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FAQs on Marine pH, Alkalinity 3

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 4Marine pH 5Marine pH 6 Marine pH 7, 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

Checking pH time What time should I check my pH in AM and PM? Thanks again. <Hi Jun, The best time is in the AM just before their lights come on and in the PM just before they go off. The pH is affected by the release of gasses into the water as a result of photosynthesis by corals, plants, etc.  Craig>  

Those Darned New-fangled Products...! Thanks for the reply, Scott . . . <My pleasure> And (sorry) back to my question about my water. <No need to apologize!> Have you any experience with Seachem's Acid/Alkaline buffer (said to use in fixed ratios to yield a buffered acid pH) or Kent's "pH Control Minus", "when used in conjunction with "pH stable", will yield a stable, buffered, pH."  They're about the only non phosphoric acid buffers I found . . . Seachem's is said to be terrible. (hmm I see SeaChem is a sponsor . . . are you required to not comment? ; )) <Nah- we speak our minds, if you haven't guessed already! LOL. I really don't use such products, myself. I'm surprised that the Seachem product has a seemingly bad rep out there. Maybe some of our other readers could give you some feedback on this product, or others similar to it. Try the wetwebmedia.com chat forum. You may want to contact Seachem directly to discuss the proper usage of the product. I've talked to their technical people before, and was impressed with their friendliness and desire to help!>   I must ask about all these new products I see that appear to be truly different, such as that new "Bio-Spira" by Marineland, and the New Life Spectrum food which was discussed in TFH. <A fine dry food, in my experience. I am not a big fan of dried foods myself, but I really like this one!> If the Bio-Spira claims are true it would change the entire freshwater fishkeeping world, I think.  Again, do you know anything about these products? <I have not had experience with the "Bio-Spira", but it sounds to me to be the same type of products that have been around for a long time, such as Hagen's "Cycle", Aquarium Pharmaceutical's "Stress Zyme", etc. Perhaps the concentration is different in this product, or maybe it's some type of special strain of Nitrosomonas or Nitrobacters, but I think it may be similar to products already out there-but in different packaging...Marineland does make some fine products, and is a credit to the hobby, so I certainly wouldn't discount such a product without personal experience. I'm certainly not in a position to give a technical analysis of this stuff, so you may have to give it a shot if you find it interesting! I'm sure that it is a very useful product.> Again, THANKS! (Mahalo to you Scott) and for all the locals, Kung Hee Fat Choy, Akemashite omedetoo gozaimasu, and a Happy New Year.  If only I could say that in Hawaiian!    <Hey- you already have with your "Aloha Spirit", my friend! Keep doin' it "local style"!>

High pH Hi again David, I have a problem ! My ph is now at 8.75 & seems to be rising, my extra water is a 8.4 & I have not added any buffer, how can I lower it, will "ph down" work? <Much higher than this and I would get worried. Please lower the pH slowly and gently. Let's don't simply pour stuff in hoping it will work. Test the pH of your top-off water. If it's lower than your display tank, use this water for top-off with no buffer. RO/DI is usually lower than 8.0  Also, test your water for changes after adding the salt. If the pH is reasonable (8.0-8.5) I might would do a series of large water changes over a week or two> It uses sulfuric acid. Please let me know, as well as what is causing it to rise. <Before we can tell what's causing it to rise, test the pH of your source water. Source water is likely the problem. I can't think of anything within the tank that can cause pH to constantly rise> Thanks a million ! <You're welcome! Keep me posted. David Dowless>     DJ

Injured Picasso Triggerfish Hi David, <Hello again!>            Thanks for your reply. To fill you in, my trigger passed away last night, and I had the quarantine tank set up and ready to go.( I am sure it will get used someday though ) <I'm sorry to hear of your loss> My other question for you is that my PH runs from 8.55 to 8.61, is this dangerous? <It's a little high but if it doesn't rise any higher than this (even during the daytime), it's not dangerous> I have been trying to replace the h20 with new r/o water with a PH of 7, though it really does not seem to make a difference. <It will bring it down eventually. I wouldn't worry too much about your pH. If you add a new fish, please be sure to slowly acclimate the fish to this pH. It is high enough to give new fish (from a lower pH) a condition called pH shock...which can be deadly. If it doesn't kill the new addition quickly, it may kill it slowly> I added too much buffer a couple weeks back...and suggestions ? <Test the pH during the day after the lights have been on for a few hours and test it at night after the lights have been off for a few hours. If it's no higher than 8.6 at any time, you will be okay> Thanks! <It's a pleasure to help! David Dowless>

pH probe calibration hope you guys are having a merry xmas.  one small question.  I have 2 electronic ph meters reading .25 different.  is there a homemade solution or method to calibrate these? the 4.0-7.0-12.0 solution packets that they came with, but used them up a while back.  cant seem to find where to get more, but figures there was an easier way? thanks for the help. Neil <There are "stock solutions" one can make at home from "household" materials... but... I would purchase new standards (you can find them using your computer's search engines with the term: pH standards.) And, if it were me, mine, and the two were still a quarter point different, I would send them into a lab for testing there. Bob Fenner>

Re: falling pH Happy Holidays from Denver, CO!  How the heck is everyone?  Everything is swell over here, except for my pH, which is sitting around 8.0-8.1.  It's just a wee little 10gal. reef with a single damsel.  I perform 25% water changes weekly and do not overfeed. I even tried a pH buffer just for kicks and it didn't budge it.  WWM Staff, please send help soon as I can't bear the loss of any of my beloved soft corals. Thanks in advance.  Kyle P.S. Do you guys sleep?  Is this your only job?  Where are you guys? <Happy Holidays Kyle. Everyone seems to be just fine. Not to worry, 8.0-8.1 isn't too bad.  Your soft corals won't die at 8.0. Are you buffering your top off water? If not, I suspect your carbonate alkalinity is low contributing to a slightly depressed pH. Also, test pH in the evening when the lights have been on all day. In the AM the pH will be low. You don't mention the type of water you are using, this could be it as well. Yes, we sleep, most of us hold down real jobs and we are all over the place! I'm on an Island in the South Puget Sound of Washington State. No worries, Craig>  

Alkalinity and pH I have a quick question about alkalinity. Last Wednesday I brought home an Elegant Coral and a Open Brain Coral. <both are placed on the sand bottom right? They must to survive... see archives here at WWM> By the weekend the Elegant Coral had developed brown jelly disease and infected the open brain above it. <above it suggests placement of at least on rock. Hmmm... free-living SPS corals become stressed and abraded when polyps cycles cause wounds and tears on live rock... leading to infection. May not have been your problem... could have been shipping/handling if they were new at LFS. Still... you sound like a new aquarist. Do consider that quarantine is necessary for all new fishes and corals (4 weeks in a separate tank). This prevent s the spread of such infection s to your whole tanks, saves lives and has many other benefits. Please visit the WetWebMedia archives on this topic as well. Also... buy a good reference book and read it to guide your purchases before bringing livestock home my friend> I immediately sucked the disease off them and removed them from the tank. I fresh water dipped them and tried them again. Of course too late, the next day I removed them completely. <indeed... it is highly contagious/virulent. Best treated in QT for any chance of survival and more so to protect the rest of the tank> Since then (Sunday) I have been fighting a low PH. <not caused by the corals of course... if anything, the waning pH of the system stressed the corals and was a catalyst> About 7.8. <Doh!> I have been adding Kent PH Buffer. Today it is about 7.9. The thing that scares me the most is my alkalinity is 16.32. <holy cow!> I checked twice yesterday which was over 18 and today it is 16.32 (DKH). What can I do to lower this and raise the PH at the same time?   <dilution is the solution to pollution: water changes. And if your Ca is low (under 375ppm here), use Kalkwasser to raise pH without raising Alk directly> I haven't been adding any 2 part calcium additives at all. Just the Tropic Marin Calcium. <sounds like things have gotten out of kilter. Several large water changes and then resume with Kalk/buffer or 2-part mix (but shake very well before every dose... critical!)> Thanks, Ian Roff <best regards, Anthony>

pH instability, sandsifting organisms and activity Hi, still trying to troubleshoot my pH problems. I can get the pH to 8.35 with Kalk or B-Ionic but then will fall by the end of the day to 8.1, daily. <Take a look at these two FAQ files. We have diagnosed a bunch of low pH problems previously. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphfaq2.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphfaq3.htm> If I vacuum my gravel, will my sand-sifting starfish starve? <Possibly> I have two in my 180 gallon with about 3" of sugar size sand and I have never vacuumed it since up and running for years. <If it is sugar sized sand and you have vigorous water movement, you should not have any detritus able to settle in between the sand grains and therefore any need to vacuum the sand.> I wouldn't want to kill something in my tank just to get my pH to stay at a constant level. Any suggestions? <Source water, salt mix, mixing procedure, CO2 accumulation, frequency or amount of water changes, etc.> Thanks, Jeff <Good luck to you! -Steven Pro>

