of 7.8 - I probably throw the fish into ph shock) <Definite possibility on the ph shock. I'm sitting here trying to think of ways to lower your ph in a consistent manner without having to really go crazy on the chemicals. What strikes me immediately is that this problem could potentially get worse as more and more of it letches out into the water.  There  is no way to remove it? Okay so you do know there are chemicals to drop the ph and you could plan on dosing them every day.  Let me ask, have you checked the levels at night? Are they staying consistently high during the evening hours as well? You could lower the ph of the water you are adding rather than treating the tank, which might be another way to attack the problem.  But in the long run I fear the problem is going to become quite overwhelming. Perhaps doing something like a Kalk reactor but the opposite way where you'd >set it up to drop water with low ph rather than high? Mike I'm going to pass your letter to another of the crew and see if they can come up with anything as well. MacL.> My Final Response plus additional comments: I am looking forward to your crew's comments.  By the way, to answer your question.  I do not see a drop in the PH at night - it is very "solid", day and night. <This is a bit disconcerting... even with well-buffered systems, there should be a detectable drop during the night, readable in the AM> As a short-term fix, I am lowering my temp from 81.5 F to 80.5 F.  That should cause my cooling fans to run more frequently and increase evaporation. <Good idea to lower temp... but should result in decreased evaporation> I have had a few mysterious deaths that I am wondering if it could be PH related.  I have even had my water tested by a lab to ensure there are no toxic metals - everything checked out clean. Thanks, Mike Spizzirri <Cheaper and more direct to utilize PolyFilter/s... Will detect (by color) and remove such contaminants (if present). Bob Fenner> Re: High PH question since the tank is a fish-only tank I have the lights go on at 3pm and off at 11:pm to keep algae growth down.  Indirect light from distant windows is present.  I have check the ph monitor and done tests with my Red Sea test kit and there is no discernable difference between the evening and the following morning/early afternoon before the lights come on. Thanks, Mike Spizzirri <Just a well-buffered, high alkalinity system. Bob Fenner> High alkalinity and low pH Hi question. I have High Alkalinity and low Ph about 7.8 Every thing is looking bad all stunted. This just happened recently. I have been out of my two part for about 2 months and just got some about 5 days ago and have been dosing more that recommended. << Don't dose it!  Or at least don't dose the buffer part, as that will make things worse. >> Yesterday my tank was cloudy and corals, mushrooms, anemones looked very bad pretty sure because of the low Ph. Tried baking soda worked a little. But if my alk is high how can the Ph be low. << It happens. >> Please help what should I do Water Change? << Great idea.  A water change fixes about 90% of the problems in my mind. >> Did the heavy dosing do this. << Very likely. >> I use C- Balance and have been putting in about 30 mill a day in a 75 gallon reef with 70 pounds of Live rock. Thanks so much your site is awesome << Do a water change, and then do nothing.  Just give it time and don't use any additives. >> Rodney <<  Blundell  >> SW low ph Hi, this is truly an awesome site. This is my first time writing in with a question as most are answered by searching and reading. >>Hi Todd, thanks for the nice words. Rich here>> I just purchased a 90 gal FOWLR and transported it 100 miles. All went well until I did my usual tests. The guy I bought it from should never be allowed to have marine fish in my opinion because he knew nothing about the hobby and gave me improper info on the tank over the phone. OK, enough of my ranting. Here are the specifics to this tank. 90 gal, wet dry, custom made skimmer, denitrator, 120 lbs live rock, 80 lbs live sand, 1 yellow tank, 1 hippo tang, 2 ocellaris clowns, 1 passer angle, 1 bluehead wrasse, 3 skunk cleaner shrimp, 1 scarlet red fire shrimp, 1 sand sifting star. Now for the tests, nitrites 0ppm, nitrates 10ppm, ammonia 0ppm, temp 80, specific gravity 1.021, and PH 7.8 :-(.  The PH is the big concern for me. The fish have been in this tank for some time and I want to know how I raise the PH without harming the occupants. I would like to add another fish or two but I am sure the low PH will be harmful to new inhabitants. Thanks in advance, Todd >>How are you testing the pH? I find that different kits give different answers. If the animals in the tank look good, I wouldn't worry too much about the pH. I try not to get caught up in the numbers game, and like to use the health of my critters as a gauge of water quality. To raise the pH, I would start with a big water change because if the pH is low, there is probably something in the water suppressing it. If that, or trying a different test kit, doesn't do the trick, let us know and well think of something else! Rich>>