Falling PH Mr. Fenner, <Steven Pro in this morning.> For the past few months, my 10 gallon reef tank's pH has started to slowly drop. I have a 2" crushed coral bed, <This could be a large part of your problem. Crushed coral tends to allow a lot of detritus to settle in between the gravel. This detritus is a great burden on the tank's alkalinity and pH.> 20 lbs. of LR, great circulation, great filtration, there is only one small electric blue damsel in the tank that is certainly not overfed and 25% water changes are performed weekly. <The frequency and amount of the water changes is good, but perhaps you are not gravel siphoning the crushed coral well enough to liberate and remove the detritus.> All other water parameters are great but I have noticed a considerable buildup of "sea dust". I call it "sea dust" because that's the best way to describe it. It settles on the rocks and looks like dust. <This maybe more of the detritus I am speaking about.> Is there any kind of creep crawler that will take care of this? <It is better to use vigorous water movement to keep this stuff in suspension long enough for your skimmer or other filtration to remove it. This also should and can be siphoned out during the water changes.> I've never had this problem with any of my other tanks and I have a feeling that you know better than me. Thank you in advance. <Good luck to you! -Steven Pro>

ppm or dKH?/Ph update/Still no Ph/Alk change! Okay Anthony, I aerated A CUP of water for 6 hours and............no change. Ph remained the same. That seems unusual to me. <not worries and not a surprise to me as per our last e-mail. Aeration is simple not a problem in your tank... that's a good thing <G>> I added 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to a cup of water, mixed and put into my 75 gal tank, and this morning, no Ph change, no dKH change. <hmmm... just curiously... what kind of pH test kit are you using? Is it new/fresh? Dry reagent is better than liquid in most cases. Warn me if this is a Wardley brand kit :P > Should I add more or should I stay with the Kalk?? <if we determine your test kit to be accurate, you can add say 1/2 to 1 tsp daily of baking soda for up to a week to get into the ballpark... then dose as tests reveal in time to determine a rhythm for your tank. Definitely less Kalk as long as your Calcium levels stay high. And remember... only dose Kalk after the lights go out... and only dose baking soda mid day/during light> This is driving me nuts and probably you guys too, sorry:( What now, ?? <no worries... we get this all the time. Kind regards, Anthony>

pH question and food Greetings!  Ever since I started reading your site, I have been paying more (better) attention to my tank.   <Good to hear!> Although I have had long-term success till now without testing water parameters, I have started recently. <Long-term success is measured in terms of years (multiples)> To that end, to check one parameter (pH) I bought a PinPoint device, calibrated it and put the probe in the sump.  The meter reads 8.15 until I do a 10% water change -- then it goes to 8.25 for a day or so, then slowly returns to 8.15 where it remains until the next water change.  Does that sound normal?   <Yes.. pH is a dynamic reading that will from change day to day and even hour to hour. One should only be concerned when it gets below 8.0 or above 8.5> Also as to food, I am another one who adds some frozen brine shrimp to the food that I feed my Scopus Tang and Mandarin.   <I would leave out the brine shrimp. Little to no nutritional value> I also feed algae flakes and blood worms.  Are the latter products OK?   <should be fine. Nori (dried seaweed) from the Asian section of the supermarket is also good for tangs. Be sure to offer a variety of foods to all of your fish. The fish will be healthier for your added efforts> The mandarin in particular seems to love the bloodworms.  The Tang eats whatever falls into the water. thanks for the help, You're welcome! David Dowless> tom

LOW pH! I have a 75 gal. reef tank that was running slightly low ph (7.9 - 8.0).  I was also testing my newly made salt water, which was also testing low (7.9 - 8.0).   <Yes and this is helping to stabilize the low ph> I decided to add  a pH increaser, however, I made a major mistake by adding pH increaser for FRESHWATER!  STUPID, STUPID, STUPID!!!! (Jungle Labs makes this product) <EEEEEEEEEEE> Now my water seems to be stabilizing @ 7.0!!!  (just what this product is supposed to do!) I'm guessing a major water change is in order. <Yes but move the ph slowly. You don't want it to suddenly jump to 8.3 That would also be unhealthy> I've been dosing the system w/Seachem Reef Buffer, and Reef builder to try to counter act my mistake. Is there any advice that can help my poor reef tank? <I think you're on the right track. What about a series of fairly large water changes. Remember to test the ph of the new saltwater. Consider checking the archives at Wetwebmedia.com to find out information on buffering new saltwater and top-off. If you do water changes with water that has a low ph you won't be helping matters> Thank you. Signed, Very Embarrassed! Lou Agostino <You're welcome!>

Stumped on PH Good morning gentlemen. <Steven Pro in this evening.> I am stumped. I have a 500 gallon reef tank with 17 average size fish. I am using a calcium reactor (effluent pH about 6.9). I am also dripping Kalk at night for the replacement water. Calcium is about 340-350. My pH seems stuck at night and during the day at around 7.8 to 7.9. <That is a problem.> Newly made saltwater measures about 7.9 - 8.0. <That is no good, either.> I am using an ETS 2000 skimmer, so I am assuming the water is oxygenated fairly well. <I would not leap to that assumption. A O2 test can confirm. A skimmer is great, but poor water circulation could lower dissolved oxygen content.> My dKH is around the 9 area. You folks have mentioned to use a buffer in conjunction with Kalkwasser. <I would definitely use one with your new salt water.> I am not sure if that is the problem since the calcium reactor seems to keep the dKH relatively constant. <Alkalinity and ph are related, but not the same. Please see Anthony's article here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Anthony%20pics/understanding_calcium_and_alk.htm> Livestock seems to be doing fairly well. However, still get green algae growing on some rocks which I blow off with a powerhead. Any thoughts or comments would be appreciated. <Yeah, buffer your new water. You should not expect your display tank's pH to increase if your water changes could be lowering it.> Thanks in advance. <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: Stumped on PH Thank you for your response. I will get an O2 test kit. I did not mention that I am using well water which is run through an RO/Di unit. I have heard of someone else who also had problems with his well and keeping up the pH. <It really does not matter what you source is once you run it through a RO/DI unit. It is clean at that point.> What should my makeup new saltwater pH be? <About 8.2 to 8.4> Assuming the O2 test is OK and this was your tank, what would you guys do next? <Your problem is either in the way you treat/mix new salt water or in your salt mix or in your buffers. Please refer here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water4maruse.htm to start and then follow on through the related FAQ files.> Thanks again. <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: pH, Xenia, Lighting, Reefing Hi again <cheers> So they don't really rely on blue light for photosynthesis and use other colors of the daylight spectra as well? <most popular corals get too much actinic in captivity and all MH lamps over 10K have been shown to contain excess blue regarding PAR activity in corals. Blue is necessary... just not to excess> If I use only daylight lamps (6500K) the corals can still survive even if the water is pretty yellow though. <the yellow color is only a problem for some aquarists that have a blue aesthetic preference. Corals live naturally in shallow daylight flooded water with the exception of some deeper species.> So blue lamps are for aesthetic only. <not only... as above> I was thinking of putting as many blue lamps on my tank but now a change of mind. <you can enjoy  a lot of blue light on a tank as long as you have enough daylight too to keep corals alive. 20K Radium halides would suit you well... no actinics needed either. Very blue white light> And also can deep water corals survive in Daylight lamps only? <yes... if we are talking about 7500-10K daylights> My pH is still low though. I have read in WWM FAQ's pages about aerating the tank water to increase the pH. If I aerate my main tank during the night would the pH increase? <likely yes... but aerate at all times... not just at night> My pulsing xenia is still the same. What I did was I sprayed it with fish meat. I took some tank water in a cup and mashed the fish meat in the cup. Then I filtered all the chunks and feed it to my corals and fishes. The remaining liquid in the cup is what I sprayed onto the xenia. Is that ok? <yes... all seems reasonable> Iodine source? <a little> I'm thinking of using Kalkwasser for my maintain my calcium and to increase pH. <that is highly recommended!> And baking soda for alkalinity. Is that combination ok? <yes... and you may not need much baking soda if you have enough aragonite sand in the tank and use Kalkwasser faithfully. Let your test kits guide you to dose> Or leave the baking soda and look for other buffers on my LFS? <no need... some of these buffers have too much borate in them> For now I still don't have the Kalkwasser, what could be other ways of increasing the pH of my tank to save my pulsing xenia. <do try the aeration and baking soda> Thank you very much again. Mr. Anthony and sorry for giving you a lot of questions. <no worries at all my friend. It is our pleasure to help>

More info on tank with high ph Oh, I apologize. I forgot some important info. Salinity is 1.025 <Good!> and the serpent is still alive <Good> and seems a little better than he did a couple of days ago. Thanks again! <You're welcome!>

Low pH Hi Bob <Welcome David, Craig here, Bob is visiting the Virgin Islands.> I have a 100 liter  coral  tank with 2 cleaner shrimps and a mandarin. I would like to ask you what to do with my tanks PH that is constantly dropping to 7.7 or 7.4.  I have been using PH buffer to correct it. I've siphoned out the gravel and cleaned it as it was very dirty. I've tried to remove all algae that has build up on the rock work and change water every 2 weeks. Could algae be the cause ? Hair algae has started to grow on every thing, I've tried ROWA phos to reduce or eliminate the algae,  but its not leaving. Could water changes one a week improve the ph and algae problem?  David    <You don't mention your skimmer or filtration here, but algae and depressed pH is the classic sign of acidic wastes.  I would test for ammonia/nitrites/nitrates/phosphate and possibly silicates in the display and in the make-up water to determine the cause. Filter the makeup water (RO/DI) for such elements if found there, otherwise they are imported into the display as food or fish wastes and the byproducts of faulty filtration or maintenance.  Check your skimmer for maximum production of skimmate, clean all sponges and filter media regularly (at least weekly) keep gravel cleaned regularly.  All are sources of wastes that drive algae growth and reduce pH.  With this light load my guess is filter media producing nitrates and the wastes in the gravel as well. Export of nutrient needs to be more efficient.  More water changes will also help, but not without eliminating the cause.  Craig>

Re: Low pH Craig, <Steven Pro in early this morning.> Could a 30 watt UV filter work to reduce/eliminate  ammonia, nitrates, nitrites, or phosphate as well as the algae and at the same time increase my pH? David <The only thing a UV does is kill things that flow through it. As such, it will not do any of the things you wish, except get rid of free-floating algae/green water, but it will do nothing for algae growing on the glass or rocks or anywhere else. -Steven Pro>

Water Quality/pH What can I do to raise my pH? It is 7.4. <Change some water immediately with clean freshwater and a high quality salt.> The water should be 8.0-8.3, correct? <No, 8.2-8.6 would be my ideal range.> I am using Kent marine SuperBuffer-dKH. Thanks, JPK <You need to examine your overall husbandry. Something is terribly off. Water change schedule, stocking, feeding, nutrient export, etc. Things do not get this bad over night. -Steven Pro>

pH Levels Hello once again <Good Evening! Scott F. here with you> Thanks for everything in the past, you provide a great service to the new comers to this great (albeit expensive) hobby. <That's an understatement!> I have a 1 month old brown spots appearing on glass and live rock starting today) is that normal for the brown spots to be on live rock also. only animals in tank are snails and crabs. 75 gallon main reef tank with 85 pounds of Fiji live rock a 1/2 inch bed of aragonite sand. and a 55 gallon sump (which holds 35 gallons more water for the system ) 6 feet below in basement which houses the protein skimmer and a hang on filter with carbon in it. also houses heaters and ph monitor (which has been calibrated before asking this question). my buffering capacity is at 13.8 dKH, nitrites are 0, ammonia 0 ,nitrates 2ppm. calcium is at 290 even after using Kent concentrated calcium. I use instant ocean salt by the way. my ph is at 8.16 during the day and down to 8.09 at night . I have used Kent's dKH buffer which raises ph but then it goes right back down to its current levels within an hour. Which also in turn gets my dKH level up to over 15 which does not go down so readily. I am doing 10 percent water changes weekly . just wondering what I can do or what you recommend for my calcium levels and my ph levels. and any other guidance I could get from you . I do own and read Mr. Fenner's CMA. and aquarium corals by Mr. Borneman both of which are great reading material. Thanks for everything in advance, John S <Whew, John- sounds like you are working hard on your system! Your pH level seems to be within an acceptable range, but keep in mind that it can fluctuate between light and dark periods. Your goal is to keep your pH from slowly degrading over time, or wild fluctuations in the short run. Your water change schedule is excellent. Your alkalinity is pretty high, but your calcium level seems a bit low for a reef system (assuming you're trying to keep hard corals). This is not uncommon. If you are willing to accept a corresponding decrease in alkalinity, you could dose Kalkwasser to raise the calcium level towards 400ppm, or you could employ a calcium reactor. Either way-much to study/learn-more than can be addressed here. Please review the resources on wetwebmedia.com for more detailed information on water chemistry. Good luck!>

Lowering Alk while raising PH Greetings, I tried my best to figure this out on my own using the WWM site and with the google app, but I'm still confused. <That is exactly what we are here for. Please continue to use the vast resource that is www.WetWebMedia.com and when you cannot find your answer there, you have us to fall back on.> My alk has been steadily climbing over the past 2 months and reached a new high with this weeks testing of 17dkh. Pretty sure its do to the fact that I use baking soda to raise the ph of the RO I use for water changes. Besides anything you would like to add, how can I 1) lower dKH in the tank <Water changes with new water of the appropriate parameters.> 2) raise the ph of RO without raising the alk <I just aerate my evaporation water and then use it to drip Kalkwasser and occasionally Seachem Reef Builder when needed.> I'm thinking the answer to #2 will also be the answer for #1...but wanted to be redundant in the mindset of getting the most complete answer for the SW rookie I am. <Additives are one of the biggest problems for most beginner aquarists. I need some of parameter A, so I add Joe's miracle elixir to correct, but then parameter B is out of whack, so I buy some of Aquarium Marine Super additive, but now parameter C is messed up, so I ... I make regular, large water changes, dose with Kalkwasser, sometimes Reef Builder (but only after testing confirms a deficiency and then water changes usually take care of any problems), and that is about it. I always advise people to make things easy. Water changes are incredibly simple. Far less complicated than the intricacies of pH, alkalinity, calcium, and dosing.> Thanks so much for the information y'all provide, Emo <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Bio Balls Someday I hope to get ll straight. My tank is a 75 with a 29 sump/refugium with an additional 20 gallon refugium attached to the same sump. I do use a protein skimmer. My sump/refugium is a DIY knock off of an Eco system. I installed four baffles 2 are 2" of f the bottom and keep the bio balls contained and the other two keep the refugium full of water. I use Bio-ball type media where the inlet water enters the sump and after the water leaves the refugium before entering the main pump section. Should I remove the bio balls from one or both of these sections?  <<You don't say if this is for fish or reef, but with sufficient live rock and sand you could remove the bioballs ***over time***. As you are transferring bioload from bioballs to LR/LS it is like adding livestock, do it over time so the system can adjust. Removing them actually will reduce your nitrate levels.>> Also, my alk is 4.12 and my PH is 8.0 before the photo period. Can't seem to raise the PH and not sure I need to. I currently only use iodine and B-ionic. Would you recommend I dose with Kalk to raise the ph without increasing the alkalinity? Or stay with what I'm doing now? <<The Kalk could work, but please do check nutrient (bioballs?), and test for the several other factors which could depress pH. Magnesium should be 1350-1500. Alk 3.5 to 5. Use buffered RO/DI top off water adjusted to 8.3 pH. I would also test replacement water to see if it starts there. It's not uncommon for some salt mixes to be insufficiently buffered or to have low magnesium levels. Kalk use depends on the amount of replacement water, pH, and calcium levels. Test to be safe! It can raise pH rapidly if improperly used so monitor pH.>> <<Hope this helps, Craig>>   