Low pH problems Hello Wet Web Media << Hello, Blundell here. >> Soft Corals are Easy Right? << I'll say yes.  They need clean water and lots of light. >> I have a 75 gallon reef with a protein skimmer that operates efficiently ----- two over the back filters mainly for carbon and poly filters and 4 powerheads to create water movement ---- water movement is very good --- I also use subcompact supplemented with some additional actinics.  Everything was going real good (yes I know this was to good for to long --- succeeding and failing reef hobbyist for 12 years).  The problem is that all my stonies are doing great Brain, Candy Cane, Frog and Hammer but my softs are not.  I have xenia, leather, green star polyps and green fluorescent mushrooms which all seem to be struggling ---- the PH was low at 7.9 << That's low.  I'd find that problem source first. >> so I immediately did a 40% water change and started with the Super buffer DKH --- the leather open and expanded its polyps but the green star polyps and mushrooms are still closed and the xenia is actually dying.  I have the Ph up to 8.3 and I added oxygen to the system by running the air tube out of my office window (the building I work in is totally closed in so I thought maybe CO2 might be playing a role in lowering Ph especially at night.  Is there something here apparent that I am missing????? Should I add an air stone and air pump for additional oxygen???? --- do a larger water change???  ---- << Well do you have a refugium?  I'd consider that, and also check to see if you are adding or need to add buffers and supplements.  Don't add them if you don't need them. >> I do supplement with calcium, iodine, molybdenum and strontium,  I need soft coral magic Wet Web << I would not add any calcium, but would be adding buffers.  Then go from there and see if things improve. >> Jeff <<  Blundell  >> B-Ionic Calcium buffer system Hi my name is Peter. I got low ph in my tank. WWM Crew told me to increase the buffer part of an additive. Add one half of the B-Ionic supplements. I got it today. Component No.1 and Component No.2 Alkalinity and Calcium. Question is -USE ONLY CALCIUM COMPONENT OR USE ALKALINITY COMPONENT AS WELL?      THANK YOU !!! Peter from Staten Island. <Mmm, depends on what the make-up of your water is (from testing) and what you want it to be... Time to study my friend. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm and on to the related FAQS, articles (linked, in blue, at top). Bob Fenner>

Low pH problems Hi Bob, << Blundell tonight. >> My question for you is why I cannot get my aquarium ph above 7.8,  since I switched to a new 90 gallon All-glass reef ready tank 4 weeks ago? << I don't know buy I'm guessing lack of water movement (on the surface). >> Background; previous tank set-up was always 8.2-8.3 ph. and never an issue. The only real difference from old to new set-up is much more water circulation (3500 gph vs. 2000 gph) and a 5 inch gravel bed with plenum (2 inch - no plenum in old tank). << More circulation in the old or the new?  Either way it sounds like you have enough circulation so lets look for other possibilities. >> I only used 3 cups of old substrate into new tank. I retained the 8 year old live rock (60 lbs) too. I added Kent Supper Buffer every day for 10 days with no change in ph.  << I wouldn't do that.  Stop adding stuff, do a water change, and then wait. >> I am keeping the calcium level around 325 with Seachem supplements. << Don't add calcium either. >> All other water parameters are within your guidelines, nothing out of the ordinary. Bioload on new tank set-up is low, 3 fish and 7 small corals. The one thing I have noticed with the All-glass overflow to sump system, is that the discharge into the sump is extremely aerated (discharge pipe is below water level in sump). << That is good. >> To the point I have micro bubbles in the return water to tank. << Most people don't like the looks of that, but I still think it is good. >> I added a coarse sponge to a section in the sump to help dissipate the bubbles, but some still get by, due to the high circulation rate. Someone told me that a high aeration can actually cause carbonic acid and that is why I cannot raise the ph. Is this true? Is a 7.8 ph going to be an issue down the road as I add corals?  << Yes it would be.  But I don't think we'll have that problem.  Being a newly set up aquarium, and moving live rock, I wouldn't be surprised if you have die off causing the problem.  My advice is to stop adding chemicals, do a water change (20%) and then wait two weeks and two days.  Measure it again and it should be fine. >>   Thanks, Randy <<  Blundell  >>

pH and Buffering I have a question about buffering and ph. I have a 120 gallon tank with a 4 inch Oscar and a 4 inch Pleco. Well it looks like the Oscar might be staring to get hole in head. My nitrate is 20 nitrite 0,and ammonia is.25 and alkalinity is 0 and ph is around 6.5 or 6.8.I did a 50% water change 2 days ago and added Amquel plus and Nov-aqua which is something I use every week. I have 2emperor 400 and a hot magnum and use black diamond charcoal and white diamond for ammonia. I hope this is a good product because I am stocked up for 3 or 4 months on it. Any help will be greatly appreciated. Fred <<Why do you have .25 of ammonia? Do you always test for and/or have ammonia problems? This should not be. You should not have to run White Diamond for ammonia on a regular basis; I assume you just starting having this problem? You need to find out why you have ammonia, and then let the tank cycle itself properly. Your pH is not a problem, but this ammonia in your tank is. You will need to test regularly (as I am sure you are doing) and keep the ammonia level low via water changes, and do the same once that ammonia starts turning into nitrite. Do not let the filter become too dirty and then end up having to over clean your filter, this can destroy too many bacteria. It is best to clean filters a bit more frequently, but do your best not to disturb the nitrifying bacteria by alternating the areas you clean. For example, if you have two sponges, rinse one per session. And do not change out Amrid, carbon, and foams all at once. Alternate them. Another thing, do not overfeed, and make sure to vacuum your gravel and underneath any decorations frequently. -Gwen>>

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