pH Hi, I'm starting a 55 gal saltwater tank. I used instant ocean salt mix. The salinity level is good, but when I checked the ph the water was purple in the test tube.  <the colorimetric scale for many test kits varies... we have no idea what "purple" is for a reading. If the pH is 8.6 or less... no worries at all. And even if it is higher is it still unlikely to be as bad as a comparatively low reading. Test your tap water to see if you have unusually high source water (over 8.4 pH). If such is the case... simply dilute the apparent hardness/alkalinity with enough DI or RO water to get in the 8.3-8.6 range> I've had the water in the tank for about three weeks. Can you tell me what I need to do? <best regards, Anthony>  

pH/ALK OK, a few dumb questions,  <no dumb questions at all... just drunken queries and intoxicated replies> I am trying to get this whole alkalinity-PH thing down in relation to top off water and water changes. I just tested my RO water, aerated for two hours, and the PH is 6.9, my tank PH tests at 8.2. Both these tests were done around 6:30 PM tonight. My RO water has an alkalinity of 1.71 meg/L (4.8 dKH). My tank alkalinity is 3.71 meg/L (10.4 dKH). I have been adding the top off water straight from the jug until I started reading your site/posts.  <an in doing so have placed a slight burden on the pool of alkalinity in the tank> So, if I have this straight, all I need to do is aerate and heat the top off water, add buffers (commercial buffers, baking soda, etc.) to match the PH and alkalinity of my tank water and add to the tank, correct?  <almost.... you don't need to exactly match the tank ALK because the sea salt does have some extra buffers in the mix. Just buffer up to a reasonable level so that you aren't wasting much of the tanks ALK with raw water> I understand this isn't rocket science but I just want to get it right. <understood and agreed> Now I was wondering about adding salt. I have a 20-gallon garbage can that I have been mixing saltwater in. If I use this can for top off water (make and keep enough to last a week or two) can I then just add the salt mix to this water, for water changes, or will the PH and Alk be off the chart?  <only a problem with excessive buffering of raw water. Little baking soda should be needed. Rather like enough to get to a similar level of hardness in your tap water (6-9 dKH perhaps)> Do I need a separate container for mixing saltwater in?  <I don't follow? Simply add salt after the raw RO water is buffered/aerated... in this case... yes, same vessel> Last question, If I can keep my PH/Alk/calcium within the recommended parameters with an occasional dose of B-ionic then Kalkwasser additions are not necessary, correct?  <yes... assuming that you don't want/need the extra benefits of Kalk: improved skimmer performance (saponification) and phosphate precipitation> I do plan on purchasing a calcium reactor in the future. There hast to be an easier way! <exactly... the reactor would be your best approach... although many people including Daniel Knop himself of Knop reactors agrees that there are some benefits to using Kalk with a Ca reactor. Also... be sure to get a 2-chamber Ca reactor... much more efficient. Best regards, Anthony>

pH Testing Hi, enclosed is a pic of the pH testers that I have.  Is this a hand held type as you are describing?  Is this the low grade type as in your reply or is this the better type that you suggest?  If not, what type do you recommend that I purchase and where can I get them?  How much do they typically cost?  I paid $70 for this one and the other just like it.  Also, the same day I bought the "burping" clam I also bought a very very dark green Acropora that had two commensal crabs on it.  They are white with a black stripe across their eyes.  Sadly, after all attempts to save the coral after having been stung by one of my frogspawn, the Acro has died and the crabs are still on the dead skeleton.  Will they migrate to one of my other Acros or do you think I need to move them to another manually?   I'd hate to lose the crabs.  They are the cutest looking crabs we have ever had the fortune of having.  What do they eat and do I need to feed them anything? Any suggestions?  Thanks, Jeff <<Hi Jeff, This is Craig Watson answering for Bob while he is attending MACNA 14 in Fort Worth. The photo you include is of a handheld pH meter of a decent quality.  I don't know if this is what Bob was referring to, but I would think so. I think he was likely steering you away from the "pen" type. Any pH meter should be calibrated using a solution of known pH. This will assure you it is reading properly.  It pays to test them often. There are several types and manufacturers of hand held pH meters in the $70-90 price range and they are all available at on line retailers. They vary in quality and accuracy even in the same price range which is likely why he was advising hand helds. For your Xanthid crabs, do you have another similar Acro? As you know, these crabs are commensal and have a symbiotic relationship with the wild Acropora corals they usually come in on. They can be moved to another Acropora if one is available.  Just be careful moving them! Hopefully you have another Acro that will host them. They eat parasites and food in suspension.  As far as I know you don't need to feed them. Enjoy! Craig>>

Re: pH testing Hello again, and thanks again in advance of any advice/help you can throw my way. I bought a Hanna pH/thermometer hand held digital tester 5 months ago and it slowly stopped working for me. After it died I ordered another exactly the same which supposedly was "calibrated" for pH when I received it. I liked the readings it was giving so I went with it. In the meantime I sent the failed one back and they sent me another because they couldn't repair it. It arrived supposedly "calibrated" for pH. The two testers do not give the same readings except for the temperatures which are within .1 degrees of each other. The replacement tester gives me a pH reading of 8.00 while the other is giving me readings of 8.31.  <Doh!> They are .31 off from each other. I do have calibration fluid and will be trying to calibrate them at the same time although the directions are rather vague that come with the testers as to exactly how to calibrate them so I will be contacting Hanna directly to walk me through the calibrations.  <excellent... its actually not difficult to do> In the meantime would you recommend a certain brand name powder or liquid pH test kit that is fairly reasonable/accurate that I could order so I could compare the results with the testers that I have at the moment?  <yep... Aquarium Systems brand SeaTest. I like them very much for the price> I don't know which tester to believe until I can acquire a trustworthy test kit that will give me an accurate reading. Thanks, Jeff <best regards, Anthony>  Sudden ph drop Hi guys! I have a couple of quick questions. Every day I measure my pH right after I turn the lights off (when it should be at it's highest) and it has been measuring at 8.3. But last night I measured it was only at 7.9 (checked it 3 times), which is a very big drop in one day. <Agreed> 5 or 6 hours earlier I did set up my skimmer (which is only foaming white, no dark skimmate yet), and also added 1-2 handfuls of Caulerpa to my sump. Could these factors make my pH drop that much in just 5 or 6 hours? <The skimmer could not, but could be a problem with the shipping water from the Caulerpa.> If not what would your opinion be as to what would cause this, since everything else has been business as usual? <Do take a look through our FAQ files for other possibilities.> One last question. My tank parameters are 55 gallon tank, calcium=400, dKH=9-10, temp=78, salinity=1.024, and pH=7.8, no ammonia or nitrite, and nitrate=5ppm. Since my calcium and dKH seem to be at desired levels, what would be the best way to raise ph back to normal levels again, or if it was the skimmer or Caulerpa dropping pH, will it come back up to normal on it's own after everything settles in? <I would perform a series of tests; pH of water, take sample and aerate for two hours and retest for change, test tank after opening a window, etc. The FAQ files will be very helpful for more information and the details.> Thanks for your time. <Good luck. -Steven Pro>

Lowering ph in reef tank. Hi there. Is household white vinegar a safe way to lower the ph level in a reef environment?  <Mmm, no... even this simple organic acid can be trouble... Let's read on and see why you consider your pH high, why it's so...> And what would be any other alternatives. <Many... depending on the cause/s> I use my own RO / salt mix for my water changes. The Ph levels seem to run about 9.0 in the newly mixed batch of saltwater resulting in the gradual increase in my tanks Ph over time. about 8.7 towards the end of the lighting period, dropping to only about 8.55 at night) The salt mix I use (Marine Environment 2 part mix from Aqua Craft) is probably the cause since the straight RO water has Ph of around 8.0,and the final salt mix has a pH of around 9.1. <You are correct here. Many salt mixes are initially this way... and they used to be much worse.> I don't want to stop using the salt mix since I've had very favorable results in the 6 months since trying it, and a very disfavorable experience last weekend by switching back to Instant Ocean (for the 8.3 Ph of the final mix ). Once again, is there any safe way (including vinegar) to lower ph levels in the salt mix and display tank. Thanks, Shawn <Better to not worry re the 8.7-8.55 pH level and stick with a regular schedule of water changing with pre-mixed, stored water... as you know, pH drops of its own accord over time in captive systems. Unless you have some other anomaly (like ammonia, nitrite accumulation) going on in your system, you shouldn't have troubles with this elevated pH. I would not utilize chemical means to alter it. Bob Fenner>

Re: Lowering ph in reef tank. Bob, Thank you for the speedy reply. Maybe you could give your opinion to my original email sent a few days ago. I got Jason that time, let me know what you think after reading the original. Thanks. <<Okay>> Hi Bob, <<You got JasonC today...>> Keep up the great job on the website. <<Will do.>> It's a very useful tool for the hobby. I have a 125 gal reef tank that has been established for close to 3 years now(1yr. as a fish and 2yr. as a reef only tank) I have lots of SPS and some LPS as well as a few softies. The lighting setup includes (3) 175w 10k MH, (2) 55w actinic CF, (2) 55w 10k Super Sun CF, (1) 110w VHO 50/50, and (1) 110w VHO 03 actinic fluorescent. The total lighting is about 11 hours. The actinics start the cycle for about 1 1/2 hours, the CF and VHO fluorescents are on about 8 hours during which the MH turn on for about 5 hours, and the actinics finishing for another 1 1/2 hours. The chiller keeps the temp between 79 and 81 degrees. I have a Knop calcium reactor that has been installed for about four months filled with Korallith media The drip return having Ph of approx 6.8. The G3 protein skimmer w/2 Rio 2100's produces lots of solid gunk and I'm happy with its performance. Plenty of live rock maybe 200 lbs) with a straight live sand bed. I'm not a big additive guy but I do admit to using sea-chem reef plus and reef complete bi weekly plus a weekly dose of Kent Lugol's solution. My water parameters are as follows : Ph goes between 8.6 and 8.8, <<That's a little on the high side...>> Ca.390-420, Mg.1000-1150, KH averages 9.6 - 10.8 . The SpecGr. is an average 1.023. Nine fish mostly small gobies, blennies & Basslets with a 4 inch Maroon clown who basks in his 12 inch Anemone. The corals are many Acropora and Montipora frags, 4 parent Acropora colonies, plus many others hard and soft corals. Most of which have been fragged in some way or another. (and both the parent and frags seem to be very happy in the tank.)............... Now for my problem. My Purple coralline has been fading to a white chalky color for some time now maybe six months) with the edges being the whitest. The deep purple usually starts to regain its color soon after 35 gal water changes that I perform every 3 weeks or so, but starts the same fading soon after. (am using the Aqua Craft 2-part Marine Environment Salt mixed with my own RO water) I've also noticed that instead of the deep purple encrusting coralline that used to grow on the glass, It has been replaced by a definite round, very light purple almost lavender/white) algae of some sort about the diameter of a round toothpick. Although the same deep purple algae still grows on new and existing live rock. Six or so months ago I would of had to scrape that same coralline off the glass weekly, it grew so quickly. I was using Kent part A & B as my calcium source back then). Do you think the addition of the Calcium Reactor or the higher Ph has anything to do with it? <<I would start with the higher pH.>> And if so. how do I safely lower it without using baking soda which seems to only have a temporary effect as well as elevating the KH) My makeup water is plain RO water that has Ph of 8.1. but my Tank Ph never drops below 8.6 and has seen higher readings in the 8.9 range. <<That's too high - you need to look for what is causing your pH to be so high - you can pretty safely eliminate the calcium reactor.>> I use a regularly calibrated Hanna ProntoPh in the sump and also have a Hanna PHep handheld to double check my readings. <<You may need to resort to adding a weak acid - acetic [vinegar] or Muriatic - solution to the tank to bring down that pH.>> So....any help You may have will be greatly appreciated. I'd love to see my purple coralline turn purple again..=)..Write me back if you need anymore specs on my setup and I could also send you a picture of what am talking about if that's OK. let me know. Thanks , Shawn <<Cheers, J -- >> <<Sounds like a very nice system... good gear choices... I am still hesitant to advise use of acids... perhaps we should start slowly here with each other... I was a H.S. Chemistry, Physics and Biology teacher to pay my debt to society (other than taxes) in earlier years... as well as a long-standing pet-fish type of guy... and have had some very disastrous episodes second and later hand re advising/cautioning people re use of acids... particularly the simplest organic (CH3COOH, acetic... vinegar) and inorganic hydrochloride (HCl, of which the concentration 3 molar is Muriatic)... what has happened is a lack of understanding re relationships of alkaline reserve and pH and its adjustment with catastrophic loss of life (folks putting in too much too soon at some point). It bears stating that you appear more than capable of making good measures and adjustments (by your writing)... however, I would like to ask that at this juncture we discuss two possibilities and then I'll make a recommendation... First, I would check your R.O. unit and pH measures (the latter with even just a simple indicator dye type colorimetric kit). A pH of R.O. water of 8.1 is too likely anomalous. Please aerate a sample of the new R.O. and let sit for an hour or so and test. Next, what is the pH of the effluent of the discharge from the calcium reactor? I strongly advise "turning up" the carbon dioxide (even to a pH of 6.5 or so) to raise calcium a bit and drop the pH of the system (this will likely boost coralline growth appreciably). Recommendations: I would suggest you try another salt mix brand for a test... and if you find you still want to lower the pH of the system water proceed by testing alkalinity, adjusting (I would use Muriatic likely... but do be careful... it is toxic and dangerous to inhale the fumes or get on you) IN THE SALTWATER MIXING AND STORING CONTAINER you use for doing changes. NOT, repeat NOT in the system itself... and then utilize this stabilized pH new water (it will vacillate over the time you initially make it up till it is used, so you will likely find you need to measure, treat it more than once), in your periodic water change maintenance. Bob Fenner>

Re: Lowering ph in reef tank. I guess hind sight it 20/20... after a little reflection, I'm bummed I didn't think of cranking up the calcium reactor - that would have been a much better suggestion. <... I really liked your response... am given to similar feelings daily... that if I'd re-read and re-re-read queries, chew on them (cogitate furiously)... maybe even send to you, Steve, Anthony... that the response/s would be "better"... more complete... humorous... to the point... In this case the calcium reactor suggestion is a very good one though... due to the likelihood that it's being cranked up will result in a few other marked improvements other than lowering "apparent" pH... and you're only the person I know of who knows most about such gear! Bob F>

Re: Lowering ph in reef tank. Hello again Bob. I received my UPS package today with a new Hanna ProntoPh probe and new calibration fluids. To my astonishment, the new probe and new calibration yielded that one or both of my old calib. fluids were tainted. My Previous readings are all off an average of .6 !  <Ahh, as I suspected> Now I've started to wonder if maybe the new ones are bad. Is there any common household liquid/substance that yields a certain known Ph that I can check my readings with. <Mmm, yes... but the standards sold for such purposes are better for aquarium use> Also if you could recommend a dye type Ph test kit that is halfway decent. The one's I've had past experience with aren't worth 2 cents. <Hach, Salifert, LaMotte...> I tested my R/O water as you suggested last night and got these results. Whenever I tested the fresh R/O water my Hanna Phep5 ph meter spiked up to around 10.0 and slowly like 3 min.s) crept down to the lower 7.2-7.4 range. <Yes, "more like it"> All the other substances I usually test (i.e.: Calcium Reac. discharge fluid, saltwater, tap water), the meter basically gets close to the target Ph rather quick and zero's in within 30 seconds. I don't know if this means anything but its strange to me. =). <Artifactual... of the test gear> After a few hours of aeration, the R/O water had a Ph of about 7.0. Are these normal parameters? <Bingo, right-on, power to the people. Oh, yes> Lastly, I've went from having an elevated Ph Problem to now being in the lower end of the spectrum.=/. My Tank Ph now reads only about 8.1. <No worries... about "right"> Once again, I'm learning (the hard way) <Not so hard my friend> ,"your only as good as your test equip" Thanks, Shawn. <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

pH help I bought Wardley's raise pH, because I was having a little trouble with my 30 gal tank and the pH. I fixed the problem without using the additive. Now my 55 gal tank is down to 7.2 and I have a pregnant seahorse in the tank. I do not have the instructions for the additive, and I do not know if it is safe more my seahorse(s). Please help if you can ASAP. <You need to elevate the pH here. Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm and the linked FAQs there re what pH, alkalinity are... how to adjust. Bob Fenner> Rhonda

Re: pH help Read the article, and some of the FAQ's, but could not find information on how to elevate the pH now. <Perhaps some interpolation... I would use simple baking soda, sodium bicarbonate for now... a commercial "pH up" product of a mix of different compounds going forward> I now know how to maintain it, but I feel the need to do something more then I am doing. <... please read where you were sent... there are simple explanations of what alkaline reserve is, the relation of pH values, materials of relatively high pH value there> Water change, cleaning, less feedings. I do have the additive, just don't know how to use it. I am sorry if I over-looked the obvious answer in your articles. Rhonda <Don't be sorry. There is no merit in this. Read, apply yourself. Read the instructions that accompany whatever product you have. Bob Fenner>

Re: pH help Thanks, will read more. I guess I just need to not panic over the situation and my pregnant Nemo. <No worries... do proceed cautiously here> No information with my additive. One 2.5 oz container of granular raise pH. The directions on the container say to read all directions carefully and to be sure and wash your hands afterwards! Which, is where my original inquiries (you are not the only place I asked for help) were centered. "How do I use this #@~+ stuff? <Try a "pinch" in a container of made-up or system water... and test for how much the pinch changes water chemistry... add a moderate pinch to some water outside the system and administer it to the tank... measure the results an hour later, half a day and a day later. Bob Fenner>

Re: Porcupine Puffer (actually water movement, pH: marine) Anthony: Thanks for the help. 2 more follow ups. 1.) is there a source written or electronic which directs how much water flow different species of fish prefer.  <good question, but no authoritative work that I am aware of. Much of it is anecdotal or inferred by study of where the fish comes from on the reef... lagoonal and open water species preferring quiet flow, herbivores like tangs from reef crests and surging areas like stronger flow, etc> 2.) My PH is 8.3 middle of the day but my dKH id 10.4 and my calcium is 360.  <all quite fine... let the ALK fall a little if your like and you'll be able to bring that calcium up a little. Small matter though> How do I push my PH up without sending the alkalinity through the roof.  <ease up on buffer and use more Kalkwasser instead... that will raise pH and calcium levels> I am using ESV two part solution for buffer and calcium. <a fine product... my favorite brand of its kind> Thanks again for the help. James <with kind regards, Anthony>

pH problem and insulated homes thanks so much for your help.  <always welcome> I have convinced myself that Anthony was right on this one 100%.  <even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes <G>> I don't know where to go from here though. I live in an apparently air-tight small apartment. my ph ranges from 7.78 to 8.06 with the alk at 11dkh and ca at 410.  <yes... all fine but the pH> when I open the windows over a period of half a day the ph will shift and equalize around 8.05 to 8.23. I even opened the windows at night and watched the ph go UP not down when the lights went off.  <amazing isn't it!> here is my question. is this from a pressure change? or co2 buildup in my apartment?  <the latter> if I just make a small crack in the window, it doesn't seem to have the same effect. here is my problem, I cant run my a/c with the windows open, and I hate having an 85 degree room. an ideas on how to solve this problem? Neil A. Jacobs Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences North Carolina State University <yep... no problem (I think <G>). Aquarists in your situation have taken to using an outdoor/weather protected air pump to pump air from the outside through a discreet airline tubing into the skimmer or sump. Its not as good as a full open window but it will raise the pH. Get the strongest pump you can for this purpose especially if the run is long. Best regards, Anthony>

Low pH Hi Bob.  <Anthony Calfo in your service while Bob is in Indonesia looking for tropical fruits and nuts (Hmmm... he didn't have to leave the state of California for that. Flakes too...Ha!)> I have a question for you concerning my ph. I have read your faq's pages on this and haven't found one that is similar to mine. My problem is I have low ph, but my calcium and dKH levels are fine.  <not at all uncommon... this dynamic is often related to accumulated levels of carbonic acid/CO2 and/or pressurized well insulated houses. I see below that you tried opening the window... but there needs to have been an open path of air flow in the house (attic fan on, window on other side of house, etc). Run an experiment to see: take a sample of water to a part of the house that is not well insulted like the garage or a room with a wide open window... aerate the sample vigorously overnight to see if the pH increases. It should not at all change noticeably. If so... there's your problem> I'll give you run down of system and water parameters to give you more to go on to help with answer. My tank is,1) 55 gal glass standard size,2) 80lbs Fiji live rock,3)fluval 304 canister with carbon and phosphate remover, ,5)penguin 550 powerhead,6)zoo-med 214oscillating powerhead, both powerheads hitting surface and Fluval aimed at middle to bottom,7)3.5 to 4" Aragamax sugar size sand bed,8)1 small clown fish,9)1 3" hippo tang,10)toadstool umbrella,11)green candy coral small,12) bubble tip anemone,13) 4x65 watt SmartLite power compacts,14)7 blue legged hermit crabs,14)1 turbo snail. Tank not overcrowded at all.  <agreed> Feed fish once a day with ocean nutrition's brine shrimp plus and formula 2 algae. <feed more foods with less or no brine shrimp... especially if feeding once daily. Even enriched brine is a deficient food. And your corals in time will need more sustenance/feeding> Water parameters are,1)temp 80deg,2)ammonia=0,3)nitrite=0,4)nitrate=8ppm,5)calcium=400,6)dkh=11,7) salinity=1.25,8)phosphates=0,9)ph=7.8 morning and 7.9 right at end of light cycle (which is on 12 hours). Supplements are SeaChem's reef iodide and reef complete for calcium (plus has magnesium and strontium), both used as directed.  <ahhh.... no support here from the calcium supplements. Kalkwasser in addition to or instead of the Reef Complete would be helpful perhaps. Regardless... know that the Calcium chloride (liquid calcium) is problematic over time by allowing chloride ions to accumulate... can be dangerous in time by helping to precip Alkalinity in the system and contribute to pH/Alk problems (after 10 months or more of use dedicated... easy on that liquid calcium. Its really best for a quick fix only... Kalkwasser or calcium reactors supply better Ca)> What I have tried to remedy problem,1) running venturis on my powerheads for more aeration,2)opening window of apartment,3)trying another LFS for r/o water. <all very good efforts... do try aerating the sample as per above> Tank is 4 weeks old (upgrade from 40 gal tank last month). Do have a little brown algae on rocks (none on glass), but very little.  <quite normal> Some coralline algae but also some white on rocks (which from what I read could be from adding 2 more pc lights (only had 2x65 on old tank). Don't have skimmer or calcium reactor yet, which I know you really recommend, (no money right now),  <skimmer ASAP and no worries on the calc reactor: water changes and Kalkwasser instead. But please stop buying livestock until your system is complete. The skimmer at least> but will get in future. Sorry for long e-mail but from what I've read on faq's a lot of people don't give enough info for you to really give your best answer, and you usually are asking them things to help with answer. So I tried to be as informative and thorough as I could. <much appreciated my friend... you have been very thorough> I would like to know how I can raise ph and not my dKH or calcium levels (as most ph buffers do raise alkalinity also)? From what I read on faq's (which is about 2 hrs a day recently), most people with low ph either have high or low calcium, or high or low dKH,  <agreed> since these are fine in my tank I am confused as what to do or add to raise ph without affecting the 2 others.  <Kalkwasser instead of the liquid calcium might do the trick if not a CO2 problem> Also is my SeaChem's reef complete good enough for calcium or would it be better if I switch to Kalkwasser, which I see is recommended quite a lot on here?  <Seachem makes many fine products... I'm simply not comfortable recommending any liquid calcium products for long term use. I do however like their Ca gluconate (Reef Calcium) as a supplement to boost corallines.> Any help would be very appreciated, thank you. <best regards, Anthony>

Re: Alkalinity question Read your article about alkalinity and still having issues. Here are some questions that I did not find an answer for. My alkalinity is reading at around 15kdh  <a little high if your calcium is or intends to be high too. In gross layman's terms: high Alk and high Ca are mutually exclusive (and dangerous when so... risk of crystalline precipitation and crash/snowstorm in tank). Do research the work of Dr Craig Bingman if you want the scientific explanation. Else, trust me and many other aquarists: for fast calcification, consistency in levels (moderate) is MUCH better that reaching some unrealistic high levels> and I am no longer dozing part #1 of the two part ESV calcium buffer (part 1 is alkalinity and part 2 is calcium) since last week.  <I'm not entirely comfortable with that... but OK> I have tried everything and even increased my dozing of calcium but calcium is stuck at 320 and won't go any higher.  <yes... because of the high Alk> Water changes drop the alkalinity for 2 -3 days max and then it climbs up again. Is it safe to have alkalinity at around 15 ?  <as long as the calcium doesn't get too high. It makes little difference for calcification if you have med Ca and high Alk or vice versa... so long as it is stable and consistent. In doing so, you will always have more available than the system needs. It makes no difference if you are 20ppm over the daily demand or 200ppm... just so long as you satisfy the demand and maintain stable levels> How do I get the calcium up.  <simply dilution: ease off of any supplementation and do several very large (proper pH, Temp, salinity adjusted and aerated) water changes to get everything back to an even keel. Then with Ca and Alk in balance from the dilution, leave Alk at a moderate level while you raise the Ca> My Ph ranges from 8 - 8.5 through out the day.  <holy cow!!!! a .5 swing is staggering?!?! Its amazing that your livestock is not more severely stressed. Something is way up here? Did you try aerating a sample of tank water vigorously to see if the pH rises (6-12 hours)? If so, you have a problem with CO2 in the system and that is helping to depress the pH at night while photosynthesis by day raises it. Else, I would ask if you have some obscenely bright light system over shallow water (250 or 400 watt halides over a tank less than 30") or if you have a very heavy coral load? > I would say 8.3 as an average for the day.  <a fine actually target> Phosphates are high (1.0) and I am using Phosguard to control them at this time. <Yowsa! phosphate this high will inhibit calcification no matter how perfect you get your levels. You have bigger problems here than low Ca. Can you use DI water to filter the phosphate from the source water?> I would like to have calcium at 420 if possible due to the coral load I have.  <it is a bit on the high end considering your ALK, but as you wish. Simply get that Alk done under 12dKH... preferably 8-10dKH>  How to do this and how many FL OZ should I doze.  <no idea... we have to figure your net daily demand for each component (Ca and Alk) through testing and then find a correlative dose to supply it.> All calcium bottles say start with this and increase. No one would however say anything about high can you doze before it becomes dangerous.  <the problem here my friend is that you, like most of us, need a better understanding of the dynamics of calcification. There simply is no need to be sky high with your levels like some maniac SPS keepers promote. Consistency at any reasonable level will outperform sky high but variable any day. 350+ppm Ca and 8-12dKH will be very fine... stay the course my friend> I was unable to get it high even after double-dozing 3 days in a row. Kalkwasser scares me as I have heard that its easy to make mistakes with it.  <Kalkwasser is one of the absolute best ways to dose calcium with many other benefits. It is dangerous like all products is misunderstood and misapplied. I discuss this dynamic at very great length (Ca, ALK, Kalk dosing, etc) in my Book of Coral Propagation. If the book doesn't presently interest you, perhaps there is a local aquarium society near to you that I could put you in touch with to scan a copy for the section that you need. The chapter on chemistry is too large to e-mail. What is your hometown?> Would like to use that last if possible.  <then do consider water changes and buying or building a Calcium reactor. A Ca reactor once adjusted properly is one of the easiest and most reliable ways to dose Ca and ALK.> Is there something wrong with my setup or something that I need to fix before calcium levels can be increased.  <the dosing simply has strayed or been misapplied> Here is my reef + fish setup : 150 G, 170 lbs LR, 80 lbs substrate <wow... a deep sand bed would really help keep levels up naturally (300-400lb of sugar fine sand) 1 harlequin tusk, 2 yellow Coris, 1 green Chromis, 1 yellowtail damsel, 1 Springer Dottyback Very few crustaceans left (thanks to the tusk) 3 brain corals, 4 leather corals, 1 gorgonian, 1 carnation, 1 red Chile coral, 1 elegance, 1 flowerpot, mushrooms, polyps, 1 frogspawn, 3 colts, 1 plate coral, 1 sponge, 1 pagoda cup, 1 torch, 1 cabbage, 1 bubble <the few hard corals that you have named are large polyped stonies and slow growers by any definition. You also have a selection of corals that tells me that you are a new aquarist (less than 2 years and probably less than 1 year) or you have received ill counsel on coral selection. The sponge, carnation, Chile (and gorgonian id red/orange/yellow) have absolutely no place in this tank... they are aposymbiotic filter feeders in need of dedicated tank and specialized care: they will almost certainly die in a mixed reef display within a year. Please do consider setting up a specialized tank for them and take the flowerpot with them to that tank. The flowerpot is so difficult to keep long term for most aquarists that many feel that it should not be imported in such great numbers. It needs phytoplankton (like you sponge, carnation and gorgonian), seagrass (for epiphytic material) and apparently more than we even understand at this point. I hope your elegant coral is placed in the sand if it has a conical corallum (skeleton). The plate is also a challenging coral and not to be recommended to new aquarists... be sure that is always kept on the sand bottom (can tear and become infected otherwise). The brains should be kept high if Faviids (closed brains) or in the sand if open brains (Trachyphyllias). The cabbage and leathers are the only hardy soft corals named here... and the pagoda is the only durable stony. Let me suggest Eric Borneman's book "Aquarium Corals" too if you don't already have it... very informative for aquarists at all levels. Best regards, Anthony>

pH Decline Anthony, Good morning; hope that you are well and had a good holiday.  <thanks kindly, and to you as well> Just a quick note to update you on the pH wars. After upgrading the circulation in the tank, I noted a rise in pH but still not into the range desired (came up to about 8.1 from 8.0). Since it was time for the monthly water change I decided to go ahead instead of waiting to see if circulation alone improved the pH further. I have gotten a little paranoid on the subject so I now test the raw water, the water after 24 hours of aeration, and the saltwater for pH. Curiously the raw is fairly alkaline at about 8 (I use dechlorinated tap water; the local source is deep wells) and after 24 hour aeration 8.6.  <excellent!> After adding salt, noticed a rapid decline in the pH from 8.6 to 7.6, using CoralLife salt mix.  <too severe... was this Instant Ocean?!?> Extended aeration did not change the pH. I then discarded the batch and started over. Same readings for raw, aerated. This time I used Instant Ocean,  <ahhh...> and the pH dropped to about 7.9. <still significant... something is amiss here> Again aeration had very little impact, but the mix did move to 8. I decided to go ahead and add to the display,  <agreed> changing about 20% of the system, as has been practice. pH in the main tank was 8.1; within an hour pH was 8.2, this morning 8.3.  <what is the "high noon" pH reading? If 8.1/8.2 by morning and 8.3/8.4 after the lights have been on all day... 'tis normal> System chemistry still stable, with CA at 450, dKH 10 (running calcium reactor to maintain).  <a touch on the high end for Ca but ultimately the numbers are fine... just don't let either Alk or Ca creep any too much higher for fear of a precipitous event> I did not see this at the last water change! Care to speculate as to what is going on here? Have you seen this type of difference with different salt mixes? <Yes... very common. Like many industry professionals that have used tens of thousands of gallons of sea salt (8,000 gallon per pallet), I have long ago sworn to use only Instant Ocean. Their reliability and Quality control is unparalleled> Best regards Bob <kindly, Anthony>

Measuring pH in R/O water Hi, <cheers> Having recently purchased a 3 stage r/o unit, I was surprised to hear that neither aquarium hobby quality pH test kits nor a pinpoint ph meter are sensitive enough to accurately measure a drop in pH in the treated water.  <huh? I don't follow or agree> Allegedly, testing the r/o water would yield essentially the same pH reading as the tap water.  <ahhh... somebody is either insane or trying to sell you an expensive piece of test equipment... heehee. What is it you are trying to do my friend? Test the R/O effluent? If so... are you trying to (improperly) test it before aerating it (driving off the carbonic acid)? In which case the pH will likely be too low to register on some liquid reagent test kits... but still show up accurately on a pH monitor. Heck... they calibrate those instruments with solutions at 4.0 (7.0 and higher too)!!! Are you saying your pH is lower than 4.0... if so, you have bigger problems than test kit accuracy. Ha! I know... just kidding. Still... catch my drift?>  I've used three popular pH testers, and this seems to be the case. I was assured that the r/o water in fact would have a lowered pH (around 7.0), but that I couldn't measure this drop.  <whoever is telling you this I believe is very mistaken... the process is not so absolute or reliable to support such a statement for SO many reasons. Quality of source water to begin with, type of RO membrane, age of membrane, pressure of water forced through it, etc.> I want to start a discus tank, and would feel reluctant to do so if I couldn't take accurate pH measurements. I would appreciate your thoughts on this matter, and thanks, as always; <good heavens, my friend. Fire whoever has given you that advice and have a beer. Relax bud :) pH testing equipment is reliable and nearly a science. Avoid hobby reagent kits for better readings and know that most monitors from $50-$250 are quite similar and relatively to very reliable... at least for our purposes. They will read accurately if calibrated correctly right down to a pH of 4.0 at which point your discus have all leapt from the tank due to acidosis fright/shock. A $100 pH meter is a fine investment... do enjoy the hobby. kindly, Anthony> Bill Roman

Re: Measuring pH in R/O water Hi, Thanks for your prompt, and humorous response.  <I'm good for something <smile>> To clarify, I recently purchased a Spectrapure, 3 stage Ro system, because your site has spoken well of the brand.  <very fine> When I use Wardley's ph indicator and Aquarium Pharmaceuticals pH indicator to test the tap water <hmmm... I do not personally hold Wardley liquids test kits in high regard... and the while I like the Aqua Pharm dry tabs reasonably well, I do not care for their liquid test kits much better than Wardley's. As a rule... liquid test kits are easily corrupted and have short life spans. When possible... use dry reagents if not digital equipment> And the RO water not the waste) I get the same 8.6 reading.  <highly doubtful... an inaccurate reading. Are these test kits labeled marine use? Have you tested your raw source water... it will be higher... and with such high readings... it's as if bleach or lime are pouring from your spigot>  I just used AquaLabs I test strip and got a 7.0 reading on the RO water. It seems the test strips are doing a better job than the liquid agents in detecting a pH drop.  <wow... test strips... I wouldn't take them for free and I sure as heck wouldn't trust livestock to their readings. Very crude readings> Did I understand you correctly that the hobby quality test kits tend to be less accurate?  <actually some are quite good... dry Aquarium Systems brand kits are affordable and generally quite accurate IMO> I know you guys like Salifert test kits, so I recently purchased some for my salt water set-up. I read your site a lot, and also, as it suggests purchased a pinpoint monitor tester, which is still new in the box but not for long) as I'm still in the process of accumulating gear, and advice.  <yes... enjoy and keep learning> You did convince me not to worry about being able to measure the pH of the RO water. Thanks <whoa, bud... not my message at all. raw de-mineralized RO water is dangerous... you do want to know where you stand with it. You simply need to learn not to knee jerk react on any piece of advice from the LFS, me or anybody (like assuming that because the test strips gave the most believable reading that they must be accurate/reliable... quite the contrary). The hobby need not be so complicated... research your products and protocols in advance and enjoy the hobby. (e.g.- A check on the message boards regarding the liquid test kits or the test strips would have spared you from buying them with an intelligent consensus). Best regards, Anthony> Bill

Re: pH decline, Demerits of Powerheads Friend Anthony <cheers, Bob> Thanks for the suggestions. I think that I will try first with the larger return pumps;  <excellent> I am a bit concerned about powerheads in the tank as I have read the many horror stories on the web site regarding animals sucked into the suction strainers. <yes... so many disadvantages to powerheads. Heat transfer, longevity, shock hazard, etc> Thank you for your patient advice. While very little in the way of compensation, please do accept that you provide a real service to the many out there like myself who labor mostly blindly.  <it is our pleasure and purpose but thank you for saying so, my friend> A little story: I started the marine aquarium as an ex-freshwater guy who liked the pretty saltwater fishes. After failing pretty miserably several years ago with a fish only tank, gave up completely. Read some more recent books, including Bob Fenner's, and noted with great interest the improvements in lighting, natural filtration and so on. Made the investment "one last try and then I quit!". Have now run the reef for about a year, having survived numerous close brushes with ignorance induced failure, but have dodged the bullet with the help of yourself and others dedicated to the trade and hobby. My greatest reward (and this should be for you as well, as a participant) is that now when the neighborhood children come over to our house, which is often as we have two boys 10 and 12, they all immediately go to the reef tank. These children, who can rarely stay still for more than 30 seconds, are immediately captivated in the mystery of the reef and I have seen them sit for over an hour in front of the display.  <outstanding.. indeed a huge goal for us all: education of people to higher awareness, admiration and respect for the environment> I have directed several to your site. The rewards of the keeping of aquariums are many, but this is the one that I find the most satisfying. My point in the story is that you provide the support that makes this possible, so I hope that you share the joy as well. Best Regards Bob <thanks kindly... best to you. Anthony>

